A Brief History of Mass Theft

Allen, Darren
Date Written:  2017-07-12
Publisher:  OffGuardian
Year Published:  2017
Resource Type:  Article
Cx Number:  CX21045

The process by which communal land and resources are appropriated by private wealth (or capital), and people are robbed of their self-sufficiency and thereby forced into a position where they have to sell their labour in order to survive, is called Primitive Accumulation. Today we might call this Privatisation, or in plain-speaking, Mass-Theft.The entire process of mass-theft took centuries to carry out in Western Europe and is often difficult to grasp in its entirety.



Direct mass-theft is, however, wherever possible, avoided. It's unpleasant work, exhausting and it's just not good for business to have blood dripping from your hands. In the early days, at the dawn of capitalism, such crude tactics were necessary, as they still are in many parts of the world, in order to gain monopolistic control of the source of wealth; land. But mass-thieves have always understood that to gain the second vital component of their wealth, labour, it is vital, not to mention easier, to also use Indirect Mass-Theft; impoverishment (the stick) and addiction (the carrot).

Techniques of pre-modern impoverishment included (and still include), usury, taxation, raising prices on food, capitalising on disasters and enacting laws that curtail self-sufficiency (that make it illegal for people to collect firewood, hunt ('poach'), mill their own flower, etc), all of which combine to force people into a state of dependency on the owners of capital and the issuers of money. With no land or access to it, unable to buy the necessities of life, or make them, forced into debt and compelled to give away what little they do have, men and women become poor and hungry, the prerequisites for wage slavery and indentured servitude.
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