The Ethics of Liberty, by Murray N Rothbard. Adnotated. Part VI (A Crusoe Social Philosophy)

Monday, 31 July, Year 9 d.Tr. | Author: Mircea Popescu

One of the most commonly derided constructions of classical economic theory is "Crusoe Economics," the analysis of an isolated man face-to-face with nature. And yet, this seemingly "unrealistic" model, as I have tried to demonstrate elsewhere, has highly important and even indispensable uses.i It serves to isolate man as against nature, thus gaining clarity by abstracting at the beginning from interpersonal relations. Later on, this man / nature analysis can be extended and applied to the "real world." The bringing in of "Friday," or of one or more other persons, after analysis of strictly Robinsonian isolation, then serves to show how the addition of other persons affects the discussion.ii These conclusions can then also be applied to the contemporary world. Thus, the abstraction of analyzing a few persons interacting on an island enables a clear perception of the basic truths of interpersonal relations, truths which remain obscure if we insist on looking first at the contemporary world only whole and of a piece. If Crusoe economics can and does supply the indispensable groundwork for the entire structure of economics and praxeology -- the broad, formal analysis of human action -- a similar procedure should be able to do the same thing for social philosophy, for the analysis of the fundamental truths of the nature of man vis-a-vis the nature of the world into which he is born, as well as the world of other men. Specifically, it can aid greatly in solving such problems of political philosophy as the nature and role of liberty, property, and violence.iii Let us consider Crusoe, who has landed on his island, and, to simplify matters, has contracted amnesia. What inescapable facts does Crusoe confront? He finds, for one thing, himself, with the primordial fact of his own consciousness and his own body. He finds, second, the natural world around him, the nature-given habitat and resources which economists sum up in the term "land."iv He finds also that, in seeming contrast with animals, he does not possess any innate instinctual knowledge impelling him into the proper paths for the satisfaction of his needs and desires. In fact, he begins his life in this world by knowing literally nothing;v all knowledge must be learned by him. He comes to learn that he has numerous ends, purposes which he desires to achieve, many of which he must achieve to sustain his life: food, shelter, clothing, After the basic needs are satisfied, he finds more "advanced" wants for which to aim. To satisfy any or all of these wants which he evaluates in accordance with their respective importance to him, Crusoe must also learn how to achieve them; he must, in short, acquire "technological knowledge" or "recipes."vii

Crusoe, then, has manifold wants which he tries to satisfy, ends that he strives to attain. Some of these ends may be attained with minimal effort on his part; if the island is so structured, he may be able to pick edible berries off nearby bushes. In such cases, his "consumption" of a good or service may be obtained quickly and almost instantaneously. But for almost all of his wants, Crusoe finds that the natural world about him does not satisfy them immediately and instantaneously; he is not, in short, in a Garden of Eden. To achieve his ends, he must, as quickly and productively as he can, take the nature-given resources and transform them into useful objects, shapes, and places most useful to him -- so that he can satisfy his wants.viii

In short, he must (a) choose his goals; (b) learn how to achieve them by using nature-given resources; and then (c) exert his labor energy to transform these resources into more useful shapes and places: i.e., into "capital goods,"and finally into "consumer goods" that he can directly consume. Thus, Crusoe may build himself, out of the given natural raw materials, an axe (capital good) with which to chop down trees, in order to construct a cabin (consumer good). Or he may build a net (capital good) with which to catch fish (consumer good). In each case, he employs his learned technological knowledge to exert his labor effort in transforming land into capital goods and eventually into consumer goods. This process of transformation of land resources constitutes his "production".ix In short, Crusoe must produce before he can consume, and so that he may consume. And by this process of production, of transformation, man shapes and alters his nature-given environment to his own ends, instead of, animal-like, being simply determined by that environment.

And so man, not having innate, instinctive, automatically acquired knowledge of his proper ends, or of the means by which they can be achieved, must learn them, and to learn them he must exercise his powers of observation, abstraction, thought: in short, his reason. Reason is man's instrument of knowledge and of his very survival; the use and expansion of his mind, the acquisition of knowledge about what is best for him and how he can achieve it, is the uniquely human method of existence and of achievement.x And this is uniquely man's nature; man, as Aristotle pointed out, is the rational animal, or to be more precise, the rational being.xi Through his reason, the individual man observes both the facts and ways of the external world, and the facts of his own consciousness, including his emotions: in short, he employs both extraspection and introspection.

Crusoe, we have said, learns about his ends and about how to attain them. But what specifically does his learning faculty, his reason, do in the process of obtaining such knowledge?xii It learns about the way things work in the world, i.e., the natures of the various specific entities and classes of entities that the man finds in existence; in short, he learns the natural laws of the way things behave in the world. He learns that an arrow shot from a bow can bring down a deerxiii, and that a net can catch an abundance of fishxiv. Further, he learns about his own nature, about the sort of events and actions that will make him happy or unhappy; in short, he learns about the ends he needs to achieve and those he should seek to avoid.xv

This process, this method necessaryxvi to man's survival and prosperity upon the earth, has often been derided as unduly or exclusively "materialistic." But it should be clear that what has happened in this activity proper to man's nature is a fusion of "spirit" and matter;xvii man's mind, using the ideas it has learned, directs his energy in transforming and reshaping matter into ways to sustain and advance his wants and his life. Behind every "produced" good, behind every man-made transformation of natural resources, is an idea directing the effort, a manifestation of man's spirit.xviii

The individual man, in introspecting the fact of his own consciousness, also discovers the primordial natural fact of his freedom: his freedom to choose, his freedom to use or not use his reason about any given subject. In short, the natural fact of his "free will." He also discovers the natural fact of his mind's command over his body and its actions: that is, of his natural ownership over his self.

Crusoe, then, owns his body; his mind is free to adopt whatever ends it wishes, and to exercise his reason in order to discover what ends he should choose, and to learn the recipes for employing the means at hand to attain them. Indeed, the very fact that the knowledge needed for man's survival and progress is not innately given to him or determined by external events, the very fact that he must use his mind to learn this knowledge, demonstrates that he is by nature free to employ or not to employ that reason -- i.e. that he has free will.xix Surely, there is nothing outré or mystical about the fact that men differ from stones, plants, or even animals, and that the above are crucial differences between them. The critical and unique facts about man and the ways in which he must live to survive -- his consciousness, his free will and free choice, his faculty of reason, his necessity for learning the natural laws of the external world and of himself, his self-ownership, his need to "produce" by transforming nature given matter into consumable forms -- all these are wrapped up in what man's nature is, and how man may survive and flourish. Suppose now that Crusoe is confronted with a choice of either picking berries or picking some mushrooms for food, and he decides upon the pleasantly tasting mushrooms, when suddenly a previously shipwrecked inhabitant, coming upon Crusoe, shouts: "Don't do that! Those mushrooms are poisonous." There is no mystery in Crusoe's subsequent shift to berries.xx What has happened here? Both men have operated on an assumption so strong that it remained tacit, an assumption that poison is bad, bad for the health and even for the survival of the human organism -- in short, bad for the continuation and the quality of a man's life. In this implicit agreement on the value of life and health for the person, and on the evils of pain and death, the two men have clearly arrived at the basis of an ethic, grounded on reality and on the natural laws of the human organism.xxi

If Crusoe had eaten the mushrooms without learning of their poisonous effects, then his decision would have been incorrect -- a possibly tragic error based on the fact that man is scarcely automatically determined to make correct decisions at all times. Hence, his lack of omniscience and his liability to error. If Crusoe, on the other hand, had known of the poison and eaten the mushrooms anyway -- perhaps for "kicks" or from a very high time preference -- then his decision would have been objectively immoral, an act deliberately set against his life and health.xxii It may well be asked why life should be an objective ultimate value, why man should opt for life (in duration and quality).xxiii In reply, we may note that a proposition rises to the status of an axiom when he who denies it may be shown to be using it in the very course of the supposed refutation.xxiv Now, any person participating in any sort of discussion, including one on values, is, by virtue of so participating, alive and affirming life.xxv For if he were really opposed to life, he would have no business in such a discussion, indeed he would have no business continuing to be alive. Hence, the supposed opponent of life is really affirming it in the very process of his discussion, and hence the preservation and furtherance of one's life takes on the stature of an incontestable axiom.

