The existence of property and a critical examination of intellectual property.

Intellectual property (IP) is a subject of some disagreement among people today, let me lay out why I think IP is unjust and an actual infringement upon liberty.

First, let us examine the underlying suppositions of property itself. Classically, property is derived from self ownership, the idea that we own ourselves. Ownership itself, simply meaning the right of possessing something. Self-Ownership can be derived from a simple deductive exercise,  stemming from Descartes’ existence statement:

Cogito ergo sum

I think, therefore I am.

So If I am, because I think, my thoughts must exist and I must own them. And as I control my thoughts, my thoughts control my actions. So I must own my actions as well, since they are the consequence of my thoughts. From that we can also gather my actions must exist as well. Now, if I own my actions and thoughts, logic dictates, that I must own my self, as I am nothing more than action and thought. So again from that, we must conclude, I exist as well.

As you can see, these are reciprocal ideas.

As that follows, it must as well, that if I own myself, the products of that thought and action must be mine as well. Now let’s call “the use of thought and action”, something simpler. I find the word labor fits here quite well. So If I own my labor, as shown,  and I mix that labor with unclaimed resources the product of that labor, what we call property, should justifiably be mine. And as a result, property must exist.

Now that we’ve established where property is derived from, and how it is justified, let’s take a look at IP. From where does a person gather the right to use government force to stop another person from doing something that isn’t harming anyone? IP is the adult equivalent to a child saying “stop copying me” and justified with force. Let’s reduce the argument down. If you’re sitting under a tree in the forest whittling a wooden horse when another traveler happens upon you and begins doing the same, using his own material, thought, actions, and time. He watches you carefully and comes to a rough approximation of your work.

Do you:
A) Scream “PATENT INFRINGER” and proceed to beat him mercilessly until he pays you a royalty.

B) Be flattered that someone appreciated your work so much they wanted to try it for themselves.

Beyond the obvious false dichotomy, the moral here is obvious, using force to stop a person from approximating a work that you freely and openly decided to produce is unjustified. Obviously, if you hadn’t wanted anyone to imitate your work or view your process you would have hidden yourself away in a workshop. Then if someone had violated your property rights by trespassing to see your process or imitate your work you would have justifiable recourse against them.

IP restricts people from participating in the market and kills competition, it doesn’t drive innovation but it does slow the economy for the sake of “fairness” it is in essence a redistribution of wealth from the person imitating the work, to the person who had produced something similar first.

An obvious objection here would be:

                        “He did not perform the intellectual labor to produce the work.

Notice that the ‘idea of the property’ is not, of itself,  property. It can only become property as a mixture of thought, actions, and resources. As previously shown, labor is a mixture of thought and action. Therefore, an object missing thought or action can not be labor and certainly not “intellectual labor.” So as “intellectual labor” can not be labor without physical action,  so to can we conclude there is no such thing as “intellectual property” without action or resources.

So would a book with ideas be property? Yes, of course but the ideas alone within that book are not. So to steal that book, would be theft. However, to copy it once owned or shared, can not be theft. This is not to say thought, and the development of it, is not intensive or worthwhile, it just does not meet the definition we have put forth of labor or property.

As Stephen Kinsella notes:

The mistake is the notion that creation is an independent source of ownership — independent, that is, from homesteading and contracting. However, it is easy to see that it is not, that “creation” is neither necessary nor sufficient as a source of ownership.

With that said, if you are the inventor of something there are ways to prevent people from copying your work without using a government granted monopoly. Contracts, secrecy, leases, non-discolure agreements etc

Let’s extrapolate a little to the real world and look at practicality. If IP exists, therefore it should ALWAYS exist in perpetuity to the heirs of the inventors estate unless otherwise traded or contracted away. So when I build a birdhouse or build a car or a rifle, I would be subject to IP infringement. Should all things men build be subjected to the rule of its originator, subject to merely the first person to think of it? For what justification can there be, or difference thereof, for a man to prevent me these things? Why do ideas in a book constitute something more precious than my wooden horse? From a purely consequentialist or practical point of view IP, if consistent, is a completely untenable idea.

The blatant irony here of course is that those often against the ideas of self ownership and private property, are the most ardent defenders of IP.

The next most common objection is constituted similar to this:

The imitator can use superior personal capital or resources to take, market, and make billions from something he did not originally produce from poor man. He is exploiting another man.

This happens everyday in the market and its a great thing. I build my wooden horse, and the “exploiter” copies him and mass produces him. I neither had the means nor the capital to capitalize on my horse but the “exploiter” did, as a result everyone wins. I won less but that’s my own fault. If I was smart I would have gone to the “exploiter” before I was so stupid as to let him see it without an NDA (contract) and asked him to produce my horse so we could both benefit. That’s an incredibly beautiful thing to me. Contracts are just wonderful.

I also think these people are attributing parts of the “exploiters”  labor to the first man. Is name recognition, notoriety, and fame not directly a result of good publishing, marketing, and serving customers? As well as the ability to meet demand? Also the first man can still draw on public criticism from the second mans success in order to develop his ideas. In fact, some would say his ideas could benefit more because of his increased exposure. Could that not be seen as an I’ll gotten gain as well?

