Did Ayn Rand write or say anything about zoning laws? I thought she was not opposed to zoning laws on the condition that the laws are objective and rational. Maybe I am mistaken?
I could not find anything of substance about zoning or eminent domain. Here is a sprinkling of letters from Objectivists, Libertarians, and Anarchists. Some of them go off on a tangent but are still enjoyable reading.
Semper cogitans fidele,
Chris Matthew Sciabarra
Objectivists, such as George Reisman, criticize the zoning laws, rent controls, public housing and education, quotas, municipal health and sanitation services, franchises, and licensing laws that have victimized blacks in the long-run.
This admittedly gets into an Objectivist PR problem. Take the example of Galt's Gulch. There were numerous real and potential illegal activities going on there. Their trade and production would have been subject to income taxes on the value of the bartered goods and/or gold exchanged. In today's regulatory environment, there would almost certainly be some zoning regulations and power distribution regulations violated as well.
Would it have been OK to set-up a fortified Galt's Gulch and shoot down the National Guard helicopters sent in to arrest its population for refusing to pay taxes? If full scale war were then waged on this Galt's Gulch by the U.S. government- would it be OK for Ragnar to launch a ballistic missile strike against Washington, D.C.?
Zoning laws are inherently contradictory to the function of government. The proper purpose of laws is to guarantee your right to do what you want with your property subject only to restrictions you have agreed to in contracts with others. The purpose of zoning laws is to enable others to tell you what to do with your property without your agreement.
If you want to prevent a tall building from blocking your view, you’d better contract with your neighbors in a deed restriction to ban that possibility now, before construction starts. If they want to leave the option open because they think they would rather have the increased value of their property than a clear view, you may not enlist the government to enforce your preferences on them.
(6) Libertarians are against the confiscation of land under the laws of eminent domain. This is done for public works projects all over the world, but in Israel private property is confiscated from Palestinians under laws of eminent domain for the purpose of settling immigrants from Russia, the US, and many other countries.
I mentioned Deir Yassin, where the Palestinian inhabitants were massacred. Today on the grounds of Deir Yassin there is an Israeli mental institution housing Holocaust survivors who lost their minds in the concentration camps. I believe this is symbolic of the situation in its purest manifestation. Both communities need our compassionate understanding. Neither needs our tax dollars or our weapons.
From: Gayle Dean <email@example.com>
Subject: OWL: Middlemen and the Moral Equation
Date: Tue, 24 Jul 2001 07:51:57 -0400
Roger Bissell (and others) argue that imprisoning an innocent man is morally justified *because* in the case of unjust imprisonment, a man can be "compensated" for it, whereas in death, he cannot.
But, accepting this "principle" means that we have conceded to government the individual's right to make his own choices and to negotiate and set his own price for the products of his labors. This is commonly known as ~enslavement~.
And this reminds me of the government's power of eminent domain in the area of real-estate. Government can condemn and confiscate property in the "public interest" -- as long as it pays "just compensation." But, I know hundreds of individuals in rural NC, who were "forced" to give up their family farms, so that the government could build Fontana Dam or (more recently) so that they could widen the road leading to it. None of these people would have sold their property willingly, for the amount of money they received as "compensation" from the government.
In fact, before any force is exercised in the process of eminent domain, government tries to purchase the property outright, but rarely are they willing to pay the amount the property owner is asking, which just goes to prove that the "real" operating power --is force! Saying that anyone is being "justly compensated" in these kinds of transactions, which are backed up by coercion -- is a contradiction in terms.
And I personally, would not sell myself into prison for anything less than about twenty-thousand dollars per day...more if there were a chance of my being forced to have sex with diseased criminals:-) But, since government has unlimited power, and (by its very nature) has little respect for individuals, I'm sure the state's idea of "compensation" in the case of my imprisonment, would be similar to their idea of compensation in the realm of eminent domain, i.e., never equal to the amount an individual would negotiate to trade for in the free market -- if he were not subject to government force in the matter.
A government that can imprison and enslave us -- as long as it pays us "compensation" -- is a government that owns us. When we no longer have freedom to control our own property and lives and to negotiate on our own terms-- we become slaves. Accepting the notion of government compensation as a principle-- means accepting that we live -- ONLY by permission of government.
"It is not the function of our Government to keep the citizen from falling into error; it is the function of the citizen to keep the Government from falling into error." Robert H. Jackson
(1892-1954), U.S. judge.
From: Ralph Hertle <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: OWL: Re: Native Americans & un-owned US govt land
Date: Wed, 17 Oct 2001 21:07:04 -0400
Prior to the arrival of the Europeans the population of the Native Americans reached as high as 500,000 to 2,000,000 persons. There were many tribes all across North America. Some tribes and persons were nomads, and most were not. The NAs of Central Illinois lived in wooden towns. The NAs of Ohio lived in houses and communities, and their system of representative government formed the basis for the US Congress. The Hopi people of the Southwestern US area lived in multi-storied apartment buildings.
Of course, the NAs had the concept of property, and to various extents there were various innovations, developments, and applications of it.
