Saturday, April 17, 2010

A Dilemma for Libertarianism.

A Dilemma for Libertarianism

Professor Karl Widerquist argues that libertarian principles of acquisition and transfer without regard for the pattern of inequality do not support a minimal state, but can lead just as well to a monarchy with full the full power of taxation without violation of self-ownership.

He's done for property what G. A. Cohen has done in "Self-Ownership, Freedom, and Equality". He's used the usual libertarian assumptions to come to opposite conclusions with some deft jiu-jitsu. The key trick is to note that libertarians rely on a statute of limitations for their theory of property, else hardly any real world property would be valid (almost all can be traced to conquest.)

In a number of ways, this corresponds with points I've made in A Non-Libertarian FAQ (such as #16) and elsewhere.

This has been linked into my Philosophical Criticisms Of Libertarianism index.

4 comments:

Jeff Snipes said...

http://libertarianpapers.org/2009/41-rodgers-no-dilemmas-widerquists/

Linking to this paper is not to be interpreted as an endorsement of the stateless sort of society the author probably advocates.

Joanna said...

A single person/family could never be as effective economically as to buy out all property and become the King. It didn't and will never happen that way (ie w/o agression), because economies of scale can go only so far, at some point the bigger a conglomerate, the less effective it becomes. Also one big corporation owning everything = socialist state, so no price mechanisms of free market, no competition -> economic failure. We will never actually observe anything even close to that because price mechanisms essential to economic efficiency would disappear even at much lesser concentration of property. So, w/o agression, there would never be Kings and Queens.

Mike Huben said...

Joanna, medieval Iceland gradually consolidated ownership and power into just 4 families, before it was conquored. David Friedman famously uses this as his example of a non-aggressive society in The Machinery Of Freedom.

Joanna said...

Yes, the beginnings were very nice, but then Iceland was conquered precisely because the ownership and power got consolidated into just 4 families (economic inefficiency), and not quite along anarcho-capitalist principles. Sturlung Era, last years of independece, "It may also have been the bloodiest and most violent period in Icelandic history. [...] This period is marked by the conflicts of powerful chieftains, goĆ°ar, who amassed followers and did battle, and is named for the Sturlungs, the most powerful family clan in Iceland at the time."
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sturlung_Era