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Posts Tagged ‘Private property’

Eviction Moratorium: A Postmortem on Private Property | The Libertarian Institute

Posted by M. C. on August 11, 2021

A dangerous precedent has been established. If eviction moratoriums are deemed a lawful intervention, why shouldn’t the seizing of private property be used to quell future “crises”?

https://libertarianinstitute.org/articles/eviction-moratorium-a-postmortem-on-private-property/

by Michael Milano

At the beseeching of congressional Democrats and the fanatical urgings of Nancy Pelosi, who called the extension of the federal eviction moratorium a “moral imperative,” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a new nationwide ban on evictions for counties with heightened levels of coronavirus community transmission. This latest CDC order comes in spite of President Biden’s candid admission that “the bulk of the constitutional scholarship says it’s not likely to pass constitutional muster.” In The Ethics of Liberty, Murray Rothbard attests that the “right to contract is strictly derivable from the right of private property.” If private property is a keystone for prosperous societies and a fundamental tenant of common law, what happens in the aftermath of the vitiation of millions of private contracts?

A brief recap. In March 2020 under the CARES Act, an eviction moratorium was applied to all dwelling units participating in federal assistance programs. Invoking the Public Health Service Act of 1944, the CDC broadened the moratorium to cover all rental properties countrywide in September 2020. The CDC’s unprecedented unilateral expansion was rationalized as a reasonable measure to combat the spread of COVID-19 by preventing crowded living conditions that would stem from mass evictions and by facilitating self-isolation. This decree, initially slated to end after three months, had been extended on five separate occasions. Rent protection programs have additionally been enacted at the state level. In some states these eviction moratoriums are scheduled to expire over the upcoming weeks. In others, they are set to continue indefinitely.

In consonance with the ethos of a free society, the United States Constitution is a document grounded in natural rights, conceived to protect private property. The Founding Fathers did not include a universal pandemic exception. The Fifth Amendment states that no one shall be “deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law,” but does permit private property to be expropriated with just compensation (e.g., eminent domain). The Fourteenth Amendment guarantees due process protection at the state level. According to the Contract Clause, no state “may pass a law impairing the obligation of contracts.” During the eviction moratorium however, contractual obligations were voided, property was despotically taken with no compensation, and liberty was deprived without a hearing.

For many painstaking months, landlords have been stripped of their rights to freely use their property, while being forced to fulfill legal duties for squatters. Courts at the district level ruled the CDC’s edict unconstitutional, yet the moratorium persisted. In June 2021, the Supreme Court chimed in, allowing the eviction moratoriums to stand in the case of Alabama Association of Realtors v. Department of Health and Human Services. However, Justice Brett Kavanaugh clearly stated that the CDC exceeded its authority, that congressional authorization would be required for a moratorium extension, and that his deciding vote was cast only due to the fact that a few weeks remained before the moratorium was set to expire. Nevertheless, in open defiance of the Supreme Court ruling, the CDC issued their slightly scaled back, 60 day ban on evictions, at the beginning of August.

A dangerous precedent has been established. If eviction moratoriums are deemed a lawful intervention, why shouldn’t the seizing of private property be used to quell future “crises”? Will the current fallout include landlords abandoning the industry, or will rents be raised to offset uncertainty risks as speculated by Jeff Deist? How do members of a society continue to confidently form agreements when the trust associated with contract enforcement erodes?

When taking this all into account, proponents of strict constitutionalism are inevitably forced to reconcile their philosophy in the face of a swelling regulatory state, led by power mongering aspiring autocrats, who perceive the founding documents as ignorable relics. None of this should be overly surprising given that politicians and bureaucrats are perversely incentivized to perpetually expand the size of government. In spite of illusions of separated powers, regardless of whether the reigns are wielded by Democrats or Republicans, when the state is the ultimate arbiter, even in cases involving itself, justice becomes an empty abstraction distributed to gain political favor.

Applying one set of ethical standards to the citizenry and another to the state is hypocrisy and downright immoral. In a system that preserves property rights, a creditor may grant a debtor forgiveness solely for obligations between the two parties. As Lysander Spooner wrote in No Treason: The Constitution of No Authority:

A man’s natural rights are his own, against the whole world; and any infringement of them is equally a crime; whether committed by one man, or by millions; whether committed by one man, calling himself a robber, or by millions calling themselves a government.

Michael Milano is an entrepreneur in the midst of penning his first novel. He earned his PhD from The Ohio State University. His areas of interest include Austrian economics, crypto-assets, evolutionary biology, and stoicism.

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Of Common, Public, and Private Property and the Rationale for Total Privatization | Mises Wire

Posted by M. C. on August 10, 2021

I find it tough reading too. Your elected “leaders” won’t bother. It goes against all they stand for.

https://mises.org/wire/common-public-and-private-property-and-rationale-total-privatization

Hans-Hermann Hoppe

I have three goals. First, I want to clarify the nature and function of private property. Second, I want to clarify the distinction between “common” goods and property and “public” goods and property, and explain the construction error inherent in the institution of public goods and property. Third, I want to explain the rationale and principle of privatization.

I. Theoretical Preliminaries

I will begin with some abstract but fundamental theoretical considerations concerning the sources of conflicts and the purpose of social norms. If there were no interpersonal conflicts, there would be no need for norms. It is the purpose of norms to help avoid otherwise unavoidable conflicts. A norm that generates conflict, rather than helps avoid it, is contrary to the purpose of norms, i.e., it is a dysfunctional norm or a perversion.

It is sometimes thought that conflicts result from the mere fact of different people having different interests or ideas. But this is false, or at least very incomplete. From the diversity of individual interests and ideas alone it does not follow that conflicts must arise. I want it to rain, and my neighbor wants the sun to shine. Our interests are contrary. However, because neither I, nor my neighbor controls the sun or the clouds, our conflicting interests have no practical consequences. There is nothing that we can do about the weather. Likewise, I may believe that A causes B, and you believe that B is caused by C; or I believe in and pray to God, and you don’t. But if this is all the difference there is between us nothing of any practical consequence follows. Different interests and beliefs can lead to conflict only when they are put into action—when our interests and ideas are attached to or implemented in physically controlled objects, i.e., in economic goods or means of action.

