Chix Nix Bundle-O-Stix: A Feminist Critique of the Disaggregation of Property
Property was dead, to begin with. The coroner, Wesley Newcomb Hohfeld, revealed that the unity, tangibility, and objectivity of property perceived by our ancestors was a phantom. Property is, in fact, merely a “bundle of sticks.” When conceptualized as a collection of rights, property loses its distinctive qualities and its essence. It therefore does not, or at least should not, exist. Without unity and physicality, property loses its objectivity and can only be a myth. The rabble might still believe in the old gods of property, but the educated “specialists” now know that this was vulgar superstition. Once the populace is reeducated, property will cease to be worshiped.
But if mythic unitary property of our ancestors is dead, it continues to haunt us with ghostly persistence. As Sir John Frazer illustrates, the murder of the mythic hero – whether it be Osiris, Tammuz, Adonis, Jesus, or Superman – is only a precursor to his resurrection. And so, certain theorists have recently insisted that property exists after all – but only a version of property that emphasizes tangibility and immediate relations with physical, real objects.
In this article I argue that property is alive and well. But property is also in the grip, so to speak, of a specific metaphor – an image of property as the sensuous grasping of a tangible thing.