Propertarianism vs Libertarianism – Universally Descriptive vs Preferentially Prescriptive – But All Rights Remain Property Rights

Prescriptive vs Descriptive

There is a very great difference between rothbardian libertarianism as an aspirational philosophy ADVOCATING liberty, and Propertarianism as the correction and completion of praxeology as the science of human cooperation. Libertarianism is structured as advocacy: a NORMATIVE ETHIC. Propertarianism is structured as explanation: A DESCRIPTIVE ETHIC.

And that is the difference between libertarianism, and my attempt to reform libertarianism in Propertarianism. Or rather, merge libertarianism and conservatism into a single rational language, that unifies the libertarian emphasis on economy, with the conservative emphasis on norms. As a united attack on totalitarians who wish to restore rent seeking and free riding to the masses.

Conservatives are right on morality. They are the remnants of aristocratic egalitarianism. The explicit, universal ban on free-riding that occurred under the various forms of manorialism.

I am using the insights from the Dark Enlightenment (reactionary conservatives) to ground libertarianism (reduction of rights to property rights) in ratio-scientific rather than purely rational (deductive) terms.


My objectives are:

    1) To explain why Rothbardian libertarianism remains the philosophy of an insignificant minority, despite Hoppe’s solution to the problem of monopoly bureaucracy, and the reduction of all rights to property rights.

    2) To correct the definitions of property, ethics and morality, so that they have full explanatory power, rather than explanatory power over absolute private property. And in doing so provide a universal language fulfilling the promise of praxeology (calculation, incentives and action) and creating a universally commensurable grammar and terminology of ethics, morality and politics.

    3) In doing so to show that PROPERTARIANISM, when property is correctly defined, is fully explanatory for all human political behavior – whether or not individuals express a preference for LIBERTARIAN social orders.

    4) To offer alternative political solutions for cooperation between morally heterogeneous polities, building upon Hoppe’s insurance model, and possibly direct rather than representative democracy. I do not necessarily think that I am adding much more to Hoppe’s insight other than basing it upon ratio scientific argument explaining the totality of human moral codes, so that it is harder to refute those insights without exposing such actions as forms of theft.

    5) In this sense I hope to have completed the promise of libertarianism, by reducing all rights, all ethics and moral argument, and therefore all political arguments, to statements of property rights – and in doing so demonstrate the casual link between biologically necessary reproductive strategy, the structure of production, the structure of the family, the structure of moral codes, and the demand for different levels of intervention by the ‘state’.

    (These are pretty lofty ambitions. But I think I have done it. I can see the sculpture under the stone, I’m just carving away the excess at this point.)

I knew Hoppe had the answer the first time I heard him speak. The explanatory power when taken along with calculation and incentives was there: a necessary rather than arbitrary analysis of political orders. There was something subtly wrong with it. I only intuited that. But I have spent about fourteen years trying to identify an repair it for my more ratio-scientific generation.

In Propertarianism, I extend property to a UNIVERSAL DESCRIPTIVE ETHICS – those demonstrated by humans rather than NORMATIVE PRIVATE PROPERTY ETHICS that we have developed as a set of technologies for the suppression of various forms of free riding.

The Theory is “All Rights Are Reducible To Property Rights”

The theory is that ALL RIGHTS can be reduced to property rights. Even commons can be reduced to shares of individual property rights. Even norms can be reduced to property rights.

The NAP is an epistemic test of whether private property rights have been violated. It is an exceptional test. But that is the limit of it. One still needs a theory to test.

Property Rights: Cause or Consequence?

We can argue the construction of property from the bottom up as the prohibition of discounts, or from the top down, as advocacy of private property:

    1) If you prohibit all discounts, then you have private property.
    2) If you have private property, you may or may not have prohibited all discounts.

In this light, which I will show below, humans do not necessarily desire private property, but they universally demonstrate a distaste for discounts (cheating). As such, private property is the natural consequence of SUPPRESSING ALL CHEATING, and requiring earning of benefits.

This is a profound theoretical difference in understanding liberty:

The prohibition on all cheating among members of an extended family of common genetic interests, versus the advocacy of private property.

This may also explain why the mature societies closer to the fertile crescent are teh most inbred, and serve as a warning that liberty is an artifact of primitivism, and that low-trust, inbred familialism with a high demand for a strong state, is the norm into which all societies mature, unless freedom is constantly and vigilantly maintained.

The Fallacy of Crusoe’s Island

This thought experiment is backwards, and a common source of confusion in libertarian circles. Crusoe on his island, is surrounded by an impenetrable army, called ‘the sea’. So property is created by the force of the ocean. Just as argumentation is presupposed upon the presence of violence.

The ethical question is not what to do when one is upon an island,and property already has been created by the sea. The question is, how does one, on a plain, heavily populated by others, construct the institution of private property against the multitudes who would seek to appropriate it by all means of discounting possible?

By the organized application of violence. That is how.

The Crusoe argument is nonsensical. It presupposes what it attempts to demonstrate. It is true that once we assume property we can correctly deduce implications from that point. But argument and agreement are not the source of property itself. Violence is. Was. Forever will be.

The Construction of Property from a Prohibition on Discounts

This rule applies to all human societies whether all property is communal or all private.

Four Possible Actions:

    Axis 1 : Physical Action (force)
    Axis 2 : Verbal Action (negotiation)
    Axis 3 : Secrecy – Asymmetry Of Information(fraud/theft).
    Axis 4 : Denial of Cooperation (boycott).

Restated as Weapons of Influence
We humans have invented only four weapons of influence.

    Influence 1) Force – (Violence and Law)
    Influence 2) Remuneration – (Exchange and Commerce)
    Influence 3) Asymmetry of Information – Deception – (fraud)
    Influence 4) Exclusion – (Moral Rules and Boycotting)


We can use permutations of the above weapons of influence to extract DISCOUNTS.

Forms of Discount:

    1. Violence (asymmetry of force)
    2. Theft (asymmetry of control)
    3. Fraud (false information)
    4. Omission (Omitting information)
    5. Obscurantism (Obscuring information)
    6. Obstruction (Inhibiting someone else’s transaction)
    7. Externalization (externalizing costs of any transaction)
    8. Free Riding (using externalities for self benefit)
    9. Socializing Losses (externalization to commons)
    10. Privatizing Gains (appropriation of commons)
    11. Rent Seeking (organizational free riding)
    12. Corruption ( organized rent seeking)
    13. Conspiracy (organized indirect theft)
    14. Extortion (Organized direct theft)
    15. War (organized violence)


1. Several (Personal) Property
Personal property: “Things an individual has a Monopoly Of Control over the use of.”

    1. Physical Body
    2. Actions and Time
    3. Memories, Concepts and Identities: tools that enable us to plan and act. In the consumer economy this includes brands.
    4. Several Property: Those things we claim a monopoly of control over.

2. Interpersonal (Relationship) Property

Cooperative Property: “relationships with others and tools of relationships upon which we reciprocally depend.”

    1. Mates (access to sex/reproduction)
    2. Children (genetic reproduction)
    3. Familial Relations (security)
    4. Non-Familial Relations (utility)
    5. Consanguineous Relations (tribal and family ties)
    6. Racial property (racial ties)
    7. Organizational ties (work)
    8. Knowledge ties (skills, crafts)
    9. Status and Class (reputation)

3. Institutional (Community) Property

Institutional Property: “Those objects into which we have invested our forgone opportunities, our efforts, or our material assets, in order to aggregate capital from multiple individuals for mutual gain.”

    1. Informal (Normative) Institutions: Our norms: manners, ethics and morals. Informal institutional property is nearly impossible to quantify and price. The costs are subjective and consists of forgone opportunities.

    2. Formal (Procedural) Institutions: Our institutions: Religion (including the secular religion), Government, Laws. Formal institutional property is easy to price. costs are visible. And the productivity of the social order is at least marginally measurable.

4. Artificial Property

Artificial Property: “Can a group issue specific rights to members?” This topic is dependent, upon the ORIGIN of rights in the circumstance. If markets are made, then the shareholders of the market may create artificial property of any type that they desire. Including but not limited to:

    1. Shares in property: Recorded And Quantified Shareholder Property (claims for partial ownership)
    2. Monopoly Property such as intellectual property. (grants of monopoly within a geography)
    3. Trademarks and Brands (prohibitions on fraudulent transfers within a geography).

Questions on the Limits of Property Rights

1. Ownership of the market depends upon:

    i) “Markets Evolved” and regulation is a form of theft,
    ii) “Markets Were Created” and regulations by shareholders or their representatives are an expression of property rights. History tells us the latter.

2. Whether, we pay for our property rights by forgoing our opportunity for using violence, theft and fraud – or using any form of discount. If so, then by consequence, people pay for the norm of property – and in fact, pay for ALL norms. And as such, failing to observe norms is a theft from the shareholders of those norms.

5. Limits: On the limits of property rights (at what points one’s rights begin and end). For example, some would argue that the right to property is infinite regardless of the circumstances of others. Some would argue that property rights are a norm that is subject to limits at the extremes. So, for example, if I have gallons of water in a desert I cannot let the man before me die of thirst. Some would say I must simply give it to him. Others would argue that the man owes for the drink of water at a later date at market price, but that I cannot refuse to give it to him under this condition of duress simply because he currently lacks a means of payment. I support the latter position since it does not violate the principle of property it only presses my assets into a receivable. Otherwise I am profiting from suffering which is an involuntary transfer, not a voluntary exchange.

6. Temporality:
Whether property rights apply across time (after death), and across generations.

Trust (Velocity of transactions)

The NAP, as used in libertarian ideological discourse, suffers from the weakness of the low trust society, in that it relies entirely upon Ostracization to suppress various forms of fraud. The problem is that we cannot demonstrate that fraud is suppressed without the associated norms rules and laws that suppress it. Then market is demonstrably insufficient for the suppression of fraud, and certainly for the suppression of fraud by either omission or obfuscation.

The high trust, aristocratic egalitarian society of the northern Protestant west, relies on the ADDITION of these moral constraints to the NAP:

    a) Truth: Truthful statements
    b) Symmetry: Complete statements
    c) Warranty: proof of true and complete statements.
    d) Proof of Work : that one profits only from adding value (doing work).
    e) Externality: Other than by competition you may not externalize costs.

    a’) Respect property.
    b’) Speak the whole truth.
    c’) Your word is your warranty, and you will be held to it.
    d’) And you must actual do work not profit from misfortune.

These ethics arose because everyone in the area was closely related, and as such they obeyed family ethical biases, rather than adopting extra family ethical biases. This is why diversity only works for a short while, until power, signal and property structures can be coordinated using signals within the extended family group. Canada will only be politically “Canadian” for two more generations. And London and New York are already ‘post-anglo’ corporations rather than city-nations.

Descriptive High Trust Ethics of Northern Europeans

The intra-family system of outbred North Sea Europeans contains these rules:

    0) Private property
    1) Voluntary Exchange
    2) Symmetry and Warranty*
    3) Prohibition on Externality*
    4) Requirement for Value Added*
    5) Prohibition on familial Rents and Free Riding.
    6) Prohibition on Socialization of Losses and Privatization of Gains

These additional properties forbid the use of ‘cunning’ in exchange itself, and force all cunning in production, and distribution.

Furthermore in propertarianism, I have added political constraints on contracts (ad laws):

    7) Requirement for operational language (as a prevention for obscurantism. Which means propertarian language must be used for contracts and law)
    8) Requirement for Calculability ( prohibition on pooling and laundering – this is a complex topic.)
    9) The right of exclusion (ostracization).

These last three topics are the complex matters I have had to wrestle with in Propertarianism. Primarily as a defense against the Continentals, the Culture of Critique, the Postmoderns, and their philosophical heirs. All of whom have adopted the technique of obscurantism from monotheistic religion, and modernized it for advocacy of the state. Unfortunately, the Culture of Critique, Postmodernists, and the Continentals have mastered the art of obscurantism, and as such we must require operational language, and calculability of contracts, as does science, as a means of prohibiting use of obscurant language as means of obtaining discounts (theft).

High Trust Is A Prohibition On Discounts

These rules prohibit discounts. The only reason to eschew violence and engage in exchange is if ALL discounts are prohibited from the market, and therefore, by consequence, all improvements are in the construction and distribution of goods, and NOT in the verbal means of selling those goods.

As Such, All Conflict Is Pressed Into The Market

Not the market for words, but the market for goods and services. And since the only possible means of competing is innovation in production and distribution, then such societies will innovate in production and distribution faster than all others. So not only do such rules that place a prohibition on both violence, theft, and discounts foster peace and prosperity, it fosters innovation, and trust.

As Such,

    1. Property is the result of the partial suppression of discounts,
    2) Private property is the result of full suppression of discounts
    3) Trust is the RESULT of total Suppression of Discounts.

As Such, A Common Law System Can Function

Where a homogenous set of property rights exist, and *ALL* discounts are violations of property rights, demand for intervention is limited to disputes over property via common law courts. Without homogeneity of property rights, and wherever all discounts are not suppressed, then demand for the State increases, since commensurability of discounts is logically impossible. (This is profound if you grasp it.) In other words, under rothbardian ethics, the common law is not possible. Under aristocratic ethics, it is possible.

Any Science Requires Means of Commensurability

As such Propetarianism provides us with the previously unmet promise of praxeology by changing the theory of human behavior from a deductive a priori form of rationalism, to an empirically descriptive science of all human behavior whose units of measure are property, and whose truths and falsehoods are involuntary transfers via discounts.

Praxeology: Action, Property, Calculation and Incentives, supplies us with a science of human action, if we treat property as DESCRIPTIVE rather than NORMATIVE.

    1) Reason renders words and concepts commensurable.
    2) Numbers render countable objects commensurable
    3) Measurements render relations commensurable
    4) Physics renders physical causes commensurable.
    5) Money renders goods and services commensurable
    6) Property renders cooperation (ethics, morals, politics) commensurable


I am not interested in Criticizing Kinsella, Hoppe, the BHL’s or anyone else. I’d rather advance their agenda, because I advocate big-tent libertarianism, if only for the problem of accessibility of ideas to different quintiles. But myself, addressing my demographic, I’d rather advance liberty in ratio-scientific, rather than ratio-moral language. The prior generation of thinkers had to rely on rationalism and deduction to fight the intellectual and ideological battle with the socialists who were winning the population and the institutions.

But our generation does not NEED to rely on rationalism alone, and instead, can rely on evidence that, since about 1980, has been produced in volume; and at this point, overwhelmingly demonstrates that universalism, whether libertarian universalism or communal universalism, would be intolerable. And that micro-states catering to different moral codes is the only possible route to liberty for those of us who desire it. But that liberty is neither desirable or advantageous for the many, for whom collectivism, free riding and rent seeking are the only effective means of group competition.

I am not terribly concerned just yet whether my work is comprehensible or not, since until I have reduced it to a book, there isn’t enough of it in one place for anyone to criticize. On the other hand, it has taken prior writers on average about seven or eight years to put together a work of this nature, and I’m only half way through that time period.

As I state frequently, I make my philosophy in public and those that follow me tend to appreciate it – errors and all. I treat arguments in analytic philosophy as theories that must be tested. If I can construct an argument that I cannot defeat, then that is the best that I can do. And some of them succeed and others fail. Hopefully my book will contain only the successes.

I am too well aware of individuals using the terms ‘confused’ to criticize opposing propositions whose only failure is to conform to their structure of argument. I am not confused. I am struggling to articulate in existing language a counter-intuitive proposition, that morals are not available through introspection, any more than is the mind, even if the source of moral biases are scientifically identifiable as reproductive strategies. I have seen numerous criticism of ‘engineering thinking’, mostly of others, despite the fact that rationalists have, in their proximity to analogous religious argument, failed to grasp that most of the advancements in conservative thought are in fact coming from engineers, for the very reason, that unlike science, physics, macro economics, and philosophy, engineering must constantly reconcile demonstrated human behavior with scientific evidence and formulae. I would address this problem in both ‘departmental mathematics’ as well as Macro Economics as well as any branch outside of scientific philosophy here, but the truth is, that other than maybe Rod Long, I’m not sure any other reader could grasp it.

Further, Hoppe is not exactly an easy read. And if Hoppe is challenging go back to Bohm Bawerk, whose writing is nearly opaque with analogy. Clarity is a function of marketing and having clarity as a goal. The accessibility of an idea has nothing to do with whether an idea provides compact explanatory power and survives falsification. Rothbard is not challenging because he does not solve the hard problem of norms. Propertarianism does solve that problem. And I can reduce it to less than 10K words. It is the application of the principles, and the refutation of criticism that takes a book length work. I am struggling (at Hoppe’s criticism) to use extant language, and it is working, but I must make it increasingly compact, which is an art in itself.

We Must Understand That Rothbardian Ethics Have Failed

All of that prevarication aside, we must realize that we libertarians have not succeeded in affecting policy. We have given OTHER libertarians a common language, and label for our preference. We have united people with libertarian sentiments and intuitions under a common name, common ideology, and in rare circumstances, common philosophy. But we have been unable to affect policy. By contrast, the conservatives have affected the government, bringing it to a halt, merely by appealing to traditional morality – even against the economic interests of conservatives. They may only have managed to put up a resistance, and failed to implement new policy, but they correctly understood the moral code of western peoples, and ‘libertarians’ didn’t.

That is an empirical criticism. It is what it is. Evidence is evidence. Libertarianism can be demonstrated as a sentiment, a moral argument, a rational argument, an economic argument to utility, or a ratio-scientific argument about human nature. Ideologies make use of sentiments, religions of moral arguments, and political scientists make use of scientific evidence. If your libertarianism is ideological or religious in structure, then that is one thing. If it is rational that is another. If it is ratio-scientifically based, it is yet another. And mine is ratio-scientifically based. Philosophy in this context is just a means of reordering the objects and relations and values we attach to them prior to developing a system of measurement for them. But to reduce something to a science requires a means of commensurability and property, if defined as demonstrated, rather than defined as aspired to, provides us with a science of cooperation.

Criticizing the left is easy because most of what they do is demonstrate conspicuous consumption in an effort to gain cheap status signals, by spending other people’s money and flaunting disregard for norms. But libertarians, too often justly called ‘asperger-tarians’ are far too often enraptured by their self rewarding signal economy of self righteousness to grasp that liberty is demonstrably not desirable or advantageous for many. It is actually advantageous for those who do not desire liberty, that we exist as libertarians SOMEWHERE in the world, to innovate and compete, but not necessarily in the same geographic monopoly of arbitrary property rights, insured by the threat of violence. They cannot compete with us without organizing the equivalent of trade policy against us in exchange for access to their markets. It is not rational for them to expect us to. We insure ourselves with our competitiveness. They insure themselves as a collective by mutually sharing rents and free riding, and negotiating terms as a block. We may prefer otherwise, but to enact liberty upon those who do not desire it is to ask them to let us prey upon their uncompetitiveness.

Why Hoppe Is Right – On Everything

It is the monopoly of government and the state that forces us under the same insurer of both economic transactions and social insurance policy. When under federation in the swiss model of direct democracy, we could separate the functions of insurer of transactions (property rights) with insurer of life and limb (social programs.) In Hoppe’s model we hire our own insurers. These arguments are the same. He is right.

It is quite simple do demonstrate that while the Argumentation ethic is sufficient for deduction of all that Hoppe has deduced from it, it is not a CAUSAL argument.

If Hoppe’s insights are to survive the loading he has added and that his critics have added, and his critics are to be allayed, we must complete his work by transforming his insights from entirely rational to ratio-scientific arguments. I am doing that. My argument is that Hoppe, despite relying entirely on Argumentation Ethics, rather than the underlying causal properties that give rise to opportunities for argumentation, has correctly deduced everything – including his correct stance on immigration.

And that if we use the explanatory power of Propertarianism, we can further reduce not only all RIGHTS, but all human BEHAVIOR to statements of property and its voluntary or involuntary transfer. Because that reduction is the universal cause of all property rights in all cultures, in all circumstances, for all of mankind.

Therefore the difference between Hoppe’s analysis of what would be PREFERABLE for people with libertarian sentiments, and for Hayekian reasons of productive utility and wealth,

No one other than me, that I know of, is trying to convert Hoppe to ratio-scientific argument and prove that his deductions were correct, and that the criticisms of his Argumentation Ethics are erroneous in so far as that they are correct that Argumentation is not a cause. But incorrect in that argumentation is not sufficient for the purpose of deducing all that Hoppe has deduced from it.

(That this has escaped so many other philosophers is somewhat surprising to me.)

As such, what propertarianism does, is provide a universal language for exposing involuntary transfer (theft) and conducting commensurable arguments in all moral codes regardless of the portfolio of moral codes made use of by any polity.

Failures and Successes

Hayek did not correctly understand Mises’ arguments and tried to solve the problem of universal behavior using, what I would call ‘psychology’ and the properties of the mind. However, Mises was closer to the answer provided by Propertarianism with the Obverse of Economic Calculation, and its Reverse: Incentives. However, Mises again, out of necessity, attempted to create a rational and deductive science without integrating all forms of property, especially norms and human capital into his analysis. For this reason both Mises and Hayek despite being very close, failed to make the observation that it was not money or psychology or mind that all human behavior could be deduced from, but property in all its forms as humans actually demonstrably practice the discipline of property allocation and use.

Rothbard was very, very close. Unfortunately in his quest for a rigorous ideology and admonition of bureaucracy, he put forth an argument again, which discounted the high trust norms. Instead, arguing that the market would be sufficient to suppress the various subtle forms of theft. We all draw upon our ethical backgrounds. Me on my anglo imperialism, Hoppe on his Northern Germanic nationalism, and Rothbard on his Jewish diasporic tribalism. Without the knowledge of Propertarianism – that all behavior is reducible to property rights- we must rely on our intuitions. Even Weber and Durkheim came close but did not succeed in making Rothbard and Hoppe’s insights.

And if I do my work correctly, just as Rothbard solved the problem of normative institutions for homogenous diasporic tribes, and Hoppe the problem of formal institutions and normative institutions for homogenous landed nuclear families, I will solve the problem of rhetoric, commensurability, and institutions for entirely heterogeneous polities. In this sense we will have completed the promise of libertarianism, by reducing all rights, in fact, all ethics and moral argument, and therefore all political arguments, to statements of property rights, and in doing so demonstrate the casual link between biologically necessary reproductive strategy, the structure of the family, the structure of moral codes, and teh demand for different levels of intervention by the ‘state’.

The Ghetto vs The Aristocracy

This is the ethic of the high trust society, and the only society every to invent and employ liberty – the protestant west. It may be unclear that the Absolute Nuclear family is yet again another institution that forbids discounts. And that is why ANF families from northern european cultures prefer liberty, and NF and Traditional families from southern Europe prefer more of the state: because ANF Families suppress all free riding and NF and Traditional families do not.

ANF and property rights are eugenic and ostracizing. They are the rights of aristocratic egalitarians. The rights of those who can compete. Those that cannot compete do not seek those rights as they view free riding and rent seeking at the very least to be necessary for competitive survival.

That is all that there is to understand about politics.

Rothbardian’s NAP is the ethic of the ghetto. It is not the high trust ethic of the northern europeans, and certainly not a sufficient ethic to allow a low friction common law society to function without a strong state.

For this reason the NAP is insufficient AS A THEORY, and it is the reason for the failure of rothbardian, libertarian ethics to gain any acceptance in the population. The reason being, that it’s too low a bar. It does not prohibit discounts>

I will leave it to Kevin MacDonald to illustrate where Rothbard got these ideas from and why.

I was very frustrated with Rothbard originally, but now see him, as Hayek saw Mises, and as I see Hayek, as a participant in an intuitive culture which they lacked the scientific evidence to escape by comparative analysis.

Curt Doolittle
The Propertarian Institute

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