1. Skip to navigation
  2. Skip to content
  3. Skip to sidebar
Source link: http://archive.mises.org/10386/a-critique-of-mutualist-occupancy/

A Critique of Mutualist Occupancy

August 2, 2009 by

In my contribution What Libertarianism Is in the Hoppe Festschrift, Property, Freedom and Society, I included a very long footnote (23) critiquing the mutualist “occupancy” view of property rights and, specifically, Kevin Carson’s contention that this is compatible with libertarianism. A edited excerpt from the article on this issue is provided below.

***

Why is appropriation the relevant link for determination of ownership? First, keep in mind that the question with respect to such scarce resources is: who is the resource’s owner? Recall that ownership is the right to control, use, or possess, while possession is actual control–”the factual authority that a person exercises over a corporeal thing.”[21] The question is not who has physical possession; it is who has ownership. Thus, asking who is the owner of a resource presupposes a distinction between ownership and possession–between the right to control, and actual control. And the answer has to take into account the nature of previously-unowned things: to-wit, that they must at some point become owned by a first owner.

The answer must also take into account the presupposed goals of those seeking this answer: rules that permit conflict-free use of resources. For this reason, the answer cannot be whoever has the resource or whoever is able to take it is its owner. To hold such a view is to adopt a might makes right system where ownership collapses into possession for want of a distinction. Such a “system,” far from avoiding conflict, makes conflict inevitable.[23]


[21] A.N. Yiannopoulos, Louisiana Civil Law Treatise, Property (West Group, 4th ed. 2001), § 301 (emphasis added); see also Louisiana Civil Code, Art. 3421 (“Possession is the detention or enjoyment of a corporeal thing, movable or immovable, that one holds or exercises by himself or by another who keeps or exercises it in his name”; emphasis added).

[23] This is also, incidentally, the reason the mutualist “occupancy” position on land ownership is unlibertarian. As mutualist Kevin Carson writes:

For mutualists, occupancy and use is the only legitimate standard for establishing ownership of land, regardless of how many times it has changed hands. An existing owner may transfer ownership by sale or gift; but the new owner may establish legitimate title to the land only by his own occupancy and use. A change in occupancy will amount to a change in ownership. . . . The actual occupant is considered the owner of a tract of land, and any attempt to collect rent by a self-styled ["absentee"] landlord is regarded as a violent invasion of the possessor’s absolute right of property.

Kevin A. Carson, Studies in Mutualist Political Economy (Self-published: Fayetteville, Ark., 2004), chap. 5, sec. A (emphasis added). Thus, for mutualism, the “actual occupant” is the “owner”; the “possessor” has the right of property. If a homesteader of land stops personally using or occupying it, he loses his ownership. Carson contends this is compatible with libertarianism:

[A]ll property rights theories, including Lockean, make provision for adverse possession and constructive abandonment of property. They differ only in degree, rather than kind: in the “stickiness” of property. . . . There is a large element of convention in any property rights system–Georgist, mutualist, and both proviso and nonproviso Lockeanism–in determining what constitutes transfer and abandonment.

Kevin A. Carson, “Carson’s Rejoinders,” Journal of Libertarian Studies 20, no. 1 (Winter 2006): 133 (emphasis added). In other words, Lockeanism, Georgism, mutualism are all types of libertarianism, differing only in degree. In Carson’s view, the gray areas in issues like adverse possession and abandonment leave room for mutualism’s “occupancy” requirement for maintaining land ownership.

But the concepts of adverse possession and abandonment cannot be stretched to cover the mutualist occupancy requirement. The mutualist occupancy view is essentially a use or working requirement, which is distinct from doctrines of adverse possession and abandonment. The doctrine of abandonment in positive law and in libertarian theory is based on the idea that ownership acquired by intentionally appropriating a previously unowned thing may be lost when the owner’s intent to own terminates. Ownership is acquired by a merger of possession and intent to own. Likewise, when the intent to own ceases, ownership does too–this is the case with both abandonment of ownership and transfer of title to another person, which is basically an abandonment of property “in favor” of a particular new owner. See Kinsella, “A Libertarian Theory of Contract,” pp. 26-29; also Louisiana Civil Code, Art. 3418 (“A thing is abandoned when its owner relinquishes possession with the intent to give up ownership”) and Art. 3424 (“To acquire possession, one must intend to possess as owner and must take corporeal possession of the thing”; emphasis added).

The legal system must therefore develop rules to determine when property has been abandoned, including default rules that apply in the absence of clear evidence. Acquisitive prescription is based on an implicit presumption that the owner has abandoned his property claims if he does not defend it within a reasonable time period against an adverse possessor. But such rules apply to adverse possessors–those who possess the property with the intent to own and in a sufficiently public fashion that the owner knows or should know of this. See Yiannopoulos, Property, § 316; see also Louisiana Civil Code, Art. 3424 (“To acquire possession, one must intend to possess as owner and must take corporeal possession of the thing”; emphasis added) and Art. 3476 (to acquire title by acquisitive prescription, “The possession must be continuous, uninterrupted, peaceable, public, and unequivocal”; emphasis added); see also Art. 3473. The “public” requirement means that the possessor possesses the property openly as owner, adverse or hostile to the owner’s ownership–which is not the case when, for example, a lessee or employee uses an apartment or manufacturing facility under color of title and permission from the owner. Rules of abandonment and adverse possession are default rules that apply when the owner has not made his intention sufficiently clear–by neglect, apathy, death, absence, or other reason.

(In fact, the very idea of abandonment rests on the distinction between ownership and possession. Property is more than possession; it is a right to possess, originating and sustained by the owner’s intention to possess as owner. And abandonment occurs when the intent to own terminates. This happens even when the (immediately preceding) owner temporarily maintains possession but has lost ownership, as when he gives or sells the thing to another party (as I argue in Kinsella, “A Libertarian Theory of Contract,” pp. 26-29).)

Clearly, default abandonment and adverse possession rules are categorically different from a working requirement, whereby ownership is lost in the absence of use. See, e.g., Louisiana Mineral Code, § 27 (“A mineral servitude is extinguished by: . . . prescription resulting from nonuse for ten years”). Loss of ownership is not lost by nonuse, however, and a working requirement is not implied by default rules regarding abandonment and adverse possession. See, e.g., Louisiana Civil Code, Art. 481 (“The ownership and the possession of a thing are distinct. . . . Ownership exists independently of any exercise of it and may not be lost by nonuse. Ownership is lost when acquisitive prescription accrues in favor of an adverse possessor”; emphasis added). Carson is wrong to imply that abandonment and adverse possession rules can yield a working (or use or occupancy) requirement for maintaining ownership. In fact, these are distinct and independent legal doctrines. Thus, when a factory owner contractually allows workers to use it, or a landlord permits tenants to live in an apartment, there is no question that the owner does not intend to abandon the property, and there is no adverse possession (and if there were, the owner could institute the appropriate action to eject them and regain possession; see Yiannopoulos, Property, §§ 255, 261, 263-66, 332-33, 335 et pass.; Louisiana Code of Civil Procedure, Arts. 3651, 3653 & 3655; Louisiana Civil Code, Arts. 526 & 531). There is no need for “default” rules here to resolve an ambiguous situation. (For another critique of Carson, see Roderick T. Long, “Land-Locked: A Critique of Carson on Property Rights,” Journal of Libertarian Studies 20, no. 1 (Winter 2006): 87-95.)

A final note here: I cite positive law here not as an argument from authority, but as an illustration that even the positive law carefully distinguishes between possession and ownership; and also between a use or working requirement to maintain ownership, and the potential to lose title by abandonment or adverse possession, to illustrate the flaws in Carson’s view that an occupancy requirement is just one variant of adverse possession or default abandonment rules. Furthermore, the civilian legal rules cited derive from legal principles developed over the ages in largely decentralized fashion, and can thus be useful in our own libertarian efforts to develop concrete applications of abstract libertarian principles. See Stephan Kinsella, “Legislation and the Discovery of Law in a Free Society,” Journal of Libertarian Studies 11, no. 2 (Summer 1995): 132-81; also idem, “Knowledge, Calculation, Conflict, and Law,” pp. 60-63 (discussing Randy Barnett’s views on the distinction between abstract legal rights and more concrete rules that serve as guides to action).

{ 110 comments }

Chris Cook August 2, 2009 at 2:38 pm

“It is to be observed, that in common speech, in the phrase the object of a man’s property, the words ‘the object of’ are commonly left out; and by an ellipsis, which, violent as it is, is now become more familiar than the phrase at length, they have made that part of it which consists of the words ‘a man’s property’ perform the office of the whole.” – Jeremy Bentham -”An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislations” (1789)

We are accustomed to thinking that Property is an object – typically a productive asset – which may be bought and sold, but as Bentham pointed out, this is not in fact the case. Property is the relationship between an individual – the subject – and the asset which is the object of the individual’s property. So in fact the productive asset of land is not property, but rather the object of a man’s property or something which is “proper” to the man.

It follows that Property is in fact the bundle of rights and obligations which connect the subject (individual) to the object (asset).

The question then is how this bundle of rights and obligations is legally defined, and in particular the rights of exclusive use (possession), and the rights to the value of that use or “usufruct” (ownership).

Historically there has always been a conflict between what are essentially two absolutes:

(a) the ownership right eg freehold land – of permanent duration;

(b) the use rights eg leasehold land, or tenancies, for a defined period of time.

I believe that it is possible to encapsulate these relationships within new types of corporate frameworks (eg UK LLPs and possibly US LLCs), and to share these rights in a simple, radical – indeed possibly optimal – new way I call “co-ownership”.

Andras August 2, 2009 at 10:09 pm

There are two issues in question:
1) Internalization of the previously external. And
2) Changing hands of (already internalized) property.
I think the two should be discussed separately, or at least, in a well distinguished way.

Brainpolice August 3, 2009 at 6:56 am

The point about possession vs. ownership is little more than semantic nitpicking – by “occupancy and use”, mutualists generally in fact *are* refering to “the right to control, use or possess”. The main difference is a matter of stringency over the issue of abandonment – not the difference between “ownership” and “non-ownership” at the meta level. It is thus not exactly fair to define other people’s positions for them.

You then went on to at least appear to strawman mutualists as holding the position that “whoever has the resource or whoever is able to take it is its owner”. That isn’t what the position that any mutualist that I know of holds – the position is more like “there is a point at which something is qualatatively abandoned to the point that claims to ownership end” – not a Max Stirner style amoralist position that “what I take is mine”.

The claim that “The doctrine of abandonment in positive law and in libertarian theory is based on the idea that ownership acquired by intentionally appropriating a previously unowned thing may be lost when the owner’s intent to own terminates.” is also clearly false. Intent alone does not constitute abandonment, I.E. it is not dependant on mere declaration – even Rothbardians like Roderick Long disagree with that position. Someone can “intend” to own something that is completely qualatively abandoned and actually drastically transformed by other people’s labor.

As for what can be called “libertarian” and “not libertarian”, anarcho-capitalists and neo-lockeans do not have a monopoly on libertarianism. Geolibertarians, mutualists and libertarian socialists all have just as much of a valid claim to “libertarianism” as neo-lockeans and anarcho-capitalists. The insistance that one must be a neo-lockean to be a libertarian is simply dogmatism.

Brainpolice August 3, 2009 at 7:02 am

If you truly want to maintain that one must be a hardline neo-lockean “natural rightser” to be a libertarian, then you must dismiss even some of the people heralded as heroes at this very site as not truly being libertarians, including Albert Jay Nock (a geoist), Frank Chodorov (a geoist), and even Mises himself (who completely rejected the notion of natural rights).

Stephan Kinsella August 3, 2009 at 10:15 am

“BrainPolice,”

“The point about possession vs. ownership is little more than semantic nitpicking – by “occupancy and use”, mutualists generally in fact *are* refering to “the right to control, use or possess”.”

In the law (civil law) there is a concept of the legal right to possess, as opposed to actual possession. Under this doctrine if you are the legal possessor and are physically ousted you can use legal process to regain your property, without showing you are the owner–only that you were the legal possessor. I think this is more akin to how the mutualists view property rights. It is sort of in between bare (physical, actual) possession, and full legal ownership, on the spectrum.

“The main difference is a matter of stringency over the issue of abandonment – not the difference between “ownership” and “non-ownership” at the meta level. It is thus not exactly fair to define other people’s positions for them.”

It is not the “stringency” of abandonment. It is conflating a working or use requirement (which is what mutualist principles amount to) with default rules for abandonment and adverse possession.

“You then went on to at least appear to strawman mutualists as holding the position that “whoever has the resource or whoever is able to take it is its owner”. That isn’t what the position that any mutualist that I know of holds”

I quoted Carson in my piece explicitly expressing the basic principle that the occupant is the owner. So if I homestead land and then build a factory on it, run by employees and I am remote or distant–they become the owner b/c they are the ones using it. Read the quoted language by Carson.

I do assume Carson would say that if you are forced from your home, you can regain it–so in that sense they favor a right to possess, as opposed to merely being in favor of actual possession which is a might-makes-right position. their view is barely a step above might-makes right, and in any event, their view does say that when the owner (legal possessor) voluntarily lets others occupy the land, he does lose ownership rights, since he is no longer the occupier.

Bob Kaercher August 3, 2009 at 12:27 pm

IMO, mutualists are quite good at offering a consistently radical analysis of the state-corporate status quo (though I think they’re frequently wrong in their assumptions of what it implies for a hypothetical post-state future society).

But I’ve never been able to wrap my mind around their “occupation and use” definition of ownership, considering the incentives to conflict. I’ve often read where Kevin has said that any mutualist community could just work out its own rules for avoiding such conflict, to which my first thought is always, “Yes–by issuing titles.”

