Home > Uncategorized > Clean-up in Aisle 7; Or, In Which I Heroically Litter Walter Block's Post on Littering

Clean-up in Aisle 7; Or, In Which I Heroically Litter Walter Block's Post on Littering

 I refer to Walter Block’s the July 14 Mises Blog post Defending the Litterer, an excerpt of his “Defending the Undefendable” book.

In his final two paragraphs, Block concludes:

In the light of the inflexibility of the government, and its apparent lack of interest in accommodating public tastes, how is the litterbug to be viewed? The litterbug treats public property in much the same way he would treat private property if he were but free to. Namely, he leaves garbage around on it. It has been demonstrated that there is nothing intrinsically evil about this activity, and that but for governmental calcification, it would be as widely accepted in the public arena as it is in the private. It is an activity that should be regulated by people’s needs, not by government fiat.

We must conclude, therefore, that far from being a public enemy, the litterer is actually a hero. The courage exhibited by the litterer, given the intense campaign of vilification directed against him, is considerable. Even more important, the behavior of the litterer who purposefully “takes the law into his own hands” can serve as a protest against an unjust system.

I left the following comment:

TokyoTom July 25, 2010 at 10:49 pm

If littering is “heroic”, then so is the wholly self-interested use of other publicly-owned resources, open-access commons, and poorly-policed private property. Who cares what others – envirofascists, the lot of them (from my neighbors to others who use the resource)! – think? It is our DUTY to be heedless of others; those smug goody two-shoes who think they’re doing the “right thing” by not inconveniencing others (or who ridiculously devote time and effort to clean up what us good libertarians – as a public service – despoil) are actually doing everyone a DISSERVICE, by refusing to help accelerate a shift of all property into the hands of people who will fall all over themselves to cleanup after us!

Brilliant; I see it clearly now: BP is being HEROIC for messing up “wild resources” like “fish”, “shrimp” and “oysters” and “walruses” in the Gulf, the livelihoods of the lowlifes who catch them, and the budgets and property of other people living down there who like a “clean environment”. It’s the polluter, after all, whose public-spirited acts show that the real problem is not the one who indirectly injures others, but the government system that hasn’t assigned private property rights to all so-called “common pool” resources (or gotten out of the way, so the big boys could claim them for themselves)!

Same is true with all of those corporate polluters whose concentrations of money enabled them to persuade judges to ignore strict common-law protections of private property, and who deliberately proceeded to pollute Willy-nilly (in a public-spirited way, of course). Rather, it was all of those stupid people forced to breathe in the dirty air, drink the dirty water and on or in pollute land who then petitioned big brother to help who were wrong, and who subverted the noble goal of the industry owners of homesteading pollution rights to do pretty much whatever they wanted.

But I’m confused about one small thing: if “public-spiritedness” is for enviro fascists and suckers, then why are you appalling to it by calling litters “heroes”? Doesn’t our mission – to see the end of all public ownership and the destruction of all commons – demand that we eschew all sappy appeals to “community” or common good, and insist on individual selfishness instead?

This would be good to know, because it would mean that LvMI commenters could put down the burden of trying to police comment threads, or upbraiding authors who disappoint. Instead, we could all nobly (oops, selfishly, I mean?) become litters, even here!


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