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On Libertarian Nihilist Concept of Property Rights and Appeal to Libertarianism

December 5, 2012

I posted the following as a Facebook note:

The Libertarian concept of ‘property’ rights and ownership begins to baffle me with its practitioners’ incoherent, anti-history gibberish about ‘land grabbing’ and “illegal occupying”.

They say:

  • “The Jews grabbed their land from the Palestinians, so they just deserve to be terrorized and ostracized.”
  • “The Philippine government is guilty of land grabbing. The Moro people should get their land back.”
  • “America land-grabbed its territory from the Native Americans”

And many etceteras…

Warning: Don’t ever attempt to expose or to criticize their (Libertarians) fallacies and nihilistic rhetoric… you’d risk getting slammed with some leftist-styled anti-critic propaganda and trickery that sounds like this one: ‘You’re a statist or collectivist if you don’t agree with us’.

Let’s try to examine who’s the real statist or collectivist here.

Lemme focus on their ‘land grabbing’ rhetoric.

Observe that the main VICTIM of the alleged ‘land grabbing’ is always a social, collective entity like ‘Palestinians’ or ‘Moros’ or ‘Native Americans’.

What do these entities have in common? They are all COLLECTIVE ENTITIES. And collective entities per se do not have rights, according to the Libertarian lexicon. Well, I think they simply borrowed, or plagiarized, this principle or understanding from Ayn Rand who argued that rights pertain only to individuals, not to groups or collectives.

Now let’s focus on the alleged ‘Palestinian’ territory being currently “occupied” by Israelis (I refuse to use the word “Jews” or Jewish” because I don’t see Israeli citizens as simply “Jews”. Nearly 50% of Israel’s inhabitants are non-Jews).

Here’s one question: What constitutes the original Palestinian land?

My personal understanding is that the word “Philistine” is not a nationality but rather a geographical entity, because historically there was no such legal or historical entity as a ‘Palestinian State’. That disputed territory in the Middle East was formerly occupied and governed by the British and the Ottoman Empire.

But what really constitutes- CONSTITUTED- the Palestinian land? Did it cover only the occupied or titled lands? Did it cover Mount Sinai, parts of Gaza and West Bank? Did it also cover adjoining lands that were unoccupied and undiscovered at the time Israel was officially declared a state?

I believe that Libertarians’ answers to these questions could somehow explain the Libertarian concept of property rights. Oh! Before I forget, there’s this Libertarian faction called “anarcho-Libertarianism” that rejects the ‘established’ concept of property rights, most especially IP rights.

These Libertarians believe America is also guilty of “land grabbing”. They argue that the original (I don’t know if it covers legal ownership) owners of the New World were the Native Americans. However, I believe this type of Libertarian “land grabbing” argument is PHILOSOPHICALLY and LEGALLY problematic.

Allow me to break this ‘problem’ down into the following issues:

Philosophical issue: The FALLACY of collective entity and ownership. To the Libertarians, the American territory discovered by Columbus was originally owned by a single collective entity: the NATIVE AMERICANS.

Here are other philosophical and legal issues:

  1. Were the native Americans a single entity? What if they were scattered, separate or even warring entities?
  2. What about the OTHER PARTS of the American territory NOT DISCOVERED by these native Americans? Were they part of the entire, single Native American territory?
  3. Here’s one very important question: Did the native Americans ever have a concept of property rights?

Before the discovery and political implementation of the legal concept of property rights, thousands of ancient societies followed/implemented a tribal, collectivist concept of property ownership. It was either lands were owned by tribes, clans, dynasties or monarchs– or they were owned by no one (res nullius). That is, property was public or tribal in nature.

In other words, the ancient concept of land ownership was purely, fundamentally collectivistic, since all ancient societies were collectivist in nature. In Sparta, for example, the Spartan territory was owned by the war-mongering tiny city-state. Its inhabitants were also property of the state. Sparta was one of the earliest fascist states on earth. There was no ‘individual’, in the strictest sense of the word, property owner. There was only the tribe, clan, community or kingdom as the land owner.

Remember the Regalian doctrine imposed by the Spanish Crown in the Philippines during Spain’s 300-year colonial rule? Based on that royalist doctrine, the entire Philippine archipelago was owned by the Spanish crown.

However, what was the limit of ancient territories? They were ‘limited’ or ‘bordered’ by adjacent or other territories. Since they didn’t have a concept of PRIVATE property rights or ownership, a land was considered ‘owned’ if it’s physically occupied by a tribe, a clan, or a community. Ancient ‘property owners’ understood they had a right to till the land, to let others use it, or to exclude others. But that was it.

Here’s one universal principle pertaining to property or land ownership: You cannot own a land which you cannot physically occupy – or if you don’t have the capacity to exclude others. Thus, ancient land ownership largely depended on the use and presence of exclusion strategies and technologies. Land ownership in antiquity was largely determined by the costs of maintaining or keeping the land. After all, tribes and communities were invading each other. Occupied lands during this period were in danger of intrusion, destruction or direct invasion.

