FAQ by Libsocs for “An”caps

This FAQ is meant as a way to further clarify our anti-property libsoc position and set aside capitalist objections. In our search for coherent propertarian arguments, we have encountered a number of objections which we are answering here in order to keep the quality of discourse high. But we emphasize that we have yet to encounter a single coherent propertarian argument as of this time.

This FAQ was written by Francois Tremblay and Noor Mehta.

Also see the articles Refuting "anarcho"-capitalism by means of "anarcho"-capitalism, Frequently Asked Questions about The Labor Theory of Value and The Myths of "Libertarian" Economics.

1. What constitutes usury, and why is it wrong?

Usury is the process by which an owner receives a constant sum of money or percentage of revenues from another person using their capital. Depending on the nature of the property that is loaned out, the name of the sum of money changes: interest (for money), rent (for land and buildings), profit (for means of production).

Usury is a claim to have a right to an indefinite stream of income from a finite amount of labor. The fundamental problem may not be so much the one act in itself, but rather the system that builds upon it– it is that system that allows for enormous power disparities and one class to abuse those. What happens is, a person can obtain a single plot of land, rent it out, use the rent money to buy another plot of land soon, rent that out, use the newly-doubled-income to buy more land and rent it out too, and expand the estate to the point where anyone nearby cannot own land and must labor under the landlord.

As the estate expands, the landlord continues abusing his power and increasing the domain of the power disparity. The landlord also maintains an authoritarian relationship with the tenants, insofar as he can increase the rent and they must labor harder to pay it. (Their only choice is to leave, but the costs of leaving almost always will outweigh the costs of submitting to the authoritarianism, and being free to leave is no justification for social authority.) As the landlord maintains a monopoly of ultimate power over the land, he can also enable statist programs and maintain statelike powers, all while he did not actually labor for the income from the rent. (The only labor he does is in the beginning while acquiring the land, but a finite amount of labor deserves a finite payment, not an indefinite flow of income.)

The landlord now is a central of wealth, and he is justified in using force to extract more from the laborers. (This would be the difference between this situation and an alternative where the tenant offers a one-time finite gift  in exchange for use.) This also leads to the situation where the landlord now uses his power to make things his way– in a court case, he can easily bribe the judge and get away with it, or make the tenants serve as eyewitnesses to get the court to rule one way.)

A child born to a tenant would owe rent as he/she grows up on the estate, and the child's only other choice would be to leave, which resorts the whole situation to a very state-like one, the only possible difference being that the land was 'voluntarily' acquired. But libsocs do not believe the State can be justified if only it had acquired the land the 'right' way– rather, the State is wrong because power disparities are wrong and inherently violate liberty.

This situation demonstrates the scenario of renting, but the same law applies to profit and interest– allowing the privileged to abuse the power disparities to increase the domain of their power.

Alternatively, usury is predicated on the implicit belief that capital is in and of itself a productive force, and therefore the capital is somehow owed restitution which is then passed on to its owner in the form of interest/rent/profit. But money alone, land alone, or tools alone cannot produce anything, and they are only productive when they are being used by people. Therefore it is invalid to say that owners are owed usury, and since resources are limited, usury represents financial exploitation, which is morally wrong.

Usury is essentially demanding something for nothing, and the results are often very statist. In the landlord case, he owns a vast estate of land from all the renting, and under property-ownership he can make up any rules he wants and enforce them. He could also enable every single statist program for his 'tenants', such as Medicare, public schooling, Social Security, etc. while continuously extracting money from his tenants living on there, and caging them if they refuse to pay. If his tenants don't like something, their only option is to leave, and the "love it or leave it" problem remains.


1a. Some people will want to pay usury, and some won't, and that's just time preference.

Time preference (the belief that people put a greater value on present goods over future goods) may or may not explain why people will decide to pay usury. However, it does not provide a justification for the existence of usury. The distinction here is crucial; explaining how something came to be, which is a matter of historical record, and explaining how something is justified, which is a matter of economics or ethics (for example), is not at all the same thing. One can explain how, historically, the institution of slavery arose and was maintained throughout the ages, but these historical facts do not justify its continued existence today. Even though we can all agree that slavery has existed for ages, we also all agree that it must be eradicated.

Our position is not that usury does not exist, but rather that usury is illogical and unethical, and should be eradicated. This is not, therefore, a historical position, but an economic and ethical one.

2. No one's rights are being violated if the trade is mutually voluntary, so why would you interfere?
First, we must recognize that the answer to such a question depends on one's theory of rights (or if one believes in rights at all). But putting that aside, we must point out that the voluntary nature of an action is a necessary but not sufficient criterion of justice. For instance, hiring a hitman is a voluntary act, but obviously not a just one (committing the murder is obviously not voluntary, but one does not need to actually kill anyone to sign a contract). A landowner giving a low-paying, demanding job to the natives he kicked out by force is a voluntary act, but not a just one.

A problem with the "if you oppose something, you must advocate using coercion to stop it" line that is so frequently tossed around by the "anarcho"-capitalists, is that this line of reasoning seems a non-sequitur. The implication that advocating coercion is the only way to oppose something must be questioned. Most "anarcho"-capitalists will quite readily say they are opposed to paper money, but they would never use force against it. The same goes for libertarians and anarchists who are culturally leftist, i.e. an opposition to cultural authoritarianism does not necessitate using force.

Another perspective is that it's not so much about the immediate relationship between two individuals (which can often be consensual, just like the Constitution was consensual for the founding fathers) at hand, but rather the situations and systems that a right to continuous increase ends up justifying.

3. Why should I care about society?

Because society provides for the vast majority of our needs. The productive capacity of any given individual in any economic system represents nothing but a tiny sliver of the total productive capacity that goes towards any objective. One industry demands five others, which in turn demand ten others, and so on; and every individual must be clothed, fed, sheltered, entertained, and so on. In the larger view, we can say that for any person to produce requires a whole society. In that view, property rights make no sense, since the products of one individual are in fact the result of the activities of a whole society, without which the individual is very little.

This may be seen as an attack against individualism, but in fact it is quite the opposite, as society itself is nothing but organized association and cooperation between individuals. Thus, by demonstrating how utterly vital society is to the individual, we are in fact proving the necessity of social autonomy and individual freedom, as they are both the exact same thing.

4a. The Labor Theory of Value is complete bullshit. Value is subjective.

Here, we are faced with two competing theories of value: STV (subjective, where price is determined by offer and demand) and LTV (labour, where price is limited by cost). Arguments for STV always end up being circular: they posit that we must maintain STV because STV is valid or most used within our current system, therefore STV is the only valid theory. We reject such circularities as irrelevant, preferring to examine each on their own merits.

The socialist position is that STV is a purely arbitrary standard based on the perpetuation of usury and scarcity, i.e. how much people are ready to pay for a product, and how much profit a business can make from selling it. LTV, on the other hand, is based on a non-arbitrary, measurable, factual standard: the actual costs involved in making a given product, including labour time, that is to say the person's wage. Because LTV is based on facts, not on arbitrary evaluations, it is most adapted to an egalitarian system, while STV perpetuates exploitation by its very nature. That is why LTV is the linchpin of any egalitarian economic system.

Saying that "value is subjective" can mean one of two things: it can mean that the individual is ultimately the sole judge of what he desires to buy, or it can mean that the value of the product itself, taken apart from the individual buyer, must not be evaluated on the basis of facts. We accept the former statement, but not the latter. Obviously the individual is always in charge of deciding whether he wants to buy a given product, but there is no reason to posit that the value of that product must be adjusted based on desires instead of measurable facts.

"Cost the limit of price" is another restatement of the LTV. It means that the producer cannot demand a price for a product that is higher than its labor cost. A product that cost very little labor, cannot be rightfully sold at a considerably higher price. In a society with free-market competition, the customer will go with the cheapest, but quality products available. Fundamentally, what this boils down to, is that a person deserves to earn proportional to how much he/she labors.

4b. "Values are personal based on what a person acts towards, so they are passed on to the object, which therefore has a subjective value."

This is an attempt at equivocation on the word "value," trying to get people to conflate the object's value (a fact of economics, which is not relative to the individual) with the moral values that we judge are or could be furthered by it (a moral evaluation, which is necessarily relative to the individual). Personal values do not have any effect on changing or altering the facts about the object. Ironically, it is generally the proponents of STV who claim to be "objective," while they are the ones who confuse people's desires towards an object (their moral evaluation of the object) with the facts about an object. 

4c. "In my interpretation, STV implies that there is no such thing as a value that belongs to the object. STV only talks about the values that we hold, which change in time."

Your truncated version of STV is entirely true, but also entirely irrelevant. The principle that our fluctuating needs modify our appreciation of things is an important moral principle but tells us nothing about economics (such as how products should be priced, which should be the main goal of any theory of value), and is entirely compatible with any economic ideology.

