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Aggression and Property Rights Plank in the Libertarian Party Platform

Adapted from my Facebook post:

The Libertarian Party’s 2022 convention, in Sparks (Reno) NV is over. It was an exhausting but interesting 3 full days. The Mises Caucus swept the LNC. I was also elected to serve on the Judicial Committee (see below). A few ad-hoc amendments to the LP Platform were made as well as a larger set of amendments recommended by the Platform Committee.

My main goal in joining the LP about 5 years ago was to have it field more principled, libertarian candidates and to have clearer, more principled libertarian messaging.

To that end I worked to help develop a definition of aggression and property rights to add to the Platform, since there the current LP Platform (https://www.lp.org/platform/) contained no clear definition of aggression or property rights or the relation between these two fundamental concepts. It is critical to include a clear, general statement to this effect to distinguish what makes the Libertarian perspective unique and to clarify our political principles.

So one of the amendments that we succeeded in passing was a revision of Art. 2.1 of the Platform. Two new paragraphs were added, as follows, with the additional text [in brackets and underlined]:

“2.1 [Aggression,] Property and Contract

[Aggression is the use, trespass against, or invasion of the borders of another person’s owned resource (property) without the owner’s consent; or the threat thereof. We oppose all acts of aggression as illegitimate and unjust, whether committed by private actors or the state.]

[Each person is the presumptive owner of his or her own body (self-ownership), which right may be forfeited only as a consequence of committing an act of aggression. Property rights in external, scarce resources are determined in accordance with the principles of original appropriation or homesteading (whereby a person becomes an owner of an unowned resource by first use and transformation), contract (whereby the owner consensually transfers ownership to another person), and rectification (whereby an owner’s property rights in certain resources are transferred to a victim of the owner’s tort, trespass, or aggression to compensate the victim).]

As respect for property rights is fundamental to maintaining a free and prosperous society, it follows that the freedom to contract to obtain, retain, profit from, manage, or dispose of one’s property must also be upheld. Libertarians would free property owners from government restrictions on their rights to control and enjoy their property, as long as their choices do not harm or infringe on the rights of others. Eminent domain, civil asset forfeiture, governmental limits on profits, governmental production mandates, and governmental controls on prices of goods and services (including wages, rents, and interest) are abridgements of such fundamental rights. For voluntary dealings among private entities, parties should be free to choose with whom they trade and set whatever trade terms are mutually agreeable.”

This is a clear and principled libertarian statement of aggression and property rights, and I’m glad we got it in the Platform!1 In my view, by implication this formulation of property rights acquisition rules implies intellectual property is unjust, implies anarchy (since the state always commits aggression),2 and also makes it clear that voluntary slavery contracts are unenforceable since body rights are inalienable.3

Incidentally, although the convention went with the version indicated above, there were other possible iterations considered, such as this shorter, more streamlined version (text to be added is underlined):

[Aggression is the initiation of force, or the threat thereof, against, or the unconsented-to use of, another person’s body or other owned resource (property) without his or her consent, including fraudulent takings of property. We oppose all acts of aggression as illegitimate and unjust, whether committed by private actors or the state, and all laws that commit aggression.

Property rights in external, scarce resources are determined in accordance with the principles of homesteading of unowned resources, contractual title transfer of owned resources, and restitution to compensate a victim of aggression.

As respect for property rights is fundamental to maintaining a free and prosperous society, it follows that the freedom to contract to obtain, retain, profit from, manage, or dispose of one’s property must also be upheld. Libertarians would free property owners from government restrictions on their rights to control and enjoy their property, as long as their choices do not harm or infringe on the rights of others. Laws or policies such as, but not limited to, eminent domain, civil asset forfeiture, governmental limits on profits, governmental production mandates, mandatory lockdowns of private businesses, government-granted monopoly privileges, and governmental controls on prices of goods and services (including wages, rents, and interest) are abridgements of such fundamental rights. For voluntary dealings among private entities, parties should be free to choose with whom they trade and set whatever trade terms are mutually agreeable.]

See also: Amend the LP Platform to Abolish IP!

My short speech when running for the JC:

The results announced:

  1. For elaboration of the basis for the property acquisition rules specified in the second sentence of the second paragraph, see Against Intellectual Property After Twenty Years: Looking Back and Looking Forward, n. [42] and accompanying text, including references such as: Kinsella, “How To Think About Property,” StephanKinsella.com (April 25, 2021); Kinsella, “The Limits of Libertarianism?: A Dissenting View” (citing Roderick Long and Robert Nozick); also idem, “KOL345 | Kinsella’s Libertarian “Constitution” or: State Constitutions vs. the Libertarian Private Law Code (PorcFest 2021),” Kinsella on Liberty Podcast (June 26, 2021); and “Nobody Owns Bitcoin,” StephanKinsella.com (April 21, 2021). See also Gary Chartier, Anarchy and Legal Order: Law and Politics for a Stateless Society (Cambridge, 2012), at 64–65, et seq., elaborating on the “baseline possessory rules” corresponding to original appropriation and contractual title transfer. Regarding transfers made for purposes of rectification, see Chartier, Anarchy and Legal Order, ch. 5, “Rectifying Injury,” esp. §II.C.2, and Kinsella, “A Libertarian Theory of Punishment and Rights,” Loy. L.A. L. Rev. vol. 30 (1997): 607-45, at §IV.B. []
  2. See What It Means To Be an Anarcho-Capitalist. []
  3. KOL004 | Interview with Walter Block on Voluntary Slavery and Inalienability; Thoughts on Walter Block on Voluntary Slavery, Alienability vs. Inalienability, Property and Contract, Rothbard and Evers; Batting about voluntary slavery; Slavery, Inalienability, Economics, and Ethics; A Libertarian Theory of Contract: Title Transfer, Binding Promises, and Inalienability; Inalienability and Punishment: A Reply to George Smith. []
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