Yet even if our interests and ideas are attached to and implemented in economic goods, no conflict results so long as our interests and ideas are concerned exclusively with different—physically separate—goods. Conflict only results if our different interests and beliefs are attached to and invested in one and the same good. In the Schlaraffenland,1

 with a superabundance of goods, no conflict can arise (except for conflicts regarding the use of our physical bodies that embody our very own interests and ideas). There is enough around of everything to satisfy everyone’s desires. In order for different interests and ideas to result in conflict, goods must be scarce. Only scarcity makes it possible that different interests and ideas can be attached to and invested in one and the same stock of goods. Conflicts, then, are physical clashes regarding the control of one and the same given stock of goods. People clash because they want to use the same goods in different, incompatible ways.

Even under conditions of scarcity, when conflicts are possible, however, they are not necessary or unavoidable. All conflicts regarding the use of any good can be avoided if only every good is privately owned, i.e., exclusively controlled by some specified individual(s) and it is always clear which thing is owned, and by whom, and which is not. The interests and ideas of different individuals may then be as different as can be, and yet no conflict arises so long as their interests and ideas are concerned always and exclusively with their own, separate property.

What is needed to avoid all conflict, then, is only a norm regarding the privatization of scarce things (goods). More specifically, in order to avoid all conflict from the very beginning of mankind on, the required norm must concern the original privatization of goods (the first transformation of nature-given “things” into “economic goods” and private property). Further, the original privatization of goods cannot occur by verbal declaration, i.e., by the mere utterance of words, because this could work and not lead to permanent and irresolvable conflict only if, contrary to our initial assumption of different interests and ideas, a prestabilized harmony of the interests and ideas of all people existed. (Yet in that case no norms were needed in the first place!)

Rather, to avoid all otherwise unavoidable conflict, the original privatization of goods must occur through actions: through acts of original appropriation of what were previously “things.” Only through actions, taking place in time and space, can an objective—inter-subjectively ascertainable—link be established between a particular person and a particular good. And only the first appropriator of a previously un-appropriated thing can acquire this thing without conflict. For, by definition, as the first appropriator he cannot have run into any conflict with anyone in appropriating the good in question, as everyone else appeared on the scene only later. All property must go back, then, directly or indirectly, through a chain of mutually beneficial and hence likewise conflict-free property-title transfers, to original appropriators and acts of original appropriation.

As a matter of fact, this answer is apodictically, i.e., non-hypothetically, true. In the absence of a prestabilized harmony of all individual interests, only private property can help avoid otherwise—under conditions of scarcity—unavoidable conflict. And only the principle of property acquisition by means of original appropriation or mutually beneficial transfer from an earlier to a later proprietor makes it possible that conflict can be avoided throughout—from the very beginning of mankind until the end. No other solution exists. Every other ruling is contrary to the nature of man as a rational actor.

In conclusion, even under conditions of all-around scarcity it is possible that people with divergent interests and ideas can peacefully—without conflict—coexist, provided they recognize the institution of private (i.e., exclusive) property and its ultimate foundation in and through acts of original appropriation.

II. Private Property, Common Goods and Public Property

See the rest here

Author:

Contact Hans-Hermann Hoppe

Hans-Hermann Hoppe is an Austrian school economist and libertarian/anarcho-capitalist philosopher. He is the founder and president of The Property and Freedom Society.

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bionic mosquito: When Private Property Isn’t

Posted by M. C. on July 28, 2021

Yet, even at this extreme, try not paying property tax on the property, or income tax on the privately earned income, etc.  The property isn’t purely private in the sense of the owner have complete control over use and disposition.

At the other extreme…libertarians and Austrian economists will use the phrase “crony capitalism.” Instead, it has been “earned” via government connection.

http://bionicmosquito.blogspot.com/2021/07/when-private-property-isnt.html

Posted by bionic mosquito

My comment, at the Mises site:

[From the author of the piece]: “This does not mean that someone cannot be prevented from accessing certain venues or activities when their rightful owners set preventive sanitary rules….”

BM: Libertarians must really get past this kind of thinking. Does anyone believe that airlines, social media companies, mainstream media companies, any large company of any type is a private company in any meaningful sense? How quickly and suddenly they bow to government dictates no matter how draconian, and what punishment will befall them if they don’t. Willingly or through coercion, they do the state’s bidding.

The piece was about forced vaccinations.

There is much about private property that isn’t private.  At one extreme – consider it the closest to a libertarian ideal: we have property, acquired via voluntary transaction; either produced from other materials, acquired in trade, developed in code, etc.  Yet, even at this extreme, try not paying property tax on the property, or income tax on the privately earned income, etc.  The property isn’t purely private in the sense of the owner have complete control over use and disposition.

At the other extreme…libertarians and Austrian economists will use the phrase “crony capitalism.”  If this phrase is to mean anything, it has to indicate that the private property (necessary for a system of capitalism) has not been earned or acquired in a manner that fits the above definition of private property: acquired via voluntary transaction.  Instead, it has been “earned” via government connection.

Examples of this abound: perhaps the most obvious is banking, especially money center banks.  Others include military contractors, pharmaceutical companies, airlines, tech and social media companies, mainstream media, etc.  It could also include any company or industry that petitions the state for something (as opposed to petitioning the state to not do something or to stop doing something).

These crony capitalist companies do the state’s bidding.  They lobby for funds, lobby for regulations, and in exchange, they pay the piper by dancing to his tune.  They realize the consequences of just saying no.  Why do such a thing, when saying yes pays so well?  Can the property that results from such an arrangement be described as “private”?

