Is “theft of time” an appropriate defense of private property? Is Capitalism an intuitive and natural system for societies?
So, apparently one of my articles has drawn the attention of Stefan Molyneux of the Freedomain radio, I’m guessing after it was crossposted and discussed in this forum thread. You might remember Stefan from the time I tried to call his online station after he asked for input from Anarcho-Communists and I wasn’t particularly impressed back then. This time Stefan made a video responding to my criticism of the Non-Aggression principle which I felt compelled to respond to.
After a few introductory words which addressed minor things (Note: saying that something is “not half bad” is a figure of speech. Not to be taken literally), Stefan presented his first argument basically arguing that “You cannot say that the initiation of force is virtuous. Thus Non-Aggression is virtuous”.
My contention is not whether the initiation of force is virtuous. The contention is on what exactly constitutes intiation of force, or more explicitly – violence or threat of violence. Yes, of course aggression is not virtuous, but this does not mean that the Non-Aggression Principle becomes suddenly useful as a moral guideline. Yes, aggression is bad and not aggressing is good. Murder is also bad. Not murdering is also good. But we do not create a basis for our entire ethical system out of “Thou shalt not murder”. Not only does one need to first define “murder”, but it is just far too limited a guideline to base one’s entire sociopolitical system on.
The reductio ad absurdum that Stefan attempts, might prove that you cannot have Aggression as a moral guideline, but it does not logically follow from that, that Non-Aggression is a useful moral guideline instead.
Further to that, Stefan makes a huge logical leap: From arguing that Aggression cannot be a virtue, to concluding that “Property Rights are the only thing that can work”. This is not at all evident from the arguments put forth and is blatantly begging the question.
Stefan then goes on a tangent, explaining how Self Ownership leads to property rights. I understand that this is what right-libertarians tend to accept, but it is largely irrelevant to the subject at hand, especially given that I reject “Self Onwership” as an internally contradictory concept. Nevertheless, the reason this is brought up, is to show that one is responsible for one’s actions, and therefore that “theft is theft, is because you’re stealing someone’s time”.
This is the main thrust of the argument here I believe, but “Self-Ownership” was not required to make this point, so I’m unsure why it was brought up. Nevertheless, I’ll take the time to address this argument from “theft of time”.
The idea presented is as such: When someone puts forth labour to create something, and someone comes around and takes that thing away, then that person can be assumed to have stolen all the time required for creator to make it, which is similar to slavery.
This argument looks solid at first glance, but unfortunately, when one challenges the premises behind it, it shows that it is on very shaky ground based on assumptions of specific property rights.
The most basic counter-argument I would make against this concept of “theft of time” is: Who says that whatever you put labour into creating, belongs to you automatically? Ownership is a split gradient ((By which I mean that the various types of ownership differ by a degree, but there is a hard split in the middle, between possessive ownership and “sticky” ownership” systems because those two are incompatible)) which can take many forms based around social agreement on what constitutes a valid claim or disposal. It is not a universal law. What happens here, is that the type of ownership that Stefan prefers, is assumed into the argument. But as soon as one challenges the premise of what you can own and how you come about owning it, things become much less solid.
Do you own something you created out of the commons? Stefan would say yes, I would say yes as well, with stipulations. My stipulations of course being that you only own whatever you created as long as you keep using it. As long as you do not, it goes back into the commons for anyone else to use. Stefan would have no such stipulation however. Whatever you create, no matter if it came from the commons or not, belong to you forever.
So if Stefan makes something out of the commons and doesn’t use it anymore, and I come and use it in the meantime, for Stefan that amounts to slavery for I have “stolen his time”. Were that to be enforced however, Stefan would have in effect enclosed the commons. An immediate split forms on what is ethical in this case. I do not recognise Stefan’s right to enclose the commons and he does not recognise my right to steal his time. Who is rights is an argument for another day, but suffice to say that “theft of time” only works if you look at it from a propertarian perspective, which is not something everyone will or should do.
