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<html>
<head>
<title>F.4 What is the right-libertarian position on private property?
</title>
</head>
<p>
<h1>F.4 What is the right-libertarian position on private property?</h1>
<p>
Right libertarians are not interested in eliminating capitalist
private property and thus the authority, oppression and exploitation
which goes with it. It is true that they call for an end to the state, 
but this is not because they are concerned about workers being exploited 
or oppressed but because they don't want the state to impede capitalists' 
"freedom" to exploit and oppress workers even more than is the case now!
<p>
They make an idol of private property and claim to defend absolute,
"unrestricted" property rights (i.e. that property owners can do anything
they like with their property, as long as it does not damage the property
of others. In particular, taxation and theft are among the greatest evils 
possible as they involve coercion against "justly held" property). They 
agree with John Adams that <i>"[t]he moment that idea is admitted into 
society that property is not as sacred as the Laws of God, and that 
there is not a force of law and public justice to protect it, anarchy 
and tyranny commence. Property must be sacred or liberty cannot exist."</i> 
<p>
But in their celebration of property as the source of liberty they 
ignore the fact that private property is a source of "tyranny" in itself 
(see sections <a href="secB1.html">B.1</a> and <a href="secB4.html">B.4</a>, for example -- and please note that anarchists 
only object to private property, <b>not</b> individual possession, see section 
<a href="secB3.html#secb31">B.3.1</a>). However, as much anarchists may disagree about other matters, 
they are united in condemning private property. Thus Proudhon argued 
that property was <i>"theft"</i> and <i>"despotism"</i> while Stirner indicated the 
religious and statist nature of private property and its impact on 
individual liberty when he wrote :
<p><blockquote>
<i>"Property in the civic sense means <b>sacred</b> property, such that I must 
<b>respect</b> your property... Be it ever so little, if one only has somewhat 
of his own - to wit, a <b>respected</b> property: The more such owners... the 
more 'free people and good patriots' has the State.
<p>
"Political liberalism, like everything religious, counts on <b>respect,</b> 
humaneness, the virtues of love. . . . For in practice people respect 
nothing, and everyday the small possessions are bought up again by greater 
proprietors, and the 'free people' change into day labourers."</i> [<b>The Ego
and Its Own</b>, p. 248]
</blockquote>
<p>
Thus "anarcho"-capitalists reject totally one of the common (and so
defining) features of all anarchist traditions -- the opposition to
capitalist property. From Individualist Anarchists like Tucker to
Communist-Anarchists like Bookchin, anarchists have been opposed to
what Godwin termed <i>"accumulated property."</i> This was because it was in 
<i>"direct contradiction"</i> to property in the form of <i>"the produce of his 
[the worker's] own industry"</i> and so it allows <i>"one man. . . [to] dispos[e] 
of the produce of another man's industry."</i> [<b>The Anarchist Reader</b>, 
pp. 129-131] Thus, for anarchists, capitalist property is a source 
exploitation and domination, <b>not</b> freedom (it undermines the freedom 
associated with possession by created relations of domination between 
owner and employee).
<p>
Hardly surprising then the fact that, according to Murray Bookchin, Murray 
Rothbard <i>"attacked me [Bookchin] as an anarchist with vigour because, as 
he put it, I am opposed to private property."</i> [<b>The Raven</b>, no. 29, p. 343]
<p> 
We will discuss Rothbard's "homesteading" justification of property in 
the <a href="secF4.html#secf41">next section</a>. However, we will note here one aspect of right-libertarian
defence of "unrestricted" property rights, namely that it easily generates 
evil side effects such as hierarchy and starvation. As famine expert Amartya 
Sen notes:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"Take a theory of entitlements based on a set of rights of 'ownership, 
transfer and rectification.' In this system a set of holdings of 
different people are judged to be just (or unjust) by looking at past
history, and not by checking the consequences of that set of holdings.
But what if the consequences are recognisably terrible? . . .[R]efer[ing]
to some empirical findings in a work on famines . . . evidence [is
presented] to indicate that in many large famines in the recent past,
in which millions of people have died, there was no over-all decline
in food availability at all, and the famines occurred precisely because
of shifts in entitlement resulting from exercises of rights that are
perfectly legitimate. . . . [Can] famines . . . occur with a system of
rights of the kind morally defended in various ethical theories, including
Nozick's. I believe the answer is straightforwardly yes, since for many
people the only resource that they legitimately possess, viz. their
labour-power, may well turn out to be unsaleable in the market, giving
the person no command over food . . . [i]f results such as starvations
and famines were to occur, would the distribution of holdings still
be morally acceptable despite their disastrous consequences? There is
something deeply implausible in the affirmative answer."</i> [<b>Resources,
Values and Development</b>, pp. 311-2]
<p></blockquote>
Thus "unrestricted" property rights can have seriously bad consequences
and so the existence of "justly held" property need not imply a just
or free society -- far from it. The inequalities property can generate 
can have a serious on individual freedom (see section <a href="secF3.html#secf31">F.3.1</a>). Indeed, 
Murray Rothbard argued that the state was evil not because it restricted 
individual freedom but because the resources it claimed to own were 
not "justly" acquired. Thus right-libertarian theory judges property 
<b>not</b> on its impact on current freedom but by looking at past history. 
This has the interesting side effect of allowing its supporters to 
look at capitalist and statist hierarchies, acknowledge their similar 
negative effects on the liberty of those subjected to them but argue 
that one is legitimate and the other is not simply because of their 
history! As if this changed the domination and unfreedom that both 
inflict on people living today (see section <a href="secF2.html#secf23">F.2.3</a> for further 
discussion and sections <a href="secF2.html#secf28">F.2.8</a> and <a href="secF4.html#secf42">F.4.2</a> for other examples of 
"justly acquired" property producing terrible consequences).
