Tag Archives: Property Rights

My New Blog: A Truly Human Society

My original vision for A Veresapiens Blog was to explore the moral/ethical implications of sincerely attempting to follow the basic foundations of libertarianism – Property Rights (Thou Shalt Not Steal) and Non-Aggression. Clearly, a lot of the those implications apply to the political questions of the day, but I really didn’t want A Veresapiens Blog to take on too much of a political orientation, diffusing its primary focus.

And so, a new blog was born. The first two posts on A Truly Human Society were actually adapted from A Veresapiens Blog since both blogs build upon a common philosophical framework. Could There Be A Truly Human Society? sets out the premise that a consistent application of Thou Shalt Not Steal leads to Voluntaryism. Your Truly Human Society shows how Voluntaryism is the normal mode of operation for most people, absent intrusion by Government.

Then, the next three posts use that foundation to lay out a ‘political’ philosophy that I call Concurrent Voluntaryism. In essence, it is a call to action for all Veresapiens and other Voluntaryists. It says that the best way to form a Voluntaryist Society is for Voluntaryists to shun the coercion that emanates from the State and its Cronies today, not someday. To see what ‘the plan’ is for A Truly Human Society, check out Concurrent Voluntaryism – The Plan.

Gun Control – A Truly Human Approach

Do the Gun Grabbers want everyone to be defenseless?

Do the Gun Lovers care more about their Rights than they do about innocent victims of gun massacres?

That may be how the Gun Control issue is being framed by Politicians and the Mainstream Media, but seriously, do those sound like real motives of real everyday people?

Now Government has certain motivations – and we could speculate as to what those might be – but let’s set those motives aside for a moment so that we’re not left right in the middle of the fog of politics. Let’s take a truly Human approach to this issue, instead.

First let’s consider a pro-gun-control Mom. Is her primary goal likely to be to leave as many people as possible defenseless? No. Her goals are much more likely to be things like:

  • preventing more massacres
  • preventing crazies from killing
  • preventing easy gun access from leading to crimes of opportunity
  • preventing gun accidents

Consider an anti-gun-control Mom. Is she really all about Constitutional Rights? She’s likely more interested in:

  • defending children and others from massacres and attacks by crazies
  • enabling people to deter and defend against armed criminal attacks
  • enabling women and others to defend themselves against physically more powerful attackers
  • not being dependent on police response for protection from attacks

The two lists aren’t that dissimilar, and both are composed of reasonable goals.

So with similar end Goals we really have a dispute over the best Means to get there.

What options do we have for deciding between very Different Means of reaching Common Goals?

Emotions are the key to the Political Approach. As we have seen many times, by instigating and fanning emotional conflict, any issue can be hijacked for Political Purposes. So the first step is to avoid being drawn into the political false-conflict trap.

Setting emotion aside, it would seem then that the issue could best be resolved based on Practical considerations. But logical arguments can be constructed to support any proposal, and statistics, it is said, can be made to say anything if you torture them long enough.

And even if one side could show that its proposed means would lead to indisputably superior results, does that settle the issue? Remember, the saying that the ends don’t justify the means means means must be moral.

So that brings us around to the moral approach, and that’s where the Veresapiens moral philosophy has proven to be so useful. It provides the simplest way to see past the Political and Practical arguments of any issue and clearly distinguish Right from Wrong.

In fact, the approach is so simple it’s not even based on a whole list of morals like The Ten Commandments. It’s more like The One Commandment. And yet it clearly lights the way because it is directly related to the most basic thing that makes us truly Human.

If you think about it, only Humans can choose to Trade for things they want, rather than Take. Only Humans can choose to live by the moral rule Thou Shalt Not Steal.

To be truly Human, then, we must refrain from stealing what others own. So what does it really mean to ‘own’ something?

By definition, you can do whatever you want with something you own. You can use it, give it away, or even destroy it. That’s totally up to you. If you need Permission to do something with it, You Don’t Own It… at least not fully.

So, if someone Takes some or all of your Control over your possession, against your will, they are Stealing from you.

That means that if someone Takes any Control over your Life, they are Taking some Ownership of your Life. Taking ownership without permission is Stealing.

