Monday, February 06, 2006

One country. One law. One constitution.

Another Waitangi Day and (no doubt) another set of protests and claims for more legal privilege. Another Waitangi Day in which the the usual parade of politicians and protestors confront and avoid each other, and the professional grievance industry discuss and issue their demands for the taxpayer to give even more -- (for those interested in such things, this year's fashionable demand seems to be for a separatist Maori General Assembly.)

Frankly, we don't need another taxpaid gravy train or another grievance industry or yet another charter for separatism or a forum in which to demand it; we simply need good law.

We don't need more nationalisation of land, seabed or foreshore; we simply need a (colourblind) legal system in which what we own is protected, and in which real injustices can be proven swiftly and without great expense, and justice can be done and be seen to be done.

'He iwi tahi tatou.' We are now one people. So said Governor Hobson to Maori chieftains as they signed the Treaty that is now the source of division. But are we really 'one people'? Not really. No more than our ancestors were then. But nor are we two, three or fifty-four peoples -- do you have a people? -- and nor does it matter. What Governor Hobson brought to New Zealand with the Treaty was Western Culture, which makes it possible to view one another not as 'peoples,' but as individuals.

Unfortunately, we still don't, do we?

What he brought was a hastily written document intended to forestall French attempts at dominion (and the Frank imposition of croissants and string bikinis), and which brought to New Zealand for the first time the concept and protection of property rights and of an objective rule of law. The Treaty signed one-hundred sixty-six years ago today was not intended as the charter for separatism and grievance and the welfare gravy train that it has become - it was intended no more and no less than to bring the protection of British law and the rights and privileges of British citizens to the residents of these islands -- residents of all colours. That was the context that three simple clauses were intended to enunciate. And one-hundred and sixty-six years ago, the rights and priviliges of British citizens actually meant something -- not a promise of unlimited tribally-based welfare, but a promise to protect individuals from each other, and to protect also what individuals owned and produced by their own efforts.

Life in New Zealand before this advent of the rule of law recognised neither right, nor privilege, nor even the concept of ownership. It was not the paradise of Rousseau's noble savage; force was the recognised rule du jour and the source of much barbarity (see for example 'Property Rights: A Blessing for Maori New Zealand') -- indeed just a few short years before the Treaty was signed, savage intertribal warfare reigned and much of New Zealand was found to be unpopulated following the fleeing of tribes before the muskets and savagery of other tribes.

Property was not truly owned, it was just something that was grabbed and held by one tribe, until grabbed and held by another. Life to be blunt, was shit, just as it was in pre-Industrial Revolution Europe, and - let's face it -- it was largely due to the local culture. As Thomas Sowell reminds us: "Cultures are not museum pieces. They are the working machinery of everyday life. Unlike objects of aesthetic contemplation, working machinery is judged by how well it works, compared to the alternatives."


Let's be really blunt (and here I paraphrase from this article):

In the many years before the Treaty was signed, the scattered tribes occupying New Zealand lived in abject poverty, ignorance, and superstition -- not due to any racial inferiority, but because that is how all mankind starts out (Europeans included). The transfer of Western civilization to these islands was one of the great cultural gifts in recorded history, affording Maori almost effortless access to centuries of European accomplishments in philosophy, science, technology, and government. As a result, today's Maori enjoy a capacity for generating health, wealth, and happiness that their Stone Age ancestors could never have conceived.

Harsh, but true. And note those words before you hyperventilate: "not due to any racial inferiority, but because that is how all mankind starts out (Europeans included)." The boon of Western Civilisation was being offered for just a mess of pottage, and the right for Westerners to settle here too. As Sir Apirana Ngata stated, "if you think these things are wrong, then blame your ancestors when they gave away their rights when they were strong" - giving the clue that 'right' to Ngata's ancestors, equated to 'strong' more than it did to 'right.'

In any case, Maori didn't even own New Zealand. First of all, they had no concept of ownership, except that things taken by force might be held by force, if they could be (see again, for example 'Property Rights: A Blessing for Maori New Zealand'). Second, even if they had begun to develop the rudiments of such a concept (the concept of ownership by right being relatively new even to 1840 Europeans) they didn't own all the country -- they only 'owned' what they owned: that is, the lands and fisheries that were being occupied, farmed, fished and used. But note that this did not encompass all of New Zealand, nor even most of New Zealand. The rest lay unclaimed by anyone.


Third, Maori did not even see themselves as 'one people'; the word 'Maori' simply meant 'normal,' as opposed to the somewhat abnormal outsiders who had now appeared with their crosses and swords and strange written incantations. The tangata whenua saw themselves not as a homogeneous whole, but as members of various tribes - there was no way a whole country could be ceded by those who had never yet laid claim to it.