There is a large area in between, of course.  The most unfortunate, and taken from the last sixteen months: any church or small business that did not enforce or abide by state mandates faced the potential of being crushed, and its pastor or owner faced prison.  One cannot call this property “private,” though through no transgression of the owner.

But the entities that hold property via crony-capitalism can in no way be considered holders of private property.  They are extensions of the state, really not much different than the military, department of (in)justice, the various spy agencies, etc.

Conclusion

Libertarians really need not make the caveat, as was done in the statement I cited at the opening of this post.  Instead, the proper caveat should be that much of what is considered private property isn’t. 

Until this is fully embraced and understood, well…we are like the dupe, falling for the con of the shell game.  Complain about government encroachment and defend the so-called private entities that are just as much a means of that encroachment as any government employee.  Yes, such libertarians may be following the right shell, but there is a second one virtually equally as dangerous to liberty.

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Watch “Private Property: The Bedrock of Civilization” on YouTube

Posted by M. C. on July 2, 2021

You will own nothing and be happy.

https://youtu.be/TtMO28DhLNo

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Government Property Is Sacred. Your Property? Not So Much. | Mises Wire

Posted by M. C. on April 10, 2021

Only a detached member of the ruling class whose livelihood is sustained by some of America’s most powerful corporations can have the gall to downplay the trials and tribulations untold numbers of small business owners had to endure during last summer’s mayhem. Scarborough and his coterie would have us believe that paying respect to the hallowed institutions of mass democracy is the highest virtue while trying to defend the fundamental property rights of the common man is the province of buffoons and country bumpkins.

https://mises.org/wire/government-property-sacred-your-property-not-so-much

José Niño

In light of the government’s response to the January 6 storming of the Capitol, anyone with a sense of political sanity can no longer argue that the war on terror is separate from American domestic affairs.

US imperialism came full circle on January 20, 2021, when Washington, DC, was subject to military occupation during Joe Biden’s inaugural address in order to secure the Capitol from alleged domestic extremist threats. When the right-wing violence that DC talking heads were squawking about never came to pass, their focus shifted toward trying to deradicalize right-leaning individuals who hold heretical views that collide with the managerial regime’s gospel.

Former CIA director John Brennan was among the most vocal of the national security analysts who started listing off all sorts of problematic groups that potentially pose a threat to the dystopian political order crystallizing before our very eyes. The very act of a mob entering the holiest of the holy sites was enough to make the entire American political establishment have a mental breakdown.

The message the ruling class sent to those who protested against it on its own turf was quite clear: tread your muddy boots on our cathedral and you will be met with a firm response from the state.

So far, there have been over 380 people charged for participating in the January 6 incident. Rest assured, the politicians who are still shaken from January 6 are thirsting for more people to persecute. Words like coup, insurrection, riot, sedition, and treason were tossed around liberally to describe the January 6ers’ actions. Only a regime insecure of its legitimacy would throw a hysterical fit over the Capitol storming that looked more like a live-action role-play than a rebellion that threatened the sovereignty of the DC occupational regime.

Pace the gatekeepers of political opinion, launching a coup requires strong organizational capacity. Rag-tag groups of disgruntled, working-class Americans, disenchanted soccer moms, and extremely online Trump supporters aren’t going to be pulling off a coup against the most powerful government in human history. The only venues the January 6 demonstrators were capable of taking over were online chat rooms.

Government Property Is Sacred. Your Property? Not So Much. 

The double standards the legacy media is using to rationalize its ongoing crusade against the specter of extremism are farcical, to say the least. Over the course of a year when small business owners had their livelihoods destroyed by arbitrary lockdowns and widespread rioting, the ruling class tipped their glasses to the rioters and scoffed at those who had to put up with last summer’s mayhem. These same media mouthpieces would likely be cheering on color revolutions and lively protests in the Middle East and post-Soviet countries as the maximal expression of democracy. But when a rowdy group of Trump supporters took it upon themselves to stand up to their overlords, that was simply a bridge too far.

Any attempt to try to point out the inconsistency of the media’s hyperventilation with regard to the January 6 incident was met with instant pushback. On Morning Joe, TV host Joe Scarborough did not pull any punches:

I know there are idiots on other cable news channels that will say, “Well, this mom-and-pop store that was vandalized during the summer riots and that’s just as bad as the United States Capitol being vandalized.” 

He then had some colorful language for those who hazarded to question the prevailing narrative:

No jackass it’s not. It’s the center of American democracy. No, jackass…. I’m not going to confuse a taco stand with the United States Capitol.

Only a detached member of the ruling class whose livelihood is sustained by some of America’s most powerful corporations can have the gall to downplay the trials and tribulations untold numbers of small business owners had to endure during last summer’s mayhem. Scarborough and his coterie would have us believe that paying respect to the hallowed institutions of mass democracy is the highest virtue while trying to defend the fundamental property rights of the common man is the province of buffoons and country bumpkins.

Private Property Is Critical for Civilization

For the adherents of the present political order, symbols of the state have a religious aura. Private property, on the other hand, is a sacrificial animal to be slaughtered as an offering to the state, though the whole conversation would likely change if the property of Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, Mitch McConnell, Big Tech, or politically connected corporations were defiled. The media would instantly become situational capitalists and vigorously defend the sanctity of their fellow peers’ property. 

Heck, they might just throw some radical free market defenses here and there. But this is out of pure self-interest, not because political leaders and their corporate patrons hold private property in high esteem at a holistic level. As for the rest of the rubes in Middle America, they must put up with whatever political violence befalls them and their property. Simply raising their voices in opposition will have the legacy media branding them as “reactionary,” “racist,” or “bigoted.”

On the other hand, Ludwig von Mises championed private property not just for the sake of sloganeering but to impart to others the necessity property rights as a means of fostering social harmony. As he observed in Omnipotent Government, “If history could teach us anything, it would be that private property is inextricably linked with civilization.”