<p>
The defence of capitalist property does have one interesting side 
effect, namely the need arises to defend inequality and the authoritarian 
relationships inequality creates. In order to protect the private property 
needed by capitalists in order to continue exploiting the working class, 
"anarcho"-capitalists propose private security forces rather than state 
security forces (police and military) -- a proposal that is equivalent 
to bringing back the state under another name. 
<p>
Due to (capitalist) private property, wage labour would still exist under 
"anarcho"-capitalism (it is capitalism after all). This means that "defensive" 
force, a state, is required to "defend" exploitation, oppression, hierarchy 
and authority from those who suffer them. Inequality makes a mockery of
free agreement and "consent" (see section <a href="secF3.html#secf31">F.3.1</a>). As Peter Kropotkin 
pointed out long ago:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"When a workman sells his labour to an employer . . . it is a mockery to 
call that a free contract. Modern economists may call it free, but the 
father of political economy -- Adam Smith -- was never guilty of such 
a misrepresentation. As long as three-quarters of humanity are compelled 
to enter into agreements of that description, force is, of course, 
necessary, both to enforce the supposed agreements and to maintain such 
a state of things. Force -- and a good deal of force -- is necessary to 
prevent the labourers from taking possession of what they consider unjustly 
appropriated by the few. . . . The Spencerian party [proto-right-libertarians] 
perfectly well understand that; and while they advocate no force for changing 
the existing conditions, they advocate still more force than is now used 
for maintaining them. As to Anarchy, it is obviously as incompatible with 
plutocracy as with any other kind of -cracy."</i> [<b>Anarchism and Anarchist 
Communism</b>, pp. 52-53]
</blockquote><p>
Because of this need to defend privilege and power, "anarcho"-capitalism 
is best called "private-state" capitalism. This will be discussed in more 
detail in section <a href="secF6.html">F.6</a>.
<p>
By advocating private property, right libertarians contradict many of 
their other claims. For example, they say that they support the right of 
individuals to travel where they like. They make this claim because they
assume that only the state limits free travel. But this is a false
assumption. Owners must agree to let you on their land or property 
(<i>"people only have the right to move to those properties and lands where
the owners desire to rent or sell to them."</i> [Murray Rothbard, <b>The Ethics
of Liberty</b>, p. 119]. There is no "freedom of travel" onto private property
(including private roads). Therefore immigration may be just as hard under 
"anarcho"-capitalism as it is under statism (after all, the state, like
the property owner, only lets people in whom it wants to let in). People 
will still have to get another property owner to agree to let them in 
before they can travel -- exactly as now (and, of course, they also have
to get the owners of the road to let them in as well). Private property, 
as can be seen from this simple example, is the state writ small.
<p>
One last point, this ignoring of ("politically incorrect") economic and 
other views of dead political thinkers and activists while claiming them 
as "libertarians" seems to be commonplace in right-Libertarian circles. For 
example, Aristotle (beloved by Ayn Rand) <i>"thought that only living things
could bear fruit. Money, not a living thing, was by its nature barren, and
any attempt to make it bear fruit (<b>tokos</b>, in Greek, the same word used
for interest) was a crime against nature."</i> [Marcello de Cecco, quoted
by Doug Henwood, <b>Wall Street</b>, p. 41] Such opposition to interest hardly
fits well into capitalism, and so either goes unmentioned or gets classed 
as an "error" (although we could ask why Aristotle is in error while Rand is 
not). Similarly, individualist anarchist opposition to capitalist property
and rent, interest and profits is ignored or dismissed as "bad economics"
without realising that these ideas played a key role in their politics 
and in ensuring that an anarchy would not see freedom corrupted by 
inequality. To ignore such an important concept in a person's ideas is
to distort the remainder into something it is not.
<p>
<a name="secf41"><h2>F.4.1 What is wrong with a "homesteading" theory of property?</h2>
<p>
So how do "anarcho"-capitalists justify property? Looking at Murray 
Rothbard, we find that he proposes a <i>"homesteading theory of property"</i>. 
In this theory it is argued that property comes from occupancy and mixing 
labour with natural resources (which are assumed to be unowned). Thus the 
world is transformed into private property, for <i>"title to an unowned 
resource (such as land) comes properly only from the expenditure of 
labour to transform that resource into use."</i> [<b>The Ethics of Liberty</b>, 
p. 63] 
<p>
Rothbard paints a conceptual history of individuals and families
forging a home in the wilderness by the sweat of their labour (its 
tempting to rename his theory the <i>"immaculate conception of property"</i> 
as his conceptual theory is somewhat at odds with actual historical 
fact).
<p>
Sadly for Murray Rothbard, his "homesteading" theory was refuted 
by Proudhon in <b>What is Property?</b> in 1840 (along with many other 
justifications of property). Proudhon rightly argues that <i>"if the 
liberty of man is sacred, it is equally sacred in all individuals; 
that, if it needs property for its objective action, that is, for its 
life, the appropriation of material is equally necessary for all . . . 
