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Eminent Domain is Not Reasonable

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I wrote this letter to the editor of the Glenside News in response to one published last week that argued, essentially, that eminent domain was reasonable, normal and very uncontroversial. This in response to the action there October 17.

Eminent domain is not reasonable. Eminent domain is a twenty-five cent word for stealing. Eminent domain is what the current governmental clique calls it when they take without permission from a fellow human being. I don’t know about the commissioners, but I learned in kindergarten to ask before taking. Didn’t you?

Eminent domain has a long legal history because it is an outgrowth of feudalism. You may remember from your history books that most folks were serfs under feudalism. They worked like slaves, owned little and paid exorbitant rental rates to the king. You see, the practice of eminent domain is based on the concept that your house, your investment property, your anything is yours in name only. It really belongs to the clique that currently runs the government. And they can take it anytime they like.

The fact is that property rights evolved for a very good reason. As human beings, we must work to sustain our lives and we require property – that which we have legitimately gained – in order to do that. The car that gets you to work, the house, money and food that shelter and nurture you, these are your property. These are tools that you use to further your life without hurting anyone. Anything that attempts to steal your property violates your right to life and is a threat to all that is good in our modern civilization.

Eminent domain is out of place in our enlightened times. It is not compatible with property rights and therefore is not compatible with respect for life and your fellow man. Don’t be fooled by men and women with special titles or good speaking skills. They are your equals and have no special powers to take what is legitimately yours, other than what you grant them by your timidity and silence.

Your suggestions for improving my argument are appreciated. :)

Photo credit: Stinkie Pinkie. Photo license.

By George Donnelly

I'm building a tribe of radical libertarians to voluntarize the world by 2064. Join me.

7 replies on “Eminent Domain is Not Reasonable”

I’m curious as to what constitutes private property in an anarchist society. Does the argument of homesteading include squatting? Also, what is a reasonable defense of your private property? For example, if I owned a rather large farm, and ignored a few acres for a time due to necessary crop rotation, and someone came and built a house upon it, do they get to lay claim due to homesteading? And even if they think their claim is valid, am I not entitled to use force against them to protect what I believe to be rightfully mine?

I think the biggest difficulty with anarchism is how to settle disputes over the claims to private property… without a 3rd party superimposed to make binding decisions (even if those decisions are patently arbitrary) then I don’t necessarily see how these problems would be solved.

IMHO there is only property. There is no such thing as private or public property, just property.

I think property can be determined by each community. As long as aggression is not used, it’s ok with me. Disputes can be worked out with common law procedures in private courts. If no agreement could be reached, both parties could be ostracized and/or the physically stronger party would win.

If someone came and built a house on my property without my permission and I objected to it, I would wait till they were gone and tear it down, not leaving a shred of it behind.

If I needed some land and found some I liked and built on it, used it and was never molested about it by the deed holder, I would document my actions so that if I was ever challenged in court I could demonstrate that I had made it mine. Possession is 9/10 of the law, right?

Even under the maxi-state of now, recently in Colorado, a judge found some land he wanted on a neighboring plot. The owners of the neighboring plot lived in another state and rarely visited. The judge set up a fence around what he wanted, he used it regularly for parties (lots of witnesses) and when he was sued, the court found for him.

I imagine in a stateless society it would work much the same way.

Of course, you should not take my word for it. Check out folks like Kevin Carson and others at the Center for a Stateless Society: http://c4ss.org

I’m glad to see you writing a letter to the editor. Blogs are great, but if we can use local events to talk about the ideas using local media, it puts the ideas on a more personal and less abstract level for a lot of people.

P.S. I sometimes have trouble getting onto this site and it totally crashes. Do you know what that’s all about?

Thanks for your comments, Debbie. :) Frankly I find letters to the editor almost useless. I only wrote this one because James Babb offered an ounce of silver for the best letter. Still waiting to see who wins.

Websites don’t crash. Browsers can however. Do you mean your browser quits suddenly? Are you using Firefox? If not, I recommend it. But no, no idea why this website might relate to a browser crash.

Eh, maybe you’re right. I do consider letters to the editor to be another free avenue where people can spread the word so like-minded people can find each other.

(I do have firefox but dont’ always use it, I’ll try that. Thanks.)

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