perjantai 9. elokuuta 2013

Murray N. Rothbard: The Ethics of Liberty

Ludwig von Misesin Human Action on toistaiseksi paras lukemani kirja. Kakkoseksi listalle kiilaa von Misesin oppilas ja oppien jatkokehittäjä Murray Newton Rothbard (Wikipedia) teoksellaan The Ethics of Liberty. Molemmat teokset tulevat olemaan keskeisiä kulmakiviä väitöskirjani teoreettisessa viitekehyksessä.
Murray N. Rothbard - The Ethics of Liberty
The Ethics of Liberty on syvällinen, perusteellinen ja looginen alusta loppuun saakka. Se on jäsenneltyä ja johdonmukaista ajattelua liberalistisesta maailmankuvasta johdettuna. Rothbardin koko tuotanto on von Misesin ohella lukemisen arvoista tavaraa. Molempien herrojen kirjat voi käydä ilmaiseksi lataamasta Mises Instituutin sivuilta. Esimerkiksi Ethics of Liberty löytyy täältä. Lataa ja lue tai laita kirja tilaukseen, koska tämä teos kuuluu luettavaksi!

The Ethics of Libertyssä on muutamia kappaleita, jotka ovat siteerauskelpoista tekstiä alusta loppuun saakka. Niinpä en ole niitä tähän blogitekstiin lähtenyt kopioimaan vaan tuon ne esille erillisinä kokonaiskirjoituksina. Alla on muista kappaleista mielestäni keskeisimmät poiminnot. Merkittävin Ethics of Libertyn tuoma lisäarvo minulle oli omistusoikeuksien ja ihmisoikeuksien kytkeminen kiinteästi toisiinsa. Ei ole toista ilman toista vaan itse asiassa ihmisoikeuksissa on kyse omistusoikeuksista. Rothbard lähtee liikkeelle ihmisen itsensä omistajuudesta (self-ownership), ja asettaa ihmisen myös omistusoikeuden määrittymisen keskiöön. Tähän samaan ajatusmalliin pohjautuu myös väitöskirjassani omistajuuden perusta. Tästä omistusoikeudesta Rothbard tarkastelee mm. vapaaehtoista vaihdantaa ja ihmisten sosiaalista kanssakäymistä sekä pohtii lapsen omistusoikeutta. Vapauden teorian (A Theory of Liberty) voi Rothbardia seuraten suurelta osin kiteyttää omistusoikeuden teoriaan. Kirjan toisessa osiossa Rothbard tarkastelee vapauden suhdetta valtioon (The State versus Liberty). Tässä osiossa Rothbard ei juurikaan jätä teoreettista roolia valtiolle vapaassa yhteiskunnassa. Lopussa Rothbard vielä tulkitsee ja analysoi muita aiemmin esitettyjä teoreettisia kirjoituksia, kuten von Misesia, Hayekia, Berlinia ja Nozickia.

Natural Law as "Science"
Value in the sense of valuation or utility is purely subjective, and decided by each individual.

But justice is the product of reason, not the passions. And justice is the necessary support of the social order; and the social order is necessary to man's well-being and happiness. If this is so, the norms of justice must control and regulate the passions, and not vice versa.

Reason can be superior to the passions.

Natural Law versus Positive Law
In fact, the legal principles of any society can be established in three alternate ways: (a) by following the traditional custom of the tribe or community; (b) by obeying the arbitrary, ad hoc will of those who rule the State apparatus; or (c) by the use of man’s reason in discovering the natural law—in short, by slavish conformity to custom, by arbitrary whim, or by use of man’s reason. These are essentially the only possible ways for establishing positive law.

Natural Law and Natural Rights
"Every man has a property in his own person. This nobody has any right to but himself. The labour of his body and the work of his hands, we may say, are properly his. Whatsoever then he removes out of the state that nature hath provided, and left it in, he hath mixed his labour with, and joined to it something that is his own, and thereby makes it his property. It being by him removed from the common state nature placed it in, it hath by this labour something annexed to it that excludes the common right of other men. For this labour being the unquestionable property of the labourer, no man but he can have a right to what that is once joined to. . . .
He that is nourished by the acorns he picked up under an oak, or the apples he gathered from the trees in the wood, has certainly appropriated them to himself. Nobody can deny but the nourishment is his. I ask then when did they begin to be his? . . . And ‘tis plain, if the first gathering made them not his, nothing else could. That labour put a distinction between them and common. That added something to them more than nature, the common mother of all, had done: and so they become his private right. And will any one say he had no right to those acorns or apples he thus appropriated, because he had not the consent of all mankind to make them his? . . . If such a consent as that was necessary, man had starved, notwithstanding the plenty God had given him. We see in commons, which remain so by compact, that ‘tis the taking part of what is common, and removing it out of the state Nature leaves it in, whichbegins the property; without which the common is of no use." - John Locke: Second Treatise on Government