So the British came, and saw, and hung about a bit. The truth is that some of the best places in the world in which to live are those where the British once came, and saw and then buggered off -- leaving behnd them their (once) magnificent legal system, and the rudiments of Western Culture. See for example, the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and of course (as noted in this week's Obituary of former governor John Cowperthwaite) Hong Kong. We lucked out.


What the Treaty did do, for which we can all be thankful, was to bring British law to NZ at a time whan British law was actually intended to protect the rights of British citizens. But the Treaty itself was not a founding document. No, it wasn't. On its own, with just its three simple clauses there was just not enough there to make it a founding document. As a document it simply pointed to the superstructure of British law as it then was and said, 'let's have that down here on these islands in the South Pacific.'


The treaty's greatest promise was really its bringing to these islands those rights and privileges that British citizens enjoyed by virtue of their then superb legal system; the protection of Pax Britannia when those rights and that protection meant something, and British law saw protection of rights as its sworn duty. Sadly, it no longer does see its duty that way, which means the legal context in which the Treaty was signed has changed. Law, in Britain and in NZ, now places welfarism and privilege above individualism and rights.


The truly sad thing is that the Treaty relied on a context that no longer exists; that, in my view is the chief reason a new constitution is needed: to restore that legal context, and to improve upon it with a constitutions that protects and reinforces an Objective rule of law, as British law itself once did; and that makes clear what in the Treaty was only vague and barely put. And in doing so, of course, such a constitution would make the Treaty obsolete. Thank goodness.


Waitangi Day comes just two weeks after Martin Luther King Day. It might be worthwhile to remind ourselves of King's dream:

"I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character"...
Perhaps we will one day celebrate the national day of New Zealand without the colour of a man's skin being more important than his character, and without what has become a charter for grievance continuing to poison discussion, and empower a gravy train of grievance.


Linked Articles: Unsure on foreshore: A Brash dismissal of Maori rights? - Not PC

Property Rights: A Gift to Maori New Zealand - Peter Cresswell
What is Objective Law? - Harry Binswanger
No Apology to Indians - Thomas Bowden

Superseding the Treaty with something objective called "good law" - Not PC


More from the Archives: Maoritanga, Racism, History, Law, Constitution

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13 Comments:

Blogger t selwyn said...

I'm not hyperventerlating as such, but my eyes are rather sore from rolling.

Your obsessive devotion to "Western" culture both blinds you to the rather obvious realities of other cultures and results in your ascribing positive aspects of Western/British culture as being exclusive. Having become acquianted with your wild assertions in these matters this post is par for the course.

It seems it is my duty, once again, to correct you.

1. Hobson did not bring with him Western Culture any more than Busby did with the declaration of independence, than Marsden did with Christianity or the traders with international commerce - he was part of a process. To equate "Western Culture" with individualism is the typical gross hubristic chauvanism which discredits the adherent. To assume the British in 1840 treated everyone as individuals, let alone that individuals did not exist in Maori society pre-1840, is ridiculous. In a society with low population density and history of acknowldging individual achievement how could your claim be sustained? - especially when the supposed harbinger of "individuals" was a relatively over populated society with deep hereditary and exploitative/collectivist underpinings?

2. You assert that Maori had no real property or ownership basically because a white man hadn't written it on a piece of paper. That is your entire, pathetic argument - ethno-centric garbage of the highest, most ludicrous order. The absurdity of this position just does not register with you, does it? Did Europe not have property rights or ownership just because they were occasionally at war with each other?

3. "Maori didn't even own New Zealand" !!! Apply your logic to the British for a second to work out how idiotic that is. What is the relevant difference here? What makes the British any different? Oh, that's right they are white and have a little stamp with a crown on it, therefore they have a concept of ownership and Maori do not. Because magically when the British take things by force it is property but not if Maori do it, and also, waving the magic wand of Western Culture over Aotearoa the British created property rights for the first time. So before 1840 when a Maori said "I own x" he was deluding himself, after 1840 he did own x because he was British.

Your history and understanding is just so faulty I don't know where to begin. You insult our intelligence at every turn. You seem to be trying to say Maori have no claim to anything except through what the British have choosen to acknowledge - that is at the heart of much of the disputes through to today.

"The tangata whenua saw themselves as members of various tribes" - So what? What relevance does this have to anything? "there was no way a whole country could be ceded by those who had never yet laid claim to it." - therefore? Are you implying the Treaty is invalid? What are you trying to say? Tell us then the parts of this country to which Maori have "never yet laid claim"? And if they haven't, then the British have? I don't think you have thought much of what you say through.

