Common Property in Free Market Anarchism: A Missing Link

September 30, 2018 at 6:54 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
[I can’t find the date that I originally published this article to the former website, but it was in the early 2000s.]

Free market anarchism has too often been described as “private property anarchism” where supposedly all property is privately owned. In some cases, that description is to imply no property is owned by a state. In this I agree with the implied meaning, but not the term private property anarchism. Two types of common property could exist in a free market anarchist society. The first is when individuals voluntarily and purposely form some group, party, marriage unit, or company where property is held in common. This is considered acceptable to those who use the term private property anarchism, and it could still be called a type of private property.

The second type is much more complicated. Could it be understood from a private property perspective? Possibly if one is open to the ideas of partial use leading to partial ownership. This is without any prior formal agreements incorporating a potentially imprecise owning group. It is simpler to call it stateless common property.

Attempting to understand this type of common ownership will go great lengths to finding a common ground to open-minded socialist anarchists. Perhaps it is best to begin with an example from Leo Tolstoy’s “The Kingdom of God is Within You.”

In Russia, at the end of the 19th Century, there was a village that owned a forest communally, and had so for generations. They had used it for hunting and it was a major source of food. The Czar had given this forest to a feudal lord who then outlawed hunting or trespassing on his now private property. When the villagers continued to hunt there as necessary to survive, the Lord had them beaten and flogged in public. At this point any free market anarchist should see the legitimacy of this common ownership over what some socialists would (improperly) call the private property of the Czar. Any form of ownership is illegitimate when created or thus tainted by the state.

An easy way to grasp the formation of legitimate common property is to think of the Crusoe economics of roads. Roads formed long before they could be thought of as owned private property. The fact that early roads needed little to no upkeep was an important factor, and is a common trait to most property that can be said to freely develop from unowned to common property of a group, tribe, village, etc.

An individual did not per se mix his labor with the earth to make many of these primitive roads for private property in the Lockean sense. Individuals qua individuals merely make a road by traveling to some other place. If a person travels once a month from a homestead to a lake twenty miles away on a dirt trail only identifiable as a beaten path, he would have no right to claim the whole path as his excludable private property on which no one may travel or perpendicularly cross.

However, although it would be ridiculous to claim exclusive property in a beaten path, it would be wrong for another person or group to create a homestead completely encircling our first homesteader and claim the first homesteader has no free right to travel as he previously did. Thus, there must exist a natural “right of passage.” This could be thought of as partial non-exclusive ownership of land. As others also have a similar partial non-exclusive ownership by use, it is then a common property.

Other cases of non-exclusive ownership share characteristics of common property. Though I may own my homestead, if I have no current or unabandoned prior use of a particular radio frequency (or am actively using their absence), then a radio broadcaster is free to generate them even if they pass through my home without compensating me. I would also have no right over censoring the content of the radio waves that pass through my house except by choosing to not tune into them. On the other hand, as microwaves would actively harm me and my property, there could be no right to pass microwaves through my property as I actively use my property to not be harmed.

It should then be seen that all property is also an ownership through, and limited by, degree of use. Private property is property that entails the right to forbid another’s presence. Common property entails the right to not have your presence forbidden for those in the common group. As with radio waves through a homestead, they can exist in the same location in different dimensions, so to speak.

Legitimate common property still has the problem identified by Aristotle as the Tragedy of the Commons. Primitive common property roads may sometimes find benefactors to pay the cost of their upkeep. When so, there is rarely a reason to assume altruistic reasons for this as large businesses may profit more individually from a well kept common road than their cost to maintain it. Nevertheless, it should be expected that private roads would be built where high maintenance costs are required like modern highways, etc. However, these would have no right to be built on top of the common roads and private and common would have to compete. If the demands of roads are expensive enough then the common roads would potentially become abandoned. If so, only then would they cease to be common property and become abandoned homesteadable property and if then made so others could be excluded from use or trespass.

