Towards a Proprietary
Theory of Justice

by Carl Watner (1976)


Preface - My Intellectual Debts

Libertarians, as we shall see, are simply people who have no faith in government. At one time I, too had faith in statism. However, I was led by an inquiring bent of mind to question the established dogma.

To my Father, who, unfortunately, was not as true to his own principles as he might have been, I owe the expression:

"Never assume anything." He understood and respected the dominance of the facts. He never told me, but in all his actions he implied that "Proof is the fundamental respect you owe yourself."

My introduction to Ayn Rand was through my Mother. My discovery of Ludwig von Mises and the Austrian school of economists, as well as a whole host of other theorists espousing limited government, anarchism, and libertarianism has led me to the present writing.

Dr. Otto Bird's work, The Idea of Justice, suggested the expression: "the Proprietary theory of justice".[1]

Above all else, I owe Murray Rothbard and his writings an expression of gratitude for serving as the foundation of much that is presented herein.

Principium est potissima pars cujusque rei.

The beginning is the most powerful part of a thing.

The Libertarian Manifesto

The libertarian creed holds two axioms as primary:

  1. The Self-Ownership Axiom - The absolute right of each person by virtue of his or her being a human being to own his or her own body and mind; that is, to control that body and mind free of coercive interference.[2]
  2. The Homesteading Axiom - The absolute right of each person, by virtue of his or her owning his or her own labor, to own previously unused natural resources, which he or she is the first to claim and transform by that labor.[3]

From these axioms flow the following corollaries:

  1. Non-aggression - No person or group of people has the right to initiate physical force or its threat against the person or rightfully owned property of another. The only legitimate use of force or its threat is in self-defense of one's person or justly owned property.[4]
  2. Free Exchange and Freedom of Contract - By virtue of the Homesteading Axiom, once a piece of property has passed into just ownership, then the owner has the absolute right to sell, bequest, trade, abuse, or destroy his property. The principle of property is the principle of one's personal ownership, control, and total dominion of and over any thing.[5]
  3. Anarchistic Voluntaryism - Anarchism is the doctrine that the State should be abolished and that all the affairs of men should be carried on by individuals or their voluntary associations.[6] "Nothing should be done to anyone without his or her consent, except for the just punishment of criminals who have already violated consent, the person or property of their victims."[7]
Sic utere tuo ut alienum non laedas.

So use your own as not to injure another's property.

The Libertarian Axioms

An axiom is a statement that defeats its opponents by the fact that they have to accept it and use it in the process of any attempt to deny it.[8]

  1. The Self-Ownership Axiom - Each human being forms with his or her own body and mind a separate entity; that is, each human being has a separate existence from all other persons. It is absurd to postulate that a person may not own him or her own self, yet may own or own in conjunction with others some one else. All men and women are self-owners; otherwise there would be a class of human beings excluded from the rights of human beings, which in itself would be contradictory. The only logical conclusion is that human beings belong to themselves and not to others. To deny self-ownership of each person in his or her own mind and body would be to deprive such persons of the control over the direction of their life-sustaining activities, which would be in effect a denial of their right to live at all based on their own efforts.[9]
  2. The Homesteading Axiom - "First ownership by the first user" fully expresses the import of the homesteading axiom.[10]
    The natural wealth of the world belongs to those who first take possession of it. There is no limit to the amount of property one may acquire simply by taking possession of natural wealth not already possessed, except the limit fixed by the power or ability of one to take such possession without doing violence to the person or property of others. The only way the wealth of nature can be made useful to mankind is by their taking possession of it individually and thus making it private property. A man must take possession of the natural fruits of the earth and thus make them his property before he can apply them to the sustenance of his body. If the first appropriator have no right to take possession of the earth or its fruits, for the supply of his wants, then the second, third, and fourth comers, etc., can certainly have no such right either. The doctrine, therefore, that the first comer has no natural right to take possession of the wealth of nature, make it his property, and apply it to his own uses is a doctrine that would doom the entire human race to starvation, while all the wealth of nature remained unused and unenjoyed around them. Once a man has taken possession of the natural wealth of the earth, it is his by an additional right, such as no other person can have. He has bestowed his labor upon it - the labor at least of taking it into his possession. That labor, regardless of how trifling it may be, is more than any other person has bestowed upon it. And it is enough that it was this man's labor, and no other man's.[11]

    Possession and ownership by the "first user" implies the demarcation of boundaries and the mixing of labor with the resource in question. In the case of virgin land, one would have to make boundary markings as well as use the land in some way, such as through cultivation, clearing or transforming the land in some fashion. Any attempt to claim an unowned resource that one had not actually appropriated or used would have to be considered invasive of the property right of the actual first user. However, there is no requirement that a resource continue to be used in order for it to remain a man's property. Once a man has marked the boundaries and mixed his labor with an unowned resource it remains his or his assigns' forever regardless of what use they put it to (which includes leaving it remain idle) after a just ownership has been established.