Furthermore, Stefan’s argument ends up with some telling conclusions when in mind of his larger worldview as well. The larger worldview of course being Capitalism which is naturally permeated by wage slavery. In this world, taking someone’s labour is just fine as long as it’s voluntary. A wage slave toils all week but does not get to own the product of his labour at all. Rather, they end up with a price for the creation that is lower than the market value of such a creation. In Stefan’s worldview this is a clear “theft of time”, but it’s OK because as it’s voluntary. That is, as long as the wage slave agreed to be one. This naturally leads us to the conclusion that Slavery is OK as long as it’s voluntary.
I’m sure the argument will be put forth that working for a wage is nothing like being a slave so this is not an apt comparison, to which I will counter that in a similar vein, “theft of time” is nothing like slavery either. You can’t have it both ways and I won’t even bother to argue on whether voluntary slavery is AOK either.
Finally, I’ll just make the most obvious counter to this argument. Stefan says verbatim: “The reason that theft is theft, is because you’re stealing someone’s time”. But this is just a tautology and doesn’t really tells us anything. Theft is theft because you’re stealing? Yes, of course. Perhaps he meant to say that “Theft is wrong because you’re stealing someone’s time” which only makes marginally more sense as it ends up telling us that “theft is wrong because it’s theft”. Circular reasoning.
The argument only “works” at first glance, because Stefan is basing himself on intuitive assumptions and biases from the audience, which is expected to already believe that theft is bad within a specific framework of ownership rights. As soon as those premises are missing, as soon as the audience does not share Stefan’s conclusions, this conclusion becomes baseless. Theft of time is wrong *why* exactly? This needs to be argued, not simply asserted. And it is in the process of arguing “Why is Theft of Time bad?”, where all the nuances and exceptions and outright mistakes will be pointed out and addressed.
After this brief overview of the “theft of time” argument, Stefan concludes that it’s not arbitrary to not-aggress, or respect private property. This, again, does not follow. Those two are still subjective. The non-aggression principle remains a moral guideline, all of which are subjective (and there’s nothing wrong with that), but as I explained before it is comparatively useless on its own. The stateless propertarian framework is normative as well as it’s put forth as a superior socioeconomic organization (And there’s nothing wrong with that either). It is not a science like physics as Stefan likes to imagine. Defining “aggression” within the stateless propertarian framework, which not everyone accepts, is what is arbitrary and that is wrong.
Next Stefan addresses the difficulty of figuring out what constitutes initiation of force within a propertarian framework, admitting that shooting trespassers is not acceptable and so on. However he misses my point. He ends up discussing how “degree” (degree of what? violence?) is not as important as morality. I.e. it’s not as important to figure out how to deal with something bad, as it is in defining that something is bad in the first place. And I agree with that. Societies of the future will find their own ways to deal with aggressors. But the reason I pointed out the impossibility of intuitively defending against violation of private property rights is to point out that given differing expectations of ownership, the non-aggression principle coupled with private property ends up excusing actual violence against non-violent people. The degree is not important either. The fact is that if I start working on land you are not using, you will have to aggress against me (likely with literal violence) in order to stop me.
To give you a contrast within a possessive ownership framework, If you started using land I am already using for myself, you can have either of two purposes: Co-operate or Violate. If you co-operate with me, then we can share the fruits of our labour, thus benefiting us both. If you violate my work, then you are being visibly destructive and threatening to my livelihood. You are aggressing against me and thus literal violence is then justified to stop such destruction.
The point thus, is that the “Non-Aggression principle” does not help us understand or resolve the former case in the slightest. The point is that both parties can have differing understanding of what constitutes “aggression”. The problem is in declaring that it’s the owner of the private property that decides what is aggression.
Finally Stefan makes the argument that all these issues on attempting to see how the NAP can be useful in the real world, are inconsequential because people work these things out intuitively and organically. And here’s the funny part, I absolutely agree. The difference is that Stefan assumes that people would work out things in such a way as to allow private property to flourish, and this is not just untrue, it’s ahistoric. The example of “tailgate parties” that he brings up is a perfect example of this. I doubt in any of those parties you see people taking up more space than they can personally use. If anything, the temporary ownership setup in those parties is possessive, i.e. claims based on occupancy and use.
