I Am Property; Therefore I Am Theft

From Tom Palmer a couple of years ago, here’s both an amusing anecdote about neocon ignorance and a helpful miniature bibliography on the history of the concept of self-ownership:

I once heard Irving Kristol dismiss libertarian ideas of property in one’s person as “an invention of some hippies in the 1960s.”

I challenged him to explain his unusual historical claim in the context of documents such as the Decretal of Innocent IV (c. 1250), the writings of Henry of Ghent (c. 1217-1293), the Defensor Pacis of Marsilius of Padua (1324), the writings of Francisco de Vitoria (De Indis, 1524) and Bartolome de las Casas (In Defense of the Indians, 1550), Richard Overton (An Arrow Against All Tyrants, 1646), John Locke (Two Treatises of Government, 1689), and more.

He looked at his wife, the distinguished historian Gertrude Himmelfarb, who shook her head, and charmingly replied that “On the advice of counsel, I decline to answer the question.”


6 Responses to I Am Property; Therefore I Am Theft

  1. Roderick February 18, 2010 at 12:22 am #

    P.S. To anyone inclined to contribute to an irrelevant “But Tom Palmer is evil!” — “No, it’s the Rockwellites who are evil!” debate in this talkback: please count to a million first.

  2. Michael Wiebe February 18, 2010 at 12:47 am #

    So you’re doing repeats now?

    • Roderick February 18, 2010 at 12:53 am #

      Oops, I forgot about that.

      Well, at least this time I included the links.

      But last time I had a cool picture.

      • Black Bloke February 18, 2010 at 8:16 am #

        Next time go for the whole thing I guess?

  3. Jesse Walker February 18, 2010 at 10:32 am #

    I have to give Kristol props for the self-effacing comeback.

  4. Brian N. February 25, 2010 at 12:59 pm #

    He gets points for that, but he loses all of them (plus more change than with which he had to start) for such a claim as the one he made.

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