(I did not want to overload Lou’s post, so please bear with this new one.)
This is a response to Lou’s most recent comment on the matter of property rights and eminent domain, made in the post just below.
Do I own the land upon which my house stands? The scenario does not specify which, but, as I read it, either of two things have occurred:
1. either you or some other individual (or a body of individuals in respective proportions) has gifted or sold to me their justly acquired and rightly held right of ownership of the land upon which I have built my home.
2. the owner of the land has allowed me to occupy it for a temporary period of time, the extent and conditions of which were made known to me prior to occupation.
If (1), then it seems to me you are not at liberty to forcibly remove me from my property. If you were to remove me, then by hypothesis you would be a violator of property rights, in which case you would be the type of individual against whom you sought protection when you organized your “government” in the first place.
Moreover, if you insist that you and your cohorts have a compelling interest in the use of my property so as to warrant its forcible acquisition, then you are ipso facto asserting ownership over the property. From this it follows that you reject private property rights entirely, and instead adhere to a majoritarian notion of property ownership. (Which, I should add, itself rests upon notions of individual ownership, but this is for another discussion.) Given your post, I take it you do in fact advocate individual ownership of property, which makes this problematical for you. (I leave unmentioned the pragmatic difficulties of rejecting private ownership of property, e.g., the tragedy of the commons, the economic calculation problem of socialism, etc.)
If (2), then, given the conditions of the agreement, you may rightly remove me from the land. Considering this alternative depends greatly upon the precise conditions of the agreement- e.g., the determined sum of remuneration for labor invested, time spent, etc.-, there isn’t much more to say about this. Luckily, however, (2) doesn’t seem to be what is going on here, as you say you have agreed to offer me “fair market value for [my] land”. This takes us back to (1) and the problems therefrom.
Now I would also like to comment on your supposed agreement with Thomas Hobbes. In short, if you maintain the position that you seem to maintain, you have a very awkward position on property rights. Consider the following.
At the beginning of your post you clearly argue for one’s “natural” right to own property. In doing so, you rightly reject Hobbes’ contention that property rights are an artifice of a sovereign’s creation. But at the same time you say:
“Nevertheless, men have other philosophies and desires that lead them to perpetrate unimaginable assaults upon each other and upon the earth itself. I must agree with Thomas Hobbes that it is for these reasons that men are left with no choice but to form government… .”
I am often struck with the leap from the premise, “men have other philosophies and desires that lead them to perpetrate unimaginable assaults upon each other,” to the conclusion, ergo “men are left with no choice but to form government”. From where did the “therefore” come? The conclusion simply does not follow.
For Hobbes, men are deeply self-interested, rational agents who will, if given the chance, kill, lie, cheat, or whatever, in order to maximize their pleasure or satisfy their self-esteem. So, if A were to contract with B for some end, A would violate the contract if it were in her self-interest, and vice versa. In the Hobbesian analysis, contracts without third-party enforcement are but vain words; Hobbes explicitly rejects self-binding contracts / agreements. However, he implicitly relies upon self-enforcing contracts, particularly when he says it is for each individual to decide when the sovereign has provided enough protection of property and person. When the individual has deemed the sovereign to have failed in fulfilling his side of the agreement (i.e., keep the peace), she will break the contract and revert back to the state of nature. Hobbes provides for this eventuality, but he is at pains to account for it on his own theory.
In order to account for this, Hobbes will have to postulate a third-party who enforces the just agreements made between the sovereign and the individual, but this merely moves the difficulty one step further and the problem remains: another third-party enforcer must be postulated, and so forth ad infinitum. To stop this regress, Hobbes must call upon self-binding contracts. Thus, though I have left many of the details out, Hobbes’ position is either paradoxical or contradictory.
Furthermore, if people are as bad as you and Hobbes say they are, then putting those same people in positions of great power- indeed, in the position of having the legal right to initiate force- poses just as much, indeed more, difficulty for the statist than the anarchist. Somehow reconfiguring individuals into government constructs makes them more civilized? Nonsense. This may be the last of the great political superstitions.
It seems to me you don’t want to cast your lot in with Hobbes. In fact, when you say you agree with him in the way that you say you do, you unwittingly contradict your own position.
As for your persistent calls for “a better way of doing things,” I provide a link, both at the top and the bottom, with hundreds of sources, books, scholarly articles, websites, and other academic materials that defend market anarchism- a better way of doing things. I implore you to give market anarchism serious consideration.
It is my belief that if you cannot see your way out of the state, it is because you haven’t looked very hard.