Feudalism is defined as a societal structure that works by having land exchanged for labor.
Now this is definitely possible under anarcho-capitalism, but by no means will it be the only type of payment. And also note, that if done voluntary, there’s nothing wrong with feudalism. For example, a man might sign a contract to work for 20 years for McDonald’s in order to be given a certain piece of land which was previously owned by McDonald’s.
Does this situation seem familiar?
It should, because it is, in principle, no different from paying a mortgage. Under feudalism, you work for whoever owns the city, and they give you land in return. In modern society, you go find a job, get a loan from the bank and buy a house, and then work to pay that off. If you think about it, its not different. You work for a decade or two to accumulate resources in order to purchase a piece of land for yourself.
Those who believe anarcho-capitalism leads to feudalism believe that one large entity, a corporation, will own a city completely, and will enact a feudalism like system, as I described before. However, this is only one of many ways of organising a city. What if there’s a city which is funded by its citizens voluntarily, where there is no total owner of the town? What if the owner only owns the infrastructure, not every single house and piece of land, making it impossible for feudalism? And, what if the neo-feudalist system is actually beneficial for some of the workers?
They would have contracts guaranteeing job security and would get paid in land which they would have to buy anyway using a mortgage. And if there is an abusive city, with a crazy feudalist dictator, the people can just leave, because competition will ensure only the systems that are the fairest to the average person are the ones that will prevail.
Rothbard claimed the feudal lords of that time were illegitimate ‘land monopolists’ who stole the title to the land through coercion and ‘sold’ it back to the rightful owners. Therefore, the only reason medieval feudalism was bad, was because it incorporated the use of force via state power.
When Prof. Hans-Hermann Hoppe in mid September 2017, took the stage at the Hotel Karia Princess, in Bodrum, Turkey, it was for the twelfth annual meeting of the Property and Freedom Society (PFS). Prof. Hoppe’s demeanor is calm, but yet determined as he addresses the room of PFS members. The topic for the day: Libertarianism and the Alt Right. Hoppe has throughout the years made it pretty clear that he has no patience for political correctness, just like his former mentor and associate, Prof. Murray N. Rothbard. Even though Rothbard passed away over 22 years ago as of today, his spirit was alive and well in the room, and channeled through Hoppe’s uncensored rhetoric. Prof. Hoppe’s academic aura could be interpreted as harsh, and his language as blunt when compared to the more amicable and outgoing style of Murray Rothbard. Nonetheless, there is nobody as Rothbardian as Hans-Hermann Hoppe, and he is the rightful heir of the Austro-libertarian torch holder position.
A populist program
In January of 1992, Rothbard wrote a brief, yet notorious un-PC essay, on what he believed would be the best approach to advance libertarianism in a very non-libertarian friendly society. He was trying to come up with the best possible plan involving the segments of people who would be more likely to embrace the libertarian message, strictly concerning property rights. Rothbard, who had rolled up his sleeves, and sought to create coalitions across the ideological spectrum, even with the new left during the 1960, due to their initial credibility to be the new anti war movement, had now switched his attention to involve a right-wing populist approach. In Rothbard’s short essay, titled Right-Wing Populism, Rothbard explains to the readers what right-wing populism is in order to understand the movement better, and hence facilitate the initiation of a dialogue with individuals who identify as right-wing populists. Rothbard finally goes through the points, one by one, of what a right-wing populist program looks like, and why it should be possible for libertarians to create coalitions with groups of individuals who endorse such a program.
Bringing back Rothbard’s ideas to the table
In Turkey, Hans-Hermann Hoppe brought back Rothbard’s strategic advice into the libertarian limelight in front of a crowd who was receptive, but not as enthusiastic as the audience at the Corax Conference in Malta just a few months earlier, where he delivered the exact same speech. Hoppe points out in his speech how the “Hayekian strategy for social change”, a model of influencing the elites in the political class, in academia, and in the mainstream media, and then await the trickle down effect, “must be considered fundamentally unrealistic” for spreading the correct libertarian message. Rothbard states the exact same thing in his essay when suggests that “the ruling elite benefits from the current system” of the status quo, and therefore no significant change is to be expected from the top among the elites down to the masses. Thus, both Rothbard and Hoppe recognize that libertarian ideas are not welcome in the realm of academia or media. On the contrary, they are met with a greater and greater degree of hostility, every day. Furthermore, we have witnessed what happens to libertarian leaning candidates in politics once they assume a position in office. They either, sell out and become part of the problem, or they get ostracized, marginalized, and most of the time ignored, if they choose to hold on to their principles.