It is precisely because societies naturally organize themselves according to possessive and communal ownership, that capitalism requires a state to support it. Because private property is not common sense and it is not an acceptable arrangement by the dispossessed. A society “working these things out naturally” and ending up with some people owning vast tracts of land and factories, while others own just the clothes on their back and live day to day on subsistence is unrealistic in the extreme. The people on the lower scale would absolutely take the first opportunity to use the unused land, reclaim and re-institute the commons and expropriate their productive means. Or do you think that someone working on subsistence on a mega-farm is going to “work it out” with the landowner who owns it? No, the farmers would expropriate the land the first chance they got, while the landowner would declare aggression and bring in their private
state defence company to restore order.
To think that such arrangements will be upheld naturally is wishful thinking. There has never been a single society or community where anything remotely like this wasn’t upheld by force. Not one.
So yes. Aggression is likely to be absent from a free society, but not because people morally adhere to a stale moral guidelines such as the NAP, but rather because people absent oppression tend to work out things via possessive rights, making “aggression” primarily about violence, which is dealt with intuitively.
And if people can work things out intuitively even in a propertarian framework, it seems to me the NAP remains unnecessary. It seems to me, that the only purpose of the NAP is to give an ideological excuse to private defence companies to…”reform” individuals who somehow just can’t seem to work out Capitalism naturally with the capitalists and landowners . Those silly people.
59 thoughts on “Responding to Stefan Molyneux: "Theft of time", NAP, and common sense”
Great post, db0. My only quibble would be about this:
I agree with the first sentence (a matter of property or possession), but not the second (a matter of value). I think that labor, being responsible for the product, should possess it. But I also think that mutuality and reciprocity create an obligation to pay (however that might be construed) the owners of any capital goods for what is used up. That will mean that when they sell the product, or otherwise realize it's value, they will net less than "market value" when you take that cost into account. The focus should be on labor receiving the whole product (i.e. the output and the obligations for used-up inputs) and the decision-making that comes from being a member of the productive commons of that endeavor, not on the full market value.
Well, you probably already know my perspective really. I reject the possibility that someone can be considered to "own" capital when they're not using it themselves. I.e. I deny the right to rent such means of production.
OK, but aren't you doing the same as he is? You talk about "use", but what does that mean? Who gets to decide what constitutes "use"? Based on experience, I'd say that people have pretty different ideas about what "use" means. If the person who has spent some of his/hers valuable life does not get to decide this, then who does? Some other individual who might not have contributed anything? A group of individuals who might not have contributed anything?
Your "use" seems to suffer from exactly the same shortcomings as "agression" does. Thanks for an interesting blog post btw.
Use is based on societal norms and common sense. People are going to arrive at a definition that they would like to see everyone have, and it will differ for many items. People have an incentive to reach such a consensus with everyone around them, because if they choose something limited, then they are subject to it as well. I.e. if they claim that use of house is only until you go out the door, then people will take over their house as soon as they step out the door.
If someone does not wish to follow such common understanding of a community, then obviously they don't belong in that community or they need to agitate enough so that the norms change.
Lack of clear non-contradictory definitions by many (?most?) liberty seeking (eg. libertarian) writers – Stefan Molyneux included – is a major problem. (Putting arguments on video rather than in text is, IMO, an attempt to disguise that lack of substance, since so many drawn to such presentations tend to gloss over the details. And videos are often the chosen medium for those who prefer to perform rather than clearly and precisely inform.)
Terms like "aggression", "self-ownership" and "property" are examples of many that are poorly defined (if at all) by many and consequently lead to considerable talking past others who take issue with particular arguments. Those who accept these terms without clarification, often simply do not realize that there are ambiguities and interpretation/consistency issues, until someone raises the existence of one or more.
A great amount of time and effort (very deep thinking) were put into the words – actually technical terms – that are used in "Social Meta-Needs: A New Basis for Optimal Interaction" (http://selfsip.org/fundamentals/socialmetaneeds.html) and the two implementation methods that flow from from it. If you and others find what you think are errors, inconsistencies or holes in reasoning, the author, Paul Wakfer (and I) would be pleased to have you bring them forth, quoting specifically. Doing this in any public forum – such as here, our group MoreLife Yahoo – http://groups.yahoo.com/group/morelife/ (identification – verified by us – and full name usage is required to post) or anywhere we can openly participate – would enable others to benefit from the discussion (such as yours "with" Stefan Molyneux).
