All Rights Are Coercive
All rights have correlative duties, and duties must be enforced by coercive means (either threat or actual force.) If I have a right, then everybody else has a duty to respect that right at some cost to themselves. Few will bear that cost for free unless they are coerced. When we are choosing which rights to create, we should create rights that have benefits greater than the costs of coerced duties.
- Hohfeld’s typology of rights (7 links)
- Wesley Newcomb Hohfeld created the standard legal classification of right, duty, privilege, no-right, power, liability, immunity and disability in his 1913 article Some Fundamental Legal Conceptions as Applied in Judicial Reasoning. (Privilege means liberty.) Libertarians (and lay people in general) are usually ignorant of these important definitions. The most important of these observations is that rights have correlative duties for others and a duty is the opposite of a liberty. Your rights destroy liberties of others.
- Coercion and Distribution in a Supposedly Non-Coercive State [More...]
- Property systems are coercive. Robert Hale points out in 1923: [T]he systems advocated by professed upholders of laissez-faire are in reality permeated with coercive restrictions of individual freedom and with restrictions, moreover, out of conformity with any formula of "equal opportunity" or of "preserving the equal rights of others." A difficult read.
- Come See the Violence Inherent in the System [More...]
- "The video is violent and repulsive, but only insofar as all property and contract enforcement is. The forceful removal of the passenger is not an extraordinary aberration from our civilized capitalist order. Rather, it is an example of the everyday violence (and threatened violence) that keeps that capitalist order running."
- No violence but personal violence [More...]
- "When I use the word violence in the context of discussing theories of property, I mean a specific thing by it: acting upon the bodies of others without their consent. This is as neutral a definition of “violence” as you will find. It is the definition of violence implied by the concept of self-ownership. It is the definition of violence implied by the concept of negative liberty, which is defined as freedom from external restraint."
- Property And "No Property" [More...]
- "But with respect to many aspects of life, those with little property tend to experience, not their own exercise of their own rights, but others’ exercise of rights that affect them[...] [The homeless] experience of property is thus likely to be not the rights-asserting, power-enforcing side, but the side that imposes duties (for example, to stay out of private spaces into which she is not invited) and liabilities (for example, to civil or criminal penalties for trespass)."
- Violently Destroying Liberty Is Important For Flourishing, Libertarian Argues [More...]
- "Thus we can't ever actually be debating about whether we are for or against aggression or coercion. That's ridiculous. Folks on all sides of the debate are for using force that is consistent with their theory of what belongs to whom (called "defense") and against using force that is inconsistent with their theory of what belongs to whom (called "aggression")."
It will be implausible to view improving an object as giving full ownership to it, if the stock of unowned objects that might be improved is limited. For an object’s coming under one person's ownership changes the situation of all others. Whereas previous they were at liberty (in Hohfeld’s sense) to use the object, they now no longer are.
Robert Nozick, "Anarchy, State, and Utopia"
All property rights necessarily infringe the liberties of others, as all entail reciprocal burdens on others, and in a world of scarcity, such burdens are often substantial.
Barbara Fried, "Left-Libertarianism: A Review Essay"
The relentless emphasis on property’s abstract positives distracts our attention from the less-appealing reality that many people may always and only be those “dutyholders” whose behavior is subject to systematic “constraints” in favor of the rights of others. Such persons can hardly be “self-directing” in the manner promised by these happy property stories... In the situation of “no property,” one’s abstract rights to speech and liberty, like one’s abstract right to hold property, do not provide much actual freedom in the real world.
Jane Baron, "Property And "No Property""
[W]e have now sunk to a depth at which the restatement of the obvious is the first duty of intelligent men.
George Orwell, "Review of Power: A New Social Analysis by Bertrand Russell"