Does it not follow that if one individual cannot prevent another . . . 
from appropriating an amount of material equal to his own, no more can 
he prevent individuals to come."</i> And if all the available resources
are appropriated, and the owner <i>"draws boundaries, fences himself in
. . . Here, then, is a piece of land upon which, henceforth, no one
has a right to step, save the proprietor and his friends . . . Let
[this]. . . multiply, and soon the people . . . will have nowhere
to rest, no place to shelter, no ground to till. They will die at
the proprietor's door, on the edge of that property which was their
birthright."</i> [<b>What is Property?</b>, pp. 84-85, p. 118]
<p>
As Rothbard himself noted in respect to the aftermath of slavery
(see section <a href="secF2.html#secf22">F.2.2</a>), not having access to the means of life places
one the position of unjust dependency on those who do. Rothbard's 
theory fails because for <i>"[w]e who belong to the proletaire class, 
property excommunicates us!"</i> [P-J Proudhon, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 105] and so 
the vast majority of the population experience property as theft and 
despotism rather than as a source of liberty and empowerment (which 
possession gives). Thus, Rothbard's account fails to take into account 
the Lockean Proviso (see section <a href="secB3.html#secb34">B.3.4</a>) and so, for all its intuitive 
appeal, ends up justifying capitalist and landlord domination (see 
<a href="secF4.html#secf42">next section</a> on why the Lockean Proviso is important).
<p>
It also seems strange that while (correctly) attacking social contract
theories of the state as invalid (because <i>"no past generation can bind
later generations"</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 145]) he fails to see he is doing
<b>exactly that</b> with his support of private property (similarly, Ayn
Rand argued that <i>"[a]ny alleged 'right' of one man, which necessitates
the violation of the right of another, is not and cannot be a right"</i>
[<b>Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal</b>, p. 325] but obviously appropriating
land does violate the rights of others to walk, use or appropriate that
land). Due to his support for appropriation and inheritance, he is 
clearly ensuring that future generations are <b>not</b> born as free as 
the first settlers were (after all, they cannot appropriate any land, 
it is all taken!). If future generations cannot be bound by past ones, 
this applies equally to resources and property rights. Something 
anarchists have long realised -- there is no defensible reason why 
those who first acquired property should control its use by future 
generations.
<p>
However, if we take Rothbard's theory at face value we find numerous
problems with it. If title to unowned resources comes via the <i>"expenditure
of labour"</i> on it, how can rivers, lakes and the oceans be appropriated? 
The banks of the rivers can be transformed, but can the river itself? How
can you mix your labour with water? "Anarcho"-capitalists usually blame
pollution on the fact that rivers, oceans, and so forth are unowned, but
how can an individual "transform" water by their labour? Also, does fencing 
in land mean you have "mixed labour" with it? If so then transnational 
corporations can pay workers to fence in vast tracks of virgin land
(such as rainforest) and so come to "own" it. Rothbard argues that this
is not the case (he expresses opposition to <i>"arbitrary claims"</i>). He notes
that it is <b>not</b> the case that <i>"the first discoverer . . . could properly
lay claim to [a piece of land] . . . [by] laying out a boundary for the
area. He thinks that "</i>their claim would still be no more than the boundary
<b>itself</b>, and not to any of the land within, for only the boundary will
have been transformed and used by men"</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 50f] 
<p>
However, if the boundary <b>is</b> private property and the owner refuses others 
permission to cross it, then the enclosed land is inaccessible to others! If 
an "enterprising" right-libertarian builds a fence around the only oasis in
a desert and refuses permission to cross it to travellers unless they pay
his price (which is everything they own) then the person <b>has</b> appropriated
the oasis without "transforming" it by his labour. The travellers have the
choice of paying the price or dying (and the oasis owner is well within his
rights letting them die). Given Rothbard's comments, it is probable that
he will claim that such a boundary is null and void as it allows "arbitrary"
claims -- although this position is not at all clear. After all, the fence
builder <b>has</b> transformed the boundary and "unrestricted" property rights
is what right-libertarianism is all about. 
<p>
And, of course, Rothbard ignores the fact of economic power -- a transnational 
corporation can "transform" far more virgin resources in a day than a family 
could in a year. Transnational's "mixing their labour" with the land does
not spring into mind reading Rothbard's account of property growth, but in 
the real world that is what will happen.
<p>
If we take the question of wilderness (a topic close to many eco-anarchists'
and deep ecologists' hearts) we run into similar problems. Rothbard states
clearly that <i>"libertarian theory must invalidate [any] claim to ownership"</i>
of land that has <i>"never been transformed from its natural state"</i> (he
presents an example of an owner who has left a piece of his <i>"legally owned"</i>
land untouched). If another person appears who <b>does</b> transform the land, 
it becomes <i>"justly owned by another"</i> and the original owner cannot stop her 
(and should the original owner <i>"use violence to prevent another settler from 
entering this never-used land and transforming it into use"</i> they also become 
a <i>"criminal aggressor"</i>). Rothbard also stresses that he is <b>not</b> saying that 
land must continually be in use to be valid property [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, pp. 63-64] 
(after all, that would justify landless workers seizing the land from 
landowners during a depression and working it themselves). 
<p>
Now, where does that leave wilderness? In response to ecologists who oppose
the destruction of the rainforest, "anarcho"-capitalists suggest that they
put their money where their mouth is and <b>buy</b> rainforest land. In this way,
it is claimed, rainforest will be protected (see section <a href="secB5.html">B.5</a> for why such
arguments are nonsense). As ecologists desire the rainforest <b>because it 
is wilderness</b> they are unlikely to "transform" it by human labour (its
precisely that they want to stop). From Rothbard's arguments it is fair
to ask whether logging companies have a right to "transform" the virgin
wilderness owned by ecologists, after all it meets Rothbard's criteria 
(it is still wilderness). Perhaps it will be claimed that fencing off 
land "transforms" it (hardly what you imagine "mixing labour" with to 
mean, but nevermind) -- but that allows large companies and rich 
individuals to hire workers to fence in vast tracks of land (and 
recreate the land monopoly by a "libertarian" route). But as we noted 
above, fencing off land does not seem to imply that it becomes property
in Rothbard's theory. And, of course, fencing in areas of rainforest 
disrupts the local eco-system -- animals cannot freely travel, for example -- 
which, again, is what ecologists desire to stop. Would Rothbard accept a 
piece of paper as "transforming" land? We doubt it (after all, in his 
example the wilderness owner <b>did</b> legally own it) -- and so most 
ecologists will have a hard time in "anarcho"-capitalism (wilderness 
is just not an option). 