4d. "LTV cannot explain how objects change value over time, but they do."

Since we currently measure the value of objects using STV, the whole argument is circular– "STV is valid because values change subjectively, because that's how we currently measure them, and LTV can't explain that." In short, STV (as currently used) proves STV (the theory). As pointed out in question 4a, proponents of STV only have circular arguments in their defense.

5. Don't people deserve rewards for taking risks?

Yes, of course: but evaluating risks is not a special sort of work which somehow requires usury in order to be properly rewarded. In fact, in our capitalist system we already have wage labor which concerns itself with evaluating risk, such as that related to insurance, financial instruments, and the stock market. Like all other forms of work, risk assessment should be rewarded by a wage proportional to the time spent on it, adding costs when applicable.

6. Employee and rental agreements will always exist, because they can be more convenient.

No doubt they can be convenient for the property owners who make use of them and collect usury, but this does not erase the fact that they are illogical and therefore not valid contracts (see question 1). A property owner who lets others use his property for their own production is not owed any percentage of that production. While most mutualists are of the opinion that usury should not be eliminated but rather be phased out voluntarily, all agree that usury is undesirable and exploitative.

In short, such agreements may be moral, especially given our current economic system, but they are not ethical.

7a. Without interest, there'd be no reason for anyone to invest their money in a new business, and no new businesses will be created.

There are more ways to start a business than by waiting for an investor to grant people capital. The traditional anarchist method is for a group of people to pool their resources. Furthermore, an egalitarian society with LTV-limited prices and no rent would make starting a business less of a burden, making the investor-savior model less relevant.

It's also important to point out, once again, that our position is not that rewards should be eliminated. Investment should be rewarded by a proportional wage, like any other form of work. There is no inherent difference between risk-taking work, investment work, and any other kind of work.

7b. "Interest rates tell producers what should go towards capital goods or consumer goods."

See above. A far better signal would be consumer demand and desires, which producers always have to guess anyway.

8. People are going to have varying degrees of success, and the only way to remove those is coerced redistribution of wealth.

Libsocs do not want to take away people's success. We merely reject the belief that any person's work is owed more than its full and equal share. Libsocs do not believe in imposing a specific egalitarian outcome, but rather believe that a just and fair economic system will in itself necessarily bring about the most desirable outcomes.

9. Inequality is inevitable in a world with scarcity.

There is no direct relation between the amount of a good and its distribution. A good may be extremely scarce but widely distributed, or exist in great quantities but be hoarded by a few. In an egalitarian society, inequality is never inevitable, no matter how much or little of a good exists.

Besides, the inequality that libsocs criticize is inequality of authority/power/privilege. By 'authority' no one opposes it in the sense of 'being an authority' (as in a doctor being an authority over medicine), but rather 'having authority' (over others) in the social sense.



Anti-propertarianism

'Property' as used here refers to the kind of ownership that allows for accumulation of wealth through usury, which is tied in with the 'stickiness' and 'ultimate decision-making power' attributes.

10. Aren't property rights necessary for a free market?

This question hinges on one's definition of freedom. To the capitalist, unilateral and total control over one's own land means that he is free. But we accept this belief in unilateral and total control over land no more than we accept the State's unilateral and total control over land. Both are based on excluding and exploiting those who need the property to work or live and have no control over it. 

Freedom, in the general anarchist view, cannot exist without the elimination of hierarchies and relations of dominance. But usury, which is a necessary component of property rights, implies that within the market there is a certain class of people (property owners) who have more rights than others, based on invalid premises, and may therefore form a hierarchy with themselves as the superiors. Therefore there is no "free market" here. A free market is necessarily egalitarian, since freedom and equality are merely two sides of the same coin.

All that's needed for market exchange is some kind of ownership, and possession works for that. The right to usury that comes with property is not necessary for market trades.

11. What are you going to do when I claim something to be my property? Doesn't your position necessarily imply coercion?

Typically, "anarcho-capitalists" believe that the only possible consequence to being against a process or mechanism is to advocate its eradication by coercion. This is the result of a "might makes right" mentality: if one has the "right values," one must therefore use might to impose one's values on others. But we do not  believe that anyone has the "right values," let alone that any truth deserves to be imposed by force (coercion is, obviously, the enemy of truth-seeking and its best deterrent). We believe that, as people come back to the fundamental idea that everyone is equally worthy of consideration and that we should all be responsible for our actions towards each other, they will rightly see property claims as an attempt to control others. In a mutualist court, such claims would simply be rejected for being logically invalid.

We can make a comparison with intellectual property. When ancaps oppose intellectual property, they are not advocating using coercion to end an IP contract. If someone wants to claim their ideas as their own and cut off anyone else, an ancap will reject the contract as invalid, but refrain from using force to end it. The contract would simply be viewed as invalid if it came up in a court case.

12. Property is not a social construct. It is an extension of the self.

These are actually two separate issues. Whether given objects are or are not an extension of the self does not indicate the type of ownership that we hold over them, just like the fact that our relationships with others are extensions of ourselves does not indicate the type of relationships that they are. And in fact the analogy works in the same way, since the types of relationships we experience towards other people are social constructs, and yet those relationships are extensions of the self. There is no contradiction between the two positions.

This view also implies some sort of metaphysical 'natural law.' But for example, if this 'natural law' states that performing 'labor' on an un-owned object or land, then we must question what constitutes 'labor.' Is it my bit of land f I rub my shoe on it for a few seconds? Very few would say so, and this is because no one else around you would recognize it as such. What constitutes 'labor' is up to society, and thus this means the very basis of ownership is a social construct to avoid conflicts between individuals, and not a 'natural law.'

13. Property is necessary due to scarcity of resources, for individuals living together in society.

In fact, the exact opposite is true. There is not much harm to be done by hoarding resources that are non-scarce: one may claim property over some of the Sun's rays, or some of the air, and he should merely be seen as petty. But someone who claims property over scarce resources, instead of mere possession, is setting himself up as everyone else's enemy. He breaks his link to the whole of social activity when there is no reason for him to do so.

14. Possession is no different from property.

Property is the absolute right to enjoy and dispose of a given object, the "ultimate decision-making power" over that object, as long as it doesn't interfere with other people's absolute and ultimate power over their own objects. When we say, "this is my property," we imply that we are empowered to do absolutely anything we want with it. Possession, on the other hand, does not recognize such absolutism. Any conception of ownership which is not ultimate or absolute is necessarily not property. For instance, without the right to usury, there can be no property. Without the right to destroy or sell, there can be no property. Any form of ownership which can be nullified without the owner's will or death is not property. Conceptions of possession exclude one or many of these rights or rules, sometimes all.

15. Haven't you heard of the Tragedy of the Commons? It proves that property rights are necessary.

Since many libsocs used to believe in the established capitalist system, some of us are familiar with the Tragedy of the Commons mechanism. A Tragedy of the Commons scenario occurs when a given resource is unowned and freely available for use. In such a scenario, each individual's interest is to hoard as much of that resource as possible before other people do the same. The end result is sub-optimal: the resource is quickly depleted, can no longer generate more of itself, and newcomers have access to none of what existed before.

One example of this is the Labrador fishing industry pre- and post-government intervention. On their own, the fishermen of Labrador took collective responsibility for their catch and kept each other in check in a balance of power. But when the government asked them to register their output, they all naturally claimed a higher number than the truth. Because of the new system, overfishing became the norm. The collective, implicit rules that existed were overturned and replaced with explicit bureaucratic impotency.

It is  not property rights specifically that prevent the Tragedy of the Commons, but rather ownership as a general concept and, most importantly, some form of personal or collective responsibility. Irresponsible use of property can equally lead to disaster (as the generally disastrous governmental policies towards natural resources prove). It is also worth pointing out that property rights include the right to destroy, that property rights are a form of hoarding, and that property rights are not much help against externalities like pollution, especially when those producing the externalities are far more powerful than their victims.

As an example, try the lobby or elevator of an apartment complex. While it is technically property, it's common ground for the people within it. If you damage something in it, other residents would hold you responsible and make you pay for the damages. Under private property, the individual can rightfully destroy his property without letting anyone else take advantage of it to actually use it productively.

16. What about self-ownership? Do you not believe that individuals own themselves, if you reject property?

Self-ownership is a meaningless concept that has been rejected by many people without rejecting propertarianism.

Ownership is a relation between a person, which is in control, and an object, which is controlled. The idea of self-ownership therefore implies that the person owns his or her self. This is a circular argument: how can an object own itself? How can a singular entity be both in control and controlled in the same relation? We see that the concept of self-ownership is actually nonsensical.

(For more on self-ownership, see: Self-ownership is a meaningless concept, Is self-ownership a misnomer?)

