Saturday, June 7, 2008

Another Double Standard Between Governments and Individuals?

So today was my first day at the Foundation for Economic Education, where I'll be interning over the summer, and I've already had some excellent debates; this is going to be a fantastic experience. Everyone seems really passionate and interesting, and I'm sure I'm going to learn a lot from everyone. I wanted to put one of the more controversial debate topics on my blog as a record, and to get the idea out to a wider audience. I've been toying around with the idea for a few days; I'm really curious to hear what other people think.

The idea is this: If we recognize private entities' claims to property titles as legitimate, even when they have a known history of violence and illegitimacy, then it's difficult to argue that currently existing governments are illegitimate for property rights-based reasons. Governments claim that we live in their territory, and their claims have roots that go back many generations. To claim that a government is not justified in enforcing rules in its territory is, effectively, to claim that the government is not the legitimate owner of that territory. But saying that, it seems to me, makes it very difficult to consistently argue that many (most, if not all) private property titles are legitimately held.

We had a bit of fun with this one at dinner, and I'm not completely sure what I think of it. Of course, everyone else at the table was not too comfortable with the idea, and it made for some lively debate. But nevertheless, I figured I'd post it here. Feel free to leave any comments; I'll be interested to hear what people think about this.

4 comments:

JEK said...

This post had triggered me an idea I was planning to write about for a while. My BA studies take too much of my free time. I'll post the whole thing in my Blog and post here the link to it.
The summary of my concept is actually the to coninue ideas from http://armchairpraxeologist.blogspot.com/2008/02/rise-and-fall-of-bibleic-anarchy.html to visit ideas of Bibleic Kingdom. If you are fluent with the Scriptures, you must remeber that ther is no such thing as Eminent Domain there!

JEK said...

Unfortunatly I was unable to ewxpand the argument into a full article. I'll run some general thoughts about it here. The double standard appears, historicly only from late middle-ages up. Before that, the ruler held power over the subjects, and the land was ruled thru them. The Feudal system wsas granting land to loyal vassals, but the rule over the land was only thru the vassals. It was a coomon proctice for land-holders to change sides. In that case, in oreder to regain the land the ruler had to take it by force, and install new loyal vassal.
Only later , with the davelopmet of absolutism, which moto was "The state is me" as proclaimed by Lou the XIV. Now the state ruled the land AND the people inhabit it.
My point is that enforcing laws has nothing to do with ownership of land. Land aquired by state thru war or trade, or different agreements. People aquired by state as part of the land BUT also by immigration.
"To claim that a government is not justified in enforcing rules in its territory is, effectively, to claim that the government is not the legitimate owner of that territory. But saying that, it seems to me, makes it very difficult to consistently argue that many (most, if not all) private property titles are legitimately held."
But what about enforcing rules upon it;s own citizens? I can make claim that I'm holding absolutely private property, wich is not theritory of a state A, but since I'm a sitisen of that given state, I'm a subject to it's laws, and It holds the right to enforce them upon me. In that case I solve the contradiction of land ownership.

Danny Shahar said...

Hello again, JEK. The idea that's presupposed in my post is that if someone else has the right to make decisions about a piece of property, then you cannot be the complete owner of the property. That is, if your land truly belonged to you and only you, then the government would have no right to tell you what to do on your land, any more than anyone else would.

This way of looking at the situation presumes that governments are no different than any other group of people in that they must not violate the rights of their citizens. So if I would not be justified in making enforceable rules for you to follow in your house, then that wouldn't change if I were voted into some office.

But if the government does own the land within its territory, it's a completely different story. Land owners are justified in making enforceable rules for their property. So in claiming that the state is illegitimate, people are implying that the state does not own the land in its territory. My point was that it's somewhat unclear how one could say that while also maintaining that land is legitimately owned by private individuals, in light of the history of violence and coercion which characterizes those titles as well.

JEK said...

Thats the deal in Israel. There are almost no private land here, and all householders hold a contract with Israeli Land Authority (Minhal Mekarkei Israel) as long term leasers. This makes all eminent-domain kind pracitce relatively easy.
Now I'll try to rephrase my claim. The ability of the goverment to issue orders for people is not connected to property, but to citisenship. Let say you are ordered not to go to Iran. But you travel to Uzbekistan, and cross the border southwards. Now you broke the law, even if the event happened not on american privatly/ or not so privatly own land.

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