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Moved from here because it is more appropriate in this topic.

Even assuming you were right, and taxation were imposed by a majority, does that make it right? If you have ten men on an island, and nine of them vote to murder and rob the other one, does that therefore make it right?
A ridiculous straw man since there is no comparison between theft and murder. Your original assertion was taxation is theft. My response was that you give your implied consent to be taxed as long as you live in this society since you always have to choice to move somewhere else. Therefore it cannot be theft.
Oh, I'm sorry. Can I see the deeds whereby the government owns the country? Can I see the contracts where a government is made the duly appointed representative of every single property owner and individual in the country?
Please show me the proof that any individual really 'owns' any property in this country. Think about how property ownership was obtained in the first place. In Canada the process was simple: the British military claimed the territory in the name of the British Crown and used violence to enforce their claim. The government then choose to give or sell 'title' to some of the land to some individuals but they still retained sovereignty over the land. It is worth noting that natives considered the idea that an individual could own land absurd.
Individuals can subsequently purchase an exclusive right to use a condo within the building provided they agree to rules of the condo association.

But again you assume ownership. The condo association can do this because they own, or represent those who own, the condo. If the same is true of government then the government must own or represent those who own the country.

Whenever someone 'buys' property in this country they do not really own it in the sense that you want to believe. All a property owner has is 'title' to a piece of property that grants certain rights and privileges. This title does not cede the right of the Canadian government to retain sovereignty over the land and, most importantly, this title document obligates the property 'owner' to pay property taxes. Legally speaking, this title document is little different from a condo owners title agreement except the Government of Canada is acts in the role of the condo association. Please show me evidence that it is possible for someone to really own land with no strings attached.
The government represents 23% of those who own the country, and some of those it arguably represents only under duress.
A red herring since the principal of taxation is accepted by all major parties representing over 90% of population.
A condo association does not represent a portion of the condo owners, it represents all of them without exception

A board of directors represents all shareholders without exception

Government is not analogous. There is an option to withdraw from a condo association or from a condo, and there is an option to relinquish shares and stock. There's no opt-out clause for government.

If the condo owners do not agree then they must vote and the majority rules. Owners in the minority must accept the result or sell their property and move. A BOD is elected by majority of shareholders and the minority must accept the result or sell their shares.

If you opt out of a condo association you must move to another place - you cannot continue to live in the condo building while 'opting' out. If you want to opt-out of the Canadian govt then you can move to another country. There is absolutely no difference.

And if you say "just leave", then I'll remind you again that the right to ask someone to leave something if they don't follow your rules presumes that you own that something. Which is what you're trying to establish here, so don't assume your conclusion.
You own nothing except for physical movable things that you can transfer to someone else. Assets like property are not really owned - they are simply contracts enforced by the government and subject to the rules set by the government.
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A ridiculous straw man since there is no comparison between theft and murder. Your original assertion was taxation is theft.

It's a strawman to assume that murder is the prime issue. It isn't. Take away the murder and it's still the same.

Please show me the proof that any individual really 'owns' any property in this country.

In the absence of any proof, why do you think ownership should default to the government?

My response was that you give your implied consent to be taxed as long as you live in this society since you always have to choice to move somewhere else. Therefore it cannot be theft.

But the requirement to move somewhere else means ownership. It's a circular argument. Look:

You are attempting to establish the legitimacy of government. You say that it is legitimate because you can leave if you don't like it. However, the requirement that those who don't like it must leave assumes that government is legitimate.

Example: I march into your house and announce that you are now my slave. You ask how on earth this can be right. I say, well, it's right because if you don't like it, you can leave.

Oh, and as a sop to democracy, we'll assume that the rest of your neighbours agree with what I've done.

How does that strike you?

Whenever someone 'buys' property in this country they do not really own it in the sense that you want to believe. All a property owner has is 'title' to a piece of property that grants certain rights and privileges.

Yes, ownership is nothing more than the right to control. Tell me something I don't know!

This title does not cede the right of the Canadian government to retain sovereignty over the land

Why does the Canadian government have sovereignty that can be retained? You're assuming your conclusion again. You are trying to prove the legitimacy of government with arguments that assume government is legitimate a priori.

If you want to opt-out of the Canadian govt then you can move to another country. There is absolutely no difference.

Except, of course, that unlike shareholders or condo owners, the government does not allocate votes to those who own the most. And also excepting that the government was never explicitly appointed a representative of the owners, unlike the corporate directors or the condo association. The voting process again assumes the right of the government to hold such a process, which is another circular argument.

A red herring since the principal of taxation is accepted by all major parties representing over 90% of population.