Veresapiens, then, would not make laws to Control Others’ Lives. That would be Stealing. That would be Taking Lives.

Also, if it is wrong for someone to steal your stuff, then it cannot be wrong for you to resist someone stealing your stuff. So, morally, you can Defend your life and all the other things you own.

So, as Veresapiens, we would not take what others own. And since we wouldn’t make laws limiting what others can do with what they own, we certainly wouldn’t make laws diminishing their ability to defend what they own (their life and possessions).

The gun-control Mom does want to make laws limiting what you can own, which at the same time would limit your ability to defend yourself and your possessions. The resulting laws may even authorize people with guns to come and take from you the guns you already own. Gun-control Mom’s goals are valid, but her Means are Immoral and unHuman.

Anti-gun-control Mom doesn’t want to steal your guns or impose controls on your ownership of your life or possessions. Her goals are valid and she has not advocated any immoral means.

Can the Veresapiens philosophy go beyond the question of the morality of means and ultimately propose the Ideal Solution to the problem?

The Veresapiens approach doesn’t require any one particular solution, or even that there be a single solution. Only that there is No Theft of liberty or possessions. Any and all means used to pursue our ends simply must be moral.

Once you accept that attempting to prevent a problem with laws Controlling People’s Behavior is Immoral, you will also begin to see that such laws typically make the original problem worse, and often cause additional problems.

The drug laws are an obvious example. Drug laws haven’t eliminated drug use. They’ve only managed to make drug use more dangerous, violent, and destructive.

Laws against possessing guns wouldn’t work any better than the laws against possessing drugs have worked.

So one effective means to solve many social problems may be to Eliminate already-existing Laws. For instance, instead of maintaining laws that declare schools ‘gun-free zones’, wouldn’t it make more sense to ensure that your child goes to school in a ‘well-defended zone’?

The Veresapiens philosophy not only guides you to more moral, and Truly Human, solutions, but also helps lead you to more effective solutions, as well.


You Can Be A Veresapien Now

Which of these statements is true?

Republicans are Outraged at Democrats!

Democrats are Outraged at Republicans!

Yes, both, of course.

Republicans accuse Democrats of using the Power of Government to Steal from working people to give Free Stuff to Lazy People.

Democrats accuse Republicans of using the Power of Government to Steal from poor and working class people through Preferential Treatment for Big Business.

Is it possible that Half the Country is Evil and the other half of the country is – Evil?

But Republicans don’t think they’re Evil. They believe they are Good.

Democrats? Same thing.

Maybe Politics creates this Confusion over basic issues like Good and Evil. With politics, what each side sees as Good looks like Evil to the other.

Maybe this is Done On Purpose.

Wouldn’t it be nice to have a simple way to See Past the Politics of any issue and clearly Distinguish Right and Wrong?

If you could Discover a simple way to tell right from wrong that would also Light the Path to Freedom, wouldn’t that be worthwhile?

In fact, the answer is so simple it’s not even based on a list like The Ten Commandments. It’s more like The One Commandment.

And yet it clearly lights the way because it is directly related to the most Basic Thing That Makes Us Human.

We know that Man is not the only Animal that makes tools, or communicates, or lives in social groups, or builds homes.

What is it, then, that is Uniquely Human?

All living things need space to live in and things to consume. Non-Human living things simply Take what they need.

What truly differentiates Human from Animal is that a Human is able make the conscious decision to Refrain From Taking. A Human is capable of consciously Choosing Voluntary interaction, in Cooperation with others, to satisfy needs.

Humans choose to Trade, Not Take.

Humans choose to live by the rule “Thou Shalt Not Steal”.

Though all are capable, not every Man makes that choice. But, to actually make and live by that choice, is what it takes for Man to be Truly Wise, Truly Human. (The name Veresapiens comes from the Latin for ‘truly wise’.)

Thou Shalt Not Steal – simple, yet so important that it is considered The One Commandment of Veresapiens.

Humans have always considered Thou Shalt Not Steal so significant that it is a basic tenet of Every Major Religion.

What causes the morality of Thou Shalt Not Steal to be so universally recognized, right along with Thou Shalt Not Kill?

