Saturday, April 30, 2016

Property, Discrimination, and Exclusion

There has been some ongoing dialogue at a couple of recent posts (here and here) regarding the topic of discrimination and exclusion.  I would like to explore this topic further, interactively (to the extent such is possible given the format of this blog).  I continue to reflect on the following (from one of the aforementioned posts):

Inherently, property is exclusionary.  Conclusions can be drawn from this; these conclusions do not make all libertarians happy.

Gay, Moslem, Mexican, whatever.  For sake of this post (and to avoid getting caught up in the emotion of any supposedly disadvantaged group), please picture “Martians” when you think about what group it is to which I might be referring.

I will build from what I believe to be the more basic concept to the more complicated concepts on this topic.  With each step, I ask two questions:

A)     Does the above conform with libertarian theory?  If no, please explain why in the comments below.

B)     If yes, yet you do not like it, what would you do to stop the practice and on what basis do you justify your intervention?

To not over-complicate this, I assume “property” as those with a reasonable respect for property in the west generally understand it; more specifically, land and any improvements on it that are claimed owned by an individual or other legal entity.

With that, let’s begin:

1)      Regarding my home and the land on which it sits, I have the right to exclude whomever I choose from access or otherwise manage to whom I allow or disallow access.

2)      My neighbor and I have agreed to certain parameters on the conditions raised in question 1) above.  We agree to implement common conditions in accord with these parameters and further have agreed to support the other in defense of these parameters.

3)      The two of us have found that twenty other property owners in our immediate neighborhood like what we have started.  They have agreed to join us under the same conditions.

4)      One of these property owners also owns several rental units.  He decides that similar conditions will be applied for these properties.

5)      This same rental-property-owning tycoon is in a consortium of such property owners; many like what he has done and they have agreed to similar conditions for their properties. 

6)      There are others in the larger community that like the concept of what we have implemented, but do not agree with the specific conditions we have placed.  They therefore have decided on a different set of conditions for their neighborhood.

7)      In any / each / all of the above, the relevant property owner(s) has (have) decided to hire an agent to implement these decisions.

In your response, please identify specifically to which item(s) from the above list of seven you are addressing.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Holding the Application of Libertarian Theory to an Impossible Standard

bionic mosquito April 23, 2016 at 6:59 AM

Continued decentralization is the desire. Increasing choice of types of communities is the objective.

Hoping that humans will become something other than what they have been in all of recorded history is a pipe-dream. This you have in common with communist theory - the belief in the possibility of creating a new man.

Have it your way: it is not libertinism. It is Marx's theory put into practice. Hell on earth.

You are then "out of a free market." And I have much more evidence in history on my side than do you.

Anonymous April 24, 2016 at 4:25 AM

Anon proof

@bm you are only telling me that free market and ancap are impossible. May be the case. I hope you are wrong.

My thoughts on this, as follows:

I am wondering why it is expected that application of libertarian theory (in its pure form) is held to a standard that no other political theory (in its pure form) has ever achieved or can ever achieve.

Further: no religion on earth – blessed by the gods or blessed by the God – has ever achieved such perfection in application, yet libertarian theory in application is held to this standard.  If such a religion has not achieved such perfection in application, why is it expected of libertarian theory?

The world is made up of humans – imperfect creatures with many flaws.  Yet, somehow, a political theory in application is supposed to make them each flawless gods?

I understand why enemies of libertarian theory attempt to hold the theory (and possible application thereof) to such a standard – to discredit a political theory that offers maximum liberty is a desirable objective for proponents of every other political theory.

I do not understand why the friends of libertarian theory hold it to such a standard in application.  They only serve to discredit the theory.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Revisiting Suvorov

I have written extensively regarding Viktor Suvorov’s book, The Chief Culprit: Stalin's Grand Design to Start World War II.  My several posts can be found here.

To make a long story short, Stalin supported and strengthened Hitler, baiting him to start World War II against Britain and France with the anticipation that the western capitalist countries would so weaken themselves that the expansion of Soviet communism would be free to clean up and take over the remains.  Just before Stalin was to invade Germany, Hitler struck first.  The rest is the history with which we are familiar.

Through either an email or comment (I don’t recall which) I was introduced to the work of Mark Solonin.  With his permission, I offer a brief review of one of his posts, entitled Comrade Stalin's Three Plans.

He begins with a statement that is agreeable to all – whether one believes Suvorov’s account or the more traditional version:

The fact is that Hitler’s attack on the Soviet Union at dawn on June 22, 1941 became a horrible surprise for Comrade Stalin.

Germany’s attack astonished the inhabitants of the Kremlin’s offices, stunning them and putting them into a state of shock. That is the fact.

Solonin then introduces the revisionist story – fully consistent with the work of Suvorov:

There is another fact. In May-June of 1941 the Soviet Union’s military forces were in a state of covert strategic deployment. All aspects of strategic deployment (mobilization of reservists, strategic regrouping and concentration of troops, operative deployment of alignments) were carried out in a strict secrecy unheard of even by Stalin’s harsh standards.

