Tuesday, January 19, 2016

The Current State of Anarcho-Capitalist Theory (Part 1)

By Robert Wenzel

Recently when having lunch with a semi-prominent hardcore libertarian, the man said to me that he thought all the deep thinking about libertarianism had been done and that there was not much more that needed to be hashed out..

I objected vehemently. I stated that there was much more that had to be developed and that there were very few that understood exactly what anarcho-capitalism meant.

My current discussion with regard to the nature of a Private Property Society (my preferred term for anarcho-capitalism) here at Target Liberty is an object lesson. The discussion points out gaps in current theory, but also the lack of understanding by most libertarians as to exactly what a PPS would look like--as far as the theory has already been developed

I view the idea that government is necessary as largely a myth. Government, for the most part, is simply an organization that seeks to survive and expand, driven by the people in charge of it. A change in government power is simply new people taking over power spots.

Government does not protect us against terrorists, it does not improve healthcare, it is terrible at charity and the police do little to protect us against crime. Government is a propaganda machine that creates the impression that it is needed for all these matters when in fact it is a suffocater of real solutions.

My working definition of anarcho-capitalism is a society where no government exists but where private property is recognized and respected.

Let's take this definition and look at some comments made at my recent post: Additional Comments on Penalties for Violators of the Non-Aggression Principle.
To start: I will set aside the situation where the property owner has clearly specified rules and penalties for violations regarding his property. I will also set aside the implication of this to the child taking the apple – libertarian theory is very incomplete when it comes to many questions about children.

From everything I gather, I believe it is correct that libertarian theory does not answer the question: what is the proper punishment / restitution / whatever for violation X?

It is possible that this means that libertarian theory offers that the victim is allowed to determine the punishment. I imagine it is also possible that this is not a logical conclusion. If libertarian theory doesn’t answer the question, the logical conclusion might just be that it doesn’t answer the question – and that the answer must be found elsewhere.

Subjective value is a truism for humans – in economics and in all human action. I don’t know that this suggests subjective value is a libertarian concept. It is subjective value on which Robert rests. This might be one way to answer the question: “what is the proper punishment for violation X?” But it isn’t the only way, and I don’t know that it is inherently the libertarian way.

There are many issues of human action and human interactions that are not addressed by libertarian theory and the NAP – which only address the issue of initiating violence (of course, against property or person). Punishment (after the cessation of the initial violent act) is not an initiation of violence.

How does a theory that addresses the initiation of violence address something that isn’t the initiation of violence?

Robert might be right, however I remain in the box that this question can only be answered by what is acceptable in a given culture. Fortunately or unfortunately this leaves a somewhat wide path for “acceptable” punishment – but, I would argue, not as wide a path as the one offered by Robert’s position.

Whatever might be correct in libertarian theory (and again, I do not believe libertarian theory offers an answer), communities want to avoid blood feuds (I have a post that will be published tomorrow that touches just on this point, an example from today’s world).

The decision of punishment will not be left solely to the victim to decide. And I do not see this as contradictory to libertarian theory.
I am not sure Bionic Mosquito realizes it here, but he has left the world of anarcho-capitalism and entered the world of limited government. The moment there is a central party, be it culture or whatever, that sets the rules that overrule the desires of a person on his property, it is a central power, that is, it is government. Regardless of how modest the desires of such a ruling power that is what it is. It is no longer anracho-capitalism.
To my mind penalties for crimes (NAP violations) must be culturally determined, not determined at the whim of some Shylock demanding a pound of flesh.

Libertarianism is not a complete way of life. There are many things that the NAP does not provide an answer for. Furthermore the vast majority of the population is not biologically selected for libertarianism and thus a libertarian society is impossible without strict standards of who to let in and who to keep out. This standard would need to be stricter than just admitting people that claim to be libertarian today.
Yet, another that has left the world of anarcho-capitalism and leaves us with the horrific thought that the masses are "not biologically selected to be libertarians" and, therefore, government is here to stay.

This, of course, flies in the face of my perspective that everyone, from libertarian scholars to the masses, spend most of their day acting just as they would if there was no government. I repeat what the government allegedly provides is either done poorly or is a complete myth.

The masses may never become deep thinkers of libertarian philosophy, but it is not difficult to imagine them, at some place and some time, adopting the view that people should just be left the hell alone.

"...if there are no previously stipulated penalties, the property owner should determine penalties on his property"

Unilaterally? This is deeply problematic. A religious extremist could insist on beheading or enslavement for merely glancing at a married woman while on his property. To him, legitimate. To the guest, unacceptable and insane. But would a libertarian have to side with the religious property owner just because the guest was occupying his land even though the guest may have been unaware or unconsenting to this rule and penalty for any number of reasons? I don’t think so. Unless surrendered via contract, by default one retains full ownership of one’s body and personal property even while occupying the land of another.

"On what basis should you be overruling a property owner on his own property? You guys sound like a couple of central planners...This violates the fundamental Austrian principle of subjective value..."

Perhaps you misunderstood our positions. I am arguing that a guest and a property owner must first come to mutual agreement on all terms or else the guest cannot enter the property. This dictates nothing to anyone. It allows for the subjective values of both host and guest to find common ground between them (or not) so all parameters are explicitly agreed to in advance. Surely this conveys a legitimacy to rules and penalties that unilateral imposition by either party cannot.

"Unless surrendered via contract..."

 In a PPS, surrendering rights to the owner of the property is a given. Otherwise, we are back to the limited government situation where rules are determined by a central power.

I think there is an implication here that people would be wandering off into areas where they would be tortured or perhaps murdered and that somehow rules overruling private property must be necessary to prevent this.

But this fails to understand how people act now. They don't walk at 3:00 in the morning counting cash in the open in a bad section of town because there is a government law against it and the government police will protect them. They simply stay out of bad areas, as would occur in a PPS. There aren't many modern day Americans who are going to wander on the property of someone who will kill them because of the smallest infraction.

It doesn't happen now, no thanks to government, and it wouldn't in a PPS.
Robert, would a child who steals and eats an apple be subject to the death penalty, if the farmer who owned the apple desires it? The child is not on his property anymore, but he did steal and irretrievably damage the farmer's property. After all, subjective value means the farmer could have valued that apple immensely - who is anyone else to judge the value?

If that's true, wouldn't any crime, from trespassing, to physical altercation, to theft, to fraud, be potentially punishable by death, since the victim's restitution could only be evaluated subjectively, i.e. according to the victim's wishes?

Yes, I have made my point clear that it is impossible for anyone other than the victim to determine what is satisfactory punishment. However, I wish to emphasize once again that no one is going to wander into areas where significant danger lurks. Government doesn't protect us from such dangers now, we just avoid such areas. Why wouldn't we avoid them in a PPS?

You are all falling into the trap that the government is somehow needed to protect us from dangerous areas. They don't. We just stay  away from such areas. You are all setting up the scenario where people are not going to be cognizant of where they are in a PPS, even though they are now, with a supposed government to protect them now.

sonepatchworthJanuary 16, 2016 at 8:52 AM...That is why conflicts not covered by pre-agreements are so deeply problematic...

No they are not. If there are no set rules or designated arbiter, then the private property owner has the last say. But again who is going to go on a property where it isn't clear what the rules are or who the arbiter might be?

"You guys sound like a couple of central planners determining penalties. This violates the fundamental Austrian principle of subjective value..."

And so does the legal concept of "property." How is property defined in civil society if not by some universal, uniform, objective legal standard? Or is property determined by subjective value? Where does that lead? Not to a civil society I think.

What about IP? Summary justice based on subjective value for IP too? Eeee... and this contributes to a civil society? A libertarian society? I don't see how.

"In short, my view on penalties for violations of NAP, as being determined in a libertarian society by the owner of the property on which the violation occurs, rests on the fundamental principle of subjective value and a respect for private property ownership."

No due process? No day in court?

And if someone is wrongly accused by the property owner? So if a property owner *believes* someone has violated his terms of entry to his property, he can simply administer summary justice on the spot? What if he's wrong or just doesn't like the person? Or what if there is shared blame?

Your issue of subjective value to me pertains to remedy AFTER guilt has been established (for a criminal offense) which should be by an impartial jury of peers.

There's no reason why a court can't be somehow required to base their remedy on the plaintiff's subjective value of the harm done. In ancient Athens (as the case at the trial of Socrates), the accuser and the convicted each proposed a remedy/punishment which the jury voted on. The logic of this explained by Aristotle was that if either party demanded too much they'd likely lose so both parties tended to moderate their proposal.
Property in a PPS is not a legal concept. It is simply a society where the population respects private property and respects the idea that the  owner of the property sets the rules on that property.

I am not here discussing the specific mannerof how property ownership develops in a PPS (Like I said there is much theory in an anarcho-capitalist society that needs to be developed). I am at this point only discussing the nature of a PPS. How property ownership is determined in a PPS is for another time and another essay.

