Common ownership refers to holding the assets of an organization, enterprise or community indivisibly rather than in the names of the individual members or groups of members as common property.

Forms of common ownership exist in every economic system. Common ownership of the means of production is a central goal of communist political movements as it is seen as a necessary democratic mechanism for the creation and continued function of a communist society. Advocates make a distinction between collective ownership and common property as the former refers to property owned jointly by agreement of a set of colleagues, such as producer cooperatives, whereas the latter refers to assets that are completely open for access, such as a public park freely available to everyone.[1][2]

Christian societies edit

The first church in Jerusalem shared all their money and possessions (Acts of the Apostles 2 and 4).[3][4]

Inspired by the Early Christians, many Christians have since tried to follow their example of community of goods and common ownership.[5] Common ownership is practiced by some Christian groups such as the Hutterites (for about 500 years), the Bruderhof (for some 100 years) and others.[6][7] In those cases, property is generally owned by a charity set up for the purpose of maintaining the members of the religious groups.[8][9]

Christian communists typically regard biblical texts in Acts 2 and Acts 4 as evidence that the first Christians lived in a communist society.[10][11][12] Additionally, the phrase "To each according to his needs" has a biblical basis in Acts 4:35, which says "to the emissaries to distribute to each according to his need".[13][14]

In capitalist economies edit

Common ownership is practiced by large numbers of voluntary associations and non-profit organizations as well as implicitly by all public bodies. While cooperatives generally align with collectivist, socialist economics, retailers' cooperatives in particular exhibit elements of common ownership, while their retailer members may be individually owned.

Some individuals and organizations intentionally produce or support free content, including open source software, public domain works, and fair use media.[15][16]

Mutual aid is a form of common ownership that is practiced on small scales within capitalist economies, particularly among marginalized communities,[17][18][19][20] and during emergencies such as the COVID-19 pandemic.[21][22][23][24]

In socialist economies edit

Many socialist movements, including Marxist, anarchist, reformist, and communalist movements, advocate the common ownership of the means of production by all of society as an eventual goal to be achieved through the development of the productive forces, although many socialists classify socialism as public ownership or cooperative ownership of the means of production, reserving common ownership for what Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels termed "upper-stage communism"[25] or what Vladimir Lenin,[26] Emma Goldman,[27] and Peter Kropotkin[28] each simply termed "communism". From Marxist and anarchist analyses, a society based on a superabundance of goods and common ownership of the means of production would be devoid of classes based on ownership of productive property.[29][27]

Common ownership in a hypothetical communist society is often distinguished from primitive communism, in that communist common ownership is the outcome of social and technological developments leading to the elimination of material scarcity in society.[30]

From 1918 until 1995, the common ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange was cited in Clause IV of its constitution as a goal of the British Labour Party and was quoted on the back of its membership cards. The clause read:

To secure for the workers by hand or by brain the full fruits of their industry and the most equitable distribution thereof that may be possible upon the basis of the common ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange, and the best obtainable system of popular administration and control of each industry or service.[31]

Antitrust economics edit

In antitrust economics, common ownership describes a situation in which large investors own shares in several firms that compete within the same industry. As a result of this overlapping ownership, these firms may have reduced incentives to compete against each other because they internalize the profit-reducing effect that their competitive actions have on each other.

The theory was first developed by Julio Rotemberg in 1984.[32] Several empirical contributions document the growing importance of common ownership and provide evidence to support the theory.[33] Because of concern about these anticompetitive effects, common ownership has "stimulated a major rethinking of antitrust enforcement".[34] The United States Department of Justice,[35] the Federal Trade Commission,[36] the European Commission,[37] and the OECD[38] have all acknowledged concerns about the effects of common ownership on lessening product market competition.

Contract theory edit

Neoclassical economic theory analyzes common ownership using contract theory. According to the incomplete contracting approach pioneered by Oliver Hart and his co-authors, ownership matters because the owner of an asset has residual control rights.[39][40] This means that the owner can decide what to do with the asset in every contingency not covered by a contract. In particular, an owner has stronger incentives to make relationship-specific investments than a non-owner, so ownership can ameliorate the so-called hold-up problem. As a result, ownership is a scarce resource (i.e. there are limits to how much they can invest) that should not be wasted. In particular, a central result of the property rights approach says that joint ownership is suboptimal.[41] If we start in a situation with joint ownership (where each party has veto power over the use of the asset) and move to a situation in which there is a single owner, the investment incentives of the new owner are improved while the investment incentives of the other parties remain the same. However, in the basic incomplete contracting framework the suboptimal aspect of joint ownership holds only if the investments are in human capital while joint ownership can be optimal if the investments are in physical capital.[42] Recently, several authors have shown that joint ownership can actually be optimal even if investments are in human capital.[43] In particular, joint ownership can be optimal if the parties are asymmetrically informed,[44] if there is a long-term relationship between the parties,[45] or if the parties have know-how that they may disclose.[46]