Mises’s vision for a social order predicated on respect for property rights has not disappeared from the intellectual consciousness. Successors of the Misesian tradition such as Hans-Hermann Hoppe have continued making the case for the respect of private property as a civilizing force. Unlike the public sector worshippers, Hoppe understood the bigger picture of why private property, not public property, should be treated as sacred. In fact, he views the modern-day state as one of the principal drivers of the erosion of property rights throughout the West.

As Hoppe argued in Democracy, The God That Failed,

the more the state has increased its expenditures on social security and public safety, the more our private property rights have been eroded, the more our property has been expropriated, confiscated, destroyed, or depreciated, and the more we have been deprived of the very foundation of all protection: economic independence, financial strength, and personal wealth.

As a consequence of being accustomed to having mandarins in distant government agencies lord over them, Americans have gradually come to disrespect or at least take for granted the concept of property rights. Hence their relative indifference toward the wanton destruction of the property of many small business owners’ establishments during last summer’s riots and toward the devastation government-promoted lockdowns inflicted on these small business operations.

The sign of a healthy society is one where private property is respected, and not just the private property of social media whales or parasitic defense contractors, but that of everyday business owners. By the same token, a society with a modicum of sanity would laud acts of self-defense against criminals who wish to harm the property and persons of lawful individuals.

Many of the shibboleths that Americans have been so inured to accept are now imploding. Millions of Americans took it upon themselves to buy firearms at record levels during a time when police services could not be relied on to uphold their end of the proverbial social contract. Moreover, a number of Americans responded by forming community defense groups to protect their neighborhoods when police were standing down left and right as cities nationwide burned.

Even the idea of privatized policing is starting to gain traction in certain parts of America. Occasionally, moments of crisis force people to rethink many political premises they’ve stubbornly held. There’s something to be said about how operating outside of one’s comfort zone can compel one to look at things differently.

All things considered, the past year should all but dispel the notion that America is “exceptional.” It’s a country with a myriad of problems that have dotted empires in decay throughout world history—a corrupt ruling class, an overstretched military presence, an unstable monetary system, and declining public order.

Reassuring ourselves of empty bromides that it “can’t happen here” because America is exceptional is a pathetic cope that ignores the iron laws of politics and economics, which the US is not exempt from. The only thing exceptional is the level of befuddlement that many experts will find themselves in once the US inevitably careens into the abyss of social and economic decadence if the country’s leaders don’t get their act together. Author:

Contact José Niño

José Niño is a freelance writer based in Austin, Texas. Sign up for his mailing list here. Contact him via Facebook or Twitter. Get his premium newsletter here.

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To Understand Economics, First Understand Private Property | Mises Wire

Posted by M. C. on March 10, 2021

https://mises.org/wire/understand-economics-first-understand-private-property

Chris Calton

In Man, Economy, and State, Murray Rothbard expounds the principles of economics by reconstructing an economy from the ground up. Following the practice of classical economists, he opens the book by imagining Robinson Crusoe alone on an island. After identifying the operative laws that apply even to isolated individuals, Rothbard’s second chapter considers Crusoe on an island with one other person, introducing the concept of direct exchange, or the barter economy. In the third and fourth chapters, Rothbard considers the origins of money and prices in an economy of indirect exchange.

For a treatise on price theory, Rothbard recognizes the need to explain the origins of money prices, as Carl Menger and Ludwig von Mises did before him. In The Theory of Money and Credit, Mises built on Menger’s original explanation for the origin of money by formulating the regression theorem. When considering price changes back through time, Mises theorized, we must naturally come to points of origin and departure. Paper dollars today have no commodity foundation, but we can easily identify the point at which they were disconnected from specie. Going further back, we may not be able to identify empirically the moment at which specie, or any other commodity, was first used as a medium of indirect exchange, but we can logically deduce that such a moment must have occurred as primitive economies grew increasingly complex.

Mises’s theorem offered a number of important insights for price theorists. Perhaps the chief insight is that even though modern money may have no commodity base, the origins of any money could only have been a commodity with some original value in use. No new media of exchange can undermine this history. Even cryptocurrencies, such as bitcoin, can be traced back to a point at which they were first exchanged for dollars. Dollar prices then trace back to a point of disconnect from a commodity foundation, and those prices trace further to a point of original indirect exchange. Another insight derived from the regression theorem is that money prices depend on exchange. This may seem like an obvious truism, but in the early twentieth-century debates over socialism, the necessity of market exchange highlighted the crucial distinction between technical calculation (What do we need to build a given item?) and economic calculation (What should we build given the resources available?).

In chapter 2 of Man, Economy, and State, before Rothbard summarizes Mises’s insights about the origins of money prices, he considers the origins of property rights. With a citation of John Locke, Rothbard asserts the principle of self-ownership and argues that the original appropriation of property comes from mixing labor with yet-unowned resources, such as clearing land for cultivation. Only after establishing a basis for property rights, does Rothbard turn to considerations of exchange and money prices.

Even friendly scholars, happy to acknowledge the value of Rothbard’s treatise, often consider this passage an unwarranted deviation from value-free economic analysis. Rothbard, they claim, is importing libertarian ethical theory into his economic analysis. John Egger, for example, accuses Rothbard of putting on his “political scientist hat,” arguing that “the ethics adopted by . . . Rothbard cannot be derived from Austrian-school principles and are not necessary to Austrian economic analysis.”1

Even sympathetic Austrians rarely pay much attention to Rothbard’s explanation for the origin of property rights except to occasionally dismiss it as a libertarian deviation from scientific analysis, but I believe Rothbard is offering underappreciated economic insights. Mises recognized that money prices depended on exchange, and he saw the need to explain the origins of monetary exchange. Rothbard took Mises’s idea a step further, recognizing that the prerequisite for market exchange is private property and the origin of property norms is therefore just as relevant to economic analysis as the origins of money and monetary exchange. “Before we examine the exchange process,” Rothbard writes in no unclear terms, “it must be considered that, in order for a person to exchange anything, he must first possess it, or own it.”2

Critical readers might object that we cannot take it for granted that property rights originate in the way that Rothbard describes. Governments, of course, can establish property rights, even if in violation of Lockean ethics, that suffice to provide the conditions for market exchange. But such considerations would be inappropriate for Rothbard’s second chapter, as he is considering an unhampered market economy—one in which governments, as yet, play no role. For markets to exist sans government, then, private property norms must emerge spontaneously.

