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Theory Of Socialism & Capitalism Pt. 2: Property & Aggression

{Editor’s Note: This is the 2nd installment of a series of articles intended to encourage others to read Hoppe’s great economic treatise, A Theory of Socialism and Capitalism. It’s pronounced HAH-PAH, yeah.}

Hoppe’s introduction gives the reader a heads-up on what to expect from the subsequent chapters. He defines his thesis and sets his goal: the demolition of the intellectual credibility of socialism, both morally and economically. In order to accomplish his goal and to avert what Hoppe calls “intellectual disaster”, concepts such as Property, Contract, Aggression, Capitalism, and Socialism must be properly defined.

In order for the concept of property to emerge, there must be a scarcity of goods. Hoppe describes property rights with respects to bananas in a banana paradise, where consumption of bananas does not affect the future supply of bananas or other banana enthusiasts’ ability to enjoy them. Since there is no scarcity of bananas, there is no need for property rights with concerns to them. But, if there were a finite amount of bananas, conflict would arise. Everyone loves bananas. It is here where property rights, rights of exclusive ownership, emerge to avoid banana chaos.

Hoppe then takes us to the Garden of Eden where there is no scarcity of bananas or whatever. In this paradise, every person’s body becomes the ‘prototype’ of a scarce good. In order to avoid conflict over one’s body, property rights have to be established yet again. “I might, for instance, want to use my body to enjoy drinking a cup of tea, while someone else might want to start a love affair with it.” This “natural position”, one of exclusive ownership of one’s body, could be useful in convincing the ‘liberal’ pro-choice crowd of the validity in property rights, capitalism, and – after a few months of reading Rothbard - the total abolition of the State. Hoppe continues by analyzing the interpersonal relationships, or contractual exchanges, between body owners. These contracts are agreements based on mutual respect and recognition of each exchanging partners’ control of their own bodies. A violation of these ‘body contracts’ would be defined as aggression.

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for capitalism over crapitalism