    Vim vi repellere omnes leges omnique jura permuttant.

    Self-defense is permitted by all legal systems.

    The Libertarian Corollaries

    1. Non-Aggression - Invasive action is the threat of, or actual use of force to take away another's personal freedom or property without his consent.[12] One of the basic premises of the libertarian doctrine is that it is illegitimate to engage in aggression against nonaggressors.[13] 'No aggression against non-aggressors' is the libertarian watchword. Libertarians condemn the use of violence or the practice of fraud (a type of invasive action) against the non-violent or non-fraudulent person or his property. It is only the acts of physical violence, such as that which takes place in murder, rape, robbery, and the unauthorized use of another's property, such as that which takes place in embezzlement or fraud, that violates another man's rights. Refraining from the initiation of violence and fraud must be considered a fundamental law of morality and justice. Violence and fraud, however, may be used in self defense of person or property, when one has been threatened or actually attacked, or fraudulently deprived of one's property. Violence or fraud used in self-defense is protective and reparative. Self-defensive force and self-defensive fraud seek, first of all, to inhibit the use of aggressive violence; and then to obtain reparation for damages done to person and property from those who first engaged in aggressive violence or initiated fraud. It is important to understand that acts of violence or fraud in self-defense are not considered invasive.
    2. Free Exchange and Freedom of Contract - Freedom is a condition in which a person's ownership rights in his own body and his legitimate material property are not invaded, that is, not aggressed against.[14] A man who steals another's property is invading and restricting the victim's freedom as does the man who beats another man over his head.[15] From the self-ownership and homesteading axioms comes the right to private property-from which stems the justification for free exchange and freedom of contract. If a man owns anything, he has the right to do with it as he pleases - to sell it, give it away, to exchange it, or to destroy it, if he so chooses. Should he decide to give it away as a gift or to exchange it, then the person who has received it as a gift or in trade has absolute title in it. And this new title derives from the prior owner's just title.
    3. Anarchistic Voluntaryism - Anarchism is the doctrine that all government should be abolished. All governments exhibit at least two aggressive and, therefore, criminal features. First, government obtain their revenues by means of taxation; that is, by compulsory levies. Second, all governments presume to establish a compulsory monopoly of defense services (police, courts, and law code) over some geographical area.[16] Threats of force, property confiscation, or imprisonment await one who does not 'voluntarily' pay his taxes. Even if government were voluntarily financed, their second, aggressive feature would still remain. Thus, individual property owners who would prefer not to subscribe at all or to subscribe to another defense company within that area would not be permitted to do so.

      Voluntaryism is the doctrine that the sovereignty of the individual must remain intact, except where the individual coerced has aggressed upon the sovereignty of another unaggressive individual.[17] No person is entitled to resort to violence to achieve his ends. Actually the resort to violence is a confession of imbecility. He who employs force against me, only does so because he could not persuade me to his purpose by reasonable arguments.[18] Both in logic and epistemology there exists a bias against the resort to violence. Truth simply has a power that cannot be touched by physical force.[19]
    Non omne guod licet honestum est.

    A thing may be lawful, although it is not
    honorable, correct, and commendable.

    The Ethics of Non-Aggression

    Relations and exchanges among people can take place only on the basis of voluntary dealings or under the coercion of violence or its threat (which includes fraud). There is no third way.[20] People engage in voluntary relations or trade with one another because they think that some benefit may be derived. Since every uncoerced exchange demonstrates a unanimity of benefit for both parties concerned, the free market benefits all its participants. Although people may err in their ex ante expectations, the free market paves the way for the maximization of the social utility of the participants.[21] No act of government interference with exchanges can ever increase social utility. Some one must suffer from government interference with voluntary exchanges.

    In a truly libertarian society, the only impermissible activity would be the initiation of violence or its threat, and the practice of fraud. All other activities would be permissible because they would violate no one's rights. Within the personal sphere, a person may consider certain activities quite reprehensible; for example, lying, breaking engagements, or being generally discourteous.[22] A person may not approve of or participate in this type of behavior, but so long as such activities are not invasive they cannot rightfully be deemed impermissible. In the libertarian society behavior and actions may be categorized as follows: an activity may be invasive and therefore it is impermissible; or an activity may be noninvasive in which case it is always permissible. In the libertarian society each person would have the personal responsibility to determine whether a non-invasive action (and therefore always permissible) was morally acceptable or morally unacceptable to him or her self.

