Proudhon’s Crusoe Presents A False Moral Dilemma

In reference to What is Property? Dual Meanings from Punk Johnny Cash at Gonzo Times, where the author uses the artificial moral dilemma put forth by Proudhon, where a castaway arrives upon a Robinson Crusoe island and is left to die because there are not enough resources to keep two men alive.

Crusoe’s Single Man On An Island problem is a reductio argument. It is a false moral dilemma. It is an argument to extremes. Property is an argument to norms, not extremens.

In almost all most cases, an additional hand will dramatically increase production, so that the productivity of two is higher than the productivity of one. That’s why we have a division of labor. Because more hands make light work, we like increases in populations. because there is no way for any individual to know the limit of the land within some geography that is much more complex than a small island, the institution of property allows us to tell whether we can breed or not, based upon whether we can afford to support our offspring or not. That’s what property, money and prices do for us.

A more accurate example, is that there are many islands, and each island has evenly distributed spaces on it occupied by an individual. And that each increase in population means less space for others. If the land has a productive limit (all land does) then you have a maximum population. That is why there was an Irish Potato Famine. Irish land is capable of supporting one or two people per acre. Except that is, if you plant potatoes. So the peasants bred up to over a dozen people per acre, and when the blight arrived, they died in vast numbers because there was no substitute.

Property exists to regulate our behavior – including our breeding behavior. The fact that industrial productivity is so much higher, and the fact that our ability to capture and make use of hydrocarbons is so prolific, that we have been able to multiple the world population by six in over the past century, does not mask the reality, that we must at some point have productive land and resources, and a means by which we cooperate, plan and produce using the scarce resources at our disposal.

When someone breeds what they cannot support, they then steal by the most stealthy means possible, from everyone else who IS regulating their behavior. We already know that impulsivity among the less intelligent is an exceptional breeding strategy. That’s why the fertility of the proletariat tends to chase the productivity of the productive.

The only time that there is a conflict over property is when fertility exceeds productivity of the resources available. The real question is, why did the proletarian’s parents breed a child who could be kept off Crusoe’s island, when they were unable to provide for him? The only questions of property that arise are due to the excess of human population over the productivity of the technology at hand. Property is malthusian. At some point, on any bit of land, the productivity is no longer capable of supporting additional population without tradeoffs in deaths. Our vast population booms are due to increases in the productive technology that we make use of. Our impoverishment is due to a lack of property rights: that is, that those who breed but are unproductive, are stealing from those who breed but are productive.

In that sense, anti-propertarians are saying that the first right is the right to bring children into the world. Property, like money, and prices, is part of an information system by which we regulate our actions. And those societies that do not regulate them, are impoverished. Those societies that have poor property definitions, poor cultural contracts, and poor institutions for calculating the use of resources, remain poor.

That is the most likely reason why colder populations have higher IQ’s – the environment is more hostile to the fringe’s breeding.

What we have done since the beginning of the 20th century, is to subsidize overbreeding by the unproductive.

We have exchanged property rights which limit overpopulation for birthrights at the expense of property rights.

Why is it that it is acceptable to ask one set of people to do with less, so that others may breed? Why is that a moral position? Isn’t that the whole reason we have the problems of exploitation and over consumption that the left so often rails about?

Why is it immoral to require that people have the economic means of supporting children, before they can bear them? That’s the right question. Not whether we should respect property rights.

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