Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Walter Block Responds to My Anarcho-Capitalist Post

Dear Bob:

Re your latest contribution A Reply to Walter Block on Anarcho-Capitalism to our discussion about minarchism and anarchism. If I’m a minarchist, then so are you. Your criteria for anarchism seems to be that there be “… no over-ruling body that can (en)force rules…” But, you, too, favor an “over-ruling body that can (en)force rules.” For example, how do we get to private property rights in the first place? Suppose I claim the moon, the stars the heavenly bodies, the oceans, the rivers, all the virgin land in Alaska, the Rockies, etc. Surely, my claim is not valid, because I have not homesteaded any of this terrain. But, surely private courts would be the “over-ruling body that can force rules” regarding homesteading.  Suppose I claim property that some people already think is private property. Bob, I now claim the shoes you are wearing. They are really mine. How do we settle my claim, in the absence of an “over-ruling body that can (en)force rules?” Surely, only a (private) court should determine who is the rightful owner of the shoes now on your feet, no?

The NAP itself stems from an  “over-ruling body that can (en)force rules.” Where do we get the NAP and private property rights from? My favorite explanation of this is Hans Hoppe’s Argumentation Ethics: to deny the NAP is to commit a performative contradiction since you are asserting rights over your body and the place where you now stand. But, suppose someone insists upon his “right” to violate the NAP, and does so with his own private property (who says he owns himself in the first place?). Say, he punches someone (an innocent person) in the nose. You, surely, would object to this, no? But how can you do so, unless there is an  “over-ruling body that can (en)force rules” such as the NAP?

Our intellectual enemies claim that free market anarchism, or anarcho capitalism, would be chaos. You are playing into their hands. Without an  “over-ruling body that can (en)force rules” chaos would result.

It is always a pleasure to debate with you on the .0001% of issues on which we disagree. I enjoy it because I sense in you, and me too, an honest attempt to get to the truth of matters, with no ego involvement, no name calling, denigration, etc.

Best regards,


Walter E. Block, Ph.D.
Harold E. Wirth Eminent Scholar Endowed Chair and Professor of Economics
Joseph A. Butt, S.J. College of Business                   
Loyola University New Orleans


  1. What if your definition of homesteading, and therefore full property ownership, is different than the trespasser's definition, and the trespasser doesn't believe you properly homesteaded the land and therefore he is really not a trespasser?

    Then you proceed to punish the trespasser, but it is discovered that you really don't own the land. What happens next?

  2. Dear Dr. Block, I love you, but I have already claimed all the virgin land in Alaska. We may have a clash with this scarce (although abundant) resource.