That being said, when people talk about self-ownership, they are generally talking about freedom. If we look at the issue from this angle, the question becomes a lot easier to answer. We do believe that freedom exists without property: in fact, we believe that it can only exist without it.

17. If you reject self-ownership, how can you talk about aggression or rights?

The concepts of aggression and rights can easily be defined without referring to self-ownership. Aggression can be defined in relation to the conflicts that occurs when one person's value-expression interferes with another person's value-expression. Rights can be defined as a justification of violence in order to protect some aspect of one's freedom. Neither of these refer to, or imply, self-ownership, which is an incoherent concept.

18. What is the basis for possession?

No human being can live without making use of the products of human action. The concept of possession is therefore a necessary construct to deal with conflicts on product usage.

People have a right to what they legitimately produced or acquired. This is not the same as accepting a right to usury based on it.

19. Aren't stocks in a company analogous to renting?

A stock in a corporation does not make you part owner of it. You don't get to use control over what the means of production are used for. You get a part of the profits at the end.

20. Can I take your toothbrush/bed/house, etc. if you reject property? Can I take your car from a parking lot if you leave it?
No. We do not reject all forms of ownership– we simply reject property-ownership.

21. Doesn't the "means of production" change over time? A hammer can be the final product, and then it becomes the means of production when building a house?

Yes it does, but the social anarchist view is that at that point in time, whoever is actually using it owns it.

22. Why is anarcho-capitalism a contradiction in terms? Isn't capitalism a free-market system where all trades are voluntary, thus making it compatible with anarchism?

As explained in the first question, the issue is that in the long term, a free market based upon capitalist property allows for enormous power disparities, and state-like powers. Free markets are compatible with anarchism– capitalism is not. Because I own the tools, I can dictate how you employ your skills and to what end, regardless of the fact that I need your skills in order to utilize these tools that I possess.

23. Can't we just work together to smash the State now and worry about these details later?

The short answer is no. The ancap wants to abolish the State; the ansoc wants to abolish all hierarchy, of which the State is only one. The former will attack the State while supporting other authority, and the latter will attack all authority. A typical anti-political ancap views a political End the Fed petition as one that fails to strike the real problem, statism, the same way an ansoc views a movement to end the State as failing to strike the real root problem of hierarchy and authority.

The ansoc view is that "anarcho-"capitalism is a form of micro-statism, with the belief in property (as opposed to possession) leading one to authoritarian conclusions. So it really makes no sense to demolish the current State only to replace it with the authoritarianism of property.

The view of "anarcho-"capitalism being a gross contradiction in terms, also comes into play. If "anarcho-"capitalism is a contradiction, that renders the term meaningless, and thus "anarcho-"capitalists have no actual consistent position, and thus cannot be said to actually stand for anything consistent, with their opposition to one authority and support for similar authorities.

Also, if "anarcho-"capitalists advocate different alternatives to the State,  their course of action will differ. They may advocate hierarchical business structures as a part of agorism, or take action based upon the belief in private property, and those means are found to be completely counter-revolutionary by the ansoc. Ansocs will advocate tactics such as advocating labor unions and syndicates, cooperatives, mutual banks, worker strikes and takeovers, while the ancap will often view those as ineffective at best.

And many "anarcho-"capitalists are more than willing to work and collaborate with minarchist statists, while at the same time they have no interest in working with  left-anarchists. So the attitude that ansocs ought to shut up about property and hierarchies and work with ancaps to fight the current State, is rather hypocritical.

24. If the owner provides everything but the labor, why should the worker have a right to the products?

This is a circular question, in that it hinges entirely on one's position on ownership. From the perspective of possession, the "owner" is the person who is using the object, and thus would be part of the workers, not an individual private owner separate from the workers. Therefore the question reduces itself to "if the workers provide everything, why should the workers have a right to their own products," which is trivial. From the perspective of property, the workers have no right to their own products to begin with, so the question is clearly false.

76 thoughts on “FAQ by Libsocs for “An”caps

  1. Dave Burns November 9, 2015 at 01:06 Reply

    Why would anyone ever produce capital under this system? If I produce a machine I am not using yet, do I possess it? Is barter allowed? If barter is allowed, why should I be prevented from accepting a stream of payments over time rather than one lump payment?
    This also ignores issues of entrepreneurial risk.

    • Francois Tremblay November 9, 2015 at 01:20 Reply

      “Why would anyone ever produce capital under this system? If I produce a machine I am not using yet, do I possess it?”

      Yes, you own the products of your labor. See questiobn 18.

      “Is barter allowed? If barter is allowed, why should I be prevented from accepting a stream of payments over time rather than one lump payment?”

      I’m not sure why you’re talking about barter. No one said anything about it.

      “This also ignores issues of entrepreneurial risk.”

      No, it’s in there, on question 5.

      Seems like you didn’t actually read this page, since none of your questions/comments actually apply to anything I wrote.

  2. Peter Wilson March 6, 2016 at 13:44 Reply

    Mr. Tremblay, I appreciate your thoughtful explanations on these topics. I arrived at my philosophical views through years of self-inquiry and daily journaling. My initial inquiry began with the realization that I held a share of responsibility for the massive violence being perpetrated against innocent people by the U.S. military. “Responsible” in the sense that I am “able to respond” to the situation—take actions that can worsen or better it.

    Ultimately, my inquiries led me to define violation between human beings, which led me to statements of basic human rights that logically negated acts of murder, kidnapping, extortion, theft, rape, enslavement of others, vandalism, and fraud…acts that nearly all people would not want committed to themselves, their homes and respectfully acquired things, friends, families, and other innocent human beings.

    Where in your writings can I find your statements describing the essential parameters of just human interactions? I may happen upon it eventually, since I have bookmarked your helpful site, but I would appreciate a short cut.

    • Francois Tremblay March 6, 2016 at 15:55 Reply

      You mean how people should ideally treat each other? From an ethical perspective or… it’s kindof a vast topic. I mean I have written about some elements of this (e.g. determinism and not blaming anyone, defining love, etc).

  3. Peter Wilson March 7, 2016 at 10:29 Reply

    You have critiques of proposed prescriptions for just interaction between humans, such as this article. I assume you have an essential framework that describes or sets the parameters of just human interaction by which you gauge proposals such as voluntaryism. For you, agreements that involve one party gaining income from another party using the other party’s societally-recognized “property” is wrong (in whatever sense it is wrong to you). It must be wrong to you because such actions violate a standard you recognize to be a proper standard of human interaction—or as I’m putting it—basic parameters of just human interaction. A code perhaps. Whatever you might call it. I should be able to describe it to teenagers. “Kids, here are the essential parameters of just (respectful) interaction between you and other humans”. I call mine ‘Statements of Basic Human Rights’. Yours may be a different form.

    How else could we peacefully interact with others? More importantly, how can anyone justify intervening in others’ interactions, or using force to defend oneself from another’s action?

    “Hey you just punched my brother…Why’d you do that?”

    “Well your brother was….and that action your brother took violated the acceptable parameters of just interaction between humans. For your information, those parameters are……”

    “Hey, why’d you kick my son Billy out of the school?”

    “Well we told Billy what the acceptable parameters of interaction betwee human beings are, and he violated those. For your information, they are….”

    • Francois Tremblay March 7, 2016 at 15:40 Reply

      That’s a huge topic. My basic principle has always been: do no impose harm.
      https://francoistremblay.wordpress.com/2011/06/26/why-this-blog-is-now-called-the-prime-directive/

      In the entry, I explain further what this implies. As for a code, I wouldn’t presume to tell people exactly what is permissible and what is not. I think people can figure it out for themselves in their specific life situations. I fully support the right of everyone to self-determine. Which I guess also answers your question. :)

      • Peter Wilson March 7, 2016 at 19:15 Reply

        Thanks Francois, you steered me to the place I’m looking for.

  4. Peter Wilson March 19, 2016 at 10:04 Reply

    I read and reread your answers many times. I ponder the meaning of this or that sentence trying to grasp your viewpoint. I have engaged in discussion with ansocs that last for weeks and consist of a hundred exchanges. I just can’t get it. The definitions are so slippery to my view.

    Property/possessions. My bike is in my possession as I ride it to the store. I park it outside and enter the store. The bike is no longer in my possession. An ansoc is weary of walking and sees the bike. He rides it home. Because he doesn’t recognize “property”. I need to ride back home to check my child’s insulin levels.

    I have a humble cabin on a half-acre outside of town. I spend hours a day maintaining the cabin, fixing the roof, etc. I keep a productive garden. My mother is sick, and I leave my cabin for several weeks to attend to her. A group of ansocs see the vacant cabin and garden and desire its comforts. They see that no-one is “in possession” of it. For warmth, they break up and burn the furniture that I made from scratch—weeks and weeks of laborious effort up in smoke. They deplete the garden. They leave. I return and find I simply had the bad luck of passersby that were of the ansoc persuasion.

