18. PROPERTY

CONSERVATIVE support the institution of private property and, in the main, the conduct of business through private enterprise.

It is, however, important not to confuse the case for one with the other. Each is separate and distinct.

It would be perfectly possible, for instance, under a system of Guild Socialism, to imagine a state of society in which no industry was nationalised but in which private property, in the sense in which it is understood by Conservatives, was proscribed.

It would also be possible to imagine--indeed under the present Labour Government we may see--a state of society in which the main business enterprises were nationalised but in which the theoretical basis of private, property was left unchallenged.

This chapter deals with the case for private property. The case against nationalisation is examined elsewhere.

The institution of private property is to be justified on four main interconnected grounds.

First, the possession of property is a fight of the individual-- a legitimate aspiration which human beings as such are naturally entitled to pursue as a means of developing their personalities.

Second, private property is the natural fight and safeguard of the family, which is itself the natural unit of society and is and ought to be the foundation of the whole fabric of civilised society.

Third, private property is to the interest of the community since the desire to obtain it provides an incentive for work which is morally legitimate, and at the same time sufficiently material to operate on natures which in most of us contain certain elements not entirely spiritual or unselfseeking.

Fourth, private property--including some large fortunes--is the natural bulwark of liberty because it ensures that economic power is not entirely in the hands of the State.

First, then, to seek private property by legitimate work and to enjoy it, once obtained, is a natural fight of the individual.

-97-

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The Case for Conservatism
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 3
  • Contents 5
  • Part I. Preliminary 7
  • 1. the Philosophy of Conservatism 7
  • Part II. Basic Conservative Ideas 16
  • 2. the Religious Basis of Society 16
  • 3. the Organic Theory of Society 24
  • 4. Country 31
  • 5. Commonwealth and Empire 36
  • 6. International Order 41
  • 7. Authority 44
  • 8. the Liberal Heresy 48
  • 9. the Socialist Heresy 54
  • 10. Liberty 60
  • 11. the Idea of Law 68
  • 12. Natural Law 70
  • 13. the Rule of Law 76
  • 14. Progress 83
  • 15. Continuity 86
  • 16. Enterprise 89
  • 17. Incentives, Liberal and Socialist 91
  • 18. Property 97
  • 19. Trading for Profit 103
  • 20. Competition, Big Business and Public Ownership 107
  • 21. the Land 119
  • 22. Trade Unions and Co-Operatives 125
  • 23. the Politics of Abundance 133
  • 24. Education 143
  • Part III. the Socialist Case Examined 147
  • 25. Introduction to Part III 147
  • 26. Profit and Use 150
  • 27. Public Ownership 154
  • 28. Planning 163
  • 29. Inequality of Income 167
  • 30. Inequality of Wealth 174
  • 31. Poverty--Its Cause and Cure 181
  • 32. War 189
  • 33. Standard of Life 192
  • 34. Housing 197
  • 35. Public Health 200
  • 36. Social Insurance 202
  • 37. Unemployment--The Facts 207
  • 38. Unemployment--Cause and Cure 213
  • Part IV. Policy To-Day and To-Morrow 225
  • 39. General Election, 1945 225
  • 40. Foreign Affairs 235
  • 41. Social Policy 250
  • 42. Economic Policy 260
  • 43. Food and Agriculture 277
  • 44. Nationalisation 284
  • 45. Britain at the Cross Roads 296
  • 46. the Politics of the Next Election 303
  • 47. Epilogue 311
  • Index 315
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