Walter Block wants to homestead your misery…

Walter Block keeps coming up with weird and ridiculous arguments, decade after decade. His latest idea is a “negative homesteading theory,” which somehow has nothing to do with homesteading at all, but rather is about “misery” and the principle that one is not allowed to pass on “misery” to someone else. Block tried to use this principle to “prove” that we should be allowed to kill innocent people, but Carl Jakobssen replied in the Journal of Libertarian Studies on how this deduction is invalid.

Suppose that A kidnaps B, and uses B as a shield from any retaliation from C, whom A is trying to murder. C’s only way of saving himself is to use his gun and shoot A, through B. Also, B has a guardian angel that will defend B from any aggression from C, unfortunately not from A. So, if C tries to shoot B, B’s guardian angel will use his gun and shoot C.

In this scenario, either C or B must die, and since libertarianism is a way to resolve conflicts over property rights, only one of the two has the right to defend himself from the other (we’re leaving A out of the picture). The classical libertarian position is that, since B does not aggress against C, it would constitute aggression for C to shoot B. But, what if B is forwarding misery onto C? Then, it would be permissible for C to shoot B. How then, does B forward his misery onto [C]?

It should be clear now that C is indeed, in the first case, aggressing against B. To reiterate, in the first case B doesn’t aggress or try to forward his misery, so when C tries to shoot him, he’s aggressing against B. Thus the negative homesteading theory does not, contrary to Block’s claim, conclude that it is permissible to attack against innocent shields.

One thought on “Walter Block wants to homestead your misery…

  1. David Gendron August 31, 2010 at 16:11

    Another raving lunatic is Ross Kenyon:

    “I’ve attended tea parties as an anarchist because I’m a sincere libertarian who cares about limiting the power, scope, and size of government and fighting its unjustified intrusion into the lives of peaceful individuals. Many of my fellow tea party attendees intuitively and intellectually grasp the danger of the unlimited state and seek to reduce its influence over their personal lives. Anarchism is the logical extension of that reasonable impulse, not the nihilist tantrum that Boehner makes it out to be.”

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