1. Skip to navigation
  2. Skip to content
  3. Skip to sidebar
Source link: http://archive.mises.org/17862/what-libertarianism-is-not/

What Libertarianism is Not

July 25, 2011 by

[Disclaimer: The following post reflects my views on the subject, and they should not be confused for anybody else's.  Related blog posts: Coordination Problem, "Mises and Hayek Cited..."; Gene Callahan, "Is It OK..."]

Libertarianism is not a violent political philosophy.  Yes, libertarianism is anti-state (or, at least, calls for a radical reduction in the size of the state).  But, anti-statism should not be construed as a call to violence.  All libertarians should abhor the use of aggression as a means of achieving an end.  Indeed, libertarianism is based on the principle of social cooperation, which by definition is peaceful.  We are individuals who recognize the advantages of a peaceful society, relying on the contractual construct of private property as a means of dealing with the underlying scarcity that pervades our world.  The initiation of violence, by its very nature, is antithetical to libertarianism.

Our political philosophy is likely to suffer from a bombardment of attacks and criticisms from those who are either ignorant or keen on taking advantage of any opportunity to defame libertarianism.  One such, truly unfortunate, opportunity presents itself in the wake of the cruel and inhuman acts of terrorism which struck Norway on the weekend of 20 July 2011.  A short while before the bombing in Oslo and the shooting on a small Norwegian island, Anders Behring Breivik posted a final status update on Facebook, pointing his ‘friends’ to his long revolutionary manifesto and a YouTube video.

Time magazine has dubbed the manifesto a “template for right-wing terror” (and while Time does not make a connection between the “right-wing” and libertarianism, there is no question that there are many who believe the two to be related).  I prefer to call it an insane man’s fanatical and senseless ramblings.  Breivik was a frustrated and bigoted man.  He was not led by any specific political ideology, rather by his own twisted mindset.  He read and quoted only that which fitted his views, misconstruing and misinterpreting much of it in the process.  To call these acts of terrorism “right-wing” is to deny the fundamental psychological imbalance Breivik, and many like him, suffer from.  The same goes for “left-wing” acts of terror.  Blaming political doctrine is like blaming a gun for the crime committed by the individual.  It is not only unfair to those who actually hold those implicated political views, but is also unfair to the victims of the crime.

In his “manifesto”, Breivik makes mention of two great intellectuals who influenced the libertarian movement: Ludwig von Mises and Friedrich Hayek.  He cites these two magnificent thinkers without understanding what he is referencing.  Neither man was a bigot. Both men would have condemned Breivik’s violent actions.  He also includes links to three articles published on the Mises Institute’s website, one of which, ironically, lambasts Nazism (usually considered a right-wing political ideology).  None of what he cites encourages the initiation of violence as a means of making a political message.

Mises and Hayek were inspired in their studies in economic science and political philosophy by the society which man had constructed and organized over thousands of years of existence.  Hayek called this phenomenon “spontaneous order”.  Both men spent much of their lives explaining what forces made society, as we know it, possible.  To a substantial degree, their political views were an outgrowth of their economic insight.  They made a valuation regarding what end they favored society to move towards and concluded that large government was incompatible with social progress.  They recognized that the state could lead to social retrogression.

Contrary to the charges made by many of their critics, who characterize libertarianism as amoral, both Mises and Hayek loved humanity.  Their political visions found their roots in their admiration for what the individual human had accomplished.  Indeed, Mises’ underscored the importance of allowing the individual to attain whatever end was valued the most by whatever means that individual controls.  This concept of “economization” implies a certain primacy of the person.  Indeed, it is the individual as a consumer who guides the entirety of the production process.  Both men highly valued capitalism because it is the only method by which society can progress towards the direction preferred by the individuals who make it up.

Libertarians recognize that individuals, from very early on, developed methods by which to limit the degree of violence in their society.  Property rights are one such tool.  Property rights were meant as a way of delineating ownership over scarce resources to avoid the conflict which would naturally arise if one’s ownership of a particular economic good was not respected.  To a progressive individual, interesting in furthering one’s wealth, conflict is necessarily counterproductive.  Conflict is only a means of consuming one’s wealth.  It is no surprise, then, that the most peaceful societies are those characterized by the predominance of markets.

The government, in contrast, is a violent institution.  It, in fact, cannot exist as a peaceful organization, since it survives by forcing others to pay it tribute.  This is true irrespective of the individuals who make up the state, and whether their intentions are peaceful or violent.  Bureaucracy is not interested in prioritizing cooperation, largely because bureaucracy does not enjoy the signals which those constrained by the market do.  The state does not profit and it does not lose, since its income is forcefully appropriated from its subjects.  There is little incentive in finding ways of cooperating as a means of reducing costs, and as such its laws are all too often arbitrary and violently enforced.  The state uses prohibition as its main tool, believing that outright prohibition is the only means of reducing conflict between it and its subjects. The truth, though, is that these types of laws only foster greater violence, because they disallow cooperation.

One should not confuse libertarianism with pacificism.  Some may be pacifists, others are not. However, libertarianism is completely and unwaveringly opposed to the initiation of violence.  This is true whether this violence comes from the state or it comes from an individual.

What Anders Breivik did was to initiate violence.  He murdered innocent people as a means of manifesting his internal rage.  It was not an attack on the state.  It was an attack on society by a man  mentally unequipped to be part of that society.  Breivik’s actions led to the destruction of wealth and an unraveling of societal progress.  He assaulted the very thing libertarianism cherishes: social cooperation.

That some will use this event to further their agenda, including politicians hoping to link Breivik’s violence with the growing minimal government movement is unfortunate, classless, and inappropriate.  No less, it is dishonest.  Breivik’s intentions are not to fight the state.  His purpose is the product of his scrambled mind.  The only thing Breivik has accomplished is mimicking the state in damaging society.  Breivik is no libertarian.  Anybody truly guided by libertarianism would have never committed such a vicious act of aggression.

{ 90 comments }

James E. Miller July 25, 2011 at 7:36 pm

Nicely put Jonathan. I have always had a problem with the Gene Callahan/Daniel Kuehn view that libertarianism is coercive because of the reliance on property rights, as if the very concept that is supposed to define ownership of scarce resources in order to quell violence inadvertently creates it at the same time by its very being. I was unaware that Breivik made reference to Mises.org articles, which is a damn shame because I have never read an article on here that promotes violence and we all know damn well it will just serve as fodder to the other side of the aisle to claim we are a bunch of violent bigots.

Jonathan Carp July 25, 2011 at 11:24 pm

How are property rights not coercive? This here iPad is mine. Do you dispute that? If you do, I will win the argument via the policeman’s truncheon.

Jonathan M.F. Catalán July 25, 2011 at 11:33 pm

I’ve always argued that eliminating coercion and force is impossible. It doesn’t mean that property rights don’t achieved a reduction in coercion and force. The majority of people respect each other’s private property, because it doesn’t pay to dispute it. Property rights, like I write in the post, were developed as a means of avoiding and settling conflict.

Jonathan Carp July 26, 2011 at 1:07 am

I argue the same myself, and it almost always causes consternation among my fellow libertarians.

Dagnytg July 26, 2011 at 3:04 am

Perhaps your fellow libertarians are wanna-be libertarians.

Dagnytg July 26, 2011 at 1:20 pm

Jonathan Carp,

Among my fellow libertarians (as of this posting-see below DD5, pussum, Michael, and James ) I see no “consternation” or confusion… only well thought and well defined responses.

So, I stand by my original comment.

In the future, if you wish to engage in a discussion with real libertarians then I suggest you come to mises.org. If these guys don’t find you first…I will.