    The statist society obliterates all recognition of the libertarian principle of non-aggression. In the statist context, what is permitted, i. E., legal, is determined by the government. Often non-invasive activities are outlawed by governments. Even more frequently, invasive acts are legalized. Since all government is based on the twin vices of compulsory taxation and compulsory monopolization of defense services, all acts of government are coercive. Regardless of the labels of legality placed on certain acts and regardless of whether these acts are performed by government employees or private individuals, nothing that is done in violation of the basic libertarian axioms and corollaries, i. E., nothing invasive of person or property, can either be 'legal, permissible, or moral'. The libertarian judges all individuals and groups of persons - whether they be private or government-by the same uncompromising standard of aggression or nonaggression.

    It is important to understand why we do not become criminals or engage in criminal activities. It is not because governments label these activities as illegal and, therefore, criminal. Rather we refuse to become robbers and thieves because by so doing we would become invaders of person and property. The fundamental respect of libertarians is addressed to selfownership, homesteading, and non-aggression. For the libertarian in a statist society, these criteria become the touchstone of civil obedience or civil disobedience. No act of government can ever justify an invasive act. In the libertarian context, no act of government is permissible or moral. As we have seen, it would itself be an invasion of the no-inyasive individual to compel him to pay for or suffer a protection against invasion that he has not asked for and does not desire.[23]

    Justitia est constans et perpetua voluntas jus suum cuique tribuendi.

    Justice is a steady and unceasing disposition to render to every man his due.

    Justice: A Negative Precept[24]

    In his essay on Natural Justice, Lysander Spooner, the 19th Century constitutional lawyer and individualist-anarchist, stated that it is the science of justice which alone can tell us on what conditions mankind can live in peace:

    "These conditions are simply these: viz., first, that each man shall do towards every other, all that justice requires him to do; as, for example, that he shall pay his debts, that he shall return borrowed or stolen property to its owner, and that he shall make reparation for any injury he may have done to the person or property of another.

    "The second condition is, that each man shall abstain from doing to another, anything which justice forbids him to do; as, for example, that he shall abstain from committing theft, robbery, arson, murder, or any other crime against the person or property of another.

    So long as these conditions are fulfilled, men are at peace, and ought to remain at peace, with each other. But when either of these conditions is violated, men are at war. And they must necessarily remain at war until justice is reestablished.

    Through all time, so far as history informs us, wherever mankind have. Attempted to live in peace with each other, both the natural instincts, and the collective wisdom of the human race, have acknowledged and prescribed, as an indispensable condition, obedience to this one only universal obligation: viz., that each should live honestly towards every other.

    The ancient maxim makes the sum of a man's legal [by "legal' Spooner was referring to the obligations of justice] duty to his fellow men to be simply this: "To live honestly, to hurt no one, and to give to every one his due'.[25]

    Justice, which Spooner describes in its original natural law sense, is a negative duty. It consists in doing no harm to others and implies no positive or special obligations of benevolence or charity towards others.[26] Nothing is due to a man in strict justice but what is his own.[27] Perhaps a man may have an ethical or moral duty towards helping others; either their merits or sufferings may reasonably lead them to expect something from him which is not strictly their own. " As Spooner adds, "Man, no doubt, owes many other moral duties to his fellow men; such as to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless, care for the sick, protect the defenseless, assist the weak, and enlighten the ignorant. But these are simply moral duties, of which each man must be his own judge, in each particular case, as to whether, and how, and how far, he can, or will, perform them.[28] The essential point - however we regard these duties-is that they arise not from a strict sense of justice, but only from our own, personally chosen ethical posture towards others. No one has the right to demand these moral duties from us.

    For the libertarian, justice can only be negative, can only prohibit aggressive and criminal acts by one person upon another. Justice does not compel positive acts regardless of how praiseworthy or even necessary such actions may be. It cannot be emphasized too strongly that there is a whole host of moral rights and duties which are properly beyond the province of justice.[29]

    Justice and Morality

    Perhaps the distinction between morality and justice has never been set forth more clearly than by Walter Block in his discussion of lying and fraud:

    Lying violates no libertarian principle. Certainly we can lie to a thief who demands to know where our money is. ...

    Even if asked what time it is, there is no libertarian principle that says we cannot lie. Remember, [we are] operating under the libertarian principle that forbids force and fraud against persons or property; a principle whose sole purpose is to answer the question: When may force be legitimately employed? and answers-Only when force or fraud were used previously.

