The Secrets to Nonviolent Prosperity: The Principles of Liberty

Column by Lawrence M. Ludlow

Exclusive to STR

The new book by Trevor Z. Gamble – The Secrets to Nonviolent Prosperity (published in paperback and Kindle editions, 2011) – provides a welcoming introduction to ideas that go a long way toward resolving many of our contemporary problems and the deeper concerns behind them. Like many of us, the author realizes that something is amiss in the world. Then he takes us on a journey to find out what is wrong and how it relates to our understanding (or misunderstanding) of politics, economics, human rights – and ultimately, the idea of freedom itself.
Mr. Gamble opens his book like the 12th Century thinker, Bernard of Chartres, by acknowledging his debt to writers who came before him – political scientists, psychologists, and economists who enabled him, in effect, to stand on their shoulders so that he can see a bit farther than they did. And the first thing he sees is that we can do away with the tiresome convention of thinking about politics in terms of “left” and “right” with all of the name-calling that goes with it. And it’s not enough, says the author, to point to the villains of history to find out why things have gone wrong. After all, every nightmare-toting dictator in the history of the world was able to get there because he (or she) had plenty of followers willing to do the dirty work. In other words, it’s not just them….
In his next chapter, Gamble identifies the concept of “human rights” as a basic source for gaining insights into and unraveling the problems that surround us. He explains and adopts the excellent definition of rights laid out by Murray Rothbard and Hans-Hermann Hoppe: self-ownership. Consequently, he defines the most important human right as the right of ownership that one has over one’s own body. Better yet, he explains that it is the only self-evident “right” that we can have, and from it, he deduces our ethical concepts of rights to personal property and the constellation of ideas that come into play with that realization. In doing so, he explores the non-aggression axiom that lies at the basis of all fruitful and peaceful human interactions – stressing, as he does so, the inviolability of all human beings as ends in themselves.
Once he has marked out this intellectual and ethical territory, he goes on to explore topics such as equality, property rights, government entitlements, collectivism, majority-rules politics, the natural environment, Third World poverty, and related issues. This would be a daunting task if he didn’t do two things that make his book particularly enjoyable to read.
·      First he enlivens his narrative by breaking it up with fascinating quotations from figures that loom large in literature, politics, and history. What makes his use of these quotations especially useful, however, is how and when he inserts them into the text. These quotes appear in the most unexpected places, and they call a complete halt to our thinking – forcing us to engage our minds and question our assumptions. The reader is continually shocked by the unsavory pedigree of words uttered by a number of “favorite” American icons. At other times, these quotations simply reinforce what Mr. Gamble has attempted to explain. All of them, however, are delightful in the context of the narrative and well worth the price of the book.
·      Second, he ends each chapter with a section entitled “I Object!” It’s the author’s way of entering into a dialog with readers who may disagree strongly with the things he has been writing. By including these objections, Mr. Gamble anticipates some of the most common complaints that can be registered against his viewpoint, and he addresses them fairly. This alone sets him apart from writers who are so convinced of their brilliance that they can’t imagine anyone disagreeing with them about anything.
Once we are grounded in the ethics of self-ownership and non-aggression as the bases for constructive human relationships, Mr. Gamble’s remaining chapters address the following topics:
·      Money, central banking, hard currency, debt, and the source of inflation and economic manipulation
·      Taxes and their meaning in our lives and in our relationship with others
·      The real meaning of profits, capitalism, democracy, and the nation-state
·      The how and why of bailouts, price fixing, tariffs, innovation, labor unions, Social Security, and tax-funded undertakings
The penultimate chapter is one of my favorites. The author devotes it to dispelling a good number of commonly held myths. Among them are favorites such as the following:
·      Self-sufficiency (a favorite of nationalists)
·      Local buying (its good and bad points)
·      Inequality and its value to us
·      The idea that one person’s loss is another’s gain
·      Free trade and its imposters
·      Employers as tyrants
·      The meaning of capitalism vis-à-vis communism
In his final chapter, Mr. Gamble asks a thought-provoking question: what should we do? He clearly wishes to see improvements come quickly, but how are we to accomplish change? Hint: not by depending upon promises by politicians. After exploring a number of different approaches to change, he seems to choose the route that all of us are capable of enacting – changing how we ourselves interact with others and calmly discussing our insights with friends and acquaintances. This is not a call for destroying or compelling or storming or squatting. It is a call to reasoned discussion and an invitation to make changes in our own lives – including how we interact with our own children.
And that brings us back to where we began, doesn’t it? After all, if we can raise a generation of children who have been respected and treated as inviolable human beings, won’t they be able to stand on our shoulders and see even farther than we do? And if you are passionate about human rights and liberty (but find it difficult to express yourself), The Secrets to Nonviolent Prosperity can do your talking for you. Try it, and see for yourself.
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Lawrence M. Ludlow's picture
Columns on STR: 34

Lawrence Ludlow is a freelance writer living in San Diego.  

