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Libertarianism, Property, and Liberty

Charles Burris posted this regarding the two visions of libertarianism on the Lew Rockwell Blog this week. One vision, that of Harvard economist Jeffrey Miron, the Cato Institute and former Governor Gary Johnson, is a “sterile, soulless utilitarian” vision of “consequentialist, cost-benefit analysis.” The other vision is one of moral principle, one based on the idea of the rights of the individual — that is the vision of Congressman Ron Paul, as well as economists Murray Rothbard, F.A. Hayek, Leonard Read, Hans Sennholz, Hans-Hermann Hoppe and Ludvig von Mises, and others in the modern freedom movement, including Lew Rockwell, Justin Raimondo and Jacob Hornberger just to name a few.

The first vision of libertarianism is not even a vision, frankly, but more an ideology. And while that ideology is not exactly statism, at least not overtly, it is what I would call “Statism Lite.” This Statism Lite school of thought does not appear to have a firm grasp of the concept of property rights, which includes the individual’s right to own one’s own life — one’s body and the physical and intellectual exertion one can produce from oneself directed outward, i.e. one’s labor, and the contracts one can voluntarily establish with others using one’s own labor.

Bottom line: the Statist Lite “libertarians” still seem to go by the assumption that the community in which one lives — and their compulsory territorial State — ultimately owns the individual, the individual’s person and property.

The true libertarian recognizes the right of the property owner to have sole sovereignty ownership of one’s justly-acquired, justly owned property, and that when the State seizes it or usurps control over it, in the old days that would be called “stealing” and “trespassing.”

Looking at how federal, state and local governments impose many, many regulations of property and businesses, and other forms of State-confiscations of property ownership in America, we essentially have the same thing here in America: illegitimate State ownership of all property.

This is why, in the contest between the two “libertarian Republicans,” Ron Paul and Gary Johnson, it really is no contest. The one who understands the relationship between property and freedom and who wants us to have our freedom, which is our right to have, is Ron Paul. The other, not so much.

Further reading:

The Ethics of Liberty by Murray Rothbard

For a New Liberty by Murray Rothbard

Defending the Undefendable (.pdf) by Walter Block

Human Action by Ludwig von Mises

Anti-Federalist Papers

Natural Law by Lysander Spooner

No Treason: The Constitution of No Authority by Spooner

The Criminality of the State by Albert Jay Nock

The Free Market by Murray Rothbard

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