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Right to Roam?

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Wheylous Posted: Mon, Jul 18 2011 3:37 AM

Hey, I'm new here, and I didn't find a better place to post this, so here it goes.

I was talking to my cousins about my libertarian views and they were skeptical on a lot of the points I made. They also had some interesting questions for me, one of which sort of stuck.

They asked me what would happen if somoene decided to buy up a circle of land around a city and deicded to forbid travel across his property, effectively sieging the city. And it doesn't have to be a city, it can be a village or even one person.

I realize that one answer could be "societal pressure would stop the attacker", but what if it doesn't? Furthermore, I believe that libertarianism is not about utilitarian arguments (does capitalism solve), but about moral and "inherent" ones (is capitalism inherent and natural).

Before clearly stating my question, a bit more about what I believe:

I subscribe to the ideas of "natural rights", or, as I prefer to call them, "rights inherent to our humanity". For example, right to contract, right to self-posession, and right to not be directly harmed (I have noticed that some of these exist already in the philosophical lingo of the forum, the non-agression axiom being an example).

So my question:

Do humans have some inherent right to roam the land, preventing or in some way deflecting the scenario described? I know this seems to clash with the right (?) to property...

This also brings up my unsettling question of whether we indeed have this inherent right to property and what dictates it, but I will leave that to another post.

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James replied on Mon, Jul 18 2011 3:54 AM

They asked me what would happen if somoene decided to buy up a circle of land around a city and deicded to forbid travel across his property, effectively sieging the city. And it doesn't have to be a city, it can be a village or even one person.

 
Only governments have done anything like this.  They are the only ones with the economic and military resources to enforce a claim of legitimacy over such an action.  Israel springs immediately to mind as a perfect example of exactly what is described here.
 
I think that there must always be a right to exclude others from your lawful property.  There may be a very good reason to exclude someone, might there not?  It may be appropriate to do essentially what you describe to a dangerous criminal.  You have to replace government with actual society and community.  One must ask the question, what sort of person would be allowed by their family and neighbours to be put into such a position?  And should such a decision be up to an imperial warlord/globalist bureaucrat in a far-off capitol rather than one's family and neighbours?
 
There are certain social prerequisites for a free society.  You can't just vote it in tomorrow at the ballot box.
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Hard Rain replied on Mon, Jul 18 2011 4:04 AM

One could still tunnel under or bridge over the property in question.

Dr. Block covers a lot of hypotheticals like this in his book: The Privatization of Roads and Highways.
 

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Wheylous replied on Mon, Jul 18 2011 4:11 AM

You have to replace government with actual society and community.  One must ask the question, what sort of person would be allowed by their family and neighbours to be put into such a position?  And should such a decision be up to an imperial warlord/globalist bureaucrat in a far-off capitol rather than one's family and neighbours?

I don't understand what you mean. I have heard that there are cases where private citizens have done this.

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James replied on Mon, Jul 18 2011 4:28 AM

I have heard of private individuals imprisoning others, but that's not quite the same thing...   Imprisoning someone is preventing them from leaving your property, which is clearly coercive.  It's not the same as the hypothetical surrounding of their property with your property, and then denying them entry to your property, thereby effectively imprisoning them without violating the NAP.  I think that's a hypothetical which might technically be possible, but really, it's so unlikely to be a problem for economic and social reasons that it's far less of a threat to liberty than the state.

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Wheylous replied on Mon, Jul 18 2011 4:37 AM

One could still tunnel under or bridge over the property in question.

That seems a bit excessive, especially if it is a small entity which is being encircled.

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Hard Rain replied on Mon, Jul 18 2011 4:53 AM

That seems a bit excessive, especially if it is a small entity which is being encircled.

Unlikely hypotheticals can be resolved with unlikely solutions ;-)

 

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MaikU replied on Mon, Jul 18 2011 5:09 AM

Hard Rain:

That seems a bit excessive, especially if it is a small entity which is being encircled.

Unlikely hypotheticals can be resolved with unlikely solutions ;-)

 

 

 

QFT!! I owe you a beer. Let me know when you be in Lithuania.

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(english is not my native language, sorry for grammar.)