    Now it may not be nice [or in the opinion of somemoral] to lie, it may not be admirable. The person we give the wrong time to may get into all sorts of difficulties because he believes us. That's tough. But society is not justified in using force against the liar. For the liar has not first initiated force himself. He is not acting contrary to libertarian principle.

    We must, of course, distinguish lying from fraud. In fraud, as opposed to mere lying, there is a contractual relationship between the perpetrator and the victim. Fraud is logically equivalent to theft. It makes no difference if you rob someone of a $1000, or charge him $1000 for a bag of gold which turns out to be filled with worthless rocks.

    If you have a contractual relationship to tell someone the correct time whenever he asks, and you lie to him, you are guilty of fraud. You are actually stealing money from him in that you are not giving him the service for which he has paid you.

    Giving the correct time is a valuable economic service. If a beggar on the street asks you for the correct time, you have a right to ignore him and remain silent, and you have the right to make him a voluntary gift of something he has not asked for, namely the wrong time. It's the same with the beggar who asks you for a dollar for a drink. You have the right to ignore him and give him nothing. Or you can make him a gift of something he hasn't asked for, a 'Get out of jail free' card, if you want.

    Anyone who asks you a question is logically in the position of a beggar. He is asking you for something. You don't owe him the truth unless he's paid you for giving it.[30]
    Justitia est linma recti.

    Justice is a straight line.

    Libertarianism and Justice

    Libertarianism is the doctrine of liberty applied to individuals and is primarily concerned with justice. It provides us with a political philosophy and not a philosophy of life. Except for stating that we should not initiate violence except in self-defense, it doesn't tell us how to act in every conceivable situation or how to find the good life for ourselves. "Practically the sole concern of libertarianism is that everyone keeps his mitts off everyone else, unless, of course, he has that person's permission.[31]

    It is important to emphasize that we can have no concept of what it is to violate the rights of others, nor can we even make the distinction between aggressive and defensive violence without having an implicit concept of justice, or a code of principles which defines what is due to a man, what he deserves, and what he is legitimately entitled to. In short, the very distinction between aggressive and defensive violence depends upon and presupposes a theory of justice in property titles. Only once such a theory of justice has been established can one define aggression, namely as any use or threat of violence against another's person or just property.[32]

    Libertarians are neither value-free theoreticians nor ethical relativists. It is obvious, though, that libertarians tolerate all sorts of (culturally deviant) behavior except the initiation of violence or its threat and fraud. Each person should choose his or her own life style and make as much of his or her own life as he or she chooses and is able without making demands on others. To force another into a certain life style is wrong.

    Libertarian principles form the necessary framework for establishing social conditions which the good life requires. Freedom in itself is good and is a necessary condition for living a virtuous life.[33] Free choice in determining how one shall act and behave is the sine gua non of morality. Without free choice, human action has no ethical significance.

    Clearly the basic pre-condition of both justice and morality is non-aggression. "Let no man posture as an advocate of peace if he proposes or supports any social system that initiates the use of physical force against individual men, in any form whatever. Let no man posture as an advocate of freedom if he claims the right to establish his version of a good society where individual dissenters are to be suppressed by means of physical force.... No rational society, no cooperation, no agreement, no discussion are possible among men who propose to substitute guns for rational persuasion.[34]

    Jure naturae aequum est neminem cum alterius
    detrimento et injuria fieri locupletiorem.

    By the law of nature it is not just that any one should
    be enriched by the detriment or injury of another.

    Justice and Property Titles

    Statists proceed on the assumption that the government definition and allocation of property titles and property is just. Libertarians, on the other hand, have a distinct measure of justice in property based on the self-ownership and homesteading axioms. Thus, if the government defined a certain group of people as slaves (or subject to slavery if captured), libertarians would object on the grounds that each person is rightfully a self-owner. Similarly, if the property of those enslaved was transferred by government edict to their new masters, libertarians would object on the basis of the homesteading axiom.[35]

    The self-ownership axiom recognizes the right of each person to attempt to live in the world free of human, coercive interference, but it in no way guarantees happiness or existence. The homesteading axiom recognizes the necessity of man to grapple with the material objects of the world in order to survive.[36] Since a man controls his own person, and hence his own efforts, he, by extension, controls whatever material property he has gathered and transformed out of the previously unowned and unused state of nature. According to libertarian theory a thief has no right to or title in any object he has stolen or fraudulently obtained (i. E., without the owner's consent) because he was neither the homesteader nor the recipient of the property by way of a voluntary exchange.