Is it possible that they are essentially two ways of saying the Same Thing?


Your earthly lifetime is not infinite. You have one body and a Limited amount of Time to spend in it.

You may choose to Spend some of your brief Time creating something. In other words, you may Trade some of your precious Time for something else of value to you.

If a Thief Takes what you created, is he taking Your Life?


It took your time to create your new possession. You Spent Time. That time is gone.

You Gave Up (some of) Your Life for that possession, so the Thief Took (some of) Your Life when he stole it.

And that is why Thou Shalt Not Steal is held Sacred, right along with Thou Shalt Not Kill, in all the major world religions.

Thou Shalt Not Steal is clearly an important commandment, but is it comprehensive enough to be The One Commandment?


Let’s explore the meaning of Thou Shalt Not Steal a little further, and see how it manages to cover behavior from petty Theft to Slavery and Murder.

To define what it means ‘To Steal’, let’s first define what it means ‘To Own’.

At the most basic level, Ownership is not a financial term. To Own is to Control.

If you Own something, You can Make All of the Decisions about it, yourself. You can do whatever you wish with something you own. You can use it, give it away, destroy it, whatever. It’s totally up to you.

If you Need Permission to do something with it, You Don’t Own it… at least not fully.

Here’s an illustration of what I mean by Partial Ownership:

Suppose you ‘own’ a house. And suppose you bought the house with a home loan. And, finally, suppose that you rent out the house to tenants.

Financially, you own the house. You are the homeowner. However, your ownership rights have been voluntarily limited, as detailed in your mortgage loan agreement with the bank and your lease agreement with the renters.

For example, you own the house, but you cannot use the house as your home. You have agreed to give all of the normal residential usage rights (control) to your renters for the duration of their lease.

Also, you own the house, but you cannot tear it down and turn your property into a wildlife sanctuary. You have agreed to give up some rights (control), relative to the physical building, to the bank for the duration of the mortgage loan.

The important point here is that Control is Not All-Or-Nothing. And therefore, Ownership is Not All-Or-Nothing. Some portion of your ownership can be given or traded away.

And some Portion of Your Ownership can be Taken away. (And we have thereby arrived at the broader Meaning of ‘Stealing’.)

If someone Takes Away some or all of your Control over your possession, against your will, they are Stealing from you.

Even if, rather than physically taking, they simply Prevent you from exercising Your Full Control over your possession through threats or force, they are still Stealing from you. Because, even if they are not physically taking your possession, they are Taking away your Ownership (control).

Now, here’s a Critical Question.

Do you believe your life belongs to you? If you really Own Your Life, you must fully Control Your Life.

Anyone who Prevents you from exercising full Control over your own life is Taking Your Life.

At a minimum, they are Stealing your Freedom. In the extreme, this can rise to the level of Slavery or Murder.

OK, now that we have fleshed out the broader meaning of To Steal, we can begin to explore how Thou Shalt Not Steal can be applied to political questions.

If the Primary Guiding Principle shaping society was Thou Shalt Not Steal, what kind of government, legal, and social systems would such a Veresapiens society have?

The answer to that question goes back to our earlier discussion of Ownership. If you ‘own’ something, it means that you have total Control over it. If someone Takes away some or all of your Control, then, because they are Taking away your Ownership, they are Stealing from you.

That means that if someone Takes any Control Over Your Life, they are Taking Ownership of Your Life. Taking ownership without permission is Stealing.

Veresapiens, then, would Not Make Rules, or laws, to Control Others’ behavior. That would be Stealing.

Individual Veresapiens would make Rules as to the acceptable use of Their Own Property and the acceptable behavior of visitors to their property. And Veresapiens may rightfully choose to Defend Their Property from unacceptable aggression by others. Such ‘individual property rules’ do not take away any others’ full ownership of their own lives and property.

If a society based on Thou Shalt Not Steal would Make No Laws to Control, Mandate, or Prohibit anyone’s actions, then it would have No Need For a Government. In fact, any imposed form of government, including Democracy, would be Incompatible with a Thou Shalt Not Steal-based society.