To this last point, Rothbard never asserts that the Lockean rule of first appropriation is the proper means of establishing property rights (though he certainly believed that and made genuinely ethical arguments along those lines in other works, such as The Ethics of Liberty). In Man, Economy, and State, he simply considers the way property norms could logically emerge in an unhampered market.

Man in a “free, unhampered market … may exchange any type of factor … for any type of factor,” Rothbard writes, but “it is clear that gifts and exchanges as a source of property must eventually be resolved into: self-ownership, appropriation of unused nature-given factors, and production of capital and consumers’ goods, as the ultimate sources of acquiring property in a free economic system” (emphasis in original).3

Rothbard’s argument follows a similar logical structure to Mises’s regression theorem, and in fact even extends the continuum of exchange that Mises outlines. When constructing his theorem, Mises views the end point of his analysis as modern monetary prices, and his point of origin is that moment when a commodity was first used as a medium for indirect exchange. Rothbard has the same end point in mind, but realizing that property rights are (1) necessary for exchange and (2) not a given for any society and therefore warrant explaining, he finds the origins of money prices in the original emergence of private property norms.

Of course, people can provide alternative theories for the origin of private property, but the mere fact that Rothbard recognizes the need to explain property norms is itself a valuable contribution to economics that continues to go unappreciated. The most obvious objection people might offer to counter Rothbard’s theory is no different than the alternative explanation to Mises’s and Menger’s theories for the origins of money: the state must construct property rights and introduce money, thus creating markets.

But as historians and anthropologists learn more about prehistory (the history of man prior to documentary evidence), the statist theories for both property rights and money crumble. Yale political scientist James C. Scott, for example, notes that evidence for the domestication of plants precedes the formation of the earliest states, arguing that states could not exist without a taxable base (grain, most commonly), and the domestication of plants and primitive commerce preceded state formation. Although he doesn’t address property rights directly, Scott notes that the formation of early states “required a host of products that originated in other ecological zones: timber, firewood, leather, obsidian, copper, tin, gold and silver, and honey,” which they obtained through long-distance trade of “pottery, cloth, grain, and artisanal products.”4

Recognizing that economic exchange preceded the state, both Rothbard and Mises raised valid considerations for the origins of money, exchange, and property norms. In offering their theories, they were in fact engaging in a common exercise among classical economists known as “conjectural history.” In the absence of empirical historical evidence, classical thinkers such as Adam Smith and Turgot speculated on the origins of observable, modern institutions based on assumptions about human nature. Although speculative, this method of history was not unscientific. The test of a good theory was that it explained more of what we can observe (both in terms of present society and extant evidence) and omitted less. Historians today who deal with areas of history that have scant documentary evidence, such as Africanists, still engage in conjectural history (even if they may not be aware of its roots in classical political economy).

In this light, Rothbard’s explication for the origins of property norms is not a value-laden prescription for how societies should establish private property rights. Instead, Rothbard is recognizing that early societies must have established some system of private property rights, which individuals recognized reciprocally with respect to each other, and he provides a theory for how this system most likely emerged. It is not an uncontestable idea (no scientific theory is), but scholars dismissing it as a libertarian sidestep from proper economic analysis fail to understand the important economic contribution Rothbard was actually making.

  • 1. John B. Egger, “Comment: Efficiency Is Not a Substitute for Ethics,” in Time, Uncertainty, and Disequilibrium: Exploration of Austrian Themes (Lexington, MA: Lexington Books, 1979), p. 119.
  • 2. Murray N. Rothbard, Man, Economy and State, with Power and Market, 2d scholar’s ed. (Auburn, AL: Ludwig von Mises Institute, 2009), p. 91.
  • 3. Rothbard, pp. 92–93.
  • 4. James C. Scott, Against the Grain: A Deep History of the Earliest States (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2017), pp. 68–92, 125. Although Scott does not address the question of property rights or exchange, he does reference the role of exchange prior to the establishment of the state

Author:

Chris Calton

Chris Calton is a 2018 Mises Institute Research Fellow and an economic historian. He is writer and host of the Historical Controversies podcast.

See also his YouTube channel here.

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Pope Francis’s Latest Attack on Property: It’s a “Secondary Right” | Mises Wire

Posted by M. C. on October 21, 2020

Those paying attention may been uncomfortable with Pope Francis’ declaration against private property. It sounds familiar. The following may explain those feelings on property, his other utterances and Jesuit culture today.