"And if someone is wrongly accused by the property owner? So if a property owner *believes* someone has violated his terms of entry to his property, he can simply administer summary justice on the spot? What if he's wrong or just doesn't like the person? Or what if there is shared blame?"

Again, why are you going to go on a property where you don't know the rules? This stuff isn't going to happen. Do you think Macy's would survive if it practiced summary justice? No one would go in the damn store.

theageofnowJanuary 16, 2016 at 12:11 AMWhy would there not be private, impartial businesses that judge disputes? Private police that communities pay to enforce laws. Jails/work camps to punish aggressors based on the victims preference (so far as he is a consumer of the service).
It's almost as if you guys are thinking bounty hunters, police, courts, judges, lawyers and jails would not exist in a free society. There would no doubt be wild west areas as there are still today but the vast majority of us would gladly be a member of some protection service. With all the extra income we would have protection services would thrive and these wild west NAP justice theories would be a tiny afterthought.
Go to the head of the class, though to the degree it's communities, it would be private property owners getting together and deciding to recognize certain rules, etc.

Matt@Occidentalism.orgJanuary 16, 2016 at 12:02 PM...Once again pie in the sky libertarianism with no attempt to gauge the acceptability of this to actual people living. This line of thinking makes libertarianism intolerable to normal people.
No, pie in the sky is believing that government is actually protecting you somehow. That is the great myth. What I am describing is how people live now, with the unfortunate veil of government that suffocates and oppresses.

bionic mosquitoJanuary 16, 2016 at 1:22 PMAs I think about this more, I keep returning to a couple of thoughts:
1) When does "penalty" cross the line into "initiation of aggression"? Libertarian theory does not hold an answer to this question, to my understanding; we even cannot settle on a definitive line regarding what "aggression" is in the first place (not that I find it necessary to do so).
2) Subjective value is not a concept that flows from libertarian theory, at least not in any way that I see. Therefore, one could presumably justify a penalty code based on subjective value, but I do not see how it can be built on the foundation offered by the NAP.
Any light / links on either matter would be appreciated.
Separately,this idea put into practice is seen in gang wars and the relationship of Israel / Palestine, among other places where blood feuds are normal). If it is valid in libertarian theory (which, so far, I do not see) it is not conducive to a civil society and would certainly result in the welcoming of a monopoly fixer of all grievances. 
A libertarian society could not survive this practice.
1) If you are an anrcho-capitalist, the only answer is the property owner. If you are an advocate of an overruling group of laws, then you are, at least, a limited government advocate.

2. You are talking penalty codes, this is a central planning concept, that is, a limited government that somehow and someway, rules over private property. There is no such overruling body if NAP is recognized completely, such rules would be an aggression against a person or his property,

"Separately,this idea put into practice is seen in gang wars and the relationship of Israel / Palestine, among other places where blood feuds are normal). If it is valid in libertarian theory (which, so far, I do not see) it is not conducive to a civil society and would certainly result in the welcoming of a monopoly fixer of all grievances

"A libertarian society could not survive this practice."

Now, you sound like a total government propagandist, Last I looked, Israel was a government and there are governments from around the Middle East aiding and abetting different sides in that conflict, not to mention involvement by the US government, but yet you attribute this to what anarcho-capitalism would look like? I am talking about a society where people mind their own business and respect private property, I really don't think this is outside the realm of possibility, becasue as I say, in most cases people are already acting as if they are in a PPS, though there is a remarkable desire, even among libertarians to suffocate such a world with central rules.

The Israeli-Palestine conflict has as much to do with anarcho-capitalism as does Bernie Sanders.

To be continued...

Robert Wenzel is Editor & Publisher at EconomicPolicyJournal.com and at Target Liberty. He is also author of The Fed Flunks: My Speech at the New York Federal Reserve Bank. Follow him on twitter:@wenzeleconomics

52 comments:

  1. I agree with RW. In a PPS world day to day activities would look much the same as today except more peaceful and profitable. Governments add nothing to our wealth and well being and are nothing but a burden. In fact the world economy being developed by 7 billion people is far more efficacious than the 100+ governments that currently exist. The more apparent this becomes the louder the politicians squeal.

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  2. Mises is right. Anarcho-capitalism is impossible. No one would have authority to make any laws or the ability to enforce them. Who even says it's going to be a private property society? No one has to follow that.

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  3. RW: Do you think Macy's would survive if it practiced summary justice? No one would go in the damn store.

    Macy's wouldn't, but Koch Industries, Halliburton and Blackwater might. Macy's is a retail business, the others aren't. Old Farmer Brown might. Again, not dependent on retail customers.

    I used to live in Columbus. A reclusive hermit lived in a house in the woods. Teenagers used to drive onto his driveway on a dare. He got tired of it and posted "No Trespassing" signs. One night, the teenagers returned and he shot at the car killing one.

    The guy was arrested and went to prison. In the PPS though, would he? Is it okay to use lethal force because you don't want someone on your land? As I understand it, killing the trespasser would be okay in the PPS if a sign was posted.

    But is that consistent with the NAP? I don't believe it is. If, as libertarians, we want to live in the NAP society, there must be laws that enact it. If not, we get what we get and very likely not the NAP. How many times does such an event happen before people demand that something be done? And like the Phoenix, the state is reborn...

    RW: Property in a PPS is not a legal concept. It is simply a society where the population respects private property and respects the idea that the owner of the property sets the rules on that property.

    It's not so simple. On what basis are we presuming the "population respects private property"? There's no law. No common understanding. No standards. I do believe a lot of people will be able to co-exist peacefully under such an arrangement, but it doesn't take too many who don't to ruin it for everyone who does. But conflict can occur over anything. Emotions get high. Violence erupts. Humans are still 99% genetic chimpanzees.

    Suppose I have land next to yours. Where's the boundary? Do we agree on it? On what basis? You've been mistakenly mowing my yard for the last month... Now you think you have a claim to it. I don't. Better get my gun... Or better yet, call in my mercs!

    Now let's multiply this conflict by thousands, millions of people all getting into their own disputes many acting in bad faith, petty greed, or just an honest disagreement that gets out of control.

    And that's just over land. Now throw in other natural resources... oil, timber, farmland, water, on and on. Some resources like airspace or radio frequencies get very complex. Trespasses are inevitable. Conflicts are inevitable. And BIG money is at stake. Many people will do ANYTHING to protect their claims or steal them.

    I reject any arrangement of polity that depends of the honor system which seems to underlie a lot of Rothbardianism. Or that all people are rational economic actors who won't get into conflicts because it costs too much money (R. Murphy's thinking it seems). I don't buy either.

    IMO there's no escaping the state at least in the realm of reality. The question is "What kind of state?" It's profoundly mistaken logic to say "the state has always been evil therefore it is intrinsically evil and always will be evil." This is the Rothbardian position I reject.

    Libertarians (if we are to be serious about liberty) should be asking "Since the state is inevitable, how should a proper libertarian state be arranged?" This is more productive. Wishing the state would just disappear is indulging in fantasy.

    Of course the state is dangerous (so is Blackwater), but how can the risks be managed? Humanity has always been saddled with polities that were corrupt at their inception (like the US). The only polity I can think of that was not corrupt was Athenian democracy. But we've had Machiavellian oligarchies er... republics or tyrants ever since. We need a new kind of state but a state nonetheless.

    But I’m going to try to keep an open mind on RW’s PPS post. If I believed a libertarian society could be had without the state, great! I’m all for it.

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    1. This is definitely not correct.

      There is no difference between two individuals homesteading property and then getting in a dispute over the extent of such homesteading, and those same individuals getting in such dispute, but one has convinced 10 others in the area to form a "government" that then uses force to pick a winner.

      In all cases, compulsory taxation is theft. People can, and would, create voluntary governance structures. In remote areas, culture would suffice to keep the peace.

      But, in all of the above, we are creatures of reason, and we therefore require a lodestar to guide what the proper laws will be for determining the extent of homesteading, or the proportionality of a punishment. These will be natural conceptions of justice, largely libertarian in my view. Rothbard wrote extensively on this.

      This is why I think St. Augustine correctly concluded that a government without justice is a band of pirates. Under a proper conception of justice, this would include governments that tax.

      Enforcing these laws is a separate matter, and would probably look like diplomacy at first, when peoples get to know one another and are careful around the property and lands of others. As peoples integrate into a society, they would come to agree on applicable laws and enforcement bodies.

      There could be instances where two different enforcement bodies conflict in a ruling and seek to enforce. But this already happens all the time between states.

      States, being the absence of anarchy, is really a myth or an illusion. Relationships among states, and even within states, often have no higher governing body.

      You won't be able to come up with a libertarian state because it is a contradiction. How would it form legitimately? Do you have a precise definition of governmental legitimacy?