Unanimous support of a community may allow a common property such as a road to be privatized. Yet to do so, it would likely require the private road to guarantee equal passage rights to all to prevent class and privilege rights that would not be a fear with common property roads. Some private roads, in order to compete, may give up the right of exclusion in order to allay fears of discrimination. In which case, a private road could not regain that right without unanimous consent of the community.

Common property can exist in a free market state of nature, ordered anarchy, etc. when: 1. The cost or knowledge for privatized ownership is, at least at the time, too great. 2. When scarcity is not a significant problem. 3. Pollution of the good is not yet a problem. 4. Any other Tragedy of the Common problems are not insurmountable. A watering hole or well used by a primitive village would be another case, as is the air supply before pollution problems.

With a river, the case could be thought of as private property rights in the class of flowing property. If a person is using a clean river area for fishing, others may homestead the river upstream, but they will not have the right to pollute or act as to harm the first user’s downstream fishing. But do individuals have identifiable, tradable shares of the air supply? Are they given at birth? So open atmospheric air is (at least in most cases) better thought of as common property. Polluters would be subject to class action torts of the community when harmed without agreed compensation.

So, common property and private property can coexist in the same anarchist society. However, return to Tolstoy’s village (A). Assume it had maintained its common ownership of the forest unhindered by any state. A new village B appeared beside it, and B’s common use of the forest would make scarcity a serious problem. Then A must prohibit or limit B’s use of the forest and the common-ness of the forest would only be for A. It would be both private property and common property in different respects.

There are other potential problems in the nature of non-state common property. Assume villager X decides to kill massive amounts of animals to sell and export food and skins outside the village, making scarcity a problem. In order for a common group to maintain its assets from abuse of its own members, it must have self-enforcing (with respect to the common group) social conventions to prevent abuse. It may make such abuses punishable and not just with ostracism, but with violence if necessary as well.
Villager X is acting to harm the common property of the village, and the rest of the village has the right to stop him. He would be taking more than a “common share.” (I recognize the imprecise nature of that term. It is outside the scope of this essay to address it.)

The only insight I have is that, just as in private property, the Principle of Equal Liberty, as described by Herbert Spencer should apply to common property. Perhaps property should be thought not as two categories of owned and unowned, but in three: unowned, non-excludable, and excludable.

Perhaps this essay will engage a more rigorous thinker than myself to complete the all-encompassing systems of Rothbard and Mises regarding this subject. This is one of very few areas to my knowledge of the nature and workings of a free society that our movement has not deconstructed and thoroughly analyzed.


This is not a bibliography, as this essay was thought out before reading the works below. However, in different respects, they grasp and use the idea presented here without fleshing it out. Perhaps it is no coincidence that they both recognize the critical rationalist methodology of Karl Popper in these books.

Anthony de Jasay’s Against Politics is addressed to the top academic audience and not directly to the libertarian/anarchist movement. He defends a deontological approach to ethics and politics, rejecting utilitarianism without relying on natural rights. This also addresses social conventions in ordered anarchy.

J.C. Lester’s Escape From Leviathan begins with a critical rationalist approach to building anarchism from equal liberty, but concludes that this encompasses more than just private property. This is without the waffling as done by Hayek and Nozick, but with some surprising conclusions.


The Nonsense of Unconditional Love

October 26, 2017 at 9:35 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

There is a pop-culture concept of “falling in love” and it is used to escape focus on love and marriage as based on commitment. A similar pop-culture concept is “unconditional love”, and it is worth understanding too.

The famous author of “His Needs, Her Needs” Willard F. Harley Jr. likewise discusses from every Biblical angle and rejects the “unconditional love” idea.

I’ve looked to find the origin of the term and think I’ve found it. It was coined by socialist* humanist psychoanalyst Erich Fromm in 1934, and then published in his bestselling book “The Art of Loving” in 1956. In his work, unconditional love is what you get from a mother, and conditional love is what you get from a father.