    In my neighborhood, there are no bakeries. My neighbors say they wish for the convenience of picking up a loaf of bread on their way home from work. I am very skilled in baking a variety of breads and pastries. I ask neighbors if anyone would like to join with me in creating an excellent bakery, but they tell me it is not their thing or they are too preoccupied with other concerns. I work hard for a year, setting aside funds and buying supplies—ovens, pans, racks, mixers—as I am able. I perfect the recipes, and make them compatible with my equipment. The bakery is a success. Some neighbors are quite poor and would love to make an arrangement to obtain fresh bread for their families. I tell them that they can help with the bakery operations in exchange for fresh bread. There is a hierarchy involved. I am extremely skilled, and they know very little concerning the operations of the bakery. Should I just tell them to get lost—no hierarchies here? Or must I properly give out free baked goods on demand? Until I can no longer afford to run the operations? Or it’s right to simply turn it all over to the community and start over from scratch? Move elsewhere.

    From your point of view, am I just unable to understand your viewpoint because I’m so immersed in the current paradigm of societal interaction? The concerns raised in my scenarios somehow could not be issues in ansoc society?

    I really do seek unity with all who oppose state violence and coercion. I’m sure you’ve heard this one plenty, but I would have no anxiety or objection to living among ansocs, if as you say, they would not initiate coercive actions upon others. In that case, I would be happy to know of entire communities—ecovillages perhaps—consisting of ansoc adherents. Perhaps those would be the happiest, most productive communities. I like the co-op model for businesses. I buy Ranger IPA, I shop at the Port Townsend Co-op, and the Quimper Mercantile. But I also go to family-owned restaurants, and an individually-owned brewery.
    You say no to “voluntaryists” and “ancaps”. I just can’t follow, hard as I try. I’m missing something. I am temporarily helping run someone’s business. It took them years of hard work to get the business to its current level. I don’t like having a “boss” at times. I prefer to have my own business. But this allowed me to move exactly where I wanted to and when I wanted to. I wanted the situation very much, and my life has improved in all ways because of the arrangement. But I am in an unjust situation? Why can’t I see it as you do?

    • Francois Tremblay March 19, 2016 at 15:15 Reply

      “From your point of view, am I just unable to understand your viewpoint because I’m so immersed in the current paradigm of societal interaction?”

      Yes, that seems most likely. You seem to think anarchism must entail the Grab-What-You-Can world. But that’s the logical consequence of voluntaryism, not anarchism. Libsoc, like all forms of socialism and communism, recognizes the difference between possession and property. No one’s arguing you shouldn’t own a means of transport or a reasonably-sized home, as long as you’re using it. The main issue is the ownership of the means of production.

      I don’t know of any libsoc communities specifically, at least not in the Western world. Then again, I can’t think of any non-capitalist communities in the Western world. Even the Amish engage heavily in capitalist work and trade. Freetown Christiana might be one exception. There are also communes all over, and some of them might be close to the libsoc ideals, I don’t know.

  5. Peter Wilson March 19, 2016 at 17:17 Reply

    “No one’s arguing you shouldn’t own a means of transport or a reasonably-sized home, as long as you’re using it.”

    This is the slippery thing I’m talking about. So libsocs allow I have the right to my modest home. I have the right to exclusively control my home. I have a property right. Now you are stating that there is validity to such a property right. I can’t figure this stuff out.

    “The main issue is the ownership of the means of production.”

    This is why I brought up the “bakery scenario”, which, by the way is very similar to my experience opening a coffee house/bakery many years ago. What is your analysis concerning that scenario? I am trying to understand the principles involved concerning hierarchy. Another scenario (from my real-life experience) involved my desire to learn some kung fu practices. There was certainly a hierarchy in the classes I went to. The instructor called the shots. If you say all hierarchical relationships are unjust, I fail to understand why. If some are and some aren’t, what principles guide one to determine which is which?

    I am developing a website that will serve to promote artists who are voluntaryists, and I am also in school to obtain a teacher certification. I don’t want to be promoting ideas that will result in regrets some day when I “see the light”.

    • Francois Tremblay March 20, 2016 at 00:24 Reply

      Possession and property are not the same thing. For example, see:
      https://francoistremblay.wordpress.com/2010/05/11/the-confusion-between-property-and-possession/

      You are also confusing “hierarchy” with “expertise.” One can have more expertise than someone else without ordering them around. And we don’t need to order each other around to produce anything.

      As for voluntaryism, you have read the entries I posted on the topic, right? If you haven’t, then I would really encourage you to do so. If you have read them and still don’t regret being a voluntaryist, well, then I doubt you will ever regret it. Good luck trying to make sense of an insubstantial, illogical ideology.

  6. Peter Wilson March 21, 2016 at 11:59 Reply

    “If you have read them and still don’t regret being a voluntaryist,”…

    Here we run into the severe (and even crippling) limitations of labels when it comes to attempts at productive discussion. My views concerning just interaction between human beings (our ultimate concern) is unique, as is the case with yours and every other human being’s. In my book (HumanRightsism), I label myself a “HumanRightsist” and I define Basic Human Rights that, when adhered to, logically negate conditions of slavery, kidnapping, rape, murder, extortion, theft, and fraud. My statements of Basic Human Rights, when adhered to, likewise allow for optimal freedom for each human being to respectfully (without violating others’ basic human rights) to follow their dreams in life, on their own terms.

    Of course, basic human rights aren’t real. They are a conceptual framework for bringing about certain desired outcomes, just as my Mom’s recipe for corn fritters is a conceptual framework. The recipe is not “corn fritters”.

    The point is every label requires deeper definition in order to determine its efficacy for outlining the parameters of just interaction among human beings. People argue endlessly, never realizing that they may be on the same page. This means that intelligent discussion concerning just human interaction is challenging, to say the least. I am attempting to engage in constructive conversation. You may be entirely uninterested, but I will find out.

    I assume that we agree that just human interactions cannot properly include a relationship wherein one party has ruler-ship over another party. I see that as the basic “anarchy” position. I like to communicate the idea this way. I do not recognize the notion that any given person (or persons) has legitimate authority to control another person or that person’s affairs and belongings that are socially-recognized to be under his or her control.

    Yes, there are numerous definitions already that may be quibbled over, but do we agree on the general terms of just human interaction so far? In a general sense.

  7. Peter Wilson March 21, 2016 at 18:57 Reply

    Excellent. I don’t have a name for it but I am exploring the science of establishing alliances with those who seek to reduce authoritarian relationships among human beings. Modern political institutions have a massive head start in forming alliances with those who seek greater levels of authoritarian actions. If you have further thoughts, I welcome those. As long as you are responding, I will develop this line of thought further.

  8. Peter Wilson March 25, 2016 at 10:33 Reply

    “I don’t have anything more to say than good luck.”

    Thank you. I think it is wise to hope for good luck, but to rely on intelligently-applied efforts.

    We agreed on my statement: “I do not recognize the notion that any given person (or persons) has legitimate authority to control another person or that person’s affairs and belongings that are socially-recognized to be under his or her control.”

    In language, people ideally agree on defined “terms” that can act as a shorthand for what would otherwise become unwieldy phrases in the course of discussion. Can I reasonably propose that we agree on a useful definition of “own” that may replace (for our discussion—between you and me) some of the above phrase?

    OWN; “The socially-recognized power to exclusively control, and use for one’s own purposes, that which is owned”
    [It is interesting that this definition, which is a word-for-word quote I used in my book—because of its clarity and succinctness— no longer exists on the internet]

  9. Peter Wilson March 25, 2016 at 14:15 Reply

    Since writing the preceding post, I have read more of your articles. I especially enjoyed following up on Benjamin Tucker and the writings of “individualist anarchists”. Perhaps we are on the same page. I suspected that we were dealing with terminology issues.

    I see that you have covered much of this ground in all your posts, so I am not really debating anything at this point. I wonder whether you are creatively envisioning a society that generally agrees with the voluntaryist position (if, say, that were the easier concept for most to grasp), and speculating on how that advance might lead to evermore just terms of human interaction. You were a “voluntaryist” and your position has evolved further. If the delusion that some people properly have the right to use force and the threat of force to control others generally dissolved, then, in your view, rental, employee, and usurious arrangements would also lose ground with most members of society.

    Perhaps the key disagreement you have with an-caps and voluntaryists is more or less a matter of “whose speculations are more accurate?” If the “state” is not upholding coercive institutions of any kind, what economic arrangements will people come to socially support? With the free exchange of information, and minus the threats of coercion, what conventions of human interaction are likely to fall to the wayside?

