Sunday, December 10, 2006



Normative principles


A pure free market is based upon the axiomatic principle "that no man or group of men may aggress against the person or property of anyone else".
This is the very principle which the courts and the legal system should follow.

How do we know that this principle is an axiomatic principle?

I quote from the book “For a New Liberty”, written by Murray Rothbard, page 45:

“THE CENTRAL THRUST of libertarian thought, then, is to oppose any and all aggression against the property rights of individuals in their own persons and in the material objects they have voluntarily acquired. While individual and gangs of criminals are of course opposed, there is nothing unique here to the libertarian creed, since almost all persons and schools of thought oppose the exercise of random violence against persons and property”.

http://www.mises.org/rothbard/newliberty3.asp

So, generally, all persons and schools of thought oppose the exercise of random violence against persons and property.

Above statement is an answer why the principle is an axiomatic one. But this is not the only reason. There are rational ones as well.

Life as a value is an axiomatic value that no one in a debate logically can deny as this value is the very condition for the debate and the participators existence.

I quote from the book “The Ethics of Liberty”, written by Murray Rothbard, page 29:

“It may well be asked why life should be an objective ultimate value, why man should opt for life (in duration and quality). In reply; we may note that a proposition rises to the status of an axiom when he who denies it may be shown to be using it in the very course of the supposed refutation. Now, any person participating in any sort of discussion, including one on values, is, by virtue of so participating, alive and affirming life. For if he were really opposed to life, he would have no business in such a discussion, indeed he would have no business continuing to be alive. Hence, the supposed opponent of life is really affirming it in the very process of his discussion, and hence the preservation and furtherance of one’s life takes on the stature of an incontestable axiom”.
http://www.mises.org/rothbard/ethics/six.asp

This is also confirmed with Ludwig von Mises statement in his book, “Human Action”, page 11:

“We may say that action is the manifestation of a man's will.”

http://www.mises.org/humanaction/chap1sec1.asp

Which principles are an objective condition for preserving the human race and human life?

To objective examine if something is a condition for something else, we have to mentally grasp a state of things, where the supposed condition doesn’t exist anywhere and at all.

For example, if we suppose that the existence of oxygen is a condition for the preservation of the human race, we grasp a state of things, where oxygen doesn’t exist anywhere on earth. If we would let some oxygen exist somewhere on earth, then we couldn’t make a valid conclusion. We wouldn’t know if oxygen were a condition for preserving human life. To make a valid conclusion we have to grasp where oxygen doesn’t exist anywhere and at all. Under this condition we can, naturally, conclude that no human life would exist. We can, because of this reason conclude that oxygen is a condition for the preservation of the human race. We can also conclude that when we objectively examined as we just did, if oxygen was a condition for preserving human life, we would be bound to take under consideration the whole reality and not only some parts of it. We wouldn’t let oxygen exist somewhere on earth, because if we had done so, we wouldn’t have grasped the effects, under consideration, to the whole situation (the whole reality), and our conclusion would therefore have been invalid.

We can only make one choice, either we take under consideration some parts of reality or we take under consideration the whole reality. Reason and logic tell us that if we take under consideration the whole reality, this will reflect the truth, because we can’t consider anything more absolute and perfect. This procedure is an axiomatic procedure.

Is “the principle of physical violence” a condition for the preservation of the human race?

To examine this principle under consideration of what has already been said about the procedure of finding out conditions, we have to grasp a state of things where the principle of none physical violence doesn’t exist anywhere and at all. If we let some people live by the principle of none violence, a procedure which we have just discarded, then we wouldn’t make a valid conclusion. Logically we are bound to let all people live by the principle of physical violence. Because of this fact the human race and life would immediately exterminate.

We can therefore conclude “that the principle of physical violence” is a condition for the preservation of human extermination and that “the principle of none physical violence” is the condition for human preservation.