In conclusion, I think property is well defined, it’s opponents will always deny it exists, but I think I’ve made a good case for it’s existence and thus the non-existence and unjustifiability of intellectual property.

 

 

Are certain online communities an example of the failure open immigration? A defense of Hoppe.

In arguing in favor of Hoppe’s notion of a completely privatized society I’ve come across a lot of derision as well as a lot of acceptance among libertarians.

Recently, I had a chat with Stephen Kinsella by proxy of another person, on this very subject. I think his position was a little weak when he reduced the argument away from the philosophical merits and devolved the argument into consequentialism. There are of course, numerous counter examples being evident to disprove him in Europe at the moment. That being said I recognize anecdotal evidence does not disprove a theory but I can say with some certainty these examples in Europe are, by and large, the norm. We can also say the examples listed are relevant and some of the only ones we really have. That’s where this conversation stems from.

I think we can look at reddit (an online social community based around direct democracy) and specifically /r/libertarian as a good example of the problems of immigration. Let me explain.

When /r/libertarian began it looked a lot like most libertarian communities, good discussions, well thought out posts, and very a very libertarian vibe overall. Lately, I don’t think anyone can deny the /r/libertarian subreddit has been overrun by non-libertarians. (let’s posit that as a fact so we’re not arguing trivialities here) Who or what they support is irrelevant and I’d like to keep this article clear of that kind of discussion as well.

When this topic is broached, a lot, if not most of these non-libertarians say they visit the subreddit for discussion because/r/politics (the established political discussion subreddit) and other subs are mostly echo chambers revolving around liberal attitudes and opinions. When moderation is asked for, the argument for a style of “open borders” is put forward in order to prevent hard language or seemingly hypocritical behaviour.This isn’t really the point I’m getting at and I’m not calling out said moderators at all, in fact, they’re all quite nice people to talk with.

Before anyone proposes that I’m “free to leave”, realize you’re about to use the same argumentas those that say “If u don like ‘merica git owet” and also that this discussion is limited to the scope of reddit. While others have their communities to discuss their ideas and develop them they have effectively not only ruled over their own communities but seemingly public ones like /r/politics and now want to move on to our community. This is effectively entryism but that’s a different topic for a later date. Anyway, I don’t think the “you can always leave” argument is in anyway valid when we are talking about private entities, at least until we can colonize and expand into the infinity of space as the planet is 99% covered by states.

What I am getting at is that /r/libertarian seems to be another limited example of how a democratic system (their voting system) forces people associate to extraordinarily destructive ends. Without private property and control of said property it thus ends up completely devolving communities as Hoppe, Rothbard, and Rockwell proposed would probably happen. This is essence turns an otherwise private community into a common space.

Not always overtly, but covertly. While the subreddit’s primary posts contain libertarian view points, the discussion sections are anything but libertarian a lot of the time. I think this is a pretty good example of how even a largely libertarian society can develop enclaves of anti-libertarian sentiment and help grow that sentiment from within using what is thought of as libertarianism against libertarians. (open immigration and shame) This should not be possible if libertarian theory is sound in my opinion. Libertarian theory should not be self destructive or it can not be correct and should be re-evaluated. That’s where I think Hoppe has it completely correct that disassociation from these communities and people is absolutely libertarian and absolutely necessary to maintain a libertarian social order.

In a covenant concluded among proprietor and community tenants for the purpose of protecting their private property, no such thing as a right to free (unlimited) speech exists, not even to unlimited speech on one’s own tenant-property. One may say innumerable things and promote almost any idea under the sun, but naturally no one is permitted to advocate ideas contrary to the very covenant of preserving and protecting private property, such as democracy and communism. There can be no tolerance toward democrats and communists in a libertarian social order. They will have to be physically separated and removed from society.

That may sound horrible to someone out of context but in the context of this discussion it makes perfect sense. Should a troll or a subversive non-libertarian be allowed to subvert the ideas of libertarianism and grow an enclave of anti-libertarian sentiment in a private community devoted to the ideas of libertarianism, toward the goal of a non-libertarian society that will no doubt be based on abject force? Of course not! That’s like someone moving into your home and teaching your kids communism, you have every right to physically remove them, so to speak.

From this, I think we can draw the conclusion that discussion in an open forum is at the consent of both parties and the lack of moderation (border control) in /r/libertarian is tantamount to an agreement the moderators made with others, without the subscribers consent, a social contract of no authority. In this, I think we can see exactly what libertarian theorists have been probing at for some time, that forcing communities to associate without consent can only lead to their inevitable destruction.

I find this trend pervasive online lately, not just on reddit. Twitter and facebook are other examples of where seemingly positive online libertarian communities have been over run by the anti intellectual right and left wing.

I’ll leave with the caveat that obviously online communities neither face the troubles associated with normal migration nor the opportunity costs, but I do think this is a fair observation of a microcosm of potential libertarian and non-libertarian communities interacting.

If Hoppe isn’t right, he sure has a funny way of showing it.

 

 

The persistence of etymological manipulation in politics and philosophy by the ideological left.

