It's all very well having the Non Aggression Principle (NAP) to protect property rights, but that only works when rightful ownership is agreed and established.
For the most part ownership is clear, obvious and already established as it is the result of voluntary trade.
But we cannot escape the reality that a lot of what is owned today was, at some point, stolen.
Through governments and government facilitated corporations both our past and our present is littered, perhaps even defined, by theft.
So what do we do about this?
When it comes to creating a free society what do we do about the crimes of the past?
This is what the Nations Of Sanity propose.

Public Property
Government "property" is comparatively easy to deal with (compared with private ownership) because all government property and resources is stolen. What to do with it may be more debatable but the claim that government property is basically stolen property is a pretty simple truth.
Returning it all to its original rightful ownership may prove to be difficult at best, impossible in most cases, so the best we can do is make all reasonable effort to return what can be returned to rightful ownership, including returning that which should remain unowned to that status, and then when those concerns are dealt with just treat the citizenry of each nation (or the world if applicable) as the victims of government criminality and deem them equally eligible for recompense. 
Ultimately, we declare the citizenry equal owners of recovered government property and resources, essentially making them a collective of private owners with equal share of their respective nation.

However, the distribution of a nations wealth and resources (and to clarify, we are talking about what is currently government owned, NOT private property) should be divided in such a fashion only after certain considerations are taken care of, specifically where failure to address would result in NAP violating harm to another.
For example, dependant people cannot be cut off from government aid without allowing for alternative means of care to be put in place, as this would be a violation of the NAP, especially as they are not responsible for the theft of taxation and while their dependence on stolen resources may not entitle them to long term ownership of any resource the NAP demands that providing alternative forms of aid takes precedent over standard recompense that is due to the citizenry as a whole.  
It is important to note that this duty of care would only apply to what has already been stolen by government and would not justify a continuation of taxation.
To use this simple analogy, if your ladder is stolen from you then the NAP allows you to take back your ladder should you manage to find it, but if someone is stood at the top of your ladder when you discover it then you cannot physically take back your ladder at that moment, as you would cause them to fall and hurt themselves.
To cause a potentially innocent third party harm, even when taking back what is rightfully yours (which you are otherwise entitled to do) would be a violation of the NAP, especially if the person using the ladder played no part in stealing your ladder, but was only a needy recipient.
In this very simplified example, you have right to reclaim your ladder and request the person cease using it, but they must be given a reasonable chance to step down so that you can take back what is yours without harming them.

The duty of care demanded by the NAP here is in the context of recovering stolen goods and applies as a reminder that enforcing the NAP must be done without violating it.
With these provisions the task of recovering the wealth of the nation from the governments (and other interests) would be a relatively simple (not to be confused with easy) task.
In fact the duty of care demanded by the NAP would apply to all aspects of transitioning over to a free society, as we must abide by the principles we are fighting for.

Private Property
Private property is a little more complex but, as the defining law of a free society, the Non Aggression Principle is there again to guide us through and show us the way.
Private ownership acquired through voluntary trade or creation is without question legitimate and the full protection of property rights applies.

An important note on Property rights 
egitimate private ownership does not apply to all things.
Outside of homesteading, the only land/resources/property that can be rightfully owned is that which was acquired through voluntary trade (or created).
We have to accept that property rights can violate the NAP if they are given such license and granted such authority and while most property ownership would be ratified as rightful due to the peaceful nature of its acquisition, there are some things, including some land, that no one ever had a right to make claim to because it belongs to us all as part of our shared environment.

Ultimately when dealing with a "Tragedy of the Commons" situation, as it applies to land and resources that cannot be rightfully owned without violation of the NAP, the answer is clear. We all have equal right to utilisation but none of us have the right to claim private ownership over such things.
This distinction is important because property rights allow you to destroy that which you privately own. You own your property exclusively and can deny it to others.
The potential for such standards of property rights to violate the NAP if applicable to everything is pretty obvious if the NAP is not serving as an overriding and enforced authority that restricts even private ownership"

The question remains over what, if anything, is done about the crimes of the past and the inequities created by the rule of criminality.
Government property is easily identified as illegitimate (as previously established) but private ownership begins at a starting point of assumed legitimacy in a free society. 

So lets simplify the scenario to make things easier to understand (we can then transpose the principles to the more complicated realities of today).

Let's say we accept that US land was originally stolen, way back when it was either owned by Native Americans as their home lands or ranges and territories or whether it was just deemed to belong to nature and sort of owned by none of us at the same time as belonging to all of us (like the air we breath is something that we all have a right to utilise but not a right to exclusively own, destroy or deny to others). Our shared environment.
As I say, I realise this is a massive simplification and various realities (like the lack of NAP adherence by Native Americans themselves for example) and other nuances are being ignored for the sake of simplifying this example.
So even fully accepting that premise (that US land was originally stolen from Native Americans) as the real situation, we still cannot undo this today because the victims are long gone, the guilty parties and the beneficiaries of these crimes are long gone and all that is left are innocent people who have legitimately acquired land/property through voluntary trade, or homesteading acquisition.

This is where the moral principles of a free society collide with the realities of our "might is right" history.

We can recognise that much of the land owned today was originally stolen, but we also have to accept (where appropriate) that much of this land was stolen long ago, with both the victims and the perpetrators of such crimes long gone. We cannot undo these crimes and we cannot reverse them.
More importantly, we need to understand that, for the most part, the current owners of such land are, by all reasonable standards, the rightful owners now because they acquired this land through voluntary trade and from someone who did likewise. 
How far back we have to go for this standard to be the deciding factor may seem somewhat debatable but the deciding factors become clear when you simplify the scenario even more (so let's do that).

