False Consciousness

We have reached the culmination of plutocracy.  “The institution of property has, in its modern form, reached its zenith as a means of giving to the few the power over the life of many, and its nadir as a means of securing to the many the basis of regular industry, purposeful occupation, freedom, and self-support.”  While this is true, it is still the case, however, that to many thousands in the “middle classes,” a slender hold on “property” exists, and represents the one social reality of which they will never willingly let go on any plea whatsoever.  And this is not from any peculiar reverence for riches, nor, in the majority of cases, from any special desire to accumulate them, but simply from the conviction that only through property comes the power to make provision for the morrow and resist, if need be, the dictation of others.  The grounds for such a tenacity are, then, natural enough; but the effects of it to-day are disastrous because it is almost entirely instinctive, and rallies to the defense of the most monstrous prerogatives and monopolies if only the definition of property can somehow be stretched to include them.  And stretched it accordingly is, so that the most indispensable personal tools and the most flagrantly unjustifiable tolls are not only defended by the same arguments by the unscrupulous champions of wealth, but subject to the same criticisms by the enemies of it.  The humblest annuity-holder thus enrols in the bodyguard of plutocracy, and every shaft of the Socialist assailant serves only to confirm him in his unwarrantable allegiance. (173-174)

Maurice Reckitt | “The Moralization of Property” in The Return of Christendom

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