Ritchie tries philosophy

And it works out just as well as you’d expect:

The consequence is that this philosophy of freedom demands change until all are free. It can never be satisfied because someone is free if another is not. And that is where it starkly contrasts with the right wing libertarian view. And that is why those who subscribe to that view are bound to find me irritating. There is in what I think and the way I act a direct challenge to the egotistic, self centred approach of the libertarian who sees their freedom as existing independently of the constraints it may impose on other’s freedom to commit.

Libertarians generally believe that we are indeed free to do as we wish, but only up to the point that our exercise of such freedom and liberty beings to impact upon the ability of others to enjoy their own freedom and liberty. You know, Mills’ freedom to swing your fist ends where my nose begins stuff?

And libertarians (and of course classical liberals like myself) also insist that all of the freedoms that we might demand are also liberties that all others might also be able to enjoy.

So give that he’s got the basics of what libertarianism is wrong his further discussion is going to go awry, isn’t it?

113 comments on “Ritchie tries philosophy

  1. To be honest with you Tim, he started to go wrong when he made his early morning walk to his shed to start writing this drivel.

    The moment anybody uses the term “real freedom” the alarm bells should start ringing. They may benignly be placing restrictions on themselves (Jesuits) or, like Ritchie, be seeking to place restrictions on others in the name of “freedom”.

    I also love the way he talks of having “committed” to parenthood. No, your wife won the gynaecological lottery and you’ve been claiming the moral high ground on that basis ever since. You creep.

  2. “So, I have committed to my family.”
    – not that committed to the first wife though

    “I have committed to campaign on tax justice.”
    – not necessarily committed to facts

    “I have committed to my colleagues.”
    – a bit of a falling out with the TJN?

    “I have committed to live in a place.”
    – not exactly a hovel though is it?

    “I have committed to a faith.”
    – you were a quaker, then not, and now are again. Not *that* committed then.

  3. He writes so badly. All short sentences. And run-ons. It’s very hard to read “philosophy” written like that. And kind of annoying.

    The irony is that us libertarians are the least self-centred idealists of all. We demand to be constrained by a rather fierce code called the non-aggression principle. It’s these bloody socialists who do all the “give me your money or I’ll hurt you” stuff. That’s the thing really; since we hold to this idea that the only valid form of human interaction is voluntary, we’re the most co-operative philosophy there is.

  4. I find him irritating as he used to tax avoid but now gets paid to preach against it. If he did it for free then I wouldn’t mind so much.
    BTW Tim has anyone offered you money to start agreeing with Richie?

  5. It’s my suspicion that those libertarians that I irritate think freedom means being able to do what they like without constraint and maybe, even, restraint. I am aware that simplifies an ideology into one short sentence, but on this occasion I see no harm in that.

    This is really a splendidly blatant way to introduce a straw man but in other respects a bit of a beta double minus essay, I’m afraid

  6. “only up to the point that our exercise of such freedom and liberty beings to impact upon the ability of others to enjoy their own freedom and liberty”: a good demonstration that almost everything that’s said using “impact” is shite.

  7. My favourite Ritchie cod philosophy is the one where he takes the starting point that people have a human right to peaceful enjoyment of their own property without reasonable interference; and somehow ends up at a place whereby the non-payment of taxes (including, presumably, such tax avoidance schemes that he happens to disagree with from time to time) is an abuse of the state’s human rights to tax on property, resulting in the non-payer’s property being forfeited to the state.

    He made a few logical contortions to come to that conclusion. The main one being that he says it follows as a logical implication that the state must have human rights, rather than the view accepted by the sane consensus that human rights are there to protect us from the state not vice versa.

  8. Yes, I think this is the last Ritchie post of yours I look at.

    Years ago I found my eight year old son looking at a web site where people (if that’s the word) uploaded photos of their most interesting faeces.

    Ritchie’s blog now has something of that air about it…

  9. This is the old positive negative freedom argument – “freedom from” versus “freedom to”. In Richie’s world people are not free unless government is powerful enough to enforce freedom.

  10. All of that bilge from Dickie and I think you can boil down the point of his shonky definition of ‘freedom’ to this one excerpt:

    “Until the freedom to reciprocate is delivered there is a duty to compensate …”

    It reads like tax mysticism.

  11. “It’s my suspicion that those libertarians that I irritate”

    Those? Implies that there are others he does not irritate. Perhaps those that have never heard of him.

    He does enjoy creating straw men which he then furiously attacks. It’s a sort of “Two Minutes Hate” for him. I think he might have some anger management issues.