Again, if over 90% of the population voted to rob the remainder, would that be right?

You own nothing except for physical movable things that you can transfer to someone else. Assets like property are not really owned - they are simply contracts enforced by the government and subject to the rules set by the government.

Property rights and contracts predate government by millenia. Consult your Franz Oppenheimer. Governments invariably have been formed by the violation of property rights - no government was ever formed by the mythical social-contract process.

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In the absence of any proof, why do you think ownership should default to the government?.
Why should it default to current 'owners'? Every piece of land occupied by people today was likely stolen by someone at one point in time. If you want to claim that the status quo has to be preserved then you must acknowledge that the status quo is a situation where the government and the property owner share control of the property.
You are attempting to establish the legitimacy of government. You say that it is legitimate because you can leave if you don't like it. However, the requirement that those who don't like it must leave assumes that government is legitimate.

Example: I march into your house and announce that you are now my slave. You ask how on earth this can be right. I say, well, it's right because if you don't like it, you can leave

Oh, and as a sop to democracy, we'll assume that the rest of your neighbours agree with what I've done.

How does that strike you?.

Would you be happy in your anachic distopia if some thugs moved in and took your property after killing or bribing any private security you had? Where would you go to establish the legitimacy of your property right? The 'law merchant'? What would you do if they were corrupt and denied your claim - or worse agreed with you but tell you it is your responsibility to pay for soldiers to get your land back.
This title does not cede the right of the Canadian government to retain sovereignty over the land
Why does the Canadian government have sovereignty that can be retained? You're assuming your conclusion again. You are trying to prove the legitimacy of government with arguments that assume government is legitimate a priori.
The Canadian government is legitimate because the vast majority of people accept it as legitimate. There is no other definition or do you have access to some universal book of rights that spells out which social structures are legitimate and which are not.
Except, of course, that unlike shareholders or condo owners, the government does not allocate votes to those who own the most. And also excepting that the government was never explicitly appointed a representative of the owners, unlike the corporate directors or the condo association. The voting process again assumes the right of the government to hold such a process, which is another circular argument.
The canadian government is the representative of the property owners because every property owner has a vote. No other system would work fairly for large societies. We used to have a system where the land owners would set the rules: it was called fuedalism. Hardly a shining example of human achievement.
Property rights and contracts predate government by millenia. Consult your Franz Oppenheimer. Governments invariably have been formed by the violation of property rights - no government was ever formed by the mythical social-contract process.
And how exactly were there first property rights acquired? By violence and then social consensus - someone owned the property because his neighbors agree he owns it. There is absolutely no other way to establish who owns what property.
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Why should it default to current 'owners'? Every piece of land occupied by people today was likely stolen by someone at one point in time. If you want to claim that the status quo has to be preserved then you must acknowledge that the status quo is a situation where the government and the property owner share control of the property.

I believe that the person who acquires property through negotiation and nonviolent means has a greater claim than an institution that acquires property through violence. Common Law does not interpret ownership as absolute but as relative anyway, so the question is who has the better claim to the land. Out of private individuals and parasitic government I choose the former. Individuals often acquire land nonviolently. Governments never do.

Would you be happy in your anachic distopia if some thugs moved in and took your property after killing or bribing any private security you had?

This is the situation now! It's just called "eminent domain."

But why wouldn't I just contract with a non-corrupt and stronger private security force? Why would I have contracted with a weak and corrupt force in the first place - or did they just suddenly decide they were going to throw away their entire business model just to exploit little ol' me?

here would you go to establish the legitimacy of your property right? The 'law merchant'? What would you do if they were corrupt and denied your claim

I'd go to another court that didn't have a reputation for corruption and get a second opinion. Then I'd get a third and take the best-of-three. I also wouldn't make a contract with a security firm that generally upheld the judgements of corrupt courts.

or worse agreed with you but tell you it is your responsibility to pay for soldiers to get your land back.

Then I'd sell my claim to an agency with the power to get my land back, much as companies sell debts to credit agencies today, and as smallholders in Iceland sold their credit to the rich to other rich men who would be able to collect. Just the possibility of this was usually enough to make a man honour his debt, much as the threat of a collection agency is enough to make most people pay their bills.

The Canadian government is legitimate because the vast majority of people accept it as legitimate.

Again, if 99% of Canadians decided that it would be good to rape, murder and rob the other 1% does that mean it is legitimate?

There is no other definition or do you have access to some universal book of rights that spells out which social structures are legitimate and which are not.

Yes: social structures built upon the initiation of violence of fraud are wrong.