2/06/2006 03:18:00 pm  
Blogger PC said...

Well, I did say there's be plenty of hyperventilating, and like I said the other day:

"Even without a full moon, Waitangi always produces a lot of people intent on misunderstanding whatever anyone says, no matter how simple, and however straightforward -- there's always a whle lot of people doing a whole lot of talking past each other. I expect no less this year."

So, here's Tim's opinion of my post, summed up in a phrase: "..ethno-centric garbage of the highest, most ludicrous order." Thank you Tim. Perhaps if you stopped rolling your eyes and were instead to take the blinkers off, you might see it is nothing of the sort. Yes, it criticises a culture, just as we each have a right to do. "Cultures are not musuem pieces." And yes, it makes value judgements: that western individualism is infinitely superior to stone age collectivism is just one, but it is a judgement backed up by the truth. "Cultures are not museum pieces. They are the working machinery of everyday life. Unlike objects of aesthetic contemplation, working machinery is judged by how well it works, compared to the alternatives." Stone age collectivism worked bloody badly. Roll your eyes all you like, but not to recognise that is to blind yourself voluntarily.

"You seem to be trying to say Maori have no claim to anything except through what the British have chosen to acknowledge."

Well, no Tim, I don't "seem to be trying to say anything of the sort." Indeed, if you stopped your eyes rolling for just a moment and directed them towards the post and its various links you might in fact see that I'm saying nothing of the sort. If I was 'trying to say that' I would simply say it. What I'm saying (in part) is that anybody of whatever colour are now able to make claim to what they own, and to seek its protection (however poorly) by virtue of the fact that British law was introduced via the Treaty. If you consider the counter-factual for just a moment, you'll be unable to deny that such a thing would have otherwise been impossible.

Let me now just deny or clarify specific aspects of what you say I've said, and I'll perhaps answer in more detail later:

"Hobson did not bring with him Western Culture ... he was part of a process. Indeed. His arrival with British law was perhaps the earliest and most powerful symbol of that.

"To equate "Western Culture" with individualism is the typical gross hubristic chauvanism which discredits the adherent." True nonetheless, at least for the most part. Individualism, rights, the notion of property ... all grew up explicitly or implicitly as part of the Western heritage, and all -- at least as explicit concepts -- relatively recent, even in the West, due in no small part to the concept's enormous complexity.

The concept of 'rights,' for instance, on which all concepts of ownerhip is based (such as for example present claims to ownership of the foreshore) took some eighteen-hunderd years to come to fruition from its first, brief appearance with Aristotle. It is a very complex concept, representing a very wide abstraction (and one widely misunderstood even today), but as I suggest elsewhere, it's no shame for other cultures not to have produced the concept of rights, or not to have come up with a full concept of ownership by right: both were relatively new to the west, having been formulated most clearly by John Locke et al only in the late seventeenth century.

This does not mean however "that Maori had no real property or ownership basically because a white man hadn't written it on a piece of paper," and nor do I say that, Tim. What I will say is that no real concept of ownership by right existed until the concept was introduced by Europeans. That's neither 'Euro-centric' nor racist, it's simply true. The piece on property rights to which I link simply points out the difference betwween two types of ownership -- one, by right and the other by force -- points out the implications of each, and draws the obvious conclusion that the introduction of property rights to New Zealand brought with it all the great blessings of ownership by right. Choose to roll your eyes if you like, but that's the truth of it.

"Did Europe not have property rights or ownership just because they were occasionally at war with each other? Well, as I said, in 1840 the concept was still relatively new to Europe, and certainly imperfectly applied. But however poorly recognised and however badly implemented, it was still better than the alternatives, wherever it was applied. Perhaps the US Constitution represents the first, if imperfect attempt to fully codify what and how protection of individual rights by government should be done.

""Maori didn't even own New Zealand" !!! Apply your logic to the British for a second to work out how idiotic that is. What is the relevant difference here? What makes the British any different? Oh, that's right they are white and have a little stamp with a crown on it, therefore they have a concept of ownership and Maori do not." There you go, hyperventilating again. Just look at how many exclamation marks you've written!!!!

Shall I say it again: that they had a concept of ownership and a sophisticated legal system to protect it (for the most part) was nothing to do with being white. It was to do with the fact that they had developed the concept, and were prepared to spread it around, however badly sometimes. Sorry, your own racism just doesn't fly, I'm afraid.