Ignoring the encyclicals of his predecessors such as Pope Leo XIII, who once wrote that socialists, “working on the poor man’s envy of the rich, are striving to do away with private property, and contend that individual possessions should become the common property of all, to be administered by the State or by municipal bodies,” Francis openly advocates against putting too much stock in one’s love for his or her own culture and nation, claiming that instead we should be looking at “a universal horizon,” a “global society” of sorts. In light of this, it is hard to see his claims regarding property rights as anything but an attack against the idea that communities can and should self-govern and that persons can and should have a right to own the fruits of their own labor.

https://mises.org/wire/pope-franciss-latest-attack-property-its-secondary-right?utm_source=Mises+Institute+Subscriptions&utm_campaign=20ae03bf2f-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_9_21_2018_9_59_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_8b52b2e1c0-20ae03bf2f-228343965

https://nypost.com/2019/07/29/why-are-americas-jesuits-going-to-bat-for-communism/

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The Progressivism of the Future Is Really Just the Socialism of the Past | Mises Wire

Posted by M. C. on October 20, 2020

Beyond that, other demands and programs put forth and realized by the progressive movement have included eugenics, population and birth control, family planning, prohibition, antitrust legislation, public education, central banking, and an income tax.

https://mises.org/wire/progressivism-future-really-just-socialism-past?utm_source=Mises+Institute+Subscriptions&utm_campaign=6eca8feaf2-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_9_21_2018_9_59_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_8b52b2e1c0-6eca8feaf2-228343965

Antony P. Mueller

The world is currently in the midst of a newly aggressive drive to bring about a new socialist order through a powerful and “efficient” technocratic state. This new order has been labeled as “progressive,” but it is merely the latest version of the socialist impulse which we have seen before in the form of socialism and communism. 

A War on Private Property

Summed up in a single sentence, the plans of the communists aim at the abolition of private property. From there, the other major demands follow, such as abolishing the family, nation, and countries, and finally, as Marx noted, “communism abolishes eternal truths, it abolishes all religion, and all morality.” In as much as the program of liberalism “if condensed into a single word….is private ownership of the means of production” (as described by Ludwig von Mises), the program of the communists is the abolition of private property.

A Promise of Efficiency and Expertise

Yet Marxian socialism—i.e., communism—has not found many followers in the United States. The communist appeal to justice and equality found more resonance in the old world. To have an appeal to the Americans, socialism had to be packaged differently. In the United States, the gospel of socialism appeared under the name of “progressivism” and was preached as bringing society to the highest degree of efficiency.

Under President Woodrow Wilson, progressivism attained its first peak as the dominant philosophy of the state. Society was to these socialists a single organization. The bureaucrats as public administrators found a vivid expression in the political novel Philip Dru: Administrator: A Story of Tomorrow by Edward Mandell House, who was a very close friend of Wilson and who served as the president’s most important political and diplomatic advisor.

This vision of progressivism requires:

  • Government and labor representation on the board of every corporation
  • Sharing the profits of public service companies
  • Government ownership of the means of communication
  • Government ownership of the means of transportation
  • A comprehensive system of old age pension
  • Government ownership of all healthcare
  • Full labor protection and governmental arbitration of industrial disputes

Beyond that, other demands and programs put forth and realized by the progressive movement have included eugenics, population and birth control, family planning, prohibition, antitrust legislation, public education, central banking, and an income tax.

These echo of the planks of the Communist Manifesto, which included demands to

  • Centralize the means of communications and to put the means of transport in the hand of the state
  • Extend the control of the state across the factories and over all land
  • Implement a heavy progressive income tax and abolish the rights of inheritance
  • Centralize credit in the hands of the state and establish a central bank of an exclusive monetary monopoly

Unlike the Communist Manifesto, the progressives did not preach a proletarian revolution but spoke out in the name of efficiency and demanded the bureaucratic rule of expert public administrators. In a specific way, the progressive movement presents an even worse program than Marxism. As Murray Rothbard summarized it, the progressive movement brought about a profound transformation of the American society:

from a roughly free and laissez-faire society of the 19th century, when the economy was free, taxes were low, persons were free in their daily lives, and the government was noninterventionist at home and abroad, the new coalition managed in a short time to transform America into a welfare-warfare imperial State, where people’s daily lives were controlled and regulated to a massive degree.

Socialism in Disguise

Guiding mankind to heaven on earth by transforming society is the quintessential message of socialism, beginning with the “utopian socialism” of the nineteenth century and leading up to our time with the demand for a “concrete utopia.” Yet different from the Marxist mythology that socialism would be the unstoppable successor of capitalism, history shows that the “socialist phenomenon” has appeared time and again throughout history. Instead of being the model of the future, socialism is, de facto, a failed idea of the past.

Socialism is the attempt to create a new social order at will. Yet one cannot construct “order” to one’s wishes. The volitional realization of a socioeconomic system results in establishing society as a single state-dominated organization and as such, it is necessarily hierarchical and must be based on command and obedience instead of the free association of the people as it happens in a spontaneous order.

President Wilson failed in his plan to bring the United States into the League of Nations and establish an organization to promote a new world order in tune with the visions of the progressives. For some time, the Americans resumed the tradition of individualism and isolationism. Yet with the Great Depression and World War II the chance of transforming the society and putting bureaucratic experts at the top came back with a vengeance under the presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. With the end of the world war returned the chance to establish a network of international organizations with the mission of organizing society and the economy under the auspices of bureaucratic experts. This happened with the founding of the United Nations and its several subgroups and sister organizations to become active in finance, education, development, and health.

The International Push

With the launch of the United Nations, progressivism as a program of what James Ostrowski calls “destroying America” has attained a global platform. The main seat of this philosophy has moved into the headquarters of the United Nations Organizations. From its start, the United Nations has been the light bearer of global progressivism.

The protection of the environment and “global health” proved to be the ideal pretexts to move forward the agenda of progressivism. In June 1994, the UN Agenda 2021 was initiated by the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro and called for the imposition of “sustainable development” on a global scale. While Agenda 2021 was still relatively modest in its demands and nonbinding as to its full execution, the later Agenda 2030 let the cat out of the bag. The new agenda was adopted when the heads of state and government and high representatives met at the United Nations Headquarters in New York in September 2015. At this meeting, they approved the adoption of “Global Sustainable Development Goals” about comprehensive and far-reaching universal and transformative goals and targets.