EMM October 15, 2010 at 1:37 pm

1. Is there any distinction in the matter above between natural resources/land versus other “items” produced by people?

2. “So if I homestead land and then build a factory on it, run by employees and I am remote or distant–they become the owner b/c they are the ones using it.”
a. Did the homesteader build the entire factory himself?
b. Why can’t the homesteader do all the work himself/why does he need the factory to be “run” by ‘employees?’
c. Do the employees ‘run’ it or just take orders?
d. Can the ‘employees’ become the ‘owners’ of the factory?
e. If the homesteader is now remote I guess we have to ask if he is ‘abandoning’ the factory, or on vacation, or…
f. If the homesteader still wishes to reap money for their investment and do no ‘real’ work, at what time are they paid back for their investment…at what time can we say that they have reaped the rewards for their labor input and are now essentially skimming money from everyone else without working?
g. Or lets say they still work ‘a little,’ would their compensation change to ‘a little’ now that they are not as involved? Would the same apply towards ‘ownership’ of the land and/or the factory by all those working there? In other words, would ownership shift to a communal arrangement at that particular site/square footage whereby the users of the factory now come to hold a stake in the structure, and for the time being, the land it rests on?

3. “…their view does say that when the owner (legal possessor) voluntarily lets others occupy the land, he does lose ownership rights, since he is no longer the occupier.”
This seems consistent if it is voluntarily. Question is, how could someone occupy more land than they really need anyway? I guess we have to ask what constitutes “enough” space or buffer, how much land can someone claim for various purposes whether they be industrial, commercial, or residential? Not to mention, what amount of time has to pass for abandonment. Of course we can’t ask all the plants and animals around if it’s OK that we scrape away habitat and move in. Thankfully, now developers often have to mitigate for their sins and leave some open space nearby for the critters they ousted. Regardless, if the ex-owner does not lose their ownership rights, or they are not transferred to the new occupant, it seems the ex-owner is now the “master” of the new occupant.

Stephan Kinsella October 15, 2010 at 3:00 pm

Could you please repeat the question?

Sheldon Richmans January 7, 2011 at 8:55 am

The discussion is interesting but ultimately rationalistic and therefore unhelpful. What matters is what most likely will emerge “spontaneously” from free people’s activities. Do we really think the rules of a free society will spring from the brow of a philosopher who will then read his treatise under the big tree to the assembled masses who will in turn revamp their society accordingly? How does one get from the treatise to the ground without imposing the philosophy?

That’s why I find Hasnas, Benson, and David Friedman more germane to this issue than anything the philosophers and legal theorists espouse.

Stephan Kinsella January 7, 2011 at 10:05 am

Yes there are limits to armchair reasoning, of course. That does not mean we have no libertarian principles, or that it’s “rationalistic” to have libertarian principles. Moreover, the principles I espoused above regarding homesteading and property are not just plucked out of air, but are the result of centuries of human experience and practice.

Faré September 7, 2011 at 2:47 pm

I wonder what “occupancy” means to Carson & mutualists.

If I leave my house to go to work in the morning, am I still “occupying” it? Or can any roaming gang break into it, empty it from its contents, then deny me entrance?

Hell, if I go to the restrooms in a restaurant, shall I expect my stuff to be there when I get back? Or conversely, may I strip the restrooms from any implement that is not welded into the wall, since the restrooms were obviously unoccupied? Shall I always carry all my possessions with me in a backpack?

Can I own anything more than I can watch with my attentive eyes? Do I even own what’s in my backpack, since it’s in my back and I can’t watch it? Do I own anything when I sleep and my eyes are closed?

What if I have to team with friends so that there’s always one of us awake to shoot at strangers who’d take our stuff while we’re not looking? What if my friends and I do not keep watching each and every of our belongings closely, but only periodically, causing a delay of a few seconds before retaliation? Of a few minutes? A few hours? A few days? A few weeks? A few months? A few years?

And BTW, what’s your address and what time are you not home?

Adam September 7, 2011 at 7:50 pm

Fare: Perhaps you should read from the source before babbling on the internets. Use/occupancy is in regards to land. I scoff at the idea that once you play in the dirt, it belongs to you forever, however if that’s your ideology I’ll try to respect it.

Peter Surda September 8, 2011 at 1:13 am

Adam,

if such a system was implemented, it would cause is to increase spending on defenses (e.g. locks, walls, fences, dogs, attack drones, …) so that a factory owner can go home to see his family during the night. There is no reason per se why it would lead to change of the ownership of land. It just makes it more expensive, so there is actually an expectation that less people will be able to own it, not more. Let me quote from David Friedman:

Agricultural land continues to be treated as a commons for another thousand years, until somebody makes a radical technological innovation: the domestication of the dog. Dogs, being territorial animals, can be taught to identify their owner’s property as their territory and respond appropriately to trespassers. Now you can convert to private property in agricultural land and sleep soundly. Think of it as the bionic burglar alarm.

Faré September 8, 2011 at 11:47 am

Carson speaks explicitly of any capital goods, not just land.

And yes, property has indefinite extent, in land as in anything else.

You’ll try to respect my ideology, that means that you won’t partake in “anarcho-syndicalist” militias who kill anyone caught hiring help at plowing one’s field with one’s tools as in the “good old” days of “republican” Spain? Thank you.

Meanwhile, I’ll never show any respect for your ideology or any other mass criminal ideologies. You see, I respect people and their property; I will never attempt anything against them. But I have no patience for stupid and evil ideas, and I vow to eradicate them from the surface of the earth.

Adam September 8, 2011 at 1:29 pm

Peter: “if such a system was implemented, it would cause is to increase spending on defenses” That is silly. Mutualists advocate private property in regards to: Cars, tooth brushes, food purchased from a market, etc. We do not suggest that once you labor for these thing, that they are up for grabs. In the case of land and other natural necessities, (like water), we believe it cannot be bought up, even if you sit and play in it for days upon days, digging, pissing, etc. But in the case of a house, or a factory, when it is left for the night, it remains your property, just like a tooth brush.

Fare: “Carson speaks explicitly of any capital goods, not just land.” No he doesn’t. Again, learn2read or shut up. Mutualism occupancy/use is in regards to land, water sources, etc. “If you try to deny me a drink from a stream, I will kill you, even if you claim it is one land you claim” -That is anarchism at its core, something you ancaps don’t get. All you morons have claims, granted by god. xD Which shows something; all ancaps wish to change is the monopoly on injustice.

“Meanwhile, I’ll never blah blah blah stupid bulls@#$” Good luck, mutualism pre-exists the Rothbardian nonsense you advocate child.

Peter again: “There is no reason per se why it would lead to change of the ownership of land.” This is only true if your prior claim is true, that land would need expensive drones etc to protect it. However that is silly. If you knew anything about mutualism, you would know we advocate community, not pure individualism. Cooperative, co-dependent society. There is no other realistic alternative. Some mutualists even believe in PDAs, just like you ancaps, although they would be ideally cooperative. I implore you to read, not to be converted but to be enlightened about what you speak of. Look to Josiah Warren, to Lysander Spooner who advoacted interest free loans, to Benjamin Tucker, and PJ Proudhon, these are the original mutualists/ contributors to mutualist thought. Yes, Spooner does belong there. Kevin Carson, Shawn P. Wilbur and others are changing things based on society today, and of course being historians of the day to a neglected anarchist, market oriented btw, movement. I recommend you read “The iron fist behind the invisible hand” by Carson. Its an excellent read.

Peter: Thank you for being intelligent; I give you all the respect I would have for for Fare, and plus what I have for you. He is a rabid dog; a pseudo-intelligencia.

Peter Surda September 8, 2011 at 3:07 pm

Adam,

This is only true if your prior claim is true, that land would need expensive drones etc to protect it.

This is not my claim. My claim is rather that it will be easier for people who are rich to setup defenses, and harder for the poor people. So rich people would be able to conduct absentee land ownership, but poor people would not. That would lead to a shift of land ownership from the poor to the rich. This is however counter to the mutualists’ goal (from what I can see) that land is transferred to occupants rather than absentee occupants. So the means run counter to the goal.

Let’s now assume that you are right and defenses would not be expensive. Then there is no reason for a redistribution of land to occur in the first place. Whether the absentee owner has a claim or not, the property would allocate itself according to the preferences of potential land consumers. They would just increase spending on defense at the cost of spending on other endeavors. This can cause some land redistribution but apriori in no particular direction.

I’m a falsificationist. I am not really interested in the normative aspects of economics, merely in determining whether positions are coherent. I appreciate that you are making a rational response.

Adam September 8, 2011 at 3:38 pm

Peter: In what setting, what environment? Mutualists wish to eliminate the wealth created by the current system,to quote Josiah warren: “The circulating medium being issued only by those who labor, they would suddenly become invested with all the wealth and all the power; and those who did not labor, be they ever so rich now, would as suddenly become poor and powerless.”

We are socialists, and individualists. You do not agree with us, and we are not brothers. There is no hope for our relationship other than an opposition to war and many social issues. That is where it stops, because we do not ignore primitive accumulation, we do not marginalize its meaning on today’s society, its impact, and we do not marginalize the labor movement that has occurred because of it.

The modern libertarian is a deviant of the prior movement. I do not say these things to be hostile, but truthful. I would like to have a union of our movements but it seems the ideological differences are too huge. I have much respect for you, (even if it doesn’t come off that way) and I respect Rockwell, Kinsella, and the bunch, even Ron Paul, I just don’t advocate your theories.

Mutualism is more than just “abolish da gobernments, and all will be well.” No, not at all, there is much more mechanism behind it than that.

Stephan Kinsella September 8, 2011 at 4:10 pm

All socialists should die. But this point depends on semantics.

Adam September 8, 2011 at 6:04 pm

All socialists will die, eventually.

Peter Surda September 8, 2011 at 5:17 pm

Adam,

you avoid the problem I’m pointing to. You wish society to work in a specific way. Let’s assume that some people do not want it to work like that. What are you going to do? If you agree with my analysis, then you have to admit you wouldn’t reach your goal. You’d have to start violating their rights (even within the system of rights you advocate). So you’d be contradicting yourself. In other words, your attempt to present a theory to support your actions would be pointless.

Adam September 8, 2011 at 6:10 pm

Peter could you clearly restate the problem, I thought I had addressed it, but maybe I missed it.

Peter Surda September 9, 2011 at 1:06 am

Adam,

you explain that according to your model, absentee ownership (of land) would not be legally acknowledged. However, by spending money on defenses, it would remain possible to practice absentee ownership. Unless you can show what effect this shift (from using the courts to using private defense) would have on land ownership, it is irrelevant whether absentee ownership is acknowledged to be legally valid.

If a different distribution of land is your goal, then there is no apriori reason why your system would reach that goal. So the whole premise is bogus: regardless of the legal status of land ownership, you’d have to start violating people’s rights in order to reach your goal. But that makes the legal system pointless.

You see, your argument goes something like this:

I want a different distribution of land => I promote a different legal system. Different legal system => different distribution of land.

My objection is that the second implication is false, so your position (first implication) makes no sense. Your reaction is essentially: screw the rights anyway. That invalidates the purpose of a legal system in the first place. Which means that you do not have a theory of property rights and a debate is pointless.

Adam September 9, 2011 at 1:26 pm

Thank you Peter, I will answer when I have the time to be detailed and thoughtful, which should be later today.

Adam September 9, 2011 at 9:02 pm

scratch that, it will be tomorrow, I haven’t had time, but I am not going to leave you guessing when I respond

Adam September 10, 2011 at 5:21 am

“you explain that according to your model, absentee ownership (of land) would not be legally acknowledged.”

Absentee land ownership would be acknowledged in one way: It is aggression and undesirable. If you set up a border and say, “This is mine, and you cannot use it without first buying it from me or renting it from me” and the person ignores you, what will you do? Attack them with your drones? Shoot them? Have your PDA arrest them? These are acts of aggression. If you physically harm someone for using naturally occurring items, then you are acting as the highway robber. Even by pointing a gun at their head and saying “Get off my land” you are the aggressor. It would be beneficial to a society to outlaw this behavior. Making it not practical to even go to the measures you talk of.

“However, by spending money on defenses, it would remain possible to practice absentee ownership.”

You call them “defenses”, but would they not be in fact aggressive tools? To shoot someone for trying to use land you have claimed is not a defensive move. It is an act of aggression. It is not an act of aggression to use something that naturally occurs. Further more, it is not an act of aggression to use something that has occurred naturally, even if someone mixed their labor with it. Why? Because if I have occupied a land for any period of time, and some dip shit comes up and decides he is going to dig on it and tract it, and kills me and my people to keep us from occupying that land after he has finished running it over with large vehicles, then he is the aggressor still, even if he claims the land now belongs to him due to his “labor” being mixed into it. To say the second man is the victim, and thus defending himself, is absurd. If I have never occupied that land before, and it was already ran over with tractors, it would still be an act of aggression to shoot me for using it.

“Unless you can show what effect this shift (from using the courts to using private defense) would have on land ownership, it is irrelevant whether absentee ownership is acknowledged to be legally valid.”

The scenario you outlined is in direct violation of the NAP, and of most ethical systems, so it would not be tolerated. Instead, upholding use/occupancy of land would be the ideal, conflict free, solution. Making it a violation of law to attack someone for using land that is claimed is much simpler than dictating rights to land. Not to mention that the first is not authoritarian in nature, and the second is. Lockean property rights require convoluted, impossible qualifiers. Mutualist property on the other hand requires outlawing murder and other forms of aggression.

“If a different distribution of land is your goal, then there is no apriori reason why your system would reach that goal.”

I disagree for reasons stated above. The system we mutualist anarchists advocate would with out a doubt lead to a more even distribution of land, because it would make it 1. Illegal to attack those wanting to use unoccupied land. and 2. It would offer no legal aid to those wanting to claim they own everything because they stuck a shovel in it.

“So the whole premise is bogus: regardless of the legal status of land ownership, you’d have to start violating people’s rights in order to reach your goal. But that makes the legal system pointless.”

Wrong. We would have to maintain peoples rights to use unoccupied land, by keeping others from violating their rights to do so. By outlawing aggression, we would outlaw absentee ownership.

“You see, your argument goes something like this:

I want a different distribution of land => I promote a different legal system. Different legal system => different distribution of land.”

No the argument is this: We wish to maintain a society that promotes a legal system of banishing aggression on those what wish to use unoccupied land, whether that land has been dug into and fenced off, or not. This would lead to a more equal distribution of land because it would make absentee land ownership impossible unless societies outlawing of aggression is ignored.

