Pro-Life Libertarianism

On the topic of abortion, the libertarian movement is strongly divided in two camps: those who support abortion and those who oppose abortion. Within the pro-abortion libertarian communities, the unborn child has been given the labels of “parasite” and “trespasser.” Let it be known that libertarians have always spoken their mind. From a rational standpoint, it is impossible for an unborn child to be either a parasite or a trespasser. By definition, a parasite is never the same species as its host. As much as the pro-abortion advocates would love to claim that an unborn child is something alien, an unborn child and its mother are both undeniably human. An unborn child also does not feed off its mother in a manner intended to harm her; after all, child-rearing is the most natural thing a woman can do. An unborn child is not a trespasser, either, as the child is not in the woman’s womb out of his own volition. The unborn baby did not decide to transplant himself into the uterus of his mother with the intent to squat her property rights. There was no conscious choice made by the unborn child to be placed in the mother’s body; however, it is most likely the conscious choice of the woman to engage in sexual relations with the consequence of becoming pregnant. If case law is to be applied (as pro-abortion advocates support when they rattle on about Roe v. Wade), even if the “trespasser” idea was valid, the Ploof vs. Putnam decision states that an individual can seek refuge in someone else’s property if his life is in danger. Clearly, the instance of an unborn child needing the sustenance of a mother to survive is a case about preserving the sanctity of human life.

Definitions aside, the biggest problem with calling an unborn child a “trespasser”—or, worse—a “parasite” is that it dehumanizes another human being. Yes, an unborn child is a genetically distinct human being.  No matter how many times people scream or whine, an unborn child is a unique human being. It is impossible to deny that.

ababydoesnotsimply

The language that is used by pro-abortion advocates is intended to devalue human life. Using demeaning terms like “parasite”, “trespasser”, “just a clump of cells” (which all of humanity really is), etc. are supposed to trivialize human life to make it easier to kill. In every single instance of genocide or slavery, the group being targeted is referred to as subhuman. “It’s okay to kill Jews, they’re not humans like the rest of us.” “It’s okay to enslave blacks, they’re not humans like the rest of us.” Today, it has become politically correct to all but explicitly say, “It’s okay to kill unborn babies, they’re not humans like the rest of us.”  Of course, you will find the individuals who will, in fact, go that far.

The word genocide refers to the deliberate systematic destruction of a group of people. Using that definition, abortion is flagrantly genocide. The group being targeted is the unborn. The mechanism enacting the deliberate, systematic destruction of the unborn is the abortion industry. This particular genocide has led to the deaths of more than 50,000,000 babies since Roe v. Wade in America alone.wedonotwant

Once an individual stops thinking of other individuals in terms of their humanity, it is easier to systematically exterminate them. The government, through tax-payer funded avenues such as Planned Parenthood, using phrases such as “reproductive choice’, have made it easier for people to have no guilt about viciously puncturing the head of an unborn human being, and vacuuming out its brains, in the name of “women’s rights.”

The unborn child has become subhuman in popular culture. Once it is understood that an unborn child is another human being who is entitled to the fundamental right to life, however, the libertarian case for abortion falls apart.

Libertarians believe in the doctrine of self-ownership. Man’s body is his property to do as he pleases. The pro-abortion libertarians extend this idea to abortion, claiming that an unborn child is part of a woman’s body and therefore, the woman can do what she wishes to that property. However, this point seems to miss the fact that an unborn child is also a human being. An unborn child is not anyone’s else’s property. The principle of self-ownership, applied completely, would mean that only the unborn child has unilateral bodily autonomy over himself. The unborn baby, therefore, is not anyone else’s property, and no one else can make the decision to terminate the baby’s existence except himself.  For people who talk about the importance of consent, a baby cannot consent to its own termination; therefore, to allow abortion means to allow for another person to make the decision of life or death for someone else—without his consent. It’s hard to believe that anyone would choose not to be given the right to life, no matter how horrible the hypothetical situations are (and people will come up with the most absurd hypotheticals of a cruel world to try to justify the murder of the unborn.) As Ronald Reagan eloquently put it, “I’ve noticed that everyone who is for abortion has already been born.”

yourbody

Libertarians also extol the virtues of the non-aggression principle. According to the non-aggression principle, violence against another human being is morally unjust. Therefore, abortion is a clear violation of the axiom. Abortion is the deliberate killing of another human being, most often out of convenience. No one would argue that murder of an innocent person is justified under the non-aggression principle; therefore, when taking into considering that an unborn child is another human being, it makes no sense for abortion to be accepted by those who espouse non-aggression.

Pro-abortion libertarians often talk about abortion as being related to “the right to choose.” That phrase is a misnomer: the unborn child has no choice. The unborn child must submit to the will of the mother. If a mother chooses to have her child, then the child is afforded the right to life. If a mother chooses to have an abortion, the unborn child will be killed at the hand of its mother. The unborn child is never afforded the ability to choose in this situation. The mother’s choice to murder her child is elevated as more important than the right of her unborn child to make any choices about his own life. As well, the mother’s ability to choose to kill her child is seen as more significant to the father’s property rights over his own child. If pro-abortion libertarians argue that a child is property that can be disposed of at will, then the father, being half of the property owner, should also be able to have an opinion about the termination of a pregnancy. However, time and time again, abortion advocates will state that only the opinion of women matter.

dearrepublicansOn the topic of the female body,with  the recent passage of a Texas abortion bill, pro-abortion libertarians have been crying about a supposed assault on freedom. According to pro-abortion libertarians of the feminist variety, a ban on abortion after 20 weeks is an unprecedented attack on women. What the pro-abortion libertarians forget, however, is that women are increasingly the targets of abortion. The House of Representatives was not even capable of passing a ban on sex-selective abortions in America—which, as you could have guessed—are geared to specifically target baby girls. Certainly, if there is a supposed “war against women”, a war against genocide based on gender would be a lofty aspiration; however, the libertarian feminists feel as if it is more important to protect a woman’s right to “choose” to kill her unborn child than the right of another woman to be able to live. It is more of an attack on women, clearly, to deny them the right to murder their daughters than to stop the murder of female children all together. As well, as much as the feminists would like to argue, abortion is not a procedure that is entirely without consequences (though, libertarians are supposed to support the idea of consequences for their actions). The significant rates of suicide, depression, and general mental illness after an abortion is performed are alarming. Abortion wrecks havoc on a woman’s mental health. If any regulations on abortion threaten women everywhere, then why do most women support the Texas idea of a ban on abortion after twenty weeks?

The subset of scientific libertarians who consider themselves lovers of technological advancement driven by capitalism have a particularly hard case to argue. While supporting abortion, they often forget about scientific advancements in pushing back viability. I, personally, was born substantially premature. The same day I was born, abortion was still a legal option. The only reason why I am alive today is due to an experimental drug that I received (and a lot of prayer). The technology clearly exists to allow for children to thrive without their mothers at times that were not previously thought possible; however, libertarians who advocate for abortion at any and all points of a pregnancy deny that scientific advancement should play a role in determining whether an individual should be given a chance to live.

Constitution-loving libertarians who consider themselves strong proponents of the Fifth Amendment also have to engage in logical leaps when they simultaneously defend abortion. The Fifth Amendment clearly states that no individual can be deprived of life without trial. With abortion, there is no trial. The mother is the prosecution, the judge, and the executioner. The unborn child is deemed guilty of a crime so heinous that his life is taken from him without having ever committed an offense other than wanting to live. Abortion, therefore, is also inherently unconstitutional.

Of course, Roe v. Wade will be pointed to as the basis of legality and Constitutionality of abortion. However, Roe v. Wade is an atrocious case for anyone who respects the rule of law. The Constitution clearly states that only Congress and the respective states can create laws; however, in the Roe v. Wade ruling, the Supreme Court acted as Congress and state legislatures when it created the “right” to an abortion and the trimester framework. The advocates for abortion, when they rely on Roe v. Wade, believe that the Supreme Court can grant someone their rights—which is even more fallacious than the belief that an individual obtains rights from Congress. Libertarians generally despise the notion that the government grants people their rights; however, they have no problem with believing the government can take away an individual’s God-granted natural right to life by creating the artificial “right” to an abortion.

Putting the human element back in to the termination of a human life, it becomes impossible for a logically consistent libertarian to support abortion from any of the commonly quoted perspectives. Perhaps the most egregious offense libertarians support when they support abortion is that abortion is state-sanctioned genocide. The abortion industry in America is run on tax-payer dollars. It is ironic that individuals are paying taxes to the government, which in turn makes sure that other individuals can never pay taxes to the government. Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers receive your money in order to fund their killing of millions of babies every single year. As well, they receive your money to keep propagating the idea that not all human life is of equal value. For egalitarian libertarians, this should certainly strike a chord. The state is also the entity that created the idea that individuals have a “right” to an abortion. For libertarians, it should be clear that you do not have the right to anyone else’s property, especially not anyone else’s life.

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How Can You Be Pro-Life And…?

I recently wrote about my belief that the pro-life movement could benefit greatly from a more pragmatic approach. Even though the article wasn’t a broader pro-life argument, it attracted a lot of common questions that pro-lifers, especially those who don’t fall into the stereotypical religious-based camp, face. How can a libertarian support government regulation of abortion? How can a self-professed feminist support restrictions on “a woman’s body”? Do you care about life after birth? First of all, I reject the assertion that being opposed to abortion puts any kind of requirement on a person to hold any other view. To suggest otherwise is simply an attempt to defeat an opponent by falsely implying hypocrisy – which, I should point out, doesn’t do anything to refute the underlying argument.

That being said, the liberty movement is always going to be at odds over the issue of abortion, and I think that pro-life libertarians need to be able to defend their position. Personally, I don’t care in the slightest if other feminists think that I’m not “feminist enough” for being opposed to abortion, but I do care about women’s issues, and would like young women afraid to identify as feminists to know that you don’t have to fit a certain leftist ideal to be one. And, of course, assertions by the left that “pro-life” is a misnomer if we don’t support universal healthcare or any other leftist cause célèbre are always going to be prevalent and must be addressed.

With all of that in mind, I would like to address the question at hand in relation to the above issues. So, how can you be pro-life and be…

A feminist

Those man-hating feminists! How dare they want to vote! Wait…

On this point, it’s important to put the disclaimer that I’m by no means an expert in feminist thought. At college, I studied political science, not women’s studies, but I’m familiar with a lot of the core of feminist thought as it relates to politics, and to a lesser extent, to society. I believe that historically, women have been disenfranchised by a male-dominated power structure. Women still face a higher risk of being victims of sexual crimes. Rape culture shames and discourages victims from reporting sexual crimes. Women are less likely to run for political office, and more likely to be treated badly by the media if they do run. Women are judged more harshly than men for engaging in similar behaviors. It is within recent memory that women were able to open credit cards without their husband’s approval. Some of our grandparents can remember when women couldn’t vote.

She would like you to know that she’s an autonomous citizen and doesn’t like you oppressing her by feeding her and making her stay in her crib.

However, none of these conclusions suggest or require that support for abortion, which pro-lifers such as myself view as the taking of a human life, be a feminist litmus test. And while pro-life feminists are rare, we do exist. As I discussed in my previous column, I think that it is anti-woman to try to restrict access to contraception or assume that all women have to be, or should be, mothers.

Abortion is a separate issue. Just because the unborn baby is dependent on the life of its mother doesn’t mean that it’s not a life. All children and many adults are dependent on someone else to live. That doesn’t mean that we get to kill them. I was born premature. In many states, I could have been aborted at the time I was born, and in fact, my mom’s doctors suggested aborting me to give the larger twin (my sister) a better chance of living (for the record, we both survived, as you may know if you’ve checked out our contributors page).

Baby Mary Ann after being told the doctors wanted to abort her… er, me.

I do recognize that abortion is complex, and often an emotionally-charged decision. I have a hard time supporting a ban on abortion in the cases of rape, but I would prefer that rape survivors are routinely provided access to emergency contraception. Taking away the perceived need for abortion would certainly eliminate a lot of the complex moral dilemmas involved.

A libertarian

As most of you probably know, I’m a “small-l” libertarian. I don’t claim allegiance to the Libertarian Party, nor do I agree with them on everything. However, as a liberty-minded individual, the question of how I can support government “regulation” of abortion is often brought up. It is true that I do favor less government regulation in nearly all cases.

I have no idea what’s going on in this picture. Please take my libertarian card now.

However, it is disingenuous to suggest that pro-life libertarians are examples of only supporting bans on things we don’t like. I don’t oppose abortion because I don’t like it; I oppose it because I believe it to be the taking of a life. I don’t like prostitution or drugs, but I don’t think people should sit in prison for engaging in those behaviors.

I’m not an anarcho-capitalist. I’m a small-government libertarian conservative, and I’m more likely to support a return to state and local control than an attempt to “get government out” altogether. I absolutely support state legislation against violent crimes that harm individuals, and property crimes that deprive individuals of their property. Even if I don’t like said individuals, I don’t support crimes being done against them. I don’t support legislation of victimless crimes, for the most part, and I don’t support federal legislation of most all crimes. But abortion doesn’t fall under those categories. The rebuttal of “if you don’t support abortion, don’t get one,” really doesn’t apply. Lots of people might think that it’s a husband’s right to punish his wife by striking her, but I certainly don’t want to leave that interpretation up to their choice.

I do recognize, as I’ve said in comments on my previous article, that abortion is something that is always going to be debated. I believe that, at the absolute least, abortion should be restricted past what is, admittedly, a difficult concept of “viability.” I believe life begins when the fetus begins developing. I recognize, however, that proving when life begins is always going to be somewhat a matter for philosophy, not science. Like nearly all issues, I think that complex questions about abortion should be left to the states.

Finally, this takes me to the ubiquitous final question.

How can you be pro-life and not support other “life” issues?

Issues commonly brought up include lack of support for alternatives to abortion (which I covered in my previous article,) and support for war. War is not the same thing, unless you believe that killing foreign combatants is the same thing as murder. I don’t. I think that war is sometimes a necessary evil. It does show a lack of respect for the idea of life if people don’t care if innocent people are killed in war. But that, surely, is a rarity among people who support wars.

The only point I will concede to this argument is that it may be a misnomer to call anti-abortion supporters “pro-life.” However, pro-abortion supporters typically prefer the term “pro-choice,” even if they don’t always support choice in cases of school choice, or personal health choices like drinking large sodas, or the choice to carry weapons. I don’t think that’s necessarily hypocritical of them. It’s understood that “pro-choice” typically refers to abortion, and it’s understood that “pro-life” typically refers to abortion. Let’s not get caught up on trying to trip up our opponents based on their wording.

Of course, the big argument that seems to come up on this point is about healthcare. Is it hypocritical to support legislation restricting abortion and not support government intervention to improve the quality of life for people who have been born?

First of all, there is a fundamental distinction between supporting the government punishing crime and requesting that the government subsidize, well, anything. I don’t support government-funded healthcare, certainly not federal-government funded healthcare, because that’s not the role of the government. Our founding documents talk about the pursuit of happiness, not its guarantee. The government has the ability to provide for the protection of its citizens, in fact, that’s the very idea of government. However, it has neither the responsibility nor the right to feed, clothe, and hold their hands from cradle to grave.

Separation of Church and State

Lately there has been quite a bit of hubbub on various social media sites about the role of religion in government and politics. I’m going to make some friends and enemies by saying that I personally believe that its role should be nonexistent, as a protection to both religious and secular individuals.  That said, I believe a bit of history and explanation is in order.

Where does the idea of separation of church and state come from?

FirstAmendmentFrom a young age in the United States, many history and government classes teach about something called the separation of church and state.  The general idea behind the phrase was set as a constitutional standard with the first amendment in 1791, as the first of ten amendments detailed in the Bill of Rights. The First Amendment, as many already know, prohibits the making of any law respecting an establishment of religion, or impeding the free exercise of religion, and emphasizes the importance of a plethora of other freedoms. The phrase itself comes from a letter written by Thomas Jefferson in 1802 to a Baptist congregation, stating that “believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof’, thus building a wall of separation between Church & State.”  The importance of adhering to the separation of church and state is that it both keeps the government from interfering in the religious lives of individuals and churches, while also keeping what then, and now, constitutes as a religious majority from exercising political power in a way that would harm those who identify as atheist, agnostic, or simply choose not to identify themselves with a label at all.

So why is it that oftentimes religion gets mixed with government?

I would venture to say that it is a generally accepted fact that individuals develop emotional ties to their political and religious ideologies. Oftentimes the two get melded together; to temporarily play off of a popularized stereotype, one doesn’t identify just as a Christian or a Republican, for instance, they identify as a Christian Republican. The same could hold true of any different mix of religious and political identities, or lack thereof. That isn’t “bad”, or “good”, but merely how we as individuals seem to function.

What does libertarianism have to do with any of this?

th_interfaithWhat’s beautiful about libertarianism is that the political tenants that I hold dear could not care less what you as an individual believe. As long as you support free market values, respect individual rights, and don’t try force your lifestyle on someone else, the political philosophy could not care less if you believe in, or worship, one god, many gods, no god, or the flying spaghetti monster. My father jokingly calls my political views the ideology of “live and let live”, and I would say that’s fairly apt. Libertarianism hinges on the importance of individual liberty, political freedom, and voluntary association. There is no “check this religion” to fit into the “cool kid’s club”. Libertarianism at its core supports the separation of church and state in the sense that it doesn’t allow for force of one group of people, or individual, over another – also labeled the nonaggression principle. The adherents of libertarianism are  just a group of people from different backgrounds with many beliefs coming together to say that we  have a right to  self-ownership to the fullest extent, and I, for one, think that is something that we can all rally around.

Hang Together

Too often I will see threads online where the substance of someone’s argument isn’t what is being discussed, but the person and their beliefs. At a time when the movement continues to grow, why are we focusing on what someone believes or doesn’t?  Why do we feel it is our place to call them out for their most personal decisions, especially in regards to their religious beliefs? This is the type of thing that keeps those on the fence from coming into our yard.

A little tact will go quite a long way in making friends and influencing people.  Condemning and criticizing those of certain beliefs is the last thing our movement needs. The whole point of political work and activism is to build bridges – not to burn them.  How likely will others be to work with someone who has attacked their personal beliefs? Their belief set may have been instrumental in leading them to the ideas of liberty.

Part of being a libertarian is accepting that you will have to work with many different people. I’ve worked with Hindus, Muslims, Jews, and people of many other creeds, or lack thereof.  I’ve worked with blacks, Hispanics, Arabs, Indians, and people of many other ethnicities. When I met these people, the voice in the back of my head didn’t tell me to instantly attack them on their beliefs (or beliefs that I perceived them to have).  Respect is mutual to me, no matter who I’m working with. Nor do I collectivize like some do, something that is decidedly un-libertarian in nature.  Everyone is an individual. It is their character that should distinguish them, not their beliefs.

Categorical descriptors such as religion, one’s ethnicity or, one’s orientation are all things that should not determine the validity of one’s views.  God makes us what we are: equal human beings.  As equal human beings, we all possess the same capacity to reason, regardless of what deity we pray to or those aspects about ourselves that we cannot change, such as our ethnic backgrounds or those who we love.

I ask those who are guilty of such criticisms, regardless of who they are, to consider the big picture. Consider that we have to build bridges and not burn them down. We are a diverse movement, and we will continue to be more of one as our message spreads beyond borders and regions.  I’m not asking for you to lay down your beliefs or convictions, but to become more productive by working with people regardless of who they are.  On social networks, contribute to the discussion rather than lacing your responses with ad hominem attacks.

Working with many different people has opened my eyes and helped me in becoming a more capable leader.  People from different backgrounds, whether they be religious, ethnic, or socio-economic differences- all have much to contribute given ways they’ve done things in the past.  Integration of strengths is one of the best ways to overcome difficulties, regardless of the goals you have.

bridge

Do you want to win? Regardless of what field you are in (be it of the political, academic, or entrepreneurial variety), winning requires overcoming the petty arguments you may have based on someone’s differences.  In the words of Benjamin Franklin, “[w]e must hang together or assuredly, we will all hang separately.” We have too much in common in terms of our political, economic, and moral beliefs to focus on the little differences between us.

Winning Is Not Compromising

“This war on drugs is totally out of control. If you want to regulate cigarettes and alcohol and drugs, it should be at the state level. That’s where I stand on it. The federal government has no prerogatives on this.” – Ron Paul (source).

If there’s anything Rand Paul can do well, it’s fire up debate among libertarians. As of recently, hilariously satirized by Steve Heidenreich on this site, libertarians are up in (theoretical, non-aggressive) arms in response to comments Paul made to a group of pastors in Iowa that some read as him “loving the drug war.”

“To some, ‘libertarian’ scares people. “Some of them come up to me and they say, ‘I kind of like you, but I don’t like legalizing heroin.’ And I say, ‘Well, that’s not my position.’ I’m not advocating everyone go out and run around with no clothes on and smoke pot. I’m not a libertarian. I’m a libertarian Republican. I’m a constitutional conservative”

Let’s crucify him today!

For God’s sake, let’s definitely not examine his comments with any degree of critical thought to see how well they line up with libertarian philosophy. Because if we step back from our hysterical Rand Paul hate, it is clear that, while not as strictly libertarian as some, Rand Paul’s views are very much in line with what they’ve always been – and with a small government philosophy.

Rand Paul has been very vocal in his support for ending federal drug laws. In April, Paul gave a scathing statement on mandatory minimum laws, one of the biggest travesties of injustice to come from the drug war. Telling the story of two men (George W. Bush and Barack Obama) who recreationally used drugs as young men, Paul argued that mandatory minimums, and imprisonment for marijuana use, can deprive the world of future leaders and ruin people’s lives unjustly. “In this story, both young men were extraordinarily lucky. Both young men were not caught using illegal drugs, and they weren’t imprisoned. Instead, they went on to become presidents of the United States. Barack Obama and George Bush were lucky.”

Wow, what a great voice for liberty he’d be if he’d only make a video of himself using illegal drugs!

Is it possible to not “love the drug war” and also not support legalization of all drugs on all levels of government? Of course it is. The term itself (Drug War) refers to federal prohibition, mandatory minimums, omnibus crime bills, and other such federal expansion over the area of crime laws traditionally left to the states, into which the federal leviathan began encroaching the 1970s and 1980s. Ron Paul, like Rand Paul, has always supported leaving such issues to the states. Both Pauls believe that states should be free to legalize drugs if they want. Ron Paul, like Rand Paul, is no supporter of drug use.

That’s not to say that Rand and Ron Paul are the same. There are differences among libertarians just as there are differences between any group of people. People – even fathers and sons – disagree, and we shouldn’t hold them to unrealistic standards of agreeing with us on everything if we are to consider them “intellectually pure” enough. If we do, libertarianism will continue to be persuasive only to those who already agree, and who, by and large, do not vote anyway. Winning is not compromising liberty. Self-insular irrelevancy should not be our goal.

This attitude totally wins over thousands of new libertarians every day.

If you disagree with this picture, you’re a statist.

Finally, it is very disappointing to see libertarians blindly accepting what the media says about Rand Paul just because they don’t like him. Libertarians should know better than anyone not to take what the media says at face value, but we blindly accept that Rand Paul “loves the drug war” now – a position completely different than everything he’s stood for in the past – based on the inference of a reporter who provides no quotes from Paul to back this up. The only quote in the article shows that he feels state governments should have the prerogative to ban drugs, just like his father. This is neither surprising nor new.

If libertarians are to ever shake the stereotype that we are basement-dwelling, pot-smoking, jobless college kids, we have to think carefully about our knee-jerk reactions to people who happen to hold more personally conservative views than some of us do. Critical disagreement is fine. Rejecting anyone who holds more politically prudent views than other libertarians is unwise. Blind acceptance of anything the media says, as long as it’s about someone we don’t like, is intellectual dishonesty.

It Was My Idea First!

It’s My Idea!

The nature of property and what constitutes rightful claims to property defines many aspects of life – cultures with differing views on property will most certainly vary widely in belief systems, norms, social institutions, and so on. When it comes to Libertarianism, the guiding notion of what constitutes property is that property is the extension of the self and that one has a rightful claim to themselves. Libertarian views on property are quite similar to Locke’s theory of property in that physical property is created by mixing labor with land/resources (which in turn, can be bought and sold, including one’s own labor.) But, generally, Libertarians refute the notion that ideas and thoughts, otherwise known as ‘Intellectual Property’, are valid, and therefore no one has a rightful claim to such property.

The form of intellectual property I would like to discuss and defend is not the form of intellectual property that is upheld by the state and its laws; rather, the intellectual property I will be discussing deals with the literal ownership of one’s own ideas, regardless of the existence of a state or Intellectual Property laws.

Every action that someone engages in is a result of an idea or thought – a will to accomplish something, the drive to move or build, fix or destroy. No one could mix their labor with land or engage in trade, or do anything, for that matter,without their own thoughts and calculations guiding them and causing their physical body to act in accordance with their will. If one accepts the idea of property, in its general form, then they must then derive the root of physical property – and how physical property comes about.

All physical property comes about through the manifestation of ideas. Simply put, one must own their own ideas in order to own anything that those ideas accomplish or create. An idea or thought is what brings you to the market, what guides transactions, what brings about trade-and at the very bottom of all of this, creation itself. Creation of any physical property must come about through intangible thought processes. If no one owns their own thought processes, then who/what does?

For example, let us look at the case of a chair. For simplicity’s sake, this chair was fashioned with materials all owned and created by the owner, without anyone else mixing their labor with the chair or the resources. The chair, with its stiles and brackets, were all shaped by the labor of the owner. The wood, being necessary for the completion of the chair, was chopped down by the owner, whose sole intent was to create the chair. This chair did not come into existence on its own, nor did the tree shape itself into the chair without the labor of the owner; yet, the owner’s labor did not act on its own accord. The owner, for whatever reason, thought it necessary to have the chair, to chop down the tree, to whittle down the wood and to carve it into curves and fashion a seat for himself. The owner of the chair owned the idea to create the chair, and similarly owned the means (his body) to make the chair. Even if we change this scenario and say that another person told him to make the chair, then we can logically assume that the other person owned the idea to make the chair, despite the action being taken through the other. The idea must originate somewhere; moreover, the originator has the ability to hold onto the idea, save risking that idea being acted upon by someone else who thinks of the same or similar idea. When we look at the existence of the chair in reverse chronological order, then we can derive the nature of intellectual property and how all physical property is a result of the latter.

This form of intellectual property is not the form that (some) libertarians have come to abhor. The form of intellectual property that exists today comes is more often than not in the form of copyrights, patents, regulations, laws, etc. (many of the things that Libertarians dislike.) Therefore, it is only natural for Libertarians to dismiss this type of intellectual property without distinguishing this form of intellectual property from true intellectual property.

True intellectual property extends only insofar as the originator’s ability to act upon their idea in a timely fashion or efficient manner. Here enters what economists generally refer to as “the first to market.” If one is the first to market with an idea, then they are the ones who will benefit the most, and be accredited with the idea. Note, this DOES NOT MEAN that the state has a right to enforce a perpetual first-to-the-market condition, which is typically enforced by patents and the like. The originator of the idea has the ability to cover investment and start-up costs by being the first to market. The risk of losing this natural grace period should be enough to drive the originator to get to the market first and make enough on the idea or product as to cover the costs of putting the idea forward. After this grace period, however, the idea/product is obviously likened to imitation; however, this is a good thing. From an egotistical standpoint, the originator had earned their keep and has a legitimate claim to the original idea. From an altruistic viewpoint, the originator has created something that can be enjoyed by all, and be openly traded in the market. In this double-instance, all are satisfied, and there was no impediment to innovation nor was there any dead-weight loss in the economy on the whole.

Again, I want to clarify that Intellectual Property is obviously open to being copied, imitated, ‘stolen’, and so on. No property is permanent, nor do you have any say in property once it is sold to another person. Once the idea is manifested into something physical, buyers have the ability to acquire the product and make copies of it, or re-sell it, or give it away for free (in the free market, or freer markets.) All physical property is subject to this, wherein such property is derived from thoughts and ideas.

What happens with state intervention in this scenario is, essentially, the establishment of a monopoly. The originator would be able to extend this grace period of higher profits (and higher costs for the consumer) so long as the state enforces their monopoly. It is important to recognize that, in both cases, the originator does indeed own the idea for whatever product they set forth-the difference in the former cases opposed to the latter is that the state ensures that the originator can hold the price high for longer than what it would naturally be. This is the difference that many anti-IP Libertarians fail to see. The idea still originated with the person, and they still were the first to market. The latter case is the undesirable one, the case that unfairly utilizes force to upset the natural course of events, a course of events that would otherwise been beneficial to all. This is an important distinction that must be made. In both cases, Intellectual Property still exists; however, the state manipulates and distorts its true form. Originators of ideas do not have the sole claim to it for all of eternity, just as a land-owner would not own the land for all of time. In its true essence, Intellectual Property is simply the recognition that an originator has developed a unique and original idea; it is NOT the establishment of a monopoly on the idea.