As secretly and quietly as can be imagined for such a large movement, Stalin brought to the western borders a significant massing of the Red Army.

Solonin cites Suvorov’s first book on this topic, Icebreaker – written twenty years earlier.

Viktor Suvorov’s hypothesis also bore that main characteristic of the genuine scientific theory, which is this: new facts and documents fit within its boundaries the same way cartridges fit in a pistol clip. New facts fit his theory with precision and clarity, without violating its structure, but rather enhancing its lethal power.

On the other hand, no alternative concepts were formulated in the 20 years after The Icebreaker was published. There was not a single book or a single article.

While many important records and documents remain inaccessible to independent researchers, Solonin goes on to document in a detailed fashion what is known and can be authenticated, what is reasonable with some difficulty to authenticate.  He does not apologize for the fact that the Soviets under Stalin were tremendously skilled at hiding the true nature of their plans.

He identifies these plans, plans that changed three times over the course of the several years leading up to war.  The first plan is quite clear:

Friday, April 22, 2016

The Moral Foundations of the Modern Social Order

I have taken the title from a line in When Money Fails, by Gary North:

Wilhelm Röpke was not the most technically competent free market economist of our time, but he was the most accurate one. He was the one economist in the free market tradition who has forthrightly acknowledged that social theory is broader than economic theory. Economics is a subset of social theory, not the other way around. Röpke spent a great deal of time thinking about the moral foundations of the modern social order.

The issue being addressed is economic, the division of labor society:

This is not a technical issue; it is a moral issue. The division of labor did not increase in the West apart from the West's social and moral order.

North’s piece is focused on the moral and legal framework that makes the division of labor possible.  I intend to move in a slightly different direction. 

North cites Röpke; the subject work is Röpke’s International Economic Disintegration.  Röpke wrote the book in the late 1930s, published in 1942.  I will focus on Chapter V, beginning page 67 in the embedded PDF:

THE problem to be discussed here is deemed so important, that it should be used as the starting point of any causal analysis of the present disintegration of world economy worthy of the name.

In reading both North and Röpke, it seems to me the discussion could also be applied to the social order much more broadly defined.  Chapter V is entitled “THE IMPORTANCE OF THE EXTRA-ECONOMIC FRAMEWORK FOR THE WORKING OF THE ECONOMIC PROCESS.”  I will propose considering it in the following context:


As has been remarked earlier, no one will seriously dispute that this traditional spirit of economic science was, and still is, largely coloured by belief in not only the sociological autonomy, but also the sociologically regulating influence of the market economy.

Röpke suggests that a robust market economy cannot survive or thrive absent a framework that is found outside of pure economic science – a market economy cannot function in just any social environment.  One might consider: can the NAP properly function autonomously, without consideration of the broader social framework?

If the answer is yes, then anything goes – the libertines and the dreamers are right.  If the answer is no, one might decide to take Hoppe more seriously when considering the NAP.

Implicitly and explicitly, it was and still is held that a market economy based on competition and essentially unhampered by any agency outside the competitive market is an ordre naturel which, once freed from all impediments, is able to stand indefinitely on its own feet…

Thus the competitive market appeared to be a "philosopher's stone," which turned the base metal of callous business sentiments into the pure gold of common welfare and solidarity…

With government (as we know it today) out of the way, is it reasonable to expect that a libertarian order would blossom out of the remains – without any other changes or requirements?  Could the libertarian order stand “on its own feet”…“once freed from all impediments”? 

If yes, score one for the libertines and dreamers; if no, Hoppe gets a shout.

So far the competitive market economy was considered sociologically autonomous: it needed no special laws, no special state or special society, required neither a special morality nor any other irrational and extra-economic forces and sentiments.

Can a libertarian society survive and thrive under any conditions, without a “special society” or a “special morality” or any other “forces and sentiments” outside of the NAP?  If it can, the libertines and dreamers are correct.  If it cannot…well, you know.

Rarely or never was this belief stated so crudely, but surely few will to-day deny that the general tendency of the liberal philosophy ran—and in some quarters still runs—in this direction.

This is also the general tendency of those who believe a libertarian society can survive and thrive under any social or moral framework.  Maybe they are right, maybe not.

Far from consuming and being dependent on socio-political integration from outside the economic sphere, the competitive market economy produces it—or so runs the argument.

Does the NAP produce an orderly society, or are certain conditions within society necessary pre-conditions for the NAP?  As to economics, Röpke suggests that certain conditions are necessary pre-conditions:

If views like these were ever held at all, it has become obviously impossible to continue to hold them to-day. …we are forced emphatically to deny that this order is anything like an ordre naturel independent of the extra-economic framework of moral, political, legal and institutional conditions…

The world around us tells us that achieving a society grounded in the NAP is far more difficult and far more complicated than achieving a relatively sophisticated division-of-labor economy.  To open one’s eyes is to see this reality.  If extra-economic moral and institutional conditions are necessary for the proper functioning of the relatively simple division-of-labor economy, how much more true must it be for achieving a society that respects the non-aggression principle?

