Property and Community

When it comes to controversial development projects, such as The Ellington Hotel, there is a breed of “free-marketeers” who will reflexively claim, “It’s their property and their money. Let them do what they want with it. Read the Constitution.

Yes, it’s fairly plain: it certainly is their money and their property.

But it is also our city.

We give Asheville it’s value. Developers want to build here to take advantage of the value our presence gives to this city. The community at large has a stake in Asheville’s development. We should not become docile, passive players in the exploitation of the value we have created.

Rights, including property rights, are important; even paramount. Their recognition and protection are imperative. But rights are not unlimited.

In a free and pluralistic society, rights conflict. These conflicts are resolved in the law; law that should not prefer one party’s rights over another’s.

In the simple case I gave above, private developers have the right to purchase and develop properties they regard worthwhile in exchange for their efforts and capital investment. However, the members of that community (that make this investment worthwhile) also have rights: The right of self-determination. And the right to not be herded around like cattle by every moneyed interest that takes a fancy to our city with their eyes on the value we have given it by our very presence and human activity.

We can assert those rights, not by outbidding the developers at every turn or turning to violence, but by enacting reasonable laws that restrict unsavory and predatory practices that run the risk of actually destroying value and which aim at preserving and promoting value as we see it.

All of this takes place within the context of the mutual respecting of rights; rather than the survival of the biggest, the riches, the most connected, the most thuggish — or even the most well-read.

Some questions for discussion:

  1. Shall a community have any measure of self-determination afforded them in the law?
  2. To whom does the Earth, and its riches, belong?
  3. Do moneyed interests absolutely trump the individual rights of paupers and the unlanded in all times, in all places and in every case?


Geolibertarianism from Wikipedia.

Libertarianism and Georgism – The Philosophical and Practical Relationship” by Harold Kyriazi.

Earth Rights Institute articles” by Alanna Hartzok.

Progress and Poverty” by Henry George.

What Is Geolibertarianism?


About Tim Peck

Unaffiliated Objectivist
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