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We introduced The Master Contract (or MC for short) in a previous post. The Master Contract for the Absolute Austro-Libertarian theory is a small set of rules that forms the basis of the Absolute Austro-Libertarian way of life.

We must now expand on its concepts and shed light on its principles.

The fourth Condition of the Master Contract states:

        Property can only be acquired through:

  1. Contract or,
  2. Continuous work or use (if lacking ownership) or,
  3. MC rule infringement (see 5 and 6)

Since property is so important in an Absolute Austro-Libertarian system (as the source of rights and platform for coexistence) this condition addresses the acceptable ways in which property can be acquired. This clarification is necessary to explicitly rule out scenarios incompatible with Libertarian principles such as the “right of conquest”.

The first rule indicates the normal way of acquiring property is through contracts. It is obviously the preferred way and fully compatible with Libertarian thinking.

The second rule addresses the issue about property without ownership. By what process do we acquire a property if there is no owner? Do we simply show-up and declare that such and such property is ours?

No. As stated in the explanation of the second Condition, we acquire property by using our bodies, which are our very first property. So some type of interaction is required. But which interaction is sufficient? Since the Master Contract is economy-dependent (as we have seen in previous Conditions), it makes sense to link claims of property to some sort of meaningful economic activity. Hence, the requirement for us to continuously work or use a property before we can claim it as ours.

But what does it mean continuous work or use? It means that the entire property must not only have some economic function but also that this function must be exercised continuously.

For  example, if there is a piece of un-owned land we could map it, stake a piece of it, segment it and begin economic activities in all segments. One segment could be dedicated to farming, the next one to forestry, the next one for housing, and so forth. This means that the entire property is being used or worked on continuously. That gives us the right to claim it as ours.

But what if I select the same land, fence it and claim it as property? That’s not acceptable. There is no economic activity on its surface, even if the land was fenced with speculative intent. Speculation indicates future economic activity, not current.

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 AL approach to all situations.

And what about “use”? If you use a property it would seem that no economic activity is going on. In the extreme condition that such a property is fully self-contained and it does not interact with its environment at all, then yes, this would be a loophole. However, how many such properties do you know of? Every single property we know of is dependent upon its environment.  If one wishes to use a property, changes are to be introduced into it. This means that agents of change (including tools, services and human effort) are necessary. All these agents of change come from outside the property hence stimulating economic activity. So, even if you only “use” a property, you are actually working it.

The last issue we need to address is acquiring property through debt repayment. As we will see in Conditions #5 and #6, Master Contract condition infringement leads to debt. The infringer is in debt to the infringed party and that debt must be repaid. The infringed party may simply receive as payment the property of the infringing party. The next two Conditions deal with the practicality of this process.

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

Continue to The Master Contract Explained - Condition #5

 

 

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