Open main menu

Page:Earth-Hunger and Other Essays.djvu/286

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

that I could show the error and fallacy of a great deal of the current talk about property if I should follow out the parallel between property and the family and should show their intimate and mutual relations as social facts.

It is as impossible to find the origin of property as it is to find the origin of marriage, and for exactly the same reason—namely, that no society could exist without each. Marriage means reproduction and property means nutrition, and no society could exist without both. If a man took a plant or an animal out of nature for his own support, he had to appropriate it into private and exclusive property. Therefore, it is plain that, if property is an "institution," so is marriage an institution in exactly the same sense and in exactly the same degree. In both cases there is a natural fact, just as essential to the life of the race and just as independent of human assent in the one case as in the other; in each case the artificial construction bears the same relation to the natural fact.

In the lowest forms of society the prevailing germ of the family consists of a mother with her child; it is the father who remains longest without a place or share in the family. In this form of society we also find the first germ of sentiment; for the woman, although otherwise treated as a beast of burden and destitute of rights, almost always enjoys a degree of respect when she is a mother. In general, and due allowance being made for the anomalies already referred to, the family organization just described is that of the hordes which possess property in common. The men of the horde conduct its affairs and look upon the children, especially the boys, as the strength of the horde in the future; they therefore value them, but they have no rights "in severalty" over the children. In countless instances it is known