"So before 1840 when a Maori said "I own x" he was deluding himself, after 1840 he did own x because he was British." Well, oddly enough, yes. That's essentially what the Treaty offered. Pre-1840 he could only hold what he could hold by force. Post-1840, he had the opportunity (if not always the actuality) of holding it by right. And essentially because he was now 'British,' in that the rights and privileges of British citizens was recognised in him. Pretty neat, huh?

""The tangata whenua saw themselves as members of various tribes" - So what? What relevance does this have to anything? Well, precisely the relevance given in the sentence following the one you quote: "there was no way a whole country could be ceded by those who had never yet laid claim to it." What was 'owned,' even in the imperfect idea of ownership by force' was not the whole of New Zealand -- they only 'owned' what they owned, that is, the lands and fisheries that were being occupied, farmed, fished and used. But this was not all of New Zealand. And there is no means by which sovereignty over all of New Zealand can now be claimed by those who at the time recognised, at best, sovereignty only over the particular portions either farmed, fished or occupied, or that were laid claim to in the various inter-tribal conflicts.

"I don't think you have thought much of what you say through." On the contrary, might I suggest it is a little more subtle than perhaps you give it credit for, and a lot less like the ideas that you take it for than you really think it is.

2/06/2006 04:15:00 pm  
Anonymous James said...

I would add this classic to Tims (and others lists of required reading re the West and culture...

Professor George Reismans:""Education and the Racist Road to Barbarism"

Here...http://www.capitalism.net/Education%20and%20Racism.htm

2/06/2006 05:46:00 pm  
Anonymous george said...

To quote Ngata "deserve respect and you will command it..."

To all those who think that they can make a career out of being brown, forget it! Your mana diminishes with every snivel. The treaty was a compact between men who looked each other in the eye and came to agreement. It has now become a trough for lower-deck lawyers and history revisionists.

Don't tell me the hard-done-by yarns. I can read, start with 'Fitzroy, Portrait of a Governor in Crisis' finish with the multiple treaty settlements.

Get on with life, here, now. The maori people have plenty of role models. Ngata, Buck, Ngaurimu, Awatere[yes] the meritocracy that is the New Zealand armed forces overrepresented by the maori, and countless others.

Stop your whining, you diminish these men and women.

2/06/2006 11:27:00 pm  
Blogger t selwyn said...

Your constant repetition of your own crude inaccuracies and factual and historical distortions hardly makes your already preposterous claims any more credible. Indeed in attempting to explain them further they become more tenuous. Reference to my eye rolling could be replaced by reference to your atrocious spelling - and if I follow your lead in that respect you may assume I share a similar amount of passion for the issues we are discussing.

"Stone age collectivism worked bloody badly" - The straw men are erected as fast as they are felled it seems. Not really the point. I could mention that 18th & 19th century capitalism worked as poorly for the slaves as it did in other times; or that for remote, small communities unable to trade there was little alternative... I could even say that by 1840 Maori were not in that category anymore after more than a generation of frequent contact with the rest of the world. As you say: "compared to the alternatives" at the time. A lot of the problems stem from what you believe to be "collectivism". One person sees family farms, small industries, co-operative ventures, a working local democracy, established rules about property etc. and someone else sees the exact same thing as "stone age collectivism". And if you start quoting "how well it works" as a measure of judgement then the victims of State abuse (eg. confiscation, killing etc.) can rightly hold up the former system as being objectively better for them.

"If you consider the counter-factual for just a moment, you'll be unable to deny that such a thing would have otherwise been impossible." - what's that - a quadruple double negative? But to re-state your point: "anybody of whatever colour are now able to make claim to what they own aand ask for its protection (however poorly) by virtue of the fact that British law was introduced via the Treaty. " - Firstly you shouldn't have mentioned colour - white people have a perfect, and I do mean perfect, record of legal property protection since 1840 compared to everyone else. Maori have not. And you do say "are now able" which means you believe after the foreshore and seabed confiscation that now everything is OK!? "Ask for it's protection" is of course different from receiving it in practice - at which point we start asking how meaningful it really is. And finally we get down to the utter circularity of your proposition: "by virtue of the fact that British law was introduced via the Treaty." Well once again, so what? You seem to be implying that all this is different from the status quo ante ie. Maori law (which is, to the extent it is not legislatively circumscribed actually part of the NZ "English" common law anyway). I can't see you getting out of this hole unless you can prove that colour would have been important to how Maori treated property rights, and/or Maori would not have accepted claims to protection of property rights - all of which I don't think are possible. And if you'll forgive the mixed metaphor and intrusion of Bentham: you can have your counter-factual on stilts if you want - it still won't fly.

