Since I’ve come to know the Sweet Talk Kids, the property rights thing has been brought forward regularly as an entree of interest, like hotdogs, chips and kool-aid for Saturday night TV. I’m not terribly good at all the vocabulary nor some of the philosophical underpinnings, but the posts winging about have been quite educational, and I’m grateful for it.
As far as I can tell, there are two main lines of argumentation: 1) private property is theft, inherently [insert appeal to avaricious human nature. Problem of avarice resolved by benevolent redistribution imposed by state]; 2) public property is theft [insert appeal to mitigating features of nature. Problem of avarice resolved by not-so-benevolent redistributive forces of nature].
I know on which side of the divide I fall, to wit: side 2. And I have a few reasons I fall that way, the main ones as follow: the benevolence of the state is inherently violent. It must seize property by force, which requires either the threat of death and/or a complacent populace. Having a populace complacent to the state is problematical because it submits to the will of a state which allows no larger organizing principle than itself, which is (if I may anthropomorphize) what the state desires and will seek to attain and perpetuate. The state, in other words, is messianic, and will crush all other suitors.
What larger organizing principle is there?
Here, I think, is the rub. Arguing for an organizing principle larger than the state is a matter of metaphysics, i.e., whether there is such a thing as nature, an invisible hand, or a providential will of some sort. Perhaps even a personal God–but that’s too much, seeing as how even the most fervent believer in God believes that he is hidden amidst the elemental things, revealing himself very particularly, if at all.
Now side 2 is essentially reduced to an appeal to cold, hard, experience, both for itself and against the state. Each argument is in this way weakened, being basically founded upon witness, which can be contorted and perverted according to will. Thus, sweet talk. Are the not-so-benevolent forces of nature to mitigate the inherent avarice of private property owners convincing to you? Let me count the ways…
No matter how I count, however, I must appeal to a moral authority for the right to private property, not a theoretical one, not as a foundation, not until after I lay a foundation based on an unrevealed moral authority reconstructed by feeble minds. The will of a state is not, essentially, as messy as all that. What the state wills shall be so. By nature, then, to argue for private property is the weaker of the two sides.
What is it about the appeal to witness, however, that has such persuasive power?
The implications reveal, I think, that the argument is not set on a pole, as it seems at first glance: private vs. public property, or what-have-you. The arguments are appeals to a set of beliefs, the one founded on witness, the other founded on will, neither founded on objective reality, despite any appeal one or the other might make to such a not-a-thing.
On the one side are the institutions of the state, and on the other are the institutions of civilization with ancient precepts which strive to reach the unreachable heavens. Both coexist in an uneasy truce, some epochs more uneasy than others. When one finds favor in your eyes, you put your whole self in and you do the hokey pokey and you turn yourself around, with lots of friends and fellow travelers participating in the dance with you, and there will be an inside and an outside. Where the frontiers meet is where the music is played. Whose hokey-pokey radiates the most warmth and happiness?
Questions of justice are hereby eschewed, for those are fundamental to each dance.
One thought on “Propertarian Hokey Pokey”
I don’t know David, but I’m a fan of all y’all, however, I just think this is dangerous thinking:
“No matter how I count, however, I must appeal to a moral authority for the right to private property, not a theoretical one, not as a foundation, not until after I lay a foundation based on an unrevealed moral authority reconstructed by feeble minds. The will of a state is not, essentially, as messy as all that. What the state wills shall be so. By nature, then, to argue for private property is the weaker of the two sides.”
It seems like this is always the set up here, this may in fact be the prototype of god’s (lower g) perfect Sweet Talk piece.
But gents, it cannot be this way, precisely for what David says…
We do not need to appeal to the moral authority for the right to private property.
I don’t. And neither do most Libertarians. Libertarians = anyone who is fiscally conservative and socially liberal, and generally wants to bring power back home towards himself / herself: DC > State > City > School > Family.
Under my simple general broad classification for Libertarian:
Libertarians own lots of sh*t, and they’ll pick up a gun and END a system that says they do not.
Now each Libertarian may or may not have a moral reasoning – that’s nice. Lord knows I do.
But ULTIMATELY, we do not agree on moral reasoning, we do not agree to DEBATE the subject and if we lose the debate, give up private property. We do not agree to VOTE and if we lose the vote give up private property.
No BEFORE the state. and AFTER the state, we are prepared to KILL people if they violate our personal assertion of private property.
When the chips are down, I and all the other competent people in America will cut off the head of Lenin and parade it around and not care AT ALL, if the losers spend a thousand years complaining about private property being theft.
Because morality is what causes us to decide when to take up arms, it is not what provides the groundwork for property rights.
Look, I have written at great length about Digital Socialism and Atomic Capitalism. The state simply cannot, by the laws of physics, enforce ownership of digital assets.
As such things made of bits, 0’s and 1’s cannot be truly, “owned.”
There is therefore a AWESOME future for communist wannabes – because in two shakes of a lambs tail 3D printing is going to make almost everything cost $1 per pound. MOST people will curl up in their free VR rig and stop caring at all about accumulating land or physical assets… these are comfy people, unwilling AND UNABLE to throw a revolution.
Look, our team, the Libertarians we have all the stick we need, but we mostly just play the carrot over and over.
VR worlds? free. The 3D designs? free. Why? zero marginal cost. And incredible unending expense in trying to stop piracy.
But the atoms! They are and forever will be “ownable”
Now someday in the future, it might be that those of us who are using the state to impose our private property will on all the weak and meek have nots, still NOT CARE ANYMORE and that’ll be a nice CHOICE, but that choice will come ONLY from technology making atomic property meaningless, it will not come from debate or votes change it.
Until tech makes it happen, private property is here by force, and the state does not have the power the change it.
That is the argument, the Bruenings will not, cannot, answer.