* Note that I’m not mistakenly altering the term “secular humanist”. Fromm was a founding subset of humanist promoting a strict socialism. Further, humanist is a term for a type of atheist that is strictly opposed to the entire concept of faith, not just particular aspects of faiths.

Now, we all may know examples of the potential negative impact of that stereotype of unconditional love from a mother. I knew a thirty year old career criminal who had never held a job for more than a couple weeks because his mother wouldn’t let his father discipline him, no matter how often he returned home unrepentant and unapologetic intending only to steal more, till he finally died of drug use. Unconditional love could save him from short term discipline to bring about a young death due to unlearned self-discipline. But Fromm’s concept is still just no better of a concept than any other stereotype that maybe true 50% of the time. Plenty of mothers know the importance of love as discipline.

The New Testament expands upon the conditional and disciplinary nature of love by commenting on Proverbs 3:11-12 in Hebrews 12:6-11:

6 “For whom the Lord loves He chastens,
And scourges every son whom He receives.”

7 If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? 8 But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons. 9 Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. 11 Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

I’ve wondered how the concept of unconditional love gets mistakenly applied to the Bible, or to any faith when its origin is in anti-faith, but I have a good guess. Fromm’s concept of motherly unconditional love is close to the pop-Catholicism concept of “Pray to Mary because she will forgive you for anything.” I call that pop-Catholicisim because even sincere Catholicism isn’t that bad and recognizes that praying for forgiveness without conditions like repentance isn’t any good.

From Catholicism, I assume the concept probably spread through interfaith organizations like the National Council of Churches and universities, where Protestant Christendom was influenced by psychoanalysis.

St. Augustine’s negative view of sex in marriage even negatively affected the Churches of Christ, and he is the common most influential person and link between Catholicism and all “official” Protestants. (i.e. Calvinist, Lutheran, Anglican, and their heirs). It is possible to see how unconditional love as a concept was easy to tie to Augustinianism.

In 418 AD, a Council of Carthage, under the influence of Augustine and Emperor Honorius declares Pelagius and related beliefs as intolerable heresy. The attack on Pelagius was because he defended even partial free will in man’s response to God. (You might see why Pelagius should instead be viewed as persecuted hero.) Augustine’s rejection of free will is consistent with his justification of violence and persecution of those with peaceful but different beliefs, like Augustine’s violent rampage against the Donatists. But Augustine demanded and promoted the central importance of belief in literal eternal damnation of all unbaptized infants creates the concept parallel to unconditional love, namely, unconditional damnation. These aren’t opposing beliefs, unconditional love and unconditional damnation are a matching pair that justify each other in Augustinianism.

So Augustine laid a foundation concept of unconditional love and unconditional damnation, so that when the term unconditional love was first created by an anti-faith atheist, the term was nevertheless quickly adopted into the Augustinian faiths.

Recently, I saw a post about a “FAIL” example, where a Pentecostal church sign said “God’s Love is unconditional as long as you are obeying Christ.” Then I saw two sides of comments. One group was of the Fromm influenced Protestants who were annoyed by the “extra condition” being added of obedience. Another group of comments pointed out the silliness of trying to salvage the term unconditional while admitting conditions are obvious, natural, and unavoidable in real love. Remember Romans 6:16- sin unto death, or obedience unto righteousness, 17: we obey from the heart that doctrine to which we committed. Or take John 3:16, where the condition is belief, etc. The Bible gives lots of conditions repeatedly, so trying to fit a psychoanalystic humanist term into Christianity will just cause confusion.unnamed

Next time you hear someone try to push “unconditional love” as Christian, challenge them on it, and let me know if they have any evidence that it predates Erich Fromm. If they do, let me know as I don’t want to say anything incorrect in calling him its founder.


How an Eye for an Eye Explains Jesus on Remarriage

August 22, 2017 at 11:57 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

One of the most misunderstood statements of Jesus is this. Matthew 5:38-39: “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, but I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.”