The canadian government is the representative of the property owners because every property owner has a vote.

Wrong. Some people are net debtors and still have an equal vote. Some people exist entirely parasitically and still have an equal vote.

We used to have a system where the land owners would set the rules: it was called fuedalism.

Feudalism only granted property rights to people of select parentage. Therefore this is not a good comparison.

And how exactly were there first property rights acquired? By violence and then social consensus

By homesteading, usually. I found it first, therefore, it's mine.

someone owned the property because his neighbors agree he owns it. There is absolutely no other way to establish who owns what property.

This basically means that nobody has any rights besides what other people want to give them. This therefore justifies the most horrible crimes in history.

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Individuals often acquire land nonviolently. Governments never do.
The only time when individuals acquire land non-violently is when they have the backing of a government that protects them and ensures that they do not need to use violance.
Would you be happy in your anachic distopia if some thugs moved in and took your property after killing or bribing any private security you had?

This is the situation now! It's just called "eminent domain."

The term in Canada is 'expropriation' and the land owners are compensated for their land. The process can be unfair in some cases, however, it is a lot fairer than any system where the person with the most money makes the rules.
Then I'd sell my claim to an agency with the power to get my land back, much as companies sell debts to credit agencies today, and as smallholders in Iceland sold their credit to the rich to other rich men who would be able to collect.
And would end up having 'sold' your land for a fraction of its value. Sounds like a good racket for organized crime to get into.
The Canadian government is legitimate because the vast majority of people accept it as legitimate.
Again, if 99% of Canadians decided that it would be good to rape, murder and rob the other 1% does that mean it is legitimate?
That is why a democratic government needs a constitution that ensures that certain individual rights cannot be violated even if the majority votes for it.
There is no other definition or do you have access to some universal book of rights that spells out which social structures are legitimate and which are not.
Yes: social structures built upon the initiation of violence of fraud are wrong.
All social structures must use violence as a last resort in order to preserve the integrity of the system. You admitted yourself that the use of violence to protect your 'land' rights is acceptable and necessary in anarchist model.
By homesteading, usually. I found it first, therefore, it's mine.
A group of people on ship find an unpopulated island. The first person to see the island from the boat claims the entire island as his property. The other people disagree - what happens? If they are reasonable people they would agree on a way to divide the island between themselves. If they were unreasonable they would fight with each other until only one was left standing. In other words, the first person's claim is meaningless unless everyone else agrees.
This basically means that nobody has any rights besides what other people want to give them. This therefore justifies the most horrible crimes in history.
It is also the basis for all human societies. Your anachist society would only work because people agree on the set of rights that each person has.

.

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Dear Sparhawk,

QUOTE(Hugo @ Jul 8 2005, 07:38 PM)

This basically means that nobody has any rights besides what other people want to give them. This therefore justifies the most horrible crimes in history.

It is also the basis for all human societies. Your anachist society would only work because people agree on the set of rights that each person has.

Hugo and I went over this countless times. I believe it to be the crux of the argument, and it is where Hugo and I got stuck. The problem is, when Hugos states
This therefore justifies the most horrible crimes in history.
it is a moralist tack on a factual argument. It has no place in the argument of 'the nature of rights', for it judges, morally, not factually. I claim the answer to be amoral, and reserve my judgement on what 'horrible crimes are', and even though we would be mostly in agreement as to what they are, they are generally moot unless that is 'the ball you are playing at the time'.
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Sparhawk, why are you arguing with this guy? If he can't wrap his head around the legalities of property ownership, and it's clear that he can't, then why bother trying to argue any of the rest of it with him? You can't make any better or clearer arguments than you made at the beginning of the thread, and he still doesn't get it. Time to wash your hands and move on.

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The only time when individuals acquire land non-violently is when they have the backing of a government that protects them and ensures that they do not need to use violance.

This is not borne out in any study of history. Was it violent when our nomadic ancestors moved to virgin land? Who was it violent against - the squirrels? Government first appeared when some tribes conquered and enslaved other ones, which was basically the end of the process of acquisition by nonviolent means. What you are saying, therefore, is that we need to violate property rights to have property rights. That makes no sense.

The term in Canada is 'expropriation' and the land owners are compensated for their land. The process can be unfair in some cases, however, it is a lot fairer than any system where the person with the most money makes the rules.

To a person who does not want to sell, any price is too low. Therefore, this is robbery and extortion. Anything else cannot be true.

And would end up having 'sold' your land for a fraction of its value. Sounds like a good racket for organized crime to get into.

One would usually need to find an agency to protect oneself. Market forces will ensure that the agencies that do best are those that serve the little guy best (mass marketing is far more rewarding than niche-marketing to the rich).