"When we say that one has the right to do certain things we mean this and only this, that it would be immoral for another, alone or in combination, to stop him from doing this by the use of physical force or the threat thereof. We do not mean that any use a man makes of his property within the limits set forth is necessarily a moral use." - Professor James A Sadowsky, S.J.: Private Property and Collective Ownership.

Property and Criminality
WE MAY DEFINE ANYONE who aggresses against the person or other produced property of another as acriminal. A criminal is anyone who initiates violence against another man and his property: anyone who uses the coercive “political means” for the acquisition of goods and services.

We cannot simply say that the great axiomatic moral rule of the libertarian society is the protection of property rights, period. For the criminal has no natural right whatever to the retention of property that he has stolen; the aggressor has no right to claim any property that he has acquired by aggression. Therefore, we must modify or rather clarify the basic rule of the libertarian society to say that no one has the right to aggress against the legitimate or just property of another.

In the deepest sense, all property is “private.” For all property belongs to, is controlled by, some individual persons or groups of persons. If B stole a watch from A, then the watch was B’s private “property”—was under his control and de facto ownership—so long as he was allowed to possess and use it. Therefore, whether the watch was in the hands of A or B, it was in private hands—in some cases, legitimate-private, in others criminal-private, but private just the same.

The form of private property differed in the two cases, but not the essence. Thus, the crucial question in society is not, as so many believe, whether property should be private or governmental, but rather whether the necessarily “private” owners are legitimate owners or criminals. For, ultimately, there is no entity called “government”; there are only people forming themselves into groups called “governments” and acting in a “governmental” manner. All property is therefore always “private”; the only and critical question is whether it should reside in the hands of criminals or of the proper and legitimate owners. There is really only one reason for libertarians to oppose the formation of governmental property or to call for its divestment: the realization that the rulers of government are unjust and criminal owners of such property.

In short, the laissez-faire utilitarian cannot simply oppose “government” ownership and defend private; for the trouble with governmental property is not so much that it is governmental (for what of “private” criminals like our watch-stealer?) but that it is illegitimate, unjust, and criminal.

The right of every individual to own his person and the property that he has found and transformed, and therefore “created,” and the property which he has acquired either as gifts from or in voluntary exchange with other such transformers or “producers.” It is true that existing property titles must be scrutinized, but the resolution of the problem is much simpler than the question assumes. For remember always the basic principle: that all resources, all goods, in a state of no-ownership belong properly to the first person who finds and transforms them into a useful good (the “homestead” principle).

For any property currently claimed and used: (a) if we know clearly that there was no criminal origin to its current title, then obviously the current title is legitimate, just and valid; (b) if we don’t know whether the current title had any criminal origins, but can’t find out either way, then the hypothetically “unowned” property reverts instantaneously and justly to its current possessor; (c) if we do know that the title is originally criminal, but can’t find the victim or his heirs, then (cl) if the current title-holder was not the criminal aggressor against the property, then it reverts to him justly as the first owner of a hypothetically unowned property. But (c2) if the current titleholder is himself the criminal or one of the criminals who stole the property, then clearly he is properly to be deprived of it, and it then reverts to the first man who takes it out of its unowned state and appropriates it for his use. And finally, (d) if the current title is the result of crime, and the victim or his heirs can be found, then the title properly reverts immediately to the latter, without compensation to the criminal or to the other holders of the unjust title.

We thus have a theory of the rights of property: that every man has an absolute right to the control and ownership of his own body, and to unused land resources that he finds and transforms. He also has the right to give away such tangible property (though he cannot alienate control over his own person and will) and to exchange it for the similarly derived properties of others. Hence, all legitimate property-right derives from every man’s property in his own person, as well as the “homesteading” principle of unowned property rightly belonging to the first possessor.

We also have a theory of criminality: a criminal is someone who aggresses against such property. Any criminal titles to property should be invalidated and turned over to the victim or his heirs; if no such victims can be found, and if the current possessor is not himself the criminal, then the property justly reverts to the current possessor on our basic “homesteading” principle.