An acquaintance of mine told me that Ayn Rand said in her lecture at West Point, called, "Philosophy:
Who Needs It", in the Q and A session, that the Native Americans have no property rights ..... because they were a bunch of nomads that did not have the "concept" of property rights.
The NAs were definitely not all nomads, and the facts clearly support that. Any claim the NAs were all nomads would involve the fallacy of over-generalization in that the characteristics of a part should not be extended to include all the other different parts.
Regarding property and property rights, I don't doubt that there were a number of different concepts of property as well as different arrangements for dividing land, usage rights, renting, and buying and selling goods or property, that were used by the various tribes. The Nas had nothing as sophisticated as the concepts of the Europeans, however. Any claim that the NAs did not have the concept of property is impossible to support by means of a reference to the facts. Surely, that if one NA did not have a concept of property rights, and that some did, such a claim would involve over-generalization.
I think the issue is not what concepts of property the NAs had, rather, that the Americans should have extended their concepts to the NAs as a gift. A gift of law, liberty, civilization, freedom of action, and productivity. American concepts of property should have been employed to identify and upgrade or enhance the concepts of property that were then in use by the NAs. For example, the Americans should have helped the NAs to find out where their tribe's, group's, or individual's land was, mark it out on the land, map it, register the deeds, and respect it. Lack of the English language would have prevented the NAs from registering deeds to their lands, and the Americans should have done it for them and talked them through the process.
The form of the land that was ultimately given to the NAs by American legislators was the prison reservation. The concept of property that was used by the nomadic American settlers to locate the NAs was the concentration camp.
The USA still uses concentration camps, e.g., to contain Japanese Americans during WWII, and also, to contain Caribbean immigrants and ex-Cuban prisoners during the 1970s & 80s (cite needed). WWII soldiers were POWs, and that was a different matter.
I would ask who's concepts of property were superior.
Except for the reservations, the NAs were eventually totally included into the fabric of America. They were surrounded, and there was nothing better for them to do than to work within the American system and to reap the benefits of the American society.
The opportunity continues to exist that America can formally extend its concepts of liberty, rights, and property to the descendants of the Native Americans.
The lands that are now being used for their natural resources, or as nature preserves, could, under NA ownership and management, become valuable places. Wealth could be generated in new ways that US government bureaucracies and curators could never imagine.
State governments could create programs similar to the Federal program.
America could be the first nation in all history to become 100% privately owned.
I searched using the keywords, native american, native, and, Indian, and "The Objectivism Research CD-ROM", by Philip Oliver, and I was not able to locate any information regarding Ayn Rand's views for this thread. Nor was I able to locate Rand's West Point speech that includes a reference to Native Americans.
[Moderator: Ralph added in a subsequent message: "Greg Johnson pointed out to me the published source regarding Rand's West Point speech that has a reference to the Native Americans: He says that the speech in question was available as a CD from Second Renaissance books. Thanks Greg."]
While we are at it the concept and practice of the concentration camp should be banned by the Supreme Court under several principles of the US Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Also, I think that a Presidential
Proclamation could be ratified into law by the Congress, for example, in the same way as Lincoln created the Emancipation Proclamation. It would be ludicrous to call such entities as concentration camps property, especially in a free society. Congress needs to define the rights of all types of peoples, or groups that are confined, and what means or recourse of action that any such individuals would have in a court of law.
The argument that since virtually no American during the 18th and 19th centuries had a Birth Certificate, pedigree, or any sort of legal documentation, that they were not legal residents of the US. Hence they had no rights as citizens any more than did the Native Americans. The argument could be continued, however, the principle that in America all rights are inalienable, meaning the rights of all the people, will ultimately hold true.
Is there a lawyer somewhere in America who could bring the instant matters of government land and the Native Americans to the attention of the Supreme Court or to the President?
From: Ralph Hertle <email@example.com>
Subject: OWL: Re: Native Americans & un-owned US govt land
Date: Sun, 21 Oct 2001 17:01:23 -0400
I was been told off-list that I had not described the concept of private property rights that any of the NAs held. Nor had I stated why the descendants of the NAs have any claim on the natural resources their descendants had no knowledge, of, e.g., oil and minerals. That is basically true. I think that it the property rights concept of the NAs is irrelevant. Also the mineral rights is not an issue since the rights to minerals are part of the land. In other words, the minerals that are part of the land are generally transferred with the land unless any discovered minerals or rights to same are transferred by means of contracts, e.g., by sale or lease.
A further explanation of my proposal to privatize all socialistic land in the US, and to, at the same time, formally extend the principles of American rights and Constitutional liberties to the NAs, which morally should have been done, and to their descendants follows.
Readers may be interested in the earlier post that I made on, Mon., Oct. 22, 2001, 1:30a, that had the subject,
line, "Re: Native Americans & un-owned US govt. land" This post is a further explanation to that earlier post. That post dealt with the "...American concept of inalienable rights...", and with a way to deal with the matter of creating new property rights where no sophisticated or continually existing rights of private property have been generally recognized.
The interesting concept of the proposal was that it permits the socialistic land of the USA to be converted to private property. The land would then become a productive part of the free-enterprise system. The land
would be moved into the private ownership realm at no cost to any American, nor would existing mining, leases, rentals, and other land use contracts be discontinued.