Comments

WhiteIndian's picture

Actually, Rothbard was not taken out-of-context. (And no, one doesn't need to quote a whole essay to stay in context by any scholarly definition.)

The blog from which I cited Rothbard's racist comments even quotes a prominent libertarian who concurs that Rothbard was racist. It seems you're the one displaying intellectual dishonesty.

But remember how I compared Libertarians to fundamentalists? You've just scored again -- accusing those who quote the Sacred Canon of taking their Holy Prophets "out-of-context."

Context!!!!!!
Feb 22, 2010 | 239,985 views
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PK7P7uZFf5o

Anyway, whenever fundies like you get frustrated and give a royal wave good-bye, you never mean it. I guess we'll see.

P.S. I didn't miss any "argument" Tzo made. All he's doing is re-parroting the Scriptures, like a fundamentalist conjuring up Canonical word magic, as if that addresses what I brought up -- that humans are not property, and equivocating humans with property is a deliberate capitalist ploy of dehumanization and objectification.

WhiteIndian's picture

It's not just because history shows 100% of agricultural city-States have State level politics, although that is a plenty good evidence all by itself. The POLIS (city-State) always has its POLICe.

There are other corroborating reasons, some as follows:

1. Anthropologists and archeologists have documented that as group size approaches and goes over Dunbar's Number, egalitarianism is replaced by hierarchy. Ethnologists divide human societies into 4 main sociopolitical typologies, as follows:
NON-STATE societies
• band (egalitarian, small)
• tribe (egalitarian, supra-band)
• chiefdom (hierarchical, domestication, sacrifice, proto-State)
STATE society
• civilization (agricultural city-State)

2. Domestication, i.e., dominating nature, results in increased violence and cannibalism, and introduces practices like sacrifice and sacrifice religions, to control people. Chiefdoms (larger in size than bands or tribes, see Elman Service) are regarded by anthropologists and ethnologists as "proto-States" because of the controlling hierarchy.

3. Agriculture requires a large controlling agency over vast areas of land, to coordinate irrigation projects, drainage projects, roads and other infrastructure. As Richard Manning says so succinctly in his book Against the Grain, on p.73:

"Agriculture creates government."

Lawrence M. Ludlow's picture

WhiteIndian: Try to dialog with Tzo. You totally failed to address his cogent argument. Or do you just keep saying the same thing over and over again in different ways no matter what anyone interjects? Comeon!

WhiteIndian's picture

Arguing with libertarian fundamentalists is akin to arguing with young earth creationist fundamentalist; one keeps repeating the same simple facts over and over and over again.

Lawrence M. Ludlow's picture

Enjoy the autistic solopsism.

Suverans2's picture

I think the word you intended was solipsism, but your humor is much appreciated. Thanks.

Lawrence M. Ludlow's picture

Thanks for the fix, Suverans2. I accept it in the generous spirit in which it was given. I don't interpret it (as WhiteMallBoyIndian would) as an act to capture me via a net woven out of my typos! One of WhiteBoy's problems is that he hasn't mastered anthropology enough to speak about it clearly to others and instead confuses himself and others while reading our minds for us and telling us what (he thinks) we think! Anyway, I had better get back to my "planning out a completely controlled" anarcho-society, complete with plans for everything!

WhiteIndian's picture

I'm not sure how your sophomoric name-calling addresses any factual or analytic problems you see with what I've presented about anthropology, but I do invite you to address a problem, if there are indeed any.

Pointing out a contradiction isn't telling you how you think. The contradiction in libertarian thought is simultaneously thinking:

1. The AGRICULTURAL CITY-[state] is GOOD.
2. The [agricultural city]-STATE is EVIL.

The "Statism" that your rage against is a single cultural package. Agriculture+City+State, commonly known as agricultural civilization or simply civilization.

You continue to blank-out that reality with various childish subterfuges.

But if you can identify where I'm wrong, let me know, OK?

Lawrence M. Ludlow's picture

WhiteBoy: That's your problem. You put words in other people's mouths, and then you complain about those words. Why would anyone say "good" or "evil" about the fact that there was something called a polis in Greece as in your statement #1 and #2? What kind of game is that? If you looked at your comments on Alex Knight's essay, you'd already know that I thought that the Greeks were indeed very silly about many things. So stop with the ventriloquist act, eh?

WhiteIndian's picture

The etymology has an underlying truth: there has never been a City without a State. Both "POLIS" and "CIVILIZATION" mean city-State because human language reflects, quite accurately in this instance, demonstrable reality.

