Anorexia…is a psychological and potentially life-threatening…disorder.
One of my earliest endeavors at this blog was to work through libertarianism – the thinnest of thin libertarianism. My approach was simple: take the non-aggression principle and deduce. I honed my understanding by working through dozens of posts and essays by many libertarians, trying to understand if or how well the thinking conformed to the non-aggression principle.
Much of the writing that I analyzed veered to the left – various social causes having nothing to do with the NAP. Having gone after many of these, I was challenged: “why don’t you take on Hoppe with the same gusto that you employ against left-libertarians?”
Well, I did. And I found that Hoppe was correct. But Hoppe wasn’t redefining the non-aggression principle – he wasn’t making it “thick”; instead, he offered that cultural boundaries were important if one is to maintain a libertarian society. This understanding sent me on my path to consider libertarians and culture, tradition, and custom.
Around this same time I came across a discussion of libertarian punishment theory applied: the aggrieved property owner is free to decide the punishment for any transgression of his property. Anything short of this and you are a thick libertarian.
What about shooting a child for picking an apple? Yup, if that’s what the owner wants, then that is the libertarian answer. Private property is inviolate, more valuable than life in all circumstances.
Well, that didn’t sit well with me. I thought…there is no way such a society will remain free. If punishment (along with dozens of other daily actions) does not conform to something approaching generally acceptable cultural norms, something like the opposite of liberty will be the result.
Now, in hindsight, I suspect one could conclude this punishment theory from the NAP –the aggrieved property owner decides. Property is inviolate, and value is subjective. Who but the farmer can say what the value is of his apple? Well, you all know where this journey has led me: if liberty is the objective, then what must be added to libertarianism, to the non-aggression principle?
Any ideology taken to an extreme will result in totalitarianism. Now, that isn’t such a stretch to accept for ideologies such as communism, socialism, etc. But is it also true of libertarianism? Taken to an extreme, perhaps the farmer does have the right to shoot the child for picking an apple; the aggrieved property owner can inflict any punishment on the offender – no matter how trivial the offense.
It might be the thinnest of thin libertarianism – an ideology taken to an extreme – but it sure won’t result in liberty. It will result in pretty much the opposite.
All well enough for punishment. What about defense? A child (yes, I purposely use children in these examples to drive home the point) takes a candy bar and walks out of the store. The shopkeeper chases the child and shoots him in the back. “Whew!” That punk didn’t steal this one dollar candy bar.”
He defended his property, sure enough. It could be argued that his action fully conformed to the non-aggression principle. But what of liberty? What happens down that road? Any punishment that the aggrieved decides? Any defense of property for even the most trivial transgression? Yes, it might be thin libertarianism applied, but is it liberty-inducing behavior? If you think so, there are many neighborhoods in places like Los Angeles, Chicago and Baltimore for you to find your liberty. They live by such rules there.
What about the issue of encirclement, another issue that brings up some conflict between property and life? And, dare I say, abortion? Even for those who view it as a strict property rights issue – the mother owns the property of the womb – is killing the unborn child just punishment (or defense) for this supposed transgression of trespass?
We have purified libertarian theory based solely on the non-aggression principle enough already. Let’s work on finding liberty.