Flaws in libertarianism

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Jean
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Flaws in libertarianism

Post by Jean » Thu Mar 16, 2017 5:25 am

This is not a hostile topic about libertarianism, I myself use it as my main guideline for personal ethic, but after several year, I cannot get over to questions and found no one who did.

A few years ago, I read "Man, Economy and State", because it was on jacob's book list.
I really enjoyed it, and found all the logical development brillant and unquestionables.
But I've always been frustrated with its definition of, and moral justification for property.

So first with the definition
You own a ressource and it's products when you aquired it with a freely agreed trade, or when you were the first to mix it with your labor to create value.
Aquired with a freely agreed trade ain't difficult, but every word in the second part is unclear.
How do you define value? Some land is valued as wilderness to be a hunting field, or maybe just to look at it. What do you use to say it's not value.
Or more clearly, part of the planet, that in a wilderness state, contribute to lot to keep this planet hospitable for us (which is value for everyone)

Every human should agree on what value is, this will never happen, so we can't use this to build a society on. We could say the same for labor and first, even if it is less problematic.

And the with justification.
When someone has nothing that someone would accept to trade for what he needs to survive, he can alway find unused land and produce it himself, so he doesn't has to choose between using violence, or dying. It was true in 1600 england or 1940 america, But this statement is wrong today.
There are no more free land reachable.
Which mean that someone with nothing, has to choose between taking it from someone, or dying. This results in violence.

Has someone ever tought about it and found other answers?

7Wannabe5
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Re: Flaws in libertarianism

Post by 7Wannabe5 » Thu Mar 16, 2017 6:20 am

Two solutions that come to mind, given the premise, would be that you could create your own job using only your brains and your body and no further resources OR you could use discards as your resource to develop. Obvious choices of prostitution and garbage picking come to mind. Of course, if you find the use of violence less repugnant than prostitution or garbage picking, then that will be your choice.

Jean
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Re: Flaws in libertarianism

Post by Jean » Thu Mar 16, 2017 6:41 am

I'm not looking for practical solution.
Just a logical justification for private property that doesn't result in people having to be violent.

Spartan_Warrior
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Re: Flaws in libertarianism

Post by Spartan_Warrior » Thu Mar 16, 2017 7:15 am

There is no private property without violence. Private property is a man-made legal concept specifically upheld by the state (aka threat of violence, by any libertarian's definition).
Obvious choices of prostitution and garbage picking come to mind.
Really sums up the conceit of libertarianism. You are always free to choose. Even if the choice is between prostituting yourself and starving to death. Nope, nothing coercive about the lowest survival requirements on the hierarchy of needs. Just another "freely agreed trade" made on the "free market". 8-)

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fiby41
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Re: Flaws in libertarianism

Post by fiby41 » Thu Mar 16, 2017 7:30 am

The roads are not going to build themselves.

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fiby41
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Re: Flaws in libertarianism

Post by fiby41 » Thu Mar 16, 2017 7:40 am

Spartan_Warrior wrote:There is no private property without violence. Private property is a man-made legal concept specifically upheld by the state (aka threat of violence, by any libertarian's definition)
And the government claims monopoly over violence inside it's territory.

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FBeyer
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Re: Flaws in libertarianism

Post by FBeyer » Thu Mar 16, 2017 8:13 am

fiby41 wrote:
Spartan_Warrior wrote:There is no private property without violence. Private property is a man-made legal concept specifically upheld by the state (aka threat of violence, by any libertarian's definition)
And the government claims monopoly over violence inside it's territory.
In fact, some have actually defined a state as the area in which a single specific entitity holds the monopoly on violence.

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Re: Flaws in libertarianism

Post by ThisDinosaur » Thu Mar 16, 2017 8:48 am

Just a logical justification for private property that doesn't result in people having to be violent.
A cat pees on a fence to claim its property. A male gorilla intimidates other gorillas to claim what's his. "Civilized" people write contracts and laws to enforce those contracts. Its all essentially the same thing. You own your property about as much as the cat owns that fence.

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vexed87
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Re: Flaws in libertarianism

Post by vexed87 » Thu Mar 16, 2017 9:14 am

I would be sceptical of the statement that there is no 'free' land remaining, whilst the vast majority of land is now in private hands, it's impossible to police all of it, all of the time. So long as your fly under the radar, you can make use of much privately owned land and property. Admittedly, not within the confines of law. Yet if the law is held over you in violent fashion, and society does nothing to give you what you need to survive with dignity (a human right) whilst embracing that law, surely then you are justified in making use of that land and breaking that violent law. The law acts as a social contract, and so it must work for the majority. It cannot be enforced without the consent of the masses, therefore the masses have to be provided for, one way or another, less there be a revolution, and those who own property have it taken away from them.

