Hensley: Refuting Chodorov – Thinking about Private Property

Frank Chodorov was an American writer who was associated with the Old Right, a branch of conservatism that was anti-imperialist, laissez-faire, traditionalist, and for limited government. Chodorov himself was an individualist and advocate of Georgism (the ideology supporting a tax on the unimproved value of land or land with no houses or farms or windmills or anything of the like on it). Chodorov actually hated the word “conservative” and preferred the word “individualist.”

He hated taxation and once flirted with anarchism. He rejected it, though, due to its being against violence and perceived support of violence. Today, I shall disprove his reasonings and, hopefully, convince those like him to take up the cause I so dearly support: Individualist anarchism.

In the absence of a State, unoccupied property is free for the taking unless protected. The reason for this is because only the State allows this idea that property not in use belongs to someone. If we apply this logic to, say, a dollar on the sidewalk then no man would dare pick one up for fear of being arrested for something he had assumed was abandoned. I go into more detail on this in my piece “The Individual and Property.”

Now, any private property advocate would regard the idea of unoccupied property being abandoned as nowhere close to the idea they so desperately hold on to. I say that private property in that sense is theft. If I see unowned property and you prevent me from acquiring it then you have stolen it from me. You haven’t laid claim to it through a private defense agency or ADT or some other home defense system (even a “Beware of dog” or “Trespassers will be shot” sign would suffice just something that establishes ownership) yet you deny me the right to take it? Theft.

I refute the idea that this so-called “private” property is in any way libertarian or anarchist on both sides, left or right. Ownership exists until you have abandoned it and abandonment occurs as soon as you leave. Chodorov believed that this would be remaking society in my own image. This is an illogical argument. We already practice occupancy and use every day. If you leave a couch on the side of the road, you’ve abandoned it. Someone else will take it. If you see loose change on the sidewalk, you pick it up. Do you worry you’re stealing it? No, of course not. It was abandoned. I am merely extending this to all property.

Chodorov’s criticism of violence in anarchism is just. I am opposed to violence and feel its use hurts anarchism. At the time of this writing, former Vice President Joe Biden was criticized for wanting to arrest “arsonists and anarchists.” He, like most Americans, associate anarchism with violence. Their beliefs are wrong but seeing the anarchists of today encourage violence and the anarchists of the past use violence I understand where they’re coming from. The State uses violence to enforce its laws. If you use violence to combat it, you’re no better. Using violence to accomplish your goals makes sure your goals will never be achieved no matter what they are.

Chodorov claimed a man couldn’t enjoy the fruits of his labor without private property. This may have been true under Bakunin and his beliefs in collectivism which is the enemy of liberty but this is not true in an individualist anarchist society. Individualist anarchism is for personal property and the hoarding of property that is private property. It is for individual ownership of property. It just happens to believe ownership stops when said property has been left alone.

Private defense agencies, home security systems, and the like will ensure the owner keeps his property after he has left. It is a just idea that allows every individual the ability to own property and distribute it equally without the hoarding of property that occurs under statist socialist or capitalist systems.

I haven’t read everything by Chodorov but I like what I’ve read. However, no person is immune from criticism and through criticism we evolve ideas and develop them. This article, I hope, will convince libertarians on the right and conservatives to look up individualist anarchism and read more on it and become advocates themselves. It is essential we evolve it and reach out to those on the Right without rejecting them or insulting them. We must explain our ideas simply so that everyday people can understand them and not believe we’re the same as the statist socialists. We start by addressing their concerns and introducing our rebuttals.

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Dakota Hensley an individualist anarchist and Christian anarchist from Southeast Kentucky. Follow him at @DakotaAHensley.

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