Private property

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Sign indicating private property (Lobnighof in Eberstein )

Private property is property that belongs to private individuals and non-state companies . The counterpart is collective property .


The compound private property is made up of the two words private (from Latin privatus , "separated, robbed, separated") and property . It is not a legal term , but is used today to distinguish between collective property or state property ( Latin res extra commercium ) and church property . All private assets are privately owned. The term has acquired particular importance in history, particularly in property theories and Marxism .


Grave goods that were given to the dead are regarded as the historical roots of private property . These were personal items such as weapons , jewelry and some everyday objects that had a special bond with the deceased. In natural law there was no private property because all people could collectively dispose of all goods. From the 3rd millennium BC , private property in Mesopotamia is documented on the basis of sales contracts in cuneiform . The legislation of Philolaus of Corinth in the 8th century strengthened large estates , so that later Aristotle complained about the "inequality of property". Aristotle was occupied in the 4th century BC. Chr. In his state-philosophical work Politiká in detail with the various forms of property and defended private property against Plato , who wrote in the Politeia about the decline and decline of the ideal state: “They agree to distribute the lands and houses as private property among themselves . ”In his work“ Politiká ”, Aristotle advocated the right to private property and was skeptical of common property:“ What belongs to the greatest number in common, the least care is taken ”.

In the Roman Empire , the large landowner built his economy in the 3rd century BC. On slave labor , thereby destroying the small farmers . Gaius Iulius Caesar reported between 55 and 53 BC. In the De bello Gallico that the Germanic peoples have no private ownership of land . The rest of the property did not belong to the individual, but to the clan . For Cicero was written 44 BC. Private property originally through occupation : "But there is no private property through nature, but either through earlier occupation (as with those who once came to unoccupied areas) or through victory (as with those who took possession of it in war) or by law, agreement, contract or lot ”.

Slaves ( Latin servi ) were not allowed to own private property in Roman law , they were themselves considered things ( Latin res mancipii ) and were in the private property ( Latin dominium ) of their master, which was expressed in the unlimited and permanent submission to the direct power of the master. In the 2nd century, the Digest ruled that slavery was an institution in which one person - contrary to their nature - became the private property of another. Gaius made a distinction between physical things ( Latin res corporales ), "which one can touch" ( Latin quae tangi possunt ), and all other things ( Latin res nec mancipi ) and claims / liabilities ( Latin res incorporales ).

In the Middle Ages , monastic ethics saw private property as a sin, as did trade and military service. Anselm von Canterbury, for example, considered lack of property or common property in his work Cur deus homo ( German  Why God is Man ) , written between 1094 and 1098, to be a general rule dictated by reason. Private property violates reasonable moral law and Christianity . The canon lawyer Gratian created in his work Decretum Gratiani around 1140 the basis for legitimizing private property. Common property was to him as given with natural law, while private property represented a component of human law. Wilhelm von Auxerre , however, pointed out in his Summa aurea (which only appeared posthumously in Paris in 1500) in the 13th century that it was more useful to the point of bliss that there was private property than that everything was common to all. Around 1268 Thomas Aquinas justified the existing system of property and possessions in the Summa theologica , because there would be more disputes among those who owned something in common and undivided.

The first theories of property arose in the 17th century, for example in 1625 by Hugo Grotius , who initially assumed an original community of property ( Latin communio primaeva ), but then recognized the introduction of private property through the distribution of goods through occupation and social contracts. In 1762, Jean-Jacques Rousseau emphasized the social ties of property, which restrict it in favor of the common good . Adam Smith was much more sober about private property than the later Physiocrats. In his book The Prosperity of Nations of March 1776, he assumed that production triggers a consideration in the form of wages and therefore the entire work results belonged to the worker .

The physiocrats were particularly interested in landed property . The first principle is the unconditional protection of private property, because without guaranteed property the entire physiocratic economic cycle would collapse. A social order that affirmed private property presented itself to the Physiocrats as the more economically superior. Its founder François Quesnay took the view in 1787 that work established the private property of the agricultural entrepreneur.

The word private property was evidently coined in 1821 by the philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel , which he contrasted with the prince's property in state power . For him, through the appropriation and use of a thing, nature became the sphere of external freedom. Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels questioned private ownership of the means of production during industrialization . Engels emphasized in 1847 that private property did not always exist. “When, towards the end of the Middle Ages, a new type of production was created in the manufactory , which could not be subordinated to the feudal and guild property of that time, this manufactory, which had outgrown the old property relations, created a new form of property, private property”. For Marx, in 1867 “capitalist modes of production and accumulation, including capitalist private wealth… required the annihilation of private property based on one's own labor, that is, the expropriation of the worker”. He went on to write: "Private property, as opposed to social, collective property, only exists where the equipment and the external conditions of work belong to private people". According to Marx, the abolition of private ownership of the means of production in the dictatorship of the proletariat is the economic prerequisite for a classless society . In the Communist Party's manifesto in 1872, Marx and Engels demanded the nationalization of all means of production: “The proletariat will use its political rule to gradually wrest all capital from the bourgeoisie , all production instruments in the hands of the state, that is, of the proletariat organized as the ruling class to centralize and to increase the mass of production forces as quickly as possible. "

When they were founded in 1918, especially from 1944, socialist states took over the teachings of Marx, among other things, and - if they had not already done so - converted most of private property into state property through expropriation . This also happened in the GDR in accordance with the GDR constitution , which came into force on October 7, 1949. Property was not seen as a person's right to property, but as "the property of the whole people". Since October 1974, the GDR economic order has been based on socialist property, which is made up of public property , common property in a cooperative and the property of citizens' social organizations. There could be no private ownership of economically important objects (Art. 12 GDR Constitution, Section 20 Paragraph 3 Sentence 1 ZGB). Private property was a residual, because over 95% of the commercial economy was in socialist ownership. On the other hand, there was the citizens' personal ownership of consumer goods (Art. 11 GDR Constitution, §§ 22 ff. ZGB), which was based primarily on wages and served to satisfy personal needs. This included household items and items for vocational training , further education and leisure activities . Private property (Section 23 (2) ZGB) was “free property” (small plots of land, dachas , small businesses ) that had not (yet) been transferred to socialist property.

The Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany (GG), which came into force on May 4, 1949, states a property guarantee in Art. 14 GG: "Property and the right of inheritance are guaranteed". In Article 14.2 of the Basic Law, however, this is relativized, because its use should also serve the common good ( social obligation of property ). Expropriations without compensation are prohibited according to Article 14.3 of the Basic Law. Expropriations are the opposite of privatization , the conversion of state property into private property.

The Agricultural Adaptation Act (LwAnpG) of June 1990 mentioned during the fall of the Wall that private property in land and the management based on it in agriculture and forestry in the GDR would be fully restored and guaranteed ( Section 1 LwAnpG).

Legal issues

Private property is now part of the private law concept of property, according to which the owner of a thing or a right , unless the law or the rights of third parties conflict with it, can deal with the thing or right at will and exclude others from any influence ( Section 903 BGB ). Therefore, the BGB guarantees the owner a right to surrender against the unlawful owner ( § 985 BGB) or a right to cease and desist from certain illegal acts by a disturber ( § 1004 Paragraph 1 BGB). This private property is opposed to the law of public affairs . Where common property ends and private property begins, signs often point out the ownership structure.

Web links

Wiktionary: Private property  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Danaë Simmermacher, property as a subjective right by Luis de Molina (1535-1600) , 2018, p. 195
  2. Bernd Radtke, World History and Description of the World in Medieval Islam , 1991, p. 66
  3. ^ Gablers Wirtschaftslexikon, keyword: Aristotle
  4. ^ Plato, Der Staat , Eighth Book, translation by August Horneffer , Kröner Verlag 1955, p. 264
  5. Aristotle, Politiká , Book 2, p 1263
  6. ^ Fritz Schwind , Römisches Recht: I. History, Rechtsgang, System des Privatrechtes , 1950, p. 53
  7. ^ Gaius Iulius Caesar, De bello Gallico , IV 1; VI 22
  8. Cicero, De officiis I, 44 v. Chr., P. 21
  9. ^ Paul Jörs / Wolfgang Kunkel / Leopold Wenger, Römisches Recht , 1987, p. 68
  10. Papinian , Digisten , 7, 4, 2
  11. ^ Gaius, Institutiones Gai , 2, 13, 14
  12. Kurt Flasch, Introduction to the Philosophy of the Middle Ages , 1987, p. 119
  13. ^ Gratian, Decretum Gratiani , around 1140, decretum VIII pars. I.
  14. Stephan Ernst, Ethical Reason and Christian Faith , 1996, p. 374
  15. ^ Thomas Aquinas, Summa theologica , II-II, around 1268, 66a 2 co.
  16. ^ Hugo Grotius, De iure belli ac pacis ( German  On Law in War and Peace ), 1625
  17. ^ Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Principles of Constitutional Law , 1762, 1, 6
  18. Jump up ↑ Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations , Volume I, 1776, Chapter VII
  19. Jump up Heinrich frequent, Enlightenment and Economy , 1978, p. 84
  20. ^ François Quesnay, Maximes générales du gouvernement économique , 1787
  21. Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Basics of the Philosophy of Law , 1821, §§ 41 ff.
  22. ^ Friedrich Engels, Principles of Communism , 1847, p. 62
  23. ^ Karl Marx, Das Kapital. Volume I : The Production Process of Capital , 1867, p. 56 f.
  24. ^ Karl Marx, Das Kapital. Volume I: The Production Process of Capital , 1867, p. 789
  25. Marx-Engels-Werke, Manifesto of the Communist Party , Volume 4, 1872/1972, p. 481
  26. Johannes Klinkert / Ellenor Oehler / Günther Rohde, Property Right Use of Land and Buildings for Living and Recreation , 1979, p. 18
  27. Art. 9 f. GDR Constitution of October 7, 1974, §§ 17 ff. ZGB of June 19, 1975
  28. ^ Norbert Horn, Civil and Commercial Law in the New Federal Territory , 1991, § 11 Rn. 5
  29. ^ Jan Wilhelm, Property Law , 2007, p. 160 f.