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SELF-OWNERSHIP

The concept of self-property is also important because the basis of Libertarianism (i.e. freedom) directly applies to us. Freedom without us makes no sense. Freedom, at its most basic, is simply a choice that we can make by ourselves. If we do not own ourselves, we have no freedom. But in order to own ourselves, we need to recognize our bodies and minds as property, which happen to be ours. In other words, self-property is self-ownership. We own ourselves. Our body is the very first property we own.

But now we have a dilemma. If contracts are the basis of the Absolute Austro-Libertarian system and we can absolutely contract without limitation and we own our bodies, can we sell our bodies? Wouldn’t this bring an end our freedom? Wouldn’t this be slavery?

 

Inalienable and alienable

There have been rivers of ink and forests cut down to produce papers just to capture scholarly discussions and arguments about this topic. It is understandable. This topic is critical. However, there has been no agreement.

Let’s begin by looking at the definitions, because we want to get semantics out of the way first.

  • Alienable: property that can be transferred to a new owner
  • Inalienable: property that cannot be transferred to a new owner

Simple, right?

So the question about us being able or unable to sell our bodies is the same as asking if we can transfer ownership of our bodies to somebody else. In technical terms, are our bodies alienable or inalienable?

Scholars have looked at this problem from a myriad of points of view….and missed the point altogether.

The issue is not whether or not Libertarian theory allows us to sell our body. The issue is much simpler than that. The issue is whether or not we want to sell our bodies. It is a personal property and therefore a personal decision. Libertarian theory has nothing to do with it.

If Libertarianism is about freedom, then we must provide a maximum amount of freedom possible and compatible with coexistence. A body is just a property and we can contract in un unlimited manner, therefore yes, we can sell our own body. We can go even further, if we purchase somebody’s body, we can then sell this body. And further, if can buy and sell bodies, we can then create a market for bodies. And a market for bodies is the same as a slave market.

As we slowly drift into Absolute Austro-Libertarian systems, we fully expect to see experiments in Austro-Libertarians societies that may adopt this logical point of view. However, and there is always a however, our version of Absolute Austro-Libertarianism is slightly different. It contains a Master Contract. This changes things remarkably.

The Master Contract is a fully valid and executable contract. As we can contract in an unlimited fashion we choose, we contract not to sell or buy ours or somebody else’s bodies. In the best Libertarian tradition, we freely choose not to allow slavery. This choice goes against mechanical Libertarian logic, but it allows us to clear this dilemma. In the end, by making this choice, we fulfil the Libertarian mandate to provide maximum freedom (not absolute freedom which would make coexistence inviable). We do so through an agreement not to accept slavery. We choose to limit our freedom in a minor way to enable others not to lose theirs completely. It is a good trade-off, which is a hallmark of a good contract.

And so, answering the original question, in our version of the Absolute Austro-Libertarian system, our bodies are not for sale (they are inalienable).

 

THE CONCEPT OF COMPETITION

When we looked at how markets operate in our lesson We Don’t Need No Stinking Competition, we talked a lot about competition. However, we conveniently “forgot” to discuss about the origins of competition. This was done on purpose, because its origins are tied to the concept of ownership. We cannot discuss one without the other.

Now that we have established that we need stuff and this leads to own stuff, we also come to the realization that everybody else in our species also needs stuff. This is so because we are all genetically compatible and programmed with the same genetic impulses. There is no escape from this.

Greed is a direct consequence of stuff being scarce; if stuff would not be scarce, all our needs would be satisfied and we would not have to own anything and that would include the means to scatter our genes.

Since stuff is scarce, this implies that we are in constant cut-throat competition against everybody else for stuff, which gives us the higher probability of scattering our genes.

This is ingrained in every biological being. It is hardwired into our brain. Even the youngest child understands this: Mine! Actually, they get it much, much better than we adults do.

And so we come to the same conclusion we came before. Competition is not a moral, ethical or religious concept, it is a biological one. It is simply a consequence of the physical universe we live in. It is pointless and misleading to try to describe competition in moral, ethical or religious terms first, because there is a better, more basic and, more importantly, more objective explanation. Competition is a biological imperative.

Once this is understood, if you feel like piling on moral, ethical or religious concepts, feel free to do so. Our minimum requirement to foster coexistence has been fulfilled.

 

CONCLUSION

In this lesson we have learned what is the meaning of Property, Ownership and Competition in an Absolute Austro-Libertarians system. We have showed how these concepts originate in biological needs and are unrelated (mostly) to ethics, morals and religion. This creates a sound platform for sufficient understanding between people to allow for coexistence, regardless of ethics, morals or religions. This is one of the reasons why we converted from Left, Center and Right into Absolute Austro-Libertarianism, because it just makes common sense.

Be brave. Be smart. Be visionary. Convert. Or not. Your choice.

Note: please see the Glossary if you are unfamiliar with certain words.

 

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