NOW, Technically, the term “Moro land”, “Palestinian land” or “Native American land” bears great similarity to the term “ancestral land”, a stupid concept that we currently apply in the Philippines.

“Ancestral land” is a collective term. It refers to a group of people characterized by certain common attributes or identity. It is a collectivist, tribal concept. It means that a particular piece of land or territory is owned by a specific group or people or tribes by virtue of their historical identity, religion, culture and tradition, skin color, etc.

This means that even if inhabitants of a certain tribe had no fuckin’ idea about the extent or dimension of their territory (or whether they didn’t have any concept of property ownership), they owned their land property simply because THEY EXISTED! Simply because they ‘were there’, thus they must exclude others.

The concept of ‘ancestral lands’ and the like reeks of ETHNOCENTRISM and TRIBALISM. It means: this is our land- all others are excluded. It is one of the major roots of war in the past. This is the reason why tribes, communities and kingdoms were invading each other.

It’s all about “my land” or “your land”. There was no FREE TRADE. Tribes and societies were plundering each other. The concept of ‘free trade’ or ‘free exchange of goods and ideas’ was non-existent.

But here’s a very recent case: the oil fields in Iran first developed and discovered by the British and the Americans.

There was a heated debate on this particular issue in the past wherein a dogmatic Libertarian named Warlito claimed Britain was an ‘illegal occupier’. That even if I explained in detail that the oil fields in question were discovered by the British and that there was an existing contract granting the British the right to explore and use them for a long period of time, the leftist Iranian parliament was justified in revoking the contract simply because the land was theirs and the revocation was considered an act of State.

That particular case reeks of ethnocentrism, collectivism and tribalism, which are all against the concept of FREE TRADE. These evil ‘isms’ simply mean or imply that in the name of the people’s collective ownership of lands, the state or its politicians can revoke existing contracts and bastardize free trade. That’s why I said the British and the Americans should have blasted those Iranian (then Persian) oil fields to smithereens.

This is the Libertarian concept of property ownership. It’s very weak, very tribal and very nihilistic.

As a matter of fact IF, in the very distant future, inhabitants or citizens of super technologically advanced Planet Earth discovered and visited (and then occupied some areas of) an earth-like planet, the Libertarians would still consider humans ‘aggressors’, ‘invaders’ or ‘illegal occupiers’.

Why? It’s because, based on the Libertarian arguments, the inhabitants of that earth-like planet own their physical world by virtue of their existence and their being original planet-settlers.

This very strange, unusual case was actually explained by anarcho-Libertarian Stephan Kinsella here.

  • You may also read my Facebook debate with Warlito HERE.

Second Update:

I’d like to introduce a new type of fallacy called “Appeal to Libertarianism” or “argumentum ad libertarian”. This appeal to libertarianism is a fallacy in which a person (who must be a Libertarian) attempts to argue, either wittingly or unwittingly, that things that are political or economic in nature must be in accordance with Libertarianism or Libertarian principle/dogma. The person using this type of fallacy is simply overwhelmed by the assumption that everything is or ought to be Libertarian.

This is a fallacy because of a dogmatic attempt to negate or ignore reality. We are not living in a Libertarian world, so a dogmatic Libertarian must not argue according to solid Libertarian terms.

For example, many Libertarians discuss the Israel-Palestine according to their Libertarian world view. Let me clarify that sticking to one’s political or ideological principles or talking points is permissible so long as your arguments are still attached to reality or to the facts of the real world. The Libertarians believe that Israel is the aggressor and land-grabber (without feeling the slightest sense of obligation to inform themselves about the facts of the case) and that Palestine is merely reacting to Jewish pressure and aggression. However, they’re quick to concede that both are guilty of what they call statism or collectivism. In effect, their seemingly neutral, yet obviously anti-Israel, position reeks of moral cowardice and moral equivalence. Thus, they propose that both camps or parties (Israel and Palestine) be abolished or dissolved and that the entire territory be replaced with Libertarian society’s “private protection agencies” acting as protectors of rights.

This Libertarian view is utterly fallacious because it simply attempts to ignore reality and facts of reality. Read the Hamas Charter. A survey reveals that at least 73% of Palestinians want Israelis annihilated. Plus Hamas, which is a Muslim Brotherhood’s extremist/fundamentalist Islamic armed organization, is determined to destroy Israel and kill all Jews. Again, read their Charter. I am not making this up.

In regard to the Libertarian solution to the Middle East Crisis, I’m not making that up. It’s real. Just read the entire Libertarian argument HERE. This Libertarian article was written and published in 2009, or two years before Hamas took control of Gaza political leadership.

Meanwhile, here’s Warlito’s hilarious response to my Facebook note above:


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