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Propertarianism and Primitive Communism

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Propertarianism and Primitive Communism

Postby thelastindividual » Wed Nov 18, 2009 8:29 am

Just wondering how propertarians might solve this dilemna.

As I understand it property can only be 'justly acquired' through the homesteading principle (a combination of the right of first use and the right to products of ones labour). However pretty much every single societal arrangement after primitive communism was predicated on forcing one class of people off of their lands into subservience. Since it would now be impossible to find either:

a) Someone who owned property that wasn't begat by violence in some way
b) The direct ancestors of anyone who actually did homestead their property

Shouldn't the only ethical solution be to return to communism?
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Re: Propertarianism and Primitive Communism

Postby Guest » Wed Nov 18, 2009 1:40 pm

i read a great summary of propertarianism in a youtube comment, which went something like this: according to propertarian theory, if my great-great-great... grandfather built a log cabin with a root cellar on manhattan island, the act of digging that cellar made that spot of land 'his' in perpetuity -- meaning he could rightfully hand it down to his son, etc, all the way to me -- so that i could now be collecting millions in rent by allowing donald trump to build a skyscraper there.

absolutely fucking asinine.

Re: Propertarianism and Primitive Communism

Postby patrickhenry » Wed Nov 18, 2009 4:15 pm

Congrats TLI your now a ZEN MASTER 8)
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Re: Propertarianism and Primitive Communism

Postby shawnpwilbur » Wed Nov 18, 2009 9:28 pm

Actually, that propertarian argument doesn't lead to communism (primitive or post-propertarian), though it might lead to a situation in which there were no valid property rights which could be applied. That would be a serious enough problem for propertarians of that sort, but still a different problem...
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Re: Propertarianism and Primitive Communism

Postby Agnapostate » Fri Nov 20, 2009 2:05 am

This has been a consistent problem for propertarians and an objection that I've never heard answered definitively. While it may indeed be excessive to claim that this dilemma necessitates "communism," it would seem to necessitate extreme redistribution to enact conditions of equality of opportunity, and that might as well constitute some variant of market socialism.
The workmen desire to get as much, the master to give as little as possible...It is not, however, difficult to foresee which of the two parties must, upon all ordinary occasions, have the advantage in the dispute, and force the other into a compliance with their terms. -Adam Smith
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Re: Propertarianism and Primitive Communism

Postby Agnapostate » Tue May 18, 2010 3:50 pm

I've been thinking about this for months, and I still can't see how propertarians have a solution, though they certainly still have a problem. That they advocate economic rightism seems openly inconsistent, which is the basis for Carson's observations about "vulgar libertarianism." Shawn, you're by far the best-read of all of us and you know Kevin. Is there any kind of solution to this in the propertarian literature at all?

The way I see it, Austro-propertarians usually have to refer to moral ideas because they don't have very good economic ones, but even their moral framework is baseless and ultimately incompatible with liberty because of the problem of NAP-violating primitive accumulation. Let's just consider the U.S. What are the foundations of modern distribution of wealth and property? Genocide and dispossession of the indigenous population, enslavement of another population, reduction to those populations to labor market serfdom and poverty (portions of the Navajo reservation resemble third-world countries, for example), confinement of certain regional populations to subordination, etc. And even after the legal foundations of those forms of oppression were eliminated, their consequences remained.

The doctrine of authoritarian economic power informally existing even after its formal abolition is noted by Rothbard in The Ethics of Liberty, when he discusses the fact that slaves remain wage slaves in the labor market if they are not compensated for their losses.

We have indicated above that there was only one possible moral solution for the slave question: immediate and unconditional abolition, with no compensation to the slavemasters. Indeed, any compensation should have been the other way—to repay the oppressed slaves for their lifetime of slavery. A vital part of such necessary compensation would have been to grant the plantation lands not to the slavemaster, who scarcely had valid title to any property, but to the slaves themselves, whose labor, on our 'homesteading' principle, was mixed with the soil to develop the plantations. In short, at the very least, elementary libertarian justice required not only the immediate freeing of the slaves, but also the immediate turning over to the slaves, again without compensation to the masters, of the plantation lands on which they had worked and sweated. As it was, the victorious North made the same mistake—though 'mistake' is far too charitable a word for an act that preserved the essence of an unjust and oppressive social system—as had Czar Alexander when he freed the Russian serfs in 1861: the bodies of the oppressed were freed, but the property which they had worked and eminently deserved to own, remained in the hands of their former oppressors. With the economic power thus remaining in their hands, the former lords soon found themselves virtual masters once more of what were now free tenants or farm laborers. The serfs and the slaves had tasted freedom, but had been cruelly deprived of its fruits.

He had the right axiom, but didn't know how to apply it (he only looked to aggression created to non-capitalist action when he discussed specific cases).

