The Propertarian Definition of Property - Answering an FAQ / by John Mark

Curt Doolittle standing next to his Ferrari nobody rides for free.jpg

by Bill Joslin, from The Propertarian Institute Facebook page

Note from John Mark: One of the most frequently asked questions we get is “Won’t the Propertarian definition of property be abused by the Left? Can’t they use it for their own purposes? Can’t they use it to protect or argue for various things they want?” The answer is, no. Because everything the Left does and wants to do is parasitic. Anyone who asks this question has only a passing knowledge of the propertarian definition of property. Anyone who understands the definition of property would never even think to ask this question. Don’t try to play lawyer without going to law school - without studying and understanding the definition. Here is Bill Joslin’s answer to this question. (Bill is one of the leading Propertarians.) Keep in mind that here he is focusing primarily on one aspect of the definition of property (“demonstrated investment”), not every aspect of it.


A demonstrated definition of property doesn't result in a less precise criteria for deciding property.

The demonstrated definition: i.e. the investment to seek a future benefit to the extent one would seek restitution or retaliation if said investment has been imposed upon, damaged or destroyed.

This definition has two sides to it - the investment (which is demonstrated) and the willingness protect the investment. Another way to describe property is the term "demonstrated interests".

By this we have a clear means of calculating (not interpreting) property and a measure for imposition.

People would not be able to claim their feelings as a property because there is no demonstrated investment. The demonstrated definition of property closes the door to discretionary interpretation (abuse) and opens the door to calculation. It accomplishes the opposite of what you are concerned about.

(Note from John Mark: Be sure to catch the point Bill is making here. A person cannot claim a property violation unless they can demonstrate that they invested in it somehow. Example: A leftist claiming that their welfare check is property. Sorry leftist. You can’t demonstrate that you invested in it - it’s just a handout to you. Contrast that with a paycheck - a person can easily demonstrate that they invested in their paycheck by working for it. Another example: Say a leftist claims that immigrants have a “right” to come to America, and that anyone who wants to stop immigration is committing a “property violation” against immigrants. Sorry leftist. Immigrants can’t demonstrate that they invested in making America what it is, so coming to America is just a free benefit given to them. Thus stopping immigrants from coming to America is not a property violation against them. No demonstrated investment on your part = you can’t claim it as your property.

On the other hand, if immigration imposes any cost on any form of property that any group of Americans has invested in - say, if immigration of a particular group or individual increases the crime rate, reduces average IQ of the American population, or reduces trust in our society when immigrants demonize white people etc. - then that is a property violation against Americans, and is a violation of reciprocity and must not be allowed. So you see that if all immigrant groups had avg IQ equal to or higher than current avg IQ in America, crime rate equal to or lower than current in America, and did not antagonize white people or other Americans or reduce societal cohesion and trust in any way, then immigration of that group would not be a property violation, would not violate reciprocity and could be considered as an option if we wanted to let them in - but we would still have no obligation to let them come in.)

So think of it this way - the point of a demonstrated definition of property wasn't to expand property rights beyond material possessions etc. (This isn't a ploy.)

It begins with clarifying the causes for human conflict, i.e. what inspires retaliation and why do we retaliate.

By doing this it becomes clear older versions of property definitions (possession i.e. property equates to ownership, exclusive control) and mixed labour theories (material becomes property when we mix our labor with it) are partially correct but highly flawed.

Simply put, property exists as a behaviour humans exhibit toward objects. And once the behaviour was discovered then it became clear that humans behave this way toward more than just objects.

Our language use exemplifies this. We use the possessive for all sorts of things which we don't consider property by traditional definitions... my wife, my daughter, my religion, my idea, my friend etc... And in all of these cases we have investment and willingness to maintain (reinvest), protect if threatened, and retaliate if damaged.