We have seen that Crusoe, as in the case of any man, has freedom of will, freedom to choose the course of his life and his actions. Some critics have charged that this freedom is illusory because man is bound by natural laws. This, however, is a misrepresentation -- one of the many examples of the persistent modern confusion between freedom and power. Man is free to adopt values and to choose his actions; but this does not at all mean that he may violate natural laws with impunity -- that he may, for example, leap oceans at a single bound. In short, when we say that "man is not 'free' to leap the ocean,"we are really discussing not his lack of freedom but his lack of power to cross the ocean, given the laws of his nature and of the nature of the world. Crusoe's freedom to adapt ideas, to choose his ends, is inviolable and inalienable; on the other hand, man, not being omnipotent as well as not being omniscient, always finds his power limited for doing all the things that he would like to do. In short, his power is necessarily limited by natural laws, but not his freedom of will.xxvi To put the case another way, it is patently absurd to define the "freedom" of an entity as its power to perform an act impossible for its nature!xxvii

If a man's free will to adopt ideas and values is inalienable, his freedom of action -- his freedom to put these ideas into effect in the world, is not in such a fortunate condition. Again, we are not talking about the limitations on man's power inherent in the laws of his own nature and of the natures of other entities. What we are talking about now is interference with his sphere of action by other people -- but here we are getting a bit ahead of Robinson Crusoe and our discussion. Suffice it to say now that, in the sense of social freedom -- of freedom as absence of molestation by other persons -- Crusoe is absolutely free, but that a world of more than one person requires our further investigation.

Since, in this book, we are interested in social and political philosophy rather than in philosophy proper, we shall be interested in the term "freedom" in this social or interpersonal sense, rather than in the sense of freedom of will.xxviii

Let us now return to our analysis of Crusoe's purposeful transformation of nature-given data through the understanding of natural laws. Crusoe finds virgin, unused land on the island; land, in short, unused and uncontrolled by anyone, and hence unowned.xxix By finding land resources, by learning how to use them, and, in particular, by actually transforming them into a more useful shape, Crusoe has, in the memorable phrase of John Locke, "mixed his labor with the soil." In doing so, in stamping the imprint of his personality and his energy on the land,xxx he has naturally converted the land and its fruits into his property. Hence, the isolated man owns what he uses and transforms; therefore, in his case there is no problem of what should be A's property as against B's. Any man's property is ipso facto what he produces, i.e., what he transforms into use by his own effort. His property in land and capital goods continues down the various stages of production, until Crusoe comes to own the consumer goods which he has produced, until they finally disappear through his consumption of them.

As long as an individual remains isolated, then, there is no problem whatever about how far his property -- his ownership -- extends; as a rational being with free will, it extends over his own body, and it extends further over the material goods which he transforms with his labor.xxxi Suppose that Crusoe had landed not on a small island, but on a new and virgin continent, and that, standing on the shore, he had claimed "ownership" of the entire new continent by virtue of his prior discovery. This assertion would be sheer empty vainglory, so long as no one else came upon the continent. For the natural fact is that his true property -- his actual control over material goods -- would extend only so far as his actual labor brought them into production.xxxii His true ownership could not extend beyond the power of his own reach.xxxiii Similarly, it would be empty and meaningless for Crusoe to trumpet that he does not "really" own some or all of what he has produced (perhaps this Crusoe happens to be a romantic opponent of the property concept), for in fact the use and therefore the ownership has already been his. Crusoe, in natural fact, owns his own self and the extension of his self into the material world, neither more nor less.

