Confiscation and the Homestead Principle by Murray N. Rothbard (1969)
Most who consider themselves libertarian or who are just fans of Austrian Economic know who Rothbard is.
“Take, for example, the State universities. This is property built on funds
stolen from the taxpayers. Since the State has not found or put into effect
a way of returning ownership of this property to the taxpaying public, the
proper owners of this university are the “homesteaders,” those who have already
been using and therefore “mixing their labor” with the facilities. The
prime consideration is to deprive the thief, in this case the State, as quickly
as possible of the ownership and control of its ill-gotten gains, to return the
property to the innocent, private sector. This means student and/or faculty
ownership of the universities.
As between the two groups, the students have a prior claim, for the
students have been paying at least some amount to support the university
whereas the faculty suffer from the moral taint of living off State funds and
thereby becoming to some extent a part of the State apparatus.”
The students own the university?
“But how then do we go about destatizing the entire mass of government
property, as well as the “private property” of General Dynamics?”
General Dynamics does most of its business with the fed gov, that’s why it needs to be “destatized”.
“All this needs detailed thought and inquiry on the part of libertarians. One
method would be to turn over ownership to the homesteading workers in
the particular plants; another to turn over pro-rata ownership to the individual
taxpayers. But we must face the fact that it might prove the most
practical route to first nationalize the property as a prelude to redistribution.
Thus, how could the ownership of General Dynamics be transferred
to the deserving taxpayers without first being nationalized enroute? And,
further more, even if the government should decide to nationalize General
Dynamics – without compensation, of course – per se and not as a prelude
to redistribution to the taxpayers, this is not immoral or something to be combatted”
So, does that mean Obama is a libertarian? He gave GM to the unions.
“For it would only mean that one gang of thieves – the government
– would be confiscating property from another previously cooperating
gang, the corporation that has lived off the government. I do not often
agree with John Kenneth Galbraith, but his recent suggestion to nationalize
businesses which get more than 75% of their revenue from government, or
from the military, has considerable merit. Certainly it does not mean aggression
against private property, and, furthermore, we could expect a considerable
diminution of zeal from the military-industrial complex if much
of the profits were taken out of war and plunder. And besides, it would
make the American military machine less efficient, being governmental,
and that is surely all to the good. But why stop at 75%? Fifty percent seems
to be a reasonable cutoff point on whether an organization is largely public
or largely private.”
“And there is another consideration. Dow Chemical, for example, has
been heavily criticized for making napalm for the U.S. military machine.
The percentage of its sales coming from napalm is undoubtedly small, so
that on a percentage basis the company may not seem very guilty; but
napalm is and can only be an instrument of mass murder, and therefore
Dow Chemical is heavily up to its neck in being an accessory and hence a
co-partner in the mass murder in Vietnam. No percentage of sales, however
small, can absolve its guilt.”
I wonder where he stood on guns?
“The slaves gained their freedom, it is true, but the land, the plantations that they
had tilled and therefore deserved to own under the homestead principle,
remained in the hands of their former masters. Furthermore, no reparations
were granted the slaves for their oppression out of the hides of their
masters. Hence the abolition of slavery remained unfinished, and the seeds
of a new revolt have remained to intensify to the present day. Hence, the
great importance of the shift in Negro demands from greater welfare handouts
to “reparations,” reparations for the years of slavery and exploitation
and for the failure to grant the Negroes their land, the failure to heed the
Radical abolitionist’s call for “40 acres and a mule” to the former slaves. In
many cases, moreover, the old plantations and the heirs and descendants of
the former slaves can be identified, and the reparations can become highly
Al Sharpton is a libertarian, too?
“It is justice vs. injustice, innocence vs. criminality that must be
our major libertarian focus.”
Markets Not Capitalism
To sum up, egalitarianism and an overriding concern for social and economic justice. A dislike of wealth accumulation and an unshakable belief in the “perfectibility of man” and blank slate theory. So, aside from a rejection of government, this strain of libertarianism is what is generally termed “progressive” today.
This will be the last from this group of theorists. I’m not interested in pursuing their line of thought.
I can state with certainty that I have no interest in living in Russell Longcore’s FRONA, but I do want to thank him for leading me to greater understanding.
Next I will look into other strains of libertarianism.