Thursday, December 13, 2012

Property Rights to Suit Republicans, Anarchists, Libertarians, Socialists, Voluntarists?

The liberty movement is perhaps the most controversial and intellectually stimulating in the arena of ideas for organizing society. One common theme runs through most of them. The Non-Aggression Principle also known as NAP. The idea that no individual can justly claim to aggress against another individual. The only just claim to use violence is in self-defense. Already being such a small fraction of the population, those whom wholeheartedly apply the NAP, it would be a shame for so many sub factions to emerge if it stalled the effort to bring this one principle into the acceptance of general society. One of the most contentious among the topics of discussion which can lasts for hours in the chat rooms, or for years in the forums of the liberty interwebs, is the idea of property rights. There is a general consensus among the liberty not-leaders, Adam Kokesh, Stefan Molyneux, Kevin Carson, Larken Rose, Jeffrey Tucker, Lew Rockwell, Hans Herman Hoppe, and Ron Paul is that self-ownership is inviolable. These folks typically prefer to go without labels, but if pressed would self-describe their positions as Anarchist, Voluntarist, Free-Market Socialist, Libertarian, Republican, Anarcho-Capitalist. However, where does self-ownership end and where do property rights begin? This is the problem I hope to solve. I do not claim this argument to be conclusive, but I do offer it humbly before you.

Can someone justly claim exclusive use of scarce resources outside their own body? I am not certain of the moral position, but it would seem like the claim to a resource is only meaningful in a conflict of claims. If I claim to own 100 acres of land, but do not use it for any purpose, then there is no conflict and no moral content. If I claim to own 100 acres of land, and I do use it, then there is still no problem to solve. The problem only needs answering in cases where two different people want to lay claim to the same resource whether it is tress, land, metals or any other raw material. Who can make the best claim? Well if two people claim to both own the same resource, then both claims are made arbitrarily. i.e. If you claim to own 100 acres of land by decree, then I should be able to also make such a claim since both people should be held to the same moral standards or perhaps better described as recognition of their equality. Why should one person be able to claim resources by decree if the other person is not? But even in cases where two different people are making their claim by proclamation, there is still no actual conflict between them for the land I claim to own is not harmed by your thoughts or words. It is only when someone actually puts the resource into use that a conflict might even logically arise. I will propose that a better case might be made had one of the parties expended some labor or energy in transforming the resource in question. Who has a better claim to the tree than the one who cut it down? The person who wrote on a piece of paper and filed it in some database? How about the person who merely shouted at the top of his lungs his claim upon it? I will suggest that it is I, who has taken action and actually transformed a resource that can make the best claim for its exclusive use towards making chairs instead of canoes. This means that a principle can be logically applied to both parties equally while only one may be considered correct. For if shouting out a claim grants its permission, then both parties may do so, but without a logical resolution. Only one of them could have cut down the tree. But the opportunity was available to both of them. Now some might worry that applying this principle would allow one individual to control all of a particular resource. I don’t foresee a single individual being able to control all necessary resources. If he did, then he would be the most productive human on the planet and I would tip my hat to him. It would also be the first time in history that a highly productive individual put forth so much effort and labor as a means to destroy humanity. Usually those bent on destruction tend to use much less costly means to acquire power, such as lying, defrauding, and threatening aggression. Even if the possibility of the evil super lumberjack is granted though, humans need more than one resource to survive. In order to persuade such a person who could transform an entire earth’s worth of trees, others could withhold their own transformed resources. No violence would be necessary in order to convince him to hand over the lumber. Or we could just grow hemp instead.

No comments:

Post a Comment

In a world of universal rudeness, speaking politely is a revolutionary act.