"Individualism, rights, the notion of property ... all grew up explicitly or implicitly as part of the Western heritage" - As if it were an exclusive, almost hereditary, claim. Most amazing is the property assertion. You see it as being ripe at the time of Locke. A certain notion of property rights that you agree with was postulated by Locke - is what you seem to be saying. Although here a description of what was already fact in most cultures may have been what he was actually doing. Mixing one's labour with the soil is still rather crude.

"What I will say is that no real concept of ownership by right existed until the concept was introduced by Europeans..." - This is patently false. What you say in that entire paragraph implies that Maori understanding of property was based on force only. So presumably, by corollary, Maori could not steal or have a concept of theft? I suppose all those Maori retrieving greenstone and making impliments weren't really trading but were just forcibly depriving each other of their non-property objects. Also all the trading and land sales etc. that were going on immediately prior to 1840 were just a series of forcible actions. Your position on this matter is factually unsustainable.

"Well, as I said, in 1840 the concept was still relatively new to Europe..." - Considering double-entry book-keeping, invoicing, international trade, etc. all preceeded your "concept" I think your ideas about what constitutes rights-based property ideas is too advanced to have any real force - as it were.

"And there is no means by which sovereignty over all of New Zealand can now be claimed by those who at the time recognised, at best, sovereignty only over the particular portions either farmed, fished or occupied, or laid claim to in the various inter-tribal conflicts." - Wrong. And what you describe, esp. in "or laid claim to" accounts for all of NZ. Isn't that obvious? And presumably under your Lockean idea the Crown does not have sovereignty over things that are not being used either. And if they do - why?

2/07/2006 12:29:00 am  
Blogger PC said...

Tim, if a few typos in a hastily written comment are enough to make your eyes roll, then perhaps reading blogs is not for you, eh? :-)

There are things in what I said that are facts, and there are things that are up for debate. You seem to disagree with both sets of statements, and to misunderstand much else.

With the former, for example -- that is, things which are simply part of history -- the history of the development of rights is not up for debate here: the history is clear, and not to be befuddled away by fatuous claims of equivalence between for example Locke's development of the concept of rights (in his 'Second Treatise'); Jefferson's and Madisons' application of it (in the 'Declaration of Independence' and the US Constitution); and the 'concept' of property (such as it was) held by the world's indigenous populations. Tribal views of 'ownership' are not remotely equivalent to the full sophistication of Locke's and Jefferson's developed view of the concept, and are completely void of any concept of 'right.' Your relativism is showing, I'm afraid.

And nor does the development of the concept of property rights somehow deny the prior existence of property as you claim, nor the existence of any of the associated features of property such as trade, invoicing and double-entry book-keeping. Once again, the idea is fatuous -- developing the concept, which required all of human history to do, helps us to understand the importance of property rights and their correct philosophical defence. It does not mean that property did not exist prior to the formulation of the concept. (See on this my archives on Property Rights, and Tom Bethell's book 'The Noblest Triumph. For the history, importance and application of the development of the concept of 'Rights,' see Tibor Machan's book 'Clasical Individualism.')

But you surely recognise the importance of property rights anyway, Tim, as you need them in order to defend the various claims to the Foreshore -- as it seems you try to. (And once again, might I suggest you acqaint yourself with what I do say on that issue, rather than putting words in my mouth as you've now done for some time.)

Other errors of fact you've made (or appear to make, since - like your message you threw through Helen Clark's window -- I can't really make head or tail of your comment) include your claim to the so called problems of 18th and 18th century capitalism. Those myths are just that, myths. Or is it that you're saying that the existence of slavery in the 18th and 19th century somehow discredits capitalism and the concept of individual rights? The existence and practice of slavery is not to anyone's credit, either in the post-Enlightenment West or here in pre-European New Zealand. But it is precisely the implementation of capitalism and the concept of individual rights that put an end to slavery (both there and here) -- at least in capitalist or semi-capitalist countries. You can of course still find slavery in the world's tribal pestholes and collectivist workers' paradises.

There are other things which I said which are legitimately up for debate, but not by trying to define away what I've said. You say for instance that one man's stone age collectivism is another's 'family farm,' 'cooperative ventures' etc. Such relativistic nonsense is the very reason that I've been posting my 'Cue Card Libertarianism' entries, so that such important distinctions are not collapsed -- in this case the difference between voluntary cooperation (in the case of coops, farms, industries etc.), and forced tribal participation. See for instance the Cue Card entries on Collectivism, Individualism, Ethnicity and Racism. (You might also enjoy 'The Problem of Initial Acquisition.' After which you might understand why those entries and others like them were included in my original article, evcen if they weren't read.)