    I find the term “voluntaryism” to be an agreeable and accessible term that most simply suggests that no-one, who is respectfully minding his or her own business, should ever be forced to do something he or she does not want to do (A person who is putting a little child, who he is responsible for, in danger of starving to death or crawling off a roof is not respectfully minding his own business—a la Rothbard). Yes, respectfully minding one’s business needs some definition.

    I guess, ultimately, defining terms becomes the big issue for people to argue over, and constructive discussion of ideas suffers for it, but one must create a shorthand to discuss ideas. What a mess. Your “socialism” has been messed up by the likes of Stalin and Hitler. “Capitalism” has been perverted by the USA in general, and “libertarian” means a million things (the Koch brothers?), so screw it. I’m picking a term and defining it for myself.
    Thanks for all your posts. You are a valuable contributor—one of the best I’ve found.

  10. Peter Wilson March 25, 2016 at 14:17 Reply

    Forget the above. You’ve written plenty on it. Thanks for your excellent site!

  11. Peter Wilson March 25, 2016 at 15:17 Reply

    I think what it boils down to is this: Millions of us have arrived at the conviction that it is wrong to validate any institution that claims the “right” of certain members of that institution to forcefully impose their will upon other human beings and their respectfully-acquired sphere of exclusive control—whatever their given community socially supports. As with Buddhists, Christians and Muslims, the root branches off as individual proponents add their own values and seek disciples and followers. Some seek to maintain the root integrity, while others neglect and corrupt it for whatever ends they value.

    “I do not recognize the notion that any given person (or persons) has legitimate authority to control another person or that person’s affairs and belongings that are socially-recognized to be under his or her control.”

    Do you see this statement, or perhaps some improved variation of it, as the proper root of all anarchy positions? Would it not be wise for us all to arrive at and rally for such a root conviction?

    • Francois Tremblay March 25, 2016 at 16:23 Reply

      There’s a lot of question-begging in this. For instance, the term “socially-recognized” sneaks in the status quo, making any attempt at establishing an objective standard moot.

  12. Peter Wilson March 25, 2016 at 18:08 Reply

    Acch, “socially-recognizeds”, we can’t live with them, we can’t live without them. If I sit down at a bar in my current town, I likely can put my 20 dollar bill on the bar and consider myself to be the undisputed owner of that 20 dollar bill. Most all of the 30 people in the bar would like to have possession of that property, and have exclusive use of it, but, in my town, I have the socially-supported power to exclusively control it. In that case, I own it in a meaningful sense.

    Somewhere in the world, I might walk into a bar in which I am not socially-supported in exclusively controlling the money I placed on the counter. Anyone who snatches it, well, we can’t really say it is theirs, exactly. We could only say it is then under that person’s control— for the moment. It seems that nearly all societies have adopted the idea of ownership in concordance with my idea of ownership. I estimate that 90% plus of all people agree that a person who has purchased a house according to the local conventions ought to be socially-supported in having exclusive control of that house (with the exclusion, of course for special “government” people).

    In my town, no-one has overtly refused to socially-support my power to exclusively control the body I inhabit (in whatever sense I do so), nor any things I claim to have ownership of. It seems I have won the day! But no, the status quo also upholds that a special class of people rightfully claim ultimate control. Statists will claim I owe my partial victory to “government” people codifying my ownership privileges through a political process. So far, the best I’ve been able to come up with is to peacefully persuade people that the ownership rights we claim to our homes, properties, and earnings—those that our neighbors honor— should also be honored by the con artists who call themselves “government” folks. Of course they would then become just folks.

    Perhaps, ultimately, I am fine with status quo A (the generally prevailing respect for ownership rights among “private” people), while condemning status quo B (you know…the lack of respect among “government” people). Properly speaking the status quo contains both elements in a schizophrenic arrangement. Perhaps, to perfect the root statement, I need to somehow further define the compound term “socially-supported” or “socially-recognized”. Obviously, the right to own something has no practical meaning if a person lives in a community of people who do not socially support, or recognize, his or her right to exclusively control certain things.

    It seems to me that anarchists only need to persuade people to be consistent with ownership rights. The vast majority of people already agree that we all live more productively and peacefully when we socially-support each others’ power to exclusively control their respective homes, justly-acquired possessions, and earnings.

  13. Peter Wilson March 25, 2016 at 19:42 Reply

    In other words, I don’t believe I am attempting to provide an objective standard. I think that may not be necessary, since most people already accept a reasonably universal standard. There is just the odd inconsistency to deal with.

    • Francois Tremblay March 25, 2016 at 20:42 Reply

      Okay cool, so you’re just trying to describe how ownership works. Great, but I don’t see what that has to do with establishing basic principles.

  14. Peter Wilson March 25, 2016 at 21:08 Reply

    Every interaction we recognize to be criminal involves a violation of someone’s ownership rights. The objective is to establish basic principles of just human interaction. I may not be going as far as you do, but for starters, I am establishing at least the parameters of acceptable human interaction such that, should an actor take action that violates those parameters, one is justified in using reasonable and necessary force to bring that actor’s action back within the boundaries of those parameters. You state that one must not harm another. I state that one must not violate another person’s right to truly own his or her body, justly-acquired properties and earnings.

    Beyond that, I must give it more thought to elaborate further.

  15. Peter Wilson March 26, 2016 at 07:36 Reply

    I didn’t say the right to own one’s self. It is an apparent mystery just what the “self” is. My will, my ego, my thoughts, consciousness, awareness, “I am”? If I am not violating anyone, I have the right to exclusively control my right arm, the breathing pace of my lungs if I choose to, to stretch the legs attached to my hips, to balance the whole structure on two legs and have it step to the bathroom. If you cut off my arm (which you have no right to do), that was a portion of “my” body. As far as we can tell, my “self” is still intact (that mystery thing that seemingly resides in the associated body I can’t seem to shake). But, while that arm was apparently part of “my” body, I had the right to exclusively control it—not you. Not the police officer, putting handcuffs on it, and coercing the whole package (“my” body—not “his”) into a cage.

    I don’t know the motive for your philosophical shenanigans concerning one’s right to own one’s body. I feel pretty confident in assuming that you actually do claim the right to exclusively control your arms, feet, fingers, head, and torso. If you honestly do not, don’t be too open about it, then. There are some very sick people out there. I would defend you, because I don’t subscribe to your view concerning ownership of one’s body.

    It reminds me of people who tell me they don’t care about money. I think there is some kind of philosophical monkey business going on. Something is being communicated, but very indirectly.

    You agreed earlier with my statement, “I do not recognize the notion that any given person (or persons) has legitimate authority to control another person or that person’s affairs and belongings that are socially-recognized to be under his or her control.”

    To “control another person”, if we aren’t getting mystical, involves the body associated with that person.

    • Francois Tremblay March 26, 2016 at 15:01 Reply

      I never said I agreed with your earlier principle, no. And if we disagree to such an extent on self-ownership, then I don’t really see the point in continuing this conversation. Do you really think you have “exclusive control” over your body? Then you are a madman.

  16. Peter Wilson March 26, 2016 at 17:30 Reply

    “Yes, I agree with what you said.”

    I misunderstood the meaning of “I agree” or “with what you said” or the “Yes,”

    You sophisticated cats are beyond me.

    “Then you are a madman.” Me and billions of others I’d wager.

    “I don’t really see the point in continuing this conversation.”
    Okay

    • Francois Tremblay March 26, 2016 at 23:45 Reply

      “I misunderstood the meaning of “I agree” or “with what you said” or the “Yes,””

      Now you’re just being disingenuous. When I said that, it wasn’t in reply to your statement of principle. It was in reply to something else. So don’t act like I’m being illogical.

      “You sophisticated cats are beyond me.”

      Fuck off.

      ““Then you are a madman.” Me and billions of others I’d wager.”

      Do billions of people hold to the delusion that they have “exclusive control” over their body? Probably. But anyone who understands how the human body works at any level of detail (even in a ridiculously sketchy way, like me) could tell you the same thing: you do not control 99.9% of all that happens in your own brain, let alone your body. The fact that you don’t understand that is none of my problem.

  17. Peter Wilson May 10, 2016 at 07:35 Reply

    “I never said I agreed with your earlier principle, no. And if we disagree to such an extent on self-ownership, then I don’t really see the point in continuing this conversation. Do you really think you have “exclusive control” over your body? Then you are a madman.”

    Looking at my post just previous to your quoted statement demonstrated that I agree with you about “self-ownership”, based on the observation that the nature of the SELF is indeed an ages-old philosophical quandary for us humans. The discussion, however, is the defining of just interaction among fellow human beings.

    Am I inaccurate in characterizing your view this way: An unjust interaction involves a human being or group of human beings harming another human being or group of human beings?

