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Private property is the tangible and intangible things owned by individuals or firms over which their owners have exclusive and absolute legal rights, and can only be transferred with the owner's consent.[1] Private property can take the form of real estate, homes, factories, automobiles, capital, patents and copyrights. It is distinguished from public property, which refers to assets owned by a state, community or government rather than by individuals or a business entity.[2]

Marxists sometimes distinguish between "private property" and "personal property," defining the former as the means of production (capital) and the latter as consumer goods.[3]

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Role of private property in society

Marxists define private property as the right of an individual or group of individuals, to exclude others use of an object. In its undeveloped form, private property is the simple relation of the individual to the natural world in which their individuality finds objective expression. Private property is essentially the denial of the private property of others and finds its ultimate expression only in the relation of wage-labor and capital.[4] According to György Lukács and Norman Levine, when Marx called for the abolition of private property, he was not referring to privately-owned personal property such as clothing and furniture that was not used to produce the "social wealth," but to productive property.[5]

Classical liberals, including Ludwig Von Mises and Fredrich Hayek, believe that private property rights are a requisite for rational economic calculation, and that without clearly defined property rights, the prices of goods and services cannot be determined making economic calculation impossible.[6]

Some libertarians view private property rights as the foundation for which all other natural rights extend from.

Personal property versus the means of production

In political and economic theory, the distinction between private property in personal goods and private property in the means of production is important.

In general, personal property is part of your person and includes property from which you have the right to exclude others.[7] [8]

From the socialist perspective, private property refers to capital or means of production that is owned by a business or few individuals and operated for their profit. Personal property refers to tangible items and possessions individuals own, such as consumer goods.

From the Marxist perspective, private property is a social relationship, not a relationship between person and thing. In capitalism there is little distinction between personal and private property.[9]

See also

Notes

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