Let us now see how this theory of property may be applied to different categories of property. The simplest case, of course, is property in persons. The fundamental axiom of libertarian theory is that each person must be a self-owner, and that no one has the right to interfere with such self-ownership. From this there follows immediately the total impermissibility of property in another person. One prominent example of this sort of property is the institution of slavery. Before 1865, for example, slavery was a “private property” title to many persons in the United States. The fact of such private title did not make it legitimate; on the contrary, it constituted a continuing aggression, a continuing criminality, of the masters (and of those who helped enforce their titles) against their slaves. For here the victims were immediately and clearly identifiable, and the master was every day committing aggression against his slaves. We should also point out that, as in our hypothetical case of the king of Ruritania, utilitarianism provides no firm basis for vacating the “property right” of a master in his slaves.

The Problem of Land Theft

We are not saying that, in order for property in land to be valid, it must be continually in use. The only requirement is that the land be once put into use, and thus become the property of the one who has mixed his labor with, who imprinted the stamp of his personal energy upon, the land. After that use, there is no more reason to disallow the land’s remaining idle than there is to disown someone for storing his watch in a desk drawer.

The common law of adverse possession arbitrarily sets a time span of twenty years, after which the intruder, despite his aggression against the property of another, retains absolute ownership of the land. But our libertarian theory holds that land needs only to be transformed once by man to pass into private ownership. Therefore, if Green comes upon land that in any way bears the mark of a former human use, it is his responsibility to assume that the land is owned by someone. Any intrusion upon his land, without further inquiry, must be done at the risk of the newcomer being an aggressor.

Of course, everyone should have the right to abandon any property he wishes; in a libertarian society, no one can be forced to own property which he wishes to abandon.

Punishment and Proportionality
Many people, when confronted with the libertarian legal system, are concerned with this problem: would somebody be allowed to “take the law into his own hands”? Would the victim, or a friend of the victim, be allowed to exact justice personally on the criminal? The answer is, of course, Yes, since allrights of punishment derive from the victim’s right of self-defense. In the libertarian, purely free-market society, however, the victim will generally find it more convenient to entrust the task to the police and court agencies.

Knowledge, True and False
In short, as in the case of the “human right” to free speech, there is no such thing as a right to privacy except the right to protect one’s property from invasion. The onlyright “to privacy” is the right to protect one’s property from being invaded by someone else. In brief, no one has the right to burgle someone else’s home, or to wiretap someone’s phone lines. Wiretapping is properly a crime not because of some vague and woolly “invasion of a ‘right to privacy’,” but because it is an invasion of the property right of the person being wiretapped.

No one can have a property right in the knowledge in someone else’s head.

For if a man has the absolute right to disseminate knowledge inside his head, he also has the corollary right not to disseminate that knowledge. There is no “right to know”; there is only the right of the knower to either disseminate his knowledge or to keep silent. Neither can any particular profession, be it newsmen or physicians, claim any particular right of confidentiality which is not possessed by anyone else. Rights to one’s liberty and property must be universal.

Violation of (common law) copyright is an equivalent violation of contract and theft of property. For suppose that Brown builds a better mousetrap and sells it widely, but stamps each mousetrap “copyright Mr. Brown.” What he is then doing is selling not the entire property right in each mousetrap, but the right to do anything with the mousetrap except to sell it or an identical copy to someone else. The right to sell the Brown mousetrap is retained in perpetuity by Brown. Hence, for a mousetrap buyer, Green, to go ahead and sell identical mousetraps is a violation of his contract and ofthe property right of Brown, and therefore prosecutable as theft. Hence, our theory of property rights includes the inviolability of contractual copyright.

For everyone, as we have stated, owns his own body; he has a property right in his own head and person. But since every man owns his own mind, he cannot therefore own the minds of anyone else. And yet Jones’s “reputation” is neither a physical entity nor is it something contained within or on his own person. Jones’s “reputation” is purely a function of the subjective attitudes and beliefs about him contained in the minds of other people. But since these are beliefs in the minds of others, Jones can in no way legitimately own or control them. Jones can have no property right in the beliefs and minds of other people.

In the case of bribes, therefore, there is nothing illegitimate about the briber, but there is much that is illegitimate about the bribee, the taker of the bribe. Legally, there should be a property right to pay a bribe, but not to take one. It is only the taker of a bribe who should be prosecuted. In contrast, liberals tend to hold the bribe-giver as somehow more reprehensible, as in some way “corrupting” the taker. In that way they deny the free will and the responsibility of each individual for his own actions.

