Voluntaryist ‘Veresapien’ James with an Impeccable Defense of Private Property

Image

This article is reprinted from the Veresapiens and Truly Human Society blog dedicated to Concurrent Voluntaryism. A clear and easy to read common sense defense of property rights with solid philosophical foundations…

Why are Property and Ownership So Important?

“Thou Shalt Not Steal” is found almost universally at the core of religious commandments and secular legal systems. The implication of this is that property, and property ownership, are universally considered to be of central importance. And not just in legal systems, but also in religions.

Why is property ownership so important that respect for it is enshrined as a basic tenet of Human society?

Ownership only begins to take on importance when there is scarcity involved.

We typically don’t worry about who owns the air we breathe. Air is obviously important, but as long as there is plenty for everyone, and your breathing does not reduce the amount of air available for me to breathe, then we don’t have to worry about who owns what air.

The easiest way to illustrate how the issue of scarcity leads to the concept of property and ownership is to use a typical ‘Robinson Crusoeon a desert island’ scenario.

Shipwrecked and alone on a deserted island, Crusoe would have faced a severe scarcity of modern supplies and tools. But he still had no need to worry about whose property the remaining food supplies and tools were. Because there was no one else on the island, there was no one whose usage of the supplies would impact Crusoe’s usage.

It is only when another man, Friday, arrives on the island that the issue of property might arise. For then there might be a conflict over scarce resources. Property rights serve as a means to prevent conflict over scarce items.

The structure of the property rights in this case could take a variety of forms:

  • Crusoe could maintain full ownership rights to the scarce supplies and declare that they are for his use only.
  • Crusoe could maintain full ownership rights to the scarce supplies and make all of the decisions, himself, as to how much to share them with Friday.
  • Crusoe could give ownership of some portion of the supplies to Friday, giving Friday full control over those specific supplies.
  • Crusoe could agree to share ownership of the supplies with Friday, based on mutually agreed upon rules as to how supplies would be allocated by the two men.
  • Or, the scarce supplies could be considered the property of no one, and therefore under the control of neither man.

The final option, above, assigning communal rights to the supplies so that no one owns them sounds nice. It fits nicely with the sentiment in John Lennon’s beautiful song, “Imagine“…

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world

Unfortunately, “no possessions”, meaning no person owns or controls the property, doesn’t mean no person makes decisions about the property.

If neither Crusoe or Friday owns the scarce supplies, it means that each of them can decide what to do with them.

Crusoe, who has found ways to survive on local foods, might want to continue to ration the modern supplies or keep them for emergencies.

Friday might be weak and starving from the mishap that landed him on the island, and decide that he needs to consume the supplies now to regain his strength.

If Friday does start to rapidly consume the remaining supplies, what would Crusoe do? If it starts to look like there may soon be no supplies for him to save or ration, he may decide he has to consume whatever he can before Friday finishes all of it.

Read more…

Practicing Political Pacifism: The Immorality of Voting.

Image

Up until recently, I had never missed a political election that I was eligible to vote in (to be fair, I’m only 20).  Philosophically, I’ve considered myself to be what some call a “voluntaryist” for over three years.  However, for much of that time, I also considered myself to be a “pragmatic libertarian” who was willing to combat the government through the system of voting.  I now realize that, ultimately, voting is incompatible with a voluntary society and that it constitutes an act of aggression.

To understand these conclusions, one must understand the nature of the political process.  Libertarian theorist Murray Rothbard summed it up nicely when he wrote that “libertarians regard the State as the supreme, the eternal, the best organized aggressor against the persons and property of the mass of the public. All States everywhere, whether democratic, dictatorial, or monarchical, whether red, white, blue, or brown” (For a New Liberty).  How exactly is the state the “best organized aggressor against the persons and property of the mass of the public”?  Again, Rothbard has the answer.

For centuries the State has committed mass murder and called it “war”; then ennobled the mass slaughter that “war” involves. For centuries the State has enslaved people into its armed battalions and called it “conscription” in the “national service.” For centuries the State has robbed people at bayonet point and called it “taxation.” In fact, if you wish to know how libertarians regard the State and any of its acts, simply think of the State as a criminal band, and all of the libertarian attitudes will logically fall into place. (Rothbard, For a New Liberty).

However, if governments are in fact a “matrix of coercion,” why would disengaging in the facility of government that gives me some voice be the morally correct thing to do?  The answer to this lies in the libertarian axiom of non aggression.  It is also referred to as the Non Aggression Principle and holds that all initiations of aggression against humans are immoral.

