Tim presented a speech at the 14th Annual Porcupine Freedom Festival (Porcfest), titled “Private Ownership of Public Space in Post-State Cities.” He addressed three key questions:

1. What is “public space” and why should libertarians care about it?

2. How can public use be preserved under private ownership?

3. How can state owned spaces be divested into private ownership?

This episode features a brief discussion about Porcfest, and the full recording of Tim’s speech.


“You had me at ‘Privatization'”


  • What is the Free State Project?
    • A pledge by 20,000 libertarian activists to move to New Hampshire within five years.
  • Adra Architecture – The Official Sponsor of Anarchitecture Podcast (a shameless plug for Tim’s new architecture practice)
    • Terms and Conditions apply
    • Tim’s profit-seeking motive for sponsoring PorcFest
  • The Porcupine as a symbol of Liberty
    • What the Free State Project and Kim Jong Il have in common
  • FIGHT CLUB – Tim vs. Jeffrey Tucker
  • The Porcfest crowd
    • Not “With Her”
    • Bohemians in tie-dye
    • Ex-military guys with assault rifles
    • Bohemians in tie-dye with assault rifles
    • Bitcoin computer geeks
    • Families
    • Business people
    • Academics
    • The big umbrella of libertarianism
  • Porcfest Events
    • Debates on zoning, immigration
    • Patrick Byrne – CEO of Overstock.com
    • Dale Brown, from Detroit Threat Management Center
    • Burning Porcupine
    • Pig roast
    • Vendor booths for businesses, food, and merchandise
  • The “Adra Lounge” – Tim’s own piece of public space
  • Thanking our entire audience for going to Porcfest
    • Brett Veinotte from School Sucks Project
    • Steve Patterson – Tim throws down the gauntlet, which was quantum entangled so that it was really Joe throwing it down.
  • “Speaking of shooting off your mouth… my speech.”


Swanky outdoor exhibition booth with couches and Adra Architecture banners

The Adra Lounge

Speech Notes

  • What is public space?
  • Ownership of land
  • Divestiture of government property
  • Ownership of public space
  • Post-state cities
What is Public Space?
  • …and why should libertarians care about it?
  • Space that is accessible to non-owners without invitation, with reasonable restrictions
  • Access to Public Space
    • …a sliding scale
  • Public Space
    • No permission for entry, no permission for occupancy
    • (Public park)
  • Permissible Public Space
    • Minor permissions for entry and / or occupancy, i.e. Pay a fee
    • (Movie theater)
  • Permissible Private Space
    • Major restrictions on entry and/or occupancy
    • (Corporate building lobby)
  • Private Space
    • Invitation only
    • (Private Home)
  • Categories of Public Space
    • Open Space
      • Urban open space (plazas and parks)
      • Natural areas (hiking trails, nature preserves, beaches, preserved farmland)
      • Enclosed parks (theme parks, amusement parks, botanical gardens)
    •  Buildings
      • Social / Cultural facilities (museums, theaters, community centers, libraries, tourist attractions, sports arenas)
      • Mercantile facilities (Farmers markets, malls, shops, restaurants)
      • Transportation facilities (airports, train stations, bus stations)
    •  Pathways
      • Roads and rights-of-way
      • Waterways (Rivers, lakes, oceans)
      • Parking (Lots, garages, on-street spaces)
  • Restrictions on Public Space
    • …do not necessarily disqualify a space as “public”
    • Administrative Restrictions:
      • Fees for use (park fees, road tolls)
      • Hours of use
      • Occupancy capacity (egress, parking)
      • Types of occupancy (camping, mercantile, assembly)
    • Behavioral Restrictions:
      • Disruptive / aggressive behavior / drinking
      • Reckless driving
      • Criminality
      • Health and safety risks
  • Why is public space important?
    • Essential to human functioning
    • Freedom of movement
    • Marketplaces – Access to goods, services, and jobs
    • Recreation, nature, history, and arts
    • Social interaction, public discourse, protest, celebration
  • Public Space Summary
    • Space that is accessible to non-owners without invitation, with reasonable restrictions
    • Many types of public space – Open Space, Buildings, Pathways
    • Government owned and privately owned
    • Degrees of access with permissions
    • Many private facilities have public space components (i.e. Lobbies)
    • Expectation of entry (if not occupancy) on most properties
    • Restrictions on entry and occupancy
    • Public space is essential to public life
Ownership of Land
  • Essential elements of ownership
    • Reasonable freedom from adverse use inhibiting desired use
    • Duration of desired use with minimal risk of seizure (i.e. lease term)
    • Freedom to transfer ownership rights at will, in whole (sale) or in part (lease)
  • Necessity of Land Ownership
    • Private property ownership of land is essential to settlement and production.
    • Any society that is not nomadic needs to allocate private property to farm the land and build homes, roads, and infrastructure, with minimal risk of seizure, eviction, and adverse use by others.
  • Means of Enforcing Land Ownership
    • Architectural Means
      • Fences, Gates, Walls, Doors, Intrusion Alarms
    • Legal Means
      • Titles, Deeds, Trusts, Surveys, Liens, Homestead, Common Law / Custom
    • Forceful Means
      • Armed Security, Forceful Eviction, Booby Traps
  • Is forceful eviction consistent with the non-aggression principle?

…and the sign says anybody caught trespassing will be shot on sight

So I jumped the fence and yelled to the house, Hey, what gives you the right?