<p>
As an aside, we must note that Rothbard fails to realise -- and this comes 
from his worship of the market and his "Austrian economics" -- is that people 
value many things which do not appear on the market. He claims that wilderness
is <i>"valueless unused natural objects"</i> (for it people valued them, they would
use -- i.e. appropriate -- them). But unused things may be of <b>considerable</b>
value to people, wilderness being a classic example. And if something <b>cannot</b>
be transformed into private property, does that mean people do not value it?
For example, people value community, stress free working environments, 
meaningful work -- if the market cannot provide these, does that mean they
do not value them? Of course not (see Juliet Schor's <b>The Overworked American</b>
on how working people's desire for shorter working hours was not transformed
into options on the market).
<p>
Moreover, Rothbard's "homesteading" theory actually violates his support
for unrestricted property rights. What if a property owner <b>wants</b> part
of her land to remain wilderness? Their desires are violated by the
"homesteading" theory (unless, of course, fencing things off equals
"transforming" them, which it apparently does not). How can companies 
provide wilderness holidays to people if they have no right to stop 
settlers (including large companies) "homesteading" that wilderness? 
And, of course, where does Rothbard's theory leave hunter-gather or 
nomad societies. They <b>use</b> the resources of the wilderness, but they 
do not "transform" them (in this case you cannot easily tell if virgin 
land is empty or being used as a resource). If a troop of nomads find 
its traditionally used, but natural, oasis appropriated by a homesteader 
what are they to do? If they ignore the homesteaders claims he can call 
upon his "defence" firm to stop them -- and then, in true Rothbardian 
fashion, the homesteader can refuse to supply water to them unless they 
hand over all their possessions (see section <a href="secF4.html#secf42">F.4.2</a> on this). And if 
the history of the United States (which is obviously the model for 
Rothbard's theory) is anything to go by, such people will become 
"criminal aggressors" and removed from the picture.
<p>
Which is another problem with Rothbard's account. It is completely
ahistoric (and so, as we noted above, is more like an <i>"immaculate 
conception of property"</i>). He has transported "capitalist man" into 
the dawn of time and constructed a history of property based upon
what he is trying to justify (not surprising, as he does this with
his "Natural Law" theory too - see section <a href="secF7.html">F.7</a>). What <b>is</b> interesting
to note, though, is that the <b>actual</b> experience of life on the US
frontier (the historic example Rothbard seems to want to claim) was
far from the individualistic framework he builds upon it and (ironically
enough) it was destroyed by the development of capitalism.
<p>
As Murray Bookchin notes, <i>"the independence that the New England yeomanry
enjoyed was itself a function of the co-operative social base from which
it emerged. To barter home-grown goods and objects, to share tools and
implements, to engage in common labour during harvesting time in a
system of mutual aid, indeed, to help new-comers in barn-raising, 
corn-husking, log-rolling, and the like, was the indispensable cement
that bound scattered farmsteads into a united community."</i> [<b>The Third
Revolution</b>, vol. 1, p. 233] Bookchin quotes David P. Szatmary (author
of a book on Shay' Rebellion) stating that it was a society based
upon <i>"co-operative, community orientated interchanges"</i> and not a
<i>"basically competitive society."</i> [<b>Ibid.</b>]
<p>
Into this non-capitalist society came capitalist elements. Market forces 
and economic power soon resulted in the transformation of this society.
Merchants asked for payment in specie which (and along with taxes) 
soon resulted in indebtedness and the dispossession of the homesteaders 
from their land and goods. In response Shay's rebellion started, 
a rebellion which was an important factor in the centralisation of
state power in America to ensure that popular input and control over 
government were marginalised and that the wealthy elite and their
property rights were protected against the many (see Bookchin, <b>Op. 
Cit.</b>, for details). Thus the homestead system was undermined, 
essentially, by the need to pay for services in specie (as demanded
by merchants).
<p>
So while Rothbard's theory as a certain appeal (reinforced by watching
too many Westerns, we imagine) it fails to justify the "unrestricted"
property rights theory (and the theory of freedom Rothbard derives
from it). All it does is to end up justifying capitalist and landlord 
domination (which is probably what it was intended to do).
<p>
<a name="secf42"><h2>F.4.2 Why is the "Lockean Proviso" important?</h2>
<p>
Robert Nozick, in his work <b>Anarchy, State, and Utopia</b> presented a
case for private property rights that was based on what he termed
the <i>"Lockean Proviso"</i> -- namely that common (or unowned) land and
resources could be appropriated by individuals as long as the position
of others is not worsen by so doing. However, if we <b>do</b> take this
Proviso seriously private property rights cannot be defined (see 
section <a href="secB3.html#secb34">B.3.4</a> for details). Thus Nozick's arguments in favour of
property rights fail.
<p>
Some right-libertarians, particularly those associated with the
Austrian school of economics argue that we must reject the Lockean
Proviso (probably due to the fact it can be used to undermine the
case for absolute property rights). Their argument goes as follows:
if an individual appropriates and uses a previously unused resource, 
it is because it has value to him/her, as an individual, to engage in 
such action. The individual has stolen nothing because it was previously
unowned and we cannot know if other people are better or worse off, all 
we know is that, for whatever reason, they did not appropriate the 
resource (<i>"If latecomers are worse off, well then that is their proper
assumption of risk in this free and uncertain world. There is no longer
a vast frontier in the United States, and there is no point crying
over the fact."</i> [Murray Rothbard, <b>The Ethics of Liberty</b>, p. 240]).