Things get worse. You say, "white people have a perfect, and I do mean perfect, record of legal property protection since 1840 compared to everyone else. Maori have not. Now this is just stupid. Flat out stupid, and not worthy of a response except to say that if you've missed my comments over the last ten years on the current state of property rights in New Zealand, then you may be sure you can find them at the end of a Google search on either '"Peter Cresswell ""property rights",' of '"Peter Cresswell" "common law".' Suffice to say that neither white people nor brown people preently have secure property rights, but the problem is not one of colour, but of our present bad law and our present thieving politicians.

You then continue: "And you do say "are now able" which means you believe after the foreshore and seabed confiscation that now everything is OK!?" As I've said to you many, many times before, read what I've actually said about the foreshore debate. "Are now able" means simply that the British common law system brought here in 1840 offers (or given the ongoing burial of common law perhaps I should now say 'offered') a way of claiming secure title peacefully through the courts, rather than aggressively and with bloodshed as it had been done prior to 1840. That the common law system of property rights protection has been largely buried, and claims such as the Marlborough seabed claim thrown out by interventionist government, is not the fault of 1840s British law (which was the context of the "rights and priveleges" promised by the Treaty) but of the present-day political pygmies who wouldn't know a property right if it came up and hit them in the face with an axe.

Suggesting I support the actions of the pygmies is as ignorant as your concluding challenge (as if I would oppose it) that "presumably under [my] Lockean idea the Crown does not have sovereignty over things that are not being used either." Well, no it doesn't. We own what we own -- what we have a right to -- and no more. Thus, what you declare without argument as being "wrong" is in fact competely correct, ie., "there is no means by which sovereignty over all of New Zealand can now be claimed by those who at the time recognised, at best, sovereignty only over the particular portions either farmed, fished or occupied, or laid claim to in the various inter-tribal conflicts."

Let me conclude this comment with no expectation at all of either convincing you or even having you read any further in order to dispel your misconsceptions, but as a commenter suggested above, perhaps the best single thing you can read to see the full moral argument expressed here is George Reisman's 'Education & the Racist Road to Barbarism,' which I unreservedly recommend.

I'd say "Enjoy," but I fear however that you won't. But maybe other readers will.

2/07/2006 12:01:00 pm  
Blogger Julian Pistorius said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

2/07/2006 12:44:00 pm  
Blogger Julian Pistorius said...

Tim Selwyn said:

"white people have a perfect, and I do mean perfect, record of legal property protection since 1840 compared to everyone else. Maori have not."

Sorry, I have to call bullshit on this. Racist bullshit, as a matter of fact. The Libz have heard sad tales of property rights violation from all shades of New Zealanders over the years. The state does not seem to care about the colour of a person's skin when it screws them over. An entire nation-wide road-trip called the ABC (Against Bureaucratic Crime) was organised to speak out against the violation of property rights and similar perversions of justice perpetrated by the government.

Also, I have to reiterate PC's assertion: There were no property rights in New Zealand before British law. The fact that the law was not applied entirely perfectly over the ensuing decades, does not negate the incomparable improvement that the introduction of objective law made to the lives of all individuals in New Zealand. Security of ownership is a pre-requisite for any society that wants to advance beyond scraping by.

"And you do say "are now able" which means you believe after the foreshore and seabed confiscation that now everything is OK!?

The confiscation of the foreshore and seabed was a violation of property rights. I don't dispute that, and neither would PC. We strenuously opposed this legislation when it was proposed:
http://www.libertarianz.org.nz/?article=130

You'll notice that the foundation we base our objection on, is the very property rights and objective law that was brought here by the British. Think about it. Do you really think that a pre-colonial New Zealand society would even entertain the idea of amends and restitution by a tribe that conquered the lands of a neighbouring one? Chatham Island Tribunal anybody? Unlikely. The vanquished tribe would be lucky to get away with their heads. But, with the boon of civilisation, we can actually rely on impartial, objective, codified law, to arbitrate in property rights disputes. Imperfect as it has become, and as patchy as it has been applied, it's still hugely better than having your head chopped off for your trouble. That's the difference.

But that is all by-the-by. If there are legitimate grievances about property rights violations (including by the government), then individuals should be able to bring their claim in front of an unbiased court of law, where the usual burden of proof is required. Access to this legal recourse should be cheap, easy, and accessible by everybody.

The main, simple point of PC's argument, which you keep ignoring, which he predicted would be misunderstood (purposefully?), and which he speculated would lead to hyperventilation, is this: All the Waitangi Tribunal, grievance gravy train, racial privileges, 'Partnership', bi-culturalism, segregation, and 'Treaty Principles' enshrined in legislation - is all unconscionable, indefensible, racist claptrap.