    The victim of any physical invasion or fraud is entitled to have his or her person and rightful property returned, restored, repaired, or else be compensated by the aggressor (so far as humanly possible) so as to undo the effects of the invasion or fraud. This right of the victim (to restoration, restitution, reparation, or compensation) runs to his heirs or assigns, should the actual victim die before effect has been given to these processes. If a thief's family continues in possession of stolen property (even though the actual thief has died) it still remains their obligation to restore the stolen property to the rightful owner or his heirs. In the event the original victim has died and has left no heirs or assigns, the surviving members of the thief's family (assuming the thief is no longer alive) could rightfully claim the stolen property themselves based on the homesteading axiom.[37] Unowned property (which the stolen property would be in this case, since the original victim and his family had died out) would be open for homesteading. However, it would be impossible for the original thief to homestead property which he had stolen, nor could his family members, if they had acted as participants in the crime. No thief should be allowed to enjoy the fruits of his crimes or aggressions.

    Thus we cannot call a man a thief for stealing (stolen) goods from a thief. The act of confiscating stolen property from its thief is a virtuous act. The thief is being deprived of the fruits of his crime of aggression or fraud and the property he stole, at least, is being rescued from the criminal sector and being returned to the private sector. The obligation of the party confiscating stolen property would be to restore it to the rightful owner. Nevertheless, even if the confiscator were to retain the property in question, his would be a more just retention than if the property had remained in the hands of the original thief.[38] It is important to remember that when a man has no right of ownership in a thing, he can convey no right of ownership in an exchange or sale. Thus, a thief would be unable to convey title to any stolen property in his possession. The buyer of any property would have to make purchases at his own risk and make sure that the goods were not stolen. If he nonetheless, did purchase stolen goods, he must try to obtain restitution from the thief and not at the expense of the rightful owner.[39] It would be a violation of justice to claim that an innocent third party, unaware of the theft, was the rightful owner of stolen property he had purchased. Such an innocent purchaser could not claim title by way of transfer or exchange - since the thief had no title he could convey none; nor could the innocent purchaser claimed to have homesteaded the property, since it had previously been appropriated and had passed justly into the possession of the victim.

    Land titles all over the world are sometimes acknowledged to be derived from coercion or fraud somewhere in the past. However, as long as the present owners were not themselves the aggressors, and no rightful descendants of the original victims survive, then the current owners must be considered the rightful owners based on the homesteading axiom.[40] The justice of most contemporary land holdings is thus based on the homesteading axiom and the free exchange corollary. Thus continuous possession, in the sense of the homesteading axiom, is fully capable of being the sole evidence and foundation of land ownership. Possession traced back through a chain of voluntary transfers or successions for a time long enough to exclude any reasonable apprehension of adverse claims is normally acceptable proof of a just title.[41]

    Nemo dat quod non habet.

    No man can transfer to another his right of ownership in
    a thing wherein he himself has not the right of property.

    Justice And Exchange Contracts

    Justice is concerned with but one thing: To give each man his due. To put it in economic terms, justice is concerned with seeing that each person gets what is his. A man is due what he has made for himself or what he has acquired from others by purchase or gift. In determining questions of ownership, justice has been done when: a) it has been determined who made the object in question; b) whose it is now by transfer from the original owner; and c) when restitution has been made to the current rightful owner.[42]

    Maintaining justice on the free market involves the enforcement of exchange contracts. Under the self-ownership axiom it is impossible for a person to contract away his rights of self-ownership. A person may place him or her self in lifelong employment with another in return for a certain consideration. Yet, such a contract is unenforceable, since the will of each person is inalienable, and its enforcement would violate the self-ownership axiom (by virtue of the fact that its enforcement against an unwilling employee would be tantamount to slavery). Should a person enter into such an agreement and receive property in exchange, then he or she must forfeit all or part of the property in the event the agreement is abrogated. The point is that while one party could not enforce the agreement against an unwilling second party who had changed his or her mind, neither could that second party keep property which was given him or her in consideration for entering into the contract.[43]

    Contracts represent the agreed upon exchange bargains between two or more persons of their property (present or future) and their services. In the libertarian society people would be able to make any and all contracts they wished. So long as the subject matter of the contract was alienable, the contract must be enforced - so long as it did not result in an unwilling invasion or fraud. When one person has relinquished his property in an exchange bargain and the second party to the bargain fails to deliver or perform his part of the agreement, then an implicit theft has taken place. Fraudulent exchanges, too, involve an implicit unjust taking. Fraud takes many shapes, but essentially occurs when one individual receives another's property, but does not fulfill his part of the exchange bargain. Of course, the protection of both person and property from invasion in the libertarian society includes both the explicit violence of an outright assault and murder and the implicit theft and violence of fraud.[44]