Many libertarian volumes laud civilization (the city-STATE) as a good while simultaneously deprecating the State as evil. And how many times have I seen Statist used as a pejorative?

Calling civilization (the city-State) good while calling the State bad is a contradiction.

You're dodging and weaving around that reality. Care to address the issue rationally?

WhiteIndian's picture

Now that you mention autism, libertarians are noted for it. they're the only political group to score higher on systemizing than on empathizing.

Not only are they the only political group -- they scored *way* higher. The study notes that such systemizing" is “Characteristic of the male brain, with very extreme scores indicating AUTISM.”

Iyer, Ravi, Koleva, Spassena , Graham, Jesse, Ditto, Peter H. and Haidt, Jonathan, Understanding Libertarian Morality: The Psychological Roots of an Individualist Ideology (August 20, 2010). Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1665934

Keep trying to design a the system of a voluntary civilization. Should be as simple as conjuring an animated corpse. The communist have been banging their head against the same "stateless city-State" block wall for years.

Lawrence M. Ludlow's picture

Clearly you haven't been following the posts of Glen Allport or me on NVC (non-violent communication) -- or the people at the complete liberty website. Many of us have been following the work of Marshall Rosenberg and his Center for Nonviolent Communication for some time, but you'd better ignore that, eh? You wouldn't want to get caught at one of our weekly NVC seminars, would you? Then you'd have to take it all back? Then again, I don't want to pop your over-generalizing bubble of sophomoric assumptions and hyper-criticism because then you wouldn't feel better about yourself after shooting at all the imaginary problems that OTHER PEOPLE have.

WhiteIndian's picture

Are the "problems that OTHER PEOPLE have" a topic in your meetings? Or is it more of a self-improvement encounter?

Lawrence M. Ludlow's picture

PS: Your willingness to medicalize the ideologies of unpopular movements would have fit in nicely in the Soviet Union, where people were declared insane for not being socialist enough. We can all smell the gas chambers now, and this time you'll have the psychiatric community pulling the strings. How therapeutic!

WhiteIndian's picture

You "medicalized" first, with your autism insult. I'd reckon that makes YOU the *original* "Soviet Union" "gas-chamber" operator -- if we're to judge you by your own standards.

Sweet Hayzeus, what a cirqe de Godwin.

Lawrence M. Ludlow's picture

Yes, voluntaryists are so into gas chambers.

WhiteIndian's picture

I've no need of a reminder.

"From almost any page of Atlas Shrugged, a voice can be heard, from painful necessity, commanding: 'To a gas chamber — go!'"
~Whitaker Chambers

Source: "To a gas chamber - go!" | October 10, 2007
http://aynrandcontrahumannature.blogspot.com/2007/10/to-gas-chamber-go_1...

Lawrence M. Ludlow's picture

Oh, he's scrounging for dirt again -- see below.

WhiteIndian's picture

You bandy about "autism" insults, and then when I retort with a scholarly article correlating autism to libertarianism, you throw a tantrum with "medicalize" accusations that, ever so strangely, don't seem to apply to you. Do you have any principles at all, other than meticulous inconsistency?

Lawrence M. Ludlow's picture

Gee, let's reach into the a bag of insults and find ... well ... an insult! Feeling threatened by the living, breathing reality of a woman who managed to escape becoming a corpse in Stalin's egalitarian communist utopia (50 million dead), which actually existed, the communist Whitaker Chambers attempted to perceive gas chambers where none were to be found -- all the while failing to see that the word "chamber" is in his own name. Thanks for reminding us.

WhiteIndian's picture

Whittaker Chambers renounced communism and became an outspoken opponent. He was on the editorial board of William F. Buckley, Jr.'s National Review.

As you can see, Chamber's quote is still on the National Review website.

"From almost any page of Atlas Shrugged, a voice can be heard, from painful necessity, commanding: 'To a gas chamber — go!'”

Big Sister Is Watching You
Whittaker Chambers
From the Dec. 28, 1957 issue of NR.
http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/222482/big-sister-watching-you/fl...

Lawrence M. Ludlow's picture

Since WhiteQuibbler has never read Ms. Rand, his knowledge of her is based on what he pulls from Internet posts of critics. If he knew her writings instead of just Googling in a public place, he would know that (1) like WhiteQuibbler, Rand opposed libertarians and (2) most libertarians became libertarians because Ms. Rand expressly opposed them. Similarly, he finds an ally in National Review, an organ whose primary spokesperson (Buckley) supported the growth of a totalitarian state in the USA to combat the totalitarianism of the USSR. You are out of your depth once again.

WhiteIndian's picture

I've read all of Rand's works, and have most of them on my library shelf.

I'm well aware of her minarchist diatribe against anarchist "libertarians." I'm well aware of the continued fundamentalist-like infighting between objectivists and libertarians.

