Why Anarchists are Allowed to Drive on Roads

I am often forbidden by statists and minarchists from driving on the roads, have it pointed out that I do drive on the roads, or asked why I drive on the roads. Usually this is presented as an ad hominem, which is a logical fallacy, invalid, and not an argument. You could prove beyond all doubt and beyond solipsism that I am an aggressor, that I have initiated more force than any other entity in history, that driving on roads is evil, and that driving on roads is in direct conflict with the NAP and anarchy, and you still have not done a damn thing to show that the NAP and anarchy is wrong as a philosophy. If driving on roads is wrong then it is wrong no matter how many people do it, and the merits of anarchy is an unrelated issue. If driving on roads is a NAP violation (i.e., is inconsistent with anarchy) then it is a NAP violation no matter how many anarchists do it, and the merits of anarchy is an unrelated issue.

I also see it as somewhat irrelevant whether or not it is immoral to utilize roads. Much in the same way that it is somewhat irrelevant whether it is immoral to steal one penny if for some reason doing this was the only way to save your life. Everyone is going to do it, so there is little value in trying to determine if this is the behavior that is preferable for people to engage in. Not no value, but it isn’t going to change anyone’s behavior. Ever. If you live under the US you use roads, and you don’t actually have a choice in that matter. Even if you figure out how to own property that leads directly to your source of income and food (which probably required the use of roads), you are still buying things from people who got said goods near you via roads. Even if you say “Fuck it, I’ll die for this shit” (and somehow find yourself 18 in sudden ownership of and location on land) state agents are going to drive on roads to come get your dead or dying body, and bring you to some building where it is legally mandated to bring dead or dying bodies via the roads. So I consider it largely disingenuous to say that a person chooses to utilize roads. And if something isn’t a choice then it isn’t a moral issue.

I only see four possible positions on road ownership: the State owns them, they are owned in common, they are ownerless things, or the original owners who they were stolen from own them.

The State can not own things because it acquired everything it has through theft. To the extent that people voluntarily buy postage stamps or donate books to libraries, the State still can not claim defendable ownership because it is a woefully insolvent debtor to everyone who it has aggressed against. Unless you have somehow managed to successfully avoid every act of initiatory force by the State it is not possible for you to steal from the State. Using “State property,” while it has the potential to raise practical and moral issues, can be rightfully considered either an involuntary conversion or restitution. The State has most likely stolen a significant amount of property from you. It has then given you roads. Access to these roads is an involuntary conversion from property to road usage. It is no more a NAP violation to use these roads than it is to spend the cash when some tortfeasor involuntarily converts your car into a number of Federal Reserve Notes. The State also perpetually threatens initiatory violence against you and it may have physically attacked or kidnapped you. This, in addition to the fact that they steal from you, gives you retaliatory force on the State, which you can then use to drive on “its” roads.

I do not think that a person would have to be completely psychotic to hold the position that State property is owned in common by tax payers or some similar group. You have a group of people that paid for a product, whether voluntarily or involuntarily, and so they own the product. Clearly if a large group of people get together and purchase a product, then they own it and can use it. If they were involuntarily brought together to purchase the product by any group of people claiming to represent an entity, such as the State, then this is an involuntary conversion, the fruits of which is, in this case, roads. The morality of utilizing the fruits of an involuntary conversion is the same as above. Under this position I am a co-owner of roads and thereby a moral utilizer of them.

You could hold that roads are ownerless things like oceans and other planets. This is not entirely irrational. If the State can not own property and they are not clearly owned by anyone else then no one owns them. Outside of parades and other recreational roadblocks everyone at least seems to be happy to use them and not exercise a possessory interest. I can sail around in international water all I want and there is no one with a right to complain. I am not violating anyone’s property rights by driving on the roads because the roads are not anyone’s property if no one owns them.

My position is that the roads are owned by the original owners from whom they were stolen via eminent domain. State agents had no right to take a strip from the front of another person’s land and declare it a road. So this land still belongs to the owner. However, most people who own roads drive on roads that they do not own. They could claim that the people who drive on their road are trespassing, but not without admitting to countless trespasses themselves. While the people who own the roads typically object to their property being stolen and converted to roads, they do not seem to object to people driving on their roads once they have already been stolen. There is a custom that it is permissible to drive on roads much like the custom that it is permissible to walk up to someone’s door to knock on it. Of course, any implied consent that you receive from a custom is revoked when the property owner states so.

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