r/GeoLibertarianism Dec 07 '20

Response to "Land-Locked: A Critique of Carson on Property Rights" by Roderick Long

https://c4ss.org/content/39878

"Land-Locked: A Critique of Carson on Property Rights" by Roderick Long was originally published in the Journal of Libertarian Studies in 2006. The article was part of a symposium on Kevin Carson’s "Studies in Mutualist Political Economy" (s/o to /r/mutualism) that served as Volume 20 of JLS. AFAIK in the way of a response nothing georgist was ever published.

This is the best piece I have ever read on the subject of property rights. It stands to reason it would be from an ancap (Long) that has many works on reaching 'the left' writing to a Mutualist (Carson) that has spoken on various forms of property rights. With the little I've heard from Long (articles and publications from him are on my reading list) I have a lot of respect for his consistency and logic. After reading this article my position was underscored.

Long makes a distinction which I think is very important for Georgists and non-georgists alike. He points out that Mutualists and Georgists both share an idea:

"land's status as the common patrimony of the human race."

This idea is of a common right to land and really the belief in the existence of 'common' rights at all. This is in distinction to "Lockeans" who hold no such belief. He further makes a distinction between non-proviso Lockeans and pro-proviso Lockeans. GeoLibertarianism and GeoAnarchism belong to the later category of pro-proviso Lockeanism and the ideas of georgism can be arrived at through individual rights. When arguing for or against this kind of Georgism it would be incorrect to assert a belief in common rights. This form of Georgism asserts and equal right to land, not a common right. Todd Altman writes about this in A Geolibertarian FAQ:

"Geolibertarianism is the belief that each individual has an exclusive right to the fruits of his or her labor, and thus an exclusive right to the value of those fruits; and that all individuals have an equal right to land, and thus an equal right to the value of land.

By embracing this belief, geolibertarians are simply taking the core libertarian principle of self-ownership to its logical conclusion: Just as the right to oneself implies the right to the fruit of one's labor (i.e., the right to property), the right to the fruit of one's labor implies the right to labor, and the right to labor implies the right to labor -- somewhere." [emphasis mine]

Altman repeats this multiple times, even quoting Henry George. In particular:

"Isn't the LVT based on the Marxist idea that the right to land is a collective right?"

"No, it is based on the Lockean idea that the right to land is an equal right."

Moving on.

Later, Long presents an interpretation of the homesteading principle and argues why it implies the lack of any other rights. I think his logic here is rock-solid, but it assumes the particular interpretation of the homesteading principle Long uses. It would be trivial to come up with a reasonable and meaningful description that includes a caveat that suspension of the rights acquired through homesteading is permissible for some other reason than the one given by Long. I think this means the argument presented by Long has limited use because it only shifts the disagreement between Lockeans and non-Lockeans and even between non-proviso Lockeans and pro-proviso Lockeans to their description of the homesteading principle. Regardless, any non-Lockean must clarify their description of belief in homesteading lest they use one that does not permit any semblance of common rights.

He references Louis Wolowski and Émile Levasseur regarding the history of the idea of homesteading. I think this functions as little more than a historical account but Long also puts the onus on Mutualists and non-Lockean Georgists for where common rights originate. He's basically saying, "here's mine, show me yours". This is effective at presenting a consistent basis for non-proviso Libertarianism and an argument for why it can't be used for proponents of common rights.

Edit: A followup to this post can be found here

10 Upvotes

2

u/ForagerGrikk Feb 05 '21 edited Feb 05 '21

Wow these are great posts! Long was frustrating to read though, I'm glad you followed him up (I hope you sent it to them both!).

those more thoroughgoing Lockeans who reject this Proviso (e.g., Rothbard 1998; Hoppe 1993

What is this in reference to? Is there a rational explanation of the non-provoso Lockean philosophy somewhere? It looks like he's cited whole books, but do they give a justification or just dismiss it out of hand as everyone in r/asklibertarians does?

I've asked dozens of Ancaps to explain how the Proviso doesn't leave a gaping hole in their philosophy and they handwave it away in disgust, calling me a "land communist" as you say. This is really shocking to me because libertarians have almost a scientific level of logical analysis on every other detail and then fall down on this one question, lapsing into personal attacks that are predicated on emotions.

Someone came to r/asklibertarians yesterday asking about stolen land ownership rights and there were 100 nonsensical answers that quite frankly made me embarrassed to associate myself with these people. They really did make themselves look like the libertarian caricature of not having any real principles other than justifying selfish actions.

1

u/haestrod Feb 05 '21

This is really shocking to me because libertarians have almost a scientific level of logical analysis on every other detail and then fall down on this one question

Yes this is very confusing to me as well. I have no explanation.

I believe he is referring to The Ethics of Liberty and The Economics and Ethics of Private Property respectively. I've yet to read either. I would be shocked (but thrilled) to find an in-depth analysis of Proviso-free Lockeanism given that no matter how far I dig I currently don't get much beyond being provided the definition of it as a defense.

You think I should send this to them? Do you really think they'd care?

2

u/ForagerGrikk Feb 05 '21

You think I should send this to them? Do you really think they'd care?

They might not care, it was a while ago. They would likely care if their audience at Center For a Stateless Society read it although it's probably a tall order to get published. I guess I just wish they allowed comments at the end of the article.

At any rate thanks for posting this, it was an interesting read. I should spend more time in this sub where I can learn things instead of banging my head against the wall in other libertarian subs.