Hermits Rock

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This seems to me basically right:

It seems to be in the nature of the relationship between the public and private realms that the final stage of the disappearance of the public realm should be accompanied by the threatened liquidation of the private realm as well. Nor is it an accident that the whole discussion has eventually turned into an argument about the desirability or undesirability of privately owned property. For the word “private” in connection with property, even in terms of ancient political thought, immediately loses its privative character and much of its opposition to the public realm in general; property apparently possesses certain qualifications which, though lying in the private realm, were always thought to be of utmost importance to the political body.

The profound connection between private and public, manifest on this most elementary level in the question of private property, is likely to be misunderstood today because of the modern equation of property and wealth on one side and propertylessness and poverty on the other. This misunderstanding is all the more annoying as both, property as well as wealth, are historically of greater relevance to the public realm than any other private matter or concern and have played, at least formally, more or less the same role as the chief condition for admission to the public realm and full-fledged citizenship. It is therefore easy to forget that wealth and property, far from being the same, are of an entirely different nature. The present emergence everywhere of actually or potentially very wealthy societies which at the same time are essentially propertyless, because the wealth of any single individual consists of his share in the annual income of society as a whole, clearly shows how little these two things are connected. (Arendt, The Human Condition, 60–61)

What now exists—and where I’m sure she’s going in her argument, though I’ve not read so far yet—is a society which makes sacred wealth, not property, and as such, wealth has supplanted property as a way to enter the public sphere. The public sphere of course is different than was, but wealth can be leveraged in ways that property can’t: where property was valued because it implanted one, gave one a place, wealth is valued because it unmoors the self and makes it possible to engage the public at any point on the globe.



It’s particularly interesting out here, where there are essentially two kinds of large property owners: people who have moved here and are rich, and people who have ranched here forever and are often (though not always) poor—or at any rate relatively poor. The latter are generally afforded more respect than the former, who are generally viewed as ostentatious because they build large houses and have conservation easements on their property.