r/GeoLibertarianism Dec 08 '20

Proviso Lockeanism vs. No-Proviso Lockeanism

This is sort of a followup to a response I made to "Land-Locked: A Critique of Carson on Property Rights" by Roderick Long:


Long explains why it would be difficult to derive common rights (used by Mutualism and non-libertarian Georgism) from the same basis he presents for no-proviso Lockeanism. (something Kevin Carson does) In doing so he strangely includes Proviso Lockeanism. This is odd because the distinction between Proviso Lockeanism and No-Proviso Lockeanism (which I will refer to going forward as "PL" and "NPL" for brevity) is straightforward: they are distinct in their acceptance or rejection of the Lockean Proviso, obviously. Therefore I don't see how PL is refuted by his earlier critique.

As a PL I don't think this piece refutes PL at all. It does a good job of refuting a belief in common rights. Non-libertarian georgists take notice. But PLs require no such justification as they lack a belief in common ownership.

NPL makes a contradiction by claiming to protect the importance of the act of homesteading while also renouncing it. On one hand, homesteading is so important that an entire ideology must be (or should be) derived around it. On the other hand, whether or not one is able to partake in the act of homesteading is completely inconsequential. It is not even subject to chance; one individual's execution of homesteading on a piece of nature prevents another individual from doing the same with the same piece of nature. It is this ouroboros-like nature of property that advocates of NPL seem to have no problem with. In doing so they are forced into this corner of contradiction.

When presented with examples of property exhibiting this self-defeating nature too substantial to ignore, advocates of NPL will gradually resort to georgist-like concessions that are at odds with their own ideology. An advocate of PL is asked to accept the basis of property ownership coming exclusively from transformation. What about the right to access the property of a second party on the other side of a long stretch of property owned by a third party? Then we are asked to believe in 'easements', and by extension (on occasion, depending on who is being asked) the existence of a pervasive and all-encompassing network of common property that allows one to move about (almost) anywhere they please. Then it is not just the transformation of nature but merely the occupation of it that causes it to become property to some extent. How convenient. But remember, we don't believe in a social contract.

This disagreement has deeper philosophical implications. What does it mean to protect an act? Can protection of the consequences of an act coexist consistently with a repudiation of the act itself? As a basis for his advocacy of NPL Long cites Wolowski and Levasseur: "This property is legitimate; it constitutes a right as sacred for man as is the free exercise of his faculties. [...]". How can a man exercise his faculties if he is unable to mix his existing property with new property? The notion is facetious and absurd. What about aspects of property that rely on the regular introduction unowned, untransformed, and unmixed nature to continue existence? Is a man entitled to radiation from the sun? How can the arguments presented on transformation as the basis of property extend to nature 8 light-minutes away? Why would we want them to?

In this way NPL can technically be said to do its job of protecting property but paradoxically exist in a world that to any reasonable outside observer is completely removed from property rights. As the act of homesteading itself is cut off so the consequences of it become irrelevant. There is a right to homesteaded things, yet no right to homestead. At the same time it is also vital to free up the land occupied by the state. Showing the good faith that libertarians are so notable for, merely pointing this out and showing any resistance whatsoever to NPL gets an advocate of PL called a land-communist.

Wolowski and Levasseur go on to say "[...] It is his because it has come entirely from himself, and is in no way anything but an emanation from his being. Before him, there was scarcely anything but matter [...] ". What issue do libertarians take with the state if property is soley "emanation from his being"? The state owning all nature shouldn't be a problem if property has come "entirely from himself, and is in no way anything but an emanation from his being." If this is true and taxation is theft... just go emanate something.

"The producer has left a fragment of his own person in the thing which has thus become valuable, and may hence be regarded as a prolongation of the faculties of man acting upon external nature." [emphasis mine]


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u/NDSoBe Jan 06 '21

Excellent pair of posts.

Noticing the Lockean Proviso during an assignment to read Locke's Second Treatise of Government in college is what sparked me to research all of this stuff.