A point re "the commons" – while there were true commons in some locations at one time, that is no longer the case in most (possibly all) locations on earth. Governments have in fact declared ownership of all lands not privately owned. I can think of no location within the US that is truly "the commons". "Public land" is in essence government land and one must be granted permission (and in many cases actually apply and pay first) to use it in a specific manner. Try driving your own vehicle on a "public road" without the appropriate government documentation and see what happens. Or camp out in a "public park"…. Or hold a group assembly of any type on a "public sidewalk". A government enforcer will show you the error of your ways sooner or later and threaten or actually initiate physical force on you if you do not have the proper "permit". (And such "permits" extend to what you can do with your own property and your own body….)
The Non-Aggression Principle has many faults and lack of truly meaningful definitions is a major one; using it as the basis of all human interactions is an impossibility if one truly wants social order without government. (Such an impossibility has been included in discussions at the MoreLife Yahoo group, as a search of the messages using "Non-Aggression Principle" will show.) In your original argument (http://dbzer0.com/blog/why-the-non-aggression-principle-is-useless-as-a-moral-guideline) you bring up some of the same valid points and appear to be heading towards the question of harm, though maybe unknowingly. Harm prevention/avoidance is an essential aspect of a society of voluntary individuals interacting to mutual benefit. But beware that the definitions of kinds of harm is critical to how they are handled – this is effectively accomplished within the Natural Social Contract (the contractual implementation portion of The Theory of Social Meta-Needs mentioned above and linked from it).
Rather than my (or Paul Wakfer) detailing here the strengths and weaknesses of yours (and Molyneux's) arguments against (and for) the NAP, I hope that you will take the time to read the linked treatise above. A note of caution, however; this treatise with its many links is not a breezy read – a warning for those looking for and used to soundbites on which to walk away thinking that such bromides are really foundational and meaningful as a solution to serious social problems. Instead, the twin-framework implementations of the Social Meta-Needs theory – The Natural Social Contract and Social Preferencing – are envisioned as full replacements for the entire legal structure and institutions of existing governments, all of which are described and regulated (in the US alone) via thousands of volumes and many millions (?billions?) of words enabling tens of thousands of lawyers to charge handsomely to serve as "gatekeepers" for the common folk.
Stephen Kinsella responds here:
Thanks for the heads-up. This is just preaching to the choir and not really worthy of a response. It boils down to "dbzer0 is confused because he doesn't understand self-ownership." and "Anything other than Private Property is slavery". It just expects the audience to accept the premises from where he works from.
Does Kinsella EVER address any issue raised? He's replied to my entries many times, and none of his responses did anything but basically say "I refuse to believe this is correct."
Indeed, I've had similar experience
Hello, Stephan. Saw your latest attempt to smear me on Google+. Good job, arse.
False. You mischaracterize your libertarian foes. You misdescribe the NAP, its fundamentality, and its relationship to homesteaded property. I clarified what the libertarian view is. In light of this, you are attacking a straw man.
I do not mischaracterize my "libertarian foes". Do not presume that you speak for all strains of right-libertarianism, or that your understanding of the essentiality of the NAP is the correct one. It isn't, and the vast majority of proponents of the NAP, propose it as fundamental to their ideology. You have clarified only your own view, only clarified it only to the extent that it convinces those already convinced. This is because you main thrust was the self-evidence of self-ownership, which not only is not self-evident, it is internaly inconsistent.
Further to this, you are even more confused on the distinctions of ownership and are assuming that all is the same "property". Something I've clarified for you in the past and you've obtusely refused to understand.
"Do not presume that you speak for all strains of right-libertarianism, or that your understanding of the essentiality of the NAP is the correct one."
I'll presume what the hell I want, but as a matter of fact, I don't speak for right-libertarians since I am not one. In fact it is you leftists who are confused in thinking that the left-right spectrum is coherent. True libertarians are neither left nor right; a pox on both their damned, statist houses.
"you main thrust was the self-evidence of self-ownership, which not only is not self-evident, it is internaly inconsistent."
Self-ownership is inconsistent? Haha, no wonder you are not a normal libertarian with such confused thinking. THe left is welcome to you.