Regardless, you assume that government exacts no price for this service and that government does not operate like an organized criminal gang. Neither is true. The cost for the dubious police and justice systems we have is high, and the main differences between government and the Mafia are in extent rather than principle. The Mafia does in fact operate like a police force and judicial system for the underworld. It also extorts by force and defends by violence its hegemony over a geographical area - like a government.

That is why a democratic government needs a constitution that ensures that certain individual rights cannot be violated even if the majority votes for it.

A constitution is decided by the people it is supposed to control. It's self-policing. We basically give all the power to one group and expect them to police themselves, and this doesn't work. Just look at the USA and the massive accumulation of power by their government in total violation of the principles of their constitution.

All social structures must use violence as a last resort in order to preserve the integrity of the system. You admitted yourself that the use of violence to protect your 'land' rights is acceptable and necessary in anarchist model.

Violence is not necessarily unjust. Only the initiation of violence is.

A group of people on ship find an unpopulated island. The first person to see the island from the boat claims the entire island as his property. The other people disagree - what happens? If they are reasonable people they would agree on a way to divide the island between themselves. If they were unreasonable they would fight with each other until only one was left standing. In other words, the first person's claim is meaningless unless everyone else agrees.

Well, for one thing, simply saying something is yours doesn't make it so. Lockean property rights requires that you homestead the property by mixing your labour with it. And it's not the case that a person's rights are decided by other people. All they decide is whether or not they will respect them. To say otherwise is to say that a murder victim had no right to live because the murderer did not grant it to him.

It is also the basis for all human societies. Your anachist society would only work because people agree on the set of rights that each person has.

If people cannot agree on this, what makes you think that a government would be any better? In a society where some people reject the rights of others, government becomes a mechanism for massacres and purges on a terrible scale.

Take Rwanda for an example. The two principal tribes in Rwanda have a lot of enmity and don't respect each others rights. Does having a government prevent them from wreaking violence on each other? No! The Rwandan government was the key institution in the terrible massacres perpetuated there.

it is a moralist tack on a factual argument. It has no place in the argument of 'the nature of rights', for it judges, morally, not factually.

The problem with your argument, as Blackdog correctly identified, is that it attempts to separate rights from morality when the two are inseparable. As you have seen, when you try to separate the inseparable you end up with an unworkable theory and a nonsensical argument.

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Dear Hugo,

The problem with your argument, as Blackdog correctly identified, is that it attempts to separate rights from morality when the two are inseparable

They are not 'inseparable', they are two different animals. I'm sure you'll correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe this notion to be rooted in existentialism. Morals and ethics are guides as to which 'rights' one (or many) hold dear, and though they may be closely linked, they are separate. That is why I stuck to arguing about the 'nature of rights' and left morality out of the equation.

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This is not borne out in any study of history. Was it violent when our nomadic ancestors moved to virgin land? Who was it violent against - the squirrels? Government first appeared when some tribes conquered and enslaved other ones, which was basically the end of the process of acquisition by nonviolent means. What you are saying, therefore, is that we need to violate property rights to have property rights. That makes no sense.
You have to go pretty far back in history before you truly have virgin territory. The peace loving Neanderthals occupied most of Europe until the Cro-Magnons showed up. My point is that the only time property changed hands without violence was when a government claimed a bunch of territory (using violence), declared the territory empty (despite aboriginals living there) and allowed it citizens to choose properties that they liked. From the point of view of the settlers there was no violence but that obviously was a fantasy.

If you look at the example of Ireland that you bring up. There was lots of violence during Roman times and property probably changed hands forcefully countless times. When Ireland entered this golden age of 'anarchy', I seriously doubt the Irish got together to arrange a 'homesteading' event to allow everyone to stake their property. Most likely it was a mutual agreement by major land holders to accept the status quo no matter how unethically it was created. The smaller land holders only got to keep their land because it was part of the status quo.

In other words, even if you can come up with a couple examples where the historical record suggests a non-violent land distribution process in land that was truly unoccupied, the bulk of human history consists of people using violence to obtain control over land and therefore, no one has legitimate possession of property today (if you define legitimate possession as acquisition without violence).

Well, for one thing, simply saying something is yours doesn't make it so. Lockean property rights requires that you homestead the property by mixing your labour with it. And it's not the case that a person's rights are decided by other people. All they decide is whether or not they will respect them. To say otherwise is to say that a murder victim had no right to live because the murderer did not grant it to him.
In other words, under the Lockean system, it is necessary to invent a complex set of rules in order to define what constitutes 'mixing labour' and what does not. You constantly fail to distinguish between the abstract concept of land ownership and concrete concepts like life. You are alive whether other people agree or not - and therefore you can argue there is something inherent in the right to life. Property rights on the other hand, are a social construct and only have meaning within a society. Jumping up and down and saying that there is some absolute concept of property right that is equivalent to the right to life makes about much sense as Karl Marx's claim each person has an absolute right to an equal share of the production of society. Both claims defy logic, common sense and a millenia of human experience.
It is also the basis for all human societies. Your anarchist society would only work because people agree on the set of rights that each person has.

If people cannot agree on this, what makes you think that a government would be any better? In a society where some people reject the rights of others, government becomes a mechanism for massacres and purges on a terrible scale.

I have observed that if someone eats too much food they will get sick. I have also observed that someone who eats less food is likely be healthy. If I followed your logic I would conclude that it would be best to eat no food at all since the person who eats less food is more healthy. This is the problem with governments: too much or the wrong type and you have big problems. Find the right balance of government structure and individual rights and you have a recipe for a very healthy society.

Throwing out every example of crimes committed by one group of people by another is not 'evidence' that government is fundamentally flawed unless you could show that no good has ever occurred in societies with a government. I argue that the is some good in government since virtually all human achievement has occurred in societies with some form of government.

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That is why I stuck to arguing about the 'nature of rights' and left morality out of the equation.

Then why is it that your "amoral rights theory" invariably ends up being exposed as no theory at all? "Do what you want to anyone you can" is not a rights-theory, it is the abrogation of rights.

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My point is that the only time property changed hands without violence was when a government claimed a bunch of territory (using violence), declared the territory empty (despite aboriginals living there) and allowed it citizens to choose properties that they liked.

So you are saying that where there was violence there should always be violence and we should make no effort to change this? Why, then, would you argue for government limited by constitution, since governments have always been tyrannical?

You constantly fail to distinguish between the abstract concept of land ownership and concrete concepts like life. You are alive whether other people agree or not - and therefore you can argue there is something inherent in the right to life.

Why would I have a right to life? Define this right to life for me.

I have observed that if someone eats too much food they will get sick. I have also observed that someone who eats less food is likely be healthy. If I followed your logic I would conclude that it would be best to eat no food at all since the person who eats less food is more healthy.

Here is the flaw in this analogy: the right amount of food to consume is unique to each human individual. Therefore, to apply this concept to government, you should agree with me that the only government that can be right for a person is self-government. This is because any attempt to form a blanket government that applies the same amount of government to all is the same as an attempt to form a blanket calorific consumption figure that applies equally to all.

You also assume that health is a universal goal of all humans, when it is not. People endanger their health on a daily basis for goals they perceive as more important, so to argue on this basis for imposed government is to say that not only do people have identical requirements but that they also have identical desires, wants and needs: total rubbish.

Please stop throwing out every example of crimes committed by one group of people by another as 'evidence' that goverenment is fundementaly flawed. All those examples show is that one particular type of government was flawed.

No, what they show is that in a society where people have a tendency towards violence and aggression, government will not do anything to stop or control that. Therefore, government as a "cure" for the Hobbesian war of all against all is pure quackery, because if that is the inclination of people, government will not stop them, in fact, it will make it worse because it can give their murderous activities an extent, a cloak of legitimacy and a thoroughness they could never achieve as private citizens.

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My point is that the only time property changed hands without violence was when a government claimed a bunch of territory (using violence), declared the territory empty (despite aboriginals living there) and allowed it citizens to choose properties that they liked.
So you are saying that where there was violence there should always be violence and we should make no effort to change this? Why, then, would you argue for government limited by constitution, since governments have always been tyrannical?.

This particular discussion started out because you asserted that the government of Canada had no claim of sovereignty over privately held lands today because the government used violence to enforce its claim. My response is there is no such thing as a property owner that did not directly or indirectly acquire property through violence. You seem to have agreed with this statement. For that reason, you cannot use lack-of-violence as a criteria for assessing the legitimacy of a property claim. Which bring us back to my original point: the government of Canada has sovereignty over all property in the country for no reason other than the fact that the majority of people in the country agree. There are simply is no other criteria that can be used.