Let’s first talk about what etymology is in case some people don’t know. Most simply, etymology is the study of words and the way in which their meanings have changed throughout history. How today the word “gay” means something entirely different than it did in the 1920’s.

That being understood one can see how the manipulation of history can lead to control and thus the domination of arguments and as a result philosophy. I find it apparent the ideological left is most guilty of manipulating words so they can be disassociated with the past, associate others with a false history, or even force people into argument that detracts from the subject matter. I’d like to look at some obvious cases of this now.

First, the most obvious case I think we’re all familiar with is the the term liberal, which for centuries was associated with what is now called “classical liberalism”, but is today associated closely and nearly inseparably with the ideological left. This happened as a result of a slow co-option by progressives in the FDR era. This is pretty commonly known so I’m not going to delve very deeply here, but this is when Mencken and Nock first began to call themselves libertarians.

Next most famously, and connected with the following example, is the term isolationism to refer to non-interventionism. This purposeful misuse began by neo-conservatives and most notably Bill Kristol. Seeking to associate the nation of North Korea with a more reserved foreign policy, Kristol intentionally misused and continues to mis-use the term “isolationist” to refer to non-interventionists much to the displeasure of a great many people, and to his advantage of pushing a failed Wilsonian foreign policy.

Now let’s take a quick look at “neoconservative.” The term has it’s roots in the ideological left with Irving Kristol, a trotskyist who seeking to capitalize and form a movement based around trotskyism, but who found resistance following the rise of the USSR. As you can tell with even cursory research the conservative movement was taken over by neoconservative thought not 20 years later that eventually lead to both Bush presidencies, where Kristol was awarded the medal of freedom by George W Bush. George W Bush , being completely antithetical to the ideas of what was widely considered conservatism at the time prior to the rise of Kristol. Most notably the ideas of gun control, expanding government education to the point of creating no child left behind, and the troubled asset relief program.

The people now called “paleoconservatives” should rightly be enraged by this. However, few “paleoconservatives” remain and that itself should serve as a clarion call to libertarians.

Fourth, let’s talk about the term “State Capitalism” to associate communist countries like the USSR and China with capitalism and the free market. This has been done as far back as the USSR. This phrase has been used by everyone from trotskyists and Maoists to Anarcho-communists. It’s use is mostly in deference to the argument “it’s not true communism”, as a defense of communist ideas, and as a false “cooperation” with capitalist ideals.

Ludwig Von Mises himself commented on this phenomena saying:

“The socialist movement takes great pains to circulate frequently new labels for its ideally constructed state. Each worn-out label is replaced by another which raises hopes of an ultimate solution of the insoluble basic problem of Socialism—until it becomes obvious that nothing has been changed but the name. The most recent slogan is “State Capitalism.”

The last and final example(though there are a great many more) is closer to home, “classical libertarian” is on the rise among communists on the internet to conflate libertarianism with the 19th century political movement started by the communist Joseph Dejacque. Dejacque himself appropriated this term from William Belsham, a left leaning determinist who labeled those who believed in free will as libertarians. Dejacque never used the term libertarian to describe a philosophy, yet still the ideological left seems hell bent on doing to libertarianism what they did to what is now “classical” liberalism and “paleo” conservatism. This is no doubt a method of co-opting the the ideas and discussions around libertarianism into a platform for the ideological left, not to mention a basic logical fallacy called the etymological fallacy.

This is somewhat related to what Orwell described as “double speak.” That term unfortunately, thanks to conspiracy theorists, is seen to have negative “tin foil hat” connotations and doesn’t relate to the intentional use of this language to further political agendas or co-opt ideas. Though the idea is frighteningly prescient.

I’d instead like to posit the phrase “Etymological terrorism.” While some may see this as a bit sensationalist, or even guilty of double speak itself, i think it’s important to fight fire with fire. I’m being careful to not choose a word that’s already in use to avoid doing the same thing here that I’m accusing others of doing, but in essence double speak used as a tool for political gain is Etymological terrorism.

Terrorism itself is defined as the use of violent acts to frighten the people as a way of trying to further a political agenda. While etymological terrorism is the intentional misuse or appropriation of term to confuse people as a way to further a political agenda.

 

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Welcome to our new site.

This website was primarily created to address less than libertarian elements in the larger libertarian community from a right libertarian perspective, but is amenable to all sorts of topics and opinions.

A little about the sites name:

Pericles, the Athenian general, statesman, and orator was one of the most influential Greeks in history. Gaining the respect of other great Greeks like Plato and Aristotle he is probably best known for having built the Parthenon. So he’s probably not well liked by Hans Herman Hoppe, who used the Parthenon as the cover of his book: Democracy: The God That Failed.

That aside, the reason why the site is named for this man, is his funeral oration. An oration in which he expresses what might be the first acceptance and advocacy of the idea of self ownership, the principle from which most libertarian thought is derived.

I declare that in my opinion each single one of our citizens, in all the manifold aspects of life, is able to show himself the rightful lord and owner of his own person, and do this, moreover, with exceptional grace and exceptional versatility.

So regardless of his historical and cultural faults, which all men have, there is something truly inspirational and endearing about a man who may have inspired a great philosophy.

So welcome to Pericles.press!