Cheers
Julian

2/07/2006 01:15:00 pm  
Blogger libertyscott said...

“"Stone age collectivism worked bloody badly" - The straw men are erected as fast as they are felled it seems. Not really the point.”

Actually it IS the point. The society you are reflecting is stone age, it had no written language (so history, science, mathematics and law were sustained orally, which is unreliable at best, at worst holds back development, knowledge and education). Slavery has been universal to mankind, but as the objective evidence that all human beings are created equal became overwhelming, rights were extended to slaves (and women, people of other races).

The counterfactual is that Maori would have traded with the capitalist outside world as they saw fit, but without adopting private property rights, and a legal system to enforce commercial, property and criminal law objectively, it would stagnate. Maori would have needed to establish a legal and political system to establish, interpret, apply and enforce laws – this did not exist in 1840, it was a combination of anarchy or rule by decree by those who led particular tribes. Yes there was a notion of property rights held by Maori and the Europeans who traded with them, but there was no infrastructure in place to define it or enforce it. It came down to “might is right”. If I stole something from someone, unless that someone was able himself or with others to steal it back or find some way to achieve recompense, that was it. There was no recourse, no one responsible for enforcing “property rights”. Property existed out of declaration with the implied consent of others, which was revoked by consent or by submission to force.

There is not a perfect record of legal property protection, as the state has commandered property when and where it has seen fit in various guises. The same applies to all races. The exception you are claiming are lands held collectively by iwi, but land privately held by Maori with individual title have been protected as well as land held by others. The failure of the New Zealand government to incorporate Maori land into the Torrens system enabled confiscation to occur. That isn’t capitalism, it is theft – no different than if Maori invaded land and kicked the owners off it.

How can anyone claim sovereignty over that which they had no control over and which was not recognised by anyone else? It is an acknowledged international legal concept that sovereignty exists either by exercising it or by other recognising you have the right to exercise it. If Maori did not exercise it over vast areas of land and no one recognised there was any right to, how could they?

And yes, the Crown has no property rights over that which is not being used.

2/07/2006 10:10:00 pm  
Blogger t selwyn said...

Q. How frustrating is it to post a lengthy comment yesterday afternoon right at the time when a blogger outage occurs and it's lost? A. Very. So I see since that time Liberty Scott has chimed in too - and has a clearer argument than the preceeding ones.

If I could answer LS first and make a comment on the others later (today):

There are two issues of disagreement as I see it. The first is of definitions. The second of history. (I'll get on to definitions in another comment). We are in a large part disputing historical facts of what the pre-1840 situation was. Since none of us have claimed any qualification in history or inclination to link to historical NZ texts a lot of what we are saying may be supposition and strings of "counter-factuals" and extrapolations based on varying levels of uncertainties and assumptions. Seeing as how I'm not inclined to wade through various books I have right at the moment we'll just have to struggle through.

LS:
No-one likes having words jammed in their mouth, but in attempting to understand the point a re-statement in another form is often inevitable. So here we go:
1. Maori have a "notion" of property, but
2. inadequate methods of property enforcement, and
3. a situation that is "anarchy" and/or dictatorship; -
Therefore: no notion of property rights.

You may be saying a lot more than that too. Within each tribe, each sub-tribe and each federation there is the enforcement of law. The management of it, the sometimes ad hoc nature, the poor communications and lack of records do not alter that fact. As you and everyone else keeps saying repeatedly: "There is not a perfect record of legal property protection". Individuals and meetings make these laws, discuss them, remedy breaches, judge them and enforce them, so imperfection is rife. But to claim that "this did not exist in 1840" is to go too far. It may be an undermining of the "blessings" (PC's term?) of British law but to deny the existence of legal order within all of NZ's independent jurisdictions pre-1840 is to create a myth. Obviously it may be relatively unsophisticated in matters of property and overly-sophisticated in terms of social relations (although perhaps not to the British and their class system) but the main "blessing" of British law was the unitary nature of it's application as a method of regulating (perhaps we could say "normalising") relations between the entities and therefore the creation (at least in theory) of peace.

"Property existed out of declaration with the implied consent of others, which was revoked by consent or by submission to force." - now this is a much better formulation than that offered by PC or JP. You may claim that now we have done away with submission of force and instead have "submission to objective law via the Treaty legitimising British law (esp. common law)." I say it is over the whole of NZ as a unitary entity for the first time, but within each of the smaller sub-units of what became a unitary state there were legal systems very akin to common law and it was only between these sub-units that force was used - and then not all the time either. I give the example of Europe here: - everything short of a fully integrated, unitary EU does not mean it is in a state of anarchy or that property protection does not occur within these individual states. Even with land there are serious disputes, like Gibralta, but we would not say that it is anarchy, or that because the Queen exists in the UK that it is a dictatorship. I don't think you realise that pre-1840 leadership was both personal and collective and that without the consent of the governed "rule by decree" was impossible and that groups would often go their own way if mis-ruled or under-valued and also unite for various purposes too.