<p>
Hence the appropriation of resources is an essentially individualistic,
asocial act -- the requirements of others are either irrelevant or
unknown. However, such an argument fails to take into account <b>why</b>
the Lockean Proviso has such an appeal. When we do this we see that
rejecting it leads to massive injustice, even slavery.
<p>
However, let us start with a defence of rejecting the Proviso from a
leading Austrian economist:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"Consider . . . the case . . . of the unheld sole water hole in the
desert (which <b>everyone</b> in a group of travellers knows about), which
one of the travellers, by racing ahead of the others, succeeds in
appropriating . . . [This] clearly and unjustly violates the Lockean
proviso. . . For use, however, this view is by no means the only one
possible. We notice that the energetic traveller who appropriated
all the water was not doing anything which (always ignoring, of course,
prohibitions resting on the Lockean proviso itself) the other travellers
were not equally free to do. The other travellers, too, could have
raced ahead . . . [they] did <b>not</b> bother to race for the water . . .
It does not seem obvious that these other travellers can claim that
they were <b>hurt</b> by an action which they could themselves have easily
taken"</i> [Israel M. Kirzner, <i>"Entrepreneurship, Entitlement, and Economic
Justice"</i>, pp. 385-413, in <b>Reading Nozick</b>, p. 406]
</blockquote><p>
Murray Rothbard, we should note, takes a similar position in a similar
example, arguing that <i>"the owner [of the sole oasis] is scarcely being 
'coercive'; in fact he is supplying a vital service, and should have 
the right to refuse a sale or charge whatever the customers will pay. 
The situation may be unfortunate for the customers, as are many situations 
in life."</i> [<b>The Ethics of Liberty</b>, p. 221] (Rothbard, we should note, 
is relying to the right-libertarian von Hayek who -- to his credit -- 
does maintain that this is a coercive situation; but as others, including 
other right-libertarians, point out, he has to change his definition 
of coercion/freedom to do so -- see Stephan L. Newman's <b>Liberalism at 
Wit's End</b>, pp. 130-134 for an excellent summary of this debate). 
<p>
Now, we could be tempted just to rant about the evils of the right
libertarian mind-frame but we will try to present a clam analysis
of this position. Now, what Kirzner (and Rothbard et al) fails to note is 
that without the water the other travellers will die in a matter of days. 
The monopolist has the power of life and death over his fellow travellers.
Perhaps he hates one of them and so raced ahead to ensure their death. 
Perhaps he just recognised the vast power that his appropriation would 
give him and so, correctly, sees that the other travellers would give 
up all their possessions and property to him in return for enough water 
to survive. 
<p>
Either way, its clear that perhaps the other travellers did not <i>"race
ahead"</i> because they were ethical people -- they would not desire to
inflict such tyranny on others because they would not like it inflicted
upon them. 
<p>
Thus we can answer Kirzner's question -- <i>"What . . . is so obviously 
acceptable about the Lockean proviso. . . ?"</i> [<b>Ibid.</b>] 
<p>
It is the means by which human actions are held accountable to social
standards and ethics. It is the means by which the greediest, most
evil and debased humans are stopped from dragging the rest of humanity
down to their level (via a "race to the bottom") and inflicting untold
tyranny and domination on their fellow humans. An ideology that could 
consider the oppression which could result from such an appropriation 
as "supplying a vital service" and any act to remove this tyranny as 
"coercion" is obviously a very sick ideology. And we may note that 
the right-libertarian position on this example is a good illustration
of the dangers of deductive logic from assumptions (see section <a href="secF1.html#secf13">F.1.3</a> 
for more on this right-libertarian methodology) -- after all W. Duncan 
Reekie, in his introduction to Austrian Economics,  states that <i>"[t]o be 
intellectually consistent one must concede his absolute right to the 
oasis."</i> [<b>Markets, Entrepreneurs and Liberty</b>, p. 181] To place ideology
before people is to ensure humanity is placed on a Procrustean bed.
<p>
Which brings us to another point. Often right-libertarians say that
anarchists and other socialists are "lazy" or "do not want to work".
You could interpret Kirzner's example as saying that the other
travellers are "lazy" for not rushing ahead and appropriating the
oasis. But this is false. For under capitalism you can only get rich
by exploiting the labour of others via wage slavery or, within a 
company, get better pay by taking "positions of responsibility" 
(i.e. management positions). If you have an ethical objection to
treating others as objects ("means to an end") then these options 
are unavailable to you. Thus anarchists and other socialists are
not "lazy" because they are not rich -- they just have no desire to
get rich off the labour and liberty of others (as expressed in their
opposition to private property and the relations of domination it
creates). In other words, Anarchism is not the "politics of envy";  
it is the politics of liberty and the desire to treat others as 
"ends in themselves".
<p>
Rothbard is aware of what is involved in accepting the Lockean Proviso
-- namely the existence of private property (<i>"Locke's proviso may lead 
to the outlawry of <b>all</b> private property of land, since one can always
say that the reduction of available land leaves everyone else . . . 
worse off"</i>, <b>The Ethics of Liberty</b>, p. 240 -- see section <a href="secB3.html#secb34">B.3.4</a> for 
a discussion on why the Proviso <b>does</b> imply the end of capitalist 
property rights). Which is why he, and other right-libertarians, reject 
it. Its simple. Either you reject the Proviso and embrace capitalist 
property rights (and so allow one class of people to be dispossessed 
and another empowered at their expense) or you reject private property 
in favour of possession and liberty. Anarchists, obviously, favour 
the latter option.