“My objection is that the second implication is false, so your position (first implication) makes no sense.”

My objection is that your argument has no grounding in reality, Proven by my response. I have proven that absentee land ownership requires violation of the NAP, and it requires aggressive tactics, taken against innocent individuals or groups.

“Your reaction is essentially: screw the rights anyway. That invalidates the purpose of a legal system in the first place. Which means that you do not have a theory of property rights and a debate is pointless.”

Your folly arises from your assumption that society would favor the absentee land owners “rights to attack” versus an individuals freedom to use land that is not occupied; and that convoluted lockean land dictations that could be abused, would be a better system for freedom than “do not attack people for using unoccupied lands.” That is why you are wrong; for favoring the complex over simplicity.

Peter Surda September 10, 2011 at 7:34 am

Adam,

Absentee land ownership would be acknowledged in one way: It is aggression and undesirable.

The concept of aggression only makes sense when there is a contested object. Unoccupied land cannot be contested. At least one party needs to occupy it before the concept of aggression make sense. So an absentee owner can just prevent you from entering and he achieves his goal.

Attack them with your drones? Shoot them? Have your PDA arrest them? These are acts of aggression.

You do not need to aggress against them to prevent them from entering. Your theory ignores that. Examples would be electrified fence, mutiliating traps and all kinds of other Area denial weapons. Even the drones do not need to actually attack you, they can just annoy you or block your access. If you lose patience and attack them first, then you’re the aggressor and they are defending themselves. Or they just need to hold you back until the “absentee owner” runs back to the land and then you can’t enter anymore.

Even by pointing a gun at their head and saying “Get off my land” you are the aggressor.

But falling into pit filled with snakes, stepping onto poisoned caltrops and so on is not aggression by the constructor of these traps.

You call them “defenses”, but would they not be in fact aggressive tools?

Not necessarily.

The scenario you outlined is in direct violation of the NAP,

Not necessarily.

Mutualist property on the other hand requires outlawing murder and other forms of aggression.

My point is that it is possible to prevent third parties from entering a specific area without violating their rights, even if you do not own this area. The theory you presented fails to address this.

1. Illegal to attack those wanting to use unoccupied land.

As I explained above, it is not necessary to attack them. In the minimalist case, the wannabe absentee owner can just cover “his” land with a big plastic foil, so that in order to get to the land you need to damage the foil (i.e. violate his rights). And even if he did not have any cover, he could just leave people he trusts there while he’s absent. Again, this all favours rich people.

2. It would offer no legal aid to those wanting to claim they own everything because they stuck a shovel in it.

But they can still construct their protective measures in a way that makes entering the land impossible without violating his other rights.

We would have to maintain peoples rights to use unoccupied land, by keeping others from violating their rights to do so.

As I explained above, merely removing the legal protection in land does not necessarily lead to any conclusion. You would need to remove legal protection from all possible protective and defensive systems.

We wish to maintain a society that promotes a legal system of banishing aggression on those what wish to use unoccupied land…

You are skipping over the logical gaps in your argument. Merely revoking legal protection for absentee land ownership does not necessarily change anything.

My objection is that your argument has no grounding in reality, Proven by my response.

On the contrary, your argument is completely disconnected from reality. I showed plenty of examples as well as provided theoretical explanation of the gaps in your arguments.

and it requires aggressive tactics

My position does not require aggressive tactics.

Your folly arises from your assumption that society would favor the absentee land owners “rights to attack” versus an individuals freedom to use land that is not occupied;

Your folly lies in the assumption that the purpose of legal system is to form ethical standards rather than the other way around.

It is completely irrelevant whether I think the majority of people want absentee ownership or not. As long as there is a need for it, it is possible to conduct it even when it’s not legally recognised, and in that case it would only probably favour rich people who can setup defenses.

You are mixing two separate things: an ethical system and a legal system. I clearly showed that the legal system you propose does not necessarily lead to the ethical system you propose, if anything it would only make things “worse”.

That is why you are wrong; for favoring the complex over simplicity.

You are the one favouring complexity, you arbitrarily divide physical goods into those who can be owned without possessing them and those who cannot. This results in all kinds of theoretical and practical problems, as explained above.

Adam September 10, 2011 at 5:29 am

There I think I addressed your “problem”. I will not respond unless you retort point by point, just as I did.

Adam September 10, 2011 at 11:52 am

How do I quote like that? Please help me out there so I can respond to your errors.

Peter Surda September 10, 2011 at 2:57 pm

Adam,

for starters you might want to address the example with the plastic foil.

Adam September 10, 2011 at 3:59 pm

yes but how do I display quotes like that?

Peter Surda September 10, 2011 at 4:31 pm

Try

<blockquote>quoted text</blockquote>

sweatervest September 10, 2011 at 4:34 pm

Try

Thank you! I’ve been wondering how to do that.

Adam September 11, 2011 at 2:14 pm

Thanks.

Adam September 8, 2011 at 3:53 pm

Also, I should say any hostility that might have been present in my posts are in response to the smugness of the OP (and it is so obviously ignorant of the topic) and the arrogance and ignorance of Fare. I wish I would have refrained from all insults used, and I apologize for the “morons” comment and the “Rothbardian non-sense” and whatever else is there that comes off as “douche bagish”.

sweatervest September 9, 2011 at 2:25 am

“My claim is rather that it will be easier for people who are rich to setup defenses, and harder for the poor people. So rich people would be able to conduct absentee land ownership, but poor people would not. That would lead to a shift of land ownership from the poor to the rich”

I agree with this but I want to clarify why that would actually make it easier for the poor to enjoy highly-secured land. The wealthy become and remain wealthy only by better satisfying consumers (assuming of course a free market, which I assume is the only area of inquiry here). If what you are describing begins to happen, that is that land dries up and is more and more exclusively in the hands of the wealthy, then the price of land would rise dramatically, which includes the price of renting land, which would draw entrepreneurs into real estate and rental, until the supply of rentable or purchasable land increases to lower the price of buying/renting land. Specifically, the wealthy owners of land would be more and more encouraged to sell their land until the price of buying land goes back below the potential income that can be derived from owning land.

But as an economy becomes more capitalized the potential income of land or any other capital good goes up and up, which results in the concentration of ownership of those capital goods. The tendency for land ownership to concentrate in the hands of the most wealthy is really the same as how the ownership of any capital goods is concentrated in the hands of the most wealthy. Most land owners would use their land as a capital good (that is what maintains their high incomes), which would include renting it out to people. So actually purchasing land may be, like purchasing any capital good like a commercial tractor or an assembly line, restricted only to the very wealthy, but that implies those goods are tied up in the capital uses. They are not being used for personal consumption by the wealthy, but are used for production for the masses (i.e. producing housing by renting out land). Wealth is more and more concentrated, but standards of living rise for everyone (and that includes having better and cheaper options for using land).

The fact that the wealthy are the most capable of securing their property becomes precisely the means by which the poor enjoy higher security. High security is a perk for renting and renters would be in fierce competition to produce security for their tenants. They would not own the land, but they would enter contracts with the land owners in which they are given conditional use of that land, and securing that land would likely be part of the contracts. So they would be more able to enjoy absentee security for the land they are given a right to use (I mean specifically that landlords would have to make their tenants feel more secure instead of just making themselves feel more secure).

I disagree that mutualism moves away from its goal though, it its goal is a shift of ownership from absentee to occupant. If mutualism were established then I think it would reach the goal of moving ownership from absentee to occupant, and also from rich to poor, but only by means of making the rich poor. That any significant amount of wealth is produced relies on absentee ownership. For all that’s been said about its moral supremacy, no one has explained how economic problems could be tackled with such a system. Occupancy ownership literally reduces shopkeepers to their own homes, a business model that existed hundreds of years in the past before evolving to the next stage. It is literally working against division of labor by preventing goods from being separated and efficiently allocated to consumption and production.

For example, land may be separated and allocated into a factory on one plot and a residence on another. One can place one’s factory in a resource-rich area that, for some other reason, is not a very nice place to live, while one can place one’s house in a resource-poor area that is a very nice place to live. Only this system will allow this more allocation of resources which is more efficient than forcing one to either run a factory in a resource-poor area or live in a place that’s not nice to live in. To be clear, this also allows the non-land-owner to rent in an area that is nice to live in and work in an area is nice for working, so he enjoys better options for use of land as well.

Driving a stake through the process of division of labor will dramatically halt the production of wealth and move ownership from rich to poor only by virtue of everyone being poor. There will be plenty of capital goods like land to go around because so little of it is being used efficiently to produce consumer goods. Everyone gets to own their own land at the cost of having no consumer goods to enjoy while being on that land!

I see a similarity between that and socialism, where “equality” is achieved by handicapping everyone to the lowest common denominator. Mutualism frees up things like land by undermining the most productive ways to use that land and necessarily lowering the standards of living of everyone involved.

As for the ethical claim that only possession implies ownership, I think it relies on the mistaken idea that use implies possession. One can use, that is employ as a means in action, a good even when one does not possess that good. For example, if I boil some water in a pot and throw some macaroni in it and leave it, I don’t cease to employ it. The end towards which I aim is always to eat the cooked macaroni, and I am employing the goods to do that even when I am not holding the pot in my hand. The idea is that employing goods without possessing them necessarily involves transforming them in a way that is indicative of human action (i.e. another actor could recognize that a certain good is currently being employed in some action by some actor, and not just lying in the wilderness for example) and that is what homesteading is. Homesteading merely refers to the possibility of employing means without possessing them.

To avoid any potential misunderstanding, I think this is perfectly consistent with my claim during IP arguments that one does not use a good by taking a picture of it, for example. In that case the actor and good never come into any sort of contact, while in the case I am speaking of the actor and good do come into contact, and specifically the good is permanently transformed in an intersubjectively ascertainable way (to invoke Hoppean terminology) by the actor, and such an absentee employment requires that the actor eventually come back into contact with the good. To the contrary, someone can take a picture of a good without ever having come into contact with it earlier, or without ever coming into contact with it later.

sweatervest September 9, 2011 at 2:25 am

Also, I apologize for being really, really bad at making short posts. I applaud you if you have the patience to read through my posts.

Peter Surda September 9, 2011 at 2:45 am

Sweatervest,

I don’t (have the patience to read your long posts) in general, but I save your posts for later reading :-)

Peter Surda September 11, 2011 at 3:59 am

Sweatervest,

I think I get your point, however you forget that under a mutualist system, you cannot rent or sell land. So there is no reason why the shift in behaviour you describe should occur.

sweatervest September 11, 2011 at 11:19 pm

Peter,

I think we are describing different scenarios. At first I was describing what would happen under capitalism, namely that the concentration of ownership would happen but that would also imply a rise in security that nonowning users enjoy, allowing them to also conduct absentee ownership. In this situation it is assumed that private property with absentee ownership is the prevailing social order. If one assumed mutualism as the prevailing social order no one by definition could conduct absentee ownership, even the rich (I leave it up to the mutualist to explain how this could work, i.e. how the agency preventing attempts at absentee ownership that the wealthy would surely attempt would be able to conduct such affairs without using absentee ownership themselves).

Next I describe what would happen if the rules of mutualism were ideally enforced, i.e. that for whatever reason all actions were in line with those rules, the description of which should be reasonably close to that of a society where mutualism is the prevailing social order (i.e. that infractions do occur but infrequently compared to successful enforcement). I only intend to use that to explain what such a system would entail economically. If mutualism were really upheld (which must be a different scenario than what you describe because where mutualism is upheld no one exercises absentee ownership) it would only free up land to more occupying owners by virtue of stunting the use of land in general and preventing *everyone*, rich and poor, from profitting from more efficient and divided uses of land.

On the other hand, after discussing it a little with Adam I can’t help but get the impression that mutualism ends up being equivalent to homesteading private property. So far, all the claims have been equivalent, except for possibly one. Building a fence around a piece of land does not establish ownership of the enclosed land, and one continues only to own the fence. Ancaps and mutualist agree on this it seems.

According to both, building a house on a piece of land establishes ownership of the land, but mutualists don’t call it that. They just call it ownership of the house, which is for all intents and purposes equivalent except for possible one case, which is, as Adam mentioned, tearing down the house and returning the land to a state of nature.

At first it may seem that ancaps and mutualists disagree here, but I’m not so sure about that. When one tears down a house one does not necessarily return the land to a complete state of nature. One can build something else on it, or even just leave the pile of rubbish there, and still claim ownership over the rubbish. As long as some product of human action is on the land, the land is effectively owned by the owner of that product. But even when one tears down a structure and returns the land to a state of nature this often, if not necessarily, implies moving soil back onto the land, re-planting and possibly other actions. Given this under both systems one could claim to continue owning the land because the new state of the land, however much it resembles nature, is a product of human action. The trees and soil that were there originally were not products of human action, but those things that are there after tearing down a structure are products of human action. One could claim the wild-looking grass, shrubs and trees as much as one could claim ownership over carefully planted crops. If mutualists accept farming as a legitimate use of land then they must accept land returned to a state resembling nature as legitimate use of land.

Peter Surda September 12, 2011 at 1:31 am

Sweatervest,

you’re assuming too much in my position. I am merely investigating the logical consistency of Adam’s position. I’m not arguing whether a mutualist social order is reachable. My conclusion is that Adam’s explanation of a mutualist legal system is self-contradictory.

If one assumed mutualism as the prevailing social order no one by definition could conduct absentee ownership, even the rich…

I clearly showed that as long as someone wants to conduct absentee ownership in a mutualist society, he can do that without violation other people’s rights. My argument is a reductio ad absurdum. Adam then shot himself in the foot and admitted he does not care about property rights, just land occupancy, which takes precedence over other property rights, contrary to his own exposition of a legal system.

Building a fence around a piece of land does not establish ownership of the enclosed land, and one continues only to own the fence.

However, Adam insists that as long as there is unoccupied land somewhere, he’s justified in violating property rights of others as long as it helps him to enter that land. That claim is inconsistent with his support for property rights in objects other than land.

sweatervest September 12, 2011 at 11:18 pm

I clearly showed that as long as someone wants to conduct absentee ownership in a mutualist society, he can do that without violation other people’s rights.

