At the Circle Rothbard-San Francisco forum, Victor Ward responds to another member who wishes to be anonymous on the topic of Foundations of Private Property Society Theory: Anarchism for the Civilized Person :
Good morning, Annonymous. Here are some of my thoughts on your thoughts:
- Mischaracterizes and unnecessarily discourages people from adopting Rothbard’s anarcho-capitalism.
What people are you talking about? If someone is discouraged from implementing Rothbard’s ideas because that person thinks a PPS is better, what’s wrong with that?
Or, said another way, if you asked Bob, “Bob, you could either have Rothbard’s system or the current State,” how do you think Bob would answer?
Competing ideas for the elimination of the State are a good thing. Pushing and challenging our minds is how all new technologies and ideas happen.
- Further splinters libertarian anarchy theory and the main “innovation” makes it less appealing to most people than Rothbard’s, Hoppe’s, Block’s, Rockwell’s, Stringham’s, etc. version, thus hurting the cause for free market anarchy.
I don’t see how the concept of a PPS hurts at all. Again, it’s an idea to challenge our thinking. Yes, you may think the ideas are radical, just as I originally thought “Defending the Undefendable” was radical when I first read it.
That’s the point.
- Let’s look at some examples. 1) You invite an old friend to your house for a few drinks. You then get angry at them and kill them. Do you honestly believe that person’s family and friends is going to be ok with that and not try to bring you to justice? Do you honestly think a reasonable, wise and impartial private arbitrator is going to side with you or the murder victim? How does this “innovative” view of property rights not create more conflict rather than less?
You say “more conflict rather than less,” so you must be comparing it to our current system rather than the widely adopted and universally praised Rothbardian system.
In our current system, do people get justice now? In the early 90s, White police officers were found not guilty for nearly beating a Black man to death.
45 miles away and a few months later, a Black man was found not guilty for decapitating two White people.
No one can honestly say that all of these problems would go away just because of a private arbiter. As the old saying goes, “the color of justice is green.” A private arbiter could easily be bribed.
I am not saying that a PPS would solve these problems, but to think that it would lead to more conflict and less justice is unsubstantiated.
Furthermore, I don’t have any friends who are going to kill me if they get drunk. And, the one or two guys that I just thought about who could possibly go there would never find me in their homes as/when they got drunk.
[RW note: Annonymous also misunderstands how I would expect PPS to develop. That is, most people would have stipulated rules on their property that there would be punishment for murder. You just wouldn't visit properties where this wasn't such.]
- 2) You open a restaurant and poison your customers the first night. Again, do you honestly think the friends and families of those murdered people are not going to try to bring you to justice?
[RW note: Again annonymous misunderstands how I would expect PPS to develop. That is, most people would have stipulated rules on their property that there would be punishment for murder. You just wouldn't visit properties where this wasn't such. And Victor correctly goes on:]
What is justice? Is justice a $20 fine? Is justice that your business needs to shut down for a day? Is justice that you can’t serve any more pasta? Is justice losing both eyes? Is justice being given the same poison? Is justice being given a different poison because you have built up an immunity to the first poison?
Let’s say that I lost a family member and all I want is for the business to be closed. You lost a family member, and you want the person executed.
Who should determine that? Shouldn’t we reach some agreement before letting a disinterested third party decide, unless, of course, the agreement is to move forward with a disinterested third party?
Maybe justice should be determined by the person (family) who was wronged?
If that’s the case, how do you now deal with the trespasser?
Speaking of the trespasser, let’s say that last year, a 15 year old kid trespassed onto my land, hurt my children, killed my dogs, and hurt my wife.
He left before I got home. I called the police and he went to trial and was found not guilty because I had too many privileges.
This year, I see another trespasser. Should I call the police? Or, as Bob has said, why shouldn’t I be the judge, jury, and executioner in my own home? Why should I outsource those roles if I don’t want to?
- 3) You list your house on airbnb. A woman books your house the first night and you come into the bedroom in the middle of the night and rape, torture and kill her and post the video of all that online. Do you really think most people are going to be ok with that and leave you alone?
[RW note: Again annonymous misunderstands how I would expect PPS to develop. That is, most people would have stipulated rules on their property that there would be punishment for murder/rape. You just wouldn't visit properties where this wasn't such.]
I am not done reading Bob’s book, but can a person have a property interest in themselves? (I’m not pushing for Natural Rights or anything else.) If my body is my property, then I can assign some of my property to others.
That way, if someone damages me, they are actually damaging the property of another. If that were to be the case, we would then have competing value systems and competing justice systems.
This is already complicated, and promises to get more so. My point is to say that we have never seen a Rothbardian system to know how it would work; the current system is far, far from perfect; and a PPS has opportunities that we need to think about and explore.
Doomsday scenarios are a tool of the State to advance the status quo and keep them in power. We need to use these scenarios to advance disruption and advance free market principles.
- A key PPS argument is people will simply avoid places that are known to be dangerous or uncertain. But in my examples above (and a million others I could dream up), there is a no way a reasonable person would know to avoid those situations.
[RW note: I find it remarkable that anonymous doesn't think there would be ways to avoid dangerous places. It's simple, if a property isn't protected by XYZ security or ABC security, which I trust, I just wouldn't go on the property--just like we avoid dangerous properties now. ]
Annonymous, you talk about a key PPS argument, and then you say, “But in my examples above (and a million others I could dream up).”
In other places, you appeal to history.
Why don’t you give a historical example of someone opening a restaurant and poisoning everyone on the first night? Or someone opening a school and killing all the children?
If one of the First Principles of the PPS is real life, you can’t argue against real life with doomsday dream scenarios. You can criticize it as a First Principle and attack it from those grounds, but I don’t think hypotheticals are allowed against a First Principle.
Looking forward to the next Circle Rothbard.