(revised and expanded)
It’s pretty hard to beat non-aggression as an epistemic test. It’s the only intersubjectively verifiable test. We can’t really know anything else for certain. We can very easily see violence and theft.
But, does that inability to know much else for certain, stop us from developing ETHICAL and MORAL rules?
LETS LOOK AT ETHICS: The spectrum of Manners, Ethics and Morals.
1) Manners are immediately visible. Just like aggression.
2) Ethics are not immediately visible and intersubjectively verifiable. Ethical rules are principles that compensate for the asymmetry of information of both parties. Probability of adherence to ethical rules that compensate for asymmetry of information, is signaled with manners and a contractual property of ALL exchanges.
3) Morals are not anywhere visible, but are a means of preventing privatization of the commons – involuntary transfer from others. Some are very obvious (having a child our of wedlock and then asking the community to support you), and some are less obvious (promoting a bad idea by arts, writing, speech, or performance: (most advertising).
So, the failure to establish means of regulating ethics and morals, other than the NAP, is simply a license for unethical and moral action in any and all exchanges. Rothbard’s argument is that the market is sufficient to constrain ethical and moral behavior. But the EVIDENCE is that this isn’t true. It’s VIOLENCE that constrains it. And violence is constrained by the number of people who can be allied to either support unethical and immoral actions, or to support ethical and moral actions. The rothbardian answer to this problem is to resort to courts. But if NAP alone is the ethical and moral rule in exchanges, then, as Rothbard argues in For a New Liberty, there is no means of court resolution of fraud and immorality: theft by other than visible means.
In other words, rothbard gives us the low trust society, and aristocracy, with a higher constraint than NAP, gives us the high trust society. Rothbard’s ethics are ‘what you can get away with in an exchange, called voluntary, but asymmetrical in knowledge.’ Aristocracy gave us ‘what you can get in a voluntary exchange under warranty that knowledge is symmetric’.
This is why rothbardian ethics are intolerable to western christians. Demonstrably, at least our version of human beings, find that insufficient.
Under aristocratic ethics, ALL involuntary transfer is forbidden EXCEPT that which takes place in the market for productive goods and services, fully under warrantee of symmetry of knowledge. And the further difference is, that fraud by asymmetry (omission) is not just a theft from by one party from another, but a theft from ALL PEOPLE who constantly forgo opportunities for fraud by omission – and in doing so create the HIGH TRUST SOCIETY.
In other words, theft or violence (aggression) is an attack on all the institution of property. Property which has been paid for by constantly paying the high cost of respecting others’ monopoly of control. A control over that which they settled, made or obtained in exchange. An attack on any property then, is an attack on, and theft from all SHAREHOLDERS IN THE INSTITUTION OF PROPERTY RIGHTS. As such all men who respect property rights, as shareholders in paying for that institution, are being stolen from, and as such have standing to enforce, by violence, any offense of property rights by any person, at any time.
In most human societies, the “OTHERS” are biological extensions of the family. In yet others, adherents to the religion. But under aristocracy the ‘in-group’ members are those who reciprocally grant and defend property rights regardless of family membership, and the “OTHERS” are those who do NOT reciprocally grant property rights, and defend them.
THAT IS THE MEANING OF ARISTOCRACY: a shareholder in the corporation whose assets are private property rights, and the obligation and right to prosecute and demand restitution on the part of either himself OR THE CORPORATION of ALL members of the contract of private property.
As such, the contributors to property rights in fact, are owners of the economically productive society, its norms and institutions, and those those that do not equally take responsibility for property rights are the ‘others’: non-family members.
Under aristocratic egalitarianism, the high trust WITHIN the genetic FAMILY is extended to the CORPORATE family of fellow shareholders. Thus the family is contractual rather than genetic. that is how the ‘high trust society’ unique to northern europeans was made possible.
The title “SIR” meant you had earned the right to carry weapons and enforce property rights. The “right to carry arms’ is identical to ‘the right to private property’. These two are ideas are inseparable. The source of property rights is the organized use of violence to create them.
The source of property rights is not some, mystical grant of god or nature, or some necessary natural right – since private property is rare if not unique in the world, it cannot be ‘natural’. In fact, private property is UNNATURAL, which is why it is so IMPORTANT. Without it we cannot form the incentives nor perform the calculation necessary to crate a vast division of knowledge an labor in real time. Aristocracy is the system of social order where by we enter a voluntary contract to use violence to institute, and maintain, private property rights. And we struggle to enfranchise as many people in this UNNATURAL system as possible, so that we have the strength of numbers. This system, private property, is so effective, and has such an affect on status, and the ability to reproduce, that everyone wants to join the societies that have it.
The first problem is, (a) THAT THEY WANT IT FOR FREE. And (b) once property rights are a norm, they feel it’s free, because they don’t have to EARN IT any longer with visible payments, only invisible payment (constraints). So the contract isn’t visible and is abused and taken for granted.
As such to maintain property rights requires that we perform some ACT of maturity and COGNIZANCE in order to obtain them.
Cities in the west were not organically created markets, but deliberate islands of PROPERTY RIGHTS crated by the organized application of violence by the nobility. The island of property rights was crafted out of a land populated by free riders who actively SUPPRESSED the desire of any individual to concentrate capital behind his ideas or wants rather than that of the free riders and rent seekers around him.
Which is why Rothbard had to resort to CRUSOE’S ISLAND. On that island, the ocean forms the walls of the ghetto, beyond which is the aristocratic society. Crusoe’s island is one of the reasons libertarianism has failed to gain adoption. The western ethic is to “Make all men aristocrats”. That is what ‘egalitarian aristocracy’ means. That the fools in the enlightenment though men DESIRED to be aristocrats was a catastrophic error. But the fact that MANY do, is enough to form a high trust society.
As such, NAP, is “peasant” or “ghetto”, or “gypsy trader” morality. The morality of people who cannot ally to hold land, and develop fixed capital, heavy production systems (metals) and formal institutions of dispute resolution. It not liberty, but the return to partial barbarism.
Rothbard gave us the ethics of the traveling merchant, the ghetto, and organized crime. Aristocracy gave us the ethics of the extended family warriors, farmers and shopkeepers – the high trust society. The only people to created liberty as a formal and informal institution were aristocrats.
Just how it is.