    • Francois Tremblay May 10, 2016 at 16:14 Reply

      “Am I inaccurate in characterizing your view this way: An unjust interaction involves a human being or group of human beings harming another human being or group of human beings?”

      I don’t think I have ever expressed any views on what injustice is. If you’re asking me if humans harming each other is unjust, then no, not necessarily. After all, we have to harm people in order to prevent them from harming others, as well.

  18. Peter Wilson May 10, 2016 at 18:41 Reply

    An unjust interaction involves a human being or group of human beings imposing harm upon another human being or group of human beings?

    • Francois Tremblay May 10, 2016 at 18:43 Reply

      I would say that’s AN unjust thing, yes. What’s your point?

  19. Peter Wilson May 11, 2016 at 09:38 Reply

    We can agree, then, that, in the realm of human interaction, a person or group of persons who are not imposing harm upon other persons have the right to not have harm imposed on them by others?

    • Francois Tremblay May 11, 2016 at 15:22 Reply

      Is there some kind of point to this transparent attempt at the Socratic method, or are you just wasting time?

  20. Peter Wilson May 11, 2016 at 17:36 Reply

    What then is your definition of “imposing harm upon a human being”?

    • Francois Tremblay May 11, 2016 at 17:37 Reply

      Let’s take a simple example: killing someone. I think we can all agree that murder is an imposition of harm. So now get to your point.

  21. Peter Wilson May 11, 2016 at 19:40 Reply

    That’s an example. If rules are to be based on respecting this right to “not have harm imposed” by others, there must be a meaningful and useful definition of “imposing harm”. Then, when someone proposes a rule, members of the community can assess the proposed rule according to whether it falls under the definition. What is a good definition
    for “imposing harm” upon a fellow human?

    • Francois Tremblay May 11, 2016 at 19:51 Reply

      I said “My basic principle has always been: do no impose harm.” I never said “All rules are to be based on the right not to have harmed imposed by others.” Why are you wasting my fucking time?

  22. Peter Wilson May 12, 2016 at 06:41 Reply

    I’m trying to figure out where the reasoning lies in denouncing hierarchies and owning a given “means of production” as immoral or unethical. I understand that people who don’t operate their own businesses may not like aspects of working at another person’s business, but not liking something doesn’t make it unethical or immoral.

    In an an-cap/voluntaryist community, anyone can start a respectful business. If he or she is short on funds, he can persuade others to join in the effort. Or, as my Wife and I have always done, start the business small, and bring it gradually up to the envisioned level as success allows. No loans. Just work at it and obtain the trust and patronage of the community.

    You’ve been over this ground, so I am trying to be productive by establishing just what your most basic principles are, so that we can proceed rationally to the point where we diverge. I agree with your basic principle: Do not impose harm (upon other humans). Since it is so profoundly basic, I would imagine that a good number of important rules should properly originate from that principle. It seems worthwhile to flesh it out.

  23. Peter Wilson May 14, 2016 at 12:14 Reply

    I have studied your suggested readings. I think I see the challenge. Ancaps and ansocs (libsocs) both agree that the current system, particularly the apparent existence of a “ruling class”, is immoral. Good. Throw the whole thing out (conceptually) and start from scratch.

    Throw out Adam Smith, Bakunin, Marx, Bastiat, Jefferson, Rousseau, Proudhon, Molyneux, Menger, Rothbard—all of them.

    Throw out the status quo, statistics, studies, the existing political factions, the money system, and all that is supposedly evidenced by these factors.

    We are left with communities of human beings interacting with each other and the natural world. Let’s focus on the human beings and their interaction with each other. The mountain man alone in the wilderness is not an issue in this discussion.

    This is not a fantasy exercise. All that is being thrown out is a bunch of conceptual, subjective stuff. Certain humans never had certain listed items. No-one had all the items. Each individual had their own notions concerning any of the given items. For example, there is no such thing as “the government” in the real world of things. There are billions of versions of “the government”, each unique to the individual mind that holds the respective idea of “the government”. But what we are left with is not subjective—there really are communities of human beings interacting with each other and the natural world.

    Wouldn’t it be most productive for ancaps and libsocs to start their discussions at this point and thereby CONSTRUCT a vision of a just community?

    I want to make a nice cake from what I have in my kitchen. I need to assess the reality of what I actually have at my disposal to work with. Then, I must establish just what the outcome is that I hope to bring about. Then, I must attain the principles that, when applied justly (without cheating or misapplying them) will constitute a nice cake.

    It seems to me that ancaps and ansocs skip past the initial steps when they converse with each other. The ancap may have already done initial steps in their thinking, just as the ansoc may have done, but they leap into the conversation willy-nilly, and confusion and conflict arise.

    As I surmised earlier, you may have little to no patience with my approach. It seems to me that you either express that impatience, or you focus on semantic discrepancies that sidetrack my attempt to construct from scratch (so to speak).

    To get to my thought today,
    Perhaps “anarchy” is the wrong focus. It is a promotion of a negative. What is the positive? It may be more accurate, or at least, more productive. Subjectively; what ongoing primary objectives do we both seek concerning our respective realms of human interaction?
    In general terms, there are two categories: freedom to associate and interact with others (which includes freedom to NOT associate with others), and freedom to acquire and create things and experiences (which includes the freedom to NOT acquire and create things and experiences).

    Must go for now.

  24. Peter Wilson May 14, 2016 at 12:40 Reply

    In the spirit of full disclosure, I should answer the natural question that must arise for you when you read the previous post: Why am I bothering you with all this? As I have stated earlier, I am interested in finding the fundamental divergences that take place in the thinking of ancaps and ansocs, and, since I find myself in the ancap camp, I must seek a thoughtful member of the ansoc persuasion to accomplish the task.

    • Francois Tremblay May 14, 2016 at 15:16 Reply

      You’re right, I really can’t be assed. You’re asking me to construct a vision of a just community basically from scratch. I don’t know where you want to start or what level of detail you want, but it just seems like reinventing the wheel. I would tell you to read The Dispossessed, or Woman on the Edge of Time. Both great novels which do a great job portraying what a future society built along egalitarian/Anarchist principles might look like.

      “Perhaps “anarchy” is the wrong focus. It is a promotion of a negative. What is the positive? ”

      Egalitarianism.

      “It may be more accurate, or at least, more productive. Subjectively; what ongoing primary objectives do we both seek concerning our respective realms of human interaction?
      In general terms, there are two categories: freedom to associate and interact with others (which includes freedom to NOT associate with others), and freedom to acquire and create things and experiences (which includes the freedom to NOT acquire and create things and experiences).”

      The cessation of all hierarchies, to be replaced by egalitarian, self-managed, direct representation systems, the achievement of the full potential of every single human being, and the space for the creativity of every person to be expressed, no matter who they are or where they are.

  25. Peter Wilson May 14, 2016 at 17:38 Reply

    “I don’t know where you want to start”

    I am suggesting that we start with nothing, and quickly proceed to “A community of human beings: “We are left with communities of human beings interacting with each other and the natural world. Let’s focus on the human beings and their interaction with each other.”

    “The cessation of all hierarchies, to be replaced by egalitarian, self-managed, direct representation systems” This response is not yet relevant to the exercise.

    “the achievement of the full potential of every single human being, and the space for the creativity of every person to be expressed, no matter who they are or where they are.”

    I see this part to be relevant in surmising the primary objectives that members of the community would logically seek to fulfill. You didn’t communicate your response to my proposed objectives. I’ll play around with your and my proposals and see if there is an agreeable statement for us.

    “but it just seems like reinventing the wheel.”

    Wheels are working pretty well. The basic principles are being applied, and show themselves to be sound in real world applications. Principles of healthy human interaction, on the other hand, could arguably use a fresh look.

    • Francois Tremblay May 15, 2016 at 00:17 Reply

      Principles of healthy human interaction? Non-harm. Consent. Equality and freedom. The realization that we’re all different, and that we don’t need to follow a cookie cutter template for life. Politeness and civility as a lubricant for human interactions. The prevention of harm to others. Taking decisions with future generations in mind.

  26. Peter Wilson May 16, 2016 at 11:47 Reply

    I must say I am moved. Well said. I’d like to synthesize our statements. It will take a while.

    • Francois Tremblay May 16, 2016 at 14:55 Reply

      I look forward to it!

    • Francois Tremblay May 16, 2016 at 14:56 Reply

      And to all this I need to add: the end of childism… raising children as free human beings. That’s the most important one. Without freedom in childhood, there’s no freedom possible for adults.