What does this have to do with voting?  To put it simply, voting is not self-determination.  I was not just selecting who I wanted to represent me when I went to the 2012 New York primaries and voted for Ron Paul.  I was also attempting to select a person who would “represent” 330 million other people (it is important to note that politicians don’t actually “represent” anyone seeing as their policies are enforced via coercion).  Therefore, even though I voted for a voluntaryist, I attempted to enforce a ruler on everyone else.  This did not sit well with me when I first realized it and for good reasons.  If it is immoral for me to force another person to live a life that I deem fit for them, how is it any less immoral for me to support someone who would then force another person to live a life that I deem fit for them?

However, I did not stop voting after drawing that conclusion.  Instead, I started to just write my own name on the ballots in an act of reclaiming my “personal-sovereignty” and to show my disgust with the choices being offered.  I eventually realized that even this act of the “protest vote” violated the NAP.  After all, I was writing my name on a ballot that would give the winning person the power to rule other people.  By writing my own name down, I was just as guilty as the politicians who sought those government positions of power.

This just leaves one question to answer; how should one go about changing the current state of affairs if not through voting?  The answer is through voluntary interactions among those whom are needed to change the world in the way that you see fit.  Don’t attempt to change the world through voting or through the use of government.  After all, government is force and brute force is the lazy way to solve any problem.  Regardless of the immorality involved, an idea that requires forced cooperation of the people involved is probably not that great of an idea.  What would you prefer? A world you changed dramatically through the instruments of coercion or a world you changed minutely through voluntary interactions?  Jeffrey Tucker summed it up on his Facebook page when he wrote

You know what’s evil about politics? It turns people into enemies when they should and would naturally be friends in a normal society. In the marketplace you are happy to cooperate with anyone to mutual betterment. But in politics, it’s all about hating your neighbor… a person who believes all of civilization rests on a Romney win would naturally and rightly regard all Obama voters as mortal threats, wreckers of the good life itself. And the demographics of voting are rather predictable. You can often tell quickly how a person will or will not vote, by appearance alone. That creates prejudice, bias, and hate. So politics creates these stupid battles between people — for absolutely no reason — and wars against the brotherhood of man. It creates the divisions it pretends to heal.

– By Will Shanahan, Contributing Editor for the Humane Condition

Contact Will: wshanahan.student@manhattan.edu

A Truly Human Society

              

Voluntary Social Organization

Voluntary Social Organization

               Friend and fellow Freedom Writer from A Veresapien’s Blog has started another blog based around the possibility of a ‘truly human’ or truly voluntary society existing right under the nose of the State. In his introduction and justification for this theory, he first provides standard definitions of Society and of government. This is what he notes:

“Notice that the definition of ‘society’ uses words like ‘voluntary association’, ‘working together’, ‘cooperating’.

Compare that to the key words used to define ‘government’ – ‘authority’, ‘rule’, ‘power’.

A society is, by definition, a collection of voluntary ways that people organize. People can choose to participate according to agreed upon rules, or not.

A government, on the other hand, uses power to exercise authority over people’s activities and relationships, backed by force.

Our Truly Human Society, being a voluntary society, does not want to have, or be, a government. We are not competing for the right to govern.

Since government is not the space our Truly Human Society wants to occupy, it is not a prerequisite for that space to be vacant.”

While it is likely that the gang of thieves known as government could actively oppress such an arrangement, he also argues that Voluntaryists have never assumed a world without hostile forces of oppression attempting to enslave a population. We dispel attacks that we are naïve to the dangers of the real world through our demonstrations of the market for defense, law, and arbitration.1

                In our daily lives we all support the idea of establishing communities, lifestyles, and relationships of a voluntary nature because that is what the average person does every day. Organizing these into spheres of voluntaryism to combat the spheres of coercion that will not die with the State could serve a useful purpose. With the loosening grip of control that the State will most certainly face in the coming decades voluntary communities need to lead by example and that cannot happen too soon.

                This is a refreshing agorist approach to a libertarian anarchy and one that I look forward to reading more about, and hopefully participating in my own ways.  

To see for yourself click here and read more about a Truly Human Society.

by Adam Alcorn,  Founder/Editor the Humane Condition

NOTES:

  1. “Market for Security” – Dr. Robert P. Murphy

Do You Hate the State?

EgyptDo you hate the State?

I think we have all heard tell of the above mentioned “libertarian litmus test”, and while I may not agree with the terminology, I have always felt it usefully applicable in conversation. This question comes from an article written by Murray Rothbard, published in The Libertarian Forum in July of 1977, entitled “Do You Hate the State?“. Rothbard’s article elegantly explains the importance of such a question, but here I will only discuss that nature of the State that so many of us have come to hate. Let us investigate into what the State actually and truly is before we render judgment, shall we?