You constantly fail to distinguish between the abstract concept of land ownership and concrete concepts like life. You are alive whether other people agree or not - and therefore you can argue there is something inherent in the right to life.
Why would I have a right to life? Define this right to life for me.?.
You are unambiguously alive. There is no grey area and no grounds for anyone to dispute the fact. However, there are societies where such a right did not exist and some people (slaves) had no right to life and could be killed at a whim. So I will concede that the right to life may not be as aboslute as I thought. However, all that means that all rights are subject to the agreement of society and there can be no absolutes. But it also means that it is legimate to argue about what rights should exist in society. IMV, I feel that there should not be an absolute right to land ownership because that inevitably leads to a feudal system where a small elite controling most of the land base controls everything.
Here is the flaw in this analogy: the right amount of food to consume is unique to each human individual. Therefore, to apply this concept to government, you should agree with me that the only government that can be right for a person is self-government. This is because any attempt to form a blanket government that applies the same amount of government to all is the same as an attempt to form a blanket calorific consumption figure that applies equally to all..

Food is to people as government is to society. Society cannot exist without some form of institutional structure - whether it is the Devine Church of Anarchy with the Holy Books that you keep referring to or a Constitutional Democracy - it is still an institutional structure.

What you world view fails to take into account is the need to address unfairness in society. Any completely free market system will produce winners and losers - in some case the winners will be people who earned it, however, in most cases, the winners are people who inherited wealth and property or were just in the right place at the right time. The only way to ensure a stable social strcuture over time is to have a mechanism to address unfairness.

Communism was one attempt to use government to force everyone to be equal. But that was a miserable failure. Today we have a democratic structure that is supposed to facilitate a free market economy and that has been working reasonably well because most people in society believe that they have equality of opportunity even if they do not achieve equality of outcome. One of the reasons people believe that they have equality of opportunity is because the government has the power to redistrubute wealth. Take away that power and the you break the social contract which leaves you with only two possible outcomes: the complete breakdown of civil society as the poor overthrow the elites or the violent repression of the poor by the rich.

Please explain how any system based on absolute property rights could maintain the belief of equality of opportunity across several generations as the successful and/or lucky landowners become entrenched dynasties.

Here is an analysis that argues my point using medieval Iceland as a example.

Here is a quote:

the first two centuries of Icelandic society was marked by non-capitalist economic relations (communal pricing and family/individual possession of land). Only when capitalistic social relationships developed (hired labour and property replacing possession and market values replacing social ones) in the 12th century did power become concentrated, leading to the breakdown of the system in the 13th century.
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My response is there is no such thing as a property owner that did not directly or indirectly acquire property through violence. You seem to have agreed with this statement. For that reason, you cannot use lack-of-violence as a criteria for assessing the legitimacy of a property claim.

I'm sorry, no, I don't agree that all property is acquired or created through violence. A lot of the property in existence now didn't even exist when Canada was discovered. As I've said before, Common Law establishes ownership relatively - who owns it more - and applying those time-honoured principles I'd say ownership can be decided by who committed less violence in acquisition.

the government of Canada has sovereignty over all property in the country for no reason other than the fact that the majority of people in the country agree.

But you keep failing to address the question of whether or not majority consensus makes something right. If yes, any crime is permissible if you can get majority backing for it. If no, then just because the majority assents does not grant any kind of legitimacy to the State. Note that all States require the consent of the majority, even tyrannical ones, even if that consent is just grudging resignation or fearful acquiescence. So majority consent can be used to justify tyranny, dictatorship and so on as well.

So I will concede that the right to life may not be as aboslute as I thought. However, all that means that all rights are subject to the agreement of society and there can be no absolutes.

But that means that all the massacres and pogroms through history weren't actually crimes at all. Is that what you mean to say?

Furthermore, if all rights are relative and granted by others, why does the State have the right to exist if I say it doesn't? Why does it have the right to tax me if I say it shouldn't?

IMV, I feel that there should not be an absolute right to land ownership because that inevitably leads to a feudal system where a small elite controling most of the land base controls everything.

Actually, the feudal state requires a relative or non-absolute right to land ownership: the nobility must have the right to expropriate the peasantry and not vice-versa. A peasant only owns something as long as his lord says he does.

Society cannot exist without some form of institutional structure - whether it is the Devine Church of Anarchy with the Holy Books that you keep referring to or a Constitutional Democracy - it is still an institutional structure.

Yes, most statists I have argued with eventually resort to insults and petty slander. It's a shame.

What you world view fails to take into account is the need to address unfairness in society.

There's unfairness in humanity. Some people are born smart, some good-looking, some tall, some strong. To actually make things fair and equal means lobotomizing the smart, disfiguring the handsome, stunting the tall and crippling the strong.

To attempt equalisation without doing this is unfair, because it will mean that some people must be artificially prevented from employing the gifts that nature has given them.

