Saturday, January 31, 2009

"Property" is Theft - Pierre-Joseph Proudhon

Imagine that you're a pioneer. You've trekked west into the frontier, found unoccupied land, and homesteaded it. You built a house, cleared forest, cultivated land, planted crops, and successfully harvested your bounty. You live this way for several years.

Now comes an official-looking person, who announces that he is indeed "official," and that you're on "government property." No government official has ever stepped foot on the land you have occupied for years. Bureaucrats in Washington passed a law some time ago declaring that the government "owns" all the land around and including your homestead.

You owe "property taxes," the official tells you. If you don't pay, the government will take its land back. If you resist, the government will kill you.

After you pay your taxes, the government announces that it has given its land to a special interest. You will now be required to pay "rent" to this govenrment-favored special interest. If you fail to do so, the new "owner" will "evict" you. The State will come to the aid of the new "owner," and threaten you with violence if you do not leave or continue to refuse to pay your "rent."

Alternatively, imagine that the government has transferred ownership of your land to a strip-mall developer. You need to move out of your house so that it can be torn down and redeveloped by the new "owner" of the property. If you don't allow the developer to tear down your house, the government will come to the aid of the developer in the form of threats of violence against you. You cannot win in a war with the government. You will be killed.

French anarchist Pierre-Joseph Proudhon (1809-1865) is known for his claim that this kind of government-created, government-enforced "property" is "theft." Clearly, he was correct. "Taxation" and "eminent domain" are both forms of theft. They are immoral. They are an abuse of the term "property." When Democrats and Republicans talk about "property," they mean government power rather than every one dwelling safely under his own vine & fig tree. This concept of "property" is at war with The Family.

Twenty years ago I wrote a paper on Proudhon. A google search turned up several webpages that linked to this article, but not the article itself. Hopefully that will change now that I've linked this article on this blog:

Pierre-Joseph Proudhon: Agrarian Jurisprudence

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