Absolute Property

Thus the extremely individual ideas as regards the holding of land which are to-day so prevalent would then have been hardly understood.  Every external authority, the whole trend of public opinion, the teaching of the Christian Fathers, the examples of religious bodies, the inherited views that had come down to the later legalists from the digests of the imperial era, the basis of social order, all deflected the scale against the predominance of any view of land tenure or holding which made it an absolute and unrestricted possession.  Yet at the same time, and for the same reason, the modern revolt against all individual possession would have been for the mediaeval theorists equally hard to understand.  Absolute communism, or the idea of a State which under the magic of that abstract title could interfere with the whole social order, was too utterly foreign to their ways of thinking to have found a defender.  The king they knew, and the people, and the Church; but the State (which the modern socialist invokes) would have been an unimaginable thing. (16)

Bede Jarrett | Mediaeval Socialism


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