  12. “There is in what I think and the way I act a direct challenge to the egotistic, self centred approach of the libertarian who sees their freedom as existing”

    It’s his usual thinly veiled paraphrasing of Mein Kampf. I don’t know why more people don’t call him out for what he is: an old-fashioned Nazi.

  13. Half way through this post earlier I expected to see him conclude by comparing himself to Jesus.

    Since then I’ve been unable to determine whether or not I was disappointed that he didn’t.

  14. On Ritchie’s blog Simon says (no really, he does)

    “As a Quaker Christian I would add that only from a place of our own powerlessness can human relationships really grow.”

    So, to make people free the State (and Ritchie explains that this is indeed the aim of the State: “this philosophy of freedom demands change until all are free”) must first make them powerless.

  15. OK, I’ll bite.

    “…the libertarian who sees their freedom as existing independently of the constraints it may impose on other’s freedom to commit…”

    This is what I think he may be saying:

    1. Lots of libertarians go on and on about property rights and how they are just about the only thing a state should enforce.
    2. This stress on property rights ignores the fact that property rights are the biggest single restriction on our liberty, preventing us from going where we damn well please.
    3. Libertarians (and others) can of course provide good welfare/utility reasons for the gross infringement of our liberty imposed by property rights. But then they are admitting that liberty is not the only or even most important thing for them.
    4. Ergo libertarianism is intellectually inconsistent.

    (My guess is that he’s picked up some entertaining recent wind up posts by Matt Bruenig, which I am paraphrasing, but I can’t be bothered to read Ritchie’s piece.)

  16. Luke

    No. Taking another man’s property is the equivalent of swinging the fist through to the nose, exactly where liberalism stops. It isn’t “going where we damn well please”. There is no inconsistency here.

  17. Neither is there any inconsistency at all is Murphy’s responses to Meissen Bison or Steve55. Individual choice, economic or personal, isn’t ‘freedom’ as he understands it. No, only the freedom to do what the Courageous State has chosen for you is true freedom. The beauty of all of this is he and his cretinous followers really have no idea how Orwellian they really are.

  18. Ironman, (a) I was trying to be brief and (b) you have missed the point I was trying to make, probably because of (a).

    Try a longer form of the argument.

    http://mattbruenig.com/2014/05/07/property-and-conflict/

    http://www.demos.org/blog/1/29/14/what-world-following-non-aggression-principle-looks

    FWIW, I don’t care whether libertarianism is intellectually consistent. Other views aren’t always logically consistent, and most “libertarians” are really just believers in a small state and low taxes. Some, like Tim, also have a genuine interest in liberty (sex/drugs/presumption of innocence). Other, like Brian Caplan, really are interested in liberty (all the above plus unrestricted immigration – I would say that’s a good test of someone who’s prime interest is liberty).

    Anyway, enjoy the posts.

  19. Ironman

    not sure you saw the interaction with either Horrocks or Dickie (they blend into one fifth columnist after a while) where, alongside Murphy, they attempted to co-opt Orwell to claim ‘neoliberals have redefined the terms of language’ and ‘it was time to claim them back’ – it really was like something out of 1984…..

  20. ukliberty, yes primarily about land.

    But the extreme form of the argument says that for maximum freedom, the *only* rule is: “Don’t use force on another person”. So I can walk where I want, but also once you put something down, I can pick it up. If you choose to grow something, I can eat it. Any agreement between you and me to leave certain stuff for the other would not be binding on anyone else.

    There would be drawbacks with such a society, but it would offer the most freedom and have the fewest rules – one. Most libertarians actually want more rules than that.

  21. Sorry Luke, but you have just wasted my time. His ideas on property ownership are the same sort of doublespeak bollocks Murphy has been spouting. Freedom is the absence of choice, property is violence, security is “constraint”. No, don’t try the long for me of the argument on me again, the short form saves me time.

    Van

    Yes I did; just wonderful.

  22. I really loathe the dirty lefty technique that goes “Here is what the neoliberal believes, who could agree with him?”

    I’ll say whether or not I am a neoliberal;not you. Then I’ll say what I believe, then – and only then – you can say why you disagree. So stop telling people on this blog what you think they believe.

  23. “for maximum freedom, the *only* rule is: “Don’t use force on another person”. ”

    Nope, the rule is “don’t initiate force on another person.” But there’s no cheek-turning in my version of libertarianism.

  24. BICR, fair enough. But that still means you support no property rights, if that’s the only rule. I can take anything as long as I don’t hit you, and you can’t hit me just cos I take something you think is yours (or some pesky judge says is yours).

    Ironman, Yes, it’s pointless academic theorising primarily written to wind people up, but what’s actually wrong? Answer without using the words “lefty” “murphy” “socialist” hardworking families”.