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    2. >> There is no difference between two individuals homesteading property and then getting in a dispute over the extent of such homesteading, and those same individuals getting in such dispute, but one has convinced 10 others in the area to form a "government" that then uses force to pick a winner.

      Whaa? I'm not suggesting there is. Your conception of state and mine are very different. I don't see people forming a state for the purpose of establishing a system of justice, standardized land claims, etc. as being only to steal someone's land. What the heck...

      >> In all cases, compulsory taxation is theft. People can, and would, create voluntary governance structures. In remote areas, culture would suffice to keep the peace.

      Voluntary tax in a voluntary state. Not in "remote areas" but for everyone everywhere who wants it.

      >> But, in all of the above, we are creatures of reason,

      No, not all of us. Maybe not many of us.

      >> and we therefore require a lodestar to guide what the proper laws will be for determining the extent of homesteading, or the proportionality of a punishment.

      A work in progress.

      >> Enforcing these laws is a separate matter, and would probably look like diplomacy at first, when peoples get to know one another and are careful around the property and lands of others.

      You do understand that laws are a product of state, right? In the absence of the state there are no laws by definition. And without laws, rules of conduct are whatever the people with the most firepower want to impose on everyone else... becoming de facto states.

      >> As peoples integrate into a society, they would come to agree on applicable laws and enforcement bodies.

      People "would" this and "would" that... No, people won't. It's easily a near absolute certainty that left to their own devices in the absence of a libertarian state, people will do whatever they want, however they want, using whatever means they want... and libertarianism is a highly unlikely outcome.

      >> States, being the absence of anarchy, is really a myth or an illusion.

      I don't understand.

      >> You won't be able to come up with a libertarian state because it is a contradiction. How would it form legitimately? Do you have a precise definition of governmental legitimacy?

      Simple, really. A literal social contract that a person signs to become a citizen of the libertarian state. The contract stipulates the laws based on libertarian principles that the individual agrees to honor and how the political authority is arranged. This is how the libertarian voluntary state is born...

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    3. You misunderstand my use of "laws". They are not products of a state.

      The old English common law often recited that its purpose was to 'discover' law, and not create it. Basically, it posited that justice is objectively determinable.

      Your definition of a libertarian state implies 100% consent. We are talking past one another then. That would be fine.

      But, if your 100% consent state tries to enforce its laws against a non-consenting party, and any of those laws are not in accord with objective justice (which precedes the state), then that 100% consent state violates the NAP.

      You also haven't dealt with succession issues - are children subject to your same state upon adulthood? How about those who buy property in the area and the original consenters move away? Are they bound?

      I can't tell if your views are Hobbesian (with you stating that some humans are not creatures of reason), or if you actually reach the right conclusion but are being sloppy in how you characterize a legitimate state.

      What I am saying is that peoples can form legitimate governance structures, and consent is the bedrock. But you don't need it everywhere. Informal systems arise and are common everywhere. And where there are conflicting 'governance structures', you need the lodestar of reason and objective justice to guide people in figuring out, peacefully, the best avenue to resolve the matter.

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    4. >> You misunderstand my use of "laws". They are not products of a state.

      Then you're right, I don't understand your use of "laws." They aren't laws if not enacted and enforced by a polity. I'm not willing to call policies or rules by private parties "laws." Who enforces them? How? On what legal principles?

      >> Your definition of a libertarian state implies 100% consent. We are talking past one another then. That would be fine.

      Yes, I mean voluntary state. It does have 100% consent or as close to that as is practical (ie excluding children and mentally disabled adults).

      >> But, if your 100% consent state tries to enforce its laws against a non-consenting party...

      Why would it? That means enforcing its laws on people in another country. Even the US doesn't do that. The libertarian state means all citizens are equal owners of the territory. As equal owners of the territory, they have agreed by giving their explicit consent when signing the citizen contract to honor the laws of the state. Anyone entering it also agrees to do the same (think of the libertarian state as an HOA writ-large with everyone under the same by-laws).

      >> You also haven't dealt with succession issues - are children subject to your same state upon adulthood? How about those who buy property in the area and the original consenters move away? Are they bound?

      There are many issues I haven't dealt with here. I'm not going to write a treatise in a chat thread. But that treatise is in the works.

      In response though, children must decide to either sign the dotted line or leave the country (or stay as a resident non-citizen which can be an option). It's no different than a child reaching adulthood in his parent's home. The child must choose to stay on its parents terms or leave the house. Or with a club membership. Just because your dad belongs to a country club doesn't entitle you a membership (unless in their by-laws).

      >> I can't tell if your views are Hobbesian (with you stating that some humans are not creatures of reason), or if you actually reach the right conclusion but are being sloppy in how you characterize a legitimate state.

      Why do you assume so much? I'm SpencerFan... not HobbesFan. ;)

      All you can know about the libertarian state is what I've relayed to you here... It's still a blank page to you so you're compelled to fill in all the white-space of your ignorance with prejudicial graffiti...

      >> What I am saying is that peoples can form legitimate governance structures, and consent is the bedrock. But you don't need it everywhere.

      In my opinion, we do. Libertarian principles like NAP, private property, self-defense... Spencer's equal freedom, are universal. Which libertarian principles are subject to red lining?

      >> Informal systems arise and are common everywhere.

      No "informal" polity has ever existed I am aware of. You are referring to small-scale, short-lived, oddities not actual polities ie not an entire society under common jurisdiction.

      >> And where there are conflicting 'governance structures', you need the lodestar of reason and objective justice to guide people in figuring out, peacefully, the best avenue to resolve the matter.

      I don't know what that means.

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    5. If you are looking for examples of informal governance systems, I refer you to Ancient Ireland or much of the period referred to as the "Dark Ages" and "Middle Ages."

      Then of course is the huge imprint of Church governance and sovereignty in that period, separate from the "polities". You didn't have to marry in the Church (with some variations for time and place). But if you did, you subjected yourself to her rules on annulment and inheritance.

      And local Church governance was often quite informal. Punishments took the form of banishment or withholding of Church privileges.

      'Polities' do not even govern many of our everyday affairs. We follow norms in all kinds of scenarios where there is no 'polity' telling us what the norm is.

      But all that is a mere digression. I'm fine if people ultimately are hyper formalists and need 100% consent states for most of their affairs (though in practice that will be impossible as many social and business norms will remain outside of any codified rules).

      But my last point speaks to the one thing you are missing. You can have two "voluntary states" that disagree on something, say a boundary line. You can have two neighbors disagree as well, and each neighbor is a state unto himself as he owns his property.

      But how do the property owners objectively decide what the boundary line is? They have to apply objective principles. In this case, the rules of original acquisition and first use, and how they apply to the dispute.

      It will be messy and qualitative. But as creatures of reason, it's the only way to do without relying solely on force.

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  4. A guy I respect on one of these threads all wrapped up in these discussions said that RW was "just pushing buttons".

    I'm sure this particular post he just made is about to get a lot of responses, and I just want to say that I don't believe he makes his points to get under people's proverbial skin(though it does generate traffic I'm sure- ;) ), but I think it's out of a genuine desire to flesh things out or point out inconsistencies.

    When RW suggests it seems like some people are acting like central planners, I'm sure some get annoyed- but I actually don't think he does it to annoy, insult, etc.

    He's just got a very direct way of communicating that rubs some people the wrong way.

    I do agree with a comment one poster made about how such discussions(farmers killing children over apples, etc.)can turn people off to libertarianism- but this isn't your usual crowd/general population in these esoteric discussions.

    It's not a discussion I would normally have with someone that hasn't been exposed to libertarianism for a while.

    IMO, the NAP itself is mostly uncontroversial in concept to most people when first introduced,and in fact might even be considered "common sense" to most(to start). I think it's always good to start there and over time let people explore the dark corners of its implications, which aren't apparent on the surface. (and when I say dark corners, it doesn't mean I think the NAP isn't the way to go)

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    1. Funny, I had a whole thing teed up then went nah, he's just using the blogger strategy known as "controversy marketing" or as the Brits would say "taking a piss." I find that stuff entertaining, though.

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    2. I can assure you that I am not advancing the framework of what a Private Property Society would be like as a marketing strategy. As I point out in my blog course, comments to posts are not the way to generate traffic.

      If I wanted to generate traffic, I would go full gloom and doom and rant about the Federal Reserve not being able to create the boom phase of the business cycle that would create hits.

      I can assure you that advancing PPS in a blog post will result in my earning maybe $3.50.

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  5. Comment in 2 parts. Part 1.

    Your latest post is unfortunate because it has failed to deal with the substance of the arguments made against your ideas for punishment in a Private Property Society. Its a strawman argument and reflects badly on you.