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ Public Ownership and Common Ownership, Anton Pannekoek, Western Socialist, 1947. Transcribed by Adam Buick.
  2. ^ Holcombe, Randall G. (2005). "Common Property in Anarcho-Capitalism" (PDF). Journal of Libertarian Studies. 19 (2): 10.
  3. ^ "Acts 2:1–47". Biblia. Retrieved 2017-12-01.
  4. ^ "Acts 4:1–37". Biblia. Retrieved 2017-12-01.
  5. ^ Mangan, Lucy (2019-07-25). "Inside the Bruderhof review – is this a religious stirring I feel?". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2019-12-23.
  6. ^ "BBC - Inside The Bruderhof - Media Centre". www.bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 2019-10-10.
  7. ^ "Bruderhof - Fellowship for Intentional Community". Fellowship for Intentional Community. Retrieved 2017-11-08.
  8. ^ "Community Of Goods". Hutterites. 2012-02-24. Retrieved 2017-12-01.
  9. ^ "Eberhard Arnold: Founder of the Bruderhof". www.eberhardarnold.com. Retrieved 2017-12-01.
  10. ^ van Ree, Erik (22 May 2015). Boundaries of Utopia - Imagining Communism from Plato to Stalin. Routledge. ISBN 978-1-134-48533-8 – via Google Books.
  11. ^ Walton, Steve (April 2008). "Primitive communism in Acts? Does Acts present the community of goods (2:44-45; 4:32-35) as mistaken?". Evangelical Quarterly. 80 (2): 99–111. doi:10.1163/27725472-08002001.
  12. ^ Busky, Donald F. (2002). Communism in History and Theory: From Utopian socialism to the fall of the Soviet Union. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 14. ISBN 978-0-275-97748-1 – via Google Books.
  13. ^ Baird, Joseph Arthur (1989). The Greed Syndrome: An Ethical Sickness in American Capitalism. Hampshire Books. p. 32. ISBN 978-1877674020.
  14. ^ Berman, Marshall (2000). Adventures in Marxism. Verso Books. p. 151. ISBN 978-1859843093.
  15. ^ Erik Möller, e.a. (2008). "Definition of Free Cultural Works". 1.1. freedomdefined.org. Archived from the original on 18 August 2016. Retrieved 2015-04-20.
  16. ^ Stallman, Richard (November 13, 2008). "Free Software and Free Manuals". Free Software Foundation. Archived from the original on 15 August 2021. Retrieved March 22, 2009.
  17. ^ NEMBHARD, JESSICA GORDON (2014). Collective Courage: A History of African American Cooperative Economic Thought and Practice. Penn State University Press. doi:10.5325/j.ctv14gpc5r. ISBN 978-0-271-06216-7. JSTOR 10.5325/j.ctv14gpc5r.
  18. ^ Bacon, Jacqueline; McClish, Glen (2000). "Reinventing the Master's Tools: Nineteenth-Century African-American Literary Societies of Philadelphia and Rhetorical Education". Rhetoric Society Quarterly. 30 (4): 19–47. doi:10.1080/02773940009391187. ISSN 0277-3945. JSTOR 3886116. S2CID 144385631.
  19. ^ Williams, Colin C.; Windebank, Jan (2000). "Self-help and Mutual Aid in Deprived Urban Neighbourhoods: Some Lessons from Southampton". Urban Studies. 37 (1): 127–147. doi:10.1080/0042098002320. ISSN 0042-0980. JSTOR 43084635. S2CID 155040089.
  20. ^ Hernández-Plaza, Sonia; Alonso-Morillejo, Enrique; Pozo-Muñoz, Carmen (2006). "Social Support Interventions in Migrant Populations". The British Journal of Social Work. 36 (7): 1151–1169. doi:10.1093/bjsw/bch396. ISSN 0045-3102. JSTOR 23721354.
  21. ^ Sitrin, Marina; et al. (Colectiva Sembrar) (2020). Pandemic Solidarity: Mutual Aid during the Covid-19 Crisis. 345 Archway Road, London N6 5AA: Pluto Press. ISBN 978-0-7453-4316-7.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location (link)
  22. ^ "'The way we get through this is together': mutual aid under coronavirus | Rebecca Solnit". the Guardian. 2020-05-14. Retrieved 2020-06-14.
  23. ^ "Gig workers have created a tool to offer mutual aid during COVID-19 pandemic". TechCrunch. Retrieved 21 March 2020.
  24. ^ Tolentino, Jia (11 May 2020). "What Mutual Aid Can Do During a Pandemic". The New Yorker. United States: Condé Nast. Retrieved 28 July 2020.
  25. ^ Marx, Karl. "Critique of the Gotha Program". Die Neue Zeit. Bd. 1 No. 18 – via Marxist internet Archive.
  26. ^ Steele, David (1992). From Marx to Mises: Post-Capitalist Society and the Challenge of Economic Calculation. Open Court Publishing Company. pp. 44–45. ISBN 978-0-87548-449-5. By 1888, the term 'socialism' was in general use among Marxists, who had dropped 'communism', now considered an old fashioned term meaning the same as 'socialism'. ... At the turn of the century, Marxists called themselves socialists. ... The definition of socialism and communism as successive stages was introduced into Marxist theory by Lenin in 1917 ... , the new distinction was helpful to Lenin in defending his party against the traditional Marxist criticism that Russia was too backward for a socialist revolution.
  27. ^ a b Goldman, Emma (1932). "There Is No Communism in Russia". The Anarchist Library. Retrieved 2024-01-29.
  28. ^ Kropotkin, Pëtr (1901). "Communism and Anarchy". The Anarchist Library. Retrieved 2024-01-29.
  29. ^ Engels, Friedrich (Spring 1880). "Socialism: Utopian and Scientific". Revue Socialiste – via Marxist Internet Archive.
  30. ^ Engels, Friedrich. "The Principles of Communism". Vorwärts – via Marxist Internet Archive.
  31. ^ Adams, Ian (1998). Ideology and Politics in Britain Today (illustrated, reprint ed.). Manchester University Press. pp. 144–145. ISBN 9780719050565
  32. ^ Rotemberg, Julio (1984), "Financial Transaction Costs and Industrial Performance", MIT Sloan School of Management, Working Paper No. 1554‐84. [1]
  33. ^ Azar, José; Schmalz, Martin; Tecu, Isabel (2018), "Anticompetitive Effects of Common Ownership", Journal of Finance, vol. 73, no. 4, pp. 1513–1565, doi:10.1111/jofi.12698, hdl:1721.1/49091, S2CID 7965196
  34. ^ Hemphill, Scott; Kahan, Marcel (2020), "The Strategies of Anticompetitive Common Ownership", Yale Law Journal, pp. 18–29.
  35. ^ Solomon, Steven Davidoff (2018), "Rise of Institutional Investors Raises Questions of Collusion", New York Times. [2]
  36. ^ Federal Trade Commission (2018), "Competition and Consumer Protection in the 21st Century", FTC Hearings on Common Ownership. [3]
  37. ^ OECD (2017), "Competition in Changing Times", DG COMP. [4]
  38. ^ Vestager, Margrethe (2018), "Common Ownership by Institutional Investors and its Impact on Competition", Competition Committee. [5]
  39. ^ Grossman, Sanford J.; Hart, Oliver D. (1986). "The Costs and Benefits of Ownership: A Theory of Vertical and Lateral Integration" (PDF). Journal of Political Economy. 94 (4): 691–719. doi:10.1086/261404. hdl:1721.1/63378. JSTOR 1833199.
  40. ^ Hart, Oliver; Moore, John (1990). "Property Rights and the Nature of the Firm". Journal of Political Economy. 98 (6): 1119–1158. CiteSeerX 10.1.1.472.9089. doi:10.1086/261729. JSTOR 2937753.
  41. ^ Hart, Oliver (1995). Firms, contracts, and financial structure. Oxford University Press.
  42. ^ Schmitz, Patrick W. (2013). "Investments in physical capital, relationship-specificity, and the property rights approach" (PDF). Economics Letters. 119 (3): 336–339. doi:10.1016/j.econlet.2013.03.017.
  43. ^ Gattai, Valeria; Natale, Piergiovanna (2015). "A New Cinderella Story: Joint Ventures and the Property Rights Theory of the Firm". Journal of Economic Surveys. 31: 281–302. doi:10.1111/joes.12135. ISSN 1467-6419.
  44. ^ Schmitz, Patrick W. (2008). "Joint ownership and the hold-up problem under asymmetric information". Economics Letters. 99 (3): 577–580. doi:10.1016/j.econlet.2007.10.008.
  45. ^ Halonen, Maija (2002). "Reputation and the Allocation of Ownership" (PDF). The Economic Journal. 112 (481): 539–558. CiteSeerX 10.1.1.11.8312. doi:10.1111/1468-0297.00729. JSTOR 798519.
  46. ^ Rosenkranz, Stephanie; Schmitz, Patrick W. (2003). "Optimal allocation of ownership rights in dynamic R&D alliances". Games and Economic Behavior. 43 (1): 153–173. doi:10.1016/S0899-8256(02)00553-5.

External links edit