The Boycott
A BOYCOTT IS AN attempt to persuade other people to have nothing to do with some particular person or firm—either socially or in agreeing not to purchase the firm’s product. Morally a boycott may be used for absurd, reprehensible, laudatory, or neutral goals. It may be used, for example, to attempt to persuade people not to buy non-union grapes or not to buy union grapes. From our point of view, the important thing about the boycott is that it is purely voluntary, an act of attempted persuasion, and therefore that it is a perfectly legal and licit instrument of action.

Whether picketing as a form of advertising a boycott would be legitimate in a free society is a far more complex question. Obviously, mass picketing that blocked entrance or egress from a building would be criminal and invasive of the rights of property—as would be sit-ins and sit-down strikes that forcibly occupied the property of others.

Similarly, such employer devices as the blacklist—a form of boycott—would be legal in the free society.

Property Rights and the Theory of Contracts
THE RIGHT OF PROPERTY implies the right to make contracts about that property: to give it away or to exchange titles of ownership for the property of another person. Unfortunately, many libertarians, devoted to the right to make contracts, hold the contract itself to be an absolute, and therefore maintain that any voluntary contract whatever must be legally enforceable in the free society. Their error is a failure to realize that the right to contract is strictly derivable from the right of private property, and therefore that the only enforceable contracts (i.e., those backed by the sanction of legal coercion) should be those where the failure of one party to abide by the contract implies thetheft of property from the other party.

In short, a contract should only be enforceable when the failure to fulfill it is an implicit theft of property. But this can only be true if we hold that validly enforceable contracts only exist where title to property has already been transferred, and therefore where the failure to abide by the contract means that the other party’s property is retained by the delinquent party, without the consent of the former (implicit theft). Hence, this proper libertarian theory of enforceable contracts has been termed the “title-transfer” theory of contracts.

The basic reason is that the only valid transfer of title of ownership in the free society is the case where the property is, in fact and in the nature of man, alienable by man. All physical property owned by a person is alienable, i.e., in natural fact it can be given or transferred to the ownership and control of another party. I can give away or sell to another person my shoes, my house, my car, my money, etc. But there are certain vital things which, in natural fact and in the nature of man, are inalienable, i.e., they cannot in fact be alienated, even voluntarily. Specifically, a person cannot alienate his will, more particularly his control over his own mind and body. Each man has control over his own mind and body. Each man has control over his own will and person, and he is, if you wish, “stuck” with that inherent and inalienable ownership. Since his will and control over his own person are inalienable, then so also are his rights to control that person and will. That is the ground for the famous position of the Declaration of Independence that man’s natural rights are inalienable; that is, they cannot be surrendered, even if the person wishes to do so.

As Williamson Evers points out, the philosophical defenses of human rights
are founded upon the natural fact that each human is the proprietor of his own will. To take rights like those of property and contractual freedom that are based on a foundation of the absolute self-ownership of the will and then to use those derived rights to destroy their own foundation is philosophically invalid.

Defense of property titles—and only such defense—is the business of enforcement agencies.

Under entail, a property owner could bequeath this land to his sons and grandsons, with the proviso that no future owner could sell the land outside the family (a deed typical of feudalism). But this would mean that the living owners could not sell the property; they would be governed by the dead hand of the past. But all rights to any property must be in the hands of living, existing persons. It might be considered a moral requirement for the descendants to keep the land in the family, but it cannot properly be considered a legal obligation. Property rights must only be accorded to and can only be enjoyed by the living.

Lifeboat situations
In a lifeboat situation, indeed, we apparently have a war of all against all, and there seems at first to be no way to apply our theory of self-ownership or of property rights. But, in the example cited, the reason is because the property right has so far been ill-defined. For the vital question here is: who owns the lifeboat? If the owner of the boat or his representative (e.g., the captain of the ship) has died in the wreck, and if he has not laid down known rules in advance of the wreck for allocation of seats in such a crisis, then the lifeboat may be considered-at least temporarily for the emergency- abandoned and therefore unowned. At this point, our rules for unowned property come into play: namely, that unowned resources become the property of the first people possessing them. In short, the first eight people to reach the boat are, in our theory, the proper “owners” and users of the boat. Anyone who throws them out of the boat then commits an act of aggression in violating the property right of the “homesteader” he throws out of the boat. After he returns to shore, then, the aggressor becomes liable for prosecution for his act of violation of property right (as well, perhaps, for murder of the person he ejected from the boat)