I am afraid this final bit of nonsense puts an end to our adventure, and to my interest in this rather inept would-be author. I do not believe reading Rothbard is an advisable use of anyone's time.

  1. See Murray N. Rothbard, Man, Economy, and State (Princewn, N.I.: D. Van Nostrand, 1962), vol. 1, chaps. 1 and 2. []
  2. Yet the reason it is derrided is specifically this very petitio principii-like approach to "demonstrating". Yes, if horses were spherical and inhabited vacuums all sorts of fantastical nonsense could perhaps be said to also be the case. But horses are not spherical, nor do they inhabit vacuums, nor would such a spherical vacuum-dwelling creature be meaningfully a horse in any sort of sense. This inadequacy between content and label is what produces laughter, and it can not be properly addressed by attempting to first establish the spherical horse and then "introducing" the vacuum. In the sense and to the degree Robinson is not a proper model of man, the later "introduction" of a "Friday" is not a proper model of social relations.

    There are many problems with such "clarity" as might have been gained by supposed "classical" anythings through the inane procedure of replacing the problem with a constructed bit of nonsense, yet merely pointing out the purely masturbatory nature of the whole exercise should entirely suffice. Of greater concern to our affairs is the circumstance that this isn't the first time Rothbard proceeds in such a shockingly unintelligent manner, but the second.

    There is a common tendency, particularily manifest in those who have expended absolutely no mental effort whatsoever considering the problems of the mind, to confuse the shocking with the creative. As Steven Dutch well points out, to such a person a child questioning a pregnant woman as to why, if she indeed loves her child, has she eaten it ? might appear creative, on the trite grounds of the sheer shocking nonsense of the question setting it well outside the reasonably expected. Similarily the artificial "intelligence" deducing that since great generals are forewarned, and being forewarned is equivalent to having an extra pair of arms, then Napoleon being a great general and four being an odd number of arms for a man to have therefore imply Napoleon had an infinite number of arms for as long as the only number both odd and even is infinity might appear to such stolid reasoners as functional, even creative perhaps, when it is in fact merely broken.

    People may apply whatever heuristic processes they find work best for them, yet such examples of flat literalism as we're encountering are in no sense creative, and to no degree reason, or thought, or the output of a rational process. Human reason is not mechanical application of pre-decided form upon collectives of words. The red thread that unites the earlier quoted McGonagall "poet"/versifier with the similarly gifted Thomas Kinkade "painter"/trivialist with this here Murray Rothbard "thinker"/linear regression machine is exactly of that nature : while all of them produce what superficially would pass some formal tests more or less related to their chosen fields, neither actually displays any sort of actual understanding of the matter involved.

    What's even more concerning is that the most elementary defenses any thinking man, even possessed of the most humble modicum of education, should readily and comfortably display do not at all appear. Rothbard happens to think that peri-classical approaches based on civ-like singularized human agency are, or could be made meaningful ; but then in the second instance he appears helpless in this confused belief, not in control of it but entirely at its mercy. Had he happened to hear of Zeno's paradoxes on movement instead of the Robinson economic nonsense, it seems (to this eye at least) he would have found himself equally ensnared : since movement does not proceed in parts, I can almost hear him "reason", it is improper to claim movement exists at all. That he has no apparent facility in comparing these two cases, that the thought does not occur to him, of and by himself, "hm, if I actually believe this about Robinson, what would I believe about Achilles chasing a turtle ?" very strictly proves that he is not in any useful sense a thinker, exactly like the others are in no useful sense artists.