  27. Peter Wilson June 15, 2016 at 08:13 Reply

    Principles of a free and just community of Human Beings

    The cessation of all hierarchies

    The achievement of the full potential of every single human being

    The freedom for the creativity of every person to be expressed, no matter who they are or where they are

    Consent

    Equality

    The realization that we’re all different

    The freedom to not follow a cookie cutter template for life

    Politeness and civility

    The prevention of harm to others

    Taking decisions with future generations in mind

    Freedom to associate and interact with others (which includes freedom to NOT associate with others)

    Freedom to acquire and create things and experiences (which includes the freedom to NOT acquire and create things and experiences)

  28. Peter Wilson July 23, 2016 at 11:02 Reply

    “The cessation of all hierarchies” vs. “voluntary hierarchies are just”
    “the abolition of property rights” vs. “promote and defend property rights for all”

    What do you think, Mr. Tremblay? Have I arrived at the two key points of contention between “libsocs” and “an-caps”—the points where the two distinct tribes of anti-statists diverge…

    • Francois Tremblay July 23, 2016 at 14:17 Reply

      Ancaps are not “anti-statists,” they just believe in a different kind of monopoly of power- one delimited by property instead of borders.

  29. Peter Wilson July 23, 2016 at 17:32 Reply

    Well stated.
    “Libsoc’s” primary objection to “Ancaps”—-Ancaps are not “anti-statists,” they just believe in a different kind of monopoly of power- one delimited by property instead of borders.

    “Ancap’s” primary objection to “Libsocs”—-Libsocs are not “anti-statists”. They just believe in a different kind of monopoly of power—
    one committed to the dissolution of property claims.

    That is a good generalization of the main allegations tossed about between the two camps.
    I’ll reword my previous question in the interest of progress:

    “The cessation of all hierarchies” vs. “voluntary hierarchies are just”
    “the abolition of property rights” vs. “promote and defend property rights for all”

    What do you think, Mr. Tremblay? Have I arrived at the two key points of contention between “libsocs” and “an-caps”?

    • Francois Tremblay July 24, 2016 at 01:26 Reply

      I could have told you that, but yes. Those are the two key points of contention.

  30. Peter Wilson July 31, 2016 at 07:54 Reply

    “The cessation of all hierarchies” vs. “voluntary hierarchies are just”
    “the abolition of property rights” vs. “promote and defend property rights for all”

    I wanted to address them separately, but they are so interlinked. The an-cap justifies voluntary hierarchies based on property rights. The lib-soc negates property rights, leaving voluntary hierarchy high and dry. Property rights are the ultimate matter of contention, then. “That’s mine.” “When dealing with _____, I’m the decider.”

    “Property rights are theoretical socially-enforced constructs in economics for determining how a resource or economic good is used and owned. Resources can be owned by (and hence be the property of) individuals, associations or governments. Property rights can be viewed as an attribute of an economic good. This attribute has four broad components[3] and is often referred to as a bundle of rights:[4]

    the right to use the good
    the right to earn income from the good
    the right to transfer the good to others
    the right to enforce property rights"  Wikipedia
    

    That seems like a good general summation of property rights concerns. I would add “the right to dispose of/destroy the good” to the bundle.

    A further matter of dispute: Does it make sense to include the parts that make up “you” and “me” (apparent distinguishable minds/bodies) in the fray of property rights discourse?

  31. Peter Wilson August 5, 2016 at 09:50 Reply

    “This leads us to the rather disappointing conclusion that “self-ownership” means “the body owns the body.” But this is an utterly trivial and useless proposition. When I say “I own this chair,” I mean nothing more than the fact that I legitimately control the chair. But there can be no relationship of control between an entity and itself. If there is no distinction between owner and owned, then no relationship of ownership actually does not, and cannot, exist. The body itself is a moral agent (a “self”), and therefore it cannot possibly be owned by anything or anyone.”

    Looking through your suggested link (along with the link’s links), I find this to be a good starting point. Concerning my body, I’m not so much concerned about my “right to maintain control my body” as much as “my right to maintain exclusive control of my body”. Thus; I can assert it to be wrong for ANOTHER human to rape my body, or kidnap my person, or to confine my person in a cage.

    • Francois Tremblay August 5, 2016 at 14:59 Reply

      Is it morally right for someone else to rape you when you’re asleep then?

  32. Peter Wilson August 6, 2016 at 08:58 Reply

    I assert that I exclusively hold the right to control “the use of the good” known as Peter Wilson’s body. I don’t assert that I can, in all circumstances, effectively defend that right. When another human wants to make use of Peter Wilson’s body, he or she must have my consent to do so, because I am properly the owner of that entity. The answer to your question is no; it is not morally right for another human to make use of my body without my consent. If you have introduced a challenge to my thesis—that I properly hold the right to exclusive ownership of my body (in the above-mentioned property rights sense)—I’m failing to recognize the challenge.
    For all practical purposes, let’s keep in mind that consent is only meaningful in the space of reality—the here and now moment.

    Let’s keep in mind the actual purpose of our discussion. We have agreed on a set of “Principles of a free and just community of Human Beings”.

    • Francois Tremblay August 6, 2016 at 14:24 Reply

      If you read what I wrote on the subject and still think I have not provided enough evidence, then I guess we’ll just have to agree to disagree.

  33. Peter Wilson August 7, 2016 at 06:44 Reply

    Obviously, I believe we ultimately do agree, which explains why I spend so much time on it. There must be some kind of linguistic confusion, and I’m trying to get to the bottom of it.

    It is wrong for one human to force another against his or her will to engage in sexual activity. For you, why is that so?

    While working in the school system, I had the job, at times, of teaching confused boys how to interact appropriately with girls (I won’t go into details on their misconduct). I can follow your advice (so far as I know it), and tell them that “you must not do harm to girls”—perhaps some version of “do unto others….”—but I don’t think they believed they had done any harm to the girls. I can try to come up with a list of actions that boys mustn’t do, ala Catholic school admonitions. How many hundreds of actions will I have to mention, and how will they memorize them all? And then they’ll see that action done—apparently fun and harmless—on a movie, and not understand whether that action is wrong or right.
    Who decides what action is wrong or right concerning a given human’s body? Why?

    • Francois Tremblay August 7, 2016 at 15:04 Reply

      “Obviously, I believe we ultimately do agree, which explains why I spend so much time on it. There must be some kind of linguistic confusion, and I’m trying to get to the bottom of it.”
      I disagree, but I’ll go along with this for the sake of discussion.

      “It is wrong for one human to force another against his or her will to engage in sexual activity. For you, why is that so?”
      Because of the lack of consent. Consent is a necessary condition for an action involving more than one person to be permissible.

      “While working in the school system, I had the job, at times, of teaching confused boys how to interact appropriately with girls (I won’t go into details on their misconduct). I can follow your advice (so far as I know it), and tell them that “you must not do harm to girls”—perhaps some version of “do unto others….”—but I don’t think they believed they had done any harm to the girls. I can try to come up with a list of actions that boys mustn’t do, ala Catholic school admonitions. How many hundreds of actions will I have to mention, and how will they memorize them all? And then they’ll see that action done—apparently fun and harmless—on a movie, and not understand whether that action is wrong or right.”
      Any attempt to educate children about sexuality runs directly against what children see in the media, whether it’s pornographic or just regular movies and TV. Unless they trust you more than they trust the media, whatever you say is not gonna have much impact. When there are two things being said and there’s no clear way to determine which statement is more credible, it basically becomes an issue of trust.

      “Who decides what action is wrong or right concerning a given human’s body? Why?”
      Who? This is not a subjective universe. Truth is not decided by an opinion poll.

  34. Peter Wilson August 18, 2016 at 15:21 Reply

    [“It is wrong for one human to force another against his or her will to engage in sexual activity. For you, why is that so?”
    Because of the lack of consent. Consent is a necessary condition for an action involving more than one person to be permissible.]

    Person A is focused on certain body parts associated with Person B. Person A wants to physically interact with those body parts (this could be sexual, battery/seeking to injure, pester, etc.). Person B does not want Person A to physically interact with any body parts associated with Person B. Person B does not consent to the action desired by Person A concerning those body parts.

    Why is Person B’s consent required in this case in order to deem the action permissible?

    • Francois Tremblay August 18, 2016 at 15:39 Reply

      I already answered you. Consent is a necessary condition for an action involving more than one person to be permissible.

  35. Peter Wilson August 26, 2016 at 13:25 Reply

    As I suspected, we are in agreement on this matter. New scenario: Person B is at the public beach a hundred feet from the surf. He/she is enjoying the view, particularly the serenity of the quiet waves lapping upon the shore. Person C (let’s get rid of the jerk, Person A for now) chooses to dive into the surf, much to Person B’s disapproval. She is involved, and she is unwilling to consent to Person C’s action. Is Person C’s action permissible?