DD5 July 26, 2011 at 8:57 am

Property rights and coercion are contradictory of terms. Therefore, property rights eliminate coercion, not minimize it. When coercion is applied, property rights are violated. It sounds like you are conceding that property rights still entail some [minimal] form of coercion.

Wentz July 28, 2011 at 6:08 am

When you say A and B are a contradiction in terms, it means you have simply defined your terms in such a way, and reveals nothing except your pet definitions.

This neatly disguises the fact that property rights do require violence to enforce, just not “unjustified” violence – but that is again an empty statement true by the definitions as you have chosen them. It is merely a reassertion that you support property rights, not an argument in their favor.

Jonathan is correct. Let’s all try to get past arguments that merely invoke favorably chosen definitions. It is the worst habit a thinker can indulge.

pussum207 July 26, 2011 at 7:57 am

By that standard, insisting on any right of self-defence is coercive. You can call it coercive if you want but it reduces the concept of “coercion” to meaninglessness.

Michael Barnett July 26, 2011 at 8:30 am

This is insane. Let’s start with the basic property right — dominion over one’s own body. Your view is that in declaring dominion over one’s own body, a person is being coercive; that in preventing others from using his body without his permission, he is being coercive… So a woman who fights a rapist is being coercive.

That is one of the most confused, befuddled concepts I’ve ever encountered. No offense, Carp.

Zeke July 26, 2011 at 10:37 pm

The most important implication between State Coercion and what Carp termed coercion is negative versus positive rights. The example you listed — right to your body — is a negative right. You have no right to a woman’s body. She can resist your advances with justified force because a right did not exist in the first place. In contrast, the government could demand the effects of the woman’s body and utilize force, but this would be unjustified. The government is claiming a right to make you do something; in the other case the woman was claiming a right to preclude action, or the right of inaction. Both use force and this makes it tempting to term both coercion. Instead, in the case of the woman the force is used in connection with a negative right or the right of inaction. This is not coercive. In the government case, they claim the positive right to make you act. This is coercive. Negative rights do not fundamentally change the status quo — it could change, but the right to inaction allows for choice. Positive rights demand change and are therefore coercive.

Wentz July 28, 2011 at 6:18 am

This is again just arguing by pet definitions, obscuring the substance of what is actually happening behind a tidy semantic curtain. Carp is simply using the word coercion to refer to any kind of violence, whereas you are using the word to refer to a specific type of violence. Is that not totally obvious?

Dagnytg July 28, 2011 at 5:27 pm

Wentz,

I fail to see what your point is. Before anyone can have a discussion (at least a serious one), we have to define terms. Otherwise, we’re talking about nothing.

Both of your comments to Zeke and DD5 don’t make sense. You disagree with their definitions…so what. Your logic is circular…which means it goes nowhere. Is it not your “pet definition” in which you’re trying to superimpose?

Speaking of property and property rights…

I will argue that property rights do not require violence to enforce. How do I know this? Let’s see….umm…oh yeah …the thousands of people I’ve seen and (a few I know personally) that own property and did not use violence to enforce their rights to that property.

If you wish to look at it statistically, in U.S. urban centers, violent crime affects about 2% of the population. We can generally state that this 2% (potentially) resorts to violence to defend their right to property. Of course, even among victims of violent crime, I would assume a large percentage didn’t resort to violence to defend themselves. (I’m not so sure running, hiding, dodging bullets or blocking punches is a violent act.)

Therefore, we can conclude with certainty that property rights do not “require” violence to enforce.

“Is that not totally obvious?”

James E. Miller July 26, 2011 at 10:30 am

I am not sure what point you are trying to make. Why would I dispute if the iPad belonged to you? If I did because you stole it from me or someone else, than that isn’t creating conflict, it is trying to quell your previously coercive act of theft.

Sean July 25, 2011 at 8:30 pm

Well-said. Brendan O’Neill has great article about this at Spiked. (Apologies if mentioning this breaks some rule of etiquette.)

pussum207 July 25, 2011 at 8:53 pm

Thanks for this, Jonathan. Well put.

I would add one point. When people are killed by a lone madman or small group of madmen in the name of a libertarianism or a liberal order, it is a disgusting and utter perversion of libertarian principles. Libertarians are quick to denounce it as such.

When organized terrorists or other madmen (most of whom are revered as “leaders”) have together murdered tens or hundreds of millions throughout the twentieth century, as part either of a radical pursuit of violent revolution or by state policy, it is not a perversion of the collectivist ethic (whether Nazi, Fascist or Socialist) but rather its logical consequence. It is common even now for the majority of such crimes (those on the Socialist side) to be downplayed or dismissed as either practical necessities (the appalling “can’t make an omelette without breaking a few eggs”) or, even more ludicrously, the unintended consequences of a supposedly “well-intentioned” ideology that somehow inadvertently managed to kill millions in a “humanitarian” cause or while seeking “social justice”. The left is literally awash in the blood of millions for which its prominent advocates have never really acknowledged any accountability. In other words, when the Left kills, it’s a feature not a bug.

Jane July 25, 2011 at 8:56 pm

How can you say that Breivik’s actions were not an attack on the state albeit a very violent and wrongheaded one?

The place of the bomb was a government building and the intended target the PM.

The targets of the shooting were young, connected, promising members of the ruling Labour party at a camp to bring these young party members together.

Jonathan M.F. Catalán July 25, 2011 at 9:03 pm

Attacking a federal building or people who are in some way connected to the state is not the same thing as an attack on the state. If you take it to the extreme, by that logic it would imply that killing anybody related to the state is an attack on the state, including people who pay taxes and use the state’s services.

But, this just isn’t so. What accomplishes coercion and aggression is the apparatus of the state. By blowing up a building — material wealth — and by killing people you are doing nothing towards dismantling that apparatus. The apparatus can only be harmed by making it irrelevant, which is accomplished through material and social progress. Killing people and blowing things up is counterproductive (and criminal).

Jane July 25, 2011 at 9:21 pm

So, I guess you have not read his “manifesto” where he makes it clear he is attacking the ruling party and the current system of government.

Jonathan M.F. Catalán July 25, 2011 at 9:23 pm

Either his actions don’t represent what he writes in the manifesto, or he holds an erroneous understanding of what he considers the “ruling party” and the “current system of government”. So, I don’t see how I’m wrong.

Jane July 25, 2011 at 9:29 pm

Then can you give me an example of what you see as an attack on the state?

Jonathan M.F. Catalán July 25, 2011 at 9:35 pm

I already did,

The apparatus can only be harmed by making it irrelevant, which is accomplished through material and social progress.

Jane July 25, 2011 at 10:09 pm

An attack doesn’t have to be successful or complete. It doesn’t have to make anything “irrelevant” or “accomplished through material and social progress.”. You might want to look up what the definition of attack actually is before you so narrowly define it and change it so no one else understands your use of the term.

Jonathan M.F. Catalán July 25, 2011 at 10:13 pm

Jane,

Please, remember the context of the debate! We’re not discussing what constitutes “an attack”, we’re discussing what constitutes “an attack on the state.” Before you criticize me, make sure you do it within the context of what we’re discussing.

Jane July 25, 2011 at 11:19 pm

I think it is you that needs to understand context. So burning down the White House in 1812 wasn’t an attack on the state? You still haven’t given me an example of what you think an attack on the state is.

Jonathan M.F. Catalán July 25, 2011 at 11:31 pm

I’ve given you a broad definition of what I think an “attack on the state” is. But, for example, Wikileaks can generally be considered an attack on the state. See my article: “What the State Fears Most: Information“.

How was burning the White House in 1812 an attack on the state? What did it accomplish in terms of eliminating the apparatus of the state? Also, you can attack the state and at the same time attack something other than the state (think of it as collateral damage).

