That was fast.
In response to my request, I have received feedback from Walter Block and others. The several are names that you would know; if you respect libertarianism in the Rothbardian tradition, they are also names you would respect. They have asked that I keep their names anonymous; contrary to my statement in the subject post, I have agreed to do so.
So, to summarize the anonymous feedback: You’re right.
I was sent the following by one of the prefer-to-remain-anonymous feedbackers, an excerpt from Rothbard’s The Ethics of Liberty, Chapter 13:
Thus, it should be quite clear that, under libertarian law, capital punishment would have to be confined strictly to the crime of murder. For a criminal would only lose his right to life if he had first deprived some victim of that same right. It would not be permissible, then, for a merchant whose bubble gum had been stolen, to execute the convicted bubble gum thief. If he did so, then he, the merchant, would be an unjustifiable murderer, who could be brought to the bar of justice by the heirs or assigns of the bubble gum thief.
Shooting someone for stealing a stick of gum – and in Rothbard’s example, not even a child.
Look, just because Rothbard wrote it doesn’t mean it is correct libertarian theory. However, precisely because Rothbard wrote it, if you want to demonstrate otherwise you probably need to come up with something more than “because I wanted to.”
Now, on to Walter, who gave his OK to post the following; I offer it without comment:
I regard the Bionic Mosquito, and Bob Wenzel, as gifted libertarian theorists. The both of them. I regard both of them as friends of mine. Good friends. I don’t mind it at all when friends of mine disagree with each other. Heck, I disagree with both Bob and the Mosquito on some few issues, plus with other friends of mine such as Murray Rothbard, Hans Hoppe and Stephan Kinsella, just to name a few. But it really bothers me, no, it sickens me, when the debate takes on not just the disineterested, calm, friendly, search for truth, which I welcome, enthusiastically, but also vituperation, nastiness, name calling, etc. I pride myself that I strive mightily not to engage in such activity even when debating enemies of Austro-libertarianism (I don’t always succeed, but I do try real hard), let alone with friends and intellectual fellow-travellers with whom I agree with on, oh, 99.8% of all issues, such as I do with the Bionic man and Bob Wenzel. Indeed, I have debated with both of them in the past, always cordially in all cases, and hope and trust this will always continue.
Please, Bob and Mosquito, be kind to each other in the debate over punishment theory you are now having with each other. Please, I beg you both, realize that you are both staunch libertarians. You are fellow soldiers in the intellectual fight for liberty. If people like the two of you cannot remain civil, and even more than civil when disagreeing with each other, then there is just that much less hope for our beloved movement.
Now to the specifics. I think Bob makes some good Austrian subjectivists points about only victims can know how much harm has been perpetrated on them by criminals. But, to think that victims and they alone may make up any punishment rules thay want on their own property, without notifying everyone else of unusual rules (like killing, or seizing coats, a la Donald Trump) I find completely incompatible with libertarianism (I make this point in my article on “murder park.” See below). Killing a child for stealing an apple I find totally incompatible with libertarian theory. Children are different than adults in libertarian theory, as they are in every other theory with which I am familiar. It is permissible to commit assault and battery on them, see my debate with Stephan Molyneux on this matter. Going to bed with a 5 year old girl, even if she “agrees” to do so should be a crime under libertarian law, as it is in all civilized societies, because children of that age are simply unable to give consent. It is much the same with apple stealing. They must be treated differently than adults, in terms not only of punishment theory after the fact, but even in defense of property during this criminal behavior. How, differently? More gently of course.
Whitehead, Roy and Walter E. Block. 2002. “Sexual Harassment in the Workplace: A Property Rights Perspective,” University of Utah Journal of Law and Family Studies, Vol. 4, pp.226-263; http://184.108.40.206/faculty/Block/Articles%20for%20web/Sexual%20Harassment%20in%20the%20Workplace.doc
Block, Walter E. 2002. “Radical Privatization and other Libertarian Conundrums,” The International Journal of Politics and Ethics, Vol. 2, No. 2, pp. 165-175; http://www.walterblock.com/publications/radical_privatization.pdf
Block, Walter E. 2007. "Alienability: Reply to Kuflik.” Humanomics Vol. 23, No. 3, pp. 117-136; http://www.emeraldinsight.com/Insight/viewContentItem.do;jsessionid=0685BBB744173274A5E7CE3803132413?contentType=Article&contentId=1626605
December 9, 2013. Debate: Walter Block and Stefan Molyneux, Freedomain Radio on spanking children. Video: http://youtu.be/EgCmoVbdYtE; MP3: http://cdn.media.freedomainradio.com/feed/FDR_2552_Walter_Block_Debate.mp3
I hope and trust you don’t mind that I send this to Bob, too.
Walter E. Block, Ph.D.
Harold E. Wirth Eminent Scholar Endowed Chair and Professor of Economics
Joseph A. Butt, S.J. College of Business
Loyola University New Orleans
6363 St. Charles Avenue, Box 15, Miller Hall 318
New Orleans, LA 70118
tel: (504) 864-7934
Twitter Account: https://twitter.com/WalterEBlock
Twitter Account: https://twitter.com/WalterEBlock
If it moves, privatize it; if it doesn't move, privatize it. Since everything either moves or doesn't move, privatize everything.
I thank Walter, and also the several others who wished to remain anonymous, for their feedback. However, perhaps the most succinct and insightful comment was offered at the subject post:
Black Flag January 21, 2016 at 3:09 PM
Wenzel hasn't defended Anarcho Capitalism, he has defended the judge, the jury, and the executioner, (all bundled together as one man) likely of statist ilk, who feel they can operate without consequences for error.
Why should Wenzel oppose the state when he's fine with an individual operating the same way? Is the libertarian objection to action, or the label attributed?
I wish I thought of this line of reasoning. In sixty words, Black Flag said more than I did in ten-thousand. Wenzel wants to create two billion tyrants. This isn’t libertarianism.
Looking at Black Flag’s web site, it seems he has just started writing. All I can say is, keep writing.