Still, most political scholars generally lump objectivists, anarcho-capitalists, minarchists, and several other similar political views under the rubric of libertarian, just for the sake of simplicity, because "Ayn Rand's philosophy of Objectivism has been and continues to be a major influence towards the libertarian movement. Many libertarians justify their political views upon aspects of Objectivism," [wiki: Libertarianism and Objectivism] even while understanding the differences between the fundamentalist religio-economic sects.

Keep straining at gnats if you must; it doesn't quite prove what you so desperately hope it does.

And you never have addressed what brought this all up, so I'll remind you:

Why do you suppose you can taunt me with "autistic," yet, when I retort with a scholarly study linking autism and libertarianism, you equate that to Soviet "medicalized" tyranny with...(ahem)..."gas chambers?"

Care to explain yourself?

WhiteIndian's picture

I've read all of Rand's works, and have most of them on my library shelf.

I'm well aware of her minarchist diatribe against anarchist "libertarians." I'm well aware of the continued fundamentalist-like infighting between objectivists and libertarians.

Still, most political scholars generally lump objectivists, anarcho-capitalists, minarchists, and several other similar political views under the rubric of libertarian, just for the sake of simplicity, because "Ayn Rand's philosophy of Objectivism has been and continues to be a major influence towards the libertarian movement. Many libertarians justify their political views upon aspects of Objectivism," [wiki: Libertarianism and Objectivism] even while understanding the differences between the fundamentalist religio-economic sects.

Keep straining at gnats if you must; it doesn't quite prove what you so desperately hope it does.

And you never have addressed what brought this all up, so I'll remind you:

Why do you suppose you can taunt me with "autistic," yet, when I retort with a scholarly study linking autism and libertarianism, you equate that to Soviet "medicalized" tyranny with...(ahem)..."gas chambers?"

Care to explain yourself? Or does your evasion continue?

WhiteIndian's picture

Drupal dropped off, so I hit publish again, and got a double post. I apologize.

AtlasAikido's picture

Apparently, The Villains in Atlas Shrugged are very much alive and real.----- http://mises.org/daily/5218/The-Continued-Relevance-of-Rands-Villains

For instance, in Atlas Shrugged, the lobbyist Wesley Mouch decries the capitalist Hank Rearden's invention of a wonderful alloy that is stronger than steel. And in prior months, in the real world, Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. took to the house floor to declare that Steve Jobs's iPad was killing jobs. Congress must, according to Jackson, recognize that Apple is driving companies such as Barnes & Noble and Borders out of business, and the company should be stopped in the interests of fairness.

Jackson decried Congress for failing to foster "protection for jobs here in America to ensure that the American people are being put to work." It's as if he wanted us to believe the printing press was harmful to the economy because it decreased the demand for scribes. Such a condemnation of a successful business and a demand for protection of failing industries could easily have been lifted directly from Rand's novel.

As for Jackson--The similarities are not restricted to this lone Democratic congressman. Similar absurd arguments were bountiful on both sides of the aisle in debates about policies ranging from Obamacare to the bailouts. Americans are directed to believe that if they would just allow the federal government to act in order to prevent further change in the economy, then stability could be restored.

It is this *paltry masquerade of politicians feigning action and granting themselves greater power in the name of equality and economic stability that leads Americans to Rand's story*.

Indeed, Republicans and Democrats both put on a charade of activity in April, claiming to remedy our nation's budget woes. Both parties threatened to shut down the government over a series of austerity measures amounting to a final savings of $352 million this fiscal year. That's $352 million out of budget deficit of approximately $1.6 trillion, or .02 percent of what would be required to actually balance the budget. Politicians bickered over funding for relatively low-cost line items like NPR and Planned Parenthood, all the while ignoring the harsh reality that our public debt is on track to surpass our GDP.

In other words, *Republicans and Democrats have managed to mortgage the entire household worth of the United States*. Their remedy for this self-imposed tragedy? Grant themselves greater power through increased regulations and rising taxes.

With each repeated failure of federal action to remedy our economic situation, politicians reveal themselves more fully to the American people as nothing but self-serving villains. Their strategy relies on the appearance of action coupled with soaring rhetoric to convince Americans of their good deeds. Meanwhile, these politicians are gambling with our lives and prosperity, risking the well-being of hard-working individuals in thoughtless policies designed merely to secure reelection.

It is due to her apt depiction of these self-serving villains that Ayn Rand's novel has climbed to number four on the top-sellers list on Amazon and that the film is likely to do far better than its mediocre quality would merit. Americans are growing tired of politicians gambling away their prosperity to preserve their own power. The crowd in Reno applauded as Ellis Wyatt walked away, not because he was some great hero, but because they understood the pain of working tirelessly while a reckless and unproductive government needlessly spends away the results of your labor and rewards your hard work with mounting regulations.

