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POSSESION

Some libertarian scholars indicate that we must work the property to demonstrate our “possession” of it. The idea being that if we don’t possess the property, we can’t work on it, or we should not be working on it with the intention of possessing it.

Other scholars are of the opinion that ownership is the reward for our labor. Some others indicate that since our labour is ours, when we mix it with a property, it also becomes ours.

Our view is closer to the former than the later. We demand meaningful economic activity because it demonstrates unequivocally and irrevocably our right of possession of such property. We do not work or use it because we possess it. Possession involves a right. Work or use involves access. I could very easily walk to an owned piece of land and work it and live on it. This does not mean that I suddenly possess the land. Our work or use demonstrates our right to possess the property if un-owned.

 

SERVING OTHER PEOPLE

We also said in our previously mentioned lesson that:

“The main idea behind this rule is that property must serve the owner, but it must also serve other people through economic activity.  This shows again a balanced Absolute Austro-Libertarian approach to all situations.”

Did we mean that the main purpose of the process of acquiring a property must provide benefits to prospective owners and other people? In economic terms, is our requirement utilitarian? Is the property ours because we provided economic benefits?

The answer is most certainly no. As we explained above, the purpose of the required economic activity is to demonstrate commitment in a manner that is framed within an Absolute Austro-Libertarian system, this is, economically. The proof must speak the economic language.

So, why do we then speak about benefiting the owner and other people? Because we are emphasizing that in so doing, the Absolute Austro-Libertarian Homestead Principle is balanced. It is not arbitrary nor one-sided. This is an added benefit to the principle, not a condition from it.

 

LIMITS

Another question that we must answer is the following one. What happens to the requirements of the Homestead Principle once the property is sold from a first-owner to a different owner? Does the new owner need to continue maintaining the requirements of the principle?

The answer is no. Once the property is sold, the Homestead Principle cease to apply because the property already had at least one owner. The transference happened from owner to owner, not from un-owned to owner.

Does this mean that continuous economic activities can be stopped without the risk of losing ownership? This is correct. For any intent and purpose, the new owner owns the property absolutely. If he/she wishes to burn it down, pollute it or neglect it, it is his/her absolute right.

This is so because the Homestead Principle is part of the Master Contract, which was voluntarily accepted. It is a self-imposed limitation which expires with the transference of ownership.

 

LOSS OF OWNERSHIP

Another valid question is what happens when ownership of a property is abandoned by action, error or omission. For example, if I own a car I can purposely leave it on the street; it is my property and I can do with it whatever I want. In this case, I am dis-owning it. Or, I many give it to a non-existing person (an error) or I simply die without naming my heirs (omission). What happens to such property?

It becomes un-owned and therefore subject to the Homestead Principle. Any person fulfilling the principle may own it.

 

JUST AND VISIBILE

Many Libertarian scholars agree that property rights must be just and visible to foster co-existence and therefore avoid conflict. We agree.

Why do they need to be just? Because if we do not perceive them as such, we would not be satisfied past the point of greed. If we do not see them as just, we will be tempted to steal. Justice is necessary as the second element to keep “the Homestead deal” alive. We have rationality, we now need feeling. A just deal provides just that. The gut feeling that everything is OK.

Why do they need to be visible? To avoid confrontation and therefore foster co-existence by default. If you can see immediately that such-and-such property has an owner, you will understand immediately that you cannot take it; otherwise you will be in breach of “the Homestead deal”. It is a precautionary measure destined to minimize the chances of conflict, nothing more although one cannot minimize its importance.

The question we now pose is: is our Homesteading Principle just and visible?

 

Just

The concept of “just” is an inherently subjective concept. It cannot be derived from primordial biological imperatives. In nature only evolution is just. However, when it comes to ownership, evolution sides on the fittest, not the more just.

So, how do we deal with this question? Is our Homesteading Principle just? The real answer is that there is no real answer. In the end, for lack of anything better, just is what people agree it is just. This time, unfortunately, it may be related to morality, ethics or religion. However, in the spirit of fostering coexistence, we want to be as close to a biological imperative as possible. We want this because we know that all people are driven by biology. If something is close to an instinct, it is close to being universally accepted even without the need of being fully understood. If something is understood at a gut level, is a common ground that people can approve and support.

In the previous sections we showed you how our Homestead Principle is directly related and originates in biological needs. We believe that this gives our principle an excellent chance to be accepted, however, nothing is guaranteed. If this level of acceptance does indeed take place, then our Homestead Principle will be perceived as just.

We must also make a clarification. The term “just” is often (actually too often) understood as “legally fair”. This is, considered balanced according to current laws in whichever country you may find yourself stuck. This is not the definition under which we operate. Our concept of “just” has absolutely nothing to do with current laws. This must necessarily be so because we consider all laws unjust because they originate in governments that are based on deeply flawed Social Contracts (as we have seen in our lesson Social Contracts Are A Scam).

For us “just” is simply a matter of widespread acceptance, actually 100% voluntary acceptance. As our Master Contract is a purely voluntary agreement, all people wishing to be protected by it must accept it voluntarily. How more just can you get?

 

Visible

Visibility is again, a subjective matter. Most scholars talk about visibility in legal terms, not in practical terms. They think in terms of paperwork and registered titles; they think in abstract terms of legal property rights and obligations. We don’t. In an Absolute Austro-Libertarian system a “legal” system does not exist, only the Master Contract. None of scholars’ terms are applicable. So, how do we ensure the “visibility” of our allodial titles?

This is more of a practical question than it is theoretical. Visibility is understood through common sense as something that is easy to perceive (e.g. a giant sign that reads “My Property”). However, all the means that may be used to make properties visible and their owners obvious, will be better solved by the free market itself. If we own a building, we would reasonably expect to see a sign on the wall so stating. But what happens if we find a toy? We may buy stickers…or… we may decide that they are not worth the money and the effort. This is also a personal choice.

As allodial titles are fist expressed through acts, at their most basic they are intangible; they are not “things” or “paperwork”. How do you register the fact that you sew corn in a field? How do you get recognition that you found an abandoned car and you fixed it and used it? The answer is that you can’t. Allodial titles are in the deeds, not in the paperwork. However, having said that, a civilization does need paperwork for the same reason it needs money. It simplifies and clarifies transactions. The same is valid for allodial titles. Although the property may be yours in an allodial title, other people may not know this. Although you may have a giant sign that reads “My Property”, other people may believe they have a reason to challenge your sign (e.g. an inheritance or a debt). And so, although not necessary, a modest amount of paperwork may be a good idea to increase visibility in the event of a dispute. Remember, just because we may be in an Absolute Austro-Libertarian system, this does not mean we will live happily ever after. There will be plenty of disputes for the same reason we have them today. People are never 100% in agreement with each other. And so, what kind of shape or content would this paperwork have? We don’t have clue. This is yet another practical problem that is best left to be solved by the free market itself.

By demanding continuous economic activity throughout the property, the Homestead Principle provides fairly obvious means of visibility. Creating paperwork around those facts becomes much easier. This is another reason why the principle has such conditions.

And so, is our Homestead Principle visible? This is a question that only you can answer when we reach an Absolute Austro-Libertarian system and the free market within. It is up to each owner of each property to make this property common-sense visible as well as dispute-visible. How much effort a person may wish to dedicate to this task is a personal choice.

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

Continue to First come first served - Part 4

 

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