—“Depending upon one’s conception of rights and what they logically entail or are incompatible with, it’s not difficult to see, for example, that the corpus of the libertarian program, in logical terms cannot countenance “add-ons” in so far as they are obligations that legitimate the use of force. The shortest, most concise illustration of how this follows from the premise that there is only one negative right, namely to not be aggressors against. Philosophers, such as Roderick Tracy Long argue that this positive thesis of one negative right entails a second negative thesis that logically denies and additional positive rights. If the former is granted, the latter follows, in virtue of the logical character of the obligations it entails.”— Skye Stewart
Ok, so, the reason it’s a nonsense argument is because the definition is circular. More precisely, “petitio principii”, or less precisely, “begging the question”. Like many cosmopolitan, authoritarian, questions-that-are-not-questions, aggression is a conclusion, not a premise. It is a justification. And like many cosmopolitan arguments it is reinforced by the use of in-group guilt (shaming), despite the fact that it is an out-group argument (attempt to preserve separatism.)
So lets look at it….
The term “Aggress” is like “Good”. It means nothing without context. And that is the first deceptive use of the term aggression. One must aggress against something. So we must know what that something is. Otherwise it is, like all obscurant verbal deceptions in incomplete sentence – left incomplete as a means of deception. Just as use of the verb ‘to-be’ is nearly always a means of obscuring one’s ignorance, or one’s intentional obfuscation of causal relations.
It is impossible to define aggression without defining property. So the principle deception involved when most moral intuitionists state their position is that they rely on the INTUITIVE definition of property of the audience, while assuming a narrower definition of property themselves. In the Rothbard Hoppe case, they refer to physical property – intersubjectively verifiable property. However, this eliminates all possible commons, and licenses all unethical and immoral action.
Then, when questioned, Rothbardians give one of the following excuses:
(a) people can make contracts for that. But if they did, then what would the basis of that law be? and would they not ostracize all non-adherents in order to reduce transaction costs and increase compliance? Isn’t that the rational and demonstrated action – everywhere?
(b) “the market will take care of it through competition.” Except that we can prove empirically that it doesn’t. In fact, we need extraordinary levels of suppression of immoral and unethical behavior for market competition to form.
(c) “It’s meant only to be a guiding principle, not a basis for law.” Well then why not just use the definition of property necessary for a basis of law or morality?
I could also just say that do we not force people to pay restitution in the case of accidents? Are accidents aggression? No.
They are violations of property. Are immoral and unethical actions that cause loss to others mutually productive? (No) So are they rational to tolerate? (no). Do we retaliate against others for immoral and unethical actions? (yes) So aggression is insufficient for describing necessary conditions of human cooperation (Yes). And aren’t all attempts to justify defining these things as aggression — even though they are not — just verbal deceptions? They are ’caused losses’, right? So don’t we retaliate against caused losses, and isn’t retaliation what we seek to eliminate – just as much as seeking to eliminate caused losses?
Well a rothbardian then attempts another deception: “Well that would mean competition is a ‘bad’, since it imposes losses.” But the honest man says, “No, in fact people do treat price competition as immoral (although not quality competition) and we have merely trained one another out of objecting to it by explaining that it is a cost of producing the incentive to innovate.”
Why is it that Rothbard picked aggression, out of all the possible criteria for moral definitions? Why does no other group select this argument?
When, I could just as easily ask,” How can we prevent retaliation for immoral and unethical actions – how can we license parasitism?” And conclude aggression.
Or I could ask “How can we free ride upon another’s expensive-to-produce commons?” And come to aggression.
Or I could ask, “What defines both criminal, ethical, and moral, conduct?” And come to aggression.
Or I could ask, “How can I define ethical, moral and just using the terms of prohibited actions between states (aggression), between internal polities (separatism), and just ignore the fact that internal polities pay the costs of defense?” And I would come to aggression.
Why would anyone in the world pick aggression as a definition, UNLESS the purpose of picking aggression was to justify the conclusions contained in it?
Why, if aggression is not sufficient for law, and not sufficient for ethics and morality, is it meaningful? If you start with the presumption of aggression, WHY start with it?
In propertarianism, I start with the question: “Why should I not kill you and take your women and your stuff? Oh? Cooperation might be more beneficial? Under what conditions would cooperation be more beneficial than killing you and taking your things? I see! As long as it’s mutually beneficial. As long as I get more than I would if I killed you and took your women and your things.” That would be the evolutionary attempt to solve the problem.
I could also start with the question: “What incentives make it possible for the rational formation of a voluntary polity?” In that case, transaction costs prohibit the rational formation of a voluntary polity under aggression; and furthermore, other polities demonstrably exterminate such low trust competitors. That would be the rational solution to the problem.
I could also start with the question “Under what definitions of property has liberty demonstrably evolved?” In which case I would see that only under total prohibition on immoral and unethical as well as criminal actions. That would be the empirical approach to the question.
I could ask the question, “How can morality and law be constructed synonymously?” That would be the institutional approach to the problem.
I could ask a lot of possible questions that are much more obvious, and NOT circular. So why is it that I would make a circular argument?
The only logical reasons to start with aggression are (a) to justify prohibition on retaliation for immoral and unethical actions, (b) to justify non-contribution to the commons (free-riding separatism). Aggression is a means of defining low trust, parasitic, separatist ghetto ethics as ‘good’ despite the fact that all empirical evidence suggests that it makes a people unable to hold land, dependent upon a host population, and open to perpetual attempts at extermination.
So, why would an honest person start with something as arbitrary as the rather elaborate concept of ‘aggression’?
Well the answer is, he wouldn’t. Which is why no honest person ever has.
The libertarian is unaware that any argument sufficiently complex to overwhelm reason must be resolved through intuition – and that libertarian moral intuition is false (incomplete). In other words, libertarians are suckers for certain categories of lies.
Just like all humans are suckers for certain categories of lies – all for the same reason.
(ASIDE: This overloading, suggestion, and appeal to intuition as a means of using internal biases to deceive the audience is the secret to the cosmopolitan and rationalist verbalisms. My goal over the next year or two is to fully undermine the cosmopolitan and german rationalist argument structures and demonstrate them for what they are: lies. The anglo enlightenment argument is wrong: universalism, aristocracy of everyone, the rational actor. But it isn’t a lie. And that’s what science does for us: it unmasks lies.)
The Propertarian Institute
L’viv (City of The Lions) Ukraine.