I thought this would be more relevant here than at the English SO. I was reading on Wikipedia about libertarian socialism, which brought me to the article on left-libertarianism. Beginning at the third paragraph in the introduction it says:

While maintaining full respect for personal property, left-libertarians are skeptical of or fully against private property,

From what I've looked up, personal property is movable property, as contrasted with real property/estate. And private property seems to be property owned by an individual as opposed to public property, which almost ironically is owned by the state.

What does that particular sentence mean about left-libertarians, about accepting personal property but not private property? And if you could give examples that would be excellent.


1 Answer 1


Based on the definitions you provided, a quick summary of the position would be "you can own stuff, but not a place". In other words, it's an ideology where you have ownership of and control over your belongings, but not the land on which those belongings are kept; if the state were to evict you (e.g. for eminent domain reasons) you would be entitled to keep your possessions such as clothing, tools, food, etc., but you do not have claim to the land itself.

This definition is somewhat limited because it refers only to 'real' property private property, but differing social & economic models have different ways of dividing the classes of property. In most Western Capitalist systems, personal property can be a form of private property. In many socialist and Marxist systems, personal property is any object intended for personal use, but private property is a social relationship in which the owner deprives another person or class from using, accessing, or benefiting from that property. (The wikipedia entry for Personal Property has a comparison for more info.) To link this back to your original question, the idea under this system is that it is good for people to have their own belongings, but the means of production - land, natural resources, factories, patents, etc. - should be communal goods shared for the benefit of society at large.

  • What doesn't make sense though is that if I follow the link to private property, it says that private property includes personal property. So I don't understand how the left-libertarian can be for personal property but against private property when private property includes personal property. Maybe the article meant to say personal property is fine, but REAL property/estate is not.
    – Zebrafish
    Mar 27, 2018 at 16:19
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    @Zebrafish you may want to bring that up with wikipedia. When people talk about personal and private property in the same breath "private property" almost certainly means "private property excluding personal property".
    – user9389
    Mar 27, 2018 at 16:25
  • I dug a little deeper through the links you provided, and there's a decent summary on the page for personal property that clears it up a bit. I'll edit some of that info into my answer. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/…
    – LazyGadfly
    Mar 27, 2018 at 16:28
  • @notstoreboughtdirt So private property in this sense means private real property/estate?
    – Zebrafish
    Mar 27, 2018 at 16:31
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    "private property is means of production, not even private real estate" Private real estate can be a means of production, too. For example if the land has natural resources like timber, oil, or gold; if the land is productive farm or ranch land; or if the land has industrial facilities built on it, it's easy to see how that real property would be considered part of the means of production, and something that some systems would say should be public property.
    – LazyGadfly
    Mar 27, 2018 at 16:54

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