…it is highly doubtful…that economic integration can be sufficiently relied upon to produce automatically the degree of socio-political integration it requires.

The chicken or the egg?  Does this question apply also to consideration of the NAP in a broader social context?

Röpke offers his view:

…it would be a great mistake to think that that would make the market system an ethically neutral sphere. On the contrary, it is a highly sensitive artefact of occidental civilization, with all the latter's ingredients of Christian and pre-Christian morality and its secularized forms…

Before jumping on me or Röpke, note that he includes “its secularized forms.”


It is difficult to imagine how the leading thinkers of former generations could have been more or less blind to this fundamental truth, which seems so obvious and even trivial to us to-day.

Are Röpke’s thoughts regarding the division-of-labor economy equally applicable to the libertarian political order and to some of the “leading [and not-so-leading] thinkers” of this school? 

I just wonder….

Monday, April 18, 2016

Open Borders and Culture: a Reading List

In response to a query, and to simplify this task in the future, I offer the following links to posts I have written on the topic of borders and culture.

A deep-dive into the history and roots of left-libertarian thinking, through the writing of a prominent advocate of this view, Kevin Carson.

It turns out that the left-libertarian desire to require “libertarian” to mean “libertine,” thus radically transforming culture, has something in common with Gramsci’s communist plan to transform society.  While the left-libertarians predict an outcome that conforms to the non-aggression principle, it is the communists who are realistic about the direction society will take when culture is destroyed.

Having been quite critical of “thick” libertarians of the left, I was challenged to take Hoppe on in the same manner.  I was glad I did; it was an eye-opening journey – as several of the following posts will demonstrate.

The subject of immigration examined through the lens of property rights.  A novel thought, one that more libertarians might consider.

A mosquito dares tread on the immigration battleground of two giants, Hoppe and Block.

It is easy to write about immigration in libertarian theory applied to a libertarian world.  It gets a little tougher to apply this libertarian theory in this world.  Jacob Hornberger asks: Are immigration controls a good thing?  I say, good?  Compared to what?

Who owns government property?  Can the state own land?  What does this have to do with immigration and culture?

Merkel gave open borders libertarians their biggest wet dream ever – a real life case study to see how their theory works out in the real world.  Let’s see how it’s going so far.

A generally accepted culture goes a long way toward reducing opportunities for conflict.  Culture evolving slowly and naturally, through voluntary associations, occurs daily and is generally harmless.  Culture changed dramatically, via war or other government pronouncements for example, is often quite destructive of social order; which then results in calls for someone to do something – by force. 

This might be why government works so hard to destroy culture.

As noted, Merkel gave libertarian open borders advocates a great opportunity to examine their theory being put into practice.  I have seen not one such advocate take advantage of this magnificent gift and write a case study using this example in defense of the position.  In this post I ask if anyone else has seen such an examination.

Sheldon Richman, a prominent left-libertarian, gets it right: libertarian borders are managed.

Noting that I had received hundreds of comments on my several posts on open borders and culture, my two most recent posts Libertarian Open Borders and Borders Neither Open or Closed: Richman Gets it Right, received almost no feedback. 

Why so little feedback on these two, after hundreds of comments previously?  I wonder….

I respond to a critique offered by one Paul Bonneau.  In it, I am criticized for views that are common to his – I don’t get it.  Further, other critiques are in response to things I have never written.  Still, you might find it a worthwhile read….

Imagine my surprise to find that the clash of cultures in Germany on New Year’s Eve resulted in calls for draconian police action.  Merkel’s open borders: just following the Saul Alinsky playbook.

My humble attempt at integrating the storyline from the novel The Camp into today’s real world.

Once again, imagine my surprise to find that open borders in Europe results in a political backlash, moving toward calls for even more authoritarian government measures.

Guess what (although it shouldn’t be a surprise)?  Murray Rothbard understands the value of culture in checking and reducing the power of the state!

As I introduce the post: “Merkel’s open borders pronouncement is the gift that keeps on giving in this libertarian debate about borders and immigration.”  It turns out you cannot have open borders without government intervention.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

I Wish I Wrote That

Chapter 5,247,690

Justin Raimondo has written several paragraphs about why he supports Donald Trump.  It is the single-best explanation of this I have ever read – this intersection of libertarians and The Donald.

As his site is dedicated to non-intervention, I could not in any case have written it exactly the same way.  But I couldn’t have written it anyway.

The post can be found here; although all of the post is worth reading – as Raimondo demonstrates once again the intent behind Kochtopus – the relevant portion begins about two-thirds of the way down, with the following paragraph:

I have never endorsed Trump – we here at never endorse candidates – and I don’t plan on voting for him in the primary. As I’ve explained many times, I am rooting for him, which is quite different from giving his candidacy political support. I’m much less interested in him as a candidate than I am in his supporters, many of whom are sympathetic to the anti-interventionist views is dedicated to advancing.