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Hard Rain replied on Mon, Jul 18 2011 5:12 AM

QFT!! I owe you a beer. Let me know when you be in Lithuania.

Haha, I don't have any plans to be in Europe in the near future, but I'll hold you to that. Let me know if you're ever in Africa ;-)

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Wheylous replied on Mon, Jul 18 2011 5:42 AM

I don't find that satisfactory :P

There exist 2 scenarios:

1) when you own land, you own the airspace above it as well

2) you don't own that airspace

If 2 is correct, than the encircled person can build said bridge. BUT the person doing the encircling is just as entitled to build a box around the man in the middle. This doesn't seem right >.>

If 1 is correct, then the encircled person cannot build a bridge, effectively being imprisoned.

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DanielMuff replied on Mon, Jul 18 2011 12:59 PM

Wheylous:

Hey, I'm new here, and I didn't find a better place to post this, so here it goes.

I was talking to my cousins about my libertarian views and they were skeptical on a lot of the points I made. They also had some interesting questions for me, one of which sort of stuck.

They asked me what would happen if somoene decided to buy up a circle of land around a city and deicded to forbid travel across his property, effectively sieging the city. And it doesn't have to be a city, it can be a village or even one person.

I realize that one answer could be "societal pressure would stop the attacker", but what if it doesn't? Furthermore, I believe that libertarianism is not about utilitarian arguments (does capitalism solve), but about moral and "inherent" ones (is capitalism inherent and natural).

Before clearly stating my question, a bit more about what I believe:

I subscribe to the ideas of "natural rights", or, as I prefer to call them, "rights inherent to our humanity". For example, right to contract, right to self-posession, and right to not be directly harmed (I have noticed that some of these exist already in the philosophical lingo of the forum, the non-agression axiom being an example).

So my question:

Do humans have some inherent right to roam the land, preventing or in some way deflecting the scenario described? I know this seems to clash with the right (?) to property...

This also brings up my unsettling question of whether we indeed have this inherent right to property and what dictates it, but I will leave that to another post.

You have to ask yourself a lot of questions:

How did they guy get anywhere in the first place? Asssuming he didn't own a path that got him to wherever, he must have had to go someone else's property to do so. Maybe there was a contract that said "ya lets me cross yo property, and I pays ya a dollar." The point is: We need more info; and assuming you speak of a real-world scenario, then there would be more info than what you have provided.

To paraphrase Marc Faber: We're all doomed, but that doesn't mean that we can't make money in the process.
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Clayton replied on Mon, Jul 18 2011 1:38 PM

I think the more general question is this: can a society devoid of a monopolist of law and force prevent the emergence of a monopolist of law and force? I think the answer is that no one would care to prevent the emergence of a monopolist of law and force except one which attempted to exert jurisdiction upon themselves. Before society can rid itself of the State, it must first stop believing in the State. When people no longer believe in the State, I think it will be really tough going for anybody wanting to start one again. "You can take your tax racket and shove it" would be the response of most people to the attempt to build a State. A slight variation of this question is whether the rules of private property can be "gamed" to build a State while not appearing to break any private property rules. If it is possible, then such a State would not actually be aggressive, then, would it?

Finally, to answer your question directly: since people would have to have been travelling in and out of the town all along, the town residents can easily argue that they have easements along the paths they have customarily used for travel and trade. Even if one individual were to encircle the town and buy up all the property surrounding it, he would not have property rights over the easements themselves and the townpersons could continue to travel over those routes unimpeded.

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Wheylous replied on Mon, Jul 18 2011 1:57 PM

What gives people the property rights over easements?

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Clayton replied on Mon, Jul 18 2011 2:10 PM

The homesteading principle. The easement was being used before the land surrounding it was.

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Wheylous replied on Tue, Jul 19 2011 5:03 AM

Ah, the utility argument to acquiring private property (which is what my other thread was about). But arguably nomads crisscrossed the land for a while. Do all of those easements still have to be respected? Is private property really holey like swiss cheese due to easements?

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Clayton replied on Tue, Jul 19 2011 10:14 AM

Of course the natives retained their rights to use the land in the ways in which the had long been using it prior to European invasion. Unfortunately, they had not invented the gunpowder rifle or the advanced military techniques in its use, so they were hopelessly behind technologically and vulnerable to criminal expropriation without recourse.

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Autolykos replied on Tue, Jul 19 2011 7:45 PM

Apropos to Clayton's posts, there's also the notion of abandoment to be considered.

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First of all I think it is prudent to address the issue of how unlikely this is to happen. It would be extremely impractical for a single individual or group of voluntarily associated individuals to to obtain and maintain such a ring of property expressly for the purpose of screwing over the people inside it, especially if it is one of the larger scale examples you gave like a city or town. A corporation couldn't do it, there would be too many people within the company dissatisfied with the waste of resources and extremely negative PR rep. It would also be hard for a consumer class individual to accomplish this for the obvious reasons of the logistics of the matter. The main threat would be from rouge sadistic billionaires, looking for some entertainment. To this threat (however small it may be) I can think of two answers. Firstly: If the owner(s) of the land inside the ring were previously able to access their land it means one of two things a). they themselves own some land that leads out of the ring in which case this situation can be avoided, or b). they are paying one or more of the owners of the "ring land" for the privilege of traversing their property. If this is the case, I would suggest the owner(s) of the land inside the ring make part of their contract, the ring owner is not allowed to sell his property to anyone attempting to buy up the ring. If the ring owner is unwilling to provide this guarantee, the inside owner can take his business to other ring owners. Failing that, a somewhat less practical solution would be for him to find a way over/under the new ring owners monopoly. If there are other persons inhabiting the inside of the ring, he can then charge them to use his new method of traversing the ring, competing with the monopolizing ring owner.  Another problem faced by any would be ring monopolizer is  the issue that when the original owners of the ring find he is trying to buy them out, none of them will want to be first to sell because as other ring owners are bought out, there land becomes more valuable. 

I hope I have answered your question as this same concept has been used against me by a minarchist friend of mine.

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Wheylous replied on Wed, Jul 20 2011 12:22 PM

I would suggest the owner(s) of the land inside the ring make part of their contract, the ring owner is not allowed to sell his property to anyone attempting to buy up the ring

Well, this sort of relies on the belief of the existence of a ring. Instead, it could very well be some patchwork of properties, and someone happens to buy-up what appears to be a ring. You can't really make contracts with all the people who could form said ring... Well, you can... This is interesting...

Another interesting question is what happens if all land is bought up and you have new people added to the equation and no one wants them on their land. Do they just disappear in a puff of smoke? I know that this scenario is statistically unlikely and the market would likely solve, but what if it doesn't?

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Eric080 replied on Wed, Jul 20 2011 1:07 PM

I don't think using the line of, "but that would never happen!" is an adequate refutation of the scenario if you're going to be dealing in an absolutist, rights-based defense of libertarianism.  That would have more to do with a utilitarian/consequentialist evaluation of the scenario.  I agree that such a case would be unlikely and I believe that society at-large would not respect this man's private property because his ill-will is so evident.

 

On the other hand though, I don't think finding loopholes in an ethical system necessarily demolishes it.  If you follow the guideline as a rule of thumb, society could be better off.  I think most ethical systems are kind of ad hoc because it just serves to justify sentiments that either evolved or were conditioned to us by society.  Now that's not to say I think ethical systems are necessarily arbitrary (because I think it hearkens back to human psychology which is often uniform and means that what is good for one person is often good for another), but it basically just reduces to utility or satisfaction or what have you.

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Autolykos replied on Wed, Jul 20 2011 2:04 PM

Wheylous:
Well, this sort of relies on the belief of the existence of a ring. Instead, it could very well be some patchwork of properties, and someone happens to buy-up what appears to be a ring. You can't really make contracts with all the people who could form said ring... Well, you can... This is interesting...

An apparently hidden assumption in this land-ring example is that either all of the ways through the land-ring have also been bought up by its owner(s), or there is no way through the land-ring. In the former case, those who live inside the land-ring have already homesteaded a right-of-way through it. In the latter case, this raises the question of how anyone came to live inside the land-ring in the first place.

Wheylous:
Another interesting question is what happens if all land is bought up and you have new people added to the equation and no one wants them on their land. Do they just disappear in a puff of smoke? I know that this scenario is statistically unlikely and the market would likely solve, but what if it doesn't?