    Justice is not concerned with contracts merely because they are equivalent to promises or merely because they have been made. Contracts only become enforceable after an exchange of property has been made. In a credit transaction, for example, the evidence of a promise to pay specific property is an enforceable claim. The possessor of such a claim is in fact the owner of the property, even though it is not in his actual possession. Nevertheless, the possessor of such a claim has given up his or her property in return for the promise of a future payment. Failure to redeem the claim (i. E., fulfill the promise of future repayment) would be equivalent to the theft of the property which was surrendered first.[45] On the other hand, the exchange of promises to exchange property (where no property has actually been transferred) is not enforceable since no property has actually changed hands. It may be considered more moral to keep such promises, than to break them, but the condition of the libertarian society is that each individual's right of person and property be maintained, and not that some further standard of morals be coercively imposed on all.[46] Any coercive enforcement of such a moral code going beyond the abolition of invasive acts, would itself constitute an invasion of individuals rights of person and property and would be a violation of true justice.

    It must be realized that the prohibition against force and fraud which is upheld in a libertarian society offers no protection to the monetary values of a person's services or property. Such values are established on the free market and are solely a function of what other people bid for them. What is prohibited in the libertarian society is the invasion of physical person and property; not, it must be emphasized, the injury to the values of property or services. If competitive bids or changes in market circumstances result in lowering the price of one's goods or services, however drastically, one's person or property has not been invaded. It is precisely the condition of the free market that no one has any unearned claim on the person or property of another.[47]

    Spoliatus debet ante omnia restitui.

    A party deprived of pssession by force ought
    first of all be restored to possession.

    On Reparations and Punishment

    In the event an invasive action does occur in the libertarian society, the recovery of the stolen or fraudulently obtained property is the prime consideration.[48] Invasive acts constitute three sorts: direct acts of physical violence, such as murder or physical destruction of property; fraudulent acts, such as an exchange of property under false pretenses; and threats of violence or destruction, such as being menaced with words or actions purporting harm. All invasive and fraudulent acts are prohibited in the libertarian society. This includes actions which are threatened, although not actually commenced, provided always that the threat is real and concrete.[49]

    Justice, in the case of invasion, requires an aggressor to compensate the victim for his or her loss insofar as is humanly possible.[50] The evil which has been done, ought to be undone as far as possible by the one who is to blame for it.[51] The roots of restitution, restoration, reparation, and compensation are imbedded in the thing taken or destroyed (which rightfully belonged to the victim) as well as in the unjust taking or destruction of the thing itself. A man who has done his fellow man an injury is bound to restitution for any damages which he has unjustly caused. It is justice alone which lays upon man the burdens of restitution and reparation.[52]

    The evaluation and determination of damages due the victim of an invasion, fraud, or threat must involve all the ! pertinent factors of the situation. Justice in determining damages is contextual and recognizes such factors as the cost of restoration or of replacement, the estimated market value of the property; and where bodily injury has been suffered, the cost of medical bills, time lost from work, earning power, etc. Unique objects could obviously not be replaced if de- stroyed. In instances of irreparable losses, the victim should be no worse off than if he had chosen to sell his property on the market. In the case of a serious personal injury, such as the loss of a limb, or death, damages would be due the actual victim or his estate (in the case he died). The aggressor would owe damages to those whom the victim's loss of limb or life caused a direct and major loss of value. The reparation system cannot do the impossible; that is, restore an irreplaceable person or object. The reparation system's sole purpose is to see the victim or his estate compensated as fairly as possible, without doing an injustice to the aggressor by requiring overcompensation.[53]

    In the libertarian society, the invader of another man's rights gives up his own rights to the same extent.[54] The invader of another man's rights, in effect, creates an indebtedness due his victim. Instead of idle imprisonment, an invader would be forced to give up his own property to make restitution or would be forced to labor for his victim in order to make full compensation. To the extent the aggressor is able to satisfy reparation damages out of his own existing just property, he should make the necessary compensation and suffer no further molestation. The aggressor who is not in such a position (to immediately satisfy damage claims) is in the position of a debtor who has a lien against his own labor. He has lost the right to benefit from his own productivity to the extent he has aggressed against another and cannot satisfy the damages caused. If such an aggressor voluntarily undertakes repayment of his debt, then he would only be responsible for the original damages plus a compensation for the delay in time.[55]

    Should he refuse to acknowledge his debt of reparation damages, then there would be justification for the coercive imposition of definite tasks upon the person of the debtor. Coerced labor is only a requirement of justice when its nonobservance would mean the non-fulfillment of obligations due others.[56] The personal labor of the debtor would be directed solely towards the end of satisfying his reparation damages, providing for his own self-maintenance, and paying for the supervision his refusal to voluntarily undertake repayment has caused. Beyond the general requirements of compensation, there would never be any justification for the punishment or infliction of cruelties upon the body of the aggressor. Forced labor and the strict personal supervision of the aggressor would only be justified when the aggressor refused to compensate his victim and then only for the length of time required to collect the debt.

