CDZ Libertarian Error: Locke And The Natural Right To Property

Discussion in 'Clean Debate Zone' started by skews13, Oct 5, 2017.

  1. skews13
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    skews13 VIP Member

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    The fundamental flaw in libertarian thinking is its failure to take into account the interdependent nature of social life and, in particular, how property is acquired, and must be acquired, in a settled society.

    We are all born propertyless.

    This is as true for the person who eventually becomes a billionaire as it is for the impoverished. The only way to acquire property in a settled society, where all the natural resources have been divvied up and are already owned by someone, is to acquire it from those who already have it. Those who cannot acquire property from those who own it will die.

    If we now say that property owners have the right to do whatever they like with their property – share it or not, hire people or not – this is as much as to say that they have the right to determine, at their sole discretion, who, among those who do not yet have property, shall live and who shall die, who shall prosper and who shall founder, who shall have the opportunity to fulfill their potentialities and whose potentialities shall be quashed. In effect, it is to say that property owners have a right to establish a tyranny over everyone else.

    In other words, to grant that people have the property rights that libertarians claim is to grant that some (the propertied) have the right to deprive others of the very things libertarians themselves generally claim we all have a right to – life, liberty, and property.

    But this amounts to a contradiction. By definition, no one can have a right to deprive others of those things they have a right to.

    It follows that there must be a flaw in the libertarian understanding of the right to property – and indeed there is. Wherein lies this flaw? To answer this we need to take a closer look at what the ‘right to property’ really means.



    The Libertarian Error
     
  2. TNHarley
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    TNHarley Diamond Member

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    This is 2017. What the hek is "private property?"
     
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  3. AVISSSER
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    AVISSSER VIP Member

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    No, your person is your property...my body my choice?

    Invention? Intellectual Property?

    Maybe in a closed state monopoly but certainly not in a free market. Free markets provide alternatives. If a person, who owns a store decides not to hire additional employees at the detriment of his business then he will suffer and his business will fail. Other competitors will fill the gap.

    Your argument is conflating the corporeal (things we can touch/houses/cars/land) with the incorporeal (life/liberty/pursuit of happiness)
     
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  4. flacaltenn
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    flacaltenn Senior Mod Staff Member Senior USMB Moderator Gold Supporting Member

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    The only error here is the apparent lack of respect for individual achievement and labor. Doesn't matter what you're born with. You provide goods and services to others during your life and they reward you with cash and property.

    No one TAKES properties from a "limited pool" that you imagine. They BUY in exchange for all the happy "thank-yous" in their wallet from others. To be UNAWARE that's where the transfer starts and that it's VOLUNTARY, means a lack of respect for labor and dedication to others. We might be a VILLAGE --- but it's a village that actually PAYS PEOPLE for their work.

    And the insinuation that's there is only a limited pool of property laying is awkward and revealing. Might show a severe misunderstanding of the repurposing or expanding pool of material goods -- or the way stuff gets exchanged.

    THere are WILLING sellers. You are often helping them out by buying their stuff. And everyday somewhere, a 400 acre farm is divided up for subdivisions where 400 NEW owners can come in and buy.

    NOBODY gets deprived by WILLINGLY exchanging goods, services, property.
     
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    Last edited: Oct 5, 2017
  5. Picaro
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    Picaro Gold Member

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    Well first of all, Locke didn't invent 'natural rights', he merely plagiarized from a long history of philosophical inquiry that began with Plato, greatly expanded under the dynamism of the Christian paradigm through Justin Martyr, Origen, Ignatius, Augustine, and Aquinas, to Thomas Helwys and others. He in fact adds nothing new to the idea himself. Instead of Locke, read F.A. Hayek's The Fatal Conceit; it covers that territory much more thoroughly. The idea of 'private property' is an artificial construct, based on Lamarckian social evolution and a tested and tried advance in social evolution necessary to progress; it is dependent on a state for enforcement, so one has to be careful when claiming 'libertarianism' is some sort of anarchy devoted to mindless self-indulgence; it isn't. It has it problems, and its weirdos and wingnuts, but the term covers a lot of territory, which doesn't include anarchy and no state at all.
     
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  6. skews13
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    skews13 VIP Member

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    I presented the article in hopes of creating a discussion both pro and con. While I agree with much of your premise, I lend just as much credence to the OP's. I posted it here to prevent the usual suspects of red scare zealots from being able to hijack it and devolve it into the usual talking points. I'm actually encouraged there are posters here that have the intellectual capacity to even comment with any coherence on it. Thanks for the reply.
     
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  7. Xelor
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    Xelor Gold Member

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    I don't agree that is the or a fundamental flaw of Libertarianism. I think that philosophy's fundamental flaw is that it aims to design and implement policy without regard to the common man's capacity to feed his greed and envy, along with most people being given to acting out of fear rather than reason.