Any completely free market system will produce winners and losers - in some case the winners will be people who earned it, however, in most cases, the winners are people who inherited wealth and property or were just in the right place at the right time.

So you are saying that if a man earns and creates wealth from nothing (like more than half of American millionaires who never inherited a dollar), he does not have the right to give it to his children? Why not? Why do other people have a better claim on his money than he does?

Please explain how any system based on absolute property rights could maintain the belief of equality of opportunity across several generations as the successful and/or lucky landowners become entrenched dynasties.

It cannot, because equality of opportunity is a complete illusion. God, nature or whatever you believe in makes human beings funamentally unequal. There's Stephen Hawking and there's the profoundly retarded. There's Brad Pitt and there's Joseph Merrick.

Take away that power and the you break the social contract which leaves you with only two possible outcomes: the complete breakdown of civil society as the poor overthrow the elites or the violent repression of the poor by the rich.

Government has almost invariably been formed or furthered by one of those two. How do you think the biggest enabler of a problem is the cure for that problem?

I would also like to ask you how you reconcile your arguments for statist wealth-distribution in favour of greater equality with your other argument that rights are subjective, relative and transitory?

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the first two centuries of Icelandic society was marked by non-capitalist economic relations (communal pricing and family/individual possession of land). Only when capitalistic social relationships developed (hired labour and property replacing possession and market values replacing social ones) in the 12th century did power become concentrated, leading to the breakdown of the system in the 13th century.

Firstly, anarcho-capitalism makes no prescriptions about the economic or social order of a society barring the rejection of aggression. There's nothing wrong with a communal arrangement.

Secondly, as I've said, any society reflects the nature of people living in it, anarchist or statist.

Thirdly, this author actually acknowledges the role of Norway in subverting and damaging Icelandic society in a quote, but ignores it because it's damaging to his conclusions.

Fourthly, the accumulation of wealth is not a significant factor because the masses in an industrial or post-industrial society are always wealthier and therefore more powerful than the elites. Protection agencies, for instance, would be far wealthier if they catered to the common man (even against rich men). Mass marketing makes a lot more money, absolutely and relatively, than niche marketing. The protection firm that ignores this gives away its business to the one that doesn't.

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What you world view fails to take into account is the need to address unfairness in society.
There's unfairness in humanity. Some people are born smart, some good-looking, some tall, some strong. To actually make things fair and equal means lobotomizing the smart, disfiguring the handsome, stunting the tall and crippling the strong.

To attempt equalization without doing this is unfair, because it will mean that some people must be artificially prevented from employing the gifts that nature has given them.

Consider someone who was raised in poverty with no protection from crime, no education and no basic healthcare because his ancestors were incompetent or dumb. He may have many abilities but will never get a chance to develop them because he has no money to pay the education or training required. Why would such a person support a system when the system does nothing for him? Would you expect the system to instill him in some quasi-religious dogma that tells him he deserves his lot in life and should accept it without complaint?

Equality of opportunity is a contract where society can go to the person and provide the basics of an education - perhaps provide scholarships and loans for further training if he is talented. Provide other basic services to that reduce his cost of living and give him more disposable income. By doing these things, society encourages people to work with the system because they see that the system is doing something for them. In other words, you don't need to rely on altruism or religious dogma to keep the system stable; the system is stable because it is the self interest of everyone in the system to support the system.

In other words, I am not arguing that income re-distribution is necessary to correct some perceived injustice of nature. I argue that it is necessary to give everyone a stake in the system and there by ensure the system can survive without the use of violence to suppress people. That is why I believe an anarchist system would inevitability collapse because the only people who have an incentive to support the system are the small and large property owners.

I would also like to ask you how you reconcile your arguments for statist wealth-distribution in favour of greater equality with your other argument that rights are subjective, relative and transitory?

As I noted above, government sponsored wealth retribution is not about rights or injustice - it is about pragmatism and doing what is necessary to ensure a stable society that does not degenerate in violence and class warfare.

As Oliver Wendell Holmes once said: “Taxes are the price we pay for civilization”.

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Call this simplistic or whatever, but if part of land ownership is the ability of the owner to defend his/her land and we're dependant on the United States military to defend our borders, does that mean the United States really owns us?
The US and all other nations acknowledge Canada's sovereignty over its territory. Canada does the same in return. As a result, we have sovereignty even if we theoretically do not have the military means to protect that sovereignty. Similar logic applies to individuals who do not need to carry weapons to protect their property because their property rights are clearly recognized by society.

If geopolitics changed and the US choose to threaten Canadian sovereignty then Canada would need to develop nuclear capability since with 1/10th the population we could not possibly compete in terms of the number of soldiers we could put in the field.