Right, it seems that you are focusing on the impossibility/contradictory nature of mutualism, while I ignored that for the sake of argument and basically gave mutualism the benefit of the doubt, only to show how absurd it remains.

Either way, we seem to be in agreement about mutualism!

However, Adam insists that as long as there is unoccupied land somewhere, he’s justified in violating property rights of others as long as it helps him to enter that land

This is an interesting scenario I have thought about as well. “Homesteaders”, as I will call them, insist that building a fence is not a claim of ownership to the enclosed land. Yet such a fence could make it necessary to trespass on the *fence* in order to enter the closed land. I think the only difference implied is that if someone trespasses on the fence without getting caught or damaging the fence then the fence-builder has no case against him. But if one builds a good enough fence it could effectively block entry to the land. If this isn’t ownership it’s functionally equivalent.

I am inclined to believe that while ownership is not established in the sense that if someone *does* find their way onto the land the fence-builder cannot justifiably force them off, but that if someone builds a fence that effectively blocks off unowned land no one else can justifiably tear this fence down. In order to do so justifiably one must claim ownership over the enclosed land, and in doing so make use of an even more vacuous claim to ownership (you didn’t use it *or* build a fence around it). Perhaps this is what bothers the mutualists about traditional private property, but I explained elsewhere on this thread why this is nothing to be concerned about.

Adam September 8, 2011 at 1:33 pm

Everyday I am meeting new “ex-ancaps” who are now in favor of mutualism. Thank you for being the primer for conversion. I was once an ancap.

Faré September 9, 2011 at 8:40 am

Adam, I like how you change between two tunes. From “only land” ownership is illegitimate to rejoicing about seizure of houses and factories when the owner is absent. Maybe you after all you only advocate seizing the land while leaving untouched the house, factory, field, grass, forest, mine, etc.. I wonder what kind of land seizure that leaves you: some kind of “beam me up Scotty” teleportation of all the land that is unused, replacing it with whatever substrate will keep supporting the existing house, factory, etc.?

In other words, there is no such thing as possession of “raw” land, and even less as seizing the “raw” land, though there is indeed such thing as ownership of raw land and theft of raw land, as well as ownership and theft of what is built on it. And what you are advocating is said theft.

What are you going to do when, in absence of government, people still enforce land rights privately? Start the killing militias again as in “republican” Spain?

Adam September 9, 2011 at 1:07 pm

learn2read, and then learn2comprehend. Either that or you are a troll. I could care less if you build a fence around a bunch of land, and say it belongs to you. The only thing that belongs to you is the fence. Nothing more. All yo have are claims. Claims mean nothing unless you have a state to enforce your noble rights as a god man.

Faré September 9, 2011 at 1:46 pm

1- States are not the only way to organize force. You bring your death squad, I’ll bring mine. The ultimate question is what kind of violence is legitimate, i.e. at what point do YOU condone drawing a gun and firing it, and at what point YOU actually take your gun and shoot. If you’re all talk, no violence, you’re irrelevant. If at some point, you take your stand, then, that’s a theory of rights. And the only question is what theory of rights you back. Although maybe, like most mass killing socialists, you only advocate violence without rational theory, with just hate as your emotional driving force.

2- Make up your mind. Is your building, your crop, your resting soil, your forest, etc., free for all to take the moment you turn your back (or some amount of time T after you turned it), or isn’t it? If you leave it all for your wife to watch while you’re away, and she decides to claim it as hers and her new lover’s as the new occupants’, is that A-OK with you? If the improvements are all secure property, then there’s precious little your theory “mutualizes”. If they are not, then I’ll make a prediction that your society won’t have much new such improvements, and that your barbarian anarchy will soon be overrun by neighbors who aren’t as stupid. Maybe you say that houses with foundations are up for grabs and not houses on wheels – and soon enough all new houses will be on wheel (even giant wheels) while old houses rot Detroit-style.

You see, legal theories (assuming yours is more than hate) have consequences. In the end, it doesn’t matter what you prefer. If it’s not stable, it won’t last, maybe not even long enough to “exist”.

And yes, the contempt is mutual.

sweatervest September 9, 2011 at 8:50 pm

“If you’re all talk, no violence, you’re irrelevant.”

Exactly! All talk of violence (that is, attempting to justify violence, or claim it is legitimate as you put it) is not just irrelevant, it is nonsense. You only mean what you say when you stop trying to justify it!

“If at some point, you take your stand, then, that’s a theory of rights. And the only question is what theory of rights you back.”

It’s the opposite: it’s only a theory of rights *until* you take a stand (and if you are defending yourself from someone else “taking a stand” then he ended the argument, not you). That goes for all theories. One cannot claim a theory of mathematics to be me putting a gun to your head and demanding you believe 2 + 2 = 4. It is only a theory if it is argued. That’s not so important for math, but crucial for ethics. Arguing in favor of threatening with a gun makes no sense because I would be arguing why I am not gonna argue about it.

Faré September 9, 2011 at 10:41 pm

You’re confusing violence and talking about violence. It’s by talking about when violence is legitimate that we may minimize actual violence. Yes, violence is about when reason ends. And reason does have its limits. If you can’t use reason to find those limits, then you’re being irrational and you’ll have more violence than you could.

I claim that there will be conflicts that only violence can solve, conflicts where violence is already present, and it matters what side you support then (if any). Sometimes, you may even be party to such a conflict.

sweatervest September 10, 2011 at 4:30 pm

Fare,

As I think is also the case with your and Kinsella’s back and forth below, I don’t think we’re actually disagreeing over anything. I am not confusing violence with talk of violence and the rest of your post seems to explain that, i.e. your next statement.

The only “disagreement” I see here is over the definition of the word “violence”. When reason is stopped violence has been committed, but responding to that violence with force is not violence itself, for one does not end an argument by such force when the argument has *already* ended by someone else’s force. In fact, using force against the violent person is the *only* way to reinstate argumentation and reason.

As long as you replace “violence”, which I define to be *initiation* of force, with force in general then I agree with everything you say here.

sweatervest September 9, 2011 at 8:51 pm

“The only thing that belongs to you is the fence”

But how could a mutualist say this? It is impossible to possess an entire fence at once at the same time, so wouldn’t it be impossible to own a fence?

Adam September 9, 2011 at 9:09 pm

If you pay for the materials, and put the fence up, then the fence are belong to you. Do not conflate mutualism with communism. Occupancy is in regards to land, water sources, etc, at least when I speak of it, and all of my mutualist friends. Also there is, by Shawn Wilbur, a Neo Proudhonian mutualism that actually accepts Lockean Property theory including the proviso of course.

sweatervest September 10, 2011 at 4:14 pm

So there are now two categories of goods, those that fall under this mutualist idea of occupancy, and all others?

If so, then what is the dividing line between these classes? In the case of land, how can I claim to occupy an entire lot of land? How can I claim to occupy any land beyond that over which I am literally standing? In fact, there would be no way to define lots of land without the ability to homestead.

This is equivalent to ownership of land being impossible, which is really all the mutualists are saying. Forcing a person off land he literally occupies is violating his body, and if that is the only violation that can happen then it means people simply own their bodies and never any land.

Also, allow me to restate my point that mutualism destroys division of labor by preventing the use of capital goods like land to be allocated to their most efficient uses, i.e. using this land exclusively for a factory and this land exclusively for a home. It frees up land only by virtue of preventing the vast majority of its uses by *anyone*.

Adam September 11, 2011 at 12:16 am

Sweatervest:
“In the case of land, how can I claim to occupy an entire lot of land? ”
You can make all the claims you want. You have to actually give use to that land in order to make it yours, and so it follows that once you stop using/occupying that land, it no longer is under your control. Mutualist occupancy is “egoism” in regards to land. That doesn’t mean what you are implying. It means that when you either 1. Sell the building on that land, the land is now being occupied by the new owner of the building, and is thus under his/her control. 2. You abandon the building, either by death or whatever reasons there are for that. Therefor the land and the home go into the commons, unless you gave possession of the home to someone else, then the land will remain in that persons control. 3. The building is dismantled by you. Then the land goes back to the commons. You would not get to decide what happens with it. You would not be able to rent that land out to others, or sell that land. It never was yours to make a profit off.

The rest later, I am tired of typing for today, Peter goes the most out of me.

sweatervest September 10, 2011 at 4:17 pm

Also, how is a fence different from a house? If I can put up a fence and claim to own the fence, can I not build a house and claim to own the entire house (and thus the land under the house)?

This is what confuses me. Do I need to be touching a part of the fence to call it mine? Do I relinquish it back to nature once I let go of it? If so, then it comes back to the impossibility to be in physical contact with more than just a small section of a fence.

Adam September 10, 2011 at 5:22 pm

The house is the same as the fence. Land is not considered property under mutualism, it is considered part of the commons. However when you build a house on it you are then occupying that land, with your home. There are not two types of property, there are things you can own, property, and things you can possess, land. You can both posses and own property with mutualism, but you can only posses the commons.

Does that clarify?

Adam September 10, 2011 at 5:23 pm

i will reply to the rest later

Peter Surda September 10, 2011 at 5:57 pm

Adam,

The house is the same as the fence.

Yet you maintain that electrified fence is aggression and ripping apart other people’s plastic foils is ok.

However when you build a house on it you are then occupying that land, with your home.

And when you leave the house to go to work, are other people permitted to tear down your house, pay you the cost of the material and it’s ok?

There are not two types of property, there are things you can own, property, and things you can possess, land.

But you can possess property too. So why are some possessible things owneable and some not?

You can both posses and own property with mutualism, but you can only posses the commons.

You said however that it is ok to violate other people’s property rights to deny them access to prevent them from using commons. So not only is your theory incomprehensible, it’s also contradicting its own morals.

sweatervest September 11, 2011 at 12:27 am

“However when you build a house on it you are then occupying that land, with your home”

How is this different from homesteading? In what case would mutualism describe something different from homesteading?

Faré September 9, 2011 at 8:42 am

Once again, Adam, where do you live and when are you not home?

Faré September 9, 2011 at 1:50 pm

PS: Capital is past labor. By holding past workers in contempt, you destroy inter-temporal cooperation, and condemn the future.

nate-m September 9, 2011 at 2:15 pm

amazing gibberish.

inter-temporally, of course.

Stephan Kinsella September 9, 2011 at 4:26 pm

Capital “is” “past labor”? My, how metaphors can confuse and lead to equivocation

Faré September 9, 2011 at 8:26 pm

It’s more than a metaphor, though indeed it doesn’t use the terms with acute precision. But anyone who tries to understand will, and those who won’t understand are those who don’t want to.

I don’t quite see what equivocation you could honestly make out of my statement. Still, I will spell it out.

Capital goods are the fruit of past labor. Capital accumulation is the same process as labor. Houses don’t grow without human intervention. Fields do not plow themselves. Factories do not sprout out of thin air. Expertise can’t be made up. They exist because someone, many people, put an effort into it. And they put efforts into it, because they hope to reap some value from said effort. The more you confiscate part of that value, and the more you rob the past workers, and discourage present and future workers from creating.

When workers of the present cooperate at years of interval with a wide collection of past workers who contributed the capital goods they are using today, it is normal that the past workers should receive their fair share of compensation. One may quibble about how fair or unfair the formulas may have been in the distribution of proceeds, voluntarily accepted or not, between current workers, past workers and past past workers. But a blanket denial of the property of the capital they created from these various layers of past workers, is a condemnation of all cooperation between workers of different times, past, present and future.

The libertarian theory of rights is self-ownership, ownership of what you create, and free (consensual) trade; reparation for torts caused; retaliation against those who refuse to repair; defense and war against those who wantonly violate those rights. If you think you’re being offered a bad deal in splitting proceeds with providers of capital you’d like to use — go find some other deal. If you decide to just seize the capital you’re using because the owner isn’t present with a gun to prevent you right this minute, you’re an outlaw and if your behavior confirms that, shooting you will be fair game.

A capitalist is any past worker who worked towards creating a capital good useful for future use rather than merely past consumption and pleasures. The capital he owns may indeed have been the result of trade of his own past work, or past work of his forefathers that he inherited. Proceeds from previous successful activities counts as work that deserves compensation — finding places to invest to earn dividends rather than lose capital is work. And it’s the (fleeting) miracle of civilization and progress that indeed we can build and accumulate capital faster than we destroy it, and leave each generation richer than the previous one.

Yes, indeed, some people are criminals and heirs from criminals; but that’s not the issue at stake here. Just because some workers are criminals, you don’t dismiss work as being illegitimate and workers in general as deserving no compensation whatsoever. If you find a specific provable instance of previous theft, go sue in court and obtain reparation from the culprits (or their heirs, within limits) to the victims (or their heirs, within limits). If I spend time building a plow, and lend it to you for part of your proceeds at plowing your field, I’m a capitalist and I deserve my profit; should you seize the plow because you’re the one using it, you’re a criminal. If I till the soil, level the field, remove rocks, augment it, and enhance it, then let you cultivate it a few years for some share of the proceeds, I’m a capitalist and deserve my profits (or losses if I chose you unwisely). Seizing the land is theft. If I sell my plow or my land, then the new owner is legitimate. The property is the product of his past labor too; for what he gave me in exchange for my capital was other capital that he and his forefathers accumulated. Between him and I, it’s a consensual trade, to be honored by all. And he as fully owns the capital I gave him as I own the capital he gave me. It’s as dishonorable to steal the land from him because he’s not the one who originally tilled it as it would be to steal the gold, car, house, or whatever I got in exchange from him because I’m not the one who extracted, built or erected it.

All capital goods are the product of past labor. Denying the ownership of capital goods is theft. Like all forms of theft, it comes with its own curse: the sudden victim of a theft can only cry. But the more theft is common place, the more it denies the future ownership of the fruit of some labor (and all capital is), the more it destroys the net present value of said labor, the more it causes people to either waste costly efforts in counter-measures or to forsake these forms of labor for less productive forms of labor.