<p>
As an aside, we should point out that (following Stirner) the would-be
monopolist is doing nothing wrong (as such) in attempting to monopolise
the oasis. He is, after all, following his self-interest. However, what
is objectionable is the right-libertarian attempt to turn thus act into
a "right" which must be respected by the other travellers. Simply put,
if the other travellers gang up and dispose of this would be tyrant
then they are right to do so -- to argue that this is a violation of
the monopolists "rights" is insane and an indication of a slave
mentality (or, following Rousseau, that the others are <i>"simple"</i>). 
Of course, if the would-be monopolist has the necessary <b>force</b> to 
withstand the other travellers then his property then the matter is
closed -- might makes right. But to worship rights, even when they
obviously result in despotism, is definitely a case of <i>"spooks in
the head"</i> and "man is created for the Sabbath" not "the Sabbath
is created for man."
<p>
<a name="secf43"><h2>F.4.3 How does private property effect individualism?</h2>
<p>
Private property is usually associated by "anarcho"-capitalism with 
individualism. Usually private property is seen as the key way of
ensuring individualism and individual freedom (and that private 
property is the expression of individualism). Therefore it is useful
to indicate how private property can have a serious impact on 
individualism.
<p>
Usually right-libertarians contrast the joys of "individualism" with
the evils of "collectivism" in which the individual is sub-merged into
the group or collective and is made to work for the benefit of the 
group (see any Ayn Rand book or essay on the evils of collectivism). 
<p>
But what is ironic is that right-libertarian ideology creates a view
of industry which would (perhaps) shame even the most die-hard fan of
Stalin. What do we mean? Simply that right-libertarians stress the
abilities of the people at the top of the company, the owner, the 
entrepreneur, and tend to ignore the very real subordination of those
lower down the hierarchy (see, again, any Ayn Rand book on the worship
of business leaders). In the Austrian school of economics, for example, 
the entrepreneur is considered the driving force of the market process 
and tend to abstract away from the organisations they govern. This 
approach is usually followed by right-libertarians. Often you get the
impression that the accomplishments of a firm are the personal triumphs
of the capitalists, as though their subordinates are merely tools not
unlike the machines on which they labour.
<p>
We should not, of course, interpret this to mean that right-libertarians 
believe that entrepreneurs run their companies single-handedly (although
you do get that impression sometimes!). But these abstractions help hide
the fact that the economy is overwhelmingly interdependent and organised
hierarchically within industry. Even in their primary role as organisers, 
entrepreneurs depend on the group. A company president can only issue 
general guidelines to his managers, who must inevitably organise and
direct much of their departments on their own. The larger a company gets,
the less personal and direct control an entrepreneur has over it. They must
delegate out an increasing share of authority and responsibility, and is
more dependent than ever on others to help him run things, investigate
conditions, inform policy, and make recommendations. Moreover, the authority
structures are from the "top-down" -- indeed the firm is essentially a
command economy, with all members part of a collective working on a common
plan to achieve a common goal (i.e. it is essentially collectivist in 
nature -- which means it is not too unsurprising that Lenin argued that
state socialism could be considered as one big firm or office and why
the system he built on that model was so horrific).
<p>
So the firm (the key component of the capitalist economy) is marked by 
a distinct <b>lack</b> of individualism, a lack usually ignored by right
libertarians (or, at best, considered as "unavoidable"). As these firms 
are hierarchical structures and workers are paid to obey, it does make 
<b>some</b> sense -- in a capitalist environment -- to assume that the 
entrepreneur is the main actor, but as an individualistic model of 
activity it fails totally. Perhaps it would not be unfair to say that
capitalist individualism celebrates the entrepreneur because this
reflects a hierarchical system in which for the one to flourish, the
many must obey? (Also see section <a href="secF1.html#secf11">F.1.1</a>).
<p>
Capitalist individualism does not recognise the power structures that
exist within capitalism and how they affect individuals. In Brian
Morris' words, what they fail <i>"to recognise is that most productive
relations under capitalism allow little scope for creativity and
self-expression on the part of workers; that such relationships
are not equitable; nor are they freely engaged in for the mutual
benefit of both parties, for workers have no control over the 
production process or over the product of their labour. Rand [like
other right-libertarians] misleadingly equates trade, artistic
production and wage-slavery. . . [but] wage-slavery . . . is quite
different from the trade principle"</i> as it is a form of <i>"exploitation."</i>
[<b>Ecology & Anarchism</b>, p. 190]
<p>
He further notes that <i>"[s]o called trade relations involving human
labour are contrary to the egoist values Rand [and other capitalist
individualists] espouses - they involve little in the way of
independence, freedom, integrity or justice."</i> [<b>Ibid.</b>, p. 191]
<p>
Moreover, capitalist individualism actually <b>supports</b> authority and
hierarchy. As Joshua Chen and Joel Rogers point out, the <i>"achievement
of short-run material satisfaction often makes it irrational [from
an individualist perspective] to engage in more radical struggle, since
that struggle is by definition against those institutions which 
provide one's current gain."</i> In other words, to rise up the company
structure, to "better oneself," (or even get a good reference) you 
cannot be a pain in the side of management -- obedient workers do 
well, rebel workers do not.
<p>
Thus the hierarchical structures help develop an "individualistic"
perspective which actually reinforces those authority structures.
This, as Cohn and Rogers notes, means that <i>"the structure in which
[workers] find themselves yields less than optimal social results
from their isolated but economically rational decisions."</i> [quoted
by Alfie Kohn, <b>No Contest</b>, p. 67, p. 260f] 
<p>
Steve Biko, a black activist murdered by the South African police 
in the 1970s, argued that <i>"the most potent weapon of the oppressor 
is the mind of the oppressed."</i> And this is something capitalists 
have long recognised. Their investment in "Public Relations" and
"education" programmes for their employees shows this clearly,
as does the hierarchical nature of the firm. By having a ladder 
to climb, the firm rewards obedience and penalises rebellion. This 
aims at creating a mind-set which views hierarchy as good and so 
helps produce servile people.