The idea of walking away has become attractive — and indeed, Americans are increasingly leaving the United States for opportunities abroad, with record numbers emigrating to Australia and East Asia. So long as Ayn Rand's villains continue to resemble the reality in Washington, the story of Atlas Shrugged will remain popular. The average American may not be a powerful railroad executive or steel magnate, but most believe they are entitled to the fruits of their labor. Many are beginning to realize that their future is being gambled away by politicians whose only risk is losing the votes of the individuals who have lost everything.

http://jobs.aol.com/articles/2011/01/05/more-americans-moving-overseas-t...

I was just informed about THIS, thought some might be interested.
http://atlasshruggeddocumentary.com/

Suverans2's picture

hypocrite noun ▸ a person who claims to have certain moral principles or beliefs but behaves in a way that shows they are not sincere ~ MacMillan Dictionary

WhiteIndian's picture

Do you prefer hypocrisy in the comedy or the tragedy genre?

The Comedy of Libertarian Hypocrisy
September 18, 2011
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dan-agin/the-comedy-of-libertarian_b_96771...

Libertarian Hypocrisy
September 14, 2011
http://redtory.wordpress.com/2011/09/14/libertarian-hypocrisy/

Suverans2's picture

Neither, actually, I was just trolling [pun intended] for an hypocrite to see if one would jump at the bait. ;)

Lawrence M. Ludlow's picture

A good friend of mine has taken note of the threads on this post and had this to add vis-a-vis WhiteIndian. He's much better at using NVC than I am -- especially in the "typing" mode (as opposed to person to person). It will be interesting to see the ripple effects of a good NVC approach, so here goes...

"It seems the impasse in dialogue here primarily stemmed from the disagreement with words (and thus concepts) such as "ownership" and "property" which, as WhiteIndian has noted, have been employed by domination structures to rule over people, while people in such structures forward a PR scheme that pretends to be protectors of our persons and property. Observe how many minarchists (from pro-"Constitution" Ron Paul types to Libertarians and Objectivists) believe that government is an organization essential to protecting our individual rights. Without government, no one would respect property!...they contend.

I'm guessing that WhiteIndian is feeling dismayed and a bit suspicious, because he wants some reassurance that no domination of people will exist in a society of complete liberty that upholds the sanctity of individual rights (i.e., the freedom to act justly in a social context). As noted, the words "ownership" and "property" seem to trigger a lot of revulsion in him, given their misusage by present and past domination structures. Perhaps he (like all of us, as well) never got his needs for sovereignty, or autonomy, choice, and respect fully met as a child. After all, "property," when it's not considered in the rights-respecting context of freedom, can be a way for individuals within the paradigm of statism to try to gain security in a world of increasingly coerced scarcity. Just look at the sundry controlled markets involving so-called "intellectual property," in which our economy is being stifled in myriad ways (copyright, patent, and trademark litigation galore).

Property (your own self being the most personal of property) is definitely a concept that many in our culture are either ambivalent about or outright fear, typically on account of not trusting people's ability to use and/or dispose of said property in the way they want (i.e., in a way that's safe for them and their environment). The part of our conscious mind that makes choices, i.e., selects things from a range of known options, is the root of sovereignty, or self-ownership. Reason and by extension volition (the processes of identifying and integrating information and making decisions) are indeed irrefutable absolutes--any statements to the contrary can't be made without using them. Naturally, as Trevor Gamble has articulated in his new book, when people fully respect this process in themselves and others, they'll have a society of real freedom. Respect for self-ownership and property rights is simply a useful way to convey how we can use our minds in reality to benefit ourselves and others, to bring values into the marketplace without conflict. In other words, nonviolent prosperity."

tzo's picture

Hi Wes.

WhiteIndian's picture

Our disagreement comes from a lack of checking your premises. I'm arguing primarily from empirical data.

The concept of private property developed culturally after humans began to control and contain nature, that is, "domestication." (Domestication is the proto-agricultural domination of plants and animals.)

As John Zerzan, whose work is referenced with scholarly references almost to a fault, states so succinctly in his Twilight of the Machines:

"Domestication erects the rigid boundaries of surplus and private property. with concomitant possessiveness. enmity, and struggle for ownership."

To rephrase Carl von Clausewitz, formal property rights are resource wars by other means.

Several anthropological studies show that egalitarian Non-State foraging societies had little or no concept of property. If they did have a concept of property, the property was only those very few things a person would need for his own use for survival.

They didn't view themselves as property, and would consider you batshit crazy for feeling the need to.

For the last 8000 years in the agricultural city-State, property has become increasingly abstract, and one may "own" property well beyond any survival needs or even the ability to enjoy.

