Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Ungdomshuset: Squatters and Natural Property Rights

Under the "radically libertarian" Lockean/Rothbardian theory of natural property rights, squatter rights arise independently of the state. State assigning of titles to land are frequently fraudulent, as the state is little more than a bandit gang -- "the mafia, but with flags" -- which assumes ownership and eminent domain over everything in its territory. The state cannot legitimately own or transfer property to favored sycophants, such as the developer, or any buyers willing pay the state for someone else's property. That is an exchange that must be arranged between the owners and the buyers, not the state. The developer, who has already sold his/her labor, or a previous title-owner cannot assume property rights over abandoned/unsquatted land.

Ungdomshuset is an abandoned building in Copenhagen, which was squatted by a group of leftists in 1982 and used as a community center for 25 years without state intervention. While we were protesting Stryker shipments in March 2007, the Kingdom of Denmark stole this land from the homesteading "squatters"and decided to sell it to a buyer of their choice. Oddly enough, the City sold it to the ideological antithesis of the rightful owners: a group called Faderhuset, a conservative Christian sect led by a firebrand evangelist preacher.

The Faderhuset group holds to a divine theory of property rights, much like from the Book of Joshua where God ordered his people to murder the squatters in the Holy Land and to squat the land for themselves. Faderhuset's mission is to return Denmark to the Christian path, starting in Norrebro, the district that houses not just the Ungdomshuset but also many Muslims. Their head preacher said that God told her to "buy" the building from the City, and within hours of gaining vacant possession of the land, they ordered that Undomshuset be demolished while the owners of Ungdomshuset watched.

The City deliberately confiscated and sold Ungdomshuset to a group which would arouse even greater anger in the owners. Not surprisingly then, while we were getting tear-gassed in Tacoma, the rightful owners of Ungdomshuset were rioting in the streets of Copenhagen, resulting in at least 700 arrests and dozens of burned police vehicles. From watching their videos on YouTube, I became outraged. Copenhagen police, acting on the Paternalistic whim of their State, drove large vehicles threw lines of protesters, nearly killing several youth. Denmark's state henchmen gassed the owners, took over their property, and beat them in the street. In my view the squatters have every right to fight back and to protect their land, and to even bear arms. This is a universal struggle for freedom, for rightful ownership, and for natural rights.

To echo the words of the British anarchist Colin Ward,

"Squatting is the oldest mode of tenure in the world, and we are all descended from squatters."

This is as true for The Queen's 176,000 acres as it is of the American natives, and as it is true of every owner-occupier of un-titled land throughout the world. They are all the ultimate recipients of squatted land. They are the ultimate recipients of labor-mixed property. Throughout history states have been the arbitrary facilitator of this illegitimate land exchange, assuming control and ownership where natural property rights abide. This is a state-operated black market. Nothing is freely exchanged in this market, and this offends every conceivable principle of natural rights.

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