Thus, for a whole society to live by Thou Shalt Not Steal as a guiding principle, a totally Voluntaryist social structure is required – one with No Government at all.

You may already live much of your life in a Truly Human, Thou Shalt Not Steal, Veresapiens mode. Think about the ‘Anarchy’ that already exists between You and your Friends and close Neighbors. Do you refrain from stealing from them because of the laws of the government? Do you make up rules that all of them must follow or be punished? Do all of your disagreements get resolved by courts and judges?

If not, you’re already creating your own personal Truly Human Society!

Many truly wise philosophers and authors have written about how an entire Society Without a Government might function, so rather than re-create that content here, let me just recommend a good, easy-to-read introduction, available as a free download at this link:

The Market for Liberty

Of course the most common criticism leveled against this kind of ‘Society Without a Government’ thought experiment is that it assumes the existence of a society somehow magically free of an existing central government.

I have to agree that this is an unlikely scenario for the foreseeable future. And When Governments do Fall, whether by revolution or by conquest, they are, unfortunately, Replaced By new Governments. There is never a shortage of ‘wannabe rulers’ just waiting for their big opportunity.

But, if you think about it, even if there was, magically, a land with No Government, and people had Total Freedom to organize new social structures, they would most likely not end up being one single homogenous society. Different groups of People would try out Different Approaches, many of which might take hold and thrive. There would also, no doubt, be violent organized gangs of criminals.

Those who wanted to organize around the concept of Thou Shalt Not Steal could do so, but they would still have to Coexist among people with different ideas, values, and social structures, just as your own personal Truly Human Society does today. They would also have to deal with individuals and organized groups intent on stealing their property or their freedom, just as your own personal Truly Human Society does today.

So, we have the same kind of Opportunity Now to organize a Truly Human Society as we would have in the mythical ungoverned land.

Now, at this point, you may still be wondering how the Veresapiens Philosophy Answers current Political Questions in the real world.

So let’s see how our philosophy scales up. As an example, let’s consider this politically hot question:

“What should the Government do about the Problem of Illegal Aliens?”

First let’s Question the Question.

Why are ‘illegal aliens’ a ‘problem’ to be solved?

A common answer would be: “They don’t pay taxes, and yet are served by government programs (paid for by American citizens).”

That answer hints at a new way to look at almost all ‘political’ questions. The answer to why illegal aliens are a problem is centered around Government Programs (taxes and services).

In other words, we need to solve this problem (illegal aliens) because of the impact it has on Government ‘Solutions’ to Previous ‘Problems’ (the collection of taxes and the provision of services).

What happens if we consider the problem of illegal aliens, Setting Government Aside?

OK, setting government aside, what is an illegal alien? Borders are Imaginary Lines drawn by governments to declare their Control over people and places. So, without government borders, there are no aliens, legal, illegal or otherwise. You Just have People. No problem there.

What about taxes and services? Setting government aside, people in Communities would work to Create Products to sell or trade, Provide Services to sell or trade, and would Provide goods or services as Charity for people in need. Taking from some people to give to other people is a government thing.

So, setting government aside, the ‘illegal alien’ problem simply starts to fade away.

You can follow this thought pattern on just about any Political Issue. Instead of answering the political question, as asked, try considering the question itself. And then, setting aside the political roots of the question, Consider the Issue in Human Terms. This approach will lead you to Truly Human Answers.

  • What is the Political Question?
  • What are the Left vs Right conventional Political Answers?
  • How do the conventional Political Answers relate to Government Laws, Activities, or Programs.
  • What Different Answers would arise from taking a Truly Human Approach to the issue?

And since we do not, at this time, live in a society that is Free of existing Government, the next question a Veresapiens will ask is…

  • To what extent Can You Implement a Truly Human Solution in a Government Dominated Society?

This last point is important to consider, since Truly Human Solutions, implemented fully, may well be Illegal in today’s society. (Think about the impact of Ignoring Government immigration regulations).

Political Discourse, framed in terms of Government Programs, Confuses the distinctions between Right and Wrong.

As you mentally break out of that political frame, you can simply re-frame the original question in terms of basic Morality. And the most basic Human morality is Thou Shalt Not Steal.

