Although there are a lot of disagreements between libertarian anarchists and libertarian statists one of the biggest is their views on property. Libertarian anarchists generally believe property rights are absolute whereas libertarian statists don’t believe in the concept of property rights. I imagine there are several libertarian statists screaming at their computer as though it was actually me. One of the things they’re probably screaming about is their belief that the state is necessary to protect property rights. But libertarian statists believe there should be a state and wherever a state exists property rights cannot.
This discussion isