Conservative Warns Readers About Self-Ownership

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In response to this article, I wrote:

No, no, no. To believe in self-ownership has nothing to do with thinking we have obligations only to ourselves. By that reasoning, all property ownership would be anti-social and evil, and now you’re in Rousseau land. You’re a conservative. You don’t want to end up in Rousseau land.

Likewise, saying I have a property right in my savings account does not mean all I care about is my savings account, and to hell with the rest of the world. This is what leftists say about conservatives, and now I am reading an alleged conservative saying it about libertarians.

For the Christian, God owns absolutely everything, not just your physical body. According to the logic of this article, therefore, we cannot lay just claim to any physical thing, whether bodies, houses, books, or anything else, since God owns it all.

The issue is that vis-a-vis other human beings, we are the owners or stewards of particular property, and of our physical bodies.

And when we say we “own” ourselves, we mean what we mean when we speak of ownership in other cases: we have the right to control what is ours. No other person has a better claim to control my physical body than I do. Or do you dispute this?

I rely on the “international economy,” the writer says. Therefore, I don’t own myself. That makes no sense.

By this logic, I could own no property legitimately. “Hey, man, you rely on police, courts, civil society, the existence of language, etc., for you to enjoy that property. Therefore, your so-called property rights are a myth!”

Does that mean, incidentally, that if the “international economy” should need one of my eyes, say, or both of my ears, that I could not legitimately complain?

It is all well and good to say that God owns all bodies, but we are going to need some kind of guidance for the here and now, as to who is allowed to do what to whom. Simply dismissing self-ownership with a Bible verse is unhelpful.

The rest of the article is even worse. No one denies that we all benefit from centuries of capital accumulation, from the existence of the division of labor, and from various other institutions to which we have not ourselves contributed. However, this again is a leftist argument that leads to the total state. Leftists (and even most conservative economists, to their eternal shame) claim that the utterly confused and incoherent concept of “public goods” requires the state to expropriate peaceful people. Why, you are enjoying the benefit of X without contributing to it!

For the fallacies of public goods, I recommend Googling Hans-Hermann Hoppe on the subject.

But this article takes public-goods logic to a ludicrous extreme. Whether or not other people have done important things has nothing to do with our ownership claims over ourselves! This is a complete non sequitur. Whether or not we need the government’s crummy roads, which we are in turn forced to pay for, is irrelevant to this question. So it’s not enough that I have to pay for road socialism: my consequent reliance on those roads is then to be used against me to claim I don’t own myself?

Am I reading Intercollegiate Review or the New Left Review?

It is incredible the extent to which conservatives will go in trying to persuade people against libertarianism. They will embrace outright leftism if that’s what it takes. So what, pray tell, are you conserving?

I gather you are a student. My advice: read more, a lot more, before embarking on your writing career.

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