Because Thou Shalt Not Steal, when consistently applied, requires that all Human interactions be voluntary, it provides a simple way to determine what the Truly Human approach would be in any situation.

The Veresapiens philosophy helps you distinguish Right and Wrong and helps you find Moral approaches to Social Issues.

The Veresapiens philosophy seldom mandates one particular solution. There will almost always be a range of consistently moral approaches available to a Veresapiens.

All we need to do is ensure that our chosen approach Refrains from Taking property or freedom from others.

This is something we can do Now.

And today, by our example, we help others to also become Truly Human.


A Voluntaryist View of ‘Rights’

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

That famous quote sounds good, but in real world conversations, I have found few things that are less self-evident than ‘self-evident truths’ about Rights.

The quote, itself, immediately raises questions. Do we have only God-Given Rights? Are there Human Rights, Moral Rights, Natural Rights, Legal Rights? Would those be different things, or the same things coming from different sources?

And any detailed discussion of Rights typically gets less self-evident from there.

So, let’s see if I can offer you a simple view of Rights using the lens of Voluntaryism.

It might be useful to begin with Robinson Crusoe, alone on the island, again.

When Crusoe is the only person on the island, does it matter if he has any Rights? Would it make any practical difference if he has a Right to Liberty or not? It is only when Friday shows up on the island that the issue of Rights takes on any meaning.

This tells us that Rights have something to do with relationships.

Here’s why that is:

Rights, in effect, impose duties on others, in the form of either restrictions on their actions or claims on their actions.

If Crusoe has a Right to some type of freedom, that means that Friday has a duty to not interfere with Crusoe’s exercise of that freedom. Thus, Crusoe’s Right places restrictions on Friday’s actions.

If Crusoe has a Right to any services from Friday, that means that Friday has a duty to perform actions necessary to fulfill Crusoe’s Right. Thus, Crusoe’s Right places claims on Friday’s actions.

So, wherever you believe your Rights come from, God, Nature, a Constitution, etc., the purpose of a Right is to reduce the freedom of action of others in some way.

In the original story, Crusoe rescued Friday from cannibals. Let’s suppose for a moment that the rescue had failed miserably. Not only was Friday not saved, but imagine Crusoe found himself in a large pot hanging over a cooking fire.

At this point does a loud declaration from Crusoe that he has a God-Given, Human, Moral, Natural, and Legal Right to Life and Liberty do him any good? The cannibals would likely just give him a funny look and go back to making side dishes.

This tells us that Rights have something to do with voluntary agreement.

If I’m interacting with people who don’t accept that I have a Right, then for all practical purposes I don’t have a Right (in terms of my relationship with those people).

But what about Force?

Let’s go back to the original storyline in which Crusoe successfully rescues Friday. But now let’s change the story so that Crusoe, who has muskets and pistols, decides he has the Right to use Friday as a slave.

Because Crusoe can force Friday to be his slave, does that mean that Crusoe has a Right to keep Friday as an unwilling slave? Of course not.

So let’s summarize what have we learned so far about Rights:

  • Rights don’t relate to individuals, they relate to relationships between individuals.
  • Your Rights limit or reduce the freedom of action of others.
  • To have any practical meaning, Rights must be consensual.
  • The ability to force restrictions or claims on the actions of others does not constitute a Right.

What does all of this mean to a Voluntaryist?

A Voluntaryist believes that all interactions between people should be voluntary. By definition, this philosophy includes such ethical codes as Thou Shalt Not Steal (to steal is to take something against the will of the owner) and the Non-Aggression Principle (to not initiate the use force or threats against a person or their property).

So let’s see how the attributes we have discovered about Rights fit in (or not) with the philosophy of Voluntaryism.

As a Voluntaryist, by definition I grant everyone else the Right to not be aggressed against by me. When I do that, I impose a duty on myself, limiting my freedom of action.

That’s simple enough. But here’s where it gets a little trickier:

If my Rights require restrictions or claims on the actions of others, and I’m a Voluntaryist, then I can’t make a blanket claim of having any Rights. That would be imposing a duty on others, restricting their actions without their agreement. Of course we’ve already learned that Rights, to have any practical value, need consent anyway.