We can also conclude, that human life wouldn’t exist, if the principle of “not to have the right to use threat of physical violence” didn’t exist.

If we grasp a state of things where this principle doesn’t exist, anywhere and at all, everyone would be threatening everyone else. Nobody would be able to live and fulfil their needs and dreams. Action to preserve ones life would be an impossible mission.

Not anybody would dare to act because if this anybody did, someone would always be threatening this anybody. A perfect static situation would occur and the human race would immediately exterminate.

Our conclusion will therefore be that “the principle of threat of physical violence” is a condition for the human extermination, and “the principle of none threat of physical violence”, is a condition for the preservation of human life.

As life is an axiomatic value which we want to preserve, it is also logically true that we axiomatically want to preserve the principle which is a condition for life, namely “the principle of none physical violence (including not to have the right to use threat of physical violence)”.

Let us now examine if “the right to steal” is a condition of the preservation of human life.

If we want to define what objective theft is, we will have to define property rights, based on an axiomatic Justice.

If we consider what has already been said in this document, we can also understand that an axiomatic Justice is those principles which are a condition for the preservation of the human race. Unjust are those principles which are a condition for the preservation of the human extermination.

Just property rights are, therefore, those property rights which are conditions for the preservation human life. Unjust are those property rights which are conditions for the preservation of human extermination.

In order to survive, man cannot live alone in an environment which is free from physical violence. To survive and prosper man has to use his reason and energy to transform nature into useful things. Man lives and prospers because he is a creative animal.

We can therefore conclude that creation in itself is a condition for the preservation of the human race.

We can therefore conclude that Just property rights are those rights which preserve man’s creative efforts.

In order to define these property rights we will have to grasp a state of things when man, for the first time, enters this world of ours. This because we want to define original property rights based on Justice. In order to define property rights based on Justice, we don’t want either to be deluded by existing potential unjust property rights. Only, in a state of things where no man, yet, has owned anything, we don’t take the risk of being deluded.

When the first man, for example, broke a branch and made himself a bow, the title of property of this creation was also his. Why does the title of the property (the bow) belong to this man? Because man is a purposeful agent and if man doesn’t own his original creation and the results of his actions, he won’t act.

Let us examine if the last statement is objective and true.

We examine and grasp a state of things, in accordance with the mentioned procedure to examine objectively if something is a condition for something else, through not letting the examined principle be existent anywhere at all.

We grasp a state of things where the following principle is none existent anywhere at all: “the originators right to the objects which he through action, has created”. Everyone would be stealing anyone’s creation and the human race would immediately exterminate.

This proves that man is a purposeful agent and when his motivation exterminates, he stops acting at once.

This is also the objective reason why theft is a condition for the preservation of human extermination, and that the principle of none theft, the originators creation in accordance with the above reasoning, is the condition for the preservation of human life.

Let us now define Justly owned property rights to land.

Man doesn’t create land but he acts and creates on, in and out of land.

Also here we examine a state of things when man for the first time, enters this world. When, then, the first man enters the untouched land, and creates by action on or in or out of land, then this part of the land which he has now touched, belongs to him. Why the first man? If the first man doesn’t have the property right to this part of the land, nor does individual number two, three, four, five etc have the right to the land, and while they are waiting for the last man who hasn’t yet entered this world, man will quickly perish.

If we grasp a state of things, where the following principle is none existent anywhere and at all (this objective test is, of course, in line with our reasoning about such a procedure for finding out a condition for something else):

“When someone creates by action on or out of land, then this part which he has now touched belongs to him”.

This would mean that everyone would be stealing anyone’s Justly owned land, that is as soon as someone starts creating by action on or in or out of land, someone else would have the right to the land in question and the human race would immediately exterminate.

We can conclude that the condition for the extermination of the human race is to preserve the principle “the right to steal the land which the first man has touched and created on or in or out”. Our conclusion will also therefore only be that the condition for the preservation of the human race is that no man ever should have such a right.