The new agenda describes a program of comprehensive government takeover of almost all aspects of personal life. With no nods to human freedom and market coordination, the document lists seventeen goals that should be met through a bureaucratic takeover of society on a worldwide scale. Behind popular promises such as the end of poverty and hunger, healthy lives, equitable education, and gender equality lurks the agenda to impose global socialism. Demands such as the reduction of income inequality within and among countries, sustainable consumption and production patterns, and building inclusive societies for sustainable development, are parts of an overriding plan to do away with the market economy and to impose comprehensive state planning.

Claiming the “perpetuation of disparities between and within nations, a worsening of poverty, hunger, ill-health and illiteracy, and the continuing deterioration of the ecosystems on which we depend for our well-being” (chapter 1, preamble), the conference calls of a “global partnership for sustainable development.”

Under the heading of “program areas” the agenda stresses “the links between demographic trends and factors and sustainable development.” The growth of the world population combined with “unsustainable consumption patterns” endangers the planet, as they “affect the use of land, water, air, energy and other resources.” Under point 5.17 of its objective, the conference demands: “Full integration of population concerns into national planning, policy and decision-making processes.” Protecting the environment requires the comprehensive regulation of the world population which in turn makes it necessary to control personal behavior.

In short, the adoption of this “new world order” would mean the abolition of private property, or what Mises regarded as the liberal program—a world based on private property. If enacted, this project will fail in the end, but it will bring immense suffering in the meantime. Author:

Antony P. Mueller

Dr. Antony P. Mueller is a German professor of economics who currently teaches in Brazil. Write an email. See his website and blog.

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Why Marxist Organizations Like BLM Seek to Dismantle the “Western Nuclear Family” | Mises Wire

Posted by M. C. on July 28, 2020

What would this new social arrangement look like, according to Engels?

The care and education of children becomes a public matter. Society cares equally well for all children, legal or illegal. This removes the care about the “consequences” which now forms the essential social factor – moral and economic – hindering a girl to surrender unconditionally to the beloved man.

In this we see early echoes of the modern left’s current refrain attacking “patriarchy” and the nuclear family as essentially capitalist and private property–based institutions.

https://mises.org/wire/why-marxist-organizations-blm-seek-dismantle-western-nuclear-family

One of the most oft-cited and criticized goals of the Black Lives Matter organization is its stated desire to abolish the family as we know it. Specifically, BLM’s official website states:

We disrupt the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure requirement by supporting each other as extended families and “villages” that collectively care for one another, especially our children, to the degree that mothers, parents, and children are comfortable.

This idea isn’t unique to BLM, of course. “Disrupting” the “nuclear family” is a commonly stated goal among Maxist organizations. Given that BLM’s founders have specifically claimed to be “trained Marxists,” we should not be surprised that the organization’s leadership has embraced a Marxian view of the family.

But where does this hostility toward the family originate? Partly, it comes from the theories of Marx and Engels themselves, and their views that an earlier, matriarchal version of the family rejected private property as an organizing principle of society. It was only later that this older tribal model of the family gave way to the modern “patriarchal” family, which promotes and sustains private property.

Clearly, in the Marxian view, this “new” type of family must be opposed, since the destruction of this family model will make it easier to abolish private property as well.

Early Family Units in Tribal Life

Frederick Engels’s 1884 book The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State provides a historical perspective of the Marxian view of the development of the modern Western family unit and its relation to property rights. (Engels, of course, was the longtime benefactor of and collaborator with Marx.)

In reconstructing the origins of the family within a Marxian framework, Engels traces back to the “savage” primeval stage of humanity that, according to his research, revealed a condition in which “unrestricted sexual intercourse existed within a tribe, so that every woman belonged to every man, and vice versa.”

Under such conditions, Engels explained, “it is uncertain who is the father of the child, but certain, who is its mother.” Only female lineage could be acknowledged. “[B]eing the only well known parents of younger generations,” Engels explained, women as mothers “received a high tribute of respect and deference, amounting to a complete women’s rule [gynaicocracy].”

Furthermore, Engels wrote, tribes were subdivided into smaller groups called “gentes,” a primitive form of an extended family of sorts.

These gens were consanguineous (i.e., included people descended from the same ancestor) on the mother’s side, within which intermarrying was strictly forbidden. “The men of certain ‘gens,’ therefore, could choose their wives within the tribe, and did so as a rule, but had to choose them outside of their ‘gens,’” Engels explained. And “marriage” at this stage was a “communal” affair, meaning that multiple partnerships between men and women was closer to the rule than the exception.

Because mothers were the only parents who could be determined with certainty, and the smaller gentes were arranged around the mother’s relatives, early family units were very maternal in nature and maternal law regarding rights and duties for childrearing and inheritance were the custom.

Transition to the “Pairing Family”

This was the state of affairs for thousands of years, according to Engels. Over time, however, there emerged what Engels referred to as the “pairing family,” in which “A man had his principal wife…among many women, and he was to her the principal husband among others.” This was in no small part due to the “gentes” within tribes developing more and more classes of relatives not allowed to marry one another. Due to these increasing restrictions, group marriage became increasingly impossible and ever more replaced by the pairing family structure.

Under this structure, however, the role of mothers was still dominant. Quoting Arthur Wright, a missionary among the Seneca Iroquois tribe, Engels notes, “The female part generally ruled the house….The women were the dominating power in the clans [gentes] and everywhere else.”

The fact that women all belonged to the same gens, while husbands came from separate gentes “was the cause and foundation of the general and widespread supremacy of women in primeval times,” Engels wrote.

“In the ancient communistic household comprising many married couples and their children, the administration of the household entrusted to women was just as much a public function, a socially necessary industry, as the procuring of food by men,” he added.

As society evolved, as Engels described it, from “savagery” to “barbarism,” an important evolution was man’s development of weapons and knowledge that enabled them to better domesticate and breed animals.

Cattle and livestock became a source of wealth, a store of milk and meat. “But who was the owner of this new wealth?” asked Engels. “Doubtless it was originally the gens,” he answered, referring to a collective, or group ownership over the sources of wealth. “However, private ownership of flocks must have had an early beginning.”