I don't have any special knowledge about this; I've just checked my own premises, studied the scholarly literature in the fields of anthropology, ethnology, evolutionary biology, and archeology.

The conclusion that humans lived in an Original Affluent Society (Sahlins 1972) is as paradigm-shaking to the controlling hierarchy as Darwin's Origin of the Species. (Darwin 1859)

Daniel Quinn calls it the Great Remembering. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Story_of_B#The_Great_Remembering

Quite a few of us are catching on, which is nice to see. This family did, and made a movie about it:

What a Way To Go: Life at the End of Empire
http://www.whatawaytogomovie.com/watch-the-movie/

Lawrence M. Ludlow's picture

WhiteIndian. I will parse out what you have outlined in this post, and I believe you have claimed far too much for your view as will be shown. If you wish to dialog and address these points just as I am now addressing them in the sequence you raised them, I will be happy to continue. If you cannot address each point as I did and either concede to me or correct me, it will not meet my need for a two-way conversation.
Our disagreement comes from a lack of checking your premises. I'm arguing primarily from empirical data.

• WhiteIndian, a non-combative, inoffensive way to make this statement (and more accurate) would be to say:

“We both operate from different premises, and we each weigh more heavily different sets of empirical data.”

You offend when you accuse others of not checking premises and of not using empirical data.
______________________________________
The concept of private property developed culturally after humans began to control and contain nature, that is, "domestication." (Domestication is the proto-agricultural domination of plants and animals.)

• A historian would say that there is very little evidence to determine either the existence of private property or its meaning in a pre-historical world. Perhaps a more accurate way of saying this would be as follows:

“Some but not all anthropologists hypothesize that …, but it is open to refutation.”

• Further, one could say that the concept of private property could exist before domestication. If I catch a rabbit while hunter-gathering, I would consider that it was mine to roast if I caught it and thus my property. No domestication required, yet we have property.
_______________________________________
As John Zerzan, whose work is referenced with scholarly references almost to a fault, states so succinctly in his Twilight of the Machines: "Domestication erects the rigid boundaries of surplus and private property. with concomitant possessiveness. enmity, and struggle for ownership."

• Zersan’s tatements about “rigid boundaries” are polemical and political, not scientific. Let us keep to description. First, it is a non sequitur to make that statement followed by the claim (not proven) that having something put away for a rainy day creates a rigid boundary. But it is true that enmity (caused by envy and high time preference) can follow among those who do not store up for a rainy day. Is Zerzan claiming that unless one lives on the razor-edge of starvation, conflict results? Is starvation preferable to the possibility of envy? And I am not suggesting that people necessarily starved in a primitive world. I know that in the Middle Ages, taxes on peasant were certainly lower than they are now, so I am willing to posit good health and plenty in a primitive society, but such a state of existence absolutely precludes specialization beyond a minimal amount, don’t you agree?
_____________________________________
To rephrase Carl von Clausewitz, formal property rights are resource wars by other means.

• This is a claim, not a proof. I cannot address non sequiturs without inventing an argument that was not made.
______________________________________
Several anthropological studies show that egalitarian Non-State foraging societies had little or no concept of property. If they did have a concept of property, the property was only those very few things a person would need for his own use for survival.

• Property used for survival is still property. You contradict yourself here.
_______________________________________
They didn't view themselves as property, and would consider you batshit crazy for feeling the need to.

• You are playing upon the equivocal use of the term “property” to draw anger from the reader here. I’ll ignore the insult and try to stick with the topic. I believe that the mere act of either considering or not considering oneself as property is proof that such a being believed he had control over his body. Since this is a pre-historical state of being, you have no basis on which to project your thoughts into his mind (crossing boundaries and claiming to know for him/her).
___________________________________
For the last 8000 years in the agricultural city-State, property has become increasingly abstract, and one may "own" property well beyond any survival needs or even the ability to enjoy.

• Many people who wish to impose structures have expanded the concept of property into realms where no scarcity exists – as in the case of intellectual property (IP). I believe with Stephan Kinsella that this is unnecessary, creates scarcity where none existed, a form of monopoly, and unjustified. Similarly patent and copyright. I will assume you are aware of his summary of the thought on this.
____________________________________
I don't have any special knowledge about this; I've just checked my own premises, studied the scholarly literature in the fields of anthropology, ethnology, evolutionary biology, and archeology.