    For the record, I am a statist who feels quite entitled to use the state/law to enforce my property rights.

  25. But that still means you support no property rights, if that’s the only rule. I can take anything as long as I don’t hit you, and you can’t hit me just cos I take something you think is yours (or some pesky judge says is yours).

    Actual violence isn’t the only form of force. I presume you are being deliberately provocative and stupid. You may also be confusing anarchism with minarchism (spell chunk turned that to ‘monarchism’!) with libertarianism.

    Also, please don’t confuse the Yankee extreme-anti-federalists with actual “libertarians”. It’s a category error on the level of confusing the British Liberal Democrats with actual liberals.

  26. Oh, and having read a couple of the links, is Matt Breunig Ritchie’s long lost American twin.

    My content has been featured or mentioned at …

    My content has been, variously and amongst other places, mentioned in Parliament (both houses, separately) and in a Dutch guy’s PhD thesis.

    I’m not an MP, nor a Lord nor Dutch nor even a Dr.

    Although my work has been printed in the FT, the Daily Hate, and well, Forbes. Although in the last case, only in comments. Most of which have been on Tim’s pages.

    But none of that makes me “important”.

  27. I wish he would stop telling us what we think. He has no understanding or why we find him irritating. Well just in case his special friend Arnald is around to tell him, it is because he is a sanctimonious, ignorant, hypocritical buffoon.

  28. Luke,

    Ritchie refers to his support from papers, articles and diatribes that he, himself, has written. For other people than the organisation he is currently writing for. Building up an entirely fictions groundswell of authoritative support.

    Breunig doesn’t claim to have been “featured in”. He claims to have been “featured or mentioned in”. Mentioned is a very low threshold. A blog post by Tim or Francis on Forbes ripping one of his “cuddly commie” articles apart is definitely “mentioned”. It’s a very low threshold of narcissistic disorder.

    I, as SE, on the other hand, as a mere nym, have been mentioned in many places. Not always, I have to admit, approvingly. And in some of those cases, even correctly.

    The mask behind the face has been featured (and even paid for) writing for a number of publications. Including the FT. This is not sufficiently distinguishing of me from the population to feature in my blog bio. Or even in my pukka CV.

  29. “But the extreme form of the argument says that for maximum freedom, the *only* rule is: “Don’t use force on another person”. So I can walk where I want, but also once you put something down, I can pick it up. If you choose to grow something, I can eat it. Any agreement between you and me to leave certain stuff for the other would not be binding on anyone else.”

    Every right and freedom is a property right when you boil it down Luke. Libertarians don’t use physical force on other people because they are the owners of their bodies and themselves. By extension they are also the owners of the previously unowned or voluntarily exchanged things they transform or make using the bodies and selves which they own. Basic stuff and internally consistent.

    It is possible to have an alternative property ethic where nobody owns anything and everyone is entirely equal, but most people see the downsides of this immediately and so it isn’t all that popular.

  30. I just posted on Richard Murphy’s website for what I think is the first time ever. Without knowing anything about me he refuses to approve some posts and then approves random ones to which he responds with a touchy put down, obviously spoiling any chance of a decent debate.

    I have to say he seems a very trivial kind of guy to be worrying about, and he probably loves the attention. His arguments seem childish at best. Why not just ignore?

  31. I think he views ‘freedom’ in the sense of giving three year olds the ‘freedom’ to choose, plan and cook their own meals. Arguable from a theoretical, abstract point of view but obviously and terribly wrong in practice.

  32. Why not just ignore?

    Because he has direct access for his imbecilic ideas to people with both background political influence and, in all likelihood, to people with a significant chance of holding senior executive office in the next UK government.

    Ignoring people like that, however trivial and irritating they are, is dangerous.

  33. SE, I don’t understand. Who cares if Bruenig or Murphy have been “featured” anywhere? Are they right? (For Murphy, probably not.)

    Tomsmith”Every right and freedom is a property right when you boil it down Luke. ”

    Why? Because libertarians/ judges say so? What if they refused to accept any rule apart from “don’t use force on another?”

    (I don’t think that’s a good idea, but I’m not the one arguing for minimal rules.)

  34. Who cares if Bruenig or Murphy have been “featured” anywhere?

    Breunig thinks it important enough to place on his blog’s about page. I think it highlights how insignificant he actually is. Certainly in comparison to his obvious self-worth.

  35. “What if they refused to accept any rule apart from “don’t use force on another?”

    If you take my stuff then you are using force against my property. Me and my property are contiguous.

    If nobody is allowed any property apart from their own bodies (what would be the basis of this distinction?), well then ok, but nothing will get done and civilisation will fall to bits.

