… Most collectivists find comfort in such self-contradictory sentiments as Pierre Proudhon’s “property is theft,” and George Bernard Shaw’s “property is organized robbery.” Were their thinking more focused, they would have become aware that for “theft” and “robbery” to occur, there must be an owner to be despoiled. From whom do they imagine such property to have been taken, and upon what basis did these phantom prior owners base their claims? If the answer is some amorphous “mankind,” how is control exercised by an entire species, and what are the boundaries by which such interests are defined? Is it not clear that these very statements negate the legitimacy of the alleged earlier claimants? If it is an act of “theft” for a specific individual to assert a claim of ownership over a precise item of property against an undefined “owner,” how does a “claim”—and made by whom?— advanced on behalf of a nonexistent collective over undefined property, rise to a level worthy of respect? Such is the confused and wholly abstract base upon which collectivist thought rests.
Butler Shaffer, Boundaries of Order: Private Property as a Social System (2009), pp.251-252
Me. If you take something that I could previously use, and make it your own entirely, it was me you took it from. And my sister. And my father and my mother, my uncles, my aunts, all my extended family, indeed, all mankind. “Mankind” as an answer is not “amorphous,” it didn’t get taken from some spirit of mankind, it got taken from me, and also from everybody else. If you deny group claims to property, that swings directly back – if I take a cheese burger at McDonalds, from whom do you imagine that property was taken? The stock holders of McDonalds are also a group, does that automatically invalidate their every claim?