Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Property Rights Are Human Rights

That old quote by economist Murray Rothbard ran through my head when I heard of the book justifying and praising looting by Marxist writer Vicky Osterweil, "In Defense of Looting."  Peter, Bayou Renaissance Man, wrote about this and more yesterday.  No link for Ms. Osterweil because through the concentrated weirdness of the Internet, I might get her a book sale.  I don't know of a way to loot her book from Amazon.  

To borrow a couple of concepts from Rothbard, 

“The human right of every man to his own life implies the right to find and transform resources: to produce that which sustains and advances life. That product is a man’s property. That is why prop­erty rights are foremost among human rights and why any loss of one endangers the others.

For ex­ample, how can the human right of freedom of the press be pre­served if the government owns all the newsprint and has the power to decide who may use it and how much? The human right of a free press depends on the human right of private property in newsprint and in the other es­sentials for newspaper production. In short, there is no conflict of rights here because property rights are themselves human rights. What is more, human rights are also property rights!”

Author Brad Polumbo, a self-described, “libertarian-conservative journalist" writing at the Foundation for Economic Education,” digs into the controversial NPR interview with Osterweil at the FEE website. Osterweil's interview (and presumably her book) is sloppily-thought out, full of the Marxist, economically illiterate, identity politics-driven drivel we're surrounded by.  She tells the NPR interviewer:

“When I use the word looting, I mean the mass expropriation of property, mass shoplifting during a moment of upheaval or riot,” Osterweil says. “That's the thing I'm defending. I'm not defending any situation in which property is stolen by force. It's not a home invasion, either. It's about a certain kind of action that's taken during protests and riots.”

“[Looting is] taking those things that would otherwise be commodified and controlled and sharing them for free,” she continues. “[Looting] demonstrate[s] that without police and without state oppression, we can have things for free.”

Contempt for looting, meanwhile, is driven by “anti-Blackness and contempt for poor people who want to live a better life,” Osterweil claims.

Sloppily-thought out?  Let's start out simply with her definition of looting.  It's self-contradictory.  She says, "I'm not defending any situation in which property is stolen by force" but how is taking something from a store and setting fire to the store not just the use of force but the use of deadly force that would justify a self-defense shooting?  As Polumbo points out:

After all, what happens if people do not allow the mob to take their property?

They end up like David Dorn, a former police officer who was shot and killed by rioters while trying to protect a pawn shop from looting. Or, they end up like one elderly business owner who was caught on camera trying to protect his store and beaten to a pulp by rioters for his troubles.

NY Post Twitter photo

Far from being "free", as Osterweil says, everything stolen imposes costs on other people.  Far from being equitable, the looters dominate the looted either killing mercilessly (like retired officer Dorn) or just beating enough to break bones (like the gentleman shown above).  

If the owners aren't in the store, and don't suffer beatings or worse, they're most likely still financially ruined with their lives and dreams shattered.  Osterweil talks about insurance, the usual nonsense about insurance replacing things, but I'd bet that even if the store owners don't file any claims as a result of the riots, their rates will go up next year because the risks in their neighborhood skyrocketed.  The Watts riots in Los Angeles were studied and said to have reduced the quality of life improvement for the blacks living in that area for at least a decade.  The entire community suffers from looting.

The plain truth is this is the same communist drivel we've heard for as long as we've been aware of the world.  Communists like Osterweil think looting is nonviolent because they don't believe in property rights.  Osterweil wants to eliminate private property with every aspect of life controlled by the omnipresent government.  Her argument that looting is nonviolent stands in contrast to the body count since the rioting started, currently near 20.  Wishing looting to be victimless and innocent doesn't make it so.  The history of communist revolutions is that useful idiots like Ms. Osterweil end up in front of the firing squad fairly quickly.  Communist leaders don't want revolutionaries once they're in charge; they want obedient servants. 


  1. To loot (which is just a word meaning theft carried out by a group of people) means that you are forcing the other person to provide their property to you at their own expense. At its most basic, theft is slavery, for the looters are stealing property that was purchased through the labor of its legitimate owner.

    Even if insurance pays for the lost property, that insurance was still paid for by money that was earned through the labor of the insured.

    This is even true of the CDC's action today, where the CDC issued an order prohibiting evictions. Now property owners are being forced to pay for the edicts of the mob who are demanding a free place to live.

  2. Do you suppose Vicky Osterweil would mind if we boosted her wheels and wardrobe? Non-violently, of course.

    I am sure she has insurance.

    1. That, was my exact thought, Joe.
      How much do you suppose she was paid for writing that drivel? Then guess how much she probably donated from that check. Yeah, I'm thinking zero.

      Whitehall, NY

    2. ERJ - I was wondering what decibel level her screeching would reach if someone dared to take some of her stuff. And how quickly she would dial 911.................
      Seems like many other replies to you are in a similar vein.

  3. People that think like that have never worked hard for anything- it's been a gravy train for them. Usually some sort of parasite job, add gov aid and stir, that sort of thing.

  4. She needs to pay reparations for that book.

  5. Um....Vickie used to be a guy before he/she transitioned over to the other side. Could be all of those drugs to keep up appearances that affected her writing. I'm sure that she meant looting/stealing/requisitioning someone else's stuff is okay cuz ya need it. So, if you need wheels, boost her ride. If you're low on money, take her weekly paycheck. I am sure that she meant her book to be an instruction manual.

    1. That probably happened because someone looted his genitals.

  6. Eughghgh! These cities are dead! D.E.A.D. These barbarians have no clue, not the first clue, how hard it is to build and run a business. How life consuming it is to roll that Sisyphean boulder up that hill, over years, over decades, in order to build something that's a step above some shanty lean-to in a favela.

    Who among these destroyed people are going to return to these shitholes and build something there again? Why? Why go to the effort of trying to create something elegant and pleasant and dignified, when it's been made clear it's just going to be periodically wrecked by savages?

    At this point, my attitude is approaching homicidal. I want to see a mountain of Antifa skulls! How much of your life are these assholes entitled to gratuitously ruin, what percentage of you are they allowed to kill, before you're justified in killing them? IMO, not one bloody minute more.


  7. I know the answer to the last question:
    less than 3.03030303030303e-7%

  8. It’s already been scanned and uploaded to ScribD.

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