  36. “Ignoring people like that, however trivial and irritating they are, is dangerous.”

    Reading his site for the first time my first reaction is to laugh. It is pointless arguing with him these because he obviously uses it as some kind of fake advert for his masterful debating skills, when in fact the opposite is the case.

    Posting about that site just drives traffic to it surely? Wouldn’t it be more productive to limit comment to things he writes in the mass media, and to try and keep it impersonal? The guy appears to be a buffoon. If he appears on TV or radio then I’d have thought that would be the best time to get someone to demolish him in a place he cannot hide?

    If people in the Labour party listen to this man then I honestly can’t see it doing them much good come election time.

  37. If he appears on TV or radio then I’d have thought that would be the best time to get someone to demolish him in a place he cannot hide?

    You have clearly limited experience of “balance” within British media, particularly the BBC.

    If people in the Labour party listen to this man then I honestly can’t see it doing them much good come election time.

    Mindless populism is rarely harmful to political parties. Whether it is “bankers bad, tax the rich” or {reference to Nazi campaign slogans pre-deleted by author}, it works to a significant enough to be decisive portion of the electorate. Democracy has its faults.

  38. The best way to deal with a narcissist is to ignore and occasionally to point and laugh. But mostly to ignore.

  39. “If you take my stuff then you are using force against my property.”

    “My stuff. “My property.” Who says it’s yours?

  40. “You have clearly limited experience of “balance” within British media, particularly the BBC”

    I know the BBC tends to try and set up ambushes, and usually weights panels and audiences with plenty of socialists. But the big disadvantage they have is that they are never telling the truth, and a suitably prepared person can use this fact if they do not become distracted by the emotion and shouting. There is nothing that voters hate more than lies and hypocrisy.

  41. “Who says it’s yours?”

    I am the owner of my self, I made it, it is the product of my work which I own, and so it is mine. This is the basis of property rights. Even you believe it I think.

  42. Nobody needs to tell me my property is mine. Everyone understands that it is mine because property is an extension of the person, as all humans intuitively understand.

  43. Every right and freedom is indeed a property right because, yes, we say so. Because that then defines what we mean by property rights. And this version, our version, of property is what we refer to when when we say it belongs to individuals.

    And here’s the rub Luke: what we believe is determined by our attitude to what we mean by property; not by what you say is our attitude to what you say we mean by property.

  44. Tomsmith
    “If nobody is allowed any property apart from their own bodies (what would be the basis of this distinction?), well then ok, but nothing will get done and civilisation will fall to bits.”

    I agree, and so does Matt Bruenig (I think – I’ve never spoken/met/emailed/tweeted him.)

    That’s the point. Liberty (in the libertarian sense) is not the ultimate good that should decide everything. No “libertarian” believes that (with the possible exception of Brian Caplan).

  45. “Nobody needs to tell me my property is mine. Everyone understands that it is mine because property is an extension of the person, as all humans intuitively understand.”

    Then why do we have property laws? I can assure you that there are a lot of them and they are complicated. Start with the 1925 LPA. All so self evident that it takes a massive statute to set it out.

  46. “That’s the point. Liberty (in the libertarian sense) is not the ultimate good that should decide everything. No “libertarian” believes that (with the possible exception of Brian Caplan).”

    Not being allowed any property apart from your body is not liberty in the libertarian sense.

  47. Ironman.,

    “And here’s the rub Luke: what we believe is determined by our attitude to what we mean by property; not by what you say is our attitude to what you say we mean by property.”

    Try telling that to a judge. “I believe this is my property.” Works every time.

  48. “Then why do we have property laws?”

    To prevent vigilante action and to provide a framework for the prosecution of criminals.

    Be assured that where there are no property laws the criminal still knows that what he does is wrong and understands the consequences if he is caught.

  49. So if Matt Bruenig simply misunderstands liberty in the libertarian sense, what are you banging on about exactly?

  50. “Try telling that to a judge. “I believe this is my property.” Works every time”

    Laws are predicated on the belief systems of the societies they serve..until recently at least

  51. Tomsmith at 9.59.

    Completely agree. The benefits of avoiding vigilante violence outweigh the benefits of complete liberty. So, as I have been saying all along, hardly anyone really values maximum liberty above everything else. Next.

  52. Lol at the actions of Murphy on his blog..he deletes absolutely anything that might present a difficult argument. I’m really not sure how his ego handles it.

  53. “Completely agree. The benefits of avoiding vigilante violence outweigh the benefits of complete liberty. So, as I have been saying all along, hardly anyone really values maximum liberty above everything else. Next.”

    Don’t be dishonest. Remember, people can read back and see what you write on this blog.

