chapter  I
12 Pages

PROBLEM AND METHOD

A quotation or two from authorities in related fields will help to stress the importance of our problem. Thus Taussig writes: “The questions between private property and socialism are . . . at bottom questions as to men's character, motives, ideals. They are questions, insofar, of psychology; in more familiar language, of human nature. They are not simple, but highly complex, because human nature is highly complex."1 Graham Wallas suggests the same line of thought: “Almost the whole economic question," he writes, “between socialism and individualism turns on the nature and limitations of the desire for property. . . . Some economist ought therefore to give us a treatise in

which this property instinct is carefully and quantitatively examined.” 1 Or again, W. H. R. Rivers, remarking that the concept of acquisition is one which is very prominent in the economic and political discussions of the present day, urges the importance of knowing “ how far the features of social behaviour connoted by the terms ‘acquisition’ and ‘acquisitive’ are inherent in the character of human beings as members of society; how far they are inborn or instinctive, and how far they are the outcome of social environment and social tradition. In other words, it is necessary to enquire whether Man, in addition to the many other instincts now generally ascribed to him, possesses an instinct of acquisi­ tion.” * Finally, Drever in his Instinct in Man comments on the fact that no psychologist has yet made a careful study of the nature of acquisition and property interest. We have studies of the psychological basis of such social institutions as religion or marriage, but none of the equally important institution of property.3