    It is very nice and good that he carefully notes down his references, much like it is nice and good that Gonagall rhymes, or Kinkade colors. Nevertheless, his referenced area is miserably drawn and dubiously relevant. For a work originally published 1982 to limit itself to insistently referencing Leo Strauss is suspicious enough -- for one thing Levi-Strauss would have been a much better Strauss for his needs ; and for the other it's true Of Spirit wasn't yet published, but the phenomenology/structuralism debate was well digested by that point, at least in those minds capable of digestion, and even twentysomething otherwise clueless rave sluts had enough sense to at least pretend familiarity with J-P Sartre. And then he wishes to discuss Plato and platonism yet evidently has not read at the very least Plotinus ; he fixates on Grotius (as translated by Pufendorf for crying out loud) as his only window into the immense scandal over the nature and substance of man, goodness and transcedence that culminated in Calvin (and seems for the same money to liberally confuse scholastics with late scholastics and those in turn with the early protestants) ; he has evidently never read anything in Greek, "a fortiori" aside I very much doubt he can read Latin and his entire acquaintance with "continental" tradition, which is to say French, Spanish and North German in this order seems to depend on 1800s Anglican handbill writers and their ulterior summarizers. Yet the larger part of the cultural production "of humanity" in the topics of interest to him come from the East, not the West, and while Hume, or Locke will find their place in the field any day, who the fuck is John Wild and who the hell seriously quotes Blackstone for his commentary ?! By the time you're stuck seriously discussing nonsense Arendt came up with you know you're in trouble.

    And what the hell is a "thomist" even ?! The corpus of the Catholic church since Pius put forth the Doctoris Angelici cliffnotes ? Anyone who read Roselli's S. Ph ? Is Descartes a "thomist" ? Do I get to be in the cool club too if I wear the right hat ? []

  3. Such seventeenth- and eighteenth-century constructs as "the state of nature" or "the social contract" were not wholly successful attempts to construct such a logical analysis. Such attempts were far more important than any actual historical assertions that may have been made in the course of developing these concepts. []
  4. This economic "land," including all nature-given resources, does not necessarily mean "land" in the popular sense, as it may include parts of the sea. e.g., fishing waters, and excludes man-made improvements on the earth. []
  5. This is just like reading bad science fiction. Jon Vampyr the dark but mysterious, brooding yet misunderstood teenage vampire finds himself in the new land of highschool, where never before human foot has trod, and he discovers that his middle class suburban education does not afford him the minimal socialization skills necessary to meaningfully interact with you know, other kids exactly like him in all possible respects and to an astonishing degree. He sits and writhes in soulful agony, but then he tells himself such must for sure be the fate of all kids in all highschools all over the world, including the kids who don't go to highschool as well as the kids who are fathers by his age and generally speaking don't share the ever so narrowly defined insanity of having been borne among the anglotards. []
  6. God damned, so this is why my slavegirls kept dying mysteriously here in Central America. Nudity kills, fuck, I had no fucking idea, and neither did they. Nor the locals.

    Thanks, Rothbard! []

  7. Hey, maybe he manages to drink tea. That'd be a proper achievement, wouldn't you say ? Can't really properly think without a cup of tea, nor really be civilised, I read this once in Arthur Blair. Shall I go look for the exact page ?

    I really want that Thomist badge! []

  8. I'll bet you fucks for fiddles that he'll transform and shape himself so as to stop having such idiotic "needs" and "wants" as the environment does not immediately and conveniently provide. This is the true moral of the European colonial adventure, and the actual reason the effort was abandoned in the first place. []
  9. This sort of nonsense can only ever be sprouted by people who've never ever left "The Country". []
  10. I wonder at this juncture, are there birds and bees on that island ? For I fear absent the Anglican-approved vehicles of enlightenment, Robinson might never live to discover copulation on his own.

    Yes, a dog, even on its first attempt will manage to find the right hole in the dank bitch, and impale her even much to his surprise (have you seen virgin dogs fuck ? it does generally shock and sometimes even panic them), but Robinson, being human, is not an animal, and therefore could absolutely never revert to his internal animal under environment pressure, oh noes. This is why, whenever an airplane crashes and a handful of survivors are left in the wilderness for longer periods what the rescuers eventually find once they arrive are small kibutzes and fascinating new technologies implemented with a little bit of leftover airplane chair stuffing and pine cone debris. []

  11. Rothbard is a fallible thinker, or, to be more precise, a fallible idiot. See what I did there ? I quoted a thing, but then substituted the noun in it. To be more precise. []
  12. I also wish to inquire, does Robinson learn that he wishes to sort out his banana-leaves supporting his written accounts on three ring binders made out of tree bark ? Or on four ring binders similarily made ? Does he discover the notion of the meter, or the notion of the inch ?