    "Government does not protect us against terrorists, it does not improve healthcare, it is terrible at charity and the police do little to protect us against crime. Government is a propaganda machine that creates the impression that it is needed for all these matters when in fact it is a suffocater of real solutions."

    It is fair to say that a Private Property Society won't protect you against terrorism and crime, or guarantee you charity or healthcare either. More on this later.

    In your previous post you suggested that child molestation would not occur in a Private Property Society even though it would be legal in certain circumstances, such as for retribution for a trespass or a theft. The authority of the property owner, you say, is total.

    "The point is that in a Private Property Society child molestation wouldn't occur becasue parents wouldn't expose their kids to child molesters anymore than they do now.

    What are you talking about "perfect information fallacy"? That "The activities of this farmer may not be known to others"?

    Isn't that the world we live in today, where parents have to be aware of where children go and that they don't leave kids with strangers?"

    How do you suppose that child molestation would never occur in a Private Property Society? Has the nature of Man now changed? The 'Communist Man' an impossibility but the 'Libertarian Man' that never does wrong is possible?

    You said that a property owner could determine the punishment for a transgressor. Based on this principle, it would be perfectly acceptable for the property owner (a 'libertarian farmer') to decide to have sex with the child offender if he wanted to as punishment. You said that child molestation could never happen in a Private Property Society even though it would be legal. Why? Do you live in Absurdistan?

    "But this fails to understand how people act now. They don't walk at 3:00 in the morning counting cash in the open in a bad section of town because there is a government law against it and the government police will protect them. They simply stay out of bad areas, as would occur in a PPS. There aren't many modern day Americans who are going to wander on the property of someone who will kill them because of the smallest infraction."

    Yet people DO walk into bad areas of town, and do get murdered or otherwise harmed. For whatever reason some people must go to 'bad areas'. Why would that never occur in a Private Property Society? And what of the millions of people that actually LIVE in the bad end of town? Are you telling them to go and live in Bel Air instead?

    "Yet, another that has left the world of anarcho-capitalism and leaves us with the horrific thought that the masses are "not biologically selected to be libertarians" and, therefore, government is here to stay.

    This, of course, flies in the face of my perspective that everyone, from libertarian scholars to the masses, spend most of their day acting just as they would if there was no government. I repeat what the government allegedly provides is either done poorly or is a complete myth.

    The masses may never become deep thinkers of libertarian philosophy, but it is not difficult to imagine them, at some place and some time, adopting the view that people should just be left the hell alone."

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  6. Part 2.

    Your Private Property Society would not last 24 hours in the real world were it to somehow come into being. First it would come under attack by 'Urban Primitives' that don't want to Live Action Role Play your Libertarian society and instead want the 'gibsmedat' that they were getting before. Not only are they not getting the healthcare and benefits that they were getting before, but wealthy libertarians are shooting their kids in the head over very minor infractions. Worse, they have raped UP children before shooting them.

    Once you are under siege by the UPs, people like you will set up security agencies, 'private courts', and other organisations to handle it. These will be allegedly private but in function they will be mere state stand-ins, pseudo state entities with the mere fig leaf that it is a private entity. Once you discover free riders in your midst that refuse to pay for the defense of your geographical area you will demand 'donations' that will not be voluntary.

    Of course the problem is going to get worse since you refuse to defend the country's borders against people that are not down with the Private Property Society program. Borders don't exist because libertarianism.

    Then the icing on the cake. The libertarian farmer that molested the child trespasser as punishment has decided that he is going to ramp up his operation. Using his absolute authority as a property owner he opens a new business, 'Pedo Farm'. At first he imports the children from third world countries (libertarian open borders) but as his business starts raking in the money he invests his capital in baby incubators, producing children right there on Pedo Farm. But that is OK, right, because this is a Private Property Society and the libertarian farmer is just meeting demand for the product.

    Perhaps you are going to say that this isn't permitted, but then the question becomes 'why not'? Who is going to prevent this in a Private Property Society?

    Back to the libertarian pedo farmer. One day I am on the country roads and my car breaks down. I see a farm and a locked gate. I know that I am trespassing but I really need to get to a landline phone as there is no signal out here. I enter his property and as I approach the house proper I am confronted by the libertarian farmer. He informs me that since I am an adult and not a child he will not molest me because he isn't into that. However he is going to execute me as is his right as a property owner for trespassing. As much as I respect property rights, I have decided that I am not going to die today so I pull out my gun and blow his brains out. I suppose that this is going to be a VERY common occurrence in your Private Property Society.

    Now you have called me a statist, even though I have not advocated for the state. All I have done is poke holes in your idea of libertarian punishment. Poking holes in a fatuous line of thinking is not the same as advocating statism. You might as well call me a heretic. As another commenter in the previous thread aptly wrote, "When your theory starts producing absurd results, it's time to adjust the theory or at least accept its current limitations, instead of redefining basic morality to fit the theory."

    I challenged you previously to admit that under your idea of libertarian punishment it would be permissible to molest children as a libertarian punishment, but you dodged it by saying child molestation would not happen in a Private Property Society. It is obvious why you would not concede this point - because upon concession any non-degenerate person would reject your idea of a Private Property Society. Time to go back to the drawing board.

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    1. Interestingly, 'bad parts of town' have generally gotten that way as an n-th order unintended consequence of the policies of central planners.

      Please read this article that was posted on lrc a number of years ago and consider it's discussion of how a private legal system might evolve in a private property society in order to address the kinds of issues you describe, through markets and voluntary cooperation.

      Already, 95% of civil cases settle before trial, outside the government court system, and millions of others are handled outside government courts through contractually prescribed arbitration.

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  7. RW: "I am not here discussing the specific manner of how property ownership develops in a PPS (Like I said there is much theory in an anarcho-capitalist society that needs to be developed). I am at this point only discussing the nature of a PPS. How property ownership is determined in a PPS is for another time and another essay."

    The PPS, a house without a foundation. A floating abstraction. It might, for some, be a fun topic to debate theoretically in libertarian echo chambers but it is in no way a possible political outcome. The shark has been jumped.


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    1. "RW: 'I am not here discussing the specific manner of how property ownership develops in a PPS (Like I said there is much theory in an anarcho-capitalist society that needs to be developed). I am at this point only discussing the nature of a PPS. How property ownership is determined in a PPS is for another time and another essay.'

      'The PPS, a house without a foundation. A floating abstraction. It might, for some, be a fun topic to debate theoretically in libertarian echo chambers but it is in no way a possible political outcome. The shark has been jumped.'"

      This critique rings hollow...Actually, RW is discussing the foundation, and leaving aside the building for later, to use your example.

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    2. @Rick: Really? In his reply comment above, RW says: "I can assure you that I am not advancing the framework of what a Private Property Society would be like as a marketing strategy."

      He uses the word "framework." When building a house, the "framework" goes up after the foundation is laid. How property ownership is determined is the foundation of the PPS. That foundation is not explicated here.

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  8. Hollow Daze is correct as far as RW's piece is concerned. If you haven't explained how Private Property ownership will be determined, then everything after that is without foundation. So, while RW will save this issue for another essay at another time, I'll explain it right here.

    In a private property society (PPS), a person would make a claim to a piece of property. If the property had previously been unused, then the claim would be made by homesteading the land. In the PPS, there would likely be several private, competing judicial systems. A person would take their claim to property to the private judicial system of their choice. Anybody contesting the claim would take their case to the judicial system of their choice. If they use the same judicial company, then that company would make the decision and both parties would need to abide by it. If, however, they had different judicial companies, then these companies would likely agree to a third company (possibly one that specializes in adjudicating these types of disputes) to arbitrate the issue (with any decision by the arbitrator being binding). Similarly, if my grandpa had a piece of property which was improperly seized by the government and given to another person, and then in the intervening period the government peaceably dissolved itself to be replaced by a PPS, then I could try to reclaim my land by using the same judicial process outlined above.

    Now, having built this foundation (simplified as it is, due to space constraints), we can move onto the issue discussed here. A property owner who wishes to shoot trespassers on sight (or do other, more horrific things) would find that no court would represent him. The reason for this is simple ... people would boycott any company that would represent his interests and give their business to one of the competing judicial firms. Any firm still representing him would be limited to a clientele of scoundrels. And, it's also likely that either the arbitrating firm or the people offended would ensure that the property owner were punished, regardless of whether the person he shot was actually trespassing.

    So, RW is right that this sort of extreme punishment would not exist in a PPS (or, at least not for very long), but not for the reason that he stated. Either the mob, or the mob's judicial companies would ensure that anyone practicing disproportionate punishment would not be long for this world. If the courts ignored their clients and allowed the property owner to go unpunished, then mob justice would be guaranteed, and (if the courts continued these practices) eventually civil society would break down.

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    1. Not how I see ownership developing in a PPS.

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    2. Would, would, would... Never a word had more built-in assumptions as to human behavior. I wish I could strike that word from the Rothbardian lexicon.

      "Would" is a big red-flag. I don't presume people "would" do anything. People do what they can to further their own self-interest and too often are not rational or don't have honest intentions while doing it.

      Any political system that hopes to be viable has to take human nature as it is not as it ought to be.

      >> In a private property society (PPS), a person would make a claim to a piece of property.

      This is a problem. How do they make their claim? By pissing on trees and rocks around the boundary to mark their territory?

      What if that private property claim involves the ocean, airspace or a radio wave frequency? How are those claims made?

      >> If the property had previously been unused, then the claim would be made by homesteading the land.

      Just about every cubic inch of Earth and its atmosphere has been claimed by someone. Not much to homestead at this point on this planet.

      >> In the PPS, there would likely be several private, competing judicial systems.

      I call that "war."

      >> A person would take their claim to property to the private judicial system of their choice. Anybody contesting the claim would take their case to the judicial system of their choice.

      Suppose I can't afford a "private judicial system"... Does that invalidate my claim?

      >> Similarly, if my grandpa had a piece of property which was improperly seized by the government...

      Eh? There is no government in the PPS. Don't follow.

      >> A property owner who wishes to shoot trespassers on sight (or do other, more horrific things) would find that no court would represent him.

      Why do you assume that? What if it's a sharia court and some guy has stoned his 13 yo daughter to death to save his honor? In the sharia PPS, I guess the stoning is just peachy.

      >> The reason for this is simple ... people would boycott any company that would represent his interests and give their business to one of the competing judicial firms.

      *sigh* "people would"... No. What if so-called business isn't in retail? How would you propose people boycott Koch Industries? Stop driving?

      >> So, RW is right that this sort of extreme punishment would not exist in a PPS...

      I hope RW can put forth a better argument. I'm pretty much unpersuaded by this one.

      >> If the courts...

      Even the idea that "courts" will exist in the PPS is an assumption. Maybe people wouldn't set up courts. Why do that when you have a small private army at your fingertips if you're the Kochs in the PPS? Because you should? Maybe employing a court system doesn't fit their business model.

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    3. @Ad Liberati: I'm interested in your statement "similarly, if my grandpa had a piece of property which was improperly seized by the government and given to another person, and then in the intervening period the government peaceably dissolved itself to be replaced by a PPS, then I could try to reclaim my land by using the same judicial process outlined above."

      This gets at an issue integral to whether, upon the dissolution of all gov't, a PPS or other new political system moves people in general towards liberty or just towards a different style of despotism. In other words, does what has been stolen stay stolen?

      You use the word arbitration a lot. I have some experience with such "private dispute resolution" in the securities industry. Every time you sign a brokerage agreement, you agree *voluntarily* to arbitration of claims and forfeit your right to jury trial (except in certain extremely limited circumstances). Try finding a broker whose agreements don't require this. In my opinion and experience, such a system is heavily influenced and, to an unspoken extent, controlled by the securities firms. The arbitrators tend to be former securities firm employees and are selected and paid by the firms. If a complainant had enough resources to fight with expensive lawyers, outcomes tended to be reasonable. Most complainants with little or no property (financial resources) were simply overwhelmed by the scale of the firms legal representation and their claims were simply denied outright. The lack of resources often made recourse to arbitration untenable. Many grievous abuses went unpunished this way.

      My broader point is that, much like the current system of near total fascism, a PPS is almost completely weighted in favor of owners of property (especially those with outsized wealth), who are fallible humans. That being said, how will people with little or no property make out under such a system? There's a headline over at 0Hedge that says "62 People Have More Wealth Than Half The World, Top 1% Have More Than Everyone Else." Do you think a PPS threatens those among this group who acquired their wealth through violations of the NAP, say via sweet public private partnership deals or bailouts? With the system of arbitration you discussed do you think it would would be possible, in millions of cases, to discern who stole what from whom and enforce the return of it to its rightful owner? Would those that acquired property illegitimately acquiesce quietly without an arbitration battle, or maybe a gun battle with a paramilitary force? Or, would things largely remain the same, with "justice" going to the highest bidder?

      I think the issue of how property ownership is determined makes the foundation of any political system is one of the most important elements. If there is no process of "truth and reconciliation" that addresses what was stolen in the past and its return to its rightful owners(s) then any new political system is simply the status quo dressed in new garb. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

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    4. Man exists in a state of anarchy. Minarchy is an illusion. All 'governments' are de facto, and therefore need a core reason giving them legitimacy (i.e. universal consent).

      We exist in a state of anarchy, as there is no anointed, God-designated earthly government. As Hoppe and others have written, history in the West grew from leader / property owners ('nobles) that were recognized for their greater wisdom, and people in the feudal era voluntarily submitted to their rule and dispute resolution. Culture arose. This is where governance was, and will be, found.

      You have objected that disputes over original acquisition, i.e. homesteading, can be hard to determine in a stateless society. But how does a state really resolve the issue using reason? It doesn't! It just has a bigger sword and stick.

      Conflicts in a stateless society will occur. It goes without saying that conflicts in state societies will occur and are worse. With a stateless society, you have far less chance of a single power bullying everyone, since they cannot use taxes. Refer to Western decentralization after the fall of Rome. Much has been written on this.

      So for determining governance, you have to resort to theories of reason and justice, which in the West have often been libertarian friendly (the Christian, not modern West).

      Lastly, Rothbard wrote on the scope of homesteading and first use. I suggest you become familiar with these writings, because they are relevant to some of your objections.

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    5. Spencer Fan, "would" was used not to predict inevitable outcomes, but to look at a likely outcome. So, if you prefer, you can strike it and read it as "would likely" or "might" or whatever you prefer. There is no way to know for sure how a market will evolve in a PPS.

      How do they make their claim? By going and mixing their labor with the land. The Rothbardian homesteading concept covers this. They could then put up a fence or fence post (or if they can afford a private court system at the time, registering with their chosen court). As for oceans, airwaves, etc, I recommend that you read "Justice and Property Rights" and "Law, Property Rights, and Air Pollution", both of which are included in "Economic Controversies. There is not enough space to provide details here.

      "Just about every inch ... has been claimed by someone". This is nonsense. More than half of the land in the Western U.S. is claimed by government. If government didn't exist, that land would be available for homesteading, as would all of the government parks, nature reserves, and government buildings.

      Private competing judicial systems is not automatically war. If that were the case, then by that logic all governments would always be at war with each other.

      If you can't afford a private judicial system, then there would likely be charity, pro bono work, or delayed billing, etc (same as is done with civil cases currently).

      What I stated was based on a PPS society arising currently. Which is why I said that a previous government took the land. A government not currently existing does not equal a government never having existed.

      Shari'a is not possible in a PPS, because under Shari'a the Khalifa is the ruler, as God's representative on Earth. Taxes including jizya and alms (which are not charity, as popularly believed, but taxes paid to the Khalifa) are taken from the people regardless of whether they want to or not. Shari'a court is not compatible with a PPS.

      For non-retail industries, you could boycott downstream where possible. This happens currently where people pressure TV stations to quit accepting ads from some companies.

      And if there were no private court systems in a PPS, then you go back to tribal dispute resolution, blood feuds, and mob justice. A company may not want to have to resort to private courts, but if the alternative is the mob, then they might feel compelled to.

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    6. Hollow Daze, Rothbard wrote on this issue in an essay titled "Justice and Property Rights". It is included in "Economic Controversies" which you can find at the Mises Institute Library. There's a section of that essay titled "Toward a Critique of Existing Property Rights" which should be helpful.

      It would be a messy process, but invariably, a market would be better than a monopoly of court services.

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    7. @Ad Libertati

      >> Spencer Fan, "would" was used not to predict inevitable outcomes, but to look at a likely outcome.

      Okay, "likely"... How is it likely? I dispute that. I think highly unlikely.

      >> How do they make their claim? By going and mixing their labor with the land. The Rothbardian homesteading concept covers this.

      The Earth is already homesteaded. But (as Herbert Spencer points out in Social Statics) the Lockean homoesteading principle is frought with difficulties. The homesteading principle needs more work.

      >> "Just about every inch ... has been claimed by someone". This is nonsense. More than half of the land in the Western U.S. is claimed by government.

      Then someone DOES claim it. Someone able to enforce their claim I might add.

      >> If government didn't exist,

      And yet, it does.

      >> Private competing judicial systems is not automatically war. If that were the case, then by that logic all governments would always be at war with each other.

      Well, war does seem to be fairly common in the world. It's a flight of fancy to think that competing judicial systems (aka nation states) would not find themselves at war. That's how they compete.

      I don't even know what a "private judicial system" is... I've read the ancap thinkers (Murphy etc) and there are so many underlying assumptions about how people "could" and "would" act as to become meaningless to me. I have too many fundamental problems with the whole idea.

