Gov't loves Gov't

Tony Hollick (
Sun, 25 Jan 98 21:34 GMT0

This reply reminds me why I love this venue! >:-}

John K. Clark writes:

> I wasn't talking philosophy, I was talking about a practical way to get
> things done. It doesn't matter why people own anything in the first place,
> the fact is that in the real world they do and we must deal with it.

If we're talking comparative economic systems and reasons for
choosing between them, we _are_ -- ineluctably -- doing philosophy.

We have to start from where we are if we want to get anywhere else,
and to start 'here' we have to know what 'here' is, and how it came
to be. We can't design and build a ship from scratch in mid-ocean
(nor can we tear the existing ship to pieces, then hope to be able
to build a new ship). We can gradually remodel the whole ship from
stem to stern, however, in a way that's nearer to our hearts' and
our minds' desires.

>No-one has ever provided a satisfying explanation of how a person
>comes to 'own' a given piece of land from a state of nature.

> So what?

So the history and the rationale affects the validity of the
claims to title. It's an unavoidable problem.

> People undoubtedly do own land

Who owns land in the Falklands/Malvinas, say? Or Red China?

> and if you believe in determinism, and I'll bet you do

I'm not sure that 'determiniosm' is the word you meant to use.

I'm certainly not a determinist in any sense of the word other
than that I'm not a Copenhagen-school subjectivist 'quantum

> Then there must be a reason that they do, you just don't know what it
> is. Even if you did have an explanation, of what practical value could
> it possibly be?

"Some men see things as they are, and ask 'Why?'
But I saw things that never were, and asked 'Why not?'"

-- Aeschylus, 400 BCE.

> >The 'labour-mixing' argument doesn't hold water. [...].The 'resources
>-mixing' argument begs the first question

> That could be, but I wouldn't know. What are those arguments?

You'll find the basic propertarian models neatly summarized in
Harvard philosophy professor Robert Nozick's brilliant (and
award-winning) work of libertarian philosophy, "Anarch, State and
Utopia." Since Nozick offers the only really viable alternative to
John Rawls' "A Theory of Justice" (another lovely book), we have to
deal with these problems if we want to compete for 'hearts and
minds' in the political philosophy marketplace. And win!

> >Why is your labour not just wasted effort?

> If your labor is foolish then it is wasted effort, not all labor is of
> equal value, or of any value at all. The great thing about the market is that it
> will tell you very quickly if you're working smart or stupid.

Think of the problem like this. You find a piece of driftwood, and
carve it into a sculpture. You've now mixed your (intellectual,
artistic and physical) labour with the driftwood, right? If I take
the sculpture while you are sleeping, you'll be pissed off when you
wake up and find it gone. If you find I've sold your scultpure and
kept the money, you'll consider that you've suffered an _injustice_,
because _you_ had a just claim on the sculpture.

It's the idea of _justice in property claims_ we're discussing all
the while, when we discuss different systems of property rights.

> >Look back far enough, and you find something pretty questionable
> >(or outright predatory).

> Look back far enough, and you can find anything you want.

Not so.

> It's pointless to worry about what a bunch of dead men I never met did
> another bunch > of dead men I never met.

So how do _you_ adjudicate Aboriginal land rights claims?

Abdicate the responsibility?

> I just want the best system for making me rich, free, and happy

I want this for _all_ of us, not just for me.

I'm not comfortable with a system where 350 000 children starve to
death each day, or die of avoidable illness. Are you? Imagine
them sitting all around you while you lecture them on the virtues
of the free market, as they're dying.

> it certainly isn't socialism.

It certainly isn't State Socialism without market prices, fer
sure! But the original dream of Socialism -- a society where,
within reason, everyone can have what they want and do what they
like, is an ideal that _is_ worth striving for, however
imperfectly we may achieve it in practice. I think market
liberalism can do this much better than State Socialism, is all.
Democratic Agorism can do better still.

> >How, precisely, do you assert 'your' exclusive property claim to
> >_anything_, without threatening to initiate _violence_ againt a
> >non-violent 'intruder'?

> Obviously you can not, who said you could?

But there's the -- coercive -- core of the 'taxation' issue: 'A'
threatens to initiate violence against 'B' to gain or retain

> It's of absolutely no concern to me because the perpetrators of the
> injustice as well as the victims have all been dead for a thousand years.

"How can'st be pardon'd, yet retain th'offence?"

> I don't believe in object[ive] morality but I do think it would be nice
> if most people were free and rich most of the time.

Sure sounds objectively moral to me! >:-}

> If your goal is a happy creative world you will never achieve it by
> trying [to] avenge every ancient crime.

I'm not trying to avenge historical crimes (though they do make me
angry) so much as to rectify _present injustices_. Insofar as the
better-off tend to be the beneficiaries of past injustices, while
the worst-off tend to be descendants of their victims, there is a
real moral and practical problem to be addressed. If we don't
others with less palatable ideologies will -- Fundamentalist
Islamicists, State Socialists, Fascists, the list goes on...

Much of the US Constitution was taken from the Code of the
Iroquois League...

> > Why does 'capital' hire 'labour'? Why does not 'labour' hire
> >'capital' for time-preference (interest) plus a risk factor?

> That's exactly what happens when a working man gets a loan from a bank
> and buys a house.

What I have in mind are worker-cooperatives (look at Mondragon in
Spain); and consortiums of workers.

> >Why do we still have a _hierarchical_ - 'Crony-Capitalist' --
> >verticalist structure for our prevailing version of a 'free-market'
> >society, when most people would prefer a much more 'horizontal'
> >reticular -- Agorist! -- pattern of economic interactions?

> I can't answer your question because I have no idea what your question
> is.

>:-} Networks of independent traders as discussed by e.g. David
Friedman (see 'The Machinery of Freedom').

> >we have to adapt our vector-driven catallactic economic systems to
> >the 21st Century.

> Right. Ah, ... Is your vector-driven catallactic fuel injection or does
> it have a carburetor?

>:-} >:-} OK, so that'll teach me to be pretentious! Serve me
right, too! But it does mean something neat, actually.

'Vectors' are forces with both direction and magnitude. Just like
profit margins in the exchange ratios (or 'market prices') in the
'market-price system' (or 'catallaxy' in Austrian Economics

Thanks! That was fun!