Re: Gov't NOT Coercion? [Ian Goddard]

kristen brennan (
Thu, 23 Oct 1997 15:48:02 -0700

At 03:25 PM 10/23/97 -0400, you wrote:
> I wrote:
> >
> > Free association is cooperation,
> > central planning is coercion.
>IAN: Like a broken record, I find myself spouting
>libertarian doctrine even as I've seen the flaw in
>the common application of libertarian moral theory:
>If a landlord uses force to evict me, or even if
>the contract says if I break his rules I go to a
>cell in the basement, libertarian doctrine does
>not see this as coercion, so long as I'm free
>to leave his property.
>The federal government is the landlord of the
>property known as the United States. The rules
>of the landlord must be followed or penalty
>is effected. It is not coercion so long as
>you are free to leave the U.S. property if
>you have a problem with the contract.
>As we can see, the U.S. property arrangement
>is not different than the "private property,"
>for we are free to leave the U.S., therefore
>the application of U.S. law is not coercion.

This is an interesting argument. I haven't heard it before.

Libertarianism is usually expressed as an absolutist position,
and I've yet to encounter an absolutist philosophy for which
caveats cannot be found by extrapolation to a sufficient

>The only difference between the smalltime
>landlord and Uncle Sam is that U.S. is big.
>Yet there is no libertarian rule that places
>a limit on the size of an area claimed. Yes,
>force was used to wrongfully remove preexist-
>ing claims of Native Americans, but none of
>the guilty are alive today. If we say that
>therefore the U.S. property is forfeit, so
>too all land claims, for your dwelling pro-
>bably stands on once Indian territory.

Actually, I read an article by some anthropoligist
a year or so ago which suggested that Native Americans
came across the "land bridge" which now forms the tip
of Alaska quite a while back, migrated Southward and
not only displaced but completely wiped out a race
of PREVIOUS Native Americans.

I wish I'd kept the article, or at least took notes!
Does anyone have more info on this? It certainly puts
a new spin on the "America belongs to the Native Americans,
we stole it, let's give it back" argument.

There seems to be a similar situation in Hawaii, where
the current Hawaiians are campaigning for cessetion from
the mainland US, for a return to indiginous power, etc.
Apparently the current Hawaiian population are descended
from Polyneasians who completely wiped out the previous
Hawaiians, the Mahunuae (spelling?). The Mahanuae live on
only in legend, as semi-mythical "little people", like elves or dwarfs.

>I think the importance of libertarianism
>lies in the utility of private property,
>such that people are more prosperous when
>individuals are allowed maximum control of
>areas that they purchase in exchange with
>others. In short, if a landlord (Uncle Sam)
>that owns a vast area wants his tenants to
>prosper, he will allow them a very high
>degree of liberty. He will allow them to
>control parcels of land and trade them.
>What makes the market work is the ease with
>which customers can exit a given establishment.
>What makes government not work is the difficulty
>with which customers can exist the country. This
>difficulty makes it a "landlords market," putting
>the customers, or citizens, largely at the mercy
>of those who are the de facto landlord. So it all
>comes down to size. This places emphasis on the
>need to expand beyond the Earth, beyond this
>fixed and limited parcel of territory.

History suggests that government's ability to legislate ownership
of an area expands ALMOST as quickly as settler's ability to
find new places to settle.

Does anyone have a good argument that suggests this won't continue
to be the case as we expand into space/cyberspace/wherever?


Kristen Brennan Teknowledge

"Thou canst not stir a flower without troubling a star."
-- Francis Thompson