An Open Letter To The Peace Movement: Reply To A Friend’s Criticisms Expanded

In a previous post; the following was said:

You’re more concerned with property values than human freedom. What’s truly destructively selfish is your willingness to use initiatory force to uphold your property values. Freedom matters more.

My interlocutor responded to the comment thusly:

It’s not that I’m more concerned with property values than personal freedom (that’s the way an ideologue with a rigid value system phrases things)–these are things that have to be weighed, and in general, our society has more or less held that attacks against property by actions that lower its value are just one step away from outright theft. If you destroy the value, don’t you also destroy the effective use of the property? I thought the libertarian bunch thought that property rights have a major role in human progress. Maybe I misread all that Locke stuff.

Anyhow, your false dichotomy between property and freedom (whatever that is) pretty much reveals a passive-aggressive debate strategy that really irritates. It’s pretty much why most people don’t cotton to ideologues. If you step on their ideological toes, they hurl accusations of being “destructively selfish” for (as in my example) trying to defend my property against the passive-aggressive encroachment of some jerk using his property to his advantage but very much against mine. I didn’t say I was going to shoot the son of a bitch, I thought I was going to take him to court or before the zoning board. Or is that indistinguishable from actual physical violence? Can’t you tell the difference?

Do you at all recognize that one person’s use of property as an extension of his personal “freedom” can be harmful to another?
Think of how one person (or a corporation) engaging in commerce can use your liver, lungs, kidneys and nervous systems to process the by-products of their profitable activity. I believe economists call this kind of activity a “negative externality.”

Apologizes for being passive-aggressive. The point to be made was that the initiation of force hardly represents a non-destructively selfish approach to dealing with others. It’s good to hear you say you wouldn’t shoot the “son of a bitch”, but the government will initiate force on your behalf. In that narrow sense; going to court or the zoning board is equivalent in effect. Men with guns will show up to threaten forcible imprisonment or enforce compulsory payment of a fine.

That being said, you do raise an issue I overlooked in my original post. The question of negative externalities deserves consideration. As a commenter put it:

If a neighbor’s hog farm creates negative externalities like stench and noise that affect their enjoyment of the home as a base of subsistence, they’re entitled to civil remedies.

Anarchy and Democracy
Fighting Fascism
Markets Not Capitalism
The Anatomy of Escape
Organization Theory