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KOL230 | Yale Political Union Debate: Resolved: IP Should Be Abolished!


Yale Political Union 2017Kinsella on Liberty Podcast, Episode 230.

This is my own audio recording of my debate on IP at the Yale Political Union (Facebook) on Tues., Dec. 5, 2017. My opponent was attorney Candice Cook. My initial argument begins at 0:04:40, followed by some Q&A, and my closing argument begins at 1:42:20. I can’t say I recommend listening to the comments of others, as none of my arguments were really addressed and the arguments given are pretty incoherent—the arguments for IP were rooted in confused utilitarianism and even the arguments against IP were mostly rooted in anti-property socialistic assumptions.

As expected, I lost the debate, by vote of the students, by a vote of about 2:1. Admittedly, it doesn’t sound too bad to get 1/3, when not even all libertarians have the right view on IP, but it’s worse than that: many of those who voted with me voted against IP for socialistic, anti-property reasons. Everyone is so confused about this topic. I knew this would be the case, I knew it would basically impossible, hopeless, to persuade mainstream left-socialistic types in a short talk of a radical position that rests upon having a sound view of property rights.

So I went ahead, giving up hope on the audience, and laid out a systematic argument against IP based the nature of human action, human interaction, and property rights. A systematic, if compressed, argument, that could possibly resonate with some open-minded people someday listening to the recording via this podcast.  Thus, my initial presentation was a very condensed (15-20 minutes) but very fundamental explanation of the nature of property rights and why intellectual property is totally incompatible with property rights. Even though I knew it would be a hard sell with Yale undergrads.

As can be heard from the “hissing” (their version of booing) whenever anything pro-private-property or capitalistic was mentioned, and from the comments of some of the student political group leaders, there was a good deal of explicit Marxism and socialism among the student. But it was fun nonetheless and they were very civil and respectful.

Video of the debate available here and embedded below.

(I spoke on IP before a smaller student group back in 2014—see KOL151 | Yale Speech: Balancing Intellectual Property Rights and Civil Liberties: A Libertarian Perspective.)


{ 4 comments… add one }
  • Dennis New December 9, 2017, 4:27 pm

    Unless stuff was cut out, this “debate” format is retarded… none of your arguments were addressed, and none of the other explicit socialists’ “arguments” were rebuffed. It was quite shocking to see the normalization of state interference in our lives, the appeal to emotion and subjective “privilege” and the blind derogation of profit from a supposed ivy-league institution.

    • Stephan Kinsella December 9, 2017, 10:28 pm

      Nothing was cut out. Just think of this as moot court or debate practice for undergrads. I didn’t do this expecting to persuade any of them (maybe to inspire a couple to research further, later, and who knows, maybe that happened)—but to talk to outsiders. That’s why I recorded it, and podcast it. The main thing I intend for outsiders to hear is my short speech and my concluding remarks. They can ignore everything else as it is basically worthless. I would never travel to give a talk anymore if I couldn’t record it to permit podcasting to the general public, because it would be wasted effort. That’s one reason I don’t get why other libertarian speakers will travel to events and don’t bother to ensure there is a recording made; are they doing it to stroke their egos, or for PR purposes? Because it’s rarely for money. Only some of the time are expenses even paid. And this is another reason I never wanted to be a teacher for the activist reasons “to turn students into libertarians.” First: the job of a professor is to teach a subject, not to try to propagandize his students with his pet normative views. Second, best case is, what, maybe “converting” one or two students a year? That’s piddling. Not enough candy for the nickel, as my dad would say. This is one reason I insist on having a recording of all interviews, discussions, podcasts, speeches, so that it can reach a potentially larger audience via a podcast.

      • Dennis New December 10, 2017, 4:02 pm

        The NAP isn’t a “pet normative view” — it is very worthy of being “propagandized” via truthful and logical argumentation. But anyways, I can’t stand the idea that Candice Cook (she’s not a student?) is out there spreading her evil nonsense — maybe you can get her to do a (polite) followup on your podcast, where she can’t simply talk about babies in bathtubs and amputations and other mindless clichés.

  • Brent Kingi December 9, 2017, 4:53 pm

    When Peter Schiff was making the case for abolishing minimum wage, he said to the crowd: “Maybe if you stopped hissing, you’d actually learn something.” I know it’s tradition and probably just a little fun but it doesn’t seem like a suitable environment for serious intellectual debate. But this is probably the first time any of these kids have even heard an argument for abolishing IP. Probably never questioned in once in their lives. Sadly the audience just asked the same utilitarian, who-would-pick–the-cotton-without-slaves questions.

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