It seems to me that it would be fruitful to bring up Foucault’s panopticism and Bentham’s panopticon. Foucault makes the interesting point that the power relationship is not between the individual bureaucrat and the individual subject, rather between the subject and the apparatus the bureaucrat operates through.

Jane July 25, 2011 at 11:38 pm

An “attack on the state” is different than destruction of the state. Perhaps you should have chosen your words more wisely.

Jonathan M.F. Catalán July 25, 2011 at 11:45 pm

An “attack on the state” is different than destruction of the state. Perhaps you should have chosen your words more wisely.

Sorry, I just don’t see how this is relevant to anything I’ve said. The state is an apparatus. Thus the attack on the state is an attack on that apparatus.

Dagnytg July 26, 2011 at 2:12 pm

I read this discussion last night between the two of you and I found it tedious and unnecessary. Let me summarize…in simple terms.

“Attack on the state” = an intellectual attack (a critique) via information, ideas, ethics, etc.

Not a physical attack.

There…wasn’t that easy…Jane do you get it now?

Jonathan, you might want to practice the art of brevity.

Jonathan M.F. Catalán July 26, 2011 at 2:23 pm

Dagnytg,

My point isn’t even that an attack on the state is an intellectual attack. I used that as an example of what an attack on the state can look like.

My point is to make Jane realize what the state is and from where the state derives its power. The state’s power doesn’t come from buildings or people, but from an idea. The state is an idea. By blowing up buildings and people you aren’t attacking the idea, rather you are attacking physical wealth and individuals who form part of a network of social cooperation. This attack goes against what libertarianism cherishes in our society.

I don’t care about brevity, if brevity comes at the expense of accuracy.

Matthew Swaringen July 26, 2011 at 9:27 am

Jane, the state is a fiction, not reality. You can’t attack a state except as it exists, in the form of an idea.

Jane July 27, 2011 at 4:44 am

This was a physical and ideological attack on the current ruling state whether you want to call it an idea like Matthew or an apparatus like Jonathan. For evidence see Breivik’s manifesto, the physical damage at the government buildings, and the loss of lives of the ruling party’s most promising young members.

D Storey July 28, 2011 at 6:32 pm

It should also be obvious that this murderer was not inspired by dismantling the State, but inflamed by actions taken by the State with which he disagrees. His manifesto indicates a central role for the State–libertarian, indeed.

Elwood P. Dowd July 25, 2011 at 9:10 pm

Excellent and passionate article Mr. Catalan, I applaud you. Sadly the equating of libertarianism with the right wing philosophy; from outside the movement; has gone on so long that there is in fact now a large contingency within the libertarian movement who really are just right wing ideologues.
T. Ralph Kays

chap July 26, 2011 at 12:00 am
Daniel Kuehn July 26, 2011 at 5:14 am

It’s probably more constructive for both of us if you form an argument rather than fling an insult. I’m not being dishonest.

And I say specifically at several points in the post that I’m not claiming libertarianism is violent or that Breivik is typical of libertarians. Did you miss those statements? Did you even read it or just scoff at the title?

My reassurances don’t do a bit of good if you just misconstrue them.

pussum207 July 26, 2011 at 8:34 am

” And I say specifically at several points in the post that I’m not claiming libertarianism is violent or that Breivik is typical of libertarians.”

Perhaps another way that is to say is that Breivik is not a libertarian.

pussum207 July 26, 2011 at 8:54 am

Oops. Last sentence a bit garbled (even more than usual).

” Perhaps another way to say that is that Breivik is not a libertarian”.

pussum207 July 26, 2011 at 9:19 am

In any case, it now emerges that Breivik was in fact a Darwinian:

http://www.wnd.com/index.php?fa=PAGE.view&pageId=325765

Iain July 25, 2011 at 9:14 pm

@Elwood et al.
Even if you are opposed to “right-wingers” the attempt to paint this as some kind of right terrorism is ridiculous. The media will take anything they can get to construct their narrative. Everything that doesn’t fit is ignored.

Elwood P. Dowd July 25, 2011 at 9:23 pm

I didn’t say the media was right to “paint this as some kind of right terrorism”. But Mr. Catalan mentioned this in his article “(and while Time does not make a connection between the “right-wing” and libertarianism, there is no question that there are many who believe the two to be related)”. I am only referring to the fact that there is, unfortunately in my opinion, a “connection”, not to the philosophy of libertarianism, but to the movement itself that is unquestionably right wing.
T. Ralph Kays

Jonathan M.F. Catalán July 25, 2011 at 9:26 pm

I don’t know if it’s a hypothetical, but Thomas DiLorenzo writes (I hope it’s OK to reproduce this part of his email),

If there is a smear, it will be like saying that former American Vice President Al Gore should be hanged because the “Unabamober” cited HIM in his environmentalist “manifesto” that he wrote before going on a murder spree.

Ken July 25, 2011 at 10:53 pm

Yes, but in this “nation of men,” that would be different even if it weren’t a matter for the memory hole.

pussum207 July 26, 2011 at 7:48 am

Excellent point. Madmen draw their influences from all sorts of sources and infer a justification for all sorts of irrational or unethical things from those influences – it’s what makes them madmen.

Gil July 26, 2011 at 12:57 am

Then again suppose an anti-U.S. by a Muslim terrorist group simultaneously hit major Federal buildings and killed major members of the Federal Government that caused the Federal Government and the U.S. to cease to exist and in its wake made the fifty States of the former Union into fifty independent nation-states and each State Government became a Federal Government in each new nation-state? Would Libertarians feel particularly bad about it? It was shame so many lives were lost. Then again most of who died were to worst of worst politicians determined to cripple the U.S. anyway. Not to mention Libertarians got a big scanario they always wanted – the end of the Federal Government and national sovereignty to the States.

In other words, would Libertarians oppose violence caused by others that nonetheless helps Libertarians get closer to their goals?

Tyrone Dell July 26, 2011 at 3:05 am

Yes.

Nick W July 26, 2011 at 3:16 am

I sure wouldn’t complain, you can’t make an omlette without breaking a few eggs! But of course, this is a red herring argument. As Jonathan points out, no amount of destruction could destroy the apparatus of the state, since it is an idea. Ideas cannot be destroyed. Only lives and property can be destroyed. Until everyone gets in their mind the better idea for running the country, you could not kill postmasters fast enough, the Federal government will always exist. Better to simply try and win with ideas.

Dagnytg July 26, 2011 at 4:29 am

Joanathan,

The essence of why this act is wrong from a libertarian perspective (which you state in your first paragraph but I would like to deconstruct further) is that by killing people Breivik is essentially violating property in the first degree. Meaning the most immediate and sacred property is the property to oneself, as in one’s person, one’s body, one’s physicality.

Libertarian ethics are very clear on this issue. Once I initiate force upon someone, I am violating his or her property. There is no way around this fact. The non-aggression principle is the sole foundation of Libertarianism.

Though this principle is self-evident, it has become clear to me that many wanna-be libertarians seem to overlook or are unaware of this principle. I suppose this is a consequence of popularity. As the term Libertarian becomes part of the vernacular, it seems to be embraced (as good or evil) when convenient by the opportunist and politically expedient. Alas, the true meaning of libertarianism is not heard nor understood.

Last, it’s peculiar from a libertarian standpoint (as defined above) that others (see Gene Callahan and Daniel Kuehn) seem to have a need to understand the reasons for this man’s violent act and perpetuate an excuse for his behavior. As if it makes a difference.

As a libertarian, I only know that this man violated, in a most egregious fashion, the most sacred property…a person’s life and I stand opposed.