    Your last post was arguing that we need property law to tell us what property is. I presented a counter argument. Feel free to continue, or not.

  54. The existence of a property law in no way countermands the libertarian derivation of property. Law derives from and codifies societal custom, that is all.

  55. Your right to swing your arm leaves off where my right not to have my nose struck begins

    The earliest record of anyone saying this is a quote from one John B Finch, a prohibitionist, arguing against public drunkenness.

    This sort of liberty is something many libertarians say they believe in, but on examination it turns out that what they really mean is that their right to swing their fist extends at least to the boundary of their property, as legally defined, wherever my nose may happen to be. That is, they want a state land registry to extend their fist-swinging rights at the expense of everyone else’s noses.

    Property rights as supported by right-libertarians are not the same thing as liberty. I don’t believe one can make an argument from liberty that violence should be used against me if I walk uninvited in the gardens of Buckingham Palace.

  56. Tomsmith
    “Don’t be dishonest. Remember, people can read back and see what you write on this blog.”
    Not sure what you are alluding to, as I am tired and a bit pissed. But somewhere I said that I was not that bothered by libertarian inconsistency. Nor by my own, unless you point it out.

  57. Tomsmith
    “The existence of a property law in no way countermands the libertarian derivation of property. Law derives from and codifies societal custom, that is all.”

    As before,I agree entirely. Law (and the resulting property rights) derive from societal custom, not what libertarians think they should.

    Next.

  58. “As before,I agree entirely. Law (and the resulting property rights) derive from societal custom,”

    And societal customs derive from the innate drives and beliefs of human beings filtered through culture. Property ownership is one of these. Property is as much a part of being a person as using tools and language. All cultures recognise property. Very small children understand ownership from before the time they can talk.

  59. LIbertarianism provides a universalised property ethic that is not intrinsically repellent to human beings.

  60. And England is a place where such ideas have been around for a long time and are part of the culture.

  61. “LIbertarianism provides a universalised property ethic that is not intrinsically repellent to human beings.”

    Blah blah blah blah.

    I don’t particularly disagree.

    “ Law derives from and codifies societal custom, that is all.””

    Your words not mine. Nothing to do with fairness or justice, or indeed libertarian principles. Just custom. I agree. You’re right. Property law derived from societal custom. I repeat, you’re right.

  62. I don’t think anyone apart from you mentioned fairness or justice, merely the fact that England and the Anglosphere have a societal custom of liberalism. The law reflects this. This does not undermine the philosophical justifications of property ownership in libertarianism. In fact it reinforces them, showing that they actually work.

  63. “There is nothing that voters hate more than lies and hypocrisy.”
    Good grief!
    What voters want is their preconceptions, no matter how erroneous, validated. Which is why they can be sold mutually incompatible notions, wholesale.
    The proof of this is that people like Murphy prosper.

  64. This post started with Ritchie’s distilling other peoples’ beliefs into one easy sentence – dishonestly of course. We have suffered 1/2 a day of a self confessed drunk giving us his pissed version of what he believes we believe. We have
    been referred to a delusional crank called Matt Breunig who does much the same. Finally we have this from PaulB (never deliberately candid):

    “This sort of liberty is something many libertarians say they believe in, but on examination it turns out that what they really mean is that their right to swing their fist extends at least to the boundary of their property, as legally defined, wherever my nose may happen to be. That is, they want a state land registry to extend their fist-swinging rights at the expense of everyone else’s noses.”

    For emphasis: “This sort of liberty is something many libertarians say they believe in”.

    He is actually telling us directly that we are liars. Well, if their argument depends so very much on them believing we don’t actually mean what we say, I think we can feel very confident deep down they agree with what we do say. I wouldn’t wish to be in their heads.

    Can I thank tomsmith for sticking with it and providing Luke with a clear explanation of what is property, what are property rights and what our true relationship with them is. And yes, Ritchie deletes you as soon as it gets awkward. He is a fraud.

  65. Ironman: Ritchie deletes you as soon as it gets awkward

    It’s amazing what you can slip past him if you express it obsequiously enough. I’ve had some fun with his current thread.

  66. Luke could easily solve his misunderstanding problem if he got his head around the general idea that “the person” includes that person’s property. An easy way to think of this is to imagine schoolchildren- if I steal Luke’s satchel and throw it in a muddy puddle, this is an attack on Luke himself in the understanding of any reasonable person.

  67. PaulB provides us with useful information-

    The earliest record of anyone saying this is a quote from one John B Finch, a prohibitionist, arguing against public drunkenness.

    I always had this feeling there was something dodgy about that quote, but never got around to researching where it originates from. Thank you Paul.