To put up a fence to keep me out, and keep mother nature in

If God were here he’d tell it to your face, Man, you’re some kind of sinner

Signs, by Five Man Electrical Band

  • Is trespass without threat an act of aggression that justifies defensive force?
    • No
  • Has a trespasser consented to force being used against him?
    • Maybe
  • Does a right to forceful eviction depend on local laws and customs?
    • Yes
  • Is forceful eviction consistent with the non-aggression principle?
    • The right to use force to exclude or evict people from a certain area of land is not an a priori “natural” right
    • However, forceful eviction is necessary (with proportionality and due process) to avoid adverse use of many types of property, which is essential to settlement and production
    • A right to forceful eviction is a valid legal construct in societies with broad consensus for property rights.
  • Establishing a Right To Forceful Eviction
    • Homesteading
      • “Mix labor with the land”
      • A nice idea, but impractical
      • Takes time to “mix” labor with a large area of land
      • Excludes potential for natural preservation
      • Can justify an initial claim after the fact
    • First Claim
      • “I claim this chest in the name of Spain”
      • Necessary, but insufficient
      • Dennis Hope has claimed the Moon and sold off claims to others.
      • Some combination of claim, survey, and declaration of intent for use may be sufficient to validate a claim (i.e. mining claims).
    • But none of this matters…
      • Seizure
      • “All your base are belong to us”
      • No existing land title has been established primarily by homesteading
      • No future land titles (on Earth) will be created by homesteading
      • All existing land titles have been created by governments who have claimed unused land or seized occupied land.
    • Are all existing land titles invalid?
      • NO
    • Land claims are relative.
      • Whoever has the earliest provable claim to land has the best claim (Stephan Kinsella)
    • Privately-owned land has been “removed” from the governments who seized it.
  • Is “Public Property” invalid?
    • There is no public property.
    • “Public Property” is private property that happens to be owned by a government.
    • The Owner (government) sets rules for access, fees, and allowable uses, no different than private property owners.
    • Some government-owned property is public space, and some is not.
    • Like private property, government-owned land titles may be valid if there are no better competing claims
    • The problem is the ongoing ownership by a government taxing and initiating force.
  • The government needs to go away, not the land titles.
Divestiture of Government Property
  • Why Divest Government Property?
    • Property ownership forms part of the basis for the state’s power and perceived legitimacy.
    • Government-owned roads, parks, beaches, etc. are amenities that entice people to support government and taxation. Bread and circuses.
    • Less justification for eminent domain. Government doesn’t need to take land to build roads if it doesn’t build roads.
    • Governments collect taxes to build infrastructure, spend taxes blowing up infrastructure in other countries.
    • Private landownership is the basis for a voluntary society governed by rules of private landowners.
    • Levels of authority: Landowners’ rules, deed restrictions, social standards, universal morals (NAP)
    • Municipal police exist largely in part to patrol municipal property. Private security becomes much more viable and logical without government property.
    • Property divestiture to public forms of ownership (i.e. voucher privatization) could be a windfall endowment to the poor.
  • How should government property be divested?
    • Abandonment (to be re-homesteaded)
      • Only valid for unused land
    • Restitution to taxpayers (Hoppe)
      • What’s so special about taxpayers?
      • What about government’s other victims?
      • Arbitrary allocation
      • Politically impossible – giving more property to the rich
    • Seizure by revolutionaries
      • In the absence of a valid competing land claim, forceful taking would create an invalid title. Subject to invalidation in future.
        Revolutionary overthrow of government would just create another governmental owner. Transfer from government to government, not divestiture.
    • Spin off government departments as private organizations
      • Highway Department becomes Highway Association / Highway Corporation
      • Risk of monopoly
      • Risk of bankruptcy
      • Who owns the spin-off?
  • “Opt-in” Trusts
    • Anyone, anywhere can opt-in to create a share
    • Preferred shares for people who invest money in improvements
    • Profits or other benefits for preferred shares
    • Normal shares can vote but can’t receive profits (Safeguard against losing public use to wealthy cabal)
  • Preserving Access Rights to Public Space
    • The purchaser draws boundaries, fences himself in, and says, ‘This is mine; each one by himself, each one for himself.’ Here, then, is a piece of land upon which, henceforth, no one has right to step, save the proprietor and his friends; which can benefit nobody, save the proprietor and his servants.
    • “Let these multiply, and soon the people … will have nowhere to rest, no place of shelter, no ground to till. They will die of hunger at the proprietor’s door, on the edge of that property which was their birth-right; and the proprietor, watching them die, will exclaim, ‘So perish idlers and vagrants.’” – Pierre-Joseph Proudhon
    • Existing public use of government-owned roads, parks, plazas, etc. has been “homesteaded”
  • Divestiture of public space to private entities should not allow them to restrict access
  • Reasonable access restrictions, consistent with existing restrictions
    • Traffic laws
    • Fees for use
    • Hours of operation
    • Behavioral / safety restrictions
  • Means of Enforcing Public Access
    • Public Ownership
    • Opt-in Trust – Public can join as owners and vote shares to maintain public access
    • Public access could be removed with broad consensus
  • Trust Ownership
    • Declaration of Trust could define purpose of land ownership trust as preserving public space.
    • Limit powers of trust to remove land from public access
  • Deed Covenants
    • Before divesting, governments could establish deed covenants and easements that define public access rights, responsibilities, and restrictions
  • Summary of Private Ownership of Public Space
    • Existing land titles not in dispute should be respected
    • Government property should be divested to private ownership
    • Public forms of private ownership (i.e. Opt-in Trusts) may be most viable
    • Public access to existing government property should be preserved by legal right

Post-State Cities

  • Public space freed from the tragedy of the commons
  • Private ownership can bring market efficiency, value discovery, and accountability to public space
  • Enhancement of green spaces and urban plazas
  • Reduction of road congestion and traffic accidents
  • Provision of appropriate parking
  • Efficacy of mass transit
  • Mitigation of unsustainable sprawl

With or without a state, the thoughtful divestiture of state property to private owners could enrich our cities and towns with a flourishing of public space.


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