Few but the most immoral of land owners would stand by and deny you the use of private but unmanaged land should society do nothing else to feed and shelter you. Even if you have nothing to trade, you could use your smarts to convince any land owner with promise of a share of the proceeds should you be permitted to farm a small plot of land, eventually you could save the capital required to buy back that land.
Last edited by vexed87 on Thu Mar 16, 2017 9:28 am, edited 1 time in total.

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fiby41
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Re: Flaws in libertarianism

Post by fiby41 » Thu Mar 16, 2017 9:28 am

Not all land is utilised for production. Land is also a commodity that is consumed, by say, living on it.

Vexed are you justifying encroachment?

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vexed87
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Re: Flaws in libertarianism

Post by vexed87 » Thu Mar 16, 2017 9:37 am

Encroachment is perceived to be primarily violent. From a moral viewpoint, to me it would be acceptable in some circumstances, however I would argue that to do it ethically, that no damage to property must be committed, only enhancement. i.e. turning waste scrub land with barren soils into a permaculture inspired forest garden. Of course, in the real world, damage is percieved differently by different people. Some people prefer ecological deserts on their doorstep. My point was that all land is not used to its full potential, so there's scope for redistributing its use more fairly, yet in a mutually beneficial manner. Moral parameters would need to be fine tuned to localised circumstances.

Libertarians usually abhor waste and levity, and would not stand idly by in ivory towers with moats, and vast lawned gardens, whilst children starve outside the estates gate for lack of resources. A life, like a mind, is a terrible thing to waste. I would not defend private property to the bitter end, there must be a degree of pragmatism, and any arrangement doesn't have to be motivated by charity (although I would hope to some extent, there would be some!) Cooperation is inherently mutually beneficial.

I think one of the biggest revelations in my journey of learning about libertarianism is that one of the greatest challenges of society today is that many humans have forgotten the importance of reciprocity and mutual respect. We place too much faith in the free market. We are all dependant on each other because behind the façade of the free market, it is simply humans, working with other humans to produce things for mutual benefit.

Therefore, like any other resource, land should be utilised in a manner that avoids waste. I posit there is more than enough to go around, and there's a great deal of growth possible in terms of finding and making use of productive land, just not in the manner we are accustomed to.

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Dragline
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Re: Flaws in libertarianism

Post by Dragline » Thu Mar 16, 2017 11:25 am

Jean wrote:This is not a hostile topic about libertarianism, I myself use it as my main guideline for personal ethic, but after several year, I cannot get over to questions and found no one who did.

A few years ago, I read "Man, Economy and State", because it was on jacob's book list.
I really enjoyed it, and found all the logical development brillant and unquestionables.
What did you think of the assumptions on page 2 of that book, which are fundamental and underlie the entire thing?

Specifically, do you agree or disagree that we should take Aristotle's conception of man (note 3) and praxeology as immutable axioms upon which we build everything else, including but not limited to economics?

I ask this because most people I know who claim to be followers of Rothbard, von MIses, etc., do not even seem to know what praxeology is, let alone be able to defend it, and it makes me wonder how and why they would believe in something that is merely a derivative of it.

I agree that property, like money, is a convenient and useful human invention (legal tool) that helps us order society. But there is nothing magical -- either holy or unholy -- about it per se.

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Ego
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Re: Flaws in libertarianism

Post by Ego » Thu Mar 16, 2017 12:52 pm

Dragline wrote:I ask this because most people I know who claim to be followers of Rothbard, von MIses, etc., do not even seem to know what praxeology is, let alone be able to defend it, and it makes me wonder how and why they would believe in something that is merely a derivative of it.
I'm not a follower fo those fellows so it may not be surprising that I had to go and look it up.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Praxeology

Jean
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Re: Flaws in libertarianism

Post by Jean » Thu Mar 16, 2017 1:09 pm

I wouldn't call myself a follower, but I think those axioms are reasonable.
But what I think, is that we can create a society based on libertarianism, only if land is unlimited.
Now that we see it isn't, can we fix the whole logic, or is there an artefact that would fix it?
A basic inconditional income would do it, but how to finance it rightfully?
Or how to avoid the society to clash between owner and non owner?

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Riggerjack
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Re: Flaws in libertarianism

Post by Riggerjack » Thu Mar 16, 2017 2:10 pm

So, your problem with libertarian thinking is:
Without access to homesteading land, man has no choice but violence?
Did I miss something there?

I'm pretty familiar with libertarian thinking, and the issue I have is high cost, low proft behavior, like pollution. I've never seen a libertarian approach that could work to control pollution.

