“Nature is not for everyone”, really?

Hunters sometimes ask questions that may end up in the philosophy bachelor’s program … Annoyed by a question about hikers worried about falling victim to a hunting accident, the president of the National Federation of Hunters said, Willy Schraenhad advised them last May to go “at their place”. He stated that 85% of the national territory was private in France, he had concluded in a lapidary manner : “Nature is not for everyone. »

A formula whose philosophical ambition seemed to us worth examining. Is it true and by extension acceptable that the world around us can be divided into several private properties? Of Locke on Rousseau Passing by Proudhon and the philosophers “of the commons”, we give you to reflect on this difficult question.

A “subject” in the form of a test run before the matriculation exam, for those who pass it on Wednesday!

Nature belongs to those who work with it (John Locke)

Say it “nature is not for everyone”as Willy Schraen does, this already presupposes that it is “hearing”: we are not just a part of her, we can surrender as it would say Descartes, “as gentlemen and possessors”. For the English philosopher John Locke (1632-1704), it was not always like this: “state of nature”, precisely this was the common property of all men, and it was upon entering the state of society that plots of land no longer began to belong to “all,” that private property s be established and found guaranteed and protected. In his Second dissertation on civil government (1690), Locke clearly explains that God was originally “gave the earth to men together”. No one has the right to what nature alone produces. But if it happens that an individual in his work with it produces some of it, it is legitimate that what is thus obtained is said to be his: “The work of his body and the work of his hands, we can say, are his own best”explains the philosopher, for whom “This pain and this industry is its own and only pain and industry, no one can be entitled to what is acquired by this pain and this industry.”. This is due to “everyone has a special right over his own person”. Such is the inalienable nature of the property, which the power established by society must guarantee, otherwise its enjoyment would be “very insecure”. The whole question, from this point of view, would be to know whether the hunters perform a task or a leisure time when they privatize parts of nature to hunt.

We have forgotten that nature does not belong to anyone because our own nature has been perverted (Jean-Jacques Rousseau)

Is it more correct to say that nature does not belong to everyone, or more precisely that it does not belong to anyone? To Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778), the answer is obvious: “You are lost if you forget that the fruits belong to everyone and that the earth does not belong to anyone”he writes at the beginning of his Second discourse on the origin and basis of inequality among men (1755). We are here in a performance close to Lockes: nature and what it produces are common. Except that for Rousseau, this never ceases to be true in the absolute. Like Locke, he imagines a state of nature from which humans would have arisen, but he does not judge that the claim according to which nature cannot be monopolized ceases to be true once society and private property are established. We simply forgot that it was an aberration and that is what makes us “lost”, that we have moved away from what we were basically: simple and good beings who only seek to preserve themselves while avoiding making others suffer. That “civil society” is the social stage where this oblivion is the most radical. That’s why Genevan writes it “the first who, after closing a piece of land, took it into his head to say ‘this is mine’ and found people simple enough to believe in him, was the true founder of civil society”. The statement from the chairman of the Hunters’ Association would come to support this idea that we have lost ourselves, preferring to acquire land and wage war with other species rather than live in community with nature, from which we are content to pick the fruits . The only wisdom advice that would be valid would then be: “Observe nature and follow the path it follows for you” (Emile1762).

In fact, nature is not for everyone … because it has been stolen from us (Pierre-Joseph Proudhon and the thinkers of the common people)

The idea that nature is not for everyone marks the triumph of proprietary ideology. Willy Schraen’s tone of evidence reveals that we are not wondering what this entails, the fact that we are there in a kind of trial of something fundamentally ordinary. Spoliation would be the right word for the anarchist Pierre-Joseph Proudhon (1809-1865): “I claim that neither work, profession nor law can create property … property is theft”he strikes at What is ownership? (1840). This is a radical departure from Locke: “Let the laborer make the fruit his own, I give it; but I do not understand that the property of the products possesses the materialspecifies Proudhon. Does the fisherman who knows the same coast how to catch more fish than his colleagues become, by this ability, the owner of the area where he fishes? Was the address of a hunter ever considered a deed to a canton’s game? ». The slaughtered animal strictly belongs to the hunter, but never the part of “nature” where he hunted it. But that is actually the case today, which is pure injustice, and the laws and contracts are there to confirm this situation. It is also in the light of this observation that contemporary thinkers like Pierre Dardot or Christian Laval is today seeking to reinvest the notion of “ordinary”, to support a frontal opposition to the growing expansion of private appropriation under capitalism to, for example, such elementary things as water. An opposition that is all the more legitimate as it is private property for these writers “whose principle is to withdraw things from ordinary use, denies co-operation, without which nothing would be produced, ignores the accumulated common tax in which all new wealth comes to find its possibilities” (Ordinary. Essay on the Revolution of the XXIe century, The Discovery, 2014). Nothing is ever produced by the operation of a single owner alone, and it is unfair that what bears fruit through social cooperation should be owned by a body other than society itself. This is unfair and even dangerous when we look at the threats that the monopolisation of resources poses to “life” itself in the age of climate change.

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