Nor would the land be given away, sold or auctioned, to any special interest groups. The successor owners, that is the new owners (there not having been any owners according to popular property theory and modern non-NA preferences) would honor the existing contracts, e.g., leases or easements, by amending the appropriate papers, filings, licenses, and whatever. There would be costs to the creation and tracking of the new corporations, by government agencies or private contractors, of course. Capital Gains and income taxes could be waived for the one-time event. There would be stock underwriting and transfer and legal fees. No real estate sales would be initially involved, only a creation and identification of shares of stock.
Included in the land would be the rivers, lakes, and coastal waterways that lie upon US Government land as part of the government lands to identified anew as private lands. All these lands would be privatized by incorporation as the new assets of private stock companies, and by the acceptance by the distribution of shares in the incorporated companies equally to all descendants of Native Americans. Thousands of corporations would exist that would reflect the great number of parcels. The parcels should be made as large as possible, however the task of identifying the individual pieces of land, and creating deeds, and registering the deeds with the appropriate state governments would be a significant task. Fortunately, the US is up to its top in the number of attorneys it has, and there are plenty enough to do the work. The record keeping necessary would be possible due the great advances made in computers, software, IT, RE management, and GIS technologies applications.
I will reiterate at this time that it makes no difference, whatsoever, what form of ownership the NAs had. The important legal theory would be that the legal domain of the liberties of America had been extended to encompass and embrace all the NAs and their descendants. The rights and principles of American liberty should be those that should have prevailed.
Nor is the principle of a claim relevant. Nor should the claim to any wealth, or to the wealth of others, especially the wealth that was considered to be wealth by the NAs, as expressed by Americans, and that was taken by the Americans, be considered to be valid. Claims imply the right to take, use, improve, and to own any property. But there must first be rightfully owned property. I will grant that many, if not most, settlers were as honest as the Nas in their desire to create a life from the land. The NAs had been purposefully using and developing the land to the benefit of creating a living since ever; and the property acquiring and owning settlers have been purposefully using and developing the land to the benefit of creating a living for themselves ever since. Measurement omission should prevail.
The sophistication of the possible concepts of property has grown considerably from the early days. The rationality of current corporation and real estate ownership laws, in general, is considerable.
The Americans claimed and took, and then they stopped taking. What they didn't take they didn't return or refuse. They made it into socialistic, e.g., institutionalized government owned and operated land preserves or government business entities.
What is important now is that the land which has not been so claimed, improved and taken by private Americans should be simply released to the descendants of the NAs, and that it should become deeded land that is privately owned for the first time in history.
No American, other than the descendants of the NAs, has a claim on the untaken lands. The lands in question, insofar as private ownership in a free enterprise system, are untaken privately. The improvements made to such lands, e.g., the construction of an airport, should remain the property of the government, or leaseholders, for example, and it is the land that should be made private.
Non-NA private persons also have no claims to the ownership of the lands by merit of a de-facto non-taking of the land, and the US government has ensured that the land be continued as non-owned land. That is, in spite of the claims of the occupation of, working and improving the land, or specifically using the land, that the NAs had.
Rights to the natural resources should remain with the land. Leases, easements, contracts to create certain improvements, and other contractual rights to make and keep certain improvements that have been agreed by means of contracts between the party and the government or filed with the government, e.g., possibly some mining, travel, or water rights, should remain in effect. The government would have to create the deeds to any improvements that it created, or to make contracts with the new owners to continue certain types of uses.
Their would, no doubt, be numerous special claims, and the Courts would be busy. I haven't devised a scheme that would embrace the reservations that are owned by the NA tribes or nations. I suggest, provisionally, that stock corporations be created for the reservation entities, and that the shares be given to all residents who now or ever did reside on such reservations. Some Objective laws would need to be written, and possibly the NA tribes would have a totally different approach. Quite possibly the reservation lands should simply be given to the tribal managements in the form of stock companies, and they would become the directors of the companies. That is a possible exception to the general principle of the giving of all of the un-owned government lands to all of the descendants of the Native Americans. In that way the concepts of American liberties would be formally extended to include the all the reservations. The matter of Sovereignty would need to be discussed, and maybe some type of democratically renewable merged status could be devised. The privatization of all public lands would be accomplished in the same act of law that would enable all the
descendants of Native Americans to be the participants in a new process, that of protected American Liberty, individual rights, and free-enterprise.
Giving is the wrong word. The process is the benevolent recognition and granting of American liberties to those who would have properly been the beneficiaries to such a recognition and granting, and to their descendants.
All Americans would benefit greatly by the new burst of productivity that would be created by the new corporate owners. The process has no relationship to the particular monetary or other values of any lands for any reason. Measurement omission applies. The shares would be evenly divided, and each descendant of a Native American would get one share, or an equal number of shares, in every corporation, and every corporation would own significant parcels or lands that would include all the un-owned government land. For the first time, the lands would be cared for and made productive by private individuals and their companies. The new owners would be responsible for the use, upkeep, and commercial development of their lands as they see proper.
I make no claims to having all the answers to all the possible consequential problems. I think that the disposal of, or the privatization of, all of the un-owned government lands should be accomplished with as strict adherence to, extension of, and application of, the principles of the domain of American Liberty, individual rights, private property, and free enterprise as is humanly possible.
From: "Michael DeVault" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: ATL: (no subject)
Date: Thu, 29 Aug 2002 13:51:59 -0500
----- Original Message -----
From: "Jimmy Wales" <email@example.com>
Sent: Thursday, August 29, 2002 10:51 AM
Subject: Re: ATL: Native American Terrorists
>Michael DeVault wrote:
Define substantial. What if the crops are on a seven year cycle? For six years, the land appears unused. Then suddenly on the 7th year, there's a crop. Is that substantial use?
> Yes, it is.
> > What if it's a religious shrine of sorts? Is that substantial?
> Yes, it is, if it really is a religious shrine.
What if it's a religious area a la the sacred tribal grounds of the Cherokee? The land is not "used" save for the occasional holy ritual, yet it is very much "claimed" as theirs.
Most of the border wars were not fought over settlers claiming unused land. If you read your history, the Native Americans could really care less about most of the land we "confiscated" as they claim now. But where we ran into conflicts was the point at which we began to claim "sacred" land--land that wasn't used but was considered a shrine of sorts—e.g. the realm of the spirits...land of the Gods in California, etc. This is where we began to see substantial troubles.
Was that not theft of property?
>Who defines substantial, when substantial is such an *obviously* arbitrary word?
Ayn Rand answered the question "Who is the final authority in ethics?"
(puts on Devil's Advocate hat here)
"One's own mind" isn't a good enough authority for establishing who owned land confiscated three hundred years ago. "One's own mind" is completely arbitrary. Are there *no* standards? What if by "one's own mind" someone decides that you are not using the back half of your back yard "substantially" and lays claim to it? If they plant a crop or build a house, is that land now theirs since they used it substantially?
Another very dangerous trap we run into is what if someone would use the land MORE substantially than you?
>I would give the same answer to your question. "Metaphysically, the only authority is reality; epistemologically -- one's own mind."
Epistemologically=one's own mind.
I agree with this totally. But when discussing the ownership of property are we discussing metaphysical principles or epistemological principles? In the case of private property there's a lot at stake as far as objectivity of the parties goes.
>If I sweep my arm about and claim the unused portions of the Andromeda galaxy as my own, people will rightly laugh at the nonsense of the claim. When early inhabitants moved to previously unused (by humans) land, and worked it, people would rightly laugh at anyone who claimed that their ownership of that land is invalidated.
Claiming the Andromeda galaxy as your own would not make it so. People might laugh...but what if you were to say, traverse a section of ocean frequently and repeatedly. That's certainly substantial use. Does this make it yours?
I walk the same path across a bridge every day. Since it is "public property" (note the quotes, purists), it is thus "my" property. Since I use this path DAILY...is it substantial? Does it thus become my property?
What it sounds like some Objectivists advocate is property=first occupation. Other's advocate=first use.
From: "Jeff Olson" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: "atlantis" <email@example.com>
Subject: ATL: European Technological and Moral Superiority
Date: Fri, 30 Aug 2002 20:28:32 -0700
<<The Indians who inhabited the area in which I live allegedly had a history of claiming that no one can own land.>>
Keyser, as a fellow Minnesotan you should of course be aware that that all the *real (Dakota) men* migrated West, to take up horse-riding and frolicking with bison (as well as changing their name to "Lakota"
This point has been raised innumerable times, and I think it falls markedly short of capturing the true position of both Native Americans and of those who advocate communal as opposed to individual ownership of land. No American Indian tribe that I'm aware of advocated individual ownership of land, but it was commonplace, nonetheless, for them to consider certain areas "their" -- that is, the tribe's -- land. To say that Native Americans didn't advocate, strictly speaking, "private property," is not to say that they exercised no proprietary claims with respect to land. I believe their proprietary claims amount, in essence, to a form of communal ownership, and that their conflicts with Europeans amounted basically to communal versus private ownership. To my knowledge, neither Objectivism nor libertarianism consider private ownership as pre-eminent, in terms of rights-theory, to communal ownership.
<<I think it was Shane who brought up the idea of claims of ownership involved in frequently traversing an ocean. If a more advanced species from another galaxy came to Earth and inquired about ocean ownership,
the bulk of humanity might likely reply, "No, we don't own the oceans, no one does, no one can." Would the aliens then be within their rights to claim ownership of the oceans, and to defend them against us? Would they be wrong in claiming that we humans do not have the right to own something as a group while we oppose individual ownership of the same thing?>>
I was impressed by Michael's point, and even more so by this strikingly powerful hypothetical by Keyser. Having raised the issues of a "property-less" use of some resource in a previous post, in large part I think he answers -- in my opinion, even rebuts -- his own question. But what of the conflict between cultures with different beliefs, and different levels of technological/philosophical development?
Surely, having more advanced technology advances us not one iota toward superior rights status, unless we wish to embrace "might makes right." But what of philosophical superiority, of the kind manifested in a superior grasp of individual rights?