  68. “It’s amazing what you can slip past him if you express it obsequiously enough. I’ve had some fun with his current thread.”

    I’ve just read your exchange with him – brilliant!

  69. Meissen

    Agreed. Your exchange was really quite funny. However, was it you being quite sharp or him being really thick?

  70. @PaulB

    ‘This sort of liberty is something many libertarians say they believe in, but on examination it turns out that what they really mean is that their right to swing their fist extends at least to the boundary of their property, as legally defined, wherever my nose may happen to be. That is, they want a state land registry to extend their fist-swinging rights at the expense of everyone else’s noses.’

    I don’t know anyone who it ‘turns out’ thinks like this, and neither do you you appalling liar.

    Define ‘wherever my nose happens to be’. If it’s encroaching on my property, I reserve the right to eject it. Thus, in the metaphor, the swinging fist is your encroachment on my property rights. You’ve already struck my nose, I’m just ejecting you.

    ‘Property rights as supported by right-libertarians are not the same thing as liberty. I don’t believe one can make an argument from liberty that violence should be used against me if I walk uninvited in the gardens of Buckingham Palace.’

    Everyone. We’re all round at Paul’s tomorrow. Midday. The drinks are on him. It’s cool, he won’t use violence to get us to leave.

  71. Iromman: so ungenerous of you to cast a light into that corner.

    Your question holds the answer of course. The adverbs of degree clinch it:
    RM=Very
    MB=Quite

  72. I’d be interested to see those criticising libertarian usages of the word “liberty” supply their own. They seem to me to be trying to make a case that there is no such thing as liberty, so it’s not worth actually arguing about or fighting for; a position adopted often by Statists right up until the moment Plod arrests them for throwing bricks through a window, in which case they suddenly start complaining about the State infringing their liberties (in this case, to “protest”).

    Is that an unfair characterisation? Possibly. But Paul and Luke are being entirely unfair; they are, surely, fully aware that the desire within humans to have liberty in their actions is very natural. If you look at a crime we have argued about a lot here- rape- the key defining characteristic is that the victim has lost their liberty by having an act (which they strongly resist) forced upon them. Indeed, the word “rape” in the general form is not just sexual; it is the forcible taking of that which is not freely given.

    noun: the violent seizure and carrying off of another’s property; plunder.

    http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/rapine

    So it would be helpful to the discussion if they would cut the crap. Liberty as a general policy applies to all, and thus “liberty” is incompatible with “plunder”- whether of property or the person themself. The argument that “true” liberty would enable plunder- as put forward by Luke particularly- is simply incoherent.

  73. “So it would be helpful to the discussion if they would cut the crap. Liberty as a general policy applies to all, and thus “liberty” is incompatible with “plunder”- whether of property or the person themself. The argument that “true” liberty would enable plunder- as put forward by Luke particularly- is simply incoherent.”

    Of course they have to keep the crap going because if they honestly engaged in an argument about property it would soon become apparent that what they want is either incoherent or does not apply to all people equally.

    Notice how they avoid at all costs any discussion of the alternative coherent and universally applicable system of property ownership, i.e. total equality of everything, no personal ownership of anything, no individual person at all.

  74. What they generally want is something where they get special treatment and everyone else gets treated like crap

  75. Liberty as a general policy applies to all, and thus “liberty” is incompatible with “plunder”- whether of property or the person themself. The argument that “true” liberty would enable plunder- as put forward by Luke particularly- is simply incoherent.

    It wouldn’t be “plunder” if it was common property or there were no property rights.

  76. Which is why you can’t have liberty without property. Hence the way Communism always ends up whenever tried.

  77. Ian,

    They seem to me to be trying to make a case that there is no such thing as liberty, so it’s not worth actually arguing about or fighting for;

    I think it’s an argument about the extent of liberty or what liberty means; I do get a sense from some people-who-claim-to-be-libertarians that they think their utopia means true or total or absolute liberty but, as you undoubtedly understand, one’s liberty is necessarily circumscribed by the liberty of others and the rules we ‘agree’ to live by (because the other means of conflict resolution is violence, which most of us want to avoid). Of course, it’s unfair to characterise the unnuanced as representative of the whole set.

  78. I’m scratching my head here: both Ironman and Interested have expressed outrage at my assertion that many right-libertarians demand rights to land ownership defended by state or individual violence, then gone on immediately to argue for rights to land ownership defended by state or individual violence. (If I read Interested correctly, he objects strongly to the possibility that I may obstruct his swinging fist with my nose.)

    …“the person” includes that person’s property. An easy way to think of this is to imagine schoolchildren- if I steal Luke’s satchel and throw it in a muddy puddle, this is an attack on Luke himself in the understanding of any reasonable person.

