This Dark Age

A manual for life in the modern world.

By Daniel Schwindt

NOTICE:
This Dark Age is now available in paperback on Amazon. The print version is MUCH cleaner than this online version, which is largely unedited and has fallen by the wayside as the project has grown. If you’ve appreciated my writing, please consider leaving a review on the relevant paperback volumes. The print edition also includes new sections (Military History, War Psychology, Dogmatic Theology).

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Private property

Continuing in our logical progression, we come to private property, of which the first thing to be said is that it is a consequence of the universal destination of goods. As such it should never be imagined as something antagonistic to it or separate from it, as if the two principles operated in opposition to one another. They are mutually complementary and supportive. According to Aquinas:

“Community of goods is ascribed to the natural law, not that the natural law dictates that all things should be possessed in common and that nothing should be possessed as one’s own: but because the division of possessions is not according to the natural law, but rather arose from human agreement which belongs to positive law…Hence the ownership of possessions is not contrary to the natural law, but an addition thereto devised by human reason.”[1]

What Aquinas illustrates here is the Church’s notion of a “hierarchy of goods.” That everyone ought to have the opportunity to share in the goods of the earth is a dictate of natural law, but since the best way of achieving the widespread and responsible use of goods does not lie in communal ownership, we choose instead to implement the institution of private property. Private property is a good which is “superimposed” on top of the universal destination of goods in order to best serve it. Thus, private property must be conceived as a means of achieving an end:

“The fact that God has given the earth for the use and enjoyment of the whole human race can in no way be a bar to the owning of private property. For God has granted the earth to mankind in general, not in the sense that all without distinction can deal with it as they like, but rather that no part of it was assigned to any one in particular, and that the limits of private possession have been left to be fixed by man’s own industry, and by the laws of individual races. Moreover, the earth, even though apportioned among private owners, ceases not thereby to minister to the needs of all, inasmuch as there is not one who does not sustain life from what the land produces.”[2]

[1] ST II-II, q. 66, a. 2, ad. 1.

[2] RN, 8.

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