Concerning Property Rights, Voluntary Government

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    I have a few seemingly trivial, but in my opinion extremely important disputes with the logic of anarcho-capitalism. 1. As it applies to land property ; and 2. As it applies to legal theory and Natural Law. I have not been able to see them through, and to be quite frank I need some help. Ought I proceed here, or find some other venue for discussion?


    My first question deals with the libertarian concept of property ownership. I understand that the conventional view of land ownership derives itself from the homesteading principle outlined by Rothbard and Hoppe.

    I want to preface this with that I am not trying to stump anybody. I have an undeveloped sense of how these concepts are and ought to be theoretically applied. This not meant to be a war over these points of discussion. I am just a student who wants to learn sound theory.

    I do not find this to be valid as it applies to land ownership. I do subscribe to the property right theory developed by locke, adopted by the first individualist anarchists and later refined by the aforementioned libertarian scholars. That if we mix out labor with natures resources, that we take those resources out of a state of not being property and into a state of being property.

    When we apply this to land ownership, a number of problems arise. For one, land property is not real, per se. It is an abstraction. Sure the dirt is real, and the trees are real… And any of these actual resources fit neatly within the paradigm through which the current doctrine sees the world. Land is not real however, in as much as it is just boundaries, artificially defined, and legally respected. And any mixing of the labor with resources to create property happens within these artificial boundaries and not to them.

    For instance if I plant a tree, the tree becomes mine. One could also make the argument that the ground in which the tree has been planted is also mine. It hardly follows however that the planting of a tree in a given territory gives me any claim to the surrounding land to any degree beyond exactly where the tree is planted. The next issue here is that it is not clear that the territory becomes mine after I grow the tree. After all, I grew the tree in the soil, and the soil may become mine, but in the case that I grew my tree, harvested the fruit, and after a time harvested the wood, what remains of the original resources that came into a state of property. Is the abstraction of a territorial boundary mine forever, even when the tree is gone. If the soil is where the root of my claim is, can it not be moved. If two neighbor cattle farmers used the same land to graze would this not be grounds foe legal dispute, as the property surely belongs to one or the other?

    Secondly if land property is not claimed by mixing natures resources with mans labor, how then is it acquired. Is it sufficient to see a territory and then decide that it is mine? Is it the case that the first man could claim all of the earths territory that their is?

    Finally from a deontological perspective, does it not seem immoral to harm someone because he is standing within the artificial boundaries created by some form of social contract? And yet if it is land property that he is invading, then he ought to be subject to what ever defensive measures the owner of that property deems appropriate. My hero economic hero Dr. Block says that he would like to see everything privatized. Does that not mean that a child born in to the world of land property is necessarily subject to the demands of some man or other who owns the property he is standing on?

    I am not a left anarchist. I believe firmly in property rights. But the major pretext for the development for the first schools of anarchist thought, was exactly a logical unsoundness of the institution of private property ownership as it applies to land. Indeed it was out of this philosophical discussion that grew the anti-capitalist fervor out of which Marxist ideology was. And it was precisely his argument that the accumulation of property(or capital) would create a sort neo-feudalism akin to what he witnessed in period of his life. One that looked an awful lot like the ” majority of the wealth in the hands of the few” where children would be born into this world as serfs.

    Again, I want to make it clear. I am not a Marxist or a left anarchist. I am all about markets and property, and Locke(to a degree) and Rothbard(to a greater degree). This is not meant to stump anybody. I don’t want The fire breathing Tom Woods Dragon to descend upon me. Just a reasonable discussion.

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