This is an ongoing concept in my head so bear with me here. What I want to look at is the most practical reason for, and how the idea of “private property” may be better explained to people.
Often, those who are derogatorily called “propertarians” will make their argument for ownership sound as if it’s coming from a “moral” or “rights” justification. In my mind, to make the “rights” rationale, especially from a “God-given” stance, is to claim some sort of moral high ground over those who espouse views to the contrary (socialists, statists, etc.). When that happens, we end up in the realm of opinions and historically search for an “arbiter” to settle the dispute; whether that be a government, a king or weapons. We even see claims that the land was given to a certain group by God himself. How does one argue against that? Is there a more practical way to look at property that may appeal to a wider range of our fellow humans?
Anyone who knows history should be aware that the majority of wars and violence has been over land disputes (I can hear the anti-religionists screaming but you’re wrong). You can look around the world today and see that some of the unrest between peoples has to do with property. Israel/Palestine is the first that should come to mind. If one is declaring a piece of land that another says they have a claim upon we see tension and potential violence; and often war and oppression.
Violence and savagery are the enemy of peace and order. In the wake of the George Floyd incident, those who finally had their eyes opened to the violence of the State – after witnessing the officer kneeling on his neck for several minutes – started to look at government enforcers as violent and even corrupted. The multiple and random occurrences of looting and fires quickly turned their eyes to an even graver threat – the mob. They immediately sought someone to establish order. People feared for their lives and property and were deprived, in many cases, of ways to protect it themselves (if you like your guns, you can keep them, and use them when the time comes). Many called it chaos.
When appealing to the person who just wants to live their life in safety explaining that private property helps to “keep the peace” may be a better tactic. Sending a direct message that they have the right to use as much violence as necessary to protect it is paramount. The average person has experienced or heard of skirmishes in local neighborhoods over property lines and easements and are most likely unconsciously aware that property norms are what assisted in the resolution of these disputes. Boundaries must be drawn to keep the peace. We just need to point this out to them.
In the grand scheme of things people seek personal peace over all else. A grasp on the concept of private property may be a way for them to achieve a greater level of it.