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Do we really have ownership if everyone is just sitting back saying, "yeah sure...you guys own it," meanwhile they can just take it at any time they please? Basically it just seems as though they're allowing us to be sovereign even though at any time they can take it away. I guess I'm saying, they control our sovereignty, we don't....so do we really have it?

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Do we really have ownership if everyone is just sitting back saying, "yeah sure...you guys own it," meanwhile they can just take it at any time they please?  Basically it just seems as though they're allowing us to be sovereign even though at any time they can take it away.  I guess I'm saying, they control our sovereignty, we don't....so do we really have it?
Our entire society is built on the good will of others: many people have the ability to take stuff that we own but don't because they choose not to. You could say we don't really own anything at all. I don't see the point of arguing semantics - our society is successful because we can trust each other (as nations and individuals).
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Do we really have ownership if everyone is just sitting back saying, "yeah sure...you guys own it," meanwhile they can just take it at any time they please?  Basically it just seems as though they're allowing us to be sovereign even though at any time they can take it away.  I guess I'm saying, they control our sovereignty, we don't....so do we really have it?
Our entire society is built on the good will of others: many people have the ability to take stuff that we own but don't because they choose not to. You could say we don't really own anything at all. I don't see the point of arguing semantics - our society is successful because we can trust each other (as nations and individuals).

People can't be trusted and that's why we have laws. If people could be trusted and that was the foundation of society, we wouldn't need courts or a penal system.

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People can't be trusted and that's why we have laws.  If people could be trusted and that was the foundation of society, we wouldn't need courts or a penal system.
Actually, the police are only necessary for the 10% or so of society that cannot be trusted. The vast majority of people can be trusted and the police would be ineffective if they had to deal with a society where 100% of the people were untrustworthy.

There have been academic studies on game theory that try to model the mutual trust that our society is built on. These studies show that you have a stable system as long as the number of untrustworthy people do not exceed about 10% of the population. Quite interesting if you are into that kind of stuff.

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Dear Sparhawk,
QUOTE(Hugo @ Jul 8 2005, 07:38 PM)

This basically means that nobody has any rights besides what other people want to give them. This therefore justifies the most horrible crimes in history.

It is also the basis for all human societies. Your anachist society would only work because people agree on the set of rights that each person has.

Hugo and I went over this countless times. I believe it to be the crux of the argument, and it is where Hugo and I got stuck. The problem is, when Hugos states
This therefore justifies the most horrible crimes in history.
it is a moralist tack on a factual argument. It has no place in the argument of 'the nature of rights', for it judges, morally, not factually. I claim the answer to be amoral, and reserve my judgement on what 'horrible crimes are', and even though we would be mostly in agreement as to what they are, they are generally moot unless that is 'the ball you are playing at the time'.

I agree with you, Thelonious, that this is the crux of the question. Although to get to this point, and understand why it is the crux of the question, you'd have to go through numerous threads and arguments with Hugo.

Most people (including Hugo) have a strong sense of fairness which they define as what's mine is mine and it is wrong to take my property without my permission. Hugo abhors government because he sees it as an institution which regularly takes property without permission.

To suggest that property rights are open to definition is even more abhorent to Hugo. This is tantamount to legalizing theft.

I agree with Thelonious that the error here is to mix the word "fairness" (a normative or ethical concept) with the word "property" (a positive or factual concept). To make this more concrete, consider this factual statement: You own a large house on Redpath Crescent in Westmount and I own a cardboard box under the Jacques Cartier bridge. Is this situation fair? If the government takes the house from you and gives it to me, is that fair? If you inherited the house from your mother who got it by marrying, and then divorcing my father, is that fair?

There is no way to resolve completely this question of "fairness" because we'll never get complete agreement on how to decide who owns what. Invariably, someone will feel they are unfairly getting less.

One way out of this impasse is to redefine "fairness". I think we can all agree that if a house burns down, or if it is never built in the first place, then the world is a poorer place. And that would be unfair.

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Dear Hugo,

Then why is it that your "amoral rights theory" invariably ends up being exposed as no theory at all? "Do what you want to anyone you can" is not a rights-theory, it is the abrogation of rights.
I don't say I support it, Hugo, I am saying that 'that's the way the pickle squirts'. It doesn't need to be a 'theory', it is simply the truth. Mixing morals and 'rights' is where you fundamentally misunderstand what I am saying. Nietzsche mixed his existentialism with atheism, Kierkegaard with catholicism, etc.

What I am saying is that morals will tell a person which (and if) 'rights' are to bestowed upon others, and further, which people.

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