Re: left anarchy, right anarchy, and space homesteading

Eric Watt Forste (
Mon, 06 Oct 1997 11:04:29 -0700 (The Low Golden Willow) wrote:
> Hmm. In a world of private law, perhaps some PPLs would recognize
> property by title, and others property by use. I discover someone's
> been living on the abandoned farmland I just inherited from my
> uncle and call my title-PPL to evict them. Their use-PPL steps in
> to protect them: after all, they've been using it for the past 5
> years, the land hadn't been used for the previous decade, who do
> I think I am to throw them out of their home? Private war ensues,
> unless a buyout occurs, but that could go both ways: they pay me
> rather than defend themselves (fair enough for me), or I pay them
> to leave the land to save the cost of evicting them by force (fair
> enough for them).

Better than the alternatives of private war and buyout is the
possibility of second-level arbitration between the two PPLs.
Our present-day archaic monopoly-law-providers have multiple
levels of appeal... I'm not sure why people find multiple
levels of arbitration so difficult to visualize in a
non-monopolized system of law production.

In practice, such second-level arbitration would probably amount
to arbitrage of the buyout proceedings, but would probably be more
efficient and less unpleasant for all concerned.

> Ding ding[1]! That's the point of my devil's advocacy: what if
> there's a better system we haven't discovered? Or more usefully,
> that has been discovered but not understood or publicized? Yes,
> perfect competition is maximally efficient,

One of the things I like about the Austrians among economists
is that most of them are very careful *not* to base their
arguments on assumptions of perfect competition or perfect
information. Some less sophisticated students of classical
economics seem to think that markets require perfect
information (a condition closely related to perfect
competition) in order to work; Austrians on the other hand see
the market as being *productive* of information. It requires
some information to work, but it does not require perfect
information in order to improve the quality of the information
(accuracy of the price signals) flowing through it.

One of the problems I have in arguing with left-anarchists (and
I used to be one) is that by refusing to acknowledge the
desirability of a fairly uniform social institution of physical
property in the first place, it's hard to get them to care
about the accuracy of price signals. Without accurate price
signals, I doubt that Great Societies (such as the one we are
living in at present) can stably persist. I doubt that it is
possible to stably provide enough food for six billion mammals
as large as we are without good price signals.

> Careful; they call themselves libertarians too. And have prior
> use of the term -- both terms -- to boot. Which by our definition
> of property -- prior acquisition -- means that we've been trespassing
> and should find terms other than "libertarian" or "anarchist" to
> describe ourselves. Anarcho-capitalist, for example.

Now you are *really* confusing the issue. First you raise the
left-anarchists purported distinction between personal and
private property, and then you go clouding the much more vital
distinction between physical property and intellectual
property. On intellectual property issues, I am still very
sympathetic to the left-anarchists, and my indignant reaction
to IP laws (which seem to me to be ways of slanting the playing
field in favor of those people who *already* have a cognitive
advantage over most of the other players... horribly
"regressive" in old left terms) may have been what got me
confused in the first place.

I suspect that the institution of private property in physical
objects and regions is one of our species great serendipitous
and inadvertent inventions, like money and language. It's
difficult enough without confusing that institution with the
much more recent and deliberately (not spontaneously)
originated voodoo notions of "intellectual property".

(This is intended as a philosophical point: I don't have any rancor
against those who make their living selling intellectual property,
even if they use current laws to enforce their claims. We all have
to compromise with the state sometimes, so I try to refrain from
too vigorously finding fault in that department.)

Eric Watt Forste ++ ++ expectation foils perception -pcd