• No comment needed.
_____________________________________
The conclusion that humans lived in an Original Affluent Society (Sahlins 1972) is as paradigm-shaking to the controlling hierarchy as Darwin's Origin of the Species. (Darwin 1859)
Daniel Quinn calls it the Great Remembering. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Story_of_B#The_Great_Remembering
Quite a few of us are catching on, which is nice to see. This family did, and made a movie about it:
What a Way To Go: Life at the End of Empire
http://www.whatawaytogomovie.com/watch-the-movie/

• I have to assume the Sahlins thesis is one that assumes a world of plenty, which may or may not be true.
_____________________________________________________

Now that I have addressed your comments, I will make a few of my own -- not nearly as many.

I hope you will first address the points I raised to continue the conversation.

I also would like to take up where you ended. I do not know if the authors you cite are familiar with the methodology of the Annales school of history, but it would be useful to consider not just the discipline of anthropology, but other aspects of culture, demographics, science, technology, literature, law, economics, art, religious belief, philosophy, and social organization – just to begin -- when examining a culture. But much of the evidence is lacking in pre-history, so it is a shaky foundation no matter what is posited. Too many academic problems come out of mono-causally based theories and theories based on scant evidence, and this occurs within every discipline that seeks to base a theory on a thin foundation.

Anyway, after you have re-addressed the very points you raised, you might want to continue, but please try not to impute insanity, etc. to others -- difficult as it is to resist. Nobody wants that, and it doesn’t meet my needs for mutual respect.

WhiteIndian's picture

Actually, on the cultural development of "private property," historians/paleo-anthropologists are learning much from older civilization's records, including preserved personal accounts on clay tablets from the elite of several thousand years ago.

Funny thing about those ancient accounts, they sound so modern jet-set. I know jet-set. I've shaken hands with Steve Forbes on the tarmac of Signature Aviation, simply because my jet was following the Capitalist Tool, and I recognized him. I know exactly how the hierarchy thinks today -- it's just like 5000 years ago. (P.S. Steve was a consummate gentlemen, we exchanged pleasantries fro only 10 seconds. I'm talking about the others, who were also gentlemen, mostly, with whom I've been in jet aircraft for decades.) It's exactly like art depicts today.

Those clay tablets also show how some clever Hebrew goat-herders plagiarized the holy book we call the Old Testament of the Bible, which we once took seriously, and most still do. I say that, because the concept of anarcho-primitivism is now to the establishment what biological evolution was to the establishment.

It's pretty well established in scholarly literature how domestication led to "big men," the emergent elite, agriculture, sacrifice religions, division of labor, etc. These findings do much to remove the masquerade of culture's "just-so" (Gould) his-story.

Regarding property, the best way to regard it nowadays in our cultural context is legitimate property vs. illegitimate property.

There is legitimate and illegitimate sex, right? Same with property. That which requires force, or "we need the gubmit to protect our right to" is illegitimate. Which is most nowadays.

Legitimate property, property that you could easily persuade a Non-State forager, is things needed for survival. But they'd still laugh, because they were so open and giving. Civilized people judged that looseness of "property" as "stealing," but forager bands are so affluent, they can afford to give it all away. Here, have my bow, I'll make another one. In fact, anthropologists have noted that the "leaders" of tribes were those who gave away the most. And they could afford it, in an economy of abundance; poor was still rich as the richest. (Remember, poverty is relative, and agriculturalists starve far more than foragers.) Work a couple hours a day, plenty to eat, no starvation (such as fragile agriculture brings,) relaxed sexual mores, and plenty of story telling, gambling, and partying. Who needs a bong or Skyrim in that environment?

Illegitimate property requires state protection. You'll hear minarchist libertarians say "We need government to protect property rights." That sort of property is illegitimate, requires aggression, constant aggression, and libertarians sloppily gloss over the aggression.

Anarcho-capitalists are dumber than the minarchists, who realize exactly what it takes to maintain illegitimate property rights -- big government aggression. (Ayn Rand was correct in that regard, even if she whitewashed the aggression and called it "rights.") "Private defense agencies" are going to be conjured just as soon as animated corpses. An-caps are zombie hopefuls, much like Christ-eaters. "Take eat, this is..."

And what creates the state? "Agriculture creates the State." (Manning) We already know in several cultures how domestication increases violence, and agriculture is the full manifestation of domestication, and introduces the necessity of the state.

Agriculture creates a prison culture on the land, and the artificial borders called "property borders" are the cell walls. Within the prison, walls are nice. Most libertarians recognize this, and consider the walls sacred. When I call the walls a part of a prison.

Illegitimate property is promoted via the divine. Ever hear of divine right of kings? Divine right of property is the next bullshit magical thinking to go. You'll hear it secularized nowadays, called "natural" rights and such, but illegitimate property rights are based on divine hierarchical magic words.

Regarding Kinsella, he's correct regarding IP. But all Landed property that requires the State to protect it is really an IP. Nobody owns the land, they own pieces of Land enTITLEment papers from big government, and human who believes in those magic words, and if they don't believe, they are aggressed against. Squirrels ignore it. Crows ignore it. Our evolutionary distant cousins give evidence of the ephemeral nature of pieces of paper.