      >> If you can't afford a private judicial system, then there would likely be charity, pro bono work, or delayed billing, etc (same as is done with civil cases currently).

      More "woulds"... And if there isn't? I happen to believe that all humans have an equal right to enjoy libertarian principles like self-ownership, NAP, property that doesn't hinge on charity.

      >> What I stated was based on a PPS society arising currently. Which is why I said that a previous government took the land. A government not currently existing does not equal a government never having existed.

      But they have it. And trying to untangle who should have a rightful claim to what at this point is futile.

      >> Shari'a is not possible in a PPS, because under Shari'a the Khalifa is the ruler, as God's representative on Earth.

      Whaa? You're missing the point. Pick some other cult who sets up their own "justice" system... "the Neo Puritans" who burn witches... whatever. The point is that not having a uniform, universal system means having ad hoc systems that can and would be based on anything... Most likely not very libertarian and all having conflicts with each other in one form or another.

      >> Shari'a court is not compatible with a PPS.

      Saudi Arabia is based on sharia law and it's not a caliphate AFAIK.

      >> For non-retail industries, you could boycott downstream where possible. This happens currently where people pressure TV stations to quit accepting ads from some companies.

      Well, that sounds effective. Geesh.

      >> And if there were no private court systems in a PPS, then you go back to tribal dispute resolution, blood feuds, and mob justice.

      No, we don't "go back to," because we start with blood feuds and mob justice if the state just disappeared. Not everywhere maybe, but enough to where the state will be back in form lickety-split and most likely not a very libertarian one.

      I'd rather be proactive toward instantiating the libertarian state than spend my time wishfully thinking about the libertarian stateless society that can never be.

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    8. Spencer Fan, here we go. You believe that there is such thing as a libertarian state, when that cannot possibly exist. In fact, one of the closest things the world has had to that was the original U.S. at the time of its founding (so long as you do the mental gymnastics to ignore slavery). The Constitution with its Bill of Rights itself dramatically limits the size and scope of government, but it perversely calls on government to enforce that limitation. A history has demonstrated, government seldom attempts to limit itself, but instead will almost always seek to expand its own power. So, even if you small government libertarians spend your lives pushing back against the size and scope of government and are successful in doing so, it will eventually expand again [see: U.S. History]. This is the nature of government.

      You have said that you think that everybody has the right to libertarian principles (such as self-ownership, NAP, and property) that shouldn't depend on charity, but I wonder how you would fund the government courts or other services that you think the government should provide in your libertarian state. If it is property taxes or income taxes then the government has already taken your property in order to protect it. There is no logic or consistency here. If you plan on funding it through excise or sales taxes or tariffs, then you should know that these are simply an indirect form of income tax. If you want it funded through a poll tax (or head tax), then it would need to be high enough to cover the costs. It is illogical to believe that the monopoly courts' poll tax would be lower than a private court's fees, unless there were additional revenue sources besides the poll tax (in which case, see above). Or perhaps your government courts would be funded through voluntary donations (ie, make you reliant on charity).

      Private courts arose absent government control in the form of admiralty law among others. Just because you can't conceive of it working doesn't mean that it wouldn't. Admittedly, understanding how private courts could work is usually the biggest hurdle to get over. In this respect, again I refer you to Rothbard (not Hoppe), who has handled this topic in considerable detail.

      And while it's always laudable to cut the size and scope of government whenever possible, it is even better for people to have the rights over their person and their property completely.

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    9. @Ad Liberati: Thanks for the specific Rothbard cite: The following excerpt contains Rothbard's conclusion:

      "To sum up: all existing property titles may be considered just under the homestead principle, provided(a) that there may never be any property in people; (b) that the existing property owner did not himself steal the property; and particularly (c) that any identifiable just owner (the original victim of theft or his heir) must be accorded his property.

      It might be charged that our theory of justice in property titles is deficient because in the real world most landed (and even other) property has a history so tangled that it becomes impossibleto identify who or what has committed coercion and therefore who the current just owner may be. But the point of the “homestead principle” is that if we don’t know what crimes have been committed in acquir-
      ing the property in the past, or if we don’t know the victims or their heirs, then the current owner becomes the legitimate and just owner on homestead grounds. In short, if Jones owns a piece of land at the present time, and we don’t know what crimes were committed to arrive at the current title, then Jones, as the current owner, becomes as fully legitimate a property owner of this land as he does over his own person. Overthrow of an existing property title only becomes
      legitimate if the victims or their heirs can present an authenticated, demonstrable, and specific claim to the property. Failing such conditions, existing landowners possess a full moral right to their property."

      How convenient. In other words, by any means necessary, just don't get caught by folks with an authenticated, demonstrable, and specific claim to the property. What about victims of taxation to fund the welfare/warfare state? Victims of artificial prices for money (interest rates)? Victims of inflation? Victims of crony capitalism? Is the standard a preponderance of evidence (civil standard) or beyond a reasonable doubt (criminal standard)? Maybe it's just a "Rothbard Standard." If so, wealthy banksters and crony capitalists are laughing heartily with their lawyers. In my opinion, it all sounds like a convenient cover for simply retaining the status quo, which currently includes the 62 folks who own more wealth than 1/2 the world or the 1% who own more than the remaining 99%, irrespective of how it was earned, to dominate any political system, not just the PPS. Is that justice to you? Is that how you see progress towards liberty? Really? I'm not buying it.

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    10. @Ad Liberati

      >> You believe that there is such thing as a libertarian state, when that cannot possibly exist.

      It can. Far more so than “stateless society.”

      >> In fact, one of the closest things the world has had to that was the original U.S. at the time of its founding (so long as you do the mental gymnastics to ignore slavery).

      The US was never even close. Americans live in a permissive society (by leave of the political class) not a free society.

      >> The Constitution with its Bill of Rights itself dramatically limits the size and scope of government

      The BoR was an afterthought and the USC was fatally flawed by design. The US is republic and republic is oligarchy... not libertarian.

      >> but it perversely calls on government to enforce that limitation.

      Which is not pertinent to me. What has been is not what can be.

      >> A history has demonstrated, government seldom attempts to limit itself, but instead will almost always seek to expand its own power.

      Which is why I'm anti-government and pro-state.

      >> So, even if you small government libertarians spend your lives pushing back against the size and scope of government and are successful in doing so, it will eventually expand again [see: U.S. History]. This is the nature of government.

      I'm anti-government pro-state libertarian. Government governs. A state that does not govern has no government. To govern means to control, regulate, intervene. Again, a state that doesn’t do that has no government.

      >> You have said that you think that everybody has the right to libertarian principles (such as self-ownership, NAP, and property) that shouldn't depend on charity, but I wonder how you would fund the government courts or other services that you think the government should provide in your libertarian state.

      Ideally, with a voluntary tax. In principle, the state can be voluntary if the people who live in it do so willingly. They then have already consented to pay their tax. No different than club dues... in principle.

      >> If it is property taxes or income taxes then the government has already taken your property in order to protect it.

      Maybe neither and by another form of payment.

      >> There is no logic or consistency here.

      Because you have yet to see it. I wish I could link you to a treatise explaining it all but it hasn't been finished yet.

      >> If you plan on funding it through excise or sales taxes or tariffs, then you should know that these are simply an indirect form of income tax.

      With national transaction tax that charges the same flat percentage on all transactions.

      >> If you want it funded through a poll tax (or head tax), then it would need to be high enough to cover the costs.

      The cost of state in the libertarian state is low because it doesn’t do much.

      >> Or perhaps your government courts would be funded through voluntary donations (ie, make you reliant on charity).

      Voluntary tax.

      >> Private courts arose absent government control in the form of admiralty law among others.

      Sure, in very limited and unusual circumstances. And such systems have always ever existed in the context of some larger polity.

      >> Just because you can't conceive of it working doesn't mean that it wouldn't.

      True, but neither can you. Nor anyone plausibly. I can’t conceive how I can travel back in time either...

      >> Admittedly, understanding how private courts could work is usually the biggest hurdle to get over. In this respect, again I refer you to Rothbard (not Hoppe), who has handled this topic in considerable detail.

      Read them. Went nowhere. Again, long on assumptions and short on specifics.

      >> And while it's always laudable to cut the size and scope of government

      I don't want to "cut"... I want to eliminate government and still have the state.

      >> it is even better for people to have the rights over their person and their property completely.

      Which they won't have without a state designed to do just that.

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  9. A couple of thoughts:

    According to Robert, culture = government. One of us is confused about the definition of at least one of these terms if not both.

    Is it possible for a property owner to initiate aggression on his own property? The answer, of course, is yes (I hope this doesn’t need explaining or defense).

    Is it possible for a penalty to cross the line into the initiation of aggression? Again, yes. (This isn’t self-evident to Robert, but perhaps one or two others might read it and say “duh, how stupid does bionic think we are?”)