We will start with the most basic definitions of the broadest sense of government and who better to start with than Webster’s himself? According to Webster’s online dictionary, the relevant definition of a State is:

“5. A. a politically organized body of people usually occupying a definite territory; especially: one that is sovereign”.1

This seemingly straightforward and innocuous introduction followed by the emphasis on sovereignty is very indicative of this lack of a fulfilling definition. What is “state sovereignty”? A famous professor of geo-politics once defined State sovereignty to me as the ability to murder your own citizens without international interference. This is a fact, and our meddling in Pakistan and Yemen (et. al…) are only highlighting the US-led global police force violating the sovereignty of every non-“western”-compliant nation.

Accepting the two prior assertions it is necessary that in order to be in favor of the State and Statism one must meet the following conditions. Firstly, you must have a willful desire to give up a portion of your own personal sovereignty (self-ownership, dominion). For it is impossible that a sovereign “politically organized” body could be organized without the wealth of its subjects. Secondly, you must also demand of each and every human being within the territory occupied by your preferred “political body” that they too live according to the desires of others. Therefore one must be insistent upon others to give up their own personal sovereignty as well.

Thirdly, to support the State one must be willing to shoot and kill any of his “countrymen” that refuse your claim of ownership over their own bodies. This might seem like a philosophical abstract, but every day Americans put Americans into cages for victimless crimes all in the name of the State. What would happen if someone unjustly incarcerated attempts to escape? That is one example of the inevitable, and countless breaches of personal sovereignty committed by the State.

I’ve come to this hardly sympathetic conclusion about the nature of the State simply by taking the standard Webster’s definition to its logical conclusion. And while even under such a benign definition as Webster’s supplied, the State can hardly be considered an institution of virtue. But since we are not usually satiated by standard and benign definitions, let us look at a more rational view of the State, as expressed in Murray Rothbard’s essay Anatomy of the State.

Anatomy of the State     Before even giving his own definition of the State he decries the practice altogether magnificently,“The useful collective term ‘we’ has enabled an ideological camouflage to be thrown over the reality of political life.”2 One of the most effective uses of the term “we” by the propaganda machine was in regards to the military. Instead of making posters for “Our Boys” like was done in the first World War, it has been simply assumed that each and every American is at war with “terror”, or whatever the Great Satan du jour. I did not invade Iraq, Afghanistan, or any other place on Earth; it was simply people who threaten physical force to violate my sovereignty, in order to violate the sovereignty of yet another victim of Statism. Collectivism kills.

So how did Rothbard define the state?

“Briefly, the State is the organization in society which attempts to maintain a monopoly of the use of force and violence in a given territorial area; in particular, it is the only organization in society that obtains its revenue not by voluntary contribution or payment for services rendered but by coercion.”3

Rothbard continues on to reference a German political philosopher who described what he saw as two distinctive ways to increase wealth. Franz Oppenheimer suggests that there is an “economic means” and a “political means”, the difference being in that the former is voluntary and the latter is coercive. The view of our economy through a similar lens, one that sees a sector consisting of only coercive interaction and one made up entirely of voluntary human action, is much clearer. This lens reveals the beauty of the free market, the human race, and the potential for prosperity being strangled by the State.

In further criticism, Rothbard says the State is a provider of “a legal, orderly, systematic channel for the predation of private property; it renders certain, secure, and “peaceful” the lifeline of the parasitic class in society”. Furthermore, “The State has never been created by a “social contract”; it has always been born in conflict and exploitation.” 4

Rothbard put the State in the light it belongs. Logic and morality applies to each and every person no matter the pretty blue uniform.

To add one more definition of that State we go to twitter, and we have reached out to an expert on the matter, and this is how @thestatesucks defines the State: “People in costumes and suits, utilizing a monopoly on force to commit institutional violence on other unsuspecting humans.”5

Please keep in mind the three definitions we’ve discussed today, Webster’s, Rothbard’s, and @thestatesucks ‘s.

To ask again, do you hate the State?

–          the Humane Condition, @AdamBlacksburg

This article was inspired by, and I’m certain ideas were borrowed from Rothbard, here: http://www.lewrockwell.com/rothbard/rothbard75.html

thcondition@gmail.com

  1. http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/state
  2. Rothbard, Murray N. “Chapter 1, Chapter 2.” The Anatomy of the State. 1st ed. Vol. 1. New York, NY: Libertarian-Anarchist Book Service, 1974. 11-14. Print.
  3. Rothbard, 13
  4. Rothbard, 11-12
  5. @thestatesucks, 3/4/13