    • Francois Tremblay August 26, 2016 at 14:36 Reply

      “New scenario: Person B is at the public beach a hundred feet from the surf. He/she is enjoying the view, particularly the serenity of the quiet waves lapping upon the shore. Person C (let’s get rid of the jerk, Person A for now) chooses to dive into the surf, much to Person B’s disapproval. She is involved, and she is unwilling to consent to Person C’s action. Is Person B’s action permissible?”

      Yes, of course. I don’t see why there would be any problem with it, unless it’s part of a pattern of harassment or something else that requires a greater context than what you’ve laid down.

      • Peter Wilson August 26, 2016 at 15:02 Reply

        Again we agree.

        What then is the distinguishing factor by which Person B’s consent IS required in scenario 1 (the sexual action), and, yet; although Person B is involved in the action taking place in the beach scenario (it is clearly occurring in Person B’s line of sight, and is emotionally disturbing for Person B), Person B’s consent is not required for Person C’s proposed action to be permissible?

        • Francois Tremblay August 26, 2016 at 15:09 Reply

          Because sexual action involves both people’s bodies, while swimming or sitting at the beach does not require use of another person’s body, or infringes on their rights in any way. Generally speaking, we don’t have a right to dictate where others may or may not be. If one person spoils another person’s view by going swimming, well, that’s not a right issue.

          • Peter Wilson August 26, 2016 at 17:35 Reply

            Agreed.

            Where do we differ?

            In scenario 1, Person B has the right to exclude Person A from taking action upon Person B’s body. Likewise Person B has the right to exclude Persons C, D, X, and all others from taking action upon Person B’s body if Person B is respecting their same right.

            We both apparently agree on this crucial concept for a free and peaceful society.

            Were we just arguing over terminology?

            Moreover; would you agree that Person B has the right to dress that body, to feed that body, to dance that body about, to move it here and there, to assemble it respectfully with others’ bodies, to put it to work, to tattoo it, to hold the finger, to massage the foot……to exclude others from any of the above actions?

            We agree on the actual concept. I find all the above to, by definition, comply with the concept that Person B has a rightful claim of ownership of Person B’s body. Person B’s body is by definition a property. The word property is useful for denoting a thing that may potentially have multiple claims (justly or unjustly). Simply put, these are useful concepts for deriving and clarifying a code for peaceful interaction among a plurality of humans. In my world, one’s body is their most precious property, and one has the right to exclude others from using it.

            Perhaps your position is that, in a proper society, the body would never be understood to be a “property”. I am inclined to agree right now. If no-one ever took non-consensual action upon another person’s body, and all agreed it is wrong to do so, there would be no need for the concept. However; in my personal experience alone, others do claim the right to control my body, thus making it accurate and useful after all to refer to “property” rights, in reference to my body. This could be said of your and my homes. The trouble is that in reality, others do occasionally make claim to my home space (at least in previous addresses), which makes “property rights” a useful terminology in discussing the morality of such actions.

            You do agree that strangers should properly acquire your consent before entering and taking actions within “your” home? You have the right to exclude others from doing so, right? The terms “property” and “ownership rights” are useful when their is some contest involved. The reality is, contests come up. When that happens, by definition, the terms simply serve a practical purpose.

            If I have a libsoc for a roommate, and every time he puts some bread and peanut butter on the counter, I eat it all up. Every time he makes a sandwich, and sets it on the counter while he uses the bathroom, I grab it and eat it, what terminology will he choose to use when he contests my action? Or does he simply grab his stuff, and seek a more desirable situation? I could follow him, and continue to do the same. I bet we agree I would be in the wrong. For practical purposes I say it is the right call to establish property rights, some convention for establishing ‘that is yours, this is mine’, Especially your body belongs exclusively to you, my body to me. “Ownership” and “property” are simply terms that help establish those conventions.

            What is the alternative? I read your articles, and I’ve read socialist literature, and no-one can tell me how a free and peaceful society can exist without mutual respect of one another’s property rights. Is it just an intuitive thing? It can’t be put into words?

            • Francois Tremblay August 27, 2016 at 00:13 Reply

              Yes, this seems to be a pure terminology issue. There’s no point in belaboring it.

              “no-one can tell me how a free and peaceful society can exist without mutual respect of one another’s property rights.”

              No capitalist could tell you how a free and peaceful society could exist with property rights, either. We see the end result of property rights in a capitalist society: vast inequality, a heavy lack of respect for human life, and the linkage of corporate power and political power.

              Respect of others does not have to include rights that don’t actually exist. How does the refusal to acknowledge make-believe property rights lead to lack of respect for others?

              • Peter Wilson August 27, 2016 at 11:13 Reply

                I deeply appreciate your cordial exchange of ideas with me. I believe I have arrived at a deeper understanding of the impasse that exists between “-soc” and “-cap”.

                My analysis in too few words is this:

                For both socs and caps, statism has been a profound disaster—the gross transfers of wealth from the honest and productive to the politically-connected; the massive claims of property by fiat; the unjust incarceration of millions; the murders of hundreds of millions throughout the centuries; the large-scale impingement of respectful interactions by statute. And on and on.

                Statists have accomplished all that and maintained majority support by co-opting terminology that was once useful for maintaining reasonably peaceful community interaction, and perverted the terminology fraudulently to justify their abuses. Proudhon clearly had a bone to pick with statist assertions of property rights, for example, and having witnessed massive grants of land ownership by decree, could make a convincing case that “property is theft”. Yet; in reference to an honest worker’s labor, and his access to the the fruits thereof, he could rightly assert that “property is freedom” (that catch-phrase was not as successful in the long run). Benjamin Tucker (thanks for introducing me to him) wrote: “Anarchism…is a word without meaning, unless it includes the liberty of the individual to control his product or whatever his product has brought him through exchange in a free market — that is, private property. Whoever denies private property is of necessity an Archist.” But context is everything. State-decreed property rights were abhorrent to him.

                Ultimately; the caps seek to delineate just property rights from unjust property rights, convinced that the concept is essential to communities seeking generally free and just interaction among the inhabitants.

                The socs tend to find it repugnant to go to such efforts, due to the gross abuses—the atrocities—that have resulted from the perverse use of “property rights” as has prevailed in so-called “liberal” democracies. Safer to discard the whole lot.

                The same goes for “capitalism”. If I go into specifics—describing a mushroom farmer and his enterprise, or a coffee house proprietor, or bakery—the soc will say they have no problem with that one and that one. Yet; strictly speaking, those are “capitalist” enterprises. The cap wants to distinguish just capitalism from unjust capitalism. The soc doesn’t see the value of making such a distinction. There has been such abuse, so it seems to them perhaps morbid to try to give life (like Frankenstein) to any aspect of the monster. I have trashed the entire results of effort on a project, so that I could start fresh.

                Ultimately, the discussion centers around humans’ desire to acquire stuff that they are empowered to have exclusive control over.

                The soc and the cap agree that, on some level, it is necessary for people to have such desires. If we go into specifics, one must acquire some food items for his exclusive use, some clothing, some sort of shelter, etc. The reality is this: A peaceful community is one that has established some form of conventions to determine who may have exclusive control of what. Such conventions could be intuitively understood in small insular communities, yet members would know violation of the unspoken conventions when they happened. In England, a large community that was historically subject to invasions, a language was established for the peaceful distribution of things. Terms such as ownership and property proved practical. The fact that disputes inevitably arose led to terms such as right and wrong. If it’s to be said that someone acted wrongfully toward me, I must assert I had a rightful claim to something or some state of affairs—thus, the term “rights”. Statists recognized the practical usefulness of those terms for rationalizing their claims. They co-opted and perverted the terms for their propaganda. Understandably, socs reject the terminology and are suspicious of those who seek to promote the concepts. The concepts are like dynamite. Perhaps useful but potentially very dangerous. Leave them behind, say the socs. Caps think they have a handle on the concepts—they know where past handlers have blundered and abused them—and feel confident that they understand the proper procedures for their safe use in society.

                At least we could all agree that a stateless society would be much more likely to allow for increased diversity of economic experimentation. There would arise new levels of creativity and ingenuity, and—my first concern—there would logically be a reduction in mass murder that is euphemistically referred to as “war”. Thanks again. I will make this my last word on this thread. If you add your thoughts, I’ll be very interested to read them, but I won’t respond further (even if they are provocative!). You have an excellent blog. I’ll be devoting energy to my new website (fellowhumanparty.com). Keep up the great work.

          • Peter Wilson August 26, 2016 at 17:38 Reply

            In reference to one’s body, what are a person’s rights?

            • Francois Tremblay August 27, 2016 at 00:13 Reply

              That’s a redundant question. All rights are rights of a person, and therefore of a body. So the answer is: all of them.

  36. Peter Wilson August 26, 2016 at 13:28 Reply

    Oop I made Person B a female at the end (dismiss that please)

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