But in reality, the lines of acquisition are blurred; effectively all habitable land and usable resources were gained through aggression at some point. Effectively all existing property was either directly gained through aggression at some time in the past or created by some other resource or capital good that was itself gained through aggression, and so on and so forth. Doesn’t this demand massive redistribution of wealth and property to “rectify” matters? It seems obvious that it invalidates complaints about progressive taxation being “theft from the productive,” since existing property distribution is inherited from feudalism, mercantilism, slavery, aggressive dispossession of indigenous populations, a long history of state interventionism, etc.
The workmen desire to get as much, the master to give as little as possible...It is not, however, difficult to foresee which of the two parties must, upon all ordinary occasions, have the advantage in the dispute, and force the other into a compliance with their terms. -Adam Smith
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Re: Propertarianism and Primitive Communism

Postby James1 » Fri May 28, 2010 2:34 pm

It's definately an interesting subject. I have a few thoughts but I don't claim to be presenting the standard propertarian answer (for that matter I don't claim to care much about the "propertarian" label either).

We can create 3 catagories of property

1. Just property (including titles we have no evidence against, assuming we're innocent until proven guilty)
2. Unjust property with a known rightful owner
3. Unjust property without a known rightful owner

1 obviously remains as it is.

2 also seems simple enough, return it to the rightful owner, but there are some more complications to consider. As time passes and the title is exchanged the new owners would have a gradually strengthening claim due to not personally being guilty of theft and decendants of the origional owners would have a gradually weakening claim due to never owning it themselves. Restitution should gradually move from restoration to compensation and eventually being dropped altogether if the issue continues across, say, several generations which should hopefully be enough time to dissolve any authoritarian economic power.

As always this would have to follow the proportionality principle when being carried out.

In the case of 3 we can argue that the current owners have to abandon it. However we don't know who to give it to so it's up for homesteading again, which would be by the current occupents. This might in many cases require worker ownership. Rothbard recommended tradeable shares which may or may not lead back to absentee ownership though some of these details would depend on your theory of property rights. This would also be subject to the qualifications above.

As a final point I should note this isn't just a problem for those who support private property but for anyone placing a lot of emphasis on distributive justice. I certainly don't see how it neccessitates communism, especially if we're going with the tradeable shares idea, since that would require evidence for why we each own part of everything and the objection is based on the evidence not being easily available.

Any questions?

Re: Propertarianism and Primitive Communism

Postby vaguelyhumanoid » Sun Oct 10, 2010 11:20 am

I personally support occupancy-and-use, since I'm a mutualist, partially because you don't run into these dilemmas that way.
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Re: Propertarianism and Primitive Communism

Postby shisaracyndi » Thu Oct 11, 2012 5:57 am

This should be one of the most exciting spots to blog on the web. Propertarianism and primitive communism. The basic idea seems to be in line with Rothbardian Libertarianism. Returning the land back to its original owners is one of our key points. The State has been the universal thief and plunderer of property. It has used its corporations along with its henchmen to plunder imperializing its rightful owners.
A second point to be discussed should be what does ownership mean? The Lockean point of view of mixing your labor as long as you leave something left over for others with the land seems only a beginning. It oppose the British Imperial land discovery right system (see Carl Watner, Libertarians and Indians: Proprietary Justice and Aboriginal Land Rights).
A more precise way of ownership would base ownership on an understanding of the land; that is, the description. By a description of the land we can be defend it legally as "ours". The description should include the dimensions (geographical) and physical attributes. Of course, this is ideal. Primitive land ownership was/is by use. If a first user is working the land area; the record of his acts in line with nature using the land in line with sustainability is to be noted. Throughout history most peoples have lived peacefully managing the land held in common allowing for usufruct use. The usufruct method of land allows tribal use; a principled method of leaving the land as a we before use. The descriptive method allows for more modern uses of land and stationary housing. These two methods of use defining property allow for property rights and conservation.
We can trace the Leveller and Digger movement of Gerrard Winstanley in 1649 as the beginning of the reclamation of the commons to the people. The leveller movement bye nature was and is libertarian propertarian. I submit, we (all the people) have a usufruct property right in the commons. A right and duty to maintain it. The more we understand and describe our universal heritage the more we can appropriate it. Appropriation; that is, making it our exclusive sacred possession does not mean not allowing others to be be apart of our joy! This type of use is in the tribal/common forest tradition.
We can not expect that the whole word will abandon markets for a permaculture oriented sustainable commons (anarcho-communism). This type of system would feed the world and create rich diverse communities.
In addition to the world-wide evolution of these eco-villages there still will be markets. These markets will be, free yes! Freed markets will be levelled and contained by a variety of ways. The levelling effect of eliminating monopolies enforced by government law. Freed from patent and copyright laws, freed from fiat money inflation, freed from inflated rents (land/government monopoly), from tax based build infrastructure which supported trucking industry. Freed markets have a rice leveling effect lowering prices (Kevin Carson, Who Benefits? The Free Market as Full Communism). Besides the true supply/demand price', libertarian anarchic law enables the consumers to sue free markets for pollution as an invasion of property rights (invasion of the lungs and water of each user or recipient). If our re-evolution is complete the decimating of privilege will yield a more socialized (sharing) market. With eco-villages having some degree of specialization and managing the forests /commons in a sustainable manner bad environmental practices will be eliminated.
The unique combination of a completed libertarian revolution in understanding and respect for property rights and law, permaculture with respect for the animals (without bureaucrats), open source technology movements and the resurrection of the Leveller/Digger movement can lead us to true freedom and a restoration of the ecosystem.

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