    That’s an interesting example. Try this one instead: say Luke has fifty satchels, forty nine of which he keeps in a storeroom. Ian, who has no satchel, sneaks into the storeroom and takes one. Months later, Luke notices that Ian is using one of his satchels, and deploys his private army, or alternatively the state police force, to take the satchel off Ian.

    Is the fiftieth satchel part of Luke’s person? Is liberty increased by taking the satchel off Ian?

    If your answer to those two questions is no, then you may agree with me that Ian’s example is evocative because of the physical threat involved in taking the satchel off a schoolchild who, in one’s imagination, is carrying it, and the gratuitous destructiveness of throwing it in a puddle. Neither of which are essentially property considerations.

  79. Luke’s fiftieth satchel has exactly the same status as his first one. Ian had no right to take it. Ian should have produced something to trade for a satchel (or produced his own satchel), just as Luke did when he wished to own fifty satchels.

    The use of the childish example was intended to demonstrate that everyone, including children, has an innate concept of property regardless of their philosophical readings and musings, or understanding of the law, or lack thereof. Luke’s satchel is a part of his self, which is the immediate emotional reaction Luke would have if somebody took his satchel off him. Words like “mine” and “yours” long predate modern States.

    The idea that somehow if you have more property (satchels) that concept is somehow diluted has no basis; either every satchel is equally property or none is.

    A State property registry is simply a convenience. It is helpful to know (in the case of land, where we have registries) who owns what and where the boundaries precisely lie. But the State does not create the property or concept thereof, any more than if the State registered everyone’s property-in-goods, it would not be the originator of their status as property, merely a registrar of convenience. In the same way that it throughout history people have married, regardless of whether a State kept a registry of that.

  80. The use of the childish example was intended to demonstrate that everyone, including children, has an innate concept of property regardless of their philosophical readings and musings, or understanding of the law, or lack thereof.

    I’m not sure that’s true, or how true that is, or at what age this “innate concept” is understood or comes into being – my youngest nephew will play with his brother’s toys without permission and get upset when his brother takes them away . Different societies have different concepts of property. As was suggested earlier, it’s custom and practice. We think one way, a tribe in New Guinea or the Amazon may think another.

  81. PaulB: If your answer to those two questions is no

    …you’d be perverse and possibly a danger to others.

  82. UKL-

    “and get upset when his brother takes them away” is the important point there. Everyone wants stuff. What develops is the realisation that having stuff means controlling it, which is what property is. In a state of nothing being owned, it is not the case that everyone has everything. It means everyone has nothing. So quite rapidly, the concept of “hands off, that is MINE!” develops.

  83. “and get upset when his brother takes them away” is the important point there.

    Because he’s been told it’s his toy, not a toy they are to share, and he was feeling a bit ratty.

  84. I am happy to believe that Luke genuinely doesn’t grasp what we mean by property; not so PaulB though. He does understand and he continues to mis-state it.

    Why? because he has no honest point of disagreement with us any more. He is clinging on to a life-long-held position in which he no longer has any true belief. As I say earlier, I wouldn’t like to be in his head.

  85. UKL-

    I am confused. Why would you tell him that his brother’s toy is his own toy?

    Anyway, from my own memories of childhood, it’s normally futile telling children that something is “to share”, since they already have that strong propertarian urge. As with people in general. You either get fighting, or a tragedy of the commons. Children make lousy communists.

  86. I am confused. Why would you tell him that his brother’s toy is his own toy?

    ‘Jack’ is given a toy, told it’s his. ‘John’ plays with Jack’s toy. Jack takes it away. John is upset.

  87. I’m completely lost now as to who is upset by whose toy has been taken from who. It might be better if we dropped this and moved on.

  88. Luke’s fiftieth satchel has exactly the same status as his first one. Ian had no right to take it. Ian should have produced something to trade for a satchel (or produced his own satchel), just as Luke did when he wished to own fifty satchels.

    The use of the childish example was intended to demonstrate that everyone, including children, has an innate concept of property regardless of their philosophical readings and musings, or understanding of the law, or lack thereof. Luke’s satchel is a part of his self, which is the immediate emotional reaction Luke would have if somebody took his satchel off him.

    Ian and Luke are schoolchildren (that’s your stipulation). You want children to produce goods to trade or else go without?

    Luke may see the satchel he’s actually using as part of himself in some sense, but he certainly doesn’t think of his fiftieth satchel like that – for several months he didn’t even notice it was missing.