“Procuring the means of existence had always been the man’s business. The tools of production were manufactured and owned by him. The herds were the new tools of production, and their taming and tending was his work. Hence he owned the cattle and the commodities and slaves obtained in exchange for them,” Engels explained. This transition marked an early passage from “collective” property to “private” ownership over property—particularly property in productive resources.

Such a transformation, Engels noted, “brought about a revolution in the family.”

Part of that revolution involved a shift in the power dynamics of the household.

“All the surplus now resulting from production fell to the share of the man. The woman shared in its fruition, but she could not claim its ownership,” wrote Engels.

The domestic status of the woman in the house, which had previously involved control and distribution of the means of sustenance, had been reversed.

“Man’s advent to practical supremacy in the household marked the removal to his universal supremacy,” and further ushered in “the gradual transition from the pairing family to the monogamic family” (what we would consider the nuclear family).

With the superior status acquired, Engels wrote, men were able to overthrow the maternal right to inheritance, a move he described as “the historic defeat of the female sex.”

The family unit’s transition to a male-centered patriarchy was complete, according to Engels. Much of the blame for this can be attributed to the emergence of private property and men’s claim over it.

How to Overcome the Patriarchy?

In the Marxian view, therefore, the modern nuclear family runs counter to the ancient “communistic” household Engels had earlier described. It is patriarchal and centered on private property.

“In the great majority of cases the man has to earn a living and to support his family, at least among the possessing classes. He thereby obtains a superior position that has no need of any legal special privilege. In the family, he is the bourgeois, the woman represents the proletariat.” The family unit, rather than the collective tribe, had become the “industrial unit of society.”

The overthrow of this patriarchic dominance can only come, according to Engels, by abolishing private property in the means of production—which he and those steeped in Marxist ideology blame for the patriarchy.

“The impending [communist] revolution will reduce this whole care of inheritance to a minimum by changing at least the overwhelming part of permanent and inheritable wealth – the means of production – into social property,” he concluded.

What would this new social arrangement look like, according to Engels?

The care and education of children becomes a public matter. Society cares equally well for all children, legal or illegal. This removes the care about the “consequences” which now forms the essential social factor – moral and economic – hindering a girl to surrender unconditionally to the beloved man.

In this we see early echoes of the modern left’s current refrain attacking “patriarchy” and the nuclear family as essentially capitalist and private property–based institutions.

In this, BLM is no different from other Marxist groups. The organization’s goals extend far beyond police abuse and police brutality. The ultimate goal is the abolition of a society based upon private property in the means of production.

Author:

Bradley Thomas

Bradley Thomas is creator of the website EraseTheState.com, and is a libertarian activist and writer with nearly fifteen years of experience researching and writing on political philosophy and economics.

 

 

 

 

 

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How Historians Changed the Meaning of “Liberalism” | Mises Wire

Posted by M. C. on July 4, 2020

https://mises.org/wire/how-historians-changed-meaning-liberalism?utm_source=Mises+Institute+Subscriptions&utm_campaign=d1adf222d9-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2020_07_03_04_46&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_8b52b2e1c0-d1adf222d9-228343965

Understandably enough, the current disfavor into which socialism has fallen has spurred what Raimondo Cubeddu (1997: 138) refers to as “the frenzy to proclaim oneself a liberal.” Many writers today have recourse to the stratagem of “inventing for oneself a ‘liberalism’ according to one’s own tastes” and passing it off as an “evolution” from past ideas. “The superabundance of liberalisms,” Cubeddu warns, “like that of money, ends up by debasing everything and emptying everything of meaning.”1

In truth, a survey of the literature on liberalism reveals a condition of conceptual mayhem. One root cause of this is the frequent attempt to accommodate all important political groupings that have called themselves “liberal.” This is an approach favored by some British scholars in particular, in whose conception of liberalism the doings and sayings of the British Liberal Party of the twentieth century weigh mightily (e.g., Eccleshall 1986; Vincent 1988).

There is no doubt that after around 1900 the Liberal Party in Britain veered increasingly in a statist direction. In the United States a similar transformation took place within the Democratic Party—once “the party of Jefferson and Jackson”—at a somewhat later date. But such shifts, evident also in Continental parties that kept the liberal name, are easily explained by the dynamics of democratic electoral politics.

Faced with the competition of collectivist ideas, liberal parties produced a new breed of “political entrepreneurs,” men skilled at mobilizing “rent-seeking” constituencies, i.e., those who use the state to enhance their economic position. In order to gain power, these leaders revised the liberal program to the point where it was “practically indistinguishable from democratic and social-reformist ideas, ending up by accepting the notion of the state as an instrument for redesigning society to produce particular ends” (Cubeddu 1997: 26).2

If one holds that the meaning of liberal must be modified because of ideological shifts within the British Liberal Party (or the Democratic Party in the United States), then due consideration must also be given to the National Liberals of Imperial Germany. They—as well as David Lloyd George and John Maynard Keynes—would have a claim to be situated in the same ideological category as, say, Richard Cobden, John Bright, and Herbert Spencer. Yet the National Liberals supported, among other measures: the Kulturkampf against the Catholic Church and the anti-socialist laws; Bismarck’s abandonment of free trade and his introduction of the welfare state; the forcible Germanization of the Poles; colonial expansion and Weltpolitik; and the military and especially naval buildup under Wilhelm II (Klein-Hattingen 1912; Raico 1999: 86–151, and passim). Actually, if one simply went by party labels, the National Liberals would have more of a right to the title liberal than the authentically liberal German Progressives and Freisinn, whom they opposed, and the question of whether the National Liberals betrayed genuine liberalism in Germany could not even be raised.

A similar difficulty is presented by the case of Friedrich Naumann, regarded by many nowadays as the exemplary German liberal leader of the early twentieth century.

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