The left-right spectrum is useful but not complete. This is why we have the authoritarian-libertarian spectrum as well. You're a right-libertarian. You nonsensical concepts of "anarcho-libertarian" are just that. They're just superfluous. since it's impossible to be an anarcho-authoritarian. Of course, you're always looking for new words to mark the bankrupcy of your ideology so that's just par for the course.
"The left-right spectrum is useful but not complete." True; and real libertarians are neither left nor right.
"This is why we have the authoritarian-libertarian spectrum as well."
"We" don't have it; you confused thicker-Marxoids do. The only "authority" that is libertarians oppose qua libertarian is aggression.
"You're a right-libertarian."
Wrong. I support gay marriage. I want drugs legalized. I hate intellectual property with a passion. I oppose corporatism and crony-capitalism. How is that "right"? The hidebound left-right paradigm infects people with the overly activist bent.
"You nonsensical concepts of "anarcho-libertarian" are just that. They're just superfluous. since it's impossible to be an anarcho-authoritarian."
You really are confused.
Being on the right does not mean "conservative". It means in support of free markets and capitalism.
Your thinking is hopeless muddled. The typical left-libertarians like Sheldon Richman, et al., will say they oppose capitalism (though this is mostly a semantic issue), but they are all for free markets. I guess Sheldon Richman is a right-libertarian now? Hey, we are all right-libertarians and Keynesians now, I suppose.
"Right" means free markets AND capitalism. Have I not said so?
Yes, self-ownership is inconsistent. It's a ridiculous concept based on nothing more than linguistical twistings
Here's a wealth or articles debunking that nonsense
Of course it's not inconsistent. A person's body is a scarce resource. Either he gets to decide what to do with it–or others do. It's self-ownership, or slavery. It's the mark of muddle-headed English majors to try to avoid the obvious. I guess you're in favor of other-ownership–slavery–but like an ostrich, you think if you don't call it that, it changes things. Typical liberal arts mentality.
A person gets to decide what to do with their body always. There is an inalienable right. You don't own your body. You ARE you body. I suggest you look at all the criticisms I posted, which are significant, rather than repeat your weak arguments which convince no-one.
"A person gets to decide what to do with their body always."
This is a vague, evasive, imprecise way to to say that a person has the *right to control* their body. "Right to control" is a concept for which there is a word: ownership, or property right. See the quotes from professor Yiannopoulis in note 4 to my article http://mises.org/daily/3660#note4 . Muddle headed liberal arts majors may hate clear definitions, but there it is.
" There is an inalienable right."
Of course it's not inalienable. if you commit a crime you forfeit or alienate rights to be free from unwanted invasion that you would otherwise have a right to oppose.
" You don't own your body. You ARE you body."
This is a silly objection. I don't care if you are a materialist or theist. IT's irrelevant here. Your brain is not your mind, your body is not your person. If you die, your body has a brain, but no mind. And it is just a body, at that point, not a person. This does not imply anything mystical or spooky (I am not religious); it does not imply that there is no necessary connection between mind and brain, body and person; but it implies a conceptual distinction between the agent/person and the body he controls. If A is raping B, then B has a right to invade the body of B and kill it even if B objects. Only a clueless amateur could fail to distinguish between a person and his body.
No, it's not at all what I'm saying. A person is their body. They don't have a right to control it, because they cannot give away that right. You always control yourself.
That is not at all the same as not controlling yourself. Regardless of if you do a crime or not, you still have control of your bodily functions. The rest is nonsense you pulled out of your arse.
Are you daft? OF COURSE your body and mind are your person. Here you are simply evoking mind-body dualism which is a thorougly discredited concept. But it's not surprising that you grasp this mystical unscientific nonsense when it supports your worldview.
"A person's body is a scarce resource."
False. A sentient body is a sentient body.
"Either he gets to decide what to do with it–or others do."
Incoherent statement. Who is this "who" distinct from "it:? You are speaking about spooks.
"It's self-ownership, or slavery. It's the mark of muddle-headed English majors to try to avoid the obvious."
You are a naive user of language who seems to believe that everything that makes sense in English must therefore be true. You must believe that every time you say "my arm" or "my leg," you are making a meaningful statement, or that anyone who says "oh my God" must be a theist.