Why must anybody own anything?

In accordance with our objective test to find out if something is a condition for something else, we grasp a state of things where the following principle is none existent anywhere and at all:

“The existence of property rights”:

In a world without any property rights nobody would be able to do anything, since nobody has the right to control anything. Not even themselves (see below about property rights in your own person).

This question is not only a contradiction it is also silly. You ask a question which means that you control yourselves (natural disposition), that is owning yourself (see below the excellent writing of Hans-Hermann Hoppe). The other contradiction is that if nobody would own anything, nobody would be able to hinder anyone to own anything either since they would otherwise have an invalid control (having the disposition to) of everyone else, that is having an invalid ownership to everybody else (see below about valid property rights in your own person).

Ownership itself is, therefore, an objective condition for the preservation of human life.

Now, then, we haven’t ended our definition of Justly owned property rights until we have analyzed the right to make contracts. We will have to examine the right to make contracts, because, sooner or later the owners of Justly owned property will trade with each other. Sooner or later disputes will occur among the trading partners and then, we will have to know, the rights the trading partners have to the property and which the dispute among them is all about.

Some economist argues that the Justification for the right to make contracts is that the right promotes economic prosperity.

It is true that most of us want economic prosperity, but this is not an axiomatic Justification for the right o make contracts. “Economic prosperity” is not an axiomatic value. As we want to be objective, this argument is not good enough.

Some individuals argue that trading partners have an “agreement” and this is the reason why contracts should be legally binding. Why should such an agreement be legally binding if one of the partners wants to change his mind? Why shouldn’t we respect such a change of man’s will? Why should an earlier manifestation of a man’s will be considered proper and Just and a later manifestation of a changed will be regarded as improper and unjust? Where is the objective Justification? Where is the logical point of view? To argue that the trading partners “knew what they got into and that is why “agreements” should be legally binding”, is, of course, nonsense. It only proves that agreements are artificial constructions which haven’t anything to do with axiomatic principles founded in the nature of things.

The Justification for binding contracts is not that they are “agreements or for that reason are contracts”, but for the reason that we can derive, because of them, Justly owned property titles. “The right to make contracts” is not a right in itself which can objectively be defended as such, but is an expression which symbolizes the interpretations to derive Justly owned property rights and if theft has been done or not.
This is the title transfer theory of contracts, see also Murray Rothbard´s excellent book “The Ethics of Liberty”, chapter 19:

http://www.mises.org/rothbard/ethics/nineteen.asp

On what base can this interpretation be related to contracts and Justly owned property titles? This we can conclude because of the reason that contracts only confirm exchange of original Just titles to property (in accordance with above definitions of original Just titles to property), that is the transferring of Just property titles between the trading partners.

The reason that a property title will be transferred from one person to another is that the original property owner has renounced his Justly owned property title to be transferred to another person, and we can only, because of this, make the interpretation that the property title has been transferred. In other words, it is the renunciation of the Justly owned property title in itself, which is the very cause to the ending of the original property owner’s title to the property and the transferring of the title to the new owner, which the original property owner has renounced his property title to.

Logic and reason tells us what has been renounced and transferred, in fact, also is renounced and transferred. For what has been done cannot be undone.

Logically a man cannot renounce his right to self-ownership, since a man in his very nature controls his own mind and body (natural disposition), that is, he is a natural self-owner of his own will and person (having a free will) and he will still be so even if he has “tried” o renounce his natural self-ownership to another person. He cannot renounce something which is a biological and physical fact of his very own life and which will never, as long as he lives, leave him.

In other words, we cannot interpret with the help of reason that the supposed slave’s natural self-ownership has been transferred to another person which the supposed slave has tried to renounce his self-ownership to.

We can therefore conclude that this fact of natural self-ownership, always, logically, neutralizes every attempt to renounce it.