I agree with you we don't know everything about history, especially from long ago. But we know enough now to conclusively decide that many old premises, which libertarians parrot along with progressives and conservatives, are flat out wrong.

Like I said, the concept of "The Original Affluent Society" (Sahlins, 1972) is as paradigm-shifting, and just as upsetting to the establishment, as "On the Origin of Species."

Let's summarize just the Libertarianism-addressing points:

(1) Privation Property (needed for agriculture and city-Statist division-of-labor) needs be aggressively, statistly, enforced (by the first and second divisions of labor, soldiers and the megaPOLIS's (city-State's) POLICe. And you thought whoring was the first "profession." No, violence was.)

(2) Privation Property is a big-government Land enTITLEment to establish artificial borders that restrict the free movement of Non-State societies to forage as sovereign individuals and families.

(3) Non-State socio-political typologies do not regard anything much as property, especially themselves. Jesus (a fictional solar-deity character much informed by Eastern Buddhism...sometimes word for word from Buddhist scriptures) didn't say "Thou shalt own thy neighbor as thyself." Wage-slaving is not far removed from chattel slavery when "the food is kept under lock and key" (Quinn) and people are disestablished from the land by agricultural Statist force.

(4) The first division of labor, lauded from Rand to Mises to Rothbard and beyond, was force. Soldiers. Police. To enforce agriculture borders. To keep Non-State foragers from foraging.

(5) Foraging is the original "free" (no need to pay "the man" with money) lunch. TANSTAAFL is only 500 years old in North America, and 8000 years old in Mesopotamia.

Lawrence M. Ludlow's picture

WhiteIndian: I'm sorry that you chose not to dialog with me. Your comments do not meet my need for back-and-forth discussion and communication.

WhiteIndian's picture

I kindly addressed your points, so go fly a kite. You don't meet my needs for a fair intellectual fight. Hint: tipping over the chess board isn't "winning."

At this point, you seem to rushed, and too immature, and very likely, too enslaved, too addicted, to techo-salvationism.

You said good-bye once; when can you make it stick?

Lawrence M. Ludlow's picture

SUGGESTION: WhiteIndian, why not write a clear essay (I mean write your own STR column) outlining your thesis and wishes with regard to the topic of liberty? Then you would finally have an opportunity to lay out your thoughts in an organized fashion instead of trying to make them fit into writings that may have only a tangential relationship to what you want to say. I sense you have a need to be heard, so why not lay yourself open to a thorough presentation -- starting where you wish and developing as you wish?

WhiteIndian's picture

I've already written here. But thanks for the invitation, that was a kindness after our non-lethal intellectual "mano y mano" sparring the last couple days, (matching the generally non-lethal "conflict" -- or "counting coup" -- of most paleolithic societies; I trust you take that a compliment.)

I've got lots of land. By your temporary city-lyzed rules.

I've converted (and am still converting much of) it to paleolithic oak savannah. Oak savannah and Amazon Rainforest were both human-created gardens. Did you know that? Read Mann. Here:

"Before it became the New World, the Western Hemisphere was vastly more populous and sophisticated than has been thought—an altogether more salubrious place to live at the time than, say, Europe. New evidence of both the extent of the population and its agricultural advancement leads to a remarkable conjecture: the Amazon rain forest may be largely a human artifact"
March 2002 ATLANTIC MAGAZINE
http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2002/03/1491/2445/

I'm ready to cut the fences in 5 or 500 years (it won't be 500) keeping the close-to-paleolithic genetics I've nurtured.

I am White.

I understand the Greek (actually pre-Greek) mythology of agriculture=Rape of Demeter (and her daughter Persephone,) goddess of agriculture and grain. Of agriculture I have repented.

I once was an ignorant agriculturalist. I've repented acres and acres back to natural fertility. Farmers, MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN. Farming is like fiat money. Of temporary boom, then the Four Horsemen, century after century (even in NA; Apocolypto.)

I am Indian.

I communicate, literally (it's scientifically possible, see Frans B. M. de Waal) to Mr. Crow and Mrs. Squirrel and their spirit is mine, in the same evolutionary biological tree of life. http://TOLweb.org/tree/ I have fallen under "The Spell of the Sensuous: Perception and Language in a More-Than-Human World." (Abrams, 1997)

I am White Indian.

The White Indians of Colonial America
Author(s): James Axtell
Source: The William and Mary Quarterly, Third Series, Vol. 32, No. 1 (Jan., 1975), pp. 55-88
Published by: Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture, Williamsburg, VA
www.shsu.edu/~jll004/colonial_summer09/whiteindians.pdf