" I guess you're in favor of other-ownership–slavery–but like an ostrich, you think if you don't call it that, it changes things. Typical liberal arts mentality."
Slander attack against db0. Not surpised, since folk psychoanalysis is your normal modus operandi.
If I give someone a baseball, with their consent that they will give it back in 4 weeks, can they just keep the ball?
They can, but it wouldn't be ethical.
Sorry if I am confused then, but in a left-libertarian world, what is the difference between a baseball and a machine a person lends to someone else as part of a contract?
One is a productive mean, and the other is a commodity. And libertarian socialists are not concerned about a small productive machine, like a lawnmower. We are concerned for productive means of scale and who controls them. That is to say, there is a lot of difference between a factory and a baseball.
I could argue that all productive means can be commodities if they themselves are valued by certain individuals, but you brought up another argument that could be used against that so we'll talk about that instead.
What differentiates small vs. big? How big does a productive machine have to be for it to be classified as a legitimately large productive mean?
All productive means are commodities, but not all commodities are productive means
The size is not the important factor. The capacity to extort rent for it is. There is no issue with loaning out items to others without monetary rewards. There is a problem with renting them out. A Factory is just a very clear example of how this works, as the one who "owns" it, rents it out to the workers in exchange for part of the surplus value they create. The owner is rewarded for doing nothing. And the workers are exploited just because they're poor. Which is wrong.
What if the workers are rich? Can they choose voluntarily to work in a factory where an owner rents it out to them in exchange for part of the surplus value they create?
So if the size doesn't matter, and I have two lawnmowers, can I not rent them out for monetary profit?
And why is monetary profit so important? In every exchange, both parties receive a psychic profit. There is nothing special about monetary profit other than the fact it involves money, the commodity valued for its exchange ability. Exchange with rent is simply an exchange where one person loans an item to another person for a monetary return. Both receive psychic profits and both are wealthier after the exchange. Are you really ruling out every situation in which an exchange involving some form of "rent" takes place?
Any such illusion of choice is created because of the circumstances where there is no other option left. It's like saying "work for me, or starve". It's not much of a choice.
You didn't really answer the question.
I did. I challenged the premises of it.
You didn't. I am specifically pointing out a situation where workers are rich and in reality, have the choice to work; even if they don't work, they will not starve, but they choose to work (perhaps to get more money or because of other forms of psychic profit; it doesn't matter). Is such a situation allowed?
This is a question akin to asking me if I would be opposed to a rich person selling themselves into slavery. In hypothetical scenarios you can dream up of any working scenario you wish but such questions have no relation to the world or what we would be ethically opposed to.
This is why I drew the distinction between monetary profit and other forms of profit (psychic inclusive of all of them). If a rich person receives enough emotional profit to offset the fact he isn't receiving as much monetary profit as he would normally desire, I don't think could be called slavery at all. This is a very sensible hypothetical scenario; it seems obvious your refusal to answer it has nothing to do with the fact it's simply hypothetical but rather because you can't supply an answer.
If a rich person wants to volunteer their time, there is nothing stopping them. But they wouldn't do it for making money, nor would they put themselves in the same situation as a wage slave. To claim that a rich person doing volunteer work is under the same kind of pressure to accept an exploitative scenario as a poor person, is to create a perfect setup with no relation to reality, and from then on, build some weak argument.
Your hypothetical scenario is not sensible. It is completely absurd. This is the reason I do not address it.
Lawnmowers are a very easy to create machine. It's not very difficult for everyone to have one. If however people were so desperate that they'd be willing to rent a lawnmower, much like there are people desperate enough to rent a sewing machine, then yes, it would be unethical to abuse their predicament.
Indeed I am. For in an trade between unequal parties, any trade objectively benefits the most powerful. If I trade you a diamond for a piece of bread because I'm starving, I'm objectively worse off because I've been put into that situation. And the concept of rent is what creates such situations. By allowing some to hoard wealth without working, and some to work without being able to save anything.
If you want trade to work for the benefit of both parties equally, you need to habe an equal society. And you cannot have an equal society when you allow for rent or land or capital.
In every situation, one side can be considered more "powerful" than the other. Are we to rule out all exchanges period because of this simplistic view (after all, you are giving out a situation in which rent does not take place).