Focusing on the disenfranchised
Hoppe recognizes this as an undisputable historical fact when he claims that the libertarian strategic approach needs to be a populist one. In other words, Hoppe says, the “libertarians must short-circuit the dominant intellectual elites, and address the masses directly” in order to arouse the contempt for the ruling elites within the most disenfranchised group of people in society, and awaken their disdain for the class of ruling elites. Rothbard was also very clear when mentioning that, “ripping the mask off elites is ‘negative campaigning’ at its finest and most fundamental”, and to make this happen, Rothbard further suggests, libertarians ought to focus their attention on the “groups who are the most oppressed and who also have the most social leverage”. Given the limited amount of resources for outreach, and knowing what it takes to convert people to the libertarian message, I think it is safe to say that we need to focus primarily on specific subdivisions of demographics in society. Hoppe and Rothbard have both proposed a strategy for targeting the most victimized groups; that is, those who do not have any protective status label accorded by the state, and those who are most likely to be taxpayers as opposed to tax consumers. From a libertarian perspective then, considering property rights to be the only existing legitimate rights, then anyone who has protective status in form of affirmative action, and other non discrimination laws implemented by the state, is the person who on average will be the least likely to support our cause.
Identifying likely supporters
In his speech, Hoppe specifies which group he believes will be the most likely supporter of the libertarian creed: Bourgeoisie, married, heterosexual, Christian couples, with children, who also happen to be taxpayers. First and foremost, if you are Caucasian of European ancestry, then you are not part of any protected class of people as determined by the state. It follows then, according to the egalitarian leftist narrative, that if you are not part of any protected group, then you must be part of the oppressing group. Why? Because if other groups need to have a protected label on them then there must be a group of predators, or else no protection status would be needed and granted by the state’s ruling elites. This means that Christian, white, heterosexual males, have been unjustly labeled as the oppressing class, and are therefore bound to be the most exploited group of individuals in society. However, as Hoppe correctly identifies, “it would be a serious strategic error to make whiteness the exclusive criteria on which to base one’s strategic decisions”, which some factions of the alt right have done, reprehensibly. Libertarians must recognize that white men are the people who make up the ruling elites within the state apparatus, and who have awarded all the legal privileges to different groups of the population via coercive affirmative action legislation. Hoppe accurately indicates this group of white men in control of governments, as perhaps the biggest problem that libertarians face. Nevertheless, if it so happens that the majority of taxpaying, married, heterosexual, Christian couples, with children, happen to be white, then so be it. It is not the ethnicity, but rather the cultural life style that matters in this case, according to Hoppe. This must remain a strategy of colorblindness, as Hoppe wisely recommends, although we can, and should expect backing primarily from the afore-mentioned demographic.
We finally arrive at the libertarian strategy that Hoppe laid out, which bares striking resemblance with Rothbard’s right-wing populist program from 1992. Hoppe’s strategy is a ten-point strategy: Continue reading “A Little Matter of Strategy”
My 5 year old is smart. As her dad of course I say she’s smart. But, she is. She can visualize a lego toy in her head based on the picture and follow the directions perfectly. She’s has the ability to see completed that which is apart. That’s smart. Or something.
This same child does not have a sense of fluid dynamics or inertia. When she pushes the milk glass with the force at the top, it spills. I point out that she should push from the base and I am rejoined with a stern “I know!”
She has a cute habit of mispronouncing multi-syllable words. Interesting becomes in-stres-ting. It’s very cute and all too soon it will go away. She corrects us when, on the rare occasion we wish to remove these cute bits, that she knows she is right, that this word or that is pronounced as she has demonstrated.
She knows. For her it is true.
True. The hunter’s arrow flew true to the heart of the elk. The scorpion was true to its nature and stung the hiker. Her true love surprised her with a marriage proposal. We say these things are true and think little more about the word. What of true things which cannot be observed? Metaphysicians wrestle with big ideas and truth is a big idea. In Natural History of Intellect, Emerson writes that a student “must find what truth is.”
Murray Rothbard gave us some of the most profound insights in history, economics, sociology, etc., yet if you get to a point where you feel like he’s taught you everything you could possibly know, he surprises you once more. We often wonder where the roots of our libertarian philosophy come from, and not just from the perspective of the more recent centuries, but in regard to the progression of philosophical thought which led to the creation of economics.
While modern libertarianism was certainly founded in Murray’s living room, there is a lot more to the story.
In Economic Thought Before Adam Smith: Vol 1, a clear and concise analysis is given on the development of economic thought, in which most of the initial philosophical insights that led to the development of Western civilization over time came from the ancient cities of Greece.
There was the poet Hesiod who gave us some of the first insights into scarcity and how this relates to the plight of man. Democritus (c.460-c.370 BC), who gave us the idea of subjective value theory and was in favor of private property over communal property, noted that:
‘The same thing may be good and true for all men, but the pleasant differs from one and another’ . 
Plato (c.428-c.374 BC) had many statist tendencies which he outlined in The Republic and The Laws, which described his idea of a Greek polis (city) where philosophers and soldiers would rule over the labourers, peasants, and merchants. Somehow, Plato still managed to understand the role of the division of labor, despite the fact that he wanted a static economy with little to no innovation. Xenophon (430-354 BC), a follower of Plato, still managed to distinguish that in large cities people were often able to get by on a single trade, while those living in smaller towns relied on being a “jack of all trades” to get by; this showed his consciousness of supply and demand, which Plato lacked with his ideas of communalism.
