I might be wrong here... warn me if I am.
Striding eager and brave Roderick Long pleads with the world to...
Consider a village near a lake. It is common for the villagers to walk down to the lake to go fishing. In the early days of the community it's hard to get to the lake because of all the bushes and fallen branches in the way. But over time the way is cleared and a path forms – not through any coordinated efforts, but simply as a result of all the individuals walking by that way day after day. The cleared path is the product of labor –not any individual's labor, but all of them together. If one villager decided to take advantage of the now-created path by setting up a gate and charging tolls, he would be violating the collective property right that the villagers together have earned
I have some reservations about the above interpretation of the homestead principle. Since there won't be a government to turn to, people will sign up to DRO's / Arbiters / Parishes to resolve these kinds of disputes.
The notion that a community are capable of sharing a path to a lake is fine. Even the motivation given, that it is their thoroughfare to their food supply, is fine. I can see the people getting along just fine, until the day when they don't.
This bothers me. Is it just me, or does it make more sense for the path to be reckoned the property of some organisation set up by the locals rather than the property of the community itself. That community is little more than a metaphysical construct in its occupants' minds, let us remember.
A forest only becomes a forest when we learn that f-word; otherwise we're looking at a lot of separate trees. And the homesteading that is taking place is so diffuse it's not really useful to assign it to everyone that's passing along.
What's the quota on number of journeys? Is going from village to water empty-handed and then from water to village with a fresh catch the criterion to join in this glorious exercise of communal conjugation?
It seems wishy-washy and unfair on the anarchic future of our race for an ancap like Long to extend homesteading rights to assemblages of individuals. Sure, they'll probably get on fine and most likely never bicker about the path, but they do not all magically own it unless they can show a DRO that future disputes can be clearly resolved.
Certainly they won't be able to get any flood or wind-damage insurance from a DRO without declaring one singular owner of the path, or apportioning it into stretches, one for each member of the community. Even typing that latter suggestion made me cringe.
So Matt concludes that homesteading rights are to be enjoyed by the individual only. That individual can sell or give away what they have homesteaded, but that is a matter of economics, not philosophy. Homesteading is a vitalising part of the Libertarian belief in the ascendency of Liberty. Let's be sure to recognise that in a society without government clear contracts and ownership will be more, not less important than now.
On the next Ecomony Blogtime; I wanna take you hiiigher!