All in all, at equilibrium (see Guido Hulsmann about what equilibrium means or doesn’t mean), every amount of theft leads to the overall destruction of equivalent value for the economy at large. And if you understand that “curse of the stolen goods”, you find that by and large, the capital that does exist today, even when it’s misappropriated, is the symptom that by and large capital goods are not (completely) destroyed by theft but indeed a whole lot of it is created and enjoyed by their legitimate owners; and it is theft to deny them the just reward of their past labor when they combine it with present labor towards the production of future enjoyments and capital goods.

Stephan Kinsella September 9, 2011 at 8:41 pm

“Capital goods are the fruit of past labor.” another vague metaphor. That leads to error: watch:–

“The libertarian theory of rights is self-ownership, ownership of what you create,”

No. You do NOT own “what you create”. Creation just means transforming scarce goods into more valuable configurations. someone owns the factors that are transformed. If you own the scarce factors, you already own whatever you “create” with it because you are just transforming your proeprty. If you are an employee transforming someone else’s property, then you do NOT own what you “create”. Creation does NOT create property titles. More utter confusion and the Randroid mindset.

Faré September 9, 2011 at 10:00 pm

Good point. Somehow what is “created” is already yours because it’s made of things that are yours and remain so.

Please provide a better formulation.

Yet, if a worker does not fully own what he creates (or transforms, if you prefer), it’s precisely because he did not create it alone: the past labor embodied in the capital contributed by his employer did its part in creating. Together, worker(s) and capitalist(s) own what they created (transformed), to the exclusion of anyone else who didn’t contribute to the creation/transformation (i.e. would be tax collectors). How they distribute proceeds between each other depends on their previous agreement: sometimes, the capitalist is hiring the labor at fixed price, and that’s employment. Sometimes, the worker is hiring the capital at fixed price and that’s e.g. renting a truck, borrowing money, emitting a bond. Of course, if the worker and capitalist failed to agree in advance, common law will arbitrate how things go. But creation/transformation is at least partly irreversible, so there’s never giving back to one party exactly what he had before.

Moreover, it is precisely the transformation that turns the previously unowned thing into legitimate property. If I discover a continent and level a field, I do not own the entire continent, only the field that I did transform, and any other land I somehow put to use so doing. If I discover a uranium mine or some newly useful mineral, I do not own all the uranium in the continent, only what is accessible through the tunnels I dig, under the land I fence, etc. If I build a house, I do not own the right for all houses on the continent, only the house I built.

sweatervest September 10, 2011 at 4:23 pm

So in other words you don’t “own what you create”. You additionally must be the “sole creator”, or however you want to say it.

That is equivalent with the statement that you own property by being its first user, and it illustrates Stephen’s point that transforming a good into a new good does not imply you were the *first* one to transform it at all.

sweatervest September 10, 2011 at 4:31 pm

That kind of language is just asking for confusion, though. It makes much more sense to speak of first use then it is to speak of “creation” and then attach a bunch of extra conditions onto the word in order to change it to mean what “first user” already means.

Faré September 10, 2011 at 4:58 pm

Actually, I may retort that any confusion stems from the mythology that YOU (and you are not alone) put in the word “creation”. Creation is not, has never been, and cannot possibly be, a making something out of nothing (ex nihilo). So much for how judeo-christian cosmogony taints everyday language. The word “create” predates christianity and will survive it, thank you.

nate-m September 12, 2011 at 4:46 pm

The word “create” predates christianity and will survive it, thank you.

The ignorance you pontificate has no boundaries, apparently.

Somebody was trying to clarify something and point out something you obviously missed in your previous thoughts on the subject. Instead of adjusting your world view and coming up with a better concept, or at least a more accurate way to express, your ideas them you go off on a tear with the apparently purpose of just insulting Christianity. You dramatically failed to engage the discussion and instead retreated into a comfortable mental bubble in addition to insulting the people that bothered to try to talk to you. This sort of thing is exactly what I expected from the sort of gibberish you posted at the beginning.

Just wanted to point all of this out just in case you thought my first reply was unjustified.

Oh, and on a side note: The labor theory of value is shit. It never made any sense and does not even remotely come close to addressing any sort of economic realities.

Adam September 10, 2011 at 5:08 pm

Peter Surda:

“So an absentee owner can just prevent you from entering and he achieves his goal.”

Thus being aggressive in action or threat. All of your models, save the absurd foil one, are aggressive. The snake pit, drones, the electric fence land mines, etc. All of them. The foil is absurd. But I’ll get to that in a little.

“Examples would be electrified fence”

Aggrressive. Fail.

“mutiliating traps”

Aggressive. Fail

” and all kinds of other Area denial weapons.”

Aggressive. Fail
Three strikes.

“Even the drones do not need to actually attack you they can just annoy you or block your access.”

With physical force? Aggression… ?

“If you lose patience and attack them first, then you’re the aggressor and they are defending themselves.”
They are robots that have exerted physical force at you, for trying to use some common land.

” Or they just need to hold you back until the “absentee owner” runs back to the land and then you can’t enter anymore.”
Aggression; detention. Violation of NAP. Not libertarian. Fail.

“But falling into pit filled with snakes, stepping onto poisoned caltrops and so on is not aggression by the constructor of these traps.”

By placing them on common land you are endangering the community.

All suggest malice, and attempted murder. NAP violation fail, not libertarian.

“Not necessarily.”
Gasping for air? Is a drone strangling you? Make an argument here. DOn’t just say “Not necessarily.”

“Not necessarily.”
Same as above.

“My point is that it is possible to prevent third parties from entering a specific area without violating their rights, even if you do not own this area.”

You have failed to prove that in every way.

“The theory you presented fails to address this.”

It addresses what? You have proven only one thing: That absentee ownership requires snake pits and electric fences. Undesirable, and as Stephen would say “Unlibertarian”, thus being dealt with by the communities stance against: murder, aggravated assault, threats of death, threats of violence., etc, etc.

“As I explained above, it is not necessary to attack them.”

But you failed in presenting a sound argument, and instead just backed me up further.

“In the minimalist case, the wannabe absentee owner can just cover “his” land with a big plastic foil, so that in order to get to the land you need to damage the foil (i.e. violate his rights).”

Then reimbursement for the foil would be made, amounting to around a few cents, and life would go on. How clever xD
A scenario: “Oh, look hun someone threw a bunch of foil on the ground, lets pick it up.” End scenario. They were just trying to be environmentally conscious. You come up and say “Hey thats my foil and thats my land, and now you will die!!!!”

Do you see how absurd your “foil” theory is? Wind gusts would threaten your absentee owners chances of holding on to that land. xD I’m sure you can do better than that. I bet even Stephen would laugh at this.

“And even if he did not have any cover, he could just leave people he trusts there while he’s absent.”

Are you suggesting poor people don’t have friends? Family? We breed like flies. I doubt to see the validity of your argument, which is: “Rich people can hire people to stand on land” Oh, derp derp, thats great. Hows this? Its stupid, and insulting that you would even use this “argument”. Its absurd Peter Absurda. xD
You are grasping at straws.
They would most likely be there to deny access to said land, and in an aggressive way.

“But they can still construct their protective measures in a way that makes entering the land impossible without violating his other rights.”

How? You haven’t proven this. So far, you made it pretty clear that an absentee land owners tool bag would consist of a snake pit, an electric fence, and a giant piece of foil. Are these all made by the ACME corp? Does the absentee land owner just keep resorting to new schemes everytime the road runner thwarts his attempts to cook him up? I’m confused. Absurd.

“As I explained above, merely removing the legal protection in land does not necessarily lead to any conclusion.”

You have failed at trying to make this point. Anyone that agrees with your “libertarian-cartoonalism” is a clown. So far everything I said stands tall. That the absentee “owner” is a fraud, a crook, a murderer, a villain. That society would make him illegal, just by making aggravated violence and murder, not to mention attempted murder with booby traps, illegal.

“You would need to remove legal protection from all possible protective and defensive systems.”

Once again, all you need to do is uphold the individuals freedom to use the commons, and defend him against aggressors.

“You are skipping over the logical gaps in your argument. Merely revoking legal protection for absentee land ownership does not necessarily change anything.”

That is not what merely happens. We also protect the victims of the absentee “owner” and estrange the absentee “owner” from soceity, like a fucking scarlet letter wearing hussy. You failed at all attempts to make murder righteous.

“On the contrary, your argument is completely disconnected from reality. I showed plenty of examples as well as provided theoretical explanation of the gaps in your arguments.”

If anything you said was correct, I would yield, but you are dead wrong on everything.

“My position does not require aggressive tactics.”

It most certainly does, proven by your own words.

“Your folly lies in the assumption that the purpose of legal system is to form ethical standards rather than the other way around.”

You make no valid point here what so ever. There are clearly ethical arguments that create the “legal” system. Therefor there is no folly here, not any you claim.

“It is completely irrelevant whether I think the majority of people want absentee ownership or not. As long as there is a need for it, it is possible to conduct it even when it’s not legally recognised, and in that case it would only probably favour rich people who can setup defenses.”

Assuming everything you previously wrote wasn’t jibberish, sure.

“You are mixing two separate things: an ethical system and a legal system. I clearly showed that the legal system you propose does not necessarily lead to the ethical system you propose, if anything it would only make things “worse”.”

The ethical system leads to the legal system of “protecting people from murderers and other aggressors”. You have nothing. No more argument from you, because you have not proven anything to the contrary of what I had said.

“You are the one favouring complexity, you arbitrarily divide physical goods into those who can be owned without possessing them and those who cannot. This results in all kinds of theoretical and practical problems, as explained above.”

Mutualist occupancy: 1. only requires aggression to be outlawed by a society. It should not be considered authoritarian to enforce prohibition of aggression, i.e. murder, threat of violence, etc. So, for example, if a society is a mutualist one, and someone shoots a person for using unoccupied land, that person has committed an act that is undesirable, and aggressive. The enforcement then could easily be carried out by the community, cooperative court systems, whatever.

Ancap Property: Its much more convoluted. Land can be claimed by an absentee-owner. However two individuals claim a piece of land. How do you prove someone has a “legitimate” claim to said land, and how do you enforce the absentee-ownership then?

The claim: Well, the claim would be dealt with by a court system. This court system would have to decide who gets the land. It would need to investigate. It would then need to not be biased in favor of whoever is paying the most, or whoever is a family member, etc. Then, the authority of the court would give a title to the “winner” of the court battle.

Enforcement: The loser decides he will build on it anyway, he is ready to do so and has a crew at the location with material. The winner calls his pda and shows them the title, then the pda will aggressively attack this man and his group, or they will arrest them. Superb indeed.

Peter Surda September 10, 2011 at 5:42 pm

Adam,

All of your models, save the absurd foil one, are aggressive.

Kindly explain then how is electrified fence, caltrops, snake pit and so on (i.e. passive defense) aggression. If you touch them, you’re the one aggressing against other people’s property. If it hurts you, it’s your problem. How is it different from taking a hammer and smashing your car, for example? That is why I said that in order for land non-ownership to work the way you envisage, you would have to “disown” also defensive mechanisms.

(blocking way)

With physical force? Aggression… ?

If you position yourself so that others cannot pass without pushing you away, that is not aggression. On the contrary, the pusher is aggressing. Otherwise, as sweatervest correctly pointed out, you don’t have a coherent theory.

Then reimbursement for the foil would be made, amounting to around a few cents, and life would go on. How clever xD

Well then so can the drone owner reimburse the family of the deceased. You refute your own argument and demonstrated that you do not support a principled approach.

You arbitrarily divide actions into permissible and not permissible. Your “theory” is completely bogus: you just want to prevent absentee ownership, and attempt to craft your theory to match that goal. When it turns out that you don’t know how to actually achieve that, then you just ignore other people’s rights anyway.

Adam September 10, 2011 at 8:32 pm

“Kindly explain then how is electrified fence, caltrops, snake pit and so on (i.e. passive defense) aggression.”

In order to defend something you have to have own it, or possess it, legitimately. In the absentee situation, the “absentee owner” would not have a legitimate claim to unoccupied land in a mutualist society because it is not granted to him, but the commons already has it. Giving him nothing to defend, but instead to steal from the commons, and to then protect what he has stolen with land mines, drones, poison caltrops, etc. How you couldn’t figure that out is beyond me. I have stated this five times at least.

If you put a snake pit onto unoccupied land to intentionally kill someone for violating your “claim” you should not only be seen as the aggressor, but as possibly mentally disturbed, and sociopathic. This is aggressive because it is unprovoked. The placement of the land mine, the electric fence, the poison needles etc, on common land, is the act of aggression. They are not passive actions, an action that causes bodily harm to someone cannot be passive. These actions are putting all sorts of people in harms way. That is undesirable, and “unlibertarian”.

“If you touch them, you’re the one aggressing against other people’s property. If it hurts you, it’s your problem.”

Only from a twisted sociopathic point of view, void of ethics and principle. Not from the libertarian point of view. To put up electric fences, or dig snake pits, or whatever wacky contraption you might pick, is just an attempt to hold onto something you do not rightfully posses. Its interesting to note what you advocate. When I was an ancap, or free market capitalist, I never suggested these things were either ethical, or logical. I have a feeling I am in a conversation with the fringe of the ancaps.

“How is it different from taking a hammer and smashing your car, for example?”

Smashing a car is different than trying to use unoccupied land. Its different because you are destroying something that is property, i.e. something you have bought with your labor. Land is not bought with labor. There was never a person to purchase it from in the first place, because no human ever labored to create it. Moving dirt only exposes more dirt. That does not create anything new.

“That is why I said that in order for land non-ownership to work the way you envisage, you would have to “disown” also defensive mechanisms.”

There are no defensive mechanisms to control land, in an absentee way, to disown. Only offensive mechanisms like death pits, and these would be 1. Undesirable to the community (which is very important, very important, do not marginalize common law) and 2.A molester of the NAP. You haven’t proven your claim. You should stick with the foil. ;)

“If you position yourself so that others cannot pass without pushing you away, that is not aggression.”
That is not possible.
Another absurd argument. Lets see, for this to be logical, you would have to be able to block the entirety of space around this land with your body. GOOD LUCK WITH THAT ONE :D Because if you cannot do this, then the person would WALK AROUND YOU, and you would have to get in THEIR WAY again.

They can walk around you, and you will get in their way. See how easy it is for you to be shown as the true aggressor?

“On the contrary, the pusher is aggressing. Otherwise, as sweatervest correctly pointed out, you don’t have a coherent theory.”
See above, for why this is invalid.

All of the “defenses” placed by the absentee “owner” have been shown to be aggressive, and murderous. The only non-violent means you suggested, were both absurdities, and were proven so, and would be proven so by anyone with the ability2logic.

So, because murder, aggravated assault, booby trapping, and other violent means of “getin’ them off yer propertay” would be 1. Undesirable and 2. outlawed by a libertarian society, absentee land ownership would be impossible, and your original premise, is thus null and void.

“Well then so can the drone owner reimburse the family of the deceased. You refute your own argument and demonstrated that you do not support a principled approach.”

How do you compensate for a death? What value are people born with as children? Accidentally stepping on foil, and damaging it is not in anyway aggression. It also has a market value. Furthermore, moving it out of your way, without breaking it is possible. Not to mention that even if you broke the foil you would still not be committing an act that in return justifies violence. Remember common law?

Oh this would be classic: “Your honor, he broke my land protection foil 2000, and I just had to kill him!” No. fail, not libertarian, not principled, not ethical, not desirable. Its stupid, its absurd, as I stated in my last post that you cherry picked from. (instead of going point by point as I have done)

“You arbitrarily divide actions into permissible and not permissible.”

There is “ethical”, and there is “not ethical” and what these entail each are decided by the ethics system of a society. Libertarian ethics are anti-aggression. You have failed to show that an absentee “owner” would not have to act aggressively to hold land in that way, therefor “absentee land ownership” is “unlibertarian”, and impossible in a libertarian society.

“When it turns out that you don’t know how to actually achieve that, then you just ignore other people’s rights anyway.”
Rights that do not exist are easy to ignore. You haven’t shown that the lord of absentee land has a legitimate claim, which is your claim and therefor important for you to prove. However I have sufficiently shown this individual to be a violent, undesirable, sociopath. You haven’t refuted that.

Stephan Kinsella September 10, 2011 at 11:51 pm

“In order to defend something you have to have own it, or possess it, legitimately. In the absentee situation, the “absentee owner” would not have a legitimate claim to unoccupied land in a mutualist society because it is not granted to him, but the commons already has it.”

Who is the commons? The commons is some legal entity that owns things?

Adam September 11, 2011 at 2:08 am

xD I see what you mean…. I should work on my wording.

That land which is unoccupied, and waiting for a user.

That is what I mean by the commons, and I know its not the traditional meaning of the term, but I’m a boss.

So what I am saying to Peter here is: Just because you claim it, this does not mean you have a rightful claim to it, because it is naturally occurring, and available to anyone that can use it. The use of the land by another person usurps his claim to be able to use it in the future, until it is no longer occupied. So his claim that he is defending it by placing a “snake pit” around it, or something like that, is false, and that he is instead attempting to prevent individuals the use of what is a natural occurrence, much like trying to prohibit anothers use of a naturally occurring stream. Therefor being aggressive, not defensive.

“Oh noes, a snake pit!” Its funny because I said so. I have legislated it so.

Adam September 11, 2011 at 2:20 am

P.S. its also not 100% occupancy, btw, common law is also a factor. And

“is false, and that he is instead attempting to prevent individuals the use of what is a natural occurrence, AND UNOCCUPIED” I omitted that at first, but that is important.

Peter Surda September 11, 2011 at 3:55 am

Adam,

Just because you claim it, this does not mean you have a rightful claim to it, because it is naturally occurring, and available to anyone that can use it.

However, the objects you put on a land, and the changes you do to a land are not naturally occurring. You simultaneously claim that you support rights in those objects, but immediately continue that if they stand in your way to get to unoccupied land, it’s ok to violate their owners’ rights. On the other hand, when absentee owners want to do the same thing, it’s wrong.

Your position is self-contradictory and confused. You can clearly see how you arbitrarily decide what takes precedence.

Peter Surda September 11, 2011 at 2:51 am

Adam,

In order to defend something you have to have own it, or possess it, legitimately.

Yes. You own the fence, caltrops, snakes in the pit. You are using an object to defend the object itself. If you touch the fence, step on the caltrops, fall into a pit, you’re violating their owner’s rights. That this also causes a defense of the land is just a byproduct.

That is my whole point, you claim that an attempt to move onto a land takes precedence over other people’s property in other things than land. Therefore the theory you provide for your goal is self-contradictory.

The placement of the land mine, the electric fence, the poison needles etc, on common land, is the act of aggression. They are not passive actions, an action that causes bodily harm to someone cannot be passive.

No, the stepping onto other people’s property (their defenses) is an act of aggression.

Adam September 11, 2011 at 11:34 am

There defense of what? Oh yeah the land that is now surrounded by a snake pit, still not occupied and still being available to all. However ,some psycho has now put land mines around it and he claims a couple things:

1. That if you step on the land mines, caltrops, into a snake pit, it is not his fault you have been crippled/ are dead.

2. That all the land surrounded by his mines is his.

However, the land is not his, it is still common land. You put your land mines were children might find them, and you are indeed a persona non grata. You put them on common land, you still have not realized this. It is an aggressive action. Yo will not sway me.

You are, eh, “bold” to claim stepping into a bear trap, is uh, aggression. I still say you stick with the foil.

Peter Surda September 11, 2011 at 12:50 pm

Adam,

Oh yeah the land that is now surrounded by a snake pit, still not occupied and still being available to all.

Admittedly, they make it harder to enter the land for you. But all kinds of actions make it more difficult for you to enter the land. For example, I can refuse to sell you water, and because you’ll be unable to cross the distance without dying of thirst, you would need to make a detour to get more water. According to your flawed logic, it would be appropriate to rob me of the water, because I’m preventing you to make a journey to the land.

That if you step on the land mines, caltrops, into a snake pit, it is not his fault you have been crippled/ are dead.

If you touch other people’s property and it hurts you, in general it’s your own fault. That you are justifying doing this for a “higher purpose” is symptomatic of the intellectual fraud you’re perpetrating.

That all the land surrounded by his mines is his.

No, that’s your misinterpretation. He’s not on the land, and he’s not violating your rights. You’re violating his.

However, the land is not his, it is still common land.

The mines are his and you touch them.

It is an aggressive action.

Yes, touching other people’s property is an aggressive action.

You are, eh, “bold” to claim stepping into a bear trap, is uh, aggression.

And you have the audacity to tell others that you can damage anyone’s property if it is making it more difficult to get onto an arbitrary parch of land.

Your goal is evidently not to uphold property rights, but to confuse others into believing a self-contradictory position. You probably even believe it yourself.

Adam September 11, 2011 at 12:05 pm

“However, the objects you put on a land, and the changes you do to a land are not naturally occurring.”
Changes to land I do not buy. All you can do is move land, mix it up, cover it, etc. You can not change land and have it remain land. If you take clay from the earth, and make bricks, you have created bricks, not land. Land remains natural. Removing dirt from the earth does not make it yours.

Lets say you add fertilizer to the land. Its now got your chemicals all over it and you claim it belongs to you now. So long as you did not do this the all of the available land, as would be apposed by mutualist occupancy and Lockeans who adhere to the proviso, I am sure you would not be opposed. If purely speaking on occupancy you have now occupied a lot, and you have plans with the land to grow whatever you will grow. Your seeds, your fertilizer, and your plants that eventually grow would be the owners of the land you planted on. Not you. And once your chemicals get washed away and eaten up by the vegetation and you have used up the plants, and they have died, and you have left for better, fertile, land, around a stream somewhere, the land you once occupied with your plants is not yours to rent out to individuals.

That is what this comes down to. We oppose any taxation on land, and occupancy prevents this.

The snake pits you put around the land are yours, but the land it surrounds is common land.

Again I should stress that the snake pits you have placed would not be tolerated by individuals out of self interest.

A fence that you have the lock to would be better. At least now you have picked a plot, and you are not a threat to people. Now that you picked it, you would, by common law, need to use it, or stop surrounding unoccupied land that could be used by someone else. If you did not use it, if you did not remove the fence, I could see how that would be seen as abandonment of both the fence, and any plans to use the land. The fence could be taken down, in order to allow access to the land. I’m sure they would send it your way.

The snake pit is unrealistic. The electric fence only makes sense (if it is made known) when you have the land and are using it with a house. I don’t believe you should ever be told you cannot defend your home, even with a snake pit. However keep the snake pit behind the fence so that a child does not foolishly run into it. Keep it off of common land.

Peter Surda September 11, 2011 at 1:04 pm

Adam,

Changes to land I do not buy. All you can do is move land, mix it up, cover it, etc.

Then you’re eliminating almost all actions, because unless you’re flying, you need to be positioned on a land, and so does your property.

Removing dirt from the earth does not make it yours.

But it makes the “dirt” yours.

Your seeds, your fertilizer, and your plants that eventually grow would be the owners of the land you planted on.

With the small hypothetical exception of snatching a falling meteorite in the air, all goods come originally from earth. By making this analogy, you’re denying all property rights whatsoever.

We oppose any taxation on land, and occupancy prevents this.

You claim to oppose “taxation on land”, but your explanation shows that you reject all property rights whatsoever.

The snake pits you put around the land are yours, but the land it surrounds is common land.

So, logically, by interacting with the snake pit, you’re violating their rights. Oh wait, I forgot that self-contradiction is the basis of your “theory”.

Again I should stress that the snake pits you have placed would not be tolerated by individuals out of self interest.

You just contradicted yourself, again. Snake pits are X’s property, but other people may freely violate X’s rights if they feel like it?

The electric fence only makes sense (if it is made known) when you have the land and are using it with a house.

Now you for a change make the claim that rights are only recognised if whatever the other person is doing makes sense to you.

Your arguments are hopelessly confused and irrational. Your obsession with “land taxation opposition” makes you immune to logic.

Kid Salami September 11, 2011 at 5:49 am

Peter says to Adam

Kindly explain then how is electrified fence, caltrops, snake pit and so on (i.e. passive defense) aggression. If you touch them, you’re the one aggressing against other people’s property.

I have already discussed this issue of absentee ownership of land with you. You asked me a question about my claims here:

http://blog.mises.org/16855/state-or-private-law-society/#comment-779625

But when faced with a situation that involves a conflict and the absence of agreement, they are screwed.

As we have here in this thread – a person puts electric fence (or snake pit or whatever) around property and there is a conflict as someone else wants to use the land and there is no agreement. Then you continued:

Let’s assume the white man would erect the fence while the Indians were gathering the crops. Or, he would erect the fence around their teepees while they were sleeping. Or, he would dig around a big trench that prevented them from leaving it.

What would they do? Would they remain in the enclosed areas and starve to death?

Well, according to what you said to Adam above, the answer to this is YES. Is this correct?

Stephan Kinsella September 11, 2011 at 9:04 am

THeir theory is interesting almost the polar opposite of Walter Block’s view that it’s a crime to *block* people from *homseteading* unowned land (see http://blog.mises.org/7127/the-blockean-proviso/ ) –here the mutualists or whatever they are think it’s a crime to homestead it, or to block people from using land you have homesteaded.

Adam September 11, 2011 at 1:37 pm

Stephan,
Its actually spot on with Block. Its like if you fence off a water source. You are preventing the use of the water source, and thus the “preventing” is an act of aggression. Walter Block is correct here. He is also correct about the people you have encircled with your property.

“Let’s imagine a rectangular island with 3 people: A, B, and C. B owns the middle stripe, A and B own the pieces on the ends. Suppose A wants to visit C. He has to cross B’s property. He has a right to visit C, if C invites him, and if he has a means of getting there. But he has no means of getting there. So?…..I assume Block would agree with me in this above example–that A has no easement over B’s property; that he can only visit C if B permits him to.”

This is only a problem in ancap land. Where entire plots of land can be “owned” even though they are naturally occurring, and that b would have authority over this naturally occurring land. It even ignores the lockean property theory that “land must have your labor mixed into it”. Simply putting up a fence, does not mix your labor with the land inside the fence. Further, entrapping someone with a fence, is just as bad as building a prison and throwing them into it. That’s unlibertarian.

Rothbardian land acquisition ftw, ” I can has everything. It are all mine. If I are claim it, then you is not ables to has it, and I are will arrest you with mine PDA! Haha!”

Yes, mutualists and other libertarian socialists.

“here the mutualists or whatever they are think it’s a crime to homestead it, or to block people from using land you have homesteaded.” WTF? Homesteaded how? By putting a fence up around a perimeter, or a snake pit? It is spot on with Block. Once you lay a foundation on some land, it is not disputed that it belongs to that foundation. And in common law, you would be able to fence it first, to protect your building materials. However, just fencing it off would be a crime. There would have to be a plan to use it, and then within a time frame use of it. It is both this, and Blocks argument.

“Now, it’s interesting that Hoppe here criticizes the state for restricting access to unowned property — but Block is criticizing private actors who do it”

He is being consistent, where Hoppe is not.

Eh, this is the problem with you modern “libertarians”. In this case the “private individual” is acting in an aggressive way. He would no longer have the state to protect his “claim”. He would have to resort to all sorts of violent actions against people who are just trying to use common land.

“In any event, as Johan noted, the “tough luck!” line is key here. It is not directly relevant, only tangential, but the view expressed here seems to be compatible with my view that there is not any special problem if a would-be homesteader is unable to arrange for the permissions he needs to reach the target unowned resource.”

What is key here, is common law. What will people choose? Will they choose to allow aggressive land blocking? Is that in the interest of a society? I know you ancaps reject the state and nothing else, however there are deeper issues than just “The government is bad!!! Rawr!”

That is why a society would have to have common law to protect individuals against aggression, and being denied access to common land, water, etc.

sweatervest September 12, 2011 at 12:26 am

What is key here, is common law. What will people choose? Will they choose to allow aggressive land blocking? Is that in the interest of a society?

First of all, there is no “interest of society”. That is a crucial aspect of the Austrian method: methodological individualism. There are only interests of particular actors and those interests come into conflict. The only possibly way to resolve those conflicts is through cooperation (or argumentation), which presupposes a certain behavioral norm. It is not up for people to “agree” on what norm to adopt, because the very act of agreeing relies on accepting a particular norm.

Second of all, if by “aggressive land blocking” you mean standing around, pushing people off of otherwise untouched property then ancaps agree with you. I’m not sure what this has to do with mutualism, which seems to focus more on what happens when a person builds something on land, which “blocks” its use by others, and then returns it to a state resembling nature. There is no quarrel over whether or not someone can build a fence and claim ownership of the enclosed fence, or literally push people out by guarding land.

I know you ancaps reject the state and nothing else, however there are deeper issues than just “The government is bad!!! Rawr!”

Allow me to more realistically word this: “I know all you ancaps reject unchecked gangs of robbers and nothing else, however there are deeper issues than just “unchecked gangs of robbers are bad!!! Rawr!”

Indeed.

This can only be a call to use government in some cases, and so I guess what you are really saying is, “unchecked gangs of robbers aren’t the big issue, we need to use unchecked gangs of robbers”. Are you admitting that mutualism requires an expropriating property protector, a tax-funded defense agency, a rights-violating rights protector?

That is why a society would have to have common law to protect individuals against aggression, and being denied access to common land, water, etc.

If this is a complaint against ancap then it is a poor one. Why would anyone deny access to something without using it, assuming such a thing is even praxeologically possible? If your complaint against this is based on the loss people would experience because of this then it is a misplaced complaint for it is does not recognize the dominant effects of private property (with homesteading).

Blocking off useful land and not using it (which is what your only complaint can be, for using it would transform it in some way and establish ownership) is by definition an uneconomical use of land and the main function of private property in an economy is to force out uneconomical use and replace it with economical use. To block off land is an expense, and the more desirable that land is the bigger one can expect the expense for securing that property against entry will be. This will put strain on the person doing this and encourage him to sell off the land or put it to a more economical use to lower the cost and possibly turn it into a profit. Just how the market pushes poor competitors in general out, it will push those who make inefficient uses of land out and bring in more efficient users.

That horrible thing about being able to sell land is actually what encourages it to be used in ways that benefit masses of people instead of just a lucky few. When you can sell it you can pocket the proceeds personally, and thus the more valuable the land own, the bigger reason you have to give up ownership of that land by selling it. And in a free market the only people who could afford such expensive purchases would be capitalists who only maintain such high wealth by employing their property in mass production, and so useful land would move into the hands of large businesses that can effectively manage it and derive the maximum use out of it. Rather than a lake, for example, being “public property” it would become privately owned and successively sold off to the highest bidder, moving it into the hands of large businesses who derives the largest possible profit out of the lake by putting it to uses people are most willing to spend money on, and capitalism has always proven that the way to make the most money is to cater to the poor masses, and this is where things like large lakes (or any highly valued property) will move, it will move to the most efficient uses by the poor masses.

Most importantly, this provides the incentive to actually maintain the property. “Common” property has the unmistakable trend of being overused, quickly depleted and ruined. Common ownership of land and water is an environmentalist’s nightmare (which is why it is amusing to see them champion such a thing so passionately), for what reason would people have to not overuse common land? In fact, people would have strong incentives to overuse it, because as soon as they leave someone else can come in. This encourages people to exploit the land as quickly and completely as possible. It encourages things like strip mining. Why not strip mine if as soon as you leave you have no assurance of getting to come back? That way you get the most possible use out of the land.

The only reason people would have not to overuse land and water is because it is privately owned and, specifically, that it can be sold and the proceeds pocketed personally by the owner. Only if people can own the capital (future use) value of land, instead of just the present use value, will there be an incentive to *economize* the use of land and not overuse it and deplete it immediately.

Of course this happens and does so only *because* of that thing ancaps waste their time huffing and puffing about: the state. The gang of robbers writ large.

Wherever the government prevents private ownership, people come in and strip mine, leaving the land perfectly “unowned” for the rest of us to “enjoy” in its totally depleted state. They treat it just like people treat a rented house with no security deposit: they destroy it in the process of deriving the maximum possible present use out of it.

So as far as what in “in the interest of society”, if there were such a thing, who’s interest is it to deplete all useful land as quickly as possible, as opposed to privately owning it and turning its upkeep and maintenence into a profitting business?

Adam September 12, 2011 at 2:12 am

Missed this completely. So you reject the need for common law?
I see. Anarchism, is not “eliminate the state” and end there. I will respond to the rest of it when I have time. I am back to work though, so forgive me if I do not get to it sooner than later. In fact, I will copy all of your stuff now, save it on my desktop ad respond to it on word. That way, I can do a little at a time, and paste it when its done. Preserving your arguments from being out of sight and out of mind.

sweatervest September 12, 2011 at 11:39 pm

Missed this completely. So you reject the need for common law

Apparently you did not miss it, for that is exactly what I am saying!

First of all, I find it highly misleading that you keep calling public property “common law”. Private property (the kind that can be sold) is no less common than public property. Private property rights apply to everyone equally. How is it not “common”? It seems you are being intentionally misleading by emphasizing this term as if it reflects a real distinction between your position and mine. It does not. The ancap system of law is as “common” as any other.

If you are referring to “common” ownership then you are dealing with a meaningless concept. To “own” means to exclude use, and serves as a mechanism for resolving conflicts by concluding that the owner alone decides how a good shall be employed. “Common” ownership literally fails as ownership because it is neither exclusion of use within the group of owners, nor is it a means to resolve conflicts between the various owners. It makes no sense for multiple actors to exclude use of a particular good. One of them always ends up owning end, which becomes evident as soon as the multiple “owners” disagree on how the property is to be used.

“Common” (public) ownership also fails to do the only thing property is supposed to do, which is provide a mechanism for resolving conflicts. When both A and B own C, and A and B disagree on how to use C, then the only option they have is a fight.

There is no thing as common ownership, it always ends up being ownership by the commune head. And that is the one secret no communist will ever admit! I’m not saying mutualism is communism, but it is unmistakably a move in that direction, because communism is simply everything being owned by the “commons”.

Anarchism, is not “eliminate the state” and end there

As you yourself say, crime is not only committed by the state. Apparently you have fallen into the same confusion about the principled anti-statism of ancaps that is far too common. We don’t hate the state because it’s the state. That makes no sense, and cannot count as an “explanation” of our position. There is a reason we invariably hate the state: it is a crime syndicate *by definition*. The business motto of the state is to rob us all into a better tomorrow, and as soon as it drops this motto it ceases to be a state. Once this is admitted (and it is *never* denied with an explanation, it is only denied with exasperations and eye-rolls) it’s not hard to see what the ancap position is:

Crime is crime. It may always exist, it may rise or fall, and it may even become institutional, but it is crime none-the-less. The real mark of an ancap is that he never calls a dagger an ice cream cone. It’s not even so much about condemning crime as it is simply being accurate and honest about what is crime and what is not. It’s certainly not about fighting for the “elimination of the state” as it is simply admitting, and this is obviously the case, that the state is a “gang of robbers writ large”.

sweatervest September 12, 2011 at 11:41 pm

Also, thanks for reading all my arguments. If there is one part I think you should focus on, it is my explanation of why ownership of land, particularly being able to sell it off, is what precisely what prevents it from being overused and depleted as rented property always is, and that land being blocked off is far less of a concern than it being overused and quickly destroyed (i.e. strip mining).

Adam September 13, 2011 at 12:57 am

Sweatervest, no problem. But now you have added another short story for me to address. How would you prefer I respond, all at once, or little by little?

I will make that my biggest agenda, the argument you asked me to focus on.

I fear you will write an essay for each response, so I would prefer everything at once, and to keep it as brief as possible, as I do not have so much time to juggle between social life, work, and this. I’ll do the same, were it is possible.

Thanks.

Peter, I have started also addressing your last post to me. I think it is only right that I respond to you. However, this will be it, unless something changes, because we have been regurgitating the same stuff back and forth and I am bored now.

Peter Surda September 13, 2011 at 1:32 am

Adam,

you fail to address my point. Let me reformulate once again.

1) Unless an object is flying, it’s positioned on land. Correct?
2) Any object, when positioned on land, makes it more difficult for you to cross to some land in some cases. Correct?
3) You claim that you respect property rights in objects (other than land). Correct?
4) You also simultaneously claim that if an object is making it more difficult for you to cross to any land, you are permitted to damage that object in order to reach the land, and the owner of that object is not permitted to protect that object. Correct?
5) 1 and 2 show that the problem I’m describing is practically omnipresent. Correct?
6) 3 and 4 contradict each other. Correct?

Peter Surda September 11, 2011 at 7:20 am

Kid Salami,

I have already discussed this issue of absentee ownership of land with you.

Yes, but I don’t believe we were able to conclude the debate.

As we have here in this thread – a person puts electric fence (or snake pit or whatever) around property and there is a conflict as someone else wants to use the land and there is no agreement.

The conflict in land in this case is just a reinterpretation of the conflict in fence. If you can somehow get around the fence, then there is no conflict as the land is not occupied. It works this way due to causality: if you want to occupy a land, you need to get there first. Since getting there requires movement and the use of scarce resources other than land and the property of the traveller, by placing obstacles to motion and manipulating the scarce resources, you can still deny access to some extent. For simplicity we’ll now ignore the hypothetical case of teleportation.

By the way, one of the chapters in Blocks’s “Building Blocks for Liberty”, Block argues that in order to abandon property, you need to make it publicly known and allow access for new homesteaders. The examples that I provided explain why blocking (no pun intended) access can lead to problems also in other legal systems and other situations.

Well, according to what you said to Adam above, the answer to this is YES. Is this correct?

My point is that Adam is contradicting himself. On one hand, the system he proposes would lead to the conclusion that indeed, starving to death when being enclosed is the only action that is not illegal. But then he immediately says that as long as there is unoccupied land somewhere, those who want to get there are permitted to damage other people’s property in their pursuit. He does not even blink. So it’s obvious that even though it is possible to construct a coherent theory that has land as commons, he’s not doing it. He prefers to defend a logically incoherent yet in his eyes moral position to fixing the logical errors and admitting that ethics does not beat logic. In this respect, he’s like the IP confusers here and elsewhere, who instead of creating a coherent theory, end up instead making the claim that IP is morally just and takes precedence over physical property.

The summary, if I may, is that all those zealots hate causality. They hate that A causes B. So they declare war on nature.

Adam September 11, 2011 at 12:26 pm

“On one hand, the system he proposes would lead to the conclusion that indeed, starving to death when being enclosed is the only action that is not illegal. But then he immediately says that as long as there is unoccupied land somewhere, those who want to get there are permitted to damage other people’s property in their pursuit.”

Haha bullshit. When you enclose people you are entrapping them. I never suggested they should stand in the fence, but instead they should break your property and leave the area. That is not a problem, and I am sure common law would allow that.

You can try to spin shit however you want. What I wrote is up there for anyone to read.

“obvious that even though it is possible to construct a coherent theory that has land as commons ”

Hmm, what is so incoherent about “Unoccupied land is common land.” ?

What’s incoherent about “Putting weapons all over common land is aggression.” ?

Then what is incoherent about “All a society would need to do, to prevent common land from being absentee “owned” is make it unlawful to put traps and all other murderous devices on common land., or surrounding common land.”?

HOLY SHIT, thats mutualist occupancy + common law. Which is what all mutualists advocate. “possession is 9/10ths the law.” That should help.

You are an intellectual child. You have not been able to prove your first claim, that “Mutualism favors the wealthy” and now you are making more unsubstantiated claims.

This “debate” is done, as far as I am concerned with you. I’ll now focus on Sweatervests unsubstantiated claims.

I have wasted too much time with your logically fallacious arguments. Your “giant foil” and your “stretch Armstrong” arguments, being the most absurd.

Peter Surda September 11, 2011 at 2:10 pm

Adam,

you continuously contradict yourself. You’re obviously not interested in a rational discourse.

Adam September 11, 2011 at 2:17 pm

xD

sweatervest September 12, 2011 at 11:41 pm

What does that mean, “xD”? I’m new to this internetz thing, and I’m only familiar with “lol”, “pwnd” and “wtf”.

Adam September 13, 2011 at 12:49 am

Its to show you are laughing either with or at the person. I have already started addressing your arguments one by one, btw. I have tomorrow off so that should be the marathon, xD (laughing about it, like lol)

Give me some time, and you wont be disappointed. Eventually you and I will have a small book! “Dueling pendejos” xD (thats laughing at all of us)

BTW, don’t think I didn’t catch your comment to Absurda about the “impossibilities of Mutualism”. I’m hurt, deeply deeply hurt ;)

Faré September 11, 2011 at 1:11 pm

So a house is inviolable property, but land isn’t because it is “natural”? Does that make the house supernatural? Can I rent the house while absent or expect to have it back when I’m done with work, or is your opposition to absentee ownership unrelated to this “natural” argument? Can I expect to harvest the crop I planted or can someone else take it? Can I hire a machine to harvest my crop? And people to operate the machinery?

What is magical about a house that agricultural improvements to land do not have? If it’s walls, I will fence my field. If it’s foundations, I’ll pour concrete at the bottom of my field. If it’s a roof, I’ll put translucent foil on top of my field. But I don’t see why planting seeds, removing rocks, leveling the ground, falling trees and removing stumps, erecting hedges to protect from the wind, irrigating dry land, drying wetlands, adding fertilizers don’t count just as much.

If I leave my field to rest one year to not overuse it, does that mean the first come squatter can plant seeds and expel me? If I’m a ecologist nature-lover and have forest and wildlife grow back on my land, does that mean that anyone can now claim it back as unoccupied land?

In the end, it doesn’t matter much what absurd notions of land ownership (or lack thereof) the mutualists come about. It just won’t fly, because those who follow such absurdities will starve and soon be replaced by people who don’t. When right doesn’t make might, might makes right.

Adam September 11, 2011 at 2:19 pm

xD XD :D

Faré September 11, 2011 at 1:29 pm

Conversely, is it OK to break into a greenhouse to claim the “natural” land that’s inside? Since all matter is natural not supernatural and mixing or rearranging things doesn’t matter, cannot everything just be claimed by anyone who can grab it? The atoms that make the house, car, etc., are quite natural!

And what will you say about seasteading? Is mutualism indistinguishable from anarchocapitalism once at sea because people live in fully artificial boat? Or will you start seizing the stern of my boat as “unoccupied” while I’m on the bow?

Adam September 11, 2011 at 2:20 pm

xDDDDDDDDD

sweatervest September 11, 2011 at 11:35 pm

Adam,

You referred to Peter’s electrified fences, death traps, etc. as aggressive and therefore in violation of the NAP.

Would this not imply that if someone chased after you with a knife, that incapacitating him in any way would be aggressive and therefore in violation of the NAP. Would this not imply pacifism?

The NAP does not imply pacifism. It does not imply that any use of force, even that which is necessary to prevent forceful use by non-owners, is unjustifiable. It only implies that initiation of force is unjustifiable.

Thus identifying Peter’s contraptions as aggressive assumes your conclusion, namely that land is always unowned. If land is owned then those things are no different than using force to defend your body from unauthorized use.

Adam September 12, 2011 at 2:00 am

Sweatervest,

“You referred to Peter’s electrified fences, death traps, etc. as aggressive and therefore in violation of the NAP.”

So long as they are on common land, and are preventing people from using common land. Yes, those are the qualifiers. It is a clear “threat”. God forbid any children fall into one of his death traps. See, these traps ignore community. They ignore other people. His ideas suggest that it is aggression to step onto a poison needle, just because you needed to build a shop somewhere, and there was this land that was available, but some asshole booby trapped it. I agree with the Blockean Proviso here (I need to read more on it to understand it a little more). If you are to be a consistent anarchist, or libertarian, you have to not only object when the state does this, but also when it is done privately. Private parties do commit crimes too. If the state were to put land mines around a bunch of land, and three kids get killed because they were exploring, would this not be condemned by the libertarian? Surely it would be.

Do you condemn the same thing done by a private person?

See the booby traps on common land are initiations of force. Not only that, but they are dangerous to wandering kids and the mentally handi-cap. The best way to deal with this would be common law.

If these death traps are behind a fence around his house, then it can be assumed he is protecting his home. A warning and a fence would probably be required by common law. No mutualist will argue against that. Well there might be someone out there who would, but I haven’t met him yet.

Lets brake it down, because all of this is much simpler than anyone of us is making it out to be.

Its the same as someone walking around a park dropping dirty needles here and there. Just because a perimeter is made, this doesn’t really change much. There is still a square of dirty needles in an area that was once used freely by anyone. How should that be handles sweatervest? I would argue that common law would see it for what it is, intent to cause bodily harm NOT IN SELF DEFENSE OR DEFENSE OF PROPERTY, and outlaw it. (Capslock to add emphasis :D)

“Would this not imply that if someone chased after you with a knife, that incapacitating him in any way would be aggressive and therefore in violation of the NAP. Would this not imply pacifism?”

This is completely different. Its different because this is obviously self defense. Of course this is not opposed by mutualists.

“It does not imply that any use of force, even that which is necessary to prevent forceful use by non-owners, is unjustifiable.”

Ah, but here we have a case of two “non owners”, and that is why it is “unlibertarian”, as mutualists do not suggest you can ever own land. I agree with houses, cars, etc. Not with land. Never with land. In a mutualist society, this would be outlawed by common law, and that would make absentee land “ownership” illegal if attempted in this way.

“Thus identifying Peter’s contraptions as aggressive assumes your conclusion, namely that land is always unowned” My stance on land (that it cannot be owned) is what assumes the conclusion (that these contraptions are aggression). You can arrive to point A by way of point B though, I guess.

“If land is owned then those things are no different than using force to defend your body from unauthorized use.”
And in a mutualist society land cannot be owned. It cannot be legitimately owned in any society, I would argue. There is no creator other than nature, so that should logically imply that it belongs to nature. Now, if you throw a god in there, then you at least could claim he came to you at night and say you should have a certain plot. However, for that to be seen as legit by a society, it must be made up of mormons. (I’m sorry but I had to)

Plus desirability by other humans is also important, or you will have conflict, upon conflict, upon conflict, and that is not stable. So as I said to Stephan, I wouldn’t think it a bad thing if people were allowed by common law to put up a fence around a plot, so long as they agree to use it. An agreement to use that land within in period could be seen as “using that land”.

I would only take issue with fencing it for the sole purpose of making it unavailable, thus artificially increasing land scarcity. That is not desirable, and it becomes a force that prevents people from using the land it surrounds and we arrive at the “blockean Proviso” issue.

Now I like your response way better than any of Peters arguments. The one about “making land look like natural land” and I have a response for it, but you have to wait until next time, because I am tired, and I need to go to work at 6am. Sorry for neglecting your previous posts, I got caught up with Peter, and then I saw Kinsellas response, so I wanted to respond to him.

Peter Surda September 12, 2011 at 2:57 am

Adam,

So long as they are on common land, and are preventing people from using common land.

As said before, unless an object is flying, it is on land, and it’s an obstacle if you want to get through it. Your position is illogical and self-contradictory.

Adam September 12, 2011 at 2:28 pm

xD Xd dx, xd? What the hell is that anyway? Its not a flying saucer. Its Undeaddog. Wait, what?

Peter Surda September 12, 2011 at 3:34 pm

Adam,

you fail to provide any coherent explanation of your position.

sweatervest September 13, 2011 at 12:26 am

So long as they are on common land, and are preventing people from using common land. Yes, those are the qualifiers. It is a clear “threat”. God forbid any children fall into one of his death traps

Okay so would you admit if they were not blocking access to any public land it would not be an act of aggression to build such a contraption? Certainly if it is safely stored in one’s house it wouldn’t be an act of aggression. What if it is somewhere that is prone to being trespassed on, say a garden? I only want to make sure your criterion for aggression is that it blocks access to someone else’s property, and not the fact that it may entail bodily harm to someone. Are you saying only defense of one’s property that does not cause bodily damage to potential trespassers is justified?

See, these traps ignore community. They ignore other people

But that is a general complaint of property. I am ignoring my community when I keep to my business inside my own house, and yet we seem to agree it would be a violation of my rights to confiscate my house for the “good of the community”. Clearly this cannot be the offending nature of these death traps. We probably agree on the absurdity of violently demanding that one care about his community (aka modern liberals).

I agree with the Blockean Proviso here (I need to read more on it to understand it a little more). If you are to be a consistent anarchist, or libertarian, you have to not only object when the state does this, but also when it is done privately

Well ancaps are not in any sort of agreement over that proviso, especially considering the Hoppean argument that reaches essentially the opposite conclusion. Being more of a Hoppean than a Blockean (though I do think Block is awesome) I do not accept the Blockean Proviso and instead insist that enforcement of such a “right to passage” necessarily involves a destruction of the property used to block passage. My reasoning is that the Blockean Proviso implies more than it means to, like that you can’t build anything on a piece of property, passage over which is required to (feasibly) reach other not-yet-owned land. Like you can’t build a house that blocks the only passage to more land that is otherwise surrounded by impassible mountains. That highlights the error of reasoning: one must always attach the qualifier “feasibly” and there is nowhere to objectively draw that line. If I built a house on some land in the middle of a field it makes it harder for you to get to the land on the opposite side. Now you have to go around my house. How wide can my house get before you proclaim this to be “blocking” entry to the rest of the field and tear down my house (and who cares if it is a house verses a fence)? There is no sensible answer to that question besides zero or infinity, and zero gets you way closer to communism than I think you’re trying to go.

The Blockean Proviso seems to be ultimately incompatible with any property rights, and arguably commits the error of “value-based” ownership criteria, namely whether or not reaching some land is difficult enough (one cannot justifiably build a tall fence, but surely one can justifiably build a sidewalk. What about a short fence, or maybe a raised sidewalk?)

If the state were to put land mines around a bunch of land, and three kids get killed because they were exploring, would this not be condemned by the libertarian? Surely it would be.

Indeed, but *why*? It of course depends on the libertarian, but as an ancap who must highlight his love of property next to and as his reason for his hatred of the state, I must clarify that this is bad because the state has neither a claim to the land *nor to the landmines*, which the parents of those children paid for with their taxes!

Also, I think the main point libertarians would make is that such an action illustrates the incompetence of the state. They tend to blow up a lot more innocent children than private businesses. This has nothing to do with the morality, only with the economic point that states are bound to misuse scarce resources (i.e. to build landmines when people would have preferred hamburgers).

See the booby traps on common land are initiations of force. Not only that, but they are dangerous to wandering kids and the mentally handi-cap. The best way to deal with this would be common law.

The qualifier “on common land” is still there. What if I booby trap the entrace to my house? Would this be an initiation of force? I cannot see how it would be, seeing that trying to forcefully entered my house would be the initial forceful act (thus my booby trap is a response to force, though not necessarily a justifiable one). So would you admit that if one were able to own land, then these booby traps would *not* be initiations of force but possibly justifiable (but possibly too far, as even I agree that “trespassers will be shot” cannot justifiably be enforced) *response* with force?

Also, you say the best way to deal with this is “common law”, but if you mean public ownership of land (which is what you seem to be describing) then I contest this, because in that case the kids wouldn’t get tangled up in electric fences but they will get trapped in mines, crushed by construction equipment, and exposed to toxic chemicals precisely because they are *not* kept off land they shouldn’t be wandering around on.

And again, I feel it necessary to rememeber how artificial such a scenario is. There is no reason to build death traps instead of a regular old fence that just keeps people out. Regardless of what is considered justifiable or not, building death traps that your neighbors’ kids fall into is a very quick way to earn the contempt of the neighborhood, and if they don’t drive you out with force they’ll at least lock you out of all their stores, forcing you into self-sufficiency until you decide to move to a new place and *not* put death traps down everywhere. There is no need for a law. There is already a very effective mechanism (assuming private property as it is usually conceived) to root out behavior like this, much like blocking off land and not using it.

If these death traps are behind a fence around his house, then it can be assumed he is protecting his home. A warning and a fence would probably be required by common law

Well, it seems what you describe as “common law” is merely people making rules. It is certainly not a problem of property rights that in probably every public pool in the country you are not allowed to run. Rather, the fact that everyone’s private property rights are established is precisely the way that such rules can be made, agreed upon and enforced. What you seem to be describing is a gated community that adopts rules of entry. These can include requirements for warning signs next to any exposed and dangerous property, no unauthorized fences, etc. These all are, in fact, very common rules in gated communities.

But the very ability to form gated communities and adopt such rules requires that people own and be able to sell land. Otherwise the community that adopts rules like “no fences” or “warning signs for all dangers” can be overrun by people who do not follow those rules and break them down. Only to the extent that people can claim ownership over land itself can they set up a situation where certain land is deemed the “public” property of the members of that community.

The problem with your scenario is you are forcing everyone to join a single gated community they may have no interest in joining. You said common law will “probably” adopt measures like what you described, and here-in lies the problem. Why should *everyone* be bound to such an arbitrary (however much we agree it is good) rule instead of another? Would it not be much more sensible for there to be a plethora of options of which set of rules to agree to follow? Would it not be much better if one community adopted the rule of no fences, while another adopted the rule of warning signs, while another adopted both, and another adopted neither, and many others adopt all sorts of other rules that are deemed good by their members?

This is the problem I see with mutualism. The “commons” is a fine concept when people are free to choice what “community” to be a part of. Mutualism seems to merely insist that everyone be the part of the same community and adopt a single code of “common law”, which I would just call “rules”. This does not seem wise. It people cannot agree on what this common law should be, and they certainly won’t, then it does not seem wise to force them all under the same set of rules.

To be clear, private property itself is *not* doing this for private property is what must be assumed in order for people to be able to make rules at all. If people do not respect property then no one can make any rules at all.

Surely that’s more than enough for now! As I said to Peter, I am notoriously bad at making short posts.

Peter Surda September 13, 2011 at 1:45 am

Sweatervest,

As I said to Peter, I am notoriously bad at making short posts.

Nevertheless, they are a delight to read when one finds the time.

Adam September 12, 2011 at 2:40 pm

“My point is that Adam is contradicting himself, but I haven’t proven that point yet. I’ve just inserted more absurdities, here and there. Don’t worry mom, I’ll be home soon, but I haven’t shown my id pass yet, so I have to wait in line at the ACME corp to get my TNT. Put some tea on will you? Oh and my favorite cookies should be in the back of the freezer. I love you. Bye.”

“I is on the fence with this one boss. On one hand, we have a guy that is suggesting we blow the shit out of people for walking onto land, and on the other hand, we have someone who refers to himself as a socialist. I have to say, I’m on the fence boss.”

“I walked into a river once, and there was a Parana! God damn if Peter Absurda didn’t plant those Paranas to claim that river. Damn thing almost bit my member off. You know what he said? He said, ‘well maybe you shouldn’t have aggressed my river!’ and then he laughed real weird, like in a Bette Midler kind of way. It was real weird, mom. Don’t forget my cookies.”

“I went on a walk the other day, and I saw this huge fence that said “Git off ma propertay” where we used to camp. I was all like, wut?”

Peter Surda September 12, 2011 at 3:33 pm

Adam,

you say that you support property rights in goods other than land. However, if an object is somehow making it more difficult to you to get to any arbitrary place on land, you claim to be permitted to damage it, and if you get hurt by doing that, that is an aggression against you. That is a clear contradiction.

Make up your mind. Either you respect property rights in objects other than land or you don’t.

Scott Ferrie November 17, 2011 at 1:28 pm

This is my take on it which was inspired by both North American individualist anarchism and modern post-left anarchism. http://statenislandradicalism.blogspot.com/2011/11/private-property-anarchism.html

Scott Ferrie November 17, 2011 at 1:37 pm

To clarify, my “individualist anarchism” is extremely close to Kinsella’s “anarcho-libertarianism”. We are both critical of anarchism’s relationship with the Left yet he comes from a Post-Rand Austrian position (like Molyneux) while I am influenced by the anti-authoritarianism of post-left anarchist thinkers such as Hakim Bey. We are two separate individuals with different takes but we mostly agree on the substance of libertarian philosophy.

Comments on this entry are closed.

{ 2 trackbacks }

Previous post:

Next post: