St. Mary's Law Journal


Popular notions of property are enshrined in constitutional protections which seem to make quite clear society’s emphasis on the individual’s preeminence in matters of property. Americans have never been able to accept the “socialist ownership” notions of the Soviet Union and other socialist countries as a viable scheme of property. It is probably irrefutable that the application of socialist ownership principles in the Soviet Union has been less efficient than the American model of private ownership. Yet, it is reactionary to entirely condemn the idea of socialist ownership and conclude the downfall of the Soviet Union proved the “rightness” of private property. American beliefs about property are based on tradition and vague understandings of American political and social order, and such concepts of what “property” truly is are firmly held beliefs. The concepts of “property” and “ownership” of the people of Russia and other former Soviet republics are undergoing a testing of firmly held beliefs as the reformation of the Soviet Union legal systems. From 1917 until the recent past, the Soviet scheme of socialist ownership was characterized by an emphasis on state and communal ownership with less “private property” than is common in American society. Property had three distinct classes of owners, the Soviet Union, collective farms and other social organizations, and citizens of the Soviet Union. Despite having three classes of owners, the foundation of the economic system of the USSR was socialist ownership of the means of production in the form of state property and collective farm-and-co-operative property. Yet, perhaps both Russians and Americans have focused on false choice in terms of property. American protection of private property provides incentives for individual citizens. Socialist and communist theories address legitimate concerns of those who do not thrive in a society driven by economic survival-of-the-fittest philosophy.


St. Mary's University School of Law