The fallacy you are committing is the refusal to admit that an "equal" society cannot exist, period. Inequality does not exist because of rent, land, or capital, but rather because of our humanity. This cannot be a serious reason to condemn all forms of rent, because it could be used to condemn all forms of exchange and peaceful cooperation as well.
No, in every situation, one side is not always considered more powerful than the other. Friendship relations and echanges within them are such for example. And you can easily see how the dynamics there are much different than exchanges happening between inequal individuals.
The (actual) fallacy you're committing is an argument from incredulity. I am merely frustrating you by not accepting your premises and playing into your loaded questions. Equality is not an impossibility, it was the norm for most of human pre-civilization existence and the form social relations tend to progress to, when left unhindered by the state.
Your argument from human nature is unimpressive to say the least.
Equality is an impossibility because of the fact that all humans are individuals and different. Saying equality is possible means you believe that humans are genetic clones of each other and have the same value scales and decisions, etc. You are merely looking at one form of equality, monetary equality; even if two people have 60 dollars, they are not equal because of their different value structures. One may value his 60 dollars more than the other or choose to use it differently because of his different values. In addition, different opportunities exist for each human; you cannot possibly account for all different opportunities possible.
That is what I mean when I speak of human nature.
Equality is not uniformity. Q.E.D.
AKA, the classic nonsense that: The poor are poor because they're stupid and/or lazy.
Biggest load of bullshit apologia in existence. It is sad that you think this is actually convincing.
No, but I can suggest a socioeconomic system where human capabilities do not translate to social inequalities. There's not reason that the smart, the cunning, the ruthless, and most importantly – the lucky, to be rewarded more than the rest.
Different abilities do not have to translate to different outcomes of wealth and wellbeing.
Cool, another question. If there are 10 people that want to use one machine at the same time, who gets to use it?
Seriously? If you pooled your money and bought a fancy new Barbecue oven with your 10 friends, how do you decide who gets to use it?
Well, we could have and probably would have stipulated that before we bought the oven. The reason my question is different is because the 10 people may not even know each other yet all happen to own the oven at the same time. In the first situation, it's much easier to see people peacefully cooperating because they buy the oven together knowing they will spread its use in some "fair" way. However, when you say that everyone can own a machine, it means that, perhaps an 11th person could come along and completely ruin the previous agreement.
If you're going to have a scenario where a common tool, like a car is used by a lot of people who don't know each other, then a simple arrangement of pooling can be achieved very easily. Lets say have a park full of cars to use. People pick one and use it, then bring it back. If the demand is higher than the amount of available cars, the community can get together to find ways to acquire new ones.
When you say that if one stops using something it is no longer theirs, isn't that no less absurd as the idea that someone can own something in the first place? How does it make sense to believe in ownership but only until you think the person is done with it, rather than when they decide they're done with it? How do you dodge the issue of force in enforcing your idea if the other person disagrees with you about the "expiry date"? How is it any easier to standardize a checklist of valid criteria to accept as proof of ownership in the first place, and if it is possible, isn't an expiry date on an ownership claim of "when i think they have stopped using it" rather arbitrary?
It seems to me that the main foundation of your views seem to be based on social consensus, or the idea that "it is true if the majority says it is true", but please correct me if I'm wrong.
Morality is not about "true" or "false". This is why morals are decided by social consensus. There may be cases where that social consensus is wrong, such is the case in accepting private property, in which case we try to modify it.
Other that that, I can easily turn your argument against you by claiming that you have no more basis in enforcing your own idea of what you are allowed to own in perpetuity, than I have in telling you that you can't own it.
LOL, you’re missing a fundamental point of the true essence of moral values by even debating this topic: Moral values are ARBITRARY. There is no rational basis for them, they all require an assumption – with that in mind, the argument you are “debunking” is a perfectly valid one, if it is talking about moral values. (which it is).
Articles like this keep me on the fence about the justification for exercising ownership. Keep up the good work. By the way, there’s an article covering your debate with Molyneux on mises.org: http://archive.mises.org/18608/the-relation-between-the-non-aggression-principle-and-property-rights-a-response-to-division-by-zer0/
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