This is the first time I have ever heard anyone decide that homesteading or violence was a binary decision. Although, that does help explain why cities are so violent, it's those millions of suppressed homesteaders. :twisted:

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Dragline
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Re: Flaws in libertarianism

Post by Dragline » Thu Mar 16, 2017 2:57 pm

Mobs with pitchforks! :lol:

Jean
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Re: Flaws in libertarianism

Post by Jean » Thu Mar 16, 2017 3:21 pm

@Riggerjack
Kindof: If there is no access to homesteading, someones existence can objectively be a pure loss for you.

Pollution is an easy one in my opinion, realeasing anything unwanted outside of you property is an aggression an should be treated as such by the aggressed.

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Re: Flaws in libertarianism

Post by Solvent » Thu Mar 16, 2017 3:51 pm

The question of initial appropriation is highly problematic for many strains of libertarian thought. I don't know that a 'solution' exists as OP seems to ask, although people definitely have preferences.

Although I'm sympathetic to many kinds of libertarian thinking, I think the fundamental philosophical basis of much modern libertarian thinking is on very shaky ground. Logically speaking. I recommend Matt Bruenig's writings on the subject, for example this one on John Locke's musings on property. His writing is highly combative (not so much in that article), but I think his reasoning is strong.

I'm really tired, so I doubt I'll express myself well. But what I've come to realise is that, unlike many internet libertarians seem to believe (and I kinda used to be one of them), there is no sensible way to determine property rights from some kind of natural first principles in the absence of a social structure. That is, property rights are something determined within society, and subject to society's needs. You can argue for a particular definition that fits your worldview, but the libertarian's version of strong property rights is not more logically sound than many other, different, versions, and they're certainly not more just.

This on use of force is also interesting, and here is a fun little thought experiment on easements. Even freely agreed trades can be brought into question.

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Re: Flaws in libertarianism

Post by Solvent » Thu Mar 16, 2017 3:58 pm

Jean wrote:A basic inconditional income would do it, but how to finance it rightfully?
As per Thomas Paine, tax land. No-one 'created' it (bar those islands in the South China Sea, or Singapore's expansion, etc. Although, you know, they're buying that land from somewhere else, after a fashion).

To link to my post immediately prior, Bruenig also wrote on this (see last two paras). Happily, my personal conclusions on that matter predate that article (following largely from Paine) but he expresses them succinctly.

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Re: Flaws in libertarianism

Post by Jean » Thu Mar 16, 2017 4:14 pm

Thank you!
Even if I hate being comfirmed in what I already think.

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Riggerjack
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Re: Flaws in libertarianism

Post by Riggerjack » Thu Mar 16, 2017 7:01 pm

Some land is valued as wilderness to be a hunting field, or maybe just to look at it. What do you use to say it's not value.
Or more clearly, part of the planet, that in a wilderness state, contribute to lot to keep this planet hospitable for us (which is value for everyone)
I want to focus on this. But first, let me tell you a story. I live on a rural island, and this is about two of my neighbors, Gary, and Larry.

Gary moved here in the 80's and he's a self employed heavy equipment operator. A bit of a conspiracy theorist, and lots of fun. He bought the old farmhouse that belonged to the pioneer family my street was named for from the last of that line. He had more land than he needed, so he subdivided, and put a view easement on the 10 acres he sold to Larry.

Larry is a hippie. Not the practical, back to the land hippie, but the donkey riding, pot smoking, permaculturing, mega-trampoline building, poorly executed alternative housing type of hippie, also, lots of fun

They get along, but not real well. Larry doesn't like cutting down trees, and Gary expects to see the Puget Sound from his living room. Every few years, Gary let's Larry know that the new alders are getting in the way, and Larry doesn't do much about it. About every 5 years, Gary gets in a bulldozer, and knocks down Larry's saplings, after giving him notice.

So where is this going? Property rights. When Larry bought the property, there was a view easement across it. Presumably, he got a better price, because of this. Gary was willing to accept less money, and keep his view. Gary paid for the right to his view. What did you pay?

Gary has view property, so his tax appraisal is higher. He pays more property tax each year. What did you pay?

Gary has to fire up his bulldozer every 5 years or so to maintain his view easement, what did you do?

Even though Gary has paid, continues to pay, and has to maintain his view, this only affects the one lot. If Walmart buys the land across the sound, and builds a store in the middle of Gary's view, he is effectively without recourse.

People who have timberland in Washington, who let the trees growing, get a property tax break. A big break. But, they have to have a harvest plan, that they give to the assessor, and stick to. Then they pay 5% of the tree crop value to the state. Members if the public who used to enjoy looking at that stand of trees invariably start to complain when those trees get harvested, but the harvest is required. The public was compensating for their view rights with tax breaks. But then, the state will always want it's money more than its citizens happiness. Both as a stand of trees and as a clear-cut, the land is fine habitat, just for different life forms.

