CONTRA TOM WOODS AND CHRIS CANTWELL ON AGGRESSION
(Note: I love the pejorative term ’emotional hypochondriac’. I’ll have to use that.)
To say that aggression is precise is not the same as saying it’s sufficient. (It’s not). To say that harm is imprecise is not the same as saying it’s false. All these two statements mean as that we have not yet solved the problem of the necessary AND sufficient criteria for liberty.
I’m a hard-right libertarian. More right than Hans Hoppe. In that I am certain, given the evidence, both of history, of reason, and in addition, the recent evidence produced by science, that the only means of obtaining liberty is for the minority of those of us who desire it, to impose it by the threat, promise, and execution of organized violence. Their is no contrary evidence. And Rothbardians have no counter to this argument except ‘faith’ that others will somehow adopt their arguments. Which is also counter to the evidence.
Left libertarians are trying to reconstruct the church – just as the progressive left is. Rothbardians are advocating the ethics and politics of diasporic jewish merchants and bankers, as well as american Puritans. And right libertarians advocating for the return to the monarchy, independent judiciary, common law and the militia.
We are all advocating our moral specializations, like good ants specializing in one form of activity or other. The question is which institutional model will result in a condition of liberty in the absence of a state?
Will people choose a rothbardian anarchy that only prohibits physical aggression against property? Or, will they choose an anarchy that also prohibits immoral and unethical violations of property? Is it possible to peacefully obtain a state of anarchy for the minority of humans who are liberty seekers? Or is necessary to obtain that state of anarchy by the organized threat of violence to obtain that liberty whether others wish to permit it or not?
Tom, in good rothbardian form, states that harm is a fuzzy criteria. But aggression is also fuzzy – unless we define property as IVP. Harm may be ‘fuzzy’ but only because one does not define property subject to harm. Harm against defined property is not fuzzy. The involuntary transfer of property, when property is defined, is not fuzzy. So, the argumentative logic here is a fallacy. As Hoppe has stated repeatedly, it’s the definition of property that determines whether one has committed a violation of the rules of cooperation, not the means of violation of that property. Any means of violating the property one has defined is a transgression.
It is easier to emotionally envision and empathize with aggression, than it is to enumerate the forms of property that allow for peaceful, moral, ethical cooperation, and as such eliminate demand for the state as a suppressor of violence, immorality, and unethical actions, as well as the violence that results from the failure to suppress criminal immoral and unethical actions.
In a consanguineous band of hunter gatherers, very little is allocated as private property and almost everything remains communal in ownership. As we break into families, that which can be inherited is allocated into private property. As we develop into a division of knowledge and labor, under traditional families nearly everything is allocated into private property at the family level, but remains relatively communal within the family since free riding in the family is a form of insurance, but non-family is prohibited from free riding. As we suppress free riding in the family and adopt the absolute nuclear family, property becomes a universally individualistic allocation, and all collective rights of any kind must be allocated via some sort of shareholder agreement. (And that’s what we have seen evolve.) Property reflects the relationship between reproductive structures (family) and the structure of production in which the family exists.
Private property and the absolute nuclear family are highly meritocratic levels of property definition.
Meanwhile, as complexity of human relationships increase with the division of knowledge and labor, so does the opportunity for unethical and immoral activity due to increases int he asymmetry of knowledge. In other words, morality increases with the complexity of the society as moral constraints narrow along with the definition of private property. Law, Morality (ethics), and Property evolve as a set of parallel rules as the division of knowledge and labor increases in complexity.
No society can anchor a definition of property, law, or morality, unless it also anchors its economic progress. If the division of knowledge and labor increases, but property law and morality do not, then unethical and immoral and criminal behavior will fill the new vacuum, and people will demand ‘order’ in the form of the state to suppress that behavior. This is the virtue of the common law and the organic development of property rights.
So, not only are rothbardians wrong to use the NAP without specifically stating that it’s not the NAP that matters, but the definition of property under IVP. But even so, the IVP is static and unevolving. And the combination of NAP/IVP embodied as the basis of the law, effectively licenses immoral and unethical behavior. And by consequence, rothbardianism drives, incontrovertibly, to demand for, and construction of, the oppressor state.
Why do I care? Because Rothbardians try to achieve catharsis through verbal repetition: the attempt to construct reality by chanting. And this chanting has undermined the movement for liberty both by delegitimizing libertarians, and distracting us from finding a solution to the problem of property definitions necessary for the resolution of disputes such that no state is necessary.
You cannot both appropriate the term ‘libertarian’ that is far older than Mr Rothbard’s use of it, and criticize the left for appropriating ‘liberal’. You cannot both levy a claim against IP, and then claim the term ‘libertarian’ as equal to “rothbardian libertarian’. Rothbard used the term “libertarianism” for his philosophy, he state the criteria for adherence as non-aggression, and defined property only as that which is intersubjectively verifiable. However, in the etymology of the term, and in the survey evidence we possess, and now the cognitive science we possess, those of use who desire ‘liberty’ are still ‘libertarians’ because we attach higher priority to freedom to experience, and freedom from constraint than do members of the other points of the political spectrum. So, squatting on ‘libertarian’ as if it is identical to “Rothbardian Libertarianism under the NAP/IVP” is (a) appropriation of a term (b) an attempt at monopolizing the movement (c) unscientific since anyone who treats liberty as the highest political priority is by definition ‘libertarian’. He may or may not ascribe to Rothbardian Libertarianism and the NAP/IVP but he is a libertarian. And our failure to find a set of principles that unite all people with that highest priority, while preventing the evolution of the state, is yet another indicator that the Rothbardian Libertarian NAP/IVP program is a failure.
Aggression is the great nonsense distraction of our time. The problem any polity faces is the definition of necessary property rights given their state of advancement, and their family structures. The means of violating that property are irrelevant.
As far as I know this argument is bulletproof. Although that won’t stop Rothbardians from attempting to create an alternate reality by chanting.
Welcome tho the dark enlightenment – the return to particularism, propertarianism – the logic of cooperation, and aristocratic egalitarianism – the ethics of sovereignty. It’s where Rothbarians go when they grow up.