    A right to something and possession of the object to which one has a right are not the same things. Possession of any physical resource, including property, with which one is not born must be earned one way or another -- by one's birth, through the generosity of others, or by one's efforts, or perhaps a combination of the three.
     
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  8. SeaGal
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    SeaGal Gold Member

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    The author does a poor job of comparing libertarian thought with socialist thought - attributing to the former the flaws of the latter.

    The beauty in libertarian thinking is its ability to realistically take into account the nature of human nature and its role in shaping a society - and the realization that prosperity and liberty are dependent upon the free and open exchange of goods and services, mutual respect for property, not subject to the whims of bureaucracy. A society in which each member is free to choose to define their own level of satisfaction...as well as the amount of effort they choose to apply toward the attainment of that level.

    The failure in the thinking of a socialist by the continued denial in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary is the belief that a 'government' has the duty to arbitrarily determine what portion of the property (income or otherwise) one person has acquired is actually deserved by another. Another flaw is in the use of vague terms - such as living 'well', or 'satisfactorily' - terms it has never fully defined. In essence the immorality of that delusion denies the nature of the human social construct and clears the path to tyranny - as it was in the beginning so it shall ever be.

    Our society falls somewhere in between libertarianism and socialism. The Founders of this nation were certainly more libertarian than we are now.

    Example - the bear needs the bee to produce the honey, the bee needs the flower to produce the pollen, the flower needs the sunlight and rain to grow. A socialist government would attempt to ration the rain and sunlight to give it to those who live in a gloomier climate, regulate the population of the bee, and be the sole arbiter of just how much honey does a bear need anyhow - a capitalist economy would willingly pay for the honey and sell it to the gloomier places...which enables the bear, the bees and the flowers to be happily productive...the gloomier places are happy too because they can buy as much honey as they wish with the fruits of their labor.
     
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  9. Xelor
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    Xelor Gold Member

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    Human nature does not have any inherent respect for property. Humans, like all other creatures, would as soon from others take property/resource they desire as elsewhere and otherwise obtain substantively the same property/resource. Respect for property/resource, or more accurately, respect for the fact that such property/resources currently belong to someone other than oneself, is borne of codified jurisprudence and exigencies of its enforcement. not of nature, and codified jurisprudence is a human construct, not an aspect of nature, be it human, bovine, canine, or any other.

    You've got it partly backwards and partly wrong.
    • Backwards -- Free and open exchange of goods and services depends on liberty, not the other way round. Liberty facilitates the free and open exchange of goods and services. Having the latter will not effect the former; however having the former, liberty, can effect environment/economy wherein the free and open exchange of goods and services occurs. Think about it. How can a society deliver free and open exchange of goods and services without first according to the members of society the liberty to conduct the transactions of free and open exchange of goods and services? It cannot.
    • Wrong -- Prosperity does not depend on liberty, the free and open exchange of goods and services, or mutual respect for property.

      Prosperity is not a binary thing; however, whether one is prosperous can be binarily assessed. Most people in the U.S., for example are, by Western standards, prosperous whereas most people in, say, the Solomon Islands are not. Be that as it may, to the extent people and/or individuals there (or anywhere, for that matter) aren't desirous of living a westernized lifestyle, they have no need to prosperous in the Western sense of that word. Similarly, within the westernized world, prosperity appears on a scale. For instance, upper-middle income American, Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are all prosperous, though not equally so.

      It is quite possible to enjoy a lot of prosperity and have none, or few of those three things. For example, the subjects of many a monarchy had the freedom to do or own nothing without the monarch's implicit or explicit approval -- such is the way of absolute monarchies -- and yet there existed a large (though not in proportion to the overall population size) aristocracy comprised of hundreds of thousands of people who enjoyed prosperity, largely as a result of the monarch's benevolence and perspicacity.

      Liberty, the free and open exchange of goods and services, and respect for property combine to facilitate prosperity. No one of the three has an express dependency on any of the other two, and one or a society can be prosperous with having any of three, though it'll be a pretty bellicose society -- about as much as are "cultures"/communities of other creatures that vie for critical resources -- if there no respect for property rights.
     
  10. SeaGal
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    SeaGal Gold Member

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    Exactly - libertarian thought does not advocate anarchy. It is far closer to the vision of the framers than socialism.

    ...and whim...and presence. Which is why societies offering a 'least restrictive environment' foster the opportunity for the prosperity to all of its citizens. Whereas a totalitarian society suppresses innovation and creativity. A totalitarian society is more likely to eat the golden egg lying goose - a less restrictive society is more likely to encourage the goose to reproduce.

    Again, a reminder - libertarian thought does not advocate anarchy and is far more aware that human nature cannot be transformed, only mitigated.
     
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