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“Libertarians” Who Object to “Self-Ownership”


On self-ownership:

Franklin Harris:

“Libertarianism is simply self-ownership…” That’s just another way of saying libertarianism is incoherent. Ownership is a relationship between two or more things. You can’t own yourself because that’s not a relationship. Libertarian shorthand clouds more than it reveals.

You hear this dumb claim made all the time. As I wrote there:

When you hear people sniff at the NAP, you should hold onto your wallet–they are coming after it.

“Is there a need to reform taxes? Most certainly. Always and everywhere. You can always make a strong case against all forms of taxation and all tax codes and all mechanisms by which a privileged elite attempts to extract wealth from the population. And this is always the first step in any tax reform: get the public seething about the tax code, and do it by way of preparation for step two, which is the proposed replacement system.”Of course, this is the stage at which you need to hold onto your wallet.” —Lew Lew Rockwell

“Run for your life from any man who tells you that money is evil. That sentence is the leper’s bell of an approaching looter.” —Ayn Rand, “Francisco’s Money Speech“

The long thread contains interesting arguments about the non-aggression principle, Rothbard, and so on.

I’ve dealt with the “self-ownership is incoherent” objection many times. See What Libertarianism Is; How We Come To Own Ourselves; Correcting Some Common Libertarian Misconceptions (2011); Yeager and Other Letters Re Liberty article “Intellectual Property and Libertarianism”.

See also:

{ 2 comments… add one }
  • Dave July 19, 2022, 2:00 pm

    Did you reply to Reisenwitz? The comments on that post devolved into a long bout of bickering between Jason Brennan and various about whether Rothbard was great or third rate, and I did not have the patience to wait for Facebook to dredge up the beginning of the conversation.

    I was interested because I am on the border on this question. I like the NAP, but it gets abused by both adherents and critics. People often use the NAP in a sloppy way, and even in its most careful formulation, it depends on more fundamental concepts like property and aggression. And of course J.C. Lester would say those depend on the most fundamental concept for a libertarian, liberty.

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