The Nature of the State
For there is one crucially important power inherent in the nature of the State apparatus. All otherpersons and groups in society (except for acknowledged and sporadic criminals such as thieves and bank robbers) obtain their income voluntarily: either by selling goods and services to the consuming public, or by voluntary gift (e.g., membership in a club or association, bequest, or inheritance). Onlythe State obtains its revenue by coercion, by threatening dire penalties should the income not be forthcoming. That coercion is known as “taxation,” although in less regularized epochs it was often known as “tribute.” Taxation is theft, purely and simply even though it is theft on a grand and colossal scale which no acknowledged criminals could hope to match. It is a compulsory seizure of the property of the State’s inhabitants, or subjects.

It would be an instructive exercise for the skeptical reader to try to frame a definition of taxation which does not also include theft. Like the robber, the State demands money at the equivalent of gunpoint; if the taxpayer refuses to pay his assets are seized by force, and if he should resist such depredation, he will be arrested or shot if he should continue to resist. It is true that State apologists maintain that taxation is “really” voluntary; one simple but instructive refutation of this claim is to ponder what would happen if the government were to abolish taxation, and to confine itself to simple requests for voluntary contributions. Does anyone really believe that anything comparable to the current vast revenues of the State would continue to pour into its coffers? It is likely that even those theorists who claim that punishment never deters action would balk at such a claim. The great economist Joseph Schumpeter was correct when he acidly wrote that “the theory which construes taxes on the analogy of club dues or of the purchase of the services of, say, a doctor only proves how far removed this part of the social sciences is from scientific habits of mind."

It is also contended that, in democratic governments, the act of voting makes the government and all its works and powers truly “voluntary.” Again, there are many fallacies with this popular argument. In the first place, even if the majority of the public specifically endorsed each and every particular act of the government, this would simply be majority tyranny rather than a voluntary act undergone by every person in the country. Murder is murder, theft is theft, whether undertaken by one man against another, or by a group, or even by the majority of people within a given territorial area. The fact that a majority might support or condone an act of theft does not diminish the criminal essence of the act or its grave injustice. Otherwise, we would have to say, for example, that any Jews murdered by the democratically elected Nazi government were not murdered, but only “voluntarily committed suicide”—surely, the grotesque but logical implication of the “democracy as voluntary” doctrine.

If, then, taxation is compulsory, and is therefore indistinguishable from theft, it follows that the State, which subsists on taxation, is a vast criminal organization far more formidable and successful than any “private” Mafia in history. Furthermore, it should be considered criminal not only according to the theory of crime and property rights as set forth in this book, but even according to the common apprehension of mankind, which always considers theft to be a crime. As we have seen above, the nineteenth-century German sociologist Franz Oppenheimer put the matter succinctly when he pointed out that there are two and only two ways of attaining wealth in society: (a) by production and voluntary exchange with others—the method of the free market; and (b)by violent expropriation of the wealth produced by others. The latter is the method of violence and theft. The former benefits all parties involved; the latter parasitically benefits the looting group or class at the expense of the looted. Oppenheimer trenchantly termed the former method of obtaining wealth, “the economic means,” and the latter “the political means.” Oppenheimer then went on brilliantly to define the State as “the organization of the political means.”

We have seen clearly why the State needs the intellectuals; but why do the intellectuals need the State? Put simply, it is because intellectuals, whose services are often not very intensively desired by the mass of consumers, can find a more secure “market” for their abilities in the arms of the State. The State can provide them with a power, status, and wealth which they often cannot obtain in voluntary exchange. For centuries, many (though, of course, not all) intellectuals have sought the goal of Power, the realization of the Platonic ideal of the “philosopher-king.”

The Moral Status of Relations to the State
IF THE STATE, THEN, is a vast engine of institutionalized crime and aggression, the “organization of the political means” to wealth, then this means that the State is a criminal organization, and that therefore its moral status is radically different from any of the just property-owners that we have been discussing in this volume. And this means that the moral status of contracts with the State, promises to it and by it, differs radically as well. It means, for example, that no one is morally required to obey the State (except insofar as the State simply affirms the right of just private property against aggression). For, as a criminal organization with all of its income and assets derived from the crime of taxation, the State cannot possess any just property.

On Relations Between States
In the ideal moral world, no States would exist, and hence, of course, no foreign policy could exist.

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