Well, undeniably, the Europeans brought with them far more advanced concepts of individual rights. After all, Europe and Great Britain were home to Locke, Spencer, Rousseau, and Smith, among numerous others. The Indians, as Ayn Rand was fond of saying, hadn't even invented the wheel.
The Europeans, however, being a far more creative lot, invented, along with the wheel, the divine right of kings (and/or queens) -- while the Native Americans believed, by and large, in a more democratic -- a more *voluntary* -- scheme of social guidance. The Europeans invented conscription, while Native Americans believed, in general, in relying on *voluntary* associations. European rulers and their adjuncts could rightfully, if not freely, order the death of individuals who offended them. American Indian "chiefs" or "councils," on the other hand, generally held no such power. Europeans believed in the right of taxation, whereas most if not all Native Americans relied on *voluntary* contributions.
The Europeans invented "total war," and "firebombing," while the Native Americans usually preferred horse-theft or very limited warfare (in principle). The Europeans raised deceit and corruption to political art forms; for the Native Americans, one's word or "treaty" was one's sacred oath, to be generally maintained even at the cost of one's life.
But as I said, the Europeans were unquestionably superior in their grasp of individual rights, which the American Indians should've duly recognized and humbly capitulated to.
From: "William Dwyer" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: ATL: Merciless Indian Savages (was "European Technological and Moral Superiority")
Date: Fri, 30 Aug 2002 23:54:36 -0700
Jeff Olson wrote,
“To say that Native Americans didn't advocate, strictly speaking, ‘private property,’ is not to say that they exercised no proprietary claims with respect to land. I believe their proprietary claims amount, in essence, to a form of communal ownership, and that their conflicts with Europeans amounted basically to communal versus private ownership. To my knowledge, neither Objectivism nor libertarianism consider (sic) private ownership as pre-eminent, in terms of rights-theory, to communal ownership.”
“Private” ownership is distinguished from “communal” ownership only insofar as “communal” is taken to mean "government expropriated" (as in “Communism”). But, in that case, libertarianism does indeed consider
“private” ownership pre-eminent to “communal” ownership.
If, however, “communal” ownership is taken to mean a form of legitimately acquired property that is owned in common, then it constitutes “private property" in the fullest meaning of the term. "Private," after all, does not necessarily mean “owned by one and only one individual.”
Keyser Soze had previously written:
"I think it was Shane who brought up the idea of claims of ownership involved in frequently traversing an ocean. If a more advanced species from another galaxy came to Earth and inquired about ocean ownership,
the bulk of humanity might likely reply, 'No, we don't own the oceans, no one does, no one can.' Would the aliens then be within their rights to claim ownership of the oceans, and to defend them against us?"
"I was impressed by Michael's point, and even more so by this strikingly powerful hypothetical by Keyser. Having raised the issues of a "property-less" use of some resource in a previous post, in large part I think he answers -- in my opinion, even rebuts -- his own question."
I would answer Keyser's question as follows: Yes, if the more advanced species had a way of subdividing and of using the oceans productively. If, for example, we were able to farm certain parts of the oceans, then there is nothing to suggest that we would not be justified in appropriating those parts as private property.
One of the economic downsides to UNowned natural resources is that they tend to be overused and not adequately conserved and replenished. If oceanic resources (e.g., whales and other marine life) were private property, they would not be hunted to extinction or otherwise uneconomically depleted.
"Would they [the more advanced species] be wrong in claiming that we humans do not have the right to own something as a group while we oppose individual ownership of the same thing?"
Be we do not “own” the oceans “as a group.” At present, they are simply an unowned natural resource.
Jeff then proceeds to give his own, largely apochryphal, characterization of the noble savage, as against the allegedly corrupt and tyrannical Europeans. He writes:
“The Europeans, however, being a far more creative lot, invented, along with the wheel, the divine right of kings (and/or queens) -- while the Native Americans believed, by and large, in a more democratic -- a more
*voluntary* -- scheme of social guidance. The Europeans invented conscription, while Native Americans believed, in general, in relying on *voluntary* associations."
In fact, Indian tribes were a blood thirsty lot, who invaded each other’s territories and made slaves out of their enemies long before European settlers arrived on this continent.
As Dinesh D’Souza notes, “For several tribes in the American northwest, slaves comprised between 10 and 15 percent of the population. The Cherokee employed ‘slave catchers’ to retrieve wounded combatants from
other tribes, although the Cherokee preferred to kill enemies rather than take them captive. In some Indian tribes, slaveowners proved how wealthy they were by how much they could afford to consume and waste:
large numbers of slaves were routinely killed in potlatch ceremonies. Among the Tupinamba of Brazil, who adopted an especially harsh version of this practice, slaves were segregated from the community, then
subjected to ceremonial denunciation and abuse, then taunted with the possibility of escape, then ritually hunted down, massacred, and eaten.”
[_The End of Racism_, p. 73.]
Much is made of black slavery at the hands of whites. What is not so well known is that “Indian tribes such as the Choctaws, Chicasaws, Cherokees, Creeks and Seminoles all owned black slaves. Indeed, Cherokee law protected property rights in African slaves. The _Cherokee Phoenix_ carried announcements and advertisements for slaves in the early nineteenth century...."
