Maybe instead, Spangler, after Kevin Carson and other collectivist anarchists, has very high standards for what it means to homestead land (or property in general), and a very low standard for accepting newcomers as new owners against the claims of previous occupants. I have questioned at length this approach in the past (see for instance my comments on another blog: if these standards mean that you lose rights to any property any time that you stop watching it personally, then it’s not much of a property right approach. Are you forfeiting part or all of your property if you invite some people in? If some people move in without your permission? If you go on a trip? If you visit your family? Visit a doctor? Go to the market? Shop at a store (assuming there are any left)? What if you stop watching your belongings while in the bathroom? What if you fall asleep? Can you still claim your property five seconds after it’s been seized by newcomers? Five minutes? Hours? Days? Weeks? Months? Years? Decades?
If somehow any greedy newcomer can seize the property of previous legitimate owners, then this spells the economic death of the society that adopts such standards for the involuntary transfer of ownership, as no one will take pains to create, build, grow, develop, trade, or otherwise produce anything, for that thing would as soon be taken away by the first-come greedy claimant, specialized in looting producers. Unless some loophole is quickly found in such standards and massively exploited, this society will soon be overrun by neighbours with less absurd laws, who will defend their property against the claims of these anti-propertarians, no doubt under complaints by would-be looters that their defence is “violent” and “aggressive.” In any case, such rules would imply a considerable regression as compared to the already quite imperfect respect for property rights in current western societies.
Rothbard may have been a great philosopher, economist and historian, but he was far from infallible, and often ventured with miserable results into fields in which he wasn’t qualified. In practical politics especially, whether domestic or international, his tentative alliances led him nowhere except to condone criminals and unsavoury people on both sides of the political spectrum. Contra Rothbard, I will thus paraphrase one of my favourite authors:
It is no crime to be ignorant of politics, which is, after all, a specialized discipline and one that most people consider to be a “dismal science.” But it is totally irresponsible to have a loud and vociferous opinion on political subjects while remaining in this state of ignorance.
Of course, the original author of the quote is Rothbard himself, although he was discussing economics, not politics.
Politics is the science of force. Force follows its own laws. The study of force certainly isn’t completely unrelated to the study of law, in which Rothbard excelled; but it is nevertheless quite distinct. (I briefly discussed this relationship in my essay Capitalism is the Institution of Ethics.) And so any applicable solution to abolishing monopoly mismanagement of resources should take into account the balance and dynamics of existing forces, and offer a way out that is a win-win proposition to all the existing parties that will partake, and a win-lose proposition for said parties against those that won’t. You cannot wish away the costs of politicking and then claim you have an economical solution; you cannot side with some political group and suppose its opposition will magically disappear (if it disappears, it will be through murder); you cannot support violence without expecting a retaliatory escalation of violence.
Now, in all his political endeavours, Rothbard’s basic stance has been that the United States government is his first and greatest enemywhich is correctand he therefore supported any enemy of his enemy as his friendwhich is absurd. The czar may have been the first enemy of the Russians he dominated, but in a rivalry between the czar and the Bolsheviks, the latter were hardly the friends of the people, and as tens of millions discovered to their dismay, were several orders of magnitudes more murderous and oppressive a regime than the one that preceded it. Similarly, the US government may be an evil exploiter, but its violent enemies can be a worse threat if they win, and even when they don’t, their violent actions cause the situation to become more violent rather than less so. Sometimes, it is better to recognize that you have no dogs in the fight; and sometimes even, it is indeed better to help quickly put to death the rabid dog rather than let it either win or infect the other one.
As such, for instance, Rothbard’s infamous praise of the Vietnam communists as enemies of the US government is particularly disingenuous. Rothbard is no authority at all in the realm of politics. In the particular piece linked to by Brad Spangler, he is naive at best in his praise of Tito’s policies as an improvement over not just the Stalinist status quo (which they may well be in this particular case; though one should be wary of praising his policies in general, for as a whole they have led his country to civil war), but also the American status quo (which is demonstrably absurd, whichever way you measure things).
The privatization that happened in many countries of Eastern Europe as they abandoned communism, however imperfect, at least recognized some sound principles that Rothbard seems to ignore, and that could be systematized: there have been attempts to return property to previous owners in the few cases when they could be identified; sometimes, the new regime identified a class of legitimate creditors of the State (there is a justification for offering compensation to distinguished victims of State oppression, and for considering currently occupied possessions and promises of future welfare payments, if not as ownership titles of said resources, nevertheless as claims of credit against assets to be liquidated). Otherwise, it was recognized that the remaining capital goods should be distributed among the mass of undistinguished victims, the former taxpayers and oppressed subjects of the State.
One could endlessly argue how much each one should be entitled to as compared to other people; an equal distribution amongst people without a distinguished title is but a good first approximation, and one that is easier than others around which to gather political consensus. Workers and managers in a company were often recognized to have a title to some of its assets, but not all of them (and hopefully, no bigger a share than workers and managers have through stock grants in a typical free-market company); for inasmuch as the capital was provided by taxes and oppression imposed on the population at large, that population has a title to this capital. Basically, as Mencius Moldbug points out, the proper treatment of the State is to declare its bankruptcy and liquidate its assets to the benefit of its victims and other legitimate creditors.
Read more from the original source:
Thou Shall Not Steal, Not Even from the State