    Wenzel’s theory of punishment could never survive practice; what good is such a theory? Further, his theory of punishment violates that very theory which he claims to be defending – the non-aggression principle; he has to destroy the village in order to save it.

    I have written a more thorough reply, but do not want to clog this thread. It can be found here:

    http://bionicmosquito.blogspot.com/2016/01/wenzel-develops-theory-that-could-never.html

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    1. >> Is it possible for a property owner to initiate aggression on his own property? The answer, of course, is yes (I hope this doesn’t need explaining or defense).

      Yes, I think it does. I see property as just one tenet of libertarianism and secondary to self-ownership and NAP. The NAP says (to me at least) that my person is sacrosanct and no other person shall aggress against me whether I'm on their property or not.

      The exceptions being self-defense, remove a trespasser, or to protect property from being damaged. But even these are conditional. The property owner is required to take reasonable not excessive or indiscriminate action against the person else the person I think should have a claim against the property owner.

      And yet, there is still right of property. Soooo, these two tenets have to be reconciled in a rational way without invalidating either.

      Libertarian tenets by rank...

      1. Self-ownership
      2. NAP
      3. Self-defense
      4. Property
      ...

      It goes on and the above is an over-simplification but the point being, I see right of property as subordinate to the NAP. Thus on questions of using violence, the NAP is satisfied first and exercising authority on one's property second.

      So, using violence indiscriminately or arbitrarily even on one's own property I consider to be incompatible with libertarianism.

      I further consider harming someone on private property who hasn't given their explicit consent to be harmed be illegal in Libertopia with the injured party able to take legal action or the property owner be arrested depending on the situation (intent or gross negligence being criminal and any other being civil).

      So, I'm not willing to give the property owner carte blanche to act as he wants toward persons on his property if that was your meaning.

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    2. It was not my meaning. My meaning is closer to your response (although I might disagree with the order of your tenets).

      I do not give the property owner carte blanche - shooting a child for stealing an apple violates the NAP.

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    3. Sorry, I didn't see your link until it was too late. Oops on me.

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  10. RW sums it up well here:

    "If you are an anrcho-capitalist, the only answer is the property owner. If you are an advocate of an overruling group of laws, then you are, at least, a limited government advocate."

    It is amazing to see so many panties go into a bundle over this simple distinction!

    Is everyone upset because it seems like you aren't anarco-capitalists after all? If the critics do (or did?) consider themselves so, how can it be that it only takes the concept that the owner is the exclusive controller of his property to send you running to a position supporting an outside coercive force?

    This aside, the critics of liberty in this case must deal with RW's correct assertion that people are social animals. Humans are benefited by the fruits of society- even if the don't realize it- and generally work to preserve and build society through peaceful exchange. This is not to say all ills are made well by removing the coercive apparatus of government, but to say that there is a tendency toward peace that is implied by civilization.

    Government- even so called "limited government"- is, contrarily, a destructive force at the very least because the mere presence of government in one or another particular segment of society crowds out (or unnecessarily raises the cost of competing) individuals who would or could otherwise serve in that capacity. In addition, one cannot forget Hazlett's lesson that these interventions come at the expense of some unforeseen outcome that would have occurred otherwise.

    With government, the tendency is toward ever greater intervention (as Robert Higgs has demonstrated), and thus, ever greater destruction and control over society. Thus, the minimalist position is doomed from the outset as anything other than a path to total control. The question is merely, how quick?

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    1. "It is amazing to see so many panties go into a bundle over this simple distinction!"

      Not so simple. Wenzel claims that the non-aggression principle allows the property owner to determine any punishment, including (in the now current example) shooting a child for stealing an apple.

      Disagreeing with this doesn't mean one is running away from ancap; it means proper application of the NAP.

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    2. Very true by BM. For further insight on these tricky questions, let's conceive of actual man, not new "Libertarian" man.

      Actual man has fairly universally adopted some sense of proportionality for punishments and restitution. Yes, these senses have wide variance. But patterns across cultures definitely emerge.

      Because this is the case, realistically, if a young boy wanders onto pedo-farmer's lands (say he's 4 and gets lost), and pedo-farmer takes it upon himself to harm the poor boy, the boy's father will in most instances go on that land and use violence to protect his son and leave the land.

      And that father will likely have help, both physical and moral support, from a greater number of people. I don't see this as the imposition of government by the father, despite that it can look like it.

      Instead, in this highly unlikely scenario, it's a counterfactual that does demonstrate that man exists in a state of anarchy, and so sometimes conflicts will arise between competing 'judges' of disputes; in this case, the pedo-farmer himself as judge, and the father himself as judge, who judges that natural justice requires proportionality in punishment, and so he reasons that he is not 'aggressing' when he saves his son.

      A modern state would not resolve this differently, other than its resort to greater power with all the concomitant corruptions that compulsorily taxing and governing states bring.

      Back to the realistic scenario, these sort of conflicts would presumably remain constrained, as no single farmer/father/group can attain much power to act outside of natural justice. It's too expensive. They will run out of funds. It's like ISIS without constant funneling of CIA money - it would die in a day.

      People will instead resort to diplomacy, argument, and family/cultural influence. As this hypothetical society advances, more formal legal codes and insurance companies would arise with a lot of uniformity. Agreements resort because disagreement is so expensive.

      I especially like this because it requires humility in human affairs and a preference for peace. Culture and wisdom will arise as a result.

      The pragmatic push among all libertarians today should be for decentralization. This kept rulers in check for much of history.

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    3. “The pragmatic push among all libertarians today should be for decentralization. This kept rulers in check for much of history.”

      I agree completely.

      I will go one step further: if a community decides that the penalty for a child stealing an apple is death, so be it. But if it is imposed by one individual without agreement by the others – no matter how great the theory sounds – further and escalating conflict will ensue.

      But this is my point: if the community accepts the death of the child as payment…it is their culture – it has nothing to do with the NAP. There is nothing in the NAP that supports this penalty; a term often used by libertarian theorists on this topic is “proportionality.” Alternatively, negotiated settlements are suggested.

      Like pornography, I can’t define proportionality but I know it when I see it. I cannot definitively say what is proportional (more than one form of punishment could be deemed proportional), but I can definitively say what isn’t. Death for a child apple stealer is not proportional. Not in any community worth living in (for me).

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    4. BM- "Not so simple. Wenzel claims that the non-aggression principle allows the property owner to determine any punishment, including (in the now current example) shooting a child for stealing an apple."

      Who is to "determine...punishment" if not the property owner?

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    5. BM: When does a "community's decisions and acceptance of a punishment vis-a-vis its culture" abrogating individual private property owner decisions cross the line from "governance" into "government." Isn't this just an issue of semantics?

      To me proportionality appears to be "guidelines" or "suggestions", not "requirements", that are offered in an attempt to offset concerns that the primacy of individual property owners over the community decisions/cultures will lead to "excesses" in instances of determining punishments. Kinda flimsy in my opinion.

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    6. Rick: Could be an insurance company, it could be private security services of some sort, it could be by negotiation, it could be by arbitration, it could be by previous contract, it could be by a respected elder in the community, it could be by homeowners’ association agreement.

      It could also be generally accepted norms in the community.

      I offer that it could also be the owner, but if the punishment is deemed inappropriate (disproportional, unfair, unacceptable, whatever term you want to use), be prepared for blowback. The community will turn into gangland.

      Do you envision otherwise? Shoot someone’s child for stealing an apple and this will be deemed AOK? No blowback? The child’s father buys the next round of beer?

      If this is proper application of libertarian theory, it fails in practice.

      Hollow: shoot a child for stealing an apple - test out your theory.

      There is governance all around us every day, arrived at through voluntary means.

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    7. My theory is that a "community's decisions and acceptance of a punishment vis-a-vis culture" constitutes "governance" by a "government", irrespective of the agency that enforces it or the name you give it, and rightly so. To call this thing "arrived at voluntarily" would surely perplex the shooter property owner who felt differently, though.

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    8. But, Hollow Daze, the father who lost his son to a bullet because he wandered onto pedo-farmer's land would also be "perplexed" by this "libertarian justice", would he not?

      You also cannot overlook the fact that compulsory taxation would be absent by these governance entities.

      Proportionality is a key component of objective justice. Rothbard wrote on restitution and why it is legitimate, as opposed to revenge or punishment.

      Part of a PPS would involve 'negotiation' in the market, whereby property owners and invitees come to legal codes and proportional consquences of crimes that are mutually acceptable.

      But I will go a step further than BM and say that even if a society was 100% agreed on a punishment of death for a trespassing child (in all circumstances let's say), that society has made an objectively wrong choice. Doesn't mean warfare should result, but it does mean that child and his heirs have a right in justice against the aggressors.

      We cannot be neocons searching for monsters to destroy and undo every long-standing cultural practice. but intellectually we should always attempt to discern the correct principles of justice, and then promulgate that idea.

