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Van Dun on Freedom versus Property and Hostile Encirclement

The recently-published Hoppe festschrift, Property, Freedom, and Society: Essays in Honor of Hans-Hermann Hoppe, contains many articles of interesting to Austrians and libertarians. A particularly fascinating one is Chapter 23, Frank van Dun‘s “Freedom and Property: Where They Conflict.” Van Dun argues against the idea of freedom as property, on the grounds that, if freedom is the supreme libertarian value, then it trumps property rights in some cases where it could be used to limit freedom. He gives the example of “hostile encirclement,” where someone is surrounded on his own land, thus turning it into a type of prison. While I have some disagreements with Van Dun’s conclusions, it is a provocative piece.

Interestingly, Walter Block presents a sort of flip-side of this argument. See my post The Blockean Proviso and also Roderick Long’s post Easy Rider and the comments thereto, discussing Block’s “forestalling” view that someone who homesteads land that “encircles” unowned land must grant an easement to permit potential homesteaders access the unowned property. Van Dun thinks “encirclement” that limits the “freedom” of someone trapped inside the circle, on their own land, is unlibertarian even the encirclement is done consistent with property rights; Block thinks “encirclement” is unlibertarian if it prevents others from homesteading the unowned resource. (See my comments to Long here (and here) for an explanation of how the civil law handles the type of encirclement that concerns van Dun.)

[Cross-posted at Mises blog]

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