An Example Refuting Hoppe: The “Right to Value”


[A]ll property must represent value to its owner or the statement ‘own’ has little sense.

–“a common mistaken belief is that one has a property right in the value, as opposed to the physical integrity of, one’s property.”–

Correctly stated:

Others cannot promise you that the value of any property will remain constant. However, likewise, they *CAN* promise you that they will take no criminal (physical), unethical, immoral or conspiratorial action to damage that value or transfer that value to themselves.

–“the basis of many fallacious notions of property rights, such as the idea that there is a right to a reputation because it can have value.”–

This is unclear at best, false under scrutiny. I can, and do value my reputation; and my reputation demonstrably has value to me and to others. But that is not to say that I can control that reputation – it is information. Only that I may act to claim restitution for the use of false statements in the actions of defamation, libel and slander. Just as I cannot claim to control the market price of an asset, but I can act to protect against others damage to it.

–“According to this understanding of private property,”–

That statement contains no truth proposition. It posits a straw man as a means of criticism. This is a marxist technique developed in the art of deceptive argument we call “Critique”. The author posits a straw man as a vehicle for criticism of an opposing position rather than defending one’s proposition as incontrovertibly true. (See Rockwell’s most recent book which promises an hypothesis but never delivers, just consists of chapter after chapter of critique.)

–“property ownership means the exclusive control of a particular person over specific physical objects and spaces.”–
—“property rights invasion means the uninvited physical damage or diminution of things and territories owned by other persons.”–

There is no evidence of this anywhere in the world. Humans demonstrate universally that they consider the following categories of relations their property: physical and mental, kin, allies and useful relations, and private property, corporeal property, common property, and normative property.

So to state that any definition of property is other than those demonstrated by man requires that we define some utility – some purpose, for which we select some subset of demonstrated property to be enforced by consent (under law); or even that some subset of demonstrated property is only possible to enforce by consent under law. But we cannot without dishonesty state that the definition of property is other than that which is demonstrated by man to be evidentially categorized as property.

As for the entire paragraph:

–“According to this understanding … …complete ignorance of others’ subjective valuations.”–

It is difficult to tell if this is a disingenuous argument, an incomplete argument, or a mistaken argument. Why?

Let’s start with what humans demonstrate to be non-parasitic beneficial cooperation: the prevention of imposed costs (what term free-riding) expressed as the requirements for: (a) Productive, (b) Fully informed, (c) Warrantied, (d) Voluntary Exchange free of (e) Negative Externality.

In various polities, one or more of these attributes can be violated for the purpose of practical expediency. The less conformity to these properties the lower the trust and slower the economic velocity, and the greater conformity the higher the trust and higher economic velocity. And this is in fact what we see.

Now, why do people tolerate competition on price, when competition on price causes losses? Well, they don’t. In fact, it was very hard to break natural ‘price’ cartels, and in many agrarian cultures the trend persists. Humans naturally seem to tolerate competition on quality but not on price.

Early market owners understood by practice what we have learned through the study of economics: that competition forces positive incentives to innovate, which rewards all consumers while increasing stress on producers. Just as we have learned that suppression of unethical and immoral activity increases trust.

So, now lets look at Hoppe’s argument: he talks about the market effects that we cannot control, and that we had to learn are positive consequences of what we may intuit as unethical and immoral.

But he falsely categorizes ALL activity under the EXCEPTION of competition – which produces beneficial externalities, instead of under the RULE of the prevention of free riding – which we evolved as cooperative organisms to prevent negative actions and externalities. He conflates the minor exception with the major rule.

So his argument is either dishonest or false: just because we cannot control and do not want to control prices, does not mean that we cannot control and do not want to control criminal, immoral, and unethical actions, particularly those actions which impose costs upon one another.

Just as we bear a cost by forgoing opportunities for personal gain by engaging in criminal, unethical, immoral and conspiratorial behavior, and in doing so we construct property rights, we bear the cost of forgoing opportunities for prosecution of competition on prices in order to create the normative incentive, and the consumer economy.

As such, price competition is the exception to moral intuition, not the rule from which moral intuition can be deduced.


Furthermore, since prices are the exception to the prohibition on parasitism necessary for the rational formation of cooperation and the abandonment of violence in exchange for the benefits of trade, then all other non-price, non-production assets retain their prohibition on criminal, ethical, moral, and conspiratorial actions that cause the involuntary imposition of costs; and therefore the use of violence for the purpose of punishment and restoration is categorically ethical, moral, and rational. Because cooperation is not logical or in one’s interest, and violence is useful and necessary preference in order to prevent parasitism.

The virtue of suppression of criminal, unethical, immoral, and conspiratorial imposition of costs other than those conducted under the constraints of productive, fully informed, warrantied, voluntary, exchange, is that individuals are forced exclusively into productive activity rather than parasitism. Whether that parasitism be physical, deceptive, indirect, or conspiratorial.

By contrast, Rothbardian ethics, argue for the expressed legalization of unethical, immoral, conspiratorial parasitism, because such moral rules, embodied in law, by logical necessity, legalize and prohibit retaliation for unproductive, unethical, immoral, conspiratorial, actions.

Quod erat demonstrandum.

Curt Doolittle
The Propertarian Institute
Kiev Ukraine
December 2014

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