"The Cherokee, who were excellent trackers, also volunteered their services to catch black runaways for white owners, although some plantation owners were reluctant to employ Cherokee slavecatchers, because they frequently killed their fugitives. Another slaveowning tribe, the Choctaw, elected to fight on the side of the American South during the Civil War. Although slavery was abolished in most of the United States after the defeat of the Confederacy, the Choctaw and other tribes continued to keep slaves until 1866, when these tribes signed a treaty with the U.S. government in which they reluctantly agreed to suspend the practice.” [Ibid., pp 75,76]
Not only did the American Indians hold blacks as slaves; they treated women as beasts of burden. Historian Francis Parkman writes: “Female life among the Hurons had no bright side.... On the march it was she who bore the burden; for, in the words of Champlain, ‘their women were their mules.’” [Quoted in _Vindicating the Founders: Race, Sex, Class, and Justice in the Origins of America_ by Thomas G. West, p. 74]
Thomas Paine confirmed this observation: "The women among the Indians are what the Helots were among the Spartans, a vanquished people, obliged to toil for their conquerors." [Ibid, p. 108]
So much for the native Americans' alleged reliance on "voluntary associations"! As Thomas Jefferson wrote so eloquently in the "Declaration of Independence," the King of Great Britain "has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavored to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers the merciless Indian savages, whose known rule of warfare is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions."
From: "George H. Smith" <email@example.com>
To: "*Atlantis" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: ATL: Re: European Technological and Moral Superiority
Date: Sat, 31 Aug 2002 02:38:01 -0500
Jeff Olson wrote:
"No American Indian tribe that I'm aware of advocated individual ownership of land, but it was commonplace, nonetheless, for them to consider certain areas "their" -- that is, the tribe's -- land. To say that Native Americans didn't advocate, strictly speaking, "private property," is not to say that they exercised no proprietary claims with respect to land. I believe their proprietary claims amount, in essence, to a form of communal ownership, and that their conflicts with Europeans amounted basically to communal versus private ownership. To my knowledge, neither Objectivism nor libertarianism consider private ownership as pre-eminent, in terms of rights-theory, to communal ownership."
The best book on this subject that I know of is Francis Jennings, *The Invasion of America: Indians, Colonialism, and the Cant of Conquest* (Norton, 1976).
As Jennings explains, the issue of how Indians viewed land ownership is more complex than is commonly supposed. Some tribes did recognize a de facto private ownership of land. Quoting Jennings (p. 136):
"Early seventeenth-century English observers had quickly concluded that New England's Indians held land among themselves under customs not very different from the relationships prescribed by English law and custom. Explicit testimony exists for the Wampanoag, Narragansett, and Mohegan 'nations,' and circumstantial evidence implies like customs among the Massachuset and Pequot 'nations,' to the following effect. The grand sachem of each Indian nation held a jusrisdictional right, like that of eminent domain, over all the territory of the nation. Subordinate sachems held property rights in hunting tracts and fishing stations
within the national territory. Early data indicate that cropland was held as commons, the sachem assigning annually the land to be tilled by each family; however, as native institutions adjusted to English practices, croplands seemed to have become fixed in the possession of their cultivators."
The following passages (from the chapter titled "The Deed Game") are also interesting: :
"The land that was *vacuum domicilium*, or 'waste," in English eyes was completely covered by Indians with property and jurisdictional rights. Generally, when Englishmen were willing to recognize these customary
rights, Indians were willing enough to sell functionally surplus lands. Some students have doubted that Indians understood how they were dispossessing themselves by sale of land to Europeans. Perhaps that was so in the earliest transactions, but Indian sophistication grew rapidly. European power soon drove home the lesson that a land sale involved the full and final alienation of right." (136-7)
"[I]t was not possible for an free Indian, living under his independent tribal government, to sell only his property, unencumbered by jurisdictional ties, to a Euramerican living under a colonial government. Such a transaction was impossible in law. The Euramerican would not accept the sanctions of the tribe; when he bought, he intended to put his land under the jurisdiction of his own colonial government, and to secure recognition of *that* government of his property right. Neither was it possible for an Indian to enjoy property under colonial law while he refused to subject his person to colonial jurisdiction. There was a sort of legal valve controlling the conveyance of land so that it always moved from Indian to Englishman and never reversed direction. This situation was peculiar to colonialism; it did not apply between subjects of different European nations. A Frenchman, for instance, might buy an English estate while still preserving his French
nationality and allegiance, and his property right would be recognized by English law." (129)
""[C]olonials everywhere used numerous identifiable devices (and doubtless others) to seize Indian property with some show of legality. One method was to allow livestock into an Indian's crops until he despaired and removed. Even when an Indian uncharacteristically fenced his cropland, he found that there was something nocturnally mysterious that did not love an Indian's wall. The Indian who dared to kill an Englishman's marauding animals was promptly hauled into a hostile court. A second method was for Englishmen to get the Indian drunk and have him sign a deed that he could not read. A third method was to recognize a claim by a corrupt Indian who was not the legitimate landlord and then to 'buy' the land from him. A fourth method, highly reminiscent of feudal Europe, was a simple threat of violence. A timorous Indian -- there were many -- would turn over his property for no other reason than the 'love and goodwill' he bore the man behind the gun; he was then permitted to remain as a tenant on a corner of the land he formerly had owned. A fifth method, which seems to have been a favorite in New England, was the imposition of fines for a wide variety of offenses, the Indian's lands becoming forfeit if the fines were not paid by their due date. The offenses ranged from unauthorized riding of an Englishman's horses to conspiracy against English rule. Small or great, the offense was likely to incur a fine larger than the offender could probably pay.