So, you see, we already have systems in place to deal with wild lands, view rights, etc. It's not ideal, but it works. The value is already established. There is no need for soul searching over the value of a view, or whether a private property rights system can protect the environment. As near as I have been able to tell, it is the only way of protecting the environment that actually works. Give the environment a value, and compensate the owners for their service, even if it's only a tax break.

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Riggerjack
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Re: Flaws in libertarianism

Post by Riggerjack » Thu Mar 16, 2017 7:31 pm

Also on the subject of pollution and property rights, my property has about 1500 feet of county road frontage, every few years, I will take a wheel barrow out, walk the line, and pick up the litter. Coke and beer cans, shampoo bottles, even tires thrown in my wetlands. There is no effective way to enforce property rights in such a way as to stop litterbugs. Though I occasionally think a heavy metals exchange might be the most satisfying solution...

But even at my most extreme, I don't think the death penalty for littering is justice. Though I wonder why, if it's tourist season, we can't shoot them. :twisted:

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bryan
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Re: Flaws in libertarianism

Post by bryan » Thu Mar 16, 2017 8:26 pm

ThisDinosaur wrote:
Just a logical justification for private property that doesn't result in people having to be violent.
A cat pees on a fence to claim its property. A male gorilla intimidates other gorillas to claim what's his. "Civilized" people write contracts and laws to enforce those contracts. Its all essentially the same thing. You own your property about as much as the cat owns that fence.
And I would say that the concept is part of the evolution of the species. No doubt our understanding of "private property" will continue to evolve.
Spartan_Warrior wrote:There is no private property without violence. Private property is a man-made legal concept specifically upheld by the state (aka threat of violence, by any libertarian's definition).
Sounds like you are using a specific definition for private property, that I don't quite agree with. Granted it's not like I can put it into better words than wikipedia.. Simply put "mine" vs "his" vs "ours" vs "theirs" etc.

Mediating "private property" conflicts we can easily see how violence may become involved (we are competing, after all), but it is not an inevitability or a pre-requisite of private property. Consider the programming of machines (computers, humans, etc) that are able to verify attestations of ownership against a canonical ledger entry.. boom, private property without violence (yay Bitcoin..).
Solvent wrote: That is, property rights are something determined within society, and subject to society's needs. You can argue for a particular definition that fits your worldview, but the libertarian's version of strong property rights is not more logically sound than many other, different, versions, and they're certainly not more just.
Agreed, but what determines which version is more "just" or logically sound? :D @Spartan_Warrior might say it is decided by he who has a bigger stick? I don't think it is inevitable.. (though I admit it may be a good reduction for animals' history)

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BRUTE
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Re: Flaws in libertarianism

Post by BRUTE » Thu Mar 16, 2017 9:12 pm

ThisDinosaur wrote:You own your property about as much as the cat owns that fence.
this fucking guy^^

money quote right there :)

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BRUTE
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Re: Flaws in libertarianism

Post by BRUTE » Thu Mar 16, 2017 9:26 pm

Jean wrote:I'm [..] looking for [..] a logical justification for private property that doesn't result in people having to be violent.
there isn't one. libertarians pull different ones out of their asses because they like going to logical extremes. they make up shit like natural rights or "property rights from first principle". brute says this as probably the biggest libertarian on this forum (no offense Rigger). yes, brute knows what Praxeology is, brute loves LVM, brute can probably compare Mises to Hoppe to Rothbard like few others can. brute accepts that humans born in the 1880s made mistakes and Human Action is not the divine word of god.

the problem with this critique is that it's true for every system. is there a logical justification for public property that doesn't result in the necessity for violence? no. is there a justification for communist property, anarchic property?

therefore, the original question is a straw man. it's just a solution that parts of current society ended up with because it kind of worked - even though there's thousands of special cases like federal land, state owned land, different kinds of property rights, etc.

brute thinks it's helpful to define property: property means the "moral right" (as opposed to might-makes right aka cat peeing on the fence) to prevent others from using certain resources.

intuitively, most humans support some property rights - the right over their own body, for example. few humans would argue that it's violence to prevent random humans from having sex with one's own body, or that this violence would not be justified.

as a slight extension of the human body, property that a human acquired very directly, i.e. picking a wild apple, or making a tool from a rock, is also pretty much accepted as ok by most humans.

the more distant and abstract the connection between the human body and the property becomes, the more humans will question it.

libertarians are simply the faction that values property rights in most things more than most other factions. syndicalists or communist anarchists are probably the other extreme, where any toothbrush not currently in use is free for all.

in reality, there is no objective moral code, and therefore, no objective, "fair" system of distributing resources. thus, all systems of property, non-property, shared property, whatever, necessitate violence to enforce. and in reality, might does make right, so the logical derivation of some dead libertarian from the Bronx doesn't really matter.

brute would like to end with a quote by one of his favorite post-libertarians:
Whoever knows how to take, to defend, the thing, to him belongs property.

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