Aristotle (384-322), a great proponent of private property, disagreed with his teacher Plato on the idea of communal property. Instead he argued that private property is interwoven into our human nature and therefore gives us the ability to act morally and compassionately, versus being coerced. Though he was not in favor of limiting a person’s private property per se, he stressed the idea of reciprocity in any exchange. To him, it was unjust for any person to get the short end of the stick in a transaction, which led to his overall confusion on money (e.g. Shoes traded for a house must be based on a builder to shoemaker ratio). Later libertarian theorists like Rothbard corrected this idea, because in order for an exchange to take place at all, one must value their current possession less than what they’re receiving in return. It wouldn’t make sense to trade $5, for $5, yet Aristotle’s contradiction went unnoticed for centuries to come. Continue reading “Taoists: The World’s First Libertarians”
After finishing chapter one of Man, Economy and State, the two prominent concepts that I learned more about are those of marginal utility and time preference.
Murray Rothbard elaborates on isolationist economics to elucidate upon the discovery of economic principles that are derived from the actions of Robinson Crusoe (a fictional character used for illustrative purposes) who is stranded on an island.
To simplify the matter, Rothbard uses two goods that Robinson desires as his most highly valued ends, that of consuming berries and leisure. If Robinson can pick 20 berries an hour and works 10 hours a day, he can consume 200 berries a day and 14 hours of leisure.
If he decides to construct a stick, so that he can pick the berries more efficiently, increasing both his total output of berries and output per unit of time (say, per hour), he can only do this at the expense of forgoing some of his production and consumption of berries, and allocating time to produce the stick. This means that he has to lower his time preferences, preferring to save some of his berries for the time period that he will be constructing the stick, in that he will either have to pick more than he normally consumes, to have for the production of the stick, or to eat less of it than he normally does, or a combination of both.
Either way, this simple isolationist story elucidates on the principle of capital accumulation in society and what is logically necessary for its accumulation; the exercise of foresight, restraint of appetites, anticipation of future demand, and a lowering of time preferences, foregoing and delaying the consumption of some goods and/or leisure in order that you can consume more in the future, hence the saying that “savings is delayed consumption.” It does show us fundamental principles of human action and allows us to build upon them, starting at the individual level and moving towards society. Continue reading “Man, Economy, and State: Chapter One Review”
And how is this going to be enforced without government? IP requires a government to enforce it. Enforcement prevents someone not a party to the arrangement of the patent from using their own materials or ideas.
This is roughly equivalent to theft.
[IP is more precisely a form of negative servitude, not theft. It restricts people from doing certain things with their property. There’s nothing wrong with voluntary negative servitudes, such as restrictive covenant agreements. The problem with IP is that it attempts to create rights that are good against the world and at odds with pre-existing property rights in physical things.] – Freedom Juice
We join forces with Jon Reed from Libertarianism For Normal People to discuss the Martin Scorsese biopic of Howard Hughes, the Aviator. It’s a long movie and so we focus on some key points and overall themes in our discussion. The way of the future.
Billionaire and aviation tycoon Howard Hughes (Leonardo DiCaprio) is a successful public figure: a director of big-budget Hollywood films such as “Hell’s Angels,” a passionate lover of Hollywood leading ladies Katharine Hepburn (Cate Blanchett) and Ava Gardner (Kate Beckinsale), and an aviation pioneer who helps build TWA into a major airline. But in private, Hughes remains tormented, suffering from paralyzing phobias and depression. The higher he rises, the farther has to fall.
The proposed Minimum Wage Law increases in various US jurisdictions is an act of aggression against businesses and willing workers. It is also an act of treason by elected officials against the very citizens who entrusted them to protect their well-being.
Here is the analysis to prove my claims.
Individual property rights includes 4 components which we all possess: our BODY, MIND, EFFORTS and the ASSETS we acquire through the application of the first three.
Employment is a form of trade – an economic exchange between two willing parties.
The terms of employment are based on each employee’s (party #1) willingness to apply his or her body (skills), mind (knowledge), and effort (productivity) to meet the goals set by the employer to fulfill the expectations defined by the job description and responsibilities thereof. The employer (party #2) agrees to pay each employee from assets that have been earned by the business owners which constitutes their legal property. As part of this arrangement, the employer also makes available other assets to the workers including a work place, equipment, co-workers/teammates/management, intellectual property and, of course, paying customers who make the entire enterprise viable.
Hiring a new worker is no different than any other business investment, regardless of its nature – equipment, energy, services or labour. The business expects a return on investment (ROI) or else they will not invest. Some jobs provide a lower ROI than others due to their low skill/knowledge requirements and the wages for these jobs reflect this reality. Overqualified workers will not apply for these jobs knowing that other jobs can leverage their skills and knowledge at a higher pay level. Under-qualified workers will need more training and time to become productive at the ROI levels expected by the employer. All employers seek the best candidates for each job and usually choose the person who is not overqualified and too expensive or so under-qualified as to require too much time and effort to meet expected performance goals.
When governments enact laws like the Minimum Wage Level, the business case for hiring new workers is taken out of the hands of the employer and potential workers. This is a violation of the property rights of both and is actually harmful to both parties. Like medical doctors who swear an oath to “do no harm” to their patients, is it too much to ask our political and government leaders to abide by the same oath?
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