Daniel Kuehn July 26, 2011 at 5:19 am

A couple thoughts -

- While I’m glad most libertarians agree with you, Breivik would argue that he’s not initiating violence – he’s responding to a violent state and what he thinks are immigrant aggressors. I don’t think it’s so easy to define away this issue as you suggest it is. We all have breaking points. We’ll all take up arms against the government in response to some abuse, subjectively understood. Breivik understands those things differently than the rest of us, of course, but I think what you’re doing to say that he is inherently opposed to libertarianism here is mostly handwaving.

- I have heard know indication that he is insane or psychologically unhealthy in any way. Have you heard differently? My understanding is he is entirely lucid.

- What’s ironic about citing the anti-Nazi post? I thought he was anti-Nazi. Watch the video he put up on youtube. I don’t believe he’s a neo-Nazi, although obviously the anti-immigrant position makes all that confusing.

soonerliberty July 26, 2011 at 7:01 am

He seems to have a highly collectivistic view of the world, though, which is not libertarian. He wants to save the government and his people and even all of Europe, whatever he believes that is, from bad politicians. He has no problems with the apparatus in general, which distinguishes him from libertarian thinkers. He simply believes the wrong people are in charge. Of course, all of this assumes that we can even trust his justifications for the attacks. I do agree with Jonathan, though, that this was not an attack on the state. It was an attack on a political party. He does not appear to reject the legitimacy of the state, just of those who run it.

Hylas July 26, 2011 at 7:56 am

He also seems to look at things through class and race distinctionswhich seem very collectivist. He seems to think its unnatural that muslims be living in and influencing Europe and would love using force to keep them out. He said he wanted a crusade. Its rather hard to justify being a libertarian crusader(if by crusader you mean directly through force, not crusading for puppies or something like that.)

pussum207 July 26, 2011 at 8:32 am

Anything I’ve read about him would suggest that he’s a virulent white supremacist of the anti-Muslim variety and not even remotely libertarian. (see for example: http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2011/07/24/jonathan-kay-on-breiviks-norwegian-massacre-and-the-turner-diaries-how-a-2011-crime-was-plucked-straight-from-a-1978-novel/ and http://news.nationalpost.com/2011/07/26/goodspeed-analysis-extreme-right-rising-throughout-europe/)

” I have heard know indication that he is insane or psychologically unhealthy in any way. Have you heard differently? My understanding is he is entirely lucid.” Not sure lucidity and sanity and synonyms. Were Mao, Stalin, Lenin, Pol Pot, Castro and all the other great mass murderers and tyrants sane? Also, Breivik killed 68 people at a summer youth camp, many of whom were presumably “youths”. Most people would consider that prima facie evidence that something was amiss sanity-wise.

” We all have breaking points. We’ll all take up arms against the government in response to some abuse, subjectively understood. Breivik understands those things differently than the rest of us, of course, but I think what you’re doing to say that he is inherently opposed to libertarianism here is mostly handwaving.”

As I understand it, you’re implying that anyone that attacks a government installation or gathering of individuals having ties to government of any kind is by definition a libertarian, regardless of the consistency with libertarian principles either of their actions or the type of regime they desire? So Hitler, Castro and Guevara were libertarians?

Jonathan M.F. Catalán July 26, 2011 at 10:04 am

Daniel,

While I’m glad most libertarians agree with you, Breivik would argue that he’s not initiating violence…

And I’m the sure the rapist might not think he’s committing rape…

We all have breaking points.

Again, I don’t see how this is even relevant. We’re talking about what libertarianism is. I don’t care if he had a breaking point. The point is that he is not a libertarian.

To put into perspective. Let’s say I have a breaking point when reading these comments of yours. That justifies, within the context of libertarian philosophy, me punching you? I don’t think so; no matter how much I want to. Just the same, libertarianism doesn’t justify killing your neighbor, just because he drove you to your “breaking point”.

…but I think what you’re doing to say that he is inherently opposed to libertarianism here is mostly handwaving.

Please Daniel, this is absolutely ridiculous. Libertarianism isn’t what you make of it; it is an objective political philosophy.

I have heard know indication that he is insane or psychologically unhealthy in any way.

Anybody who commits an attack like this is mentally unbalanced. As someone who was in the military for a very short time, I think any man who has killed another or is willing to kill another is suffering (or will be suffering ) from mental problems — most do.

What’s ironic about citing the anti-Nazi post?

Um, I explain it right there — Nazism is usually considered right wing. It’s ironic that what he quotes is anti-right wing, and yet people are saying he was inspired by the right-wing (and then making the connection to libertarianism).

Captain Anarchy July 26, 2011 at 12:28 pm

Exactly. Thinking and claiming that I am a unicorn does not make it so, just as thinking and claiming that an action is a libertarian one does not make it so. There are actions which are objectively non-libertarian, and killing dozens of people in cold blood is one of them.

It seems that there exists a confusion between action and person. Only actions and ideas can be libertarian. A person who claims to be a libertarian is really claiming “my actions are consistent with libertarian philosophy.” If Murray Rothbard went on a killing spree, it would not make that action a libertarian one.

Hylas July 26, 2011 at 2:21 pm

I remembered these lyrics the second I read “Murray Rothbard on a killing spree”

If buttercups buzz’d after the bee,
If boats were on land, churches on sea,
If ponies rode men and if grass ate the cows,
And cats should be chased into holes by the mouse,
If the mamas sold their babies
To the gypsies for half a crown;
If summer were spring and the other way round,
Then all the world would be upside down.

Daniel Kuehn July 26, 2011 at 4:27 pm

re: “To put into perspective. Let’s say I have a breaking point when reading these comments of yours. That justifies, within the context of libertarian philosophy, me punching you? I don’t think so; no matter how much I want to. Just the same, libertarianism doesn’t justify killing your neighbor, just because he drove you to your “breaking point”.

You’re misunderstanding the argument, Jonathan. Breivik made arguments about immigrants similar to Hoppean arguments about immigrants – that they were the aggressors on the private community of Europe. This is not an argument foreign to libertarianism (although it is very uncommon). You may disagree with Breivik, but his argument is consistent with a libertarianism that says (1.) immigrants are aggressors on property holders, and (2.) some action is justifiable against such aggressors because such action would not violate the NAP. See the comments of many commenters (although particularly by Gene Callahan) on my blog post to this effect. You’re acting as if Breivik was an aggressor. I would agree with you on that. IMO he is. But in the opinion of a strain of libertarianism that is present in the Mises community (and elsewhere) he is NOT the aggressor or the first mover.

re: ” Libertarianism isn’t what you make of it; it is an objective political philosophy.”

Yes, and I’m explaining that objective political philosophy (or one very specific variant of it, at least). Stop accusing me of making things up and address the argument, Jonathan.

J. Murray July 26, 2011 at 4:31 pm

I’d like to see a link to this immigration being aggressors argument. This is just too far-fetched to be linked to libertarianism. The only time I can see that is if someone tries to “immigrate” onto the land or property I directly own, and I call that theft.

Gene Callahan July 26, 2011 at 5:04 pm

Are you really not aware of Hoppe’s work on immigration? Perhaps you think Hoppe himself is too far-fetched to be linked to libertarianism?

J. Murray July 26, 2011 at 5:13 pm

The challenge stands, link his claims that immigration is violence.

Jonathan M.F. Catalán July 26, 2011 at 5:16 pm

Gene, I looked up his paper in the JLS. It seems to say exactly what I said. Private property allows owners to restrict movement on their land. This doesn’t mean that Europe is the collective property of non-Muslim Europeans.

But, if someone was to make a comment that adds absolutely nothing to the debate, and is just an attempt to ridicule his opponent, it’d be you.

Dagnytg July 26, 2011 at 5:20 pm

J. Murray,

In my opinion, Daniel Kuhen is an intelligent guy who’s bored and is looking for a fight. In essence, he is an intellectual thug. Because he has no ethical foundation, he is an amoralist and extreme pragmatist…essentially he can make up any argument he wants and disregard any precondition.

This easily explains his comment above. It’s also why he has avoided those of us making explicit ethical arguments.

Jonathan M.F. Catalán July 26, 2011 at 5:26 pm

Except, not really. Not everyone who disagrees with you is an “intellectual thug”, “who’s bored and is looking for a fight”. The possibility exists that people just genuinely disagree with you, whether their disagreements are right or wrong.

Dagnytg July 27, 2011 at 6:02 pm

Jonathan,

Let’s look at Daniel’s statement…the one I based my comment on. In fact, let’s deconstruct it because apparently it’s not obvious to you.

His (Breivik’s) argument is consistent with a libertarianism that says (1.) immigrants are aggressors on property holders, and (2.) some action is justifiable against such aggressors because such action would not violate the NAP.

Before we start, let’s make some things clear. Libertarianism is not a political system. It is not an economic system. It is an ethical system albeit a simple one.

Libertarianism: Free will within the parameter of property rights. Respect for property via the principle of non-aggression.

Immigrants are aggressors on property holders

Libertarianism does not distinguish between an immigrant and non-immigrant. Libertarianism does not distinguish the characteristics of people. I repeat libertarianism is standard of ethics.

…some action is justifiable against such aggressors…

There is no action justifiable…because there are no aggressors. The existence of someone, regardless of where they come from, does not imply aggression. Aggression is a purposeful act not someone’s mere presence.

…because such action would not violate the NAP…

I’m sorry this is not apparent but blowing people up and shooting at them from a distance is an extreme violation of the non-aggression principle.

In the end, these guys (Daniel and Gene) are using sophistry to create confusion and self-doubt. The fact that you don’t see this is disappointing to me.

Bottom-line: These guys are making mockery of libertarianism and sadly, you’re allowing them to do it…

Jonathan M.F. Catalán July 27, 2011 at 6:08 pm

That they’re wrong doesn’t mean they are “intellectual thugs”.

Jonathan M.F. Catalán July 26, 2011 at 4:34 pm

Daniel,

I don’t know Hoppe’s argument, but if I were to guess, I would guess that you are taking it to an extreme at which Hoppe would disagree with you. There are a lot of libertarians who argue that property rights would pose a limitation to the free movement of individuals (i.e. immigration). I don’t think Hoppe would argue that Europe is, as a whole, private property collectively owned by non-Muslim Europeans — this would be absurd.

I don’t think any “strain” of the Mises Institute believes what you’ve just described. I think you’ve misunderstood their argument. Even if some believed what you just wrote, it doesn’t mean that their beliefs are libertarian (even if they categorize themselves as libertarian).

Breivik can think what he wants. But, it doesn’t make this thoughts libertarianism. Neither does what he think make his actions libertarian.

Yes, and I’m explaining that objective political philosophy (or one very specific variant of it, at least). Stop accusing me of making things up and address the argument, Jonathan.

Lol Daniel, your argument in your original post was completely different. In fact, it was a lack of an argument. You claimed I “defined away” the problem and then made some absurd point based on “breaking points”.

And, again, I can make up a theory and call it libertarian. It doesn’t mean it really is.

Finally, he attacked Norwegian children and a government building (and the people inside), not Muslims and not the Norwegian state. So, after all this is said and done, your comment is still largely irrelevant.

Gene Callahan July 26, 2011 at 5:08 pm

“I don’t know Hoppe’s argument, but if I were to guess…”

Good work, Jonathn. Don’t bother looking up Hoppe’s work, or anything like that. (It’s not like you can find it online!) Just guess!

Gene Callahan July 26, 2011 at 5:14 pm

“I don’t think Hoppe would argue that Europe is, as a whole, private property collectively owned by non-Muslim Europeans — this would be absurd.”

Hmmm…

“While the State does not recognize any- one as its private owner, all of government controlled public property has in fact been brought about by the tax-paying members of the domestic public. Austrians, Swiss, and Italians, in accordance with the amount of taxes paid by each citizen, have funded the Austrian, Swiss, and Italian public property. Hence, they must be considered its legitimate owners.”

Oops-a-daze, Jonathan, that IS pretty much what he thinks! That’s the problem with the “guessing” method of “scholarship.”

Jonathan M.F. Catalán July 26, 2011 at 5:19 pm

Ok, fair enough. 1) I think Hoppe is wrong, because you don’t necessarily own what you pay into. 2) No European muslim pays taxes? 3) How does attacking a government building and killing children represent a defense against a supposed Muslim “aggression”. 4) The institution denying freedom of movement are not the owners, but the bureaucrats.

Hylas July 26, 2011 at 6:11 pm

Sooo much trollin!!!

Hylas July 26, 2011 at 6:19 pm

The ideas of libertarianism and Breivik’s views on immagration are two different matters. It seems that a few people really are trying their hardest to label any attack on state intitutions or even the people who favour them as libertarian.
Sure the property of a state belongs to its people but many libertarians view property rights not neccesarilly as sacred, just very useful for preserving individual liberty.

Property gives one an extension of control over his existence but if that control clearly and extensivly limits anothers self-determination they are no longer useful.

I dont mean that property is theft butwhen one has a very large amount of it, it can be inhibiting to others.

G8R HED July 26, 2011 at 10:50 am

Matthew Swaringen July 26, 2011 at 9:33 am

Daniel, in your article you appealed to the attacks on Keynes using the fact that he praised aspects of the Nazi economic system. In my opinion this is fair because this is comments on an individual and actions he actually took.

But taking that and comparing it to a person praising some individuals who have a common ideology is not the same, because while in the former case you are making a statement about the individual Keynes, in the latter you are trying to make an implication on the group from an individual who appreciates aspects of it.

Daniel Kuehn July 26, 2011 at 4:30 pm

Matthew –
The claims about Keynes and Nazis are some of the most ignorant things ever written about the guy. They are easily refuted. My point is that while I recognize the Breivik situation is a delicate one, I’m not afraid to address it carefully given how lazy and ignorant certain people have been in their arguments about Keynes and Nazism.

re: “in the latter you are trying to make an implication on the group from an individual who appreciates aspects of it”

No, I’m absolutely not. I encourage you to reread the post. I’m most definitely not doing this and explicitly explained that I wasn’t doing this.

Ivan Georgiev July 26, 2011 at 10:04 am

when I was in high-school I had a best-friend. together we often discussed the “evils of the public schools” (evil not only in an ethical perspective, but in an economical, too). all our statements were positive statements, none of them were normative, that is, neither I nor he made suggestions or “should” statements. later it turned out that he was n a neo-Nazi. the thing is this: both he and I thought that public school is “bad”, but our motives were different. my motives were libertarian – I think public school is bad per se (that is, it does not stop being bad and turn good or the other way around, depending on the way it is administered), and his motives were statist – he was not against public school as an idea that is inherently bad, he was merely lamenting how bad the current way of administering public school is and he was wishing to replace this “not-working” way with his (or his mentor’s) way.

what is the conclusion: the fact that both he and I disapproved of the public school (he was actually disapproving of the CURRENT public school) does not make us supporters of the same political philosophy. he was a neo-Nazi, and I am a libertarian. He wanted to change one particular not-working (according to him) statist system with another, and not only that but he is willing to use violence to achieve his end. Of course, libertarians do not want to modify, improve or develop statism so that it can match “their political philosophy’ taste”. In their political philosophy there is NO PLACE FOR STATISM. And the reason for that is because they oppose the initiation of violence. This also informs us that libertarians ARE NOT people who use aggression to achieve their ends.