    Justice And Injustices

    >A lifelong dedication to liberty can only be grounded on a passion for justice.[57] To have a passion for justice, one must have a theory of what justice and injustice are - in short a set of principles defining what a man is due. The injustices that libertarians see are all manmade. It is simply impossible to eradicate the constraints of nature, regardless of how 'unjust' they might seem. Yet injustices, which are not caused by nature, are caused by the will of man. In the field of justice man's and woman's will can move mountains; if only enough people decide to render to others what is their due. The passion for instantaneous justice - in short, the radical passion – is not utopian. Justice could be achieved instantly if only enough people so will it. The true libertarian is an abolitionist. If he or she could, all invasions of liberty (which are caused by the aggressive, coercive interference of person with person) would be abolished.

    Of the two principles libertarians share: "Do No Injustice," and "Suffer No Injustice," the first injunction should be to "Suffer No Injustice" and the second to "Do None". The certainty of meeting a firm and resolute resistance to injustice is far more powerful than a simple prohibition.[58] The man who defends his life and just property defends the conditions required for his continued existence.[59] The Chinese sage, Mencius, is said to have declared: "I desire life. I also desire Justice. But if I cannot have both, I shall have to let life go and take Justice."[60]

    "Let It Not Be Said That I Did Not Speak Out"[61]

    When the individuals living under the jurisdiction of the United States Government awake to political reality, they are going to find themselves living in government bondage. Every act of government brings us closer to this reality. The only logical future is to expect life in a socialized state. Henceforth, to be a citizen will mean to be a slave.

    To speak the truth without fear is the only resistance I am bound to display. To disseminate without reserve all the principles with which I am acquainted and to do so on every occasion with the most persevering constancy, so that my acquiesence to injustice will not be assumed, is my self-assumed obligation.[62]

    The honest among us realize that the resort to coercion is a tacit confession of imbecility. If he who employs force against me could mold me to his purposes by argument, no doubt he would,[63]

    The alternative is then simply living by the libertarian principle that no person or group of people is entitled to resort to violence or its threat in order to achieve their ends. This means that everyone, regardless of their position in the world, who is desirous of implementing their ideas must rely solely on voluntary persuasion and not on force or its threat.

    Individuals make the world go round; individuals and only individuals exist. No man has any duty towards his fellow men except to refrain from the initiation of violence. Nothing is due a man in strict justice but what is his own.[64] To live honestly is to hurt no one and to give to every one his due.[65]

    Each person is justified in defending his body and property from invasion. Invasion is the threat of or actual use of physical force to compel obedience. Justice will not come to reign unless those who care for its coming are prepared to insist upon its value and have the courage to speak out against what they know to be wrong.[66]

    What's right has got to win out in the end; if it doesn't
    the rest ain't worth a damn anyway. - R. Y. Sharpe[67]


    [1] Bird, The Idea 'of Justice, p. 126.

    [2] Rothbard, For A New Liberty, pp. 26-27.

    [3] Ibid., pp. 30-38.

    [4] Rand, Atlas Shrugged, p. 949.

    [5] Rothbard, op. cit., pp. 40- 43. Also see Spooner, The Law of Intellectual Properly, p.16.

    [6] Tucker, Instead ofA Book, p. 9

    [7] Rothbard, "Will Rothbard's Free Market Justice Suffice? 'Yes',"p. 25.
    [8] Rand, op. cit., p. 965.

    [9] Rothbard, Man, Economy, and State, p. 159, quoting Auberon

    [10] Rothbard, ibid., pp. 147-148, 151.

    [11] Spooner, op. cit, pp. 21-25.

    [12] Rothbard, Man, Economy, and State, p· 152.

    [13] Block, Defending The Indefendable, p.11 (Introdution).

    [14] Rothbard, For A New Liberty, p. 43.

    [15] Ibid., p. 43.

    [16] Rothbard, "Will Rothbard's Free Market Justice Suffice? 'Yes', p. 19.

