- "...the deification of property rights and markets, rather than a recognition that they are simply a useful tool and therefore can be changed depending on the desired social end"
- "... [our] monomaniacal fixation on the state as the sole limitation on liberty"
- "... the hypocrisy of many libertarians who proclaim the sanctity of absolutist property rights while opposing even token restitution by the government towards the descendents of this country's original indigenous owners... What [we]’re really advocating is ‘start from now’ libertarianism which, funnily enough, almost-always finds its strongest advocates amongst those who are doing pretty well at present thank you very much."
- Property rights are a subset of rights, but just as only ghosts are able to live without property (as Ayn Rand noted) so too it is property rights that make all other rights possible ("without property rights," said Rand, "no other rights are possible.") They represent an integration of real ethical-legal principles, not a nominalist fiction, and are not confined only to property in land but to all the property we have in the values we ourselves create.
They are a recognition that unlike other animals our human means of survival is our minds; specifically our minds put to use to reshape the things in the world into a form in which they can further our life – in a form in which they we make them valuable to us. This is the fundamental difference between ourselves and other animals: unlike them we have to produce the things we need in order to survive and to flourish – we must produce our own values -- and we must use our minds to guide us in what we produce, and how we may produce it. We must identify our values, produce them ourselves and, in order to plan long-range (the distinctive human mode of existence), we must be able to have long-range protection for those values we've produced for our survival.
That long-range protection of the values we ourselves have created is what property rights represent.
- Markets are simply the sum of voluntary choices taken by individuals seeking to better themselves. Those individuals might be wrong in the choices they make -- such as commissioning Frank Gehry or buying Jackson Pollock paintings for example -- but they are their choices to make, not yours or mine, since it is the values they themselves have produced that they are seeking to trade. Markets reflect the truth that voluntary interaction reflects a harmony of interests that is both benevolent and beneficial, the 'miracle' of Adam Smith's invisible hand that is no less a miracle for being explicable.
- Freedom is not the absence of want, but freedom from physical coercion. Rights themselves may not be removed except by physical force; whenever a man is made to act against his voluntary consent, his right has been violated.
Misunderstand this point -- of what freedom actually constitutes -- and you find that the incorrect view of freedom (absence of want) wipes out the true one, in which all human interaction can be voluntary rather than coercive -- a point reflected in the basis for libertarianism being viewed by many libertarians as 'voluntarism.'
The chief problem with positing freedom as something different to this, as for example some variant of 'freedom from want,' is that reality itself provides no guarantees on that score, and the state is in no position to fake reality any more than you or I or Jacques Derrida. What the state does have unique to itself however is a legal monopoly on the use of force. It has power. Freedom is better than power. If providing 'freedom from want' is considered to be the state's job, then coercing those who provide the means of life is what the state is required to do, and (as history shows) there goes that whole voluntary interaction deal...
- Libertarianz supports the right of anyone at all, regardless of colour, to front up seeking a court's recognition of and protection for their rights in common law, meeting the legal standard of proof for such things. I refer you, for example, to the Libertarianz submission on the Foreshore and Seabed Act. What we do not support however is a racially-based welfare system or an indigenous state gravy train. Make of that what you will.
Nozick is considered by academics to be the leading advocate for libertarianism and freedom amongst modern political philosophers, but his weak arguments are too easily trumped by self-serving intellectuals who only feel obliged to answer Nozick, rather than more substantial political thinkers like Rand....A more robust libertarianism can be seen in my own Cue Card Libertarianism, a work still in progress, and to which I've provided some relevant links above.
But perhaps it is the very weakness of his arguments that add to his attraction, he is the ideal libertarian straw man - easy to knock down, and to burn while he's down.
But Nozick does have value. He shows us that if your arguments lack foundations you will undo your conclusions, no matter how true they might be.
[I'll answer I/S's other straw men about 'freedom only for the strong' and private footpaths leaving us imprisoned in our homes if you really want me to, but why not try and answer them yourself.]
LINKS: Cue Card Libertarianism - index at Del.icio.us
The Roots of Property and Libertarianism, Or, Why libertarians don’t own their own bodies - Peter Cresswell
RELATED: Libertarianism, Philosophy