Occasionally you will hear people interpret “turn the other cheek” as a nullification of “an eye for an eye”. The gnostic (or semi-gnostic) position is that an eye for an eye is a cruel concept of a vengeful Hebrew God, that Jesus came to change.

However, this ignores that only a few verses prior, Jesus spelled out the hermeneutic or means to interpret his sermons and his life. In Matthew 5:17-18, “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.” 2 Peter 3:10 would further clarify this refers to an end of the world at least as apocalyptic as a nuclear apocalypse where the whole earth is burned with fire.

There are multiple attempts to redefine this, but in context to his audience, the most central interpretation is that Jesus is not altering the law, he is giving additional insightful applications of the law that his disciples must follow.

An “eye for an eye” was neither vengeful, nor part of the application of revenge. The Pharisees of Jesus time already had the correct interpretation, and so he did not correct them on it. The Biblical concept of the lex talonis was understood not merely as a limit to stop vengeance, but as the value of an eye for the value of an eye. Therefore, monetary compensation for injury was already well accepted by the Pharisees. Instead of Jesus correcting them he lays a principle of an edge case.

When Jesus commands his followers to turn the other cheek, he is addressing something just beyond the edge of the eye for an eye principle and keeping them from extrapolating it too far and incorrectly. In an eye for an eye or a tooth for a tooth, those are cases of permanent physical injuries that will not grow back. A slap on the cheek, whether literal or metaphorical as a verbal insult does not cause permanent injury. Jesus commands his followers in this de minimis case not covered by an eye for an eye to err on tolerance and not attempt to demand compensation. Thus, Jesus fulfills and completes the law by explaining edge cases, not by replacing universal principles of restitutionary justice found in the Law.

Then within the same sermon, with the same explicit rule of interpretation already given note one of the most historically challenging to Christians, where Jesus takes the hard line on marriage against the School of Hillel and with the School of Shammai. But most confusing to many sincere Christians was Jesus statement, in Matthew 5:32, “whoever marries a woman who is divorced commits adultery.” As commonly understood by many Christians, this seems to be an actual change verses the Torah which specifically allowed most remarriage. So is this merely an edge case?

However, if we acknowledge Jesus’ prefatory rule of interpretation, then reread the relevant marriage, divorce and remarriage rules in Deuteronomy 24:1-4. In context of Jesus’ rule of interpretation, note that inappropriate remarriage becomes the biggest issue in Deuteronomy, with a particular case as the only one very specifically pointed out as a horrible abomination. This is the special case of remarriage to a former wife after she has become another man’s wife.

Given that as a central context of Jesus’ rules, and that Jesus isn’t changing the law, then a primary difficulty of understanding Jesus can be cleared up. Jesus is not referring to any conceivable “whoever” in Matt. 5:32, he is referring to the specific antecedent “whoever” in Deuteronomy 24:3-4. A man cannot remarry a wife whom he divorced after she had then married another man.

This also shows why Jesus is not just siding with Shammai, he is explaining why Shammai is right about divorce requiring a major (sexual) transgression to be justified. It is this: If divorce for a trivial reason was acceptable, then it would not be such a horrible abomination to remarry a wife after such a trivial transgression. Thus Hillel is proven wrong about trivial divorce because Hillel’s position cannot explain remarriage to the same wife as such an abomination if the justification of divorce were a trivial fault.

Christians who failed to acknowledge the hermeneutic of Jesus have fallen into two or three camps: Those who take a simple and straightforward but Torah-ignorant meaning here, to prohibit any remarriage like Catholics, or those who cite other passages in the New Testament to clarify a few additional cases of allowed remarriage, or finally those who give up and assume it as an intended ideal not always met.

Similarly, those without Jesus’ hermeneutic have misunderstood how far to extrapolate “turn the other cheek,” and so wrongly think they must refuse to pursue compensation for permanent injury contrary to the restitutionary justice of “an eye for an eye.” Neither error would exist for any well thought out exposition of Jesus’ stance on the Law of Moses.

The Christian Argument Against The Pledge Of Allegiance

February 13, 2017 at 9:56 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

As a Christian, one of the most important limitations for public school participation is for our children to refuse participation in the Pledge of Allegiance. I wrote this as a means for them to explain, or if too young, to give a written copy to their teachers to explain why they will not participate in the Pledge. If any other Christian children happen to attend public school, the paragraphs below maybe be openly reprinted and useful to start, not merely a dialog, but an observable recognition by those inside or outside of any religion that observant Christians do not say the Pledge.

Observant Christians do not participate in idolatry, but in the case of the Pledge of Allegiance, people who call themselves Christian, but participate in the Pledge, try to claim that such action is not idolatry. This is written to explain why those who participate are in ignorance and error, and why those who are observant participants in the Christian religion do not participate.

The Pledge of Allegiance was written by Francis Bellamy in 1892. The ideas of it represent the movement he shared with his cousin, also a famous author of the socialist novel Looking Backwards, Edward Bellamy. The two of them were leaders of a movement in the United States called the nationalist movement, they also called it Christian socialism, industrial socialism, military socialism and organized into groups called Bellamy Clubs or Nationalist clubs. Their periodical was called Nationalism, and was one of the most influential in the nation and internationally at the turn of the century. As they represented nationalism and socialism, but presented a counterpoint to the international socialism of Karl Marx, their movement became the origin and foundation of the national socialism movement in the US and then many nations. The Bellamy’s created their pledge with a straight arm salute to the flag, one that is more recognized today due to association with the German national socialists. However, Germans only adopted it after the Bellamy’s created the straight armed national socialism salute to the US flag and spread it to other countries.

Some deceptive historians will directly associate the German straight arm salute as a supposed reference to an ancient Roman straight arm salute without acknowledging the Bellamy’s American national socialism movement as the direct and most immediate source in an attempt to obfuscate the direct ideological connection of German national socialism to the American Pledge of Allegiance. In 1942, the US Congress changed to straight arm salute to the flag to a hand over heart to obscure this history. The Bellamy’s likely adopted the straight arm salute to the flag based on a supposed Roman practice, but there is little doubt the Germans adopted it from the Bellamy’s national socialism, and not directly from ancient Romans.

Further, the Bellamy national socialism movement combined with other patriotic American movements including the equally Lincoln worshiping Birth of a Nation perspective on racism and the American Theosophy movement which included mysticism, Aryanism, and the swastika, all combined and accompanied American central planning industrialism, and President Wilson’s social Darwinist eugenics as a package, imported into Germany both before and especially after World War I.

But the reason Christians refuse to say the pledge is not merely because those who say it are fairly termed, in the modern abbreviation, nazis, deserved of every negative connotation implied upon them and their philosophy, but because they are also idolators.

Idols are, in the Christian and Jewish Bible, primarily, if not exclusively, symbols of governments. The US Code Title 36, Chapter 10, paragraph 176(j) states, “The flag represents a living country and is itself considered a living thing.” Therefore, the flag is an idol not just by common practice and tradition, but explicitly by law, and those who pledge to it are explicitly idolators. It has further been so, at the least, since the earlier of either the Bellamy pledge idolatry, or the US Flag Code, whichever was adopted first, or a common informal idolatry which likely proceeded the official, formal, and explicitly legal idolatry. Such is the historic nature of nation-states, always presenting patriotism/idolatry as a primary temptation to the people of God in the Bible as a means to reject their faith.

Even assuming the Pledge did not take the form of legally explicit idolatry, or represent the founding of national socialism, its actual content, of stating that a symbol of cloth, or a pagan Roman system called a republic, provides liberty or justice for all, is to obfuscate what it does not do with what it should at best allow by not stopping others from providing..To make such a deceptive obfuscation into an oath, expected of those below the age of accountability, should be rejected beyond the need for further erudition for those willing to study history, ethics, or religion.

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