Hylas July 26, 2011 at 2:26 pm

Well put, Ivan. Clearly someone who wants to initiate some kind of crusade is not libertarian. Libertarianism is a positive set of beliefs. Its not simply anti-statism, which is opposition to the establishment of a state.

Further Breivik wasnt even an anti-statist. He simply wanted a state that had nothing to do with “outsiders”.

T. Doering July 26, 2011 at 11:11 am

Breivik was a defective human being, who murdered Children. I doubt his manifesto has any coherrent thought or sturcture.

Brian Lawson July 26, 2011 at 7:13 pm

Keep in mind that there is no proof, at all, that Breivik actually wrote this manifesto

Martin OB July 26, 2011 at 8:21 pm

First of all, my respect and condolences to all the victims, their families and the people of Norway who have been shaken by this madness.

One should not confuse libertarianism with pacificism. Some may be pacifists, others are not.

Exactly. That’s the part of the article I agree with the most. Many people seem to think you have to be a pacifist to be a libertarian. Others thinks you have to be pro-immigration. Both are wrong.

There’s a consistent Hoppean libertarian reasoning (thanks, Gene Callahan, for the link) that could lead a deranged individual to attack Western politicians because of immigration policy. Of course, no sane individual would do what Berwik did, but that’s because of common decency, a sense of proportionality and many other ingredients of a sane personality, not because of intrinsic contradictions with libertarian theory.

Unlike Robert Spencer, Pamela Geller, the authors of the Gates of Vienna blog and other prominent members of the counter-jihad movement, the Mises blog is quite safe from accusations by the mainstream media, because the trending topic now is “Islamophobia”. If anything, I have been shocked by occasional displays of Islamophilia, indulgence with Muslim extremists, criticism of Israel, anti-Western sentiments (such as describing non-Western immigration as an improvement) and calls for an open borders policy, at least since the turn away from paleo-libertarianism after 9-11:

http://www.vdare.com/misc/080514_pendleton.htm

Jonathan M.F. Catalán July 26, 2011 at 8:35 pm

Martin,

I think the notion that freedom of movement is effectively constrained by private property is legitimate. That public land is owned collectively by a country’s people is questionable, but let’s assume that Hoppe’s logic is sound. Who decides immigration policy? (Politicians, by the way, mostly pay taxes as well, so they — according to Hoppe’s theory — have just as much of a say as you do.) What if some owners favor open immigration and others closed immigration? Legal immigrants, by the way, surely become taxpayers in some fashion. Either through an income tax, taxes on the goods they buy, taxes on their wages, et cetera. They become owners of the land they emigrated to.

Neither does the initiation of force give the victim a retaliatory blank check. Or, would a libertarian society be characterized by people killing each other for the smallest offenses?

So, even if we were to accept Hoppe’s premises, these premises don’t lead us to conclude that a violent attack is justified (within the context of libertarianism). So, if a deranged individual were to conclude that a terrorist attack is justified by Hoppe’s argument it’s not a product of the theory, rather a product of that deranged individual’s mind. I will repeat DiLorenzo’s succinct point. Does environmentalist theory lead to unibomber attacks? I don’t think so.

Also, that Hoppe is a libertarian, doesn’t mean we have to accept everything he writes as particularly libertarian. People can be wrong.

pussum207 July 27, 2011 at 7:42 am

“if a deranged individual were to conclude that a terrorist attack is justified by Hoppe’s argument it’s not a product of the theory, rather a product of that deranged individual’s mind. I will repeat DiLorenzo’s succinct point. Does environmentalist theory lead to unibomber attacks? I don’t think so.”

Yup. Here’s the way Canadian columnist George Jonas puts it:

“Some lament that Breivik is a rightwing nutcase; others rub their hands in glee. Both are wasting their time. Misdeeds don’t invalidate ideas any more than ideas validate misdeeds. When people who are wrong try to discredit people who are right on the basis of something the lunatic Norwegian said in the days when he was only shooting off his mouth, remember that 2×2=4, even if the Unabomber says so.”

Martin OB July 27, 2011 at 5:58 pm

Jonathan,

Who decides immigration policy?

Definitely not the potential immigrants.

Politicians, by the way, mostly pay taxes as well

Not really, but that’s an aside.

What if some owners favor open immigration and others closed immigration?

What if you are sharing a flat and one of your flatmates wants to bring someone else to live? In any case, the prospective new flatmate has no say in the matter.

Legal immigrants, by the way, surely become taxpayers

I don’t think the main issue is taxes (and I’m not sure Hoppe does, despite the quotes), but who are the indigenous inhabitants, the first occupants. People are allowed to immigrate under the assumption that they want to contribute positively to the host society, not subvert it, destroy it or transform it against the will of the original population. If they do the latter, I’d say the immigration pact is null and void. Taxes or no taxes.

Neither does the initiation of force give the victim a retaliatory blank check. Or, would a libertarian society be characterized by people killing each other for the smallest offenses?

I’ve read opinions ranging between both extremes in libertarian debates. Some libertarians think all punitive justice is un-libertarian, while others believe once you trespass, you relinquish all your rights. Libertarians tend to agree about peaceful coexistence, but not so much about physical conflict.

So, even if we were to accept Hoppe’s premises, these premises don’t lead us to conclude that a violent attack is justified (within the context of libertarianism).

Agreed, they don’t lead us to such a conclusion, but they are not by definition incompatible with it. So a person may well conclude that a violent attack is justified as some kind of retaliation or preemption of an imminent mortal threat, within the bounds of libertarianism, at least in some of its forms.

Does environmentalist theory lead to unibomber attacks? I don’t think so.

Agreed. For instance,a suicidal environmentalist would buy an SUV.

Also, that Hoppe is a libertarian, doesn’t mean we have to accept everything he writes as particularly libertarian. People can be wrong.

Indeed. I disagree with much of what Hoppe says. I just happen to agree with him on immigration. The point is, would you describe Hoppe as a prominent libertarian? If so, some prominent libertarians are against open borders. They may well be wrong, but they are libertarians nonetheless.

Jonathan M.F. Catalán July 27, 2011 at 6:06 pm

Definitely not the potential immigrants.

What’s your point? Not every non-immigrant is anti-immigration. There are, in fact, many pro-immigration immigrants.

What if you are sharing a flat and one of your flatmates wants to bring someone else to live? In any case, the prospective new flatmate has no say in the matter.

It goes both ways. What this leads to is an empasse and it shows the weakness of the theory of the collective ownership of public property.

I don’t think the main issue is taxes (and I’m not sure Hoppe does, despite the quotes), but who are the indigenous inhabitants, the first occupants.

This is absurd. Almost nobody is the “original inhabitant”.

People are allowed to immigrate under the assumption that they want to contribute positively to the host society, not subvert it, destroy it or transform it against the will of the original population.

How would you decide whether this is the case or not?

Agreed, they don’t lead us to such a conclusion, but they are not by definition incompatible with it.

This goes back to the original point. Environmentalist terror is not incompatible with Al Gore’s environmentalists. Yet, nobody would blame environmentalist terror on, or link with, Al Gore.

The point is, would you describe Hoppe as a prominent libertarian?

Let’s say there are two libertarians. They posit two mutually exclusive theories. Both can’t be libertarian. I’m not saying the person positing isn’t libertarian, I’m talking about the idea.

Martin OB July 28, 2011 at 6:11 am

What’s your point? Not every non-immigrant is anti-immigration. There are, in fact, many pro-immigration immigrants.