Then it doesn't.

My point is, the market is not guaranteed to be all things to all people. It won't magically serve you breakfast in bed or make you a millionaire. People who argue that the market is "flawed" because of this are committing the nirvana fallacy.

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Autolykos replied on Wed, Jul 20 2011 2:08 PM

Eric080:
I don't think using the line of, "but that would never happen!" is an adequate refutation of the scenario if you're going to be dealing in an absolutist, rights-based defense of libertarianism.  That would have more to do with a utilitarian/consequentialist evaluation of the scenario.  I agree that such a case would be unlikely and I believe that society at-large would not respect this man's private property because his ill-will is so evident.

One thing I like to remind people of is that things are already much worse in today's world. I've used this argument successfully with at least two other people.

Eric080:
On the other hand though, I don't think finding loopholes in an ethical system necessarily demolishes it.  If you follow the guideline as a rule of thumb, society could be better off.  I think most ethical systems are kind of ad hoc because it just serves to justify sentiments that either evolved or were conditioned to us by society.  Now that's not to say I think ethical systems are necessarily arbitrary (because I think it hearkens back to human psychology which is often uniform and means that what is good for one person is often good for another), but it basically just reduces to utility or satisfaction or what have you.

With regard to stateless societies, people make an argument from ignorance when they argue the following:

1. It can't be proven that [insert crazy hypothetical here] could never, ever happen in a stateless society.

2. Therefore, [insert crazy hypothetical here] is inevitable in a stateless society.

3. [Insert crazy hypothetical here] leads to government.

4. Given both 2 and 3, therefore, government is inevitable in a stateless society.

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I don't see this scenario as being unlikely at all. Imagine I own a plot of land which happens to sit right in the middle of of an area that some property developer wants to build a new estate on.

I can easily see how he/she might buy up all the land around me and effectively put me in a bind whereby selling up is the only real option for me.

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Autolykos replied on Wed, Jul 20 2011 2:31 PM

 

Again, you've presumably homesteaded a means of exit from your property onto one or more others' property. If the property developer prevents you from exercising this right-of-way, he's liable for it. There's an actual legal term for preventing someone from homesteading something, but I can't recall what it is.

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I guess this concept of homesteading would lead to the development of de-facto rights of way then?

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Autolykos replied on Wed, Jul 20 2011 2:36 PM

Yes, I think that's the idea. This also has historical precedent in various common-law systems (at the very least, those of the British Isles).

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Wheylous replied on Thu, Jul 21 2011 1:21 AM

I don't think using the line of, "but that would never happen!" is an adequate refutation of the scenario if you're going to be dealing in an absolutist, rights-based defense of libertarianism.  That would have more to do with a utilitarian/consequentialist evaluation of the scenario.

I could not have said it more perfectly.

Again, you've presumably homesteaded a means of exit from your property onto one or more others' property.

Hm, but we assume that there is some property which you are allowed on or have free reign on. Imagine that the only easement you have made, because you've led some weird life, is a 2 mile strip which doesn't exit the ring?

Other interesting questions spring up, such as the conditions for which we morally seem to need to find a way to help this encircled guy. If his property had all that he requires to survive and even thrive quite well, we wouldn't be having this argument. So the problem for us (or maybe it's just me) really seems to be that there aren't enough resources for the guy. But we are runnig under the assumption that no one has inherent rights to supplies... Interesting.

I guess this concept of homesteading would lead to the development of de-facto rights of way then?

Sort of like my question for "right-to-roam"? ... :D

I will post here more after I read up on homesteading and easements.

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Autolykos replied on Thu, Jul 21 2011 8:29 AM

Wheylous:
Hm, but we assume that there is some property which you are allowed on or have free reign on. Imagine that the only easement you have made, because you've led some weird life, is a 2 mile strip which doesn't exit the ring?

Other interesting questions spring up, such as the conditions for which we morally seem to need to find a way to help this encircled guy. If his property had all that he requires to survive and even thrive quite well, we wouldn't be having this argument. So the problem for us (or maybe it's just me) really seems to be that there aren't enough resources for the guy. But we are runnig under the assumption that no one has inherent rights to supplies... Interesting.

Did you happen to see these two posts of mine?

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