An Englishman would 'rescue' him from his straits, paying his fine for a short-term mortgage on his land and later foreclosing." (144-5)
From: "George H. Smith" <email@example.com>
To: "*Atlantis" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: ATL: Re: European Technological and Moral Superiority
Date: Sat, 31 Aug 2002 12:02:51 -0500
Jeff Olson wrote:
"I just wanted to publicly thank you for your enlightening commentary and references, both to this and my "Overview...Intention" post...."
("The silent solemnity remained unbroken throughout a treaty conference, except when a chief invited his company to intone a ritual 'yo-hah' to show hearty agreement or gratitude." Francis Jennings, *The Invasion of
America,* p. 122.).
From: Ellen Stuttle <email@example.com>
Subject: ATL: Re: Merciless Indian Savages
Date: Mon, 2 Sep 2002 17:03:41 -0400
That's much for the material you looked up and typed. It squares with what I remember from my Indian-studies days -- at one point I knew the names and locations and histories and linguistic stock and details of the customs of all the North American tribes, so this whole line of thought is bringing back memories.
A question I've been wondering about recently is the exact speed with which the technological revolution following the advent of the horse proceeded. (Modern horses weren't native to the Americas, though the horse line first evolved here, but then the ancestors of the modern horse crossed the land bridge to Asia, and became
extinct in NA.) Our image of the Indians tends to be that of the Plains tribes, horseback and in full war regalia, but the horse culture only developed *after* the Conquistadores came and some of their horses escaped. Thus it would only have been a couple hundred years between the time the NA tribes acquired horses and the time when settlers pushing westward encountered the Plains horse tribes. Just how many horses might there have been by then? Interesting biological-mathematical question.
Anyway, thanks a lot for providing the excerpts.
From: "Robert Campbell" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Reply-To: "Robert Campbell" <email@example.com>
To: "OWL" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: OWL: Land ownership and American Indians
Date: Tue, 17 Sep 2002 19:43:09 -0400
Amy Hayden asked about the application of Lockean principles of land ownership to territory that was once held by American Indians.
The answer, of course, is that such principles were most often not applied--European settlers simply grabbed the land by force.
You won't find a satisfactory treatment of this issue in Ayn Rand's writings. Rand seems to have known very little about American Indians, and to have thought about them in images--most of them unfavorable. More
generally, she believed that some human being are "savages," a term that contemporary anthropology has good reason not to use. From her point of view most American Indians were savages, and to her that apparently meant that they deserved what they got.
A much more nuanced treatment of the whole matter can be found in Murray Rothbard's history of the American colonies up through the Revolution (a fifth volume that would have continued up to the adoption of the Constitution was never published).
There are discussions of relations between settlers and Indians throughout the 4 extant volumes. A general statement of Rothbard's position can be found in Chapter 10 in *Conceived in Liberty* Volume 1 (New Rochelle NY: Arlington House, 1975). The chapter is titled "Relations with the Indians" and covers the way European settlers treated American Indians in the Virginia colony during the 1600s.
"Generally we may say that the native American Indians regarded the newcomers with a mixture of brotherly kindness and eagerness to make contact with the world outside; this, however, was countered by hostility based on the well-founded fear that the colonists were out to seize their lands. The whites generally regarded the Indians as possessors of land ripe for expropriation. This attitude of the whites was partially justified, as
Indian land was typically owned not by the individual, but by the collective tribal unit, and furthermore was inalienable under tribal law. This was particularly true of the land itself as contrasted to its annual use.
Furthermore, tribal law often decreed land ownership over large tracts of even unused acreage. Still, however, this land inequity provided no excuse for the physical dispersion of individual Indians from their homes and from land actually used, let alone the plundering of their crops and the slaughtering of the Indian people." (Rothbard, Volume 1, p. 95).
Under conditions of maximum good will, incompatibility between the understanding of land ownership that prevailed in many of the tribes (laws and customs, of course, varied from one tribe to another) and the views that prevailed among British settlers would have led to some conflicts. Moreover, Indian tribes often seized land from other Indian tribes through conquest (and this kept right on happening after Europeans began to arrive). But, as we all know, good will was in short supply. Indians were often massacred or driven into exile, and their land seized.
Rothbard's projected history did not reach so far, but a particularly nasty episode in this saga was the expulsion of the Cherokees from northern Georgia in the 1830s. The Cherokees were booted out by the government of Georgia, with support from the President of the United States and the US Army, even though members of the tribe cultivated farms in fixed locations, many lived in towns, many read newspapers that were published in their own language, and in general they had sought to keep out of fights with white settlers. Dispossessing the Cherokees and forcing them into exile in Oklahoma was as flagrant an act of plunder as you're going to find--as some white Americans (but not nearly enough of them) recognized at the time.