My point is that potential immigrants have no valid claim on their desired destination, to be weighted along with the claims of the indigenous population, as some immigration advocates seem to believe. Again, you can argue with your current flatmates about whether or not to bring a new flatmate. Your opinion is just as relevant as theirs, because you are co-owners of the flat. The potential new flatmate, for the moment, is not. Also, a distinction should be drawn between temporary guests (what “guest workers” were supposed to be) and new flatmates (citizens).

It goes both ways. What this leads to is an empasse and it shows the weakness of the theory of the collective ownership of public property.

It shows no such thing. It only shows that when collective property is involved, the issue of who has the right to do what with this property necessitates additional considerations beyond establishing who is the owner. In any case, people who are not co-owners clearly have no claim on it. Collective ownership is just problematic, not absurd.

This is absurd. Almost nobody is the “original inhabitant”.

So who was in Europe before the ancestors of the current Europeans? I can only think of Neanderthals, and those are extinct (possibly absorbed to some degree). Maybe you are thinking of the likely fact that every modern human being came originally from Africa. It may well be the case, but, as I said, Europeans didn’t take the European land from anyone else (except, maybe, Neanderthals, who are not here to complain). So they are (descendants of) the original inhabitants.

Besides, even in cases where other groups roamed in the area at some point in the distant past, leaving hardly a trace, the first occupancy doctrine only makes sense for settled populations with well-defined borders, when it starts to make sense to speak of “immigration” into some host society that controls a given territory.

How would you decide whether this is the case or not?

It can be tricky. As usual, it can be tricky to determine whether someone committed a given crime or misdeed. That’s a different issue from whether what this person allegedly did is a crime or not.

This goes back to the original point. Environmentalist terror is not incompatible with Al Gore’s environmentalists. Yet, nobody would blame environmentalist terror on, or link with, Al Gore.

By “nobody would” I guess you mean “nobody should”. I’m pretty sure some people who comment, or even write articles, on Mises blog would. I agree, that would be unfair.

You see, my only issue is with your claim that libertarianism is logically incompatible with violent attacks. Of course, it’s not particularly conductive to such attacks either.

Let’s say there are two libertarians. They posit two mutually exclusive theories. Both can’t be libertarian. I’m not saying the person positing isn’t libertarian, I’m talking about the idea.

I think libertarians should stop trying to define fellow libertarians out of the movement. If they have mutually incompatible theories of what libertarianism is really about, they should pick new labels (such as “anarcho-capitalism”, “classical liberalism”, and so on) for each theory and leave the “libertarian” label alone. Labels are tools for communication of ideas, they shouldn’t be at the center of the stage. People should struggle to refine their theories, not to claim a venerable name for them. That would make a healthier debating environment.

Jonathan M.F. Catalán July 28, 2011 at 9:30 am

Martin,

Let’s not be ridiculous! The “potential claim” of immigrants is irrelevant here. Nobody suggested that immigrants had any say, in the first place. What we’re arguing is who has ownership of “collective property” (an absurd concept on its own). We’re not talking about a flat (which, btw, is most likely owned by a single person, not the “flat mates”, all of which are paying rent), we’re talking about country filled with millions of people, each with different opinions. Forming an immigration policy based on the preferences of millions is impossibly absurd and becomes worthless to even consider.

Collective ownership of public land is absurd, not least of which because nobody actually exercises any control over the property in question. And immigration policy is not set by the people of a country, but certain bureaucrats who run that country.

In regards to Europe, you can’t aggregate Europe. European history has been full of the movement of people. Italy, Spain, and France, for example, were not Germanic in character before the migration of Germanic tribes. According to mythology, the inhabitants of Rome were not originally Latins, but Greeks! Much of southern Italy, too, was occupied at some point by Greeks. Spain is a mixture of Arab, Germanic, and Gallic immigrants.

We see how deciding who were the “original” inhabitants becomes an exercise in absurdity.

Besides, even in cases where other groups roamed in the area at some point in the distant past, leaving hardly a trace, the first occupancy doctrine only makes sense for settled populations with well-defined borders, when it starts to make sense to speak of “immigration” into some host society that controls a given territory.

And we’re back where we started, since this includes an eclectic mix of races, including Muslims in Europe.

I’m pretty sure some people who comment, or even write articles, on Mises blog would.

Maybe someone using the same twisted logic as immigration policy set by collective ownership of public land… which has no basis in reality.

I think libertarians should stop trying to define fellow libertarians out of the movement.

You, again, entirely miss the point! We’re not talking people, we’re not talking about ideas. Libertarianism isn’t defined by the person, but the idea and its consistency with the political philosophy.

Martin OB July 28, 2011 at 6:05 pm

Let’s not be ridiculous!

Let’s keep calm ;)

Nobody suggested that immigrants had any say, in the first place.

Open-borders advocates do.

What we’re arguing is who has ownership of “collective property” (an absurd concept on its own).

Ownership is shared among the members of the collective. How it is shared is another matter. Ask anyone who has divorced.

We’re not talking about a flat (which, btw, is most likely owned by a single person, not the “flat mates”, all of which are paying rent)

I know, but Crusoe and Friday examples are getting old, and people in real life treat flat sharing as if it were common property to some degree.

Forming an immigration policy based on the preferences of millions is impossibly absurd and becomes worthless to even consider.

Ah, democracy. You are right, it’s awful, but we are stuck with it for the moment, and we will be stuck with it after our countries are chock-full of hostile immigrants and their hostile children with birth citizenship, unless and until the rules are changed. Let’s be realistic.

Collective ownership of public land is absurd, not least of which because nobody actually exercises any control over the property in question.

The state does, supposedly on behalf of the citizens.

And immigration policy is not set by the people of a country, but certain bureaucrats who run that country.

But the people collectively (yes) decide who those bureaucrats are and what their policies will be.

In regards to Europe, you can’t aggregate Europe.

Tell that to the Eurocrats. More to the point, indeed, Europe is diverse and heterogeneous if you watch it closely, but it has a distinct common baggage of traditions, values and blood ties that set it apart as a distinct ethnic group when compared with other societies, such as those from Africa or from the Middle East. Ethnic groups can be nested.

Your examples about migrations during Roman times and before were indeed relevant to the people at the time they happened, but they mean nothing for present-day democratic countries. To begin with, Roman citizenship was not given to anyone who happened to live under Roman rule (not until the fall of Rome was well on its way, that is) and the Emperor was not democratically elected. The current immigration debate is much more about who is part of the electorate than about who gets to own a piece of land as an individual.

And we’re back where we started, since this includes an eclectic mix of races, including Muslims in Europe.

Um, no. I just said that what happened with ancient nomadic tribes is not relevant. Muslim invasions came well after that period; it came in the 8th century, shortly after the birth of Islam. There were Christian kingdoms with clear borders. It’s true that those kingdoms often fought each other as much as they fought the Muslim invaders, but that only means, perhaps, that their rulers were too foolish, short-sighted or greedy, not that they didn’t have much more in common with each other than with the Muslims.

By the way, Islam is not a race. You can’t leave your race, but many people leave Islam (at their own peril).

More to the point, even if ancient nations and cultural identities were challenged, transformed or destroyed by massive migrations, that doesn’t mean this kind of process is harmless and should be allowed to happen with present-day nations and cultural identities.

Yes, some Spanish people have some Arab ancestors, no, I don’t think they should be deported to Arabia, and no, that doesn’t mean that every Arab has a right to settle in Spain.

Maybe someone using the same twisted logic as immigration policy set by collective ownership of public land… which has no basis in reality.

No, someone using the twisted logic of guilt by association, which has nothing to do whatsoever with ownership theory. And, individual ownership has no more basis in reality than collective ownership.

Jonathan M.F. Catalán July 28, 2011 at 6:25 pm

Martin,

Open-borders advocates do.

Um no, open border advocates are saying that they are allowing immigrants to come into the country. They are not saying that immigrants can decide for themselves whether it’s OK to emigrate.

Ownership is shared among the members of the collective. How it is shared is another matter. Ask anyone who has divorced.

I don’t get the analogy. In a divorce property is split. There is no collective ownership.

I know, but Crusoe and Friday examples are getting old, and people in real life treat flat sharing as if it were common property to some degree.

What Crusoe and Friday examples? What real life people? If one flat mate allows a person to enter the flat, that gives another flat mate the right to shoot that person? I think you should consider some introspective analysis of your position, because it’s not a sensible one.

You are right, it’s awful, but we are stuck with it for the moment, and we will be stuck with it after our countries are chock-full of hostile immigrants and their hostile children with birth citizenship, unless and until the rules are changed. Let’s be realistic.

I am being realistic; you are not! We’re talking about whether somebody is justified to attack an immigrant based on whether or not that single individual believes immigration is OK or not. The entire position is absurd.

The state does, supposedly on behalf of the citizens.

I thought we were being “realistic”?

our examples about migrations during Roman times and before were indeed relevant to the people at the time they happened, but they mean nothing for present-day democratic countries.

You forgot the original context of your original comment. You said the right to decide immigration policy should be left to the “original inhabitants”. But now you concede that deciding who the “original inhabitants” are is impossible, and now fall back on the position that we should keep it relevant to present-day. But, in that case then we can talk about an eclectic mix of inhabitants, including people of the race and culture of the immigrants.

Um, no. I just said that what happened with ancient nomadic tribes is not relevant. Muslim invasions came well after that period; it came in the 8th century, shortly after the birth of Islam.

Oh ok, so the 4th Century is not relevant to “present-day”, but the 8th Century is?

Yes, some Spanish people have some Arab ancestors, no, I don’t think they should be deported to Arabia, and no, that doesn’t mean that every Arab has a right to settle in Spain.

You have yet to come up with a consistent answer of who does have a right to decide whether someone can immigrate or not in a society beset by the public ownership of land. So far, your answer has been woefully twisted, illogical, and plain absurd.

And, individual ownership has no more basis in reality than collective ownership.

I’m sorry? What does this mean?

Martin OB August 1, 2011 at 7:28 am

Jonathan,

Um no, open border advocates are saying that they are allowing immigrants to come into the country. They are not saying that immigrants can decide for themselves whether it’s OK to emigrate.

In this context, by “open borders advocates” I mean libertarians who argue against country borders, not pro-immigration politicians.

I don’t get the analogy. In a divorce property is split. There is no collective ownership.

Exactly, property is split, and the splitting is not trivial. People go to court because they don’t agree on how to split it. That’s because there was no agreement about what belonged to whom before divorce, that is, many things were collectively owned.

What Crusoe and Friday examples? What real life people? If one flat mate allows a person to enter the flat, that gives another flat mate the right to shoot that person? I think you should consider some introspective analysis of your position, because it’s not a sensible one.

Google “Crusoe economics”. Thought experiments involving Crusoe and Friday have been extensively used by Hoppe and many others.

If a flat mate is allowing rapist murderers into the flat, and then pointing a gun at other flatmates to prevent them from expelling those criminals, I would think his flatmates are justified in shooting him. But if there’s a peaceful way to prevent him from doing that, there’s no justification to shoot him.

Killing a murderous tyrant can be justified, killing an elected politician who is acting within the law in a liberal democracy is choosing barbarism and death when peaceful dialogue is a viable option. Killing unarmed children, no matter how brainwashed they are, is a monstrous act. That’s not the issue we are debating.

I am being realistic; you are not! We’re talking about whether somebody is justified to attack an immigrant based on whether or not that single individual believes immigration is OK or not. The entire position is absurd.

No, we are talking about whether libertarian doctrine is categorically, intrinsically incompatible with political violence against enablers of dangerous immigration. I don’t think so, but neither do I think political violence is justified, at least not in a liberal democracy.

I thought we were being “realistic”?

What’s unrealistic about what I said?

You forgot the original context of your original comment. You said the right to decide immigration policy should be left to the “original inhabitants”. But now you concede that deciding who the “original inhabitants” are is impossible, and now fall back on the position that we should keep it relevant to present-day. But, in that case then we can talk about an eclectic mix of inhabitants, including people of the race and culture of the immigrants.

Massive immigration is a very recent phenomenon. The indigenous population of a modern country are the descendants of those who were the inhabitants of that country when it was founded.

Oh ok, so the 4th Century is not relevant to “present-day”, but the 8th Century is?

It’s all about the context. Country borders within Europe changed considerably in all those centuries, some countries were created, others disappeared and so on. But there was always a clear distinction between Christendom (Europe) and the land of Islam.

You have yet to come up with a consistent answer of who does have a right to decide whether someone can immigrate or not in a society beset by the public ownership of land. So far, your answer has been woefully twisted, illogical, and plain absurd.

The indigenous population does, no one else. How they should do it is another matter. It’s not that difficult to get, you are just hostile to the idea.

I’m sorry? What does this mean?

Can you measure individual property with your property-meter? A fence is just a piece of metal, whether it marks land boundaries or country borders. Property, whether individual or collective, is not a physical fact, it’s a political concept.

Aussie_Austrian July 27, 2011 at 7:12 am

Hoover wrote some great stuff on free market principles etc. but was he a laissez faire? Of course not. Perhaps one should make the distinction between what one says and what one does.Therefore, Breivik is not a libertarian in my humble opinion.That is, he did not abide by basic libertarian principles, ie non aggression.

Dagnytg July 28, 2011 at 3:42 am

Observations:

Breivik is a good-looking guy…here’s a case where some good old-fashioned libertinism (wine, women, and song) could have made a difference.

And since sophists (I have been instructed not to call them intellectual thugs) have blamed libertarianism, mises.org, and Hoppe for Brevik’s actions…

I suppose the next logical step would be to blame…black metal.

Jay Lakner August 1, 2011 at 12:08 pm

I interpret Hoppe’s opinion to be something along the following lines:
- The State is illegitimate, however, it still currently exists.
- The improvements, etc on the “public” land have been paid for by money stolen from the general population (ie taxation).
- If the State were dissolved, then public land and all it’s improvements would need to be returned to the people who were robbed to create them (ie taxpayers).
- Therefore, the rightful owners of public land are the tax-payers.
- If the State did not exist, there would be private defense agencies whose task it is to prevent invasion.
- But since the State DOES in fact exist, and has assumed the role of defense, then the State must act as a private defense agency would – which means restricting all uninvited people onto public land.

It does, in its own way, have a certain logic to it.

However, I still disagree.
What if some taxpayers want open borders and others do not? The taxpayer who is quite happy with endless immigrants using public land (which they legitimately are the rightful owners of a percentage of) are disallowed from this scenario.
Co-ownership is obviously problematic and requires all parties to consent to a co-ownership contract.
I think Hoppe made the mistake of assuming a co-ownership contract in which if only one person objects to the way in which the co-owned property is used, then that use is prohibited.
But a co-ownership contract doesn’t necessarily need to be like this. It could be that 25% of the owners need to object, or 50%, or 75%, or even that any one of the co-owners can do whatever they want with it so long as no other co-owner is currently using it. Once again, it depends on the contract.
Since the tax-payers have not agreed to any contract whatsoever, then favoring closed-borders is just as illegitimate as favoring open-borders.

Ultimately, there is no such thing as an “immigration issue”. There is only a “public land issue”. And the only solution to this problem is the elimination of all public land. Once all land is privately owned, each land owner can then decide for themselves who to allow on their property.

Just my 2 cents.

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: