Available Now! (click cover)

America's Counter-Revolution
The Constitution Revisited

From the back cover:

This book challenges the assumption that the Constitution was a landmark in the struggle for liberty. Instead, Sheldon Richman argues, it was the product of a counter-revolution, a setback for the radicalism represented by America’s break with the British empire. Drawing on careful, credible historical scholarship and contemporary political analysis, Richman suggests that this counter-revolution was the work of conservatives who sought a nation of “power, consequence, and grandeur.” America’s Counter-Revolution makes a persuasive case that the Constitution was a victory not for liberty but for the agendas and interests of a militaristic, aristocratic, privilege-seeking ruling class.

Monday, September 15, 2014

TGIF: Ownership and Ideas

Like many libertarians, I’ve learned a lot from Murray Rothbard on a wide variety of subjects. Of course, no one gets everything right, especially someone as intellectually ambitious, multidisciplinary, and prolific as Rothbard. Nevertheless, reading the work of the man who left such a mark on the modern libertarian movement is as profitable as it is pleasurable. 
While rereading For a New Liberty (first published in 1973) recently, I confess I was puzzled, which is not the frame of mind Rothbard normally leaves me in. In deriving property rights, he used the example of a “sculptor fashioning a work of art out of clay and other materials.”
Read TGIF here.


Terry Hulsey said...

I offer to some future pathologist looking for a case study of an idée fixe the example of the current crusade against intellectual property.

It's really entertaining to see how the anti-IP spiders cast their webs, oblivious to any real world intrusion — including the intrusion of simple

consistency. Mr. Richman offers the example [http://fff.org/explore-freedom/article/tgif-ownership-and-ideas/] of a wheelbarrow barred from further use

because of an original patent claim placed on it. His is example intends to condemn patents, as Rothbard himself does, when the context of his objection to

Rothbard was regarding copyright.

However, strictly in terms of copyright, an inventor without the right to contract or stipulate terms of use of his idea can be completely denuded of the

profits of his invention. It is of no use to say that a third party should not be bound by such terms, any more than to say that a thieving third party can

legitimately make use of a middleman to "fence" stolen goods.

Nor is it of any use to say that the inventor himself would reap greater profits by taking the broader long-term view of copyright commons, even if that

greater profit could be demonstrated. For example, I'm sure that there exist anti-IP writers who own second homes surrounded by fertile ground. How would

they react to the suggestion of planting and harvesting, say, a crop of tomatoes on this property in their absence? Oh, but we will restore the property to

its original condition! So, what's it to you if a community of reaps this benefit? Your accusation of "home invasion" is just a mental construct, a vacuous

term that keeps us from "[r]idding ownership theory of the intellectual element"! This arrogant social calculus is claimed by Stephan Kinsella to trump the

creator's ownership of creation [see http://c4sif.org/2010/10/the-real-ip-pirates/]. But if ownership is the power of disposal, then the creator himself

must possess the power to stipulate the terms of use of his creation in defiance of anyone, whether arrogated by one or by a committee of anti-IP

commissars, and even in the face of his own detriment.

Terry Hulsey said...

Many of the anti-IP intellectual Sailors of Discovery pretend to adhere to Austrian economics. Yet in another personality, they are able to claim that lack

of scarcity vitiates any claim of intellectual property. But if this were so, then given the subjective theory of value, and given the ease of digital

reproduction that in their view makes any printed material infinitely abundant, not just the value of property but the property right itself would

wax or wane, according to the value set on the property. If for example, a hacker were to obtain Stephen King's latest novel as he uploaded it to his

publisher, and give it to a million digital readers, there would be no crime. Such a hacker would be fêted, celebrated as a hero, just as the heroic Chinese

who published copies of the Lion King video before its official release. Yes, these Chinese were their heroes — they used their own materials! They

merely swiped the contents of some creative "head[s] that add nothing to the matter"! These would-be slayers of IP, supposed champions of zero aggression,

must in fact impose their regime by force, in violation of the creator's stipulated, contracted terms of use. And make no mistake, anyone who takes millions

of dollars out of the pockets of any creator [see http://tinyurl.com/qhpektn] is certainly an aggressor.

But particularly amusing, and certainly of interest to the future pathologist of the anti-IP idée fixe, is their blindness to their own intellectual

hypocrisy. For example, Google the ISBNs 0964044722 and 0964044781 of Sheldon Richman, an anti-IP stalwart, and you will find these works clearly

copyrighted. Or consider another advocate, one Jeffrey Tucker, who has created the Liberty.me website with a very long and portentous Terms of Use page

[http://liberty.me/terms-of-use/], featuring the admonition: "You will not access Liberty.me using automated means such as spiders, harvesting bots, robots

or scrapers." But surely the anti-IP minion should harvest with a vengeance, yes? Or consider Stefan Molyneux, who with the bluntness of Pierre-Joseph

Proudhon's la propriété, c'est le vol!, has said "IP must die." His advocacy apparently was easily dropped when it pinched himself, since he used the

Digital Millennium Copyright Act [http://tinyurl.com/qedbquz] to take down a YouTube posting that was not to his liking.

These same anti-IP proponents smirk at the Tulip Mania of 1637, and the madness of crowds. And yet they have scurried like rats to board a supposed great

Ship of Discovery that seems on closer examination to be a Ship of Fools.

thombrogan said...

Would you be able to write your argument in a way that doesn't use certain logical fallacies ("tu quoque," "equivocation," "ad hominem accusative," and "ad hominem circumstancial" for starters...) and doesn't make unprovable assertions that monopolist-authorized goods would make the same profits as independently produced goods?

Which reader is supposed to suffer through a poorly-formatted screed of denunciations and insults and say: "Violating property rights to benefit monopolists is a great idea!" ?

Terry Hulsey said...

I can't answer the formatting complaint, and as for the... oh wait, you weren't able to address anything else.

thombrogan said...

Are you sure you want violently typed logical falsehoods (many of which I named in my, er, non-address) to be your final answer as to why you believe violating property rights in the name of intellectual monopoly is a just practice?

Terry Hulsey said...

It is pathological projection to say "tu quoque" (my problem), when a rational person would say "self-contradiction" (your problem).

If you have a question, ask it. If you have a response referencing the original, make it.

thombrogan said...

Tu quoque is Latin for "you, too." As in "you believe intellectual monopoly violates property rights; your writings have copyrights; hence, your statement is incorrect."

A pathological projection would be an uncovered cough or sneeze.

If you have reason to believe you have the intellectual property necessary to refute this particular essay of Richman's which claims that grants of intellectual of monopoly violate property rights or to acknowledge and excuse such violations, please do so.