Private property and the fear of social chaos

By Aidan Beatty

Private property and the fear of social chaos


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Book Information

  • Format: Hardcover
  • ISBN: 978-1-5261-6570-1
  • Pages: 344
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £85.00
  • Published Date: January 2023
  • BIC Category: Modern History, History, Political ideologies, HISTORY / Modern / General, POLITICAL SCIENCE / Political Ideologies / Capitalism, PHILOSOPHY / Political, 21st Century History: From C 2000 -, Humanities / 20th century history: c 1900 to c 2000, Humanities / Modern history to 20th century: c 1700 to c 1900, Society & social sciences / History of ideas


A history of whiteness, masculinity, and the intellectual history of private property from the seventeenth century onwards in the anglophone Atlantic world. Private property and the fear of social chaos studies what people imagine it means to live in a world where private property is dominant and their fears (and sometimes hopes) about living in a future world where private property has disappeared.

This is a close reading of some of the dominant theorists of private property in the Anglophone world - Locke, Burke, Marx and Engels, Harry Truman, Thatcher - as well as more obscure figures like the pro-slavery ideologue George Fitzhugh. Taken as a whole, all of these disparate figures show how modern conceptions of private property always have racial and gendered logics and a fear of the mob operating within them.


'Beatty is rising as an important young historian able to speak to large issues with authority, evidence, and nuance. This book is an elegant and economical study of the social origins of modern liberalism and conservatism and Marxism. It is a highly original work with unexpected but well-connected elements.'
David Roediger, author of The Sinking Middle Class



Section I: Theories
1. The invention of the new world
2. The poet of real property
3. The Moor's laboratory

Section II: Practices
4. The failure of free society
5. Privatised utopias
6. The Iron Lady's imaginary childhood

Epilogue: Interplanetary settler colonialism



Aidan Beatty teaches at the Honors College of the University of Pittsburgh

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