As for property rights in land worked by slaves, I've thought for a long time that the appropriate response after the Civil War would have been "40 acres and a mule": break up the plantations and turn them over, piece by piece, to the people who had been forced to work them. But the advisability of the Civil War (and its 620,000 war dead) aside, the political will to push Reconstruction this far was lacking. Hatred of blacks was so widespread in the North (and, I might add, so assiduously cultivated by the Democratic politicians of the period) that such land reform couldn't be carried out between 1865 and the end of Reconstruction in a corrupt political bargain in 1876. (If you think the vote-counting in Florida during the 2000 election smelled, you should read about the vote-counting in Florida during the 1876 election.)
Since we are talking about aspects of American history that are doleful to contemplate, let me add that until the 1800s there was not a whole lot of *moral* opposition to conquest or to land seizure or to slavery anywhere—at least not on the side that had the advantage in numbers or warlikeness or technology. Unfortunately, what is remarkable is not how long it took to end slavery in the West, or to give land seizure a bad name (finally, when Europeans arrived in the New Guinea highlands in the 1930s, they did not seize desirable land from the native farmers). What is remarkable is that slavery and land seizures were eventually rejected in the West. Movements to abolish slavery do not seem to have arisen anywhere else (for instance, I
have never heard of an indigenous Islamic movement to end slavery). In fact, it was the threat of a visit from British gunboats that helped to end slavery in many a country outside the Western world.
From: "Andrew Taranto" <email@example.com>
To: "Atlantis" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: ATL: The God of the Machine
Date: Tue, 27 Nov 2001 01:20:10 -0500
I just returned from my Thanksgiving vacation (spent in Cincinnati OH with a couple of friends). Most of my time there was spent either eating well or having a LAN party; but on my flights (which involved connections in Pittsburgh one way and Philadelphia the other), I had a good amount of time to read. So I brought my copy of Isabel Patterson's _The God of the Machine_ for a second reading.
What strikes me about this book is that it comes as close to an epic poem as a theoretical work can. Patterson's description of history and politics via a mechanical engineering metaphor is ingenious (though I'll confess to wishing I had a greater knowledge of mechanical engineering). It also adds a nice bit of irony in contrast to Marx's understanding of society as literal mechanism. Coupled with her vibrant and clear style, I regret that she wasn't a professional poet (or was she?).
A while back, I posted some questions on the anarchist/minarchist debate (my first ATL posts, I believe), explaining that I considered myself a minarchist; but that I preferred the term "republican", which I thought to be the political ideal. This spurred a discussion between George Smith and AD Smith on the merits of the term and the history of the "Radical Republicans". In any event, at the time, I had forgotten that it was Patterson's thought that I had in mind.
I'm curious to revisit this thread by asking anyone who's read tGotM what he/she thinks about it, particularly if he/she is an anarchist. Since the aforementioned ATL thread, I've been something of a political agnostic: I don't have a fully-fledged theory of anarchism or "minarchism" (ugh... I still hate that word). My own political theory is still fairly "ad hoc". I think it's better to construe the Constitution strictly; better still to repair its faults (e.g., the commerce clause, eminent domain); but I'm not convinced that a constitutional republic is the best framework for safeguarding individual rights.
I'd like to mention one fairly poetic moment with this book. On the plane from Philadelphia to La Guardia, I read this passage (the footnote from the first page of chapter 15, "The Fatal Amendments"):
"The Bill or Rights is integrally of the original Constitution, being 'the price of ratification.' It is an itemized safeguard of the rights of the individual, and of state sovereignty. The only objection then offered to it was that the enumeration of individual rights might be construed as limiting them to the issues named or as implying that the primary right of the individual is not comprehensive -- the European idea of 'liberties' instead of the American liberty. The point seemed far-fetched; it was certainly far-sighted, for of late that very perversion has been proposed, in a cheap parody, with the phrases 'freedom from want, freedom from fear,' etc. However, it is impossible to make any instrument fool-proof; and the Bill of Rights has served admirably in practical application."
Elsewhere, she talks about the Bill of Rights in conjunction with the treason clause as being the essence of the Constitution. (Note: in her discussion of the treason clause, she took pains to discuss the concept of "corruption of blood". I had asked what this meant a while ago on ATL, forgetful of the fact that she had already explained this to me. I really should have taken notes the first time I read this, I guess.) Anyway, after reading the footnote above, I happened to look out the window of the plane at the suburbs of Philadelphia. I thought of the ~millions~ of people who lived there (whose existence I inferred from the thousands of houses I could see at one time), and the millions more who lived across the country. I thought that most have a standard of living not too different from mine. It struck me that the Bill or Rights is like a genetic code for that standard of living, no matter how many mutations have been piled on to the original ten amendments (like that god-awful 16th), and what an amazing thing it was that so much could depend on a few simple ideas. And then it made me a little sad to think of the danger that both the Bill of Rights and my standard of living are in, from something like a slow-acting terminal illness. This episode seemed like an apt way to cap my Thanksgiving.