I can use Force to defend myself against aggression, but we’ve also learned that using Force to restrict or enforce actions still doesn’t constitute a Right.

So, bottom line, as a Voluntaryist, I can grant the Right to not be aggressed against, but I cannot demand the Right to not be aggressed against.

Fortunately, most other people, in terms of their daily activities, do consensually grant me the Right to not be aggressed against. The exceptions are a small number of criminals and a somewhat larger number of people involved in government.


Why are Property and Ownership So Important?

“Thou Shalt Not Steal” is found almost universally at the core of religious commandments and secular legal systems. The implication of this is that property, and property ownership, are universally considered to be of central importance. And not just in legal systems, but also in religions.

Why is property ownership so important that respect for it is enshrined as a basic tenet of Human society?

Ownership only begins to take on importance when there is scarcity involved.

We typically don’t worry about who owns the air we breathe. Air is obviously important, but as long as there is plenty for everyone, and your breathing does not reduce the amount of air available for me to breathe, then we don’t have to worry about who owns what air.

The easiest way to illustrate how the issue of scarcity leads to the concept of property and ownership is to use a typical ‘Robinson Crusoe on a desert island’ scenario.

Shipwrecked and alone on a deserted island, Crusoe would have faced a severe scarcity of modern supplies and tools. But he still had no need to worry about whose property the remaining food supplies and tools were. Because there was no one else on the island, there was no one whose usage of the supplies would impact Crusoe’s usage.

It is only when another man, Friday, arrives on the island that the issue of property might arise. For then there might be a conflict over scarce resources. Property rights serve as a means to prevent conflict over scarce items.

The structure of the property rights in this case could take a variety of forms:

  • Crusoe could maintain full ownership rights to the scarce supplies and declare that they are for his use only.
  • Crusoe could maintain full ownership rights to the scarce supplies and make all of the decisions, himself, as to how much to share them with Friday.
  • Crusoe could give ownership of some portion of the supplies to Friday, giving Friday full control over those specific supplies.
  • Crusoe could agree to share ownership of the supplies with Friday, based on mutually agreed upon rules as to how supplies would be allocated by the two men.
  • Or, the scarce supplies could be considered the property of no one, and therefore under the control of neither man.

The final option, above, assigning communal rights to the supplies so that no one owns them sounds nice. It fits nicely with the sentiment in John Lennon’s beautiful song, “Imagine“…

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world

Unfortunately, “no possessions”, meaning no person owns or controls the property, doesn’t mean no person makes decisions about the property.

If neither Crusoe or Friday owns the scarce supplies, it means that each of them can decide what to do with them.

Crusoe, who has found ways to survive on local foods, might want to continue to ration the modern supplies or keep them for emergencies.

Friday might be weak and starving from the mishap that landed him on the island, and decide that he needs to consume the supplies now to regain his strength.

If Friday does start to rapidly consume the remaining supplies, what would Crusoe do? If it starts to look like there may soon be no supplies for him to save or ration, he may decide he has to consume whatever he can before Friday finishes all of it.

This scenario, which often plays out when there is ‘community property’ (scarce resources with no owner) has been called ‘The Tragedy of the Commons‘ by ecologist Garrett Hardin…

The tragedy of the commons is a dilemma arising from the situation in which multiple individuals, acting independently and rationally consulting their own self-interest, will ultimately deplete a shared limited resource, even when it is clear that it is not in anyone’s long-term interest for this to happen.

So,having clear ownership of resources is important, even when the plan is for them to be shared by everyone.

Other examples of the problem with ‘no possessions’ are pretty easy to come up with.

Suppose strangers off the street started living in your house? That would be okay, since there would really be no such thing as ‘your’ house. Or your car. Or your money.

It’s hard to imagine a functioning real-life society with no property rights, no possessions.

John Lennon’s goal is a good one…

No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world

…but possessions are not the problem.

Respect for possessions, ownership, is a core requirement for a functioning society. And only a functioning society could become the kind of brotherhood of man that John Lennon envisioned.