<p>
This is why anarchists would agree with Alfie Kohn when he argues that 
<i>"the individualist worldview is a profoundly conservative doctrine: it 
inherently stifles change."</i> [<b>Ibid.</b>, p. 67] So, what is the best way 
for a boss to maintain his or her power? Create a hierarchical workplace
and encourage capitalist individualism (as capitalist individualism 
actually works <b>against</b> attempts to increase freedom from hierarchy).
Needless to say, such a technique cannot work forever -- hierarchy 
also encourages revolt -- but such divide and conquer can be <b>very</b>
effective.
<p>
And as anarchist author Michael Moorcock put it, <i>"Rugged individualism 
also goes hand in hand with a strong faith in paternalism -- albeit a 
tolerant and somewhat distant paternalism -- and many otherwise 
sharp-witted libertarians seem to see nothing in the morality of a 
John Wayne Western to conflict with their views. Heinlein's paternalism 
is at heart the same as Wayne's. . . To be an anarchist, surely, is 
to reject authority but to accept self-discipline and community 
responsibility. To be a rugged individualist a la Heinlein and 
others is to be forever a child who must obey, charm and cajole 
to be tolerated by some benign, omniscient father: Rooster Coburn 
shuffling his feet in front of a judge he respects for his office 
(but not necessarily himself) in True Grit."</i> [<b>Starship Stormtroopers</b>]
<p>
One last thing, don't be fooled into thinking that individualism or concern 
about individuality -- not <b>quite</b> the same thing -- is restricted to the 
right, they are not. For example, the <i>"individualist theory of society . . .
might be advanced in a capitalist or in an anti-capitalist form . . . the
theory as developed by critics of capitalism such as Hodgskin and the
anarchist Tucker saw ownership of capital by a few as an obstacle to
genuine individualism, and the individualist ideal was realisable only
through the free association of labourers (Hodgskin) or independent 
proprietorship (Tucker)."</i> [David Miller, <b>Social Justice</b>, pp. 290-1]
<p>
And the reason why social anarchists oppose capitalism is that it creates
a <b>false</b> individualism, an abstract one which crushes the individuality
of the many and  justifies (and supports) hierarchical and authoritarian 
social relations. In Kropotkin's words, <i>"what has been called 'individualism'
up to now has been only a foolish egoism which belittles the individual.
It did not led to what it was established as a goal: that is the complete,
broad, and most perfectly attainable development of individuality."</i> The
new individualism desired by Kropotkin <i>"will not consist . . . in the
oppression of one's neighbour . . . [as this] reduced the [individualist]
. . .to the level of an animal in a herd."</i> [<b>Selected Writings</b>, p, 295,
p. 296]
<p>
<a name="secf44"><h2>F.4.4 How does private property affect relationships?</h2>
<p>
Obviously, capitalist private property affects relationships between people
by creating structures of power. Property, as we have argued all through
this FAQ, creates relationships based upon domination -- and this cannot
help but produce servile tendencies within those subject to them (it also
produces rebellious tendencies as well, the actual ratio between the two
tendencies dependent on the individual in question and the community they
are in). As anarchists have long recognised, power corrupts -- both those
subjected to it and those who exercise it.
<p>
While few, if any, anarchists would fail to recognise the importance of
possession -- which creates the necessary space all individuals need to
be themselves -- they all agree that private property corrupts this 
liberatory aspect of "property" by allowing relationships of domination 
and oppression to be built up on top of it. Because of this recognition,
all anarchists have tried to equalise property and turn it back into
possession.
<p>
Also, capitalist individualism actively builds barriers between people.
Under capitalism, money rules and individuality is expressed via 
consumption choices (i.e. money). But money does not encourage an
empathy with others. As Frank Stronach (chair of Magna International, a
Canadian auto-parts maker that shifted its production to Mexico) put 
it, <i>"[t]o be in business your first mandate is to make money, and
money has no heart, no soul, conscience, homeland."</i> [cited by Doug
Henwood, <b>Wall Street</b>, p. 113] And for those who study economics,
it seems that this dehumanising effect also strikes them as well:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"Studying economics also seems to make you a nastier person. Psychological
studies have shown that economics graduate students are more likely to
'free ride' -- shirk contributions to an experimental 'public goods'
account in the pursuit of higher private returns -- than the general
public. Economists also are less generous that other academics in
charitable giving. Undergraduate economics majors are more likely to
defect in the classic prisoner's dilemma game that are other majors.
And on other tests, students grow less honest -- expressing less of
a tendency, for example, to return found money -- after studying 
economics, but not studying a control subject like astronomy.
<p>
"This is no surprise, really. Mainstream economics is built entirely
on a notion of self-interested individuals, rational self-maximisers
who can order their wants and spend accordingly. There's little room
for sentiment, uncertainty, selflessness, and social institutions.
Whether this is an accurate picture of the average human is open to
question, but there's no question that capitalism as a system and
economics as a discipline both reward people who conform to the
model."</i> [Doug Henwood, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, p, 143]
</blockquote><p>
Which, of course, highlights the problems within the "trader" model
advocated by Ayn Rand. According to her, the trader is <b>the</b> example
of moral behaviour -- you have something I want, I have something you
want, we trade and we both benefit and so our activity is self-interested
and no-one sacrifices themselves for another. While this has <b>some</b> 
intuitive appeal it fails to note that in the real world it is a pure 
fantasy. The trader wants to get the best deal possible for themselves 
and if the bargaining positions are unequal then one person will gain 
at the expense of the other (if the "commodity" being traded is labour, 
the seller may not even have the option of not trading at all). The 
trader is only involved in economic exchange, and has no concern for 
the welfare of the person they are trading with. They are a bearer of 
things, <b>not</b> an individual with a wide range of interests, concerns, 
hopes and dreams. These are irrelevant, unless you can make money out 
of them of course! Thus the trader is often a manipulator and outside 
novels it most definitely is a case of "buyer beware!"
