Private Property and “Fair Game”

Apparently, there are some libertarians who labor under the impression that private property confers the owner the right to declare others to be fair game within the property boundaries. To deny this is to be guilty of libertarian hypocrisy regarding the meaning of private property. “If you don’t like my rules, don’t enter my property, hypocrite!”

Well, there is actually a pretty easy rejoinder to this position, one that it is fairly obvious if we assume some minimal degree of literacy on the part of the reader. Certainly, as a schoolboy, “The Most Dangerous Game” was a favorite story of mine, a work of fiction that also typically made it in into the english curriculums taught in the US public school system. If it is no longer being taught, then perhaps it should be added to the unofficial libertarian anthology.

While there are several themes regarding humanity and civilization interwoven into that short story masterpiece, for our purposes there is a simple moral: if you declare others to be fair game within your sphere of authority, then by your own rules, so are you. The author,Richard Connell, never informs us as to how well the Russian Cossack general slept at the night, assuming that anyone of certain intelligence would probably expect the fate that eventually met him, but the last line of the classic story ends with the protagonist thoroughly enjoying his sleep in the dead general’s bed(of course, after having fed the general to his own dogs).

“Fair game” is not a hypothetical in libertarian justice unless you are interested in underwriting your own fate as dog food.

1Next question…

To exempt yourself from the rules you expect others to abide by is the bromide of the statist. But there is no state in libertopia to enforce hypocrisy.


4 thoughts on “Private Property and “Fair Game”

  1. Hi!
    This reminds me of an old argument I had with an anarcho-capitalist when I was a proponent of Georgist/geo-libertarianism. We were talking about one’s right to be on SOME piece of property. I claimed that by denying that right, he was reducing libertarianism to “the right to leave” another person’s property… and as such, any state could be considered “libertarian” as long as it permitted people to emigrate.

    Anyway, I don’t think that even the most die-hard property-ist would deny the right of people to leave if they are on another person’s land. At worst, they could be considered guilty of trespass and subject to the appropriate amount of force to rectify that. Ownership over one’s own body always trumps other ownership rights.

    1. “when I was a proponent of Georgist/geo-libertarianism”…no longer?

      This post was in response to someone who claimed that you were a hypocrite if you denied he could practice biblical morality on his property and execute anyone he deemed in egregious sin(homosexuals) who managed to wonder onto it.

      The rejoinder is simple: if they are fair game they second they step onto his property, then under his own rules, he would be too, thus opening up an invitation for anyone to trespass to kill him. The secondary violation of trespassing would be superseded by the principle of homesteading…the killer could simply seize the property as the legitimate occupier…

  2. “Exactly. Property is theft.”

    well, that’s the communist position. The socialist position is that “property is liberty, property is theft.” The capitalist position is that “property is liberty.”

    I tend toward proudhon’s position on this matter

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