I'll tackle the other issues of soveriegnty in another comment as the definitions of that I have seen here are vexing.

2/08/2006 02:33:00 pm  
Blogger PC said...

"Q. How frustrating is it to post a lengthy comment yesterday afternoon right at the time when a blogger outage occurs and it's lost?" A: Bloody annoying.

Tim, you say "We are in a large part disputing historical facts of what the pre-1840 situation was. Since none of us have claimed any qualification in history or inclination to link to historical NZ texts..."

Well, as it happens, that is precisely what I've already done in my article 'Property Rights: A Blessing for Maori New Zealand', to which I've referred you a few times now, and which is directly on point to your most recent comment, and in contradiction to some of your claims therein.

I commend it to your attention, as I would to today's post at 'Not PC' which refers to a piece by Ibn Warraq directly relevant to the topic now under discussion.

Let me directly clarify just one thing in what you say: The blessings of secure property rights that I mention are those enumerated in that article by author Tom Bethell:

In his book describing the history of property rights, Tom Bethell enumerates what he calls the "four great blessings that cannot be easily realised in a society that lacks the secure, decentralised private ownership of goods. These are: liberty, justice, peace, and prosperity." These were amongst the blessings that Europeans brought to New Zealand as part of their Enlightenment culture.

And as my article points out, just as "secure, decentralised private ownership of goods" did not exist in pre-1840 NZ, absent too were the blessings therefrom: "liberty, justice, peace, and prosperity."

These were blessings far and away beyond the much lesser boon of unitary law. The concept of rights, and in particular secure property rights, was such a radical development in intellectual history that to suggest the rudimentary forms of ownership extant in pre-1840 NZ were somehow similar is like saying a nuclear power station and a small candle are both forms of energy.

The confusion between tribal sovereignty over land and goods, and the concept of "secure, decentralised private ownership of goods" is evident not just in the translated Treaty -- it is perhaps still there now in much Treaty 'scholarship.'

2/08/2006 04:37:00 pm  
Blogger t selwyn said...

PC:
Your brief opinion piece that you cite is hardly evidence of any historical qualification and given it consists of all the faults exhibited in your commentary above and repeats the same lines of argument it would not be productive of me to consider it were you not so urgently recommending that I read it. Nevertheless I did at least find it consistent. Consistently condescending. Consistently wrong. And considering the disparagment of "The intellectually lazy" in the very first words - also consistently hypocritical.

Firstly, ignoring the tautological nonsense, ignoring the incessant parroting of the author of the month and ignoring the obligatory finale quotation of dogma from the Bible according to Ayn Rand and the intellectual slavery that so sadly displays, if Maori owned nothing or "only owned what they used" then what did Europeans own and why?

"there are large tracts of the country that to this day have never been owned by Maori." How does this square with your later comments: "The country's natural resources had almost been stripped bare by slash and burn agriculture" and "very large areas of the country, even in remote inland South Island valleys, were being burnt regularly." You can't have it both ways.

You mention contested areas being depopulated esp. Tamaki Makaurau. I could mention Flanders, Alsasce & Lorraine, Ireland, Israel, Lebanon. Two world wars sweeping across Europe. Wars of unification in Italy, Spain, Germany and deunification in the Balkans - were all of these places devoid of property rights? Or were they only devoid of property rights only in the brief times when the conflict was flaring and then only in the areas directly affected?

"some four hundred tribesmen somehow 'owned' the entire South Island!" - So how can Europeans own it then? How can a European own some land which they do not use? These questions are not answered despite them being begged by the outrageous claims you make.

The amateur etymology of the nuances of the Maori language is priceless - and with no links whatsoever I gather it is all your own innovative work and even more innovative conclusion. Here's a link to an online English/Maori dictionary and taomeans cooking. Why isn't it ta-onga rather than tao-nga? The whole exercise makes you look like a crank. You've seemingly searched for a word and dictionary that had the word "property" and "right" to make some sort of a point, well try the Oxford Dictionary: Property: from the Latin proprietas - from proprius: one's own. Not dramatic enough is it?

Your entire opinion piece raises more questions than answers.

2/09/2006 10:43:00 am  
Blogger PC said...

Test.

2/09/2006 11:23:00 am  

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