    Children have a sense of fairness, not of extensive property rights. I’m fairly sure that if you asked a group of 5-year-olds who ought to get the fiftieth satchel – the boy who was using it or the boy who wanted to put it back in his storeroom – they’d plump for its being used.

    You say that Luke’s first satchel has the same status as his fiftieth. So you need an argument that works for the fiftieth satchel.

    I’ll happily define liberty as “freedom to do as one chooses”, and to prefer governance which seeks to maximize it. In this example, we have a conflict between Ian’s choice to have a satchel to carry his stuff in, and Luke’s choice to have a fiftieth satchel to keep in his storeroom. I think there is much more deprivation of liberty in taking the satchel away from Ian.

  89. “In this example, we have a conflict between Ian’s choice to have a satchel to carry his stuff in, and Luke’s choice to have a fiftieth satchel to keep in his storeroom. I think there is much more deprivation of liberty in taking the satchel away from Ian.”

    Thank you, thank you, something I can believe you actually mean!

    And I can understand why you might hold that view; Ian being deprived by having no satchel and Luke having more than enough and just being selfish not to share. We can then move on and i can ask you what about the 49th? And what about the 48th? And how about the 9th? And we can disagree. But we will not be traduced by a claim that our idea of property is only the 50th satchel and our idea of freedom is Luke’s right to smash more deprived Ian’s nose in if he dares go near a single precious satchel.

    No, by property I mean Luke’s 1st satchel, and his uniform and his face! And then I do indeed mean Luke’s 50th satchel if he didn’t steal it. And his right to the 50th satchel need only be questioned if Ian is genuinely deprived by not having a satchel, genuinely deprived! And Luke’s acquest of satchels is at the expense of Ian and others, which in the real world it seems it really isn’t.

  90. Children regard all property as their own at first; only later do they come to recognise that other people can have property rights.

    That’s why one child will pay with his brother’s toys: he doesn’t regard them as his brother’s, he regards them as his own; and why the child will get upset when the brother takes them back: the brother has taken what the child regards as his own property.

    It’s also why the concept of sharing has to be drummed into them: “ours” is a step along the way from “mine” to “yours”.

    Unfortunately, sometimes sharing is so drummed in that people never get past the “ours” stage. I’ve seen children essentally get to steal things, because the owner (another child) gets told to “share” things that are clearly his own. There’s some merit in drilling children into generosity, but I do worry it gets taken too far when it gets abused to enable greed.

  91. “I think there is much more deprivation of liberty in taking the satchel away from Ian.”

    It isn’t Ian’s satchel. No deprivation of liberty, only the intervention of reality. Satchels are not infinite.

  92. “I’m not sure that’s true, or how true that is, or at what age this “innate concept” is understood or comes into being – my youngest nephew will play with his brother’s toys without permission and get upset when his brother takes them away . Different societies have different concepts of property. As was suggested earlier, it’s custom and practice. We think one way, a tribe in New Guinea or the Amazon may think another.”

    Not much different at all..they just limit (and so pervert) it to different degrees.

  93. “It wouldn’t be “plunder” if it was common property or there were no property rights.”

    You want to live in this world?

  94. And that “libertarians” are stunningly obtuse on this?

    Repeat after me: “Property is what law or custom says it is. It is not like the laws of thermodynamics, which are the same whatever humans think.”

  95. Tomsmith
    “You want to live in this world?”

    No. Of course not. I want to live in a world with lots and lots of sensible laws. Like you do.

  96. “It wouldn’t be “plunder” if it was common property or there were no property rights.”

    You want to live in this world?

    Weird how people read into things. I didn’t endorse that kind of system.

  97. So, from the premise that worstall can’t get his quotes right, and that he posits down his readers’ shoulders about what he thinks is how it should be, and that his traveller says

    “Thank you, thank you, something I can believe you actually mean!”

    Truly, fuck right off.

  98. Arnald: Truly, fuck right off.

    You’re showing promise.

    When will you be promoted to “Respectfully, fuck right off” and thence to “Candidly, fuck right off”.

    Can’t be long.

  99. Ironman: thank you for your understanding.

    To be clear, I think that security in one’s immediate possessions enhances liberty. I think that security in extensive accumulations of goods one is not using may not enhance liberty. I do not accept Ian B’s claim that one’s fiftieth satchel has exactly the same status as one’s first. I’ll go further: I can’t begin to understand that claim.

    Furthermore, I do not accept that private ownership of land increases liberty. For example, I think we would be less free if the foreshore were privately held.

    That’s not to say that I’m necessarily opposed to any of those things. But the question is what is economically efficient, not what makes us free. If we decide as a matter of economics to use state power to enforce extensive property rights, we can equally decide as a matter of economics to tax extensive property.

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