Another logical confirmation of this fact is that when we in this document concluded that none physical violence and none theft preserves human life, we wouldn’t make such a conclusion if we didn’t control our minds and bodies. We wouldn’t be able to make such a conclusion, since we wouldn’t control ourselves and either would life exist, in a state of things, when everyone had the legal right to fully use his self-ownership, that is, in other words, in a state of things where physical violence and theft is none existent at all.

In regard to what has now been said we can conclude that it is objectively true that every man is a Just property owner in his own right. Because of this, slave contracts should not be legally binding, as their existence is only a” legalization” of physical violence. If we would neglect this fact, we would violate the principle of self-ownership and be using physical violence and also, because of this, violating the condition for the preservation of human life.

It is true that the possibility to make contracts and to trade is the very foundation for specialization and spurs creative processes which accounts for a very large part of man’s creative efforts. To “legally” hinder the enforcement of contracts and therefore also trade, would not only mean extreme poverty, but also death to most individuals on earth.

The enforcement of contracts, in accordance with our definition, we can conclude, is the condition for preserving these creative processes among individuals. Other definitions of contracts, which are only some sorts of agreements, (really, only different grades of slave contracts) should not, as have been pointed out, be legally binding. These illegitimate contracts include only those destructive seeds that violates the condition for the preservation of the human race, namely the “principle of none physical violence and none theft”, and because of this fact alone, they don’t include those productive processes which account for a very large part of man’s creative efforts.

We have now ended our definition of Justly owned property rights.

We have established that human life is preserved by the condition “that no man shall have the right to use physical violence and theft”.

Our conclusion will therefore be that the principle “that no man shall have the right to use physical violence and theft” is synonymous with our definition “that no man shall have the right to violate the rightful ownership in person and property”.

We can establish that the absolute and perfect condition for the human extermination is the none existence of the principle “that no man shall have the right to violate the rightful ownership in person and property”, and we can also conclude that the absolute and perfect condition to preserve the human race is the none existence of any violations.

Isolated violations of the principle are therefore absolutely perfect, destructive actions which undermine the condition and the preservation of the human race, since the very existence of these destructive actions deviate from the absolutely perfect condition for the preservation of the human race.

As life is an axiomatic value which we want to preserve, it is also logically true that we axiomatically want to preserve the principle which is a condition for life, namely “that no man shall have the right to use physical violence and theft” or in other words,” that no man shall have the right to violate the rightful ownership in person and property”.

If we take under consideration what has been concluded in this document, we can also conclude that another meaning of the principle of none violations, is that the principle also brings an absolutely perfect opportunity for the survival of human life. This means that the principle brings a totally perfect opportunity for the survival of all human beings.

As it is true that the principle is a totally perfect condition and a totally perfect preservation of human life, it also logically follows that the principle brings a totally perfect opportunity for the survival of all human beings.

This can also be proved by the fact that everyone’s violation of the principle (total physical violence and theft) brings an absolutely perfect impossibility for the survival of any human beings.

In the “philosophical debate” Liberty, as all values, is seen as a subjective value. This opinion may seem as a confirmation of the reality. There are vast political values. Liberty seems to be only one of these subjective values. But it is a superficial believes.

The reason for this is that we have established that everyone’s violation of the principle brings an absolutely perfect impossibility for the survival of any human beings. This means that we all would be, by objective means coerced to die that is objectively coerced to not “value and wanting to preserve our own lives”.

Isolated violations of the principle are totally destructive because they totally undermine by objective coercion our possibilities and opportunities to “value and wanting to preserve our own lives”.

Ethical conclusions in this document, I believe, are in agreement with some ethical conclusions that the giant Hans-Hermann Hoppe has done.
Please read some of his excellent writing from the book “The Ethics and Economics of Private Property”:

http://www.mises.org/etexts/hoppe5.pdf

And to:

http://www.hanshoppe.com/publications/econ-ethics-10.pdf


Björn Lundahl
Göteborg, Sweden

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