<p>
If the trader model is taken as the basis of interpersonal relationships,
economic gain replaces respect and empathy for others. It replaces human
relationships with relationships based on things -- and such a mentality
does not encompass how interpersonal relationships affect both you and
the society you life in. In the end, it impoverishes society and 
individuality. Yes, any relationship must be based upon self-interest
(mutual aid is, after all, something we do because we benefit from it
in some way) but the trader model presents such a <b>narrow</b> self-interest
that it is useless and actively impoverishes the very things it should be
protecting -- individuality and interpersonal relationships (see section
<a href="secI7.html#seci74">I.7.4</a> on how capitalism does not protect individuality).
<p>
<a name="secf45"><h2>F.4.5 Does private property co-ordinate without hierarchy?</h2>
<p>
It is usually to find right-libertarians maintain that private property
(i.e. capitalism) allows economic activity to be co-ordinated by 
non-hierarchical means. In other words, they maintain that capitalism 
is a system of large scale co-ordination without hierarchy. These 
claims follow the argument of noted right-wing, "free market" 
economist Milton Friedman who contrasts <i>"central planning involving 
the use of coercion - the technique of the army or the modern
totalitarian state"</i> with  <i>"voluntary co-operation between 
individuals - the technique of the marketplace"</i> as two distinct
ways of co-ordinating the economic activity of large groups 
(<i>"millions"</i>) of people. [<b>Capitalism and Freedom</b>, p. 13].
<p>
However, this is just playing with words. As they themselves point 
out the internal structure of a corporation or capitalist company 
is <b>not</b> a "market" (i.e. non-hierarchical) structure, it is a 
"non-market" (hierarchical) structure of a market participant
(see section <a href="secF2.html#secf22">F.2.2</a>). However "market participants" are part of 
the market. In other words, capitalism is <b>not</b> a system of 
co-ordination without hierarchy because it does contain hierarchical 
organisations which <b>are an essential part of the system</b>!
<p>
Indeed, the capitalist company <b>is</b> a form of central planning and 
shares the same "technique" as the army. As the pro-capitalist writer
Peter Drucker noted in his history of General Motors, <i>"[t]here is a
remarkably close parallel between General Motors' scheme of organisation
and those of the two institutions most renowned for administrative
efficiency: that of the Catholic Church and that of the modern army . . ."</i>
[quoted by David Enger, <b>Apostles of Greed</b>, p. 66]. And so capitalism
is marked by a series of totalitarian organisations -- and since when
was totalitarianism liberty enhancing? Indeed, many "anarcho"-capitalists 
actually celebrate the command economy of the capitalist firm as being 
more "efficient" than self-managed firms (usually because democracy 
stops action with debate). The same argument is applied by the Fascists 
to the political sphere. It does not change much -- nor does it become 
less fascistic -- when applied to economic structures. To state the 
obvious, such glorification of workplace dictatorship seems somewhat 
at odds with an ideology calling itself "libertarian" or "anarchist". 
Is dictatorship more liberty enhancing to those subject to it than 
democracy? Anarchists doubt it (see section <a href="secA2.html#seca211">A.2.11</a> for details).
<p>
In order to claim that capitalism co-ordinates individual activity 
without hierarchy right-libertarians have to abstract from individuals 
and how they interact <b>within</b> companies and concentrate purely on 
relationships <b>between</b> companies. This is pure sophistry. Like markets, 
companies require at least two or more people to work - both are forms 
of social co-operation. If co-ordination within companies is hierarchical, 
then the system they work within is based upon hierarchy. To claim that 
capitalism co-ordinates without hierarchy is simply false - its based 
on hierarchy and authoritarianism. Capitalist companies are based upon 
denying workers self-government (i.e. freedom) during work hours. The 
boss tells workers what to do, when to do, how to do and for how long. 
This denial of freedom is discussed in greater depth in sections <a href="secB1.html">B.1</a> 
and <a href="secB4.html">B.4</a>.
<p>
Because of the relations of power it creates, opposition to capitalist
private property (and so wage labour) and the desire to see it ended 
is an essential aspect of anarchist theory. Due to its ideological 
blind spot with regards to apparently "voluntary" relations of 
domination and oppression created by the force of circumstances
(see section <a href="secF2.html">F.2</a> for details), "anarcho"-capitalism considers 
wage labour as a form of freedom and ignore its fascistic aspects
(when not celebrating those aspects). Thus "anarcho"-capitalism is not
anarchist. By concentrating on the moment the contract is signed, they 
ignore that freedom is restricted during the contract itself. While
denouncing (correctly) the totalitarianism of the army, they ignore
it in the workplace. But factory fascism is just as freedom destroying
as the army or political fascism. 
<p>
Due to this basic lack of concern for freedom, "anarcho"-capitalists 
cannot be considered as anarchists.  Their total lack of concern 
about factory fascism (i.e. wage labour) places them totally outside 
the anarchist tradition. Real anarchists have always been aware of that
private property and wage labour restriction freedom and desired to 
create a society in which people would be able to avoid it. In other 
words, where <b>all</b> relations are non-hierarchical and truly co-operative.
<p>
To conclude, to claim that private property eliminates hierarchy is false.
Nor does capitalism co-ordinate economic activities without hierarchical
structures. For this reason anarchists support co-operative forms of
production rather than capitalistic forms.
<p>
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