If something is stolen (be it land, resources, or other forms of property or possessions) and then sold on to a third party (who is unaware they buying stolen property) the obvious claim of ownership would belong to the original rightful owner and their claim would override the otherwise legitimate claim of ownership that the current owner would have.
Compensation would be provided where possible and appropriate but the fact is that even if you engage in voluntary trade and buy something in good faith, if what you bought was actually stolen from someone else then your claim to ownership is overruled by the original rightful owner.
The principle is pretty clear here, the only question is exactly where you draw the line with regards to how far back you can establish such things, and if the NAP remains unviolated when such principles are actioned.
As with everything presented by the Nations Of Sanity, the NAP is there as the golden rule to prevent any scenarios where the aforementioned guidelines may result in harm or loss to innocent people.
It is our safety net of morality.

Ideally when stolen property is passed on to an innocent party who acquires it through legitimate trade the stolen property would be returned to its original rightful owner and the innocent party who would have otherwise been the rightful owner would be compensated, at the very least reimbursed for the money that was essentially stolen from them during the fraudulent transaction. Ideally the cost of all of this would be recovered from those responsible for the theft.
So if person A has his bike stolen from him by person B and then person B sells that bike to person C. The bike belongs to person A and should be returned to them, person C has essentially had their money stolen by person B and that should be returned to them. That would be the minimum that justice would demand.

The problem comes when reality does not fit these ideal scenarios and it may not always be possible to properly compensate innocent victims of crimes.
All we can do is adhere to the basic principles of the NAP and understand that the minimum demands of the NAP does not prohibit us from applying maximum effort to see that justice is served to its maximum, in the name of charity and good will.
If the guilty party is unable to compensate their victims then basic justice has not been served. The obvious way to facilitate justice in this example would be to facilitate a way for the guilty party to pay off their debt, perhaps through labour, but such compensation must go only to the victim of the crime.

The tragedy of the Commons
Currently we have two basic forms of ownership that are recognised. We have private ownership and "public"/government ownership.
In a free society government would not exist (as currently defined) and "public" ownership would essentially become collective private ownership with the owners in this case being a collective of citizens. But ultimately it would all be akin to private ownership, as even what is collectively owned would be a form of private ownership and property rights would apply equally in a free society.

However there is another standard of ownership that can apply to land and resources where property rights are not applicable, at least not fully. A form of non ownership right of use and access.
There is land and resources that no one owns, or at least no one should own, and no one can own because there is no way to claim rightful ownership. 
This is important to understand. There are some things that belong to no one simply because they belong to everyone (in the sense that we share this world but none of us can own it in the traditional sense). 

Exclusive ownership applies to our property, that we own rightfully, but our shared environment (the world we live in) is no ones exclusively but everyone's inclusively.
The air we breathe would be a good example of this but such a standard can be applied to other aspects of our shared environment, even including land and resources.
No one can claim exclusive ownership over our environment, the air we breathe, the sun, the moon, the level of nature we require to sustain us, no one can destroy it or deny it to others, or even attempt to, without violating the Non Aggression Principle.
You don't have to obtain private ownership over all our natural environment to protect it, in fact it is vital that we understand and accept that there are areas where no one has a rightful claim of ownership but all have a duty of care and a claim of utilisation.
Such places would be what was once known as "the commons". 7725833404 3b8046cc0a
Areas, land and resources that no one owns, but everyone utilises in some direct or indirect way (though utilisation itself is not a defining characteristic).
We are all free to use such resources, but we do not have the right to own or possess and we certainly do not have a right to destroy.
We all have a right to breathe the air in our atmosphere but we do not have the right to claim ownership over that air, to deny it to others, to destroy or pollute it to the harm of others.
While the air we breathe is a prime example of such a standard, this would also apply to other natural resources and even unutilised parts of our natural environment (Rainforests for example, which are required to sustain our environment). 
In addition to the considerations of our shared environment, in the sense of why exclusive ownership of certain things would be NAP violating, we also have the obvious problem of the lack of legitimate claim anyone can make over such land and resources.

Once again the NAP is there to show us the way to go each time we are faced with these questions.

So we must accept that some things are off limits when it comes to private ownership. The NAP will draw the basic lines for us and finer specifics will need to be dealt with in the Non Aggression Agreement (while part 3 of the Non Aggression Agreement has obvious relevance, as it addresses this directly, this is actually a subject that will be dealt with to varying degrees by all parts, as part 1 will set the principle, part 2 will be drawing the pertinent lines of tolerance and 3 declares rightful ownership).

This is why everything has to be subservient to the Non Aggression Principle. This is why the Nations Of Sanity champions the NAP as the highest and only authority that defines a free society.
Not only does the NAP grant us our freedom, it essentially defines it.
Even property rights, which most people think of as being virtually interchangeable with voluntarism, still need to be restricted by the NAP. 
The reality is that while property rights come from the NAP, it is important to understand that they must remain governed by it too.
The Non Aggression Principle is the only absolute in a free society. Things like property rights are afforded by the freedom and universal principles that define a free society, the only authority that maintains such a society is the NAP.
The NAP demands that we do no harm. Such a principle enforces property rights but it also restricts property rights exactly when and where it is necessary to do so.

Add comment

Security code

Become A Volunteer

Join the Nations Of Sanity and help us create a real revolution of simple sanity

Join Now


Connect with Us