The origins of private property are obscure. We can imagine there was a time in which it didn’t exist, and that some time later it did. But how do we account for it’s manifestation?
The writer argues that private property is a prerequisite for market exchange, since to exchange anything, a person must first own it. The observation doesn’t fix the origins of private property to any particular moment in history or prehistory, but it does establish a logical order of natural development or evolution.
In anthropological terms, property must come before exchange; exchange must come before money; money must come before complex, institutional economies.
Importantly, the necessary order of development does not require the state to be the origin of private property by, for example, writing property laws. Instead, “early societies must have established some system of private property rights, which individuals recognized reciprocally with respect to each other.”