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    9. Hollow, the "shooter property owner" would not stay perplexed for long; he will be dealt with quickly enough - and in his case, not inconsistent with a proportional theory of punishment.

      Perry, with my "so be it" comment, I did not mean to suggest it was a "right" choice. Just that it would limit the likelihood of escalating violence.

      It is a wrong choice and wholly inconsistent with the NAP. Punishment crossing the line into initiation of aggression.

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    10. BM-

      "Could be an insurance company, it could be private security services of some sort, it could be by negotiation, it could be by arbitration, it could be by previous contract, it could be by a respected elder in the community, it could be by homeowners’ association agreement.

      It could also be generally accepted norms in the community."

      Let's say the man is not insured or in a home owner's association, has no arbitration agreement with the perpetrator, and so on- no ties whatever to any person or club or group who the owner may cede power to. Who is left but the owner to decide these matters?

      This proves that the owner of the property is the decision maker when it comes to conduct and, indeed, punishment on his property, unless there is an outside coercive force claiming ultimate ownership of the property.

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    11. 1) If he shoots a child for stealing an apple, he is violating the NAP. People are free to violate the NAP on their own property and on anyone else's property, but let's quit pretending that he is not violating the NAP. If he is not violating the NAP, then libertarian theory is a dead theory.

      2) If his neighbors (and the parents of the child) don't agree with the punishment, the apple owner's property rights will be the least of his concerns.

      The rest of this conversation is a waste of digits.

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    12. BM-

      "If he shoots a child for stealing an apple, he is violating the NAP...let's quit pretending that he is not violating the NAP."

      Here is the NAP as defined by Walter Block:

      "The non-aggression [principle] ...is the lynchpin of the philosophy of libertarianism. It states, simply, that it shall be legal for anyone to do anything he wants, provided only that he not initiate (or threaten) violence against the person or legitimately owned property of another."

      Can you explain how the property owner has violated the NAP by shooting the child in defense of his legitimately owned property?

      Also, I don't understand this part: "People are free to violate the NAP on their own property and on anyone else's property..."

      What does that mean?

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    13. Mises explained,

      https://mises.org/library/individual-society

      The shopkeeper is free to be rude to his customers provided he is ready to bear the consequences. The consumers are free to boycott a purveyor provided they are ready to pay the costs.

      What impels every man to the utmost exertion in the service of his fellow men and curbs innate tendencies toward arbitrariness and malice is, in the market, not compulsion and coercion on the part of gendarmes, hangmen, and penal courts; it is self-interest. The member of a contractual society is free because he serves others only in serving himself. What restrains him is only the inevitable natural phenomenon of scarcity. For the rest he is free in the range of the market.

      In the market economy the individual is free to act within the orbit of private property and the market. His choices are final. For his fellow men his actions are data which they must take into account in their own acting. The coordination of the autonomous actions of all individuals is accomplished by the operation of the market. Society does not tell a man what to do and what not to do. There is no need to enforce cooperation by special orders or prohibitions. Non-cooperation penalizes itself. Adjustment to the requirements of society's productive effort and the pursuit of the individual's own concerns are not in conflict. Consequently no agency is required to settle such conflicts. The system can work and accomplish its tasks without the interference of an authority issuing special orders and prohibitions and punishing those who do not comply.

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  11. Robert, I am not being nit-picky, because I understand what you mean by "government" but government alone isn't a bad. There are church governments and club governments and family government and self governance. Just for clarification.

    This next part I just copied from what I wrote at the BM blog.

    I have tried to keep up with both threads,(yours and Roberts) but have been out of cell service for a couple days so maybe I missed this if it's been brought up.
    It seems like in all these discussion threads we are assuming people will all live in one big community. Whatever happened to secession?
    I Robert lives in a community where a kid can get shot for stealing an apple and he and the community he lives in is fine with that, well, fine. I won't live there because I have 8 kids, and that seems too dangerous of a place for them. I would live in a community where the norm is what I am more agreeable to. If, and I pray for it every day, the State collapsed and we had a new world without it, I see socialist communities being formed,(although they won't last long), religious communities, "minimal government communities, semi-libertarian communities, and all out Free communities. Be free to choose which one you want to live in.
    The main thing we should hope for in the event of the glorious collapse of the State, is the freedom of movement, and with that, secession. As long as we have secession, we needn't bicker about what kind of societies there will be, because there will be many many different ones, I hope.
    Secession should be what we are talking about, constantly. And in the absence of the State I think the freest communities would be the most well sustained ones because of it. Other societies would wither and die out.

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  12. Robert isn't giving enough credit to the idea of a person's own body as private property. Some of his ideas may hold true for trespassers, but when a private property owner consents to another person coming onto his own property, you immediately have a balancing act between two "owned" pieces of property. Surely a person can't be seen as giving up complete ownership of his own body by setting foot onto a property owner's land with that landowner's consent. At least, I have seen no sound theoretical justification for the default rule being that the human body owner is giving up complete ownership of his body merely because he has set foot on the land owned by another. Therefore, if a conflict arises, it is between the rights of the land owner and the rights of the human body owner, and the human body owner would have the right under the NAP to oppose aggression against his own body, especially arbitrary and capricious aggression.

    Of course, this is why the rules around how and when property ownership is established are critical to any Private Property Society theory. As others have pointed out, without this, RW is building a house with no foundation. My suspicion is that, in a Private Property Society, property defined by the boundaries of the human body would be given precedence over property that is defined by metes and bounds over land, which means the default rule would not be that ownership of the human body is transferred to the land owner during a consensual visit. After all, the human condition is experienced in the first instance at the human body boundary, and not imaginary lines drawn over land.

    Finally, I'm not talking here about some central planner administering these rules. What I am talking about is what would happen in practice to a landowner who summarily killed someone he invited onto his land. The dead person's family would probably be exacting punishment on the landowner for violating the property rights of the person he killed, and in a Private Property Society grounded on the property rights in a human body first, would have every right to do so.

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  13. I agree, secession is key to developing a freer society. Toward this end I think the world needs more governments competing for the same territory and offering people a choice of more or less coercion. More governments and more power centers bumping into each other and competing. It will be messy and people will get killed but given human nature I see no other way. Ultimately each individual will become a government or power center unto himself. Interacting with others only when it serves his own self interest. RW and I disagree on this as he has stated he believes there should be fewer power centers but I find that completely unrealistic. When each of us is a government unto himself we will have true anarchy but not chaos because the law of association (which I believe is as powerful and compelling as the law of gravity) will continually draw us together while still allowing for secession.

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  14. What if the Trayvon Martin situation happened in an AnCap utopia? I'm not even debating who was in the right or who was in the wrong- I wasn't there and I don't know, and ultimately the details don't matter for this comment. There were two sides to a very unfortunate situation that were getting rabid.

    For the sake of indulging the "Apple" scenario, let's assume the Farmer is in the right - which I'm not necessarily convinced. Right wrong or otherwise, all the gang mob sees is a dead kid, not a stolen apple. The farmer may very well have a wave of support too. Can we really say that one side or the other wouldn't intensify the situation, or that those who's sympathies are with the dead kid won't be interested in retribution or organizing themselves into a coercive body?

    What's the result of all of this, if not a clash that ends up being used as a justification to create a Government, right in the middle of this proposed AnCap utopia? All for the low, low price of one apple. Meanwhile, I'm not sure I understand the objection to cultural norms as an alternative to the entire situation.

    I can't say that disagreeing with your outlook makes someone a minarchist. If we're not all discussing the proper application of the NAP, then what are we doing?

    I have to be honest and speaking as a fan of RW - I thought the post was just trolling when I got about a third of the way through.

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    1. Both Trayvon and Zimmerman were trespassing on the property of other people. The neighborhood would have had private security instead of ineffective government police. Property owners would probably not want self appointed vigilantes crossing their property. Petty property crimes would in all probability be less likely as the possibility of bad outcomes for the perpetrator would be higher. 'Police' would be better behaved because they'd be private employees whose behavior reflects on their employer.

      In all likelihood, the Martin shooting would have never occurred.

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  15. There are many historic examples of how legal systems evolved outside the nation-state. They're interesting to understand and draw conclusions about human behavior from, and to also consider what is different about today such as the availability of better information through automation, scientific testing,reputation-based information systems, etc. as well as the opportunities created to inject information into these systems to affect peoples decisions and possible social consequences for discovery of such manipulation, etc.

    David Friedman (who is a law professor) wrote "Legal Systems Very Different From Ours" which examines some of them
    http://www.daviddfriedman.com/Academic/Course_Pages/legal_systems_very_different_12/LegalSystemsDraft.html

    and a separate paper on Icelandic medieval law
    http://www.daviddfriedman.com/Academic/Iceland/Iceland.html

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