    [l7] Rothbard, Man, Economy, and State, p. 159, quoting Auberon> [18] Godwin, An Enquiry Concerning Political. Justice, p· 165.

    [19] Harper, Liberty, A Path To Its Recovery, p. 127.

    [20] Rothbard, "Toward A Reconstruction of Utility and Welfare Economics," pp. 250 -252.

    [21] Block, op. cit., p. 152.

    [22] Rothbard, The Editor Comments [on Blockian Ethics]," P.4.

    [23] Tucker, op. cit., p. 14.

    [24] Thus, "The fundamental principle of the law of nature was expressed in the Stoic maxim of according to everybody his own (>suumcuique tribuere). As interpreted by the teachers of natural law this maxim had purely a negative significance. It only said that you shall leave to each what belongs to him. The principle of right behaviour was to abstain from interfering with that which belongs to another (>alieni abstinentia). The Stoic maxim was therefore most often expressed in the sentence that you must not harm another (>neminem laedere). Robbing another of something that belonged to him was to commit an injury (iniuria) upon him." - Olivecrona, Locke's Theory of Appropriation," pp. 222. 223.

    [25] Spooner, Natural Law, or the Science of Justice: A Treatise on : Natural Law, Natural Justice, Natural Rights, Natural Liberty, an Natural Society; Showing That All Legislation Whatsoever Is An Absurdity, A Usurpation, and A Crime, Sec. I.

    [26] Rutherforth, Institutes of Natural Law, Vol. l, p.47.

    [27] Ibid., P.387.

    [28] Spooner, op. cit., Sec. II.

    [29] Rothbard, "Kid Lib,"p. 93.

    [30] Block, "Letter to the Editor of The Free Libertarian," p. 3.

    [31] Ibid., p.4.

    [32] Childs, Anarchism and Justice," Part I, p.8.

    [33] Rothbard, Conceived In Liberty, Vol. II, p.179.
    [34] Rand, For The New Intelletual, pp. 56-57.

    [35] Rothbard, "Justice and Property Rights," pp. 54-58.

    [36] Rothbard, For A New Liberty, p. 30.

    [37] Rothbard, "Justice and Property Rights," pp. 65-69.

    [38] Rothbard, "Confiscation and the Homestead Principle," p.8.

    [39] Rothbard, Man, Economy, and State, p. 156.

    [40] Rothbard, "Justice and Property Rights," pp. 67-69.

    [41] Pollock, A First Book ofJurisprudence For Students of the Common Law, p.186.

    [42] Carson, "The Business of Government," pp. 306-307.

    [43] Rothbard, Man, Economy, and State, p.152.

    [44] Ibid., pp. 152-158.

    [45] Ibid., p. 158. Also see Rothbard, The Case For A 100 Per Cent Gold Dollar, pp. 21 -26.

    [46] Rothbard, Man, Economy, and State, pp. 153-154.

    [47] Ibid., p. 157.

    [48] Ibid., p.155.

    [49] del Vecchio, "The Reparation of Damage in Relation to Punishment," Appendix II of Justice, p. 201.

    [50] Tannehill, The Market For Liberty, p. 95.

    [51] del Vecchio, op. cit., p. 211.

    [52] Humphrey, Conscience and Law, p. 200 and p.205.

    [53] Tannehill, op. cit., p. 96.

    [54] Rothbard, Man, Economy, and State, p. 155.

    [55] Ibid., p. 155.

    [56] del Vecchio, op. cit., pp. 218- -219. Also see Rothbard, For A New Liberty, pp. 97-98.

    [57] Rothbard, "Why Be Libertarian?" pp. 148-149.

    [58] von Jhering, The Struggle For Law, p.76.

    [59] Ibid. p. 46.

    [60] Mencius, Works of Mencius, Book vI, Part I, Chapter 10, Paragraph 1. Quoted in Wu, Fountain ofJustice, p.22.

    [61] International Harry Schulz Newsletter No. 249, April 20, 1971, page 3.

    [62] Godwin, op. cit., p. 129

    [63] Ibid.;p. 165

    [64] Rutherforth, op. cit., p. 388

    [65] Spooner, Natural Law, Sec. I.

    [66] Laski, "The Dangers of Obedience," pp. 7-10.

    [67] Sharpe, "The Teamsters' Siege of Pilot Freight," p. 129.

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    Valery, Paul. Monsieur Teste. New York: McGraw-Hill Book Co., 1964.

    Quod enim nullius est id ratione naturali occupanti conceditur.

    That which is the property of no one is by the rule of reason conceded to the person taking possession of it.