Friday Ephemera
Heavy Skies

Great in Theory

Time, I think, for another in our series of classic sentences. Further to George Monbiot’s belief that homeowners should be punished for having spare rooms that he thinks they “don’t need,” the Guardian has invited a panel of readers to comment on homelessness. One contributor is Thierry Schaffauser, a rent boy, porn actor and president of the International Union of Sex Workers (Adult Entertainment Branch).

Mr Schaffauser tells us,

My neighbours once put together a petition to get rid of me after they saw me on TV at Paris’s annual hookers’ pride march.

When not displaying his hooker’s pride, Mr Schaffauser finds time to hold forth on matters economic:

Many buildings are empty because rich people need more money in the bank. Owners prefer to keep their property empty: this increases demand for accommodation, thus raising the cost of renting.

Any landlords reading this, rich or otherwise, may be surprised to discover that the receipt of rent is no longer necessary or desirable. An empty rental property is, it seems, a more lucrative proposition.

Mr Schaffauser then appeals to precedent:

During the French Revolution, the National Assembly imposed a law to ban wheat hoarding in order to end the starving of the people. They confiscated the goods of the church and aristocrats and abolished privileges.

Which leads him to conclude,

The best solution to end homelessness is to abolish private propertyWhat is needed is requisition. Property is theft.

Unlike actual theft. Say, by the state. Clearly, people must not be allowed to have things to call their own and use as they see fit. What is it again that Mr Schaffauser does for a living?

I don’t think the abolition of privileges is complicated to do, we just need the political will.

Apparently privileges are quite unlike the rights claimed by Mr Schaffauser – and, it seems, much easier to do away with. Once private property has been abolished, and with it the practical footing of personal autonomy, I’m sure we’d all happily adjust to a world in which where one lives, and with whom one lives, is decided for us. By people who know better.

A sympathetic Guardian reader adds,

This is great in theory but I don’t see it working in practice.

Ah, but it’s nonetheless great in theory.