NB: I have decided that I am not going to give notice if one of my essays includes fiction; when I made this statement and apology, it was met with poisonous venom. I wouldn’t even mention this now, except I don’t want my regular readers to believe I am ignoring my earlier commitment. This is the only time I will make this statement.
So read the following at your own risk.
My journey along the intersection of libertarians and culture….
You will recall the promiscuous friends I would invite over to my house in order to…mmm…enjoy my front lawn. Subsequently, I modified my example to that of the backyard cook-out. All in an attempt to further examine the intersection of culture and the non-aggression principle.
There were several comments offered regarding the backyard cookout dilemma along the lines of what the community might have done beforehand to prevent such a situation; many were good suggestions. A representative one was from Shailesh Saraf July 6, 2017 at 2:45 AM:
Whoever drafts such a half-page contract should include therein a clause - 'Customs in this neighbourhood meaningfully differ from and will prevail over what is considered normal common sense / property rights in other places. Disputes subject to the jurisdiction of the court of elders. Please look before you leap'
I didn’t really address these types of comments, or when I did I steered the conversation back to my main point; in this past conversation I was not concerned about what to do before the next time or what we should have done. I wanted to force the conversation toward: what do we do now that we are in this mess?
In other words, what to do in a situation where a community has significant cultural change forced upon them, a change that is likely to greatly disrupt the peace of the community.
But I want to come back to this now, this idea of what can be done beforehand. For this, I offer excerpts from an email exchange with Walter Block:
Walter is always so formal!
You quite properly say, "There was nothing in the CC&Rs that said you cannot fornicate on the front lawn before they bought the property." There never is, and there never was, there never will be, a contract that could anticipate every weird thing that weirdos can do….The way to anticipate these sorts of things is with a vote of a (super) majority of the condominium owners: if say, 65% of the people don't want a certain act done, then they can rule it out, ex post facto, whatever it is. Another condo might say 80% or 90%. Then, people can sort themselves out on this basis, among many others.
In that way, I have my cake and can eat it too. I cleave, fully, to our precious libertarian theory. And, I obviate the weirdos.
I will think about this some more. I cannot find a meaningful hole in it off of the top of my head. Figuring out what percentage requirement for the super-majority might take trial and error (different communities testing things out, etc.). But markets will sort this out.
It does draw out the idea of governance - there will always be governance (in this case, voluntarily agreed); a property owner is willing to give up some aspect of control / use / disposition of his property in exchange for the benefit of living in a community. This idea of each property owner being a complete authoritarian on his property in all things is not at all functional - unless one chooses to live all alone on a mountaintop, I guess.
So, I will tell you what - once you get in place full private property rights and this super-majority idea of yours, I will convert to open borders! Of course, by the time you get these in place, people like you and I will be the super-minority...so in the meantime, I will hold to my managed-borders view.
For those not familiar with the reference, in an earlier conversation Walter offered that full private property rights were an inherent part of his paradigm when he writes of open borders. I am greatly paraphrasing; I suggest you read the full post if you want the proper detail and context.
Walter has proposed, and I agree, we will continue this dialogue at another time.
Why the Non-aggression Principle is Not Enough
Because we live in a world of gray. Try to turn that subjective term "non-aggression principle" into an objective truth. An objective truth: I drop a rock from a tree. It falls. It does so every time, in every jurisdiction, for every generation. That’s objective.
So, let’s start:
Define aggression. Define it objectively. Do so such that it can be understood in a manner that can be applied identically in all jurisdictions at all times. This would be objective.
Define restitution. Define it objectively. Define it objectively for every type of aggression. Do so such that it can be understood in a manner that can be applied identically in all jurisdictions at all times. Remember, there is a point when restitution crosses the line into initiation of aggression. Tell me where that point is, for all circumstances, for all aggressions, in all locations - objectively.
Define punishment. Define it objectively. Define it for every type of aggression. Do so such that it can be understood in a manner that can be applied identically in all jurisdictions at all times. Remember, there is a point when punishment crosses the line into initiation of aggression. Tell me where that point is, for all circumstances for all aggressions in all locations - objectively.
Define the age of majority. Define it objectively. Define what it means relative to the NAP. Do so such that it can be understood in a manner that can be applied identically in all jurisdictions at all times. Take into account the differing abilities in children, intellectual, mental and physical disabilities, etc. Objectively.
See, we aren’t talking about a punch in the nose or about launching drones five-thousand miles away. We aren’t talking about execution as punishment for stealing a candy bar. These areas are black and white; they should be easy for most people to come to agreement. The issue is the gray. Most of our lives are spent in the gray.
And the gray as considered above is one aspect – not the only aspect, but a key aspect – of what I mean by culture.
There are those who say “the only culture we need is one that respects the non-aggression principle.” Besides other reasons this will not fly in a world of humans, to that I say: eliminate the gray…objectively. Otherwise you are just yapping.
Where does this leave me in my journey?
A generally accepted common culture is a necessary, but not sufficient, condition if one wants to achieve and maintain a society that reasonably approaches “libertarian.”
Changes that significantly affect that culture will move the community away from peace and therefore away from achieving and maintaining a society that reasonably approaches “libertarian.”
To fit in the proper libertarian framework, open borders must be built upon full private property rights.
As we do not live in a society with full private property rights, there is nothing “libertarian” about open borders in this world.
A policy of open borders in the world as it is today, without full private property rights, brings significant risk to the generally accepted common culture.
This risk can be greatly mitigated in a society with full private property rights – as a libertarian society would ensure.
There is also nothing “libertarian” about closed borders. Therefore, when leaning solely on the NAP, we are left without an answer.
There will always be some form of governance in any society made up of more than one person; not all contingencies can be envisioned beforehand and there must be some mechanism in place to deal with conflict.
In order to achieve this level of governance, individuals will voluntarily give up some aspect of control / use / disposition of their property; they always remain free to take back their consent and live with the consequences, if any, of this choice.
Anyone calling for open borders in this world is knowingly or unknowingly calling for the society to move away from the possibility of libertarianism.
Anyone calling for open borders in this world is knowingly or unknowingly calling for an increase in government interventions.
And this is why I do not call for open borders; it is harmful to those who wish to move toward a more libertarian society.
And that’s where I am today in this journey.