    Perhaps it would be even useful for the United Nations to create a special seclusion program whereby individual tidbits of the dogvomit generally known as "mankind" could be isolated to thereby resolve problems of standardization that have long bothered larger populations.

    What does Robinson say, which is the divine language we shall all move to ? French ? Pakistani ? []

  13. This is batshit insanity of the first order. Nobody "learned" that an arrow can bring down a deer in any other fashion than through imitating someone else who was doing it. There's no "de novo" learning in the manner here discussed, nor can such absurdity ever be. []
  14. Imagine, poor Robinson, trying to "discover" the net. First, he throws a fridge in the bay, and keeps careful track of the abundance of fish. Next, he throws a log, still keeping careful track of the abundance of fish. Next, he throws a log, and then another log because hey, there was only one frigde and everything else is logs. Then he throws in a spider web, which is kinda like a net, and he keeps on keeping careful track of the ichtyo-abundance until he fucken falls over. []
  15. Five to three odds he hangs himself. []
  16. It is not necessary ; what's more, it's not even common.

    In other news : Britain was never particularly interesting ; it was never remarkable or important ; and it will be soon forgotten. []

  17. If this were a fusion of spirit and matter, English girls are indeed a fusion of beauty and liveliness, and English cooking entirely edible.

    It's not fucking edible. []

  18. There's a manifestation of man's spirit and an idea directing the effort behind every "produced" good just as there's a manifestation of man's spirit and an idea directing the effort behind every case of wanton murder and pointless destruction. Or what, we didn't think of that because we're really not very good at this whole thinking business besides droningly repeating nonsense we oft heard, and so therefore it's invalid ? Aww. []
  19. See Murray N. Rothbard, Individualism and the Philosophy in the Social Sciences (San Francisao: Cato Institute, 1979), pp. 5 -- 10. For one thing, a person cannot coherently believe that he is making judgments and at the same time that he is being determined by a foreign cause to do so. For if that were true, what would be the status of the judgment that he is determined? This argument was used by Imannuel Kant, Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals, trans. H.J. Paton (New York: Harper and Row, 1964), pp. 115f.

    ~ * ~

    Holy merciful god, Kant in translation, and Metaphysik der Sitten to top it all.

    Stop and consider the nonsense for a moment : if indeed Kant said (not that he did) that you can't at the same time make a call and also be determined from outside, then therefore Kant said Rothbard's notion of "natural law" is impossible on the face. []

  20. Why the fuck would you believe a noob ?

    If instead of picking berries he was picking virgins, would he also turn away from the hourglass shaped slut to fuck some squealing, acorn-fed tub because some passerby told him to ? []

  21. Sometimes Rothbard paints his toes, with little faces with eyes and mouths and everything, and even gives them cute little tutus. And then they have a tea party, and Rothbard's toes all agree that they want tea, and therefore tea is a fundamental characteristic of manhood, distinguishing man-toes from mere rocks and assorted debris in the road.

    This then is what passes for philosophy among the anglotards ? []

  22. Suicide is perfectly moral, and entirely ethical. []
  23. On the value of life not depending on whether it is perceived as one of happiness, see Philippa R. Foot, Virtues and Vices (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1975), p. 41. []
  24. Elsewhere, I have written: "if a man cannot affirm a proposition without employing its negation, he is not only caught in an inextricable self-contradiction; he is conceding to the negation the status of an axiom." Rothbard, Individualism, p. 3. Also see R. P. Phillips, Modern Thomistic Philosophy (Westminster, Md.: Newman Bookshop, 1934-35), vol. 2, pp. 36-37. []
  25. This has got to be the dumbest shit paper hasn't blushed under. By this very fine logic, the partizan working to blow up a train depot is, by his very act of passing himself for the enemy, affirming nazism or whatever the fuck. If you walk into some shop and are displeased with the service, you are in fact pleased by the service because you walked into the shop! If while driving around your front left wheel falls off, your front left wheel hasn't in fact fallen off because you find yourself in a car, and cars have all their wheels!

    Old dame Julia A. Moore is fabled to have once remarked before a congregation of people who had paid a dime each to see an idiot (her) that she's been paid a hundred dollars and gets to see a thousand idiots. This sort of Ozarks "ha-HA!" seems to be exactly what's animating Rothbard's thought process, which is pretty sad. You'd expect someone pretending to waste paper and my time with his "thoughts" capable of a little more than "To save all those displaced by Katrina, simply point out to them that they're living in a town, not in the sea. That should dry them all on the spot!" What, "town" may turn out to mean something a little wider than trivially contemplated ? Impossibru! []

  26. This patch of the leaking vessel doth not hold. So, are we to gather that Crusoe is free to jump from Calais all the way to Dover, if he can, and that the reason he doesn't is that he can't, lacking sufficient power, not that he mayn't, lacking as it were the freedom to do so. Fine.

    Suppose then Crusoe prefers fucking your six year old daughter, instead of jumping across the Channel. He has the power to do so, for the sake of argument, but supposedly not the freedom to do so, because it contradicts his nature, in the sense that man is not born kiddy fucker (ample historical record showing precisely the contrary notwithstanding).

    Now, Robinson Crusoe, being born in a state of imaginary, livresque purity does not know, specifically, whether he is free to jump the Channel or fuck your daughter ; nor does he know whether he is capable of either. Should he not then first try ? Isn't this the rational approach, when first encountering the problem, to first try jumping the Channel and fucking the six year old, and then decide if it were in his nature or not ?

    But that aside : admitting that there are some sort of arguments that can be constructed so as to stand untoppled even in mild wind that'd instruct Crusoe as to what his nature is -- how, precisely, is he expected to proceed so as he may conclude that while fucking the little girl is something he can physically do, it is nevertheless not in his nature ; whereas jumping straight to Dover, something he physically could never accomplish nevertheless is in his nature, and merely a limitation of unknown origins upon his... power, presumably unnatural altogether, prevents him from actualizing this bit of nature ?

    Really now, the nonsense doth contort too wildly by this point. []

  27. See Rothbard, individualism, p. 8, and F.A. Hayek, The Road to Serfdom (Chicago; University of Chicago Press, 1944), p. 26. []
  28. Perhaps the one great advantage of the term "liberty" over its synonym "freedom" is that liberty is generally used only in the social, and not in the purely philosophic freewill sense, and is also less confused with the concept of power. For an excellent discussion of free will, see J.R. Lucas, The Freedom of the Will (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1970). []
  29. Let us examine how Crusoe manages to provide for this proof of absence.

    So, on the first day, Crusoe carefully observes his surroundings, taking methodical note of what he sees. That day, no owner manifests himself upon the land.

    The next day, Crusoe carefully observes his surroundings, taking methodical note of what he sees. That day, no owner manifests himself upon the land either!

    The next day, Crusoe carefully observes his surroundings, taking methodical note of what he sees. That day, no owner manifests himself upon the land still!

    Crusoe thinks to himself : the owner of this land hasn't shown up for three days straight ; or perhaps he doesn't even exist. But which is it ?

    The dilemma carries a grave importance for Crusoe : he hasn't eaten in four days. If this continues, he will surely die (which, he has read in the only piece of literature salvaged from the wreck, a Compendium on Murray Rothbard's thought, is a bad thing). It would be of great importance if he could use his powers of reason to penetrate this natural mystery of the nature of nature itself. Is the land unowned, and thereby fit for Crusoe's "mingling of his piss and vinegar into it" thereby making it his own (in the Rothbardian sense) ? Or is it merely neglected, in which case it'd be a violation of Crusoe's own nature (in his power to enact, of course, but somehow... not in his nature to enact, yes, because Crusoe could not act so as to contradict his own nature, because reasons of a most theoretical kind) to pick some fruit and shove some down his throat and possibly some up his butt (as he's not had much of that, either, in a while) ?

    It would seem to appear Rothbard's Crusoe has a lot in common with Buridan's ass. It is perhaps their livresque nature... []

  30. Are you thinking of the little girl ? []
  31. Properly speaking, an agent alone owns everything, so this whole exercise is rather pointless. If Robinson Crusoe were alone in the world, he'd own "himself" however defined, as well as any patch of ground, be it the one holding the tree off which he took a coconut, the one where he stored the coconut, the one where he ate the coconut, or the one where he pissed the processed coconut juice. He'd also own any other patch of land, whether he ever trod it or not, and whether he could see it or not. He would similarily own the moon, at night as well as during the day, and the Sun and Orion and whatever else besides. []
  32. But what is "production" ? The act of stars coming out at night is not substantially different from the act of dancing girls shaking their hips nude on the stage. Are the girls his property but the stars -- not ? The rain is his, as it produces jointly with him those precious "manufactured goods", and the rain comes from the river which comes from the glacier, which is his because guess what -- if it weren't there the whole process would stop. []
  33. Later on, when other people arrived on the continent, they too, in natural fact, would own the lands which they transformed by their labor, the first man could only obtain ownership of them by the use of invasive force against their natural property, or by receiving them from the newcomers in voluntary gift or exchange. []
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10 Responses

  1. Funny, this is exactly what Chomsky said.

  2. Mircea Popescu`s avatar
    Mircea Popescu 
    Monday, 31 July 2017

    Bully for Chomsky.

  3. Harland Stoecker`s avatar
    Harland Stoecker 
    Monday, 13 April 2020

    Hi! I could have sworn I’ve visited this website before... but, after looking at a few of the articles I realized it’s new to me. Anyways, I’m certainly delighted I found it and I’ll be bookmarking it and checking back regularly!

  1. [...] I place on the same fundamental ignorance of the world specific to the English speaker that say Rothbard evinces. They're just not very well read, the marginal barbarians, what can you do [...]

  2. [...] in words at considerable variance with any kind of kindnessi. Such was the unglamorous fate of say Murray N. Rothbard, or F. A. Hayek, or Anathem, or C. S. Lewis, or whatever various others that don't readily spring [...]

  3. [...] sense of the self available, and she's dissociated from it. [↩]This odorously reminds one of that other steaming pile of idiocy with "deserted islands". I confess I don't know what'd happen on "deserted islands", but my guess [...]

  4. [...] with the inane expectations of unwarranted and unwarrantable safety and security of all sort and manner of rank imbecile, and ultimately -- all the way back lo these many years -- with the arrayed idiocy [...]

  5. [...] ways, da fuck do you want already, same is same, let it rest. [↩]They'll never be rid of that Crusoe lulz, are [...]

  6. [...] than reading source material in French, or anything else. [↩]As it could be in the case of a putative or fictitiously concrete group of "desert island" inhabitants. [↩]What the fuck faggot is one [...]

  7. [...] These two circumstances make "democratic" (be it implemented as contemporary scientism or otherwise) normative notions evil in themselves, and for the reason of their mere existence alone. Simply the fact that someone who isn't the king formed some sort of normative idea -- either by himself, or from another -- makes that idea directly and incontrovertibly evil. They might not all be equally pernicious ; but they're all equally immoral. [↩]Having seen the end results of a world built on the minimization of offence-taking, I find myself generally inclined to sponsor offenders for their mere offending alone. [↩]This thing's meta-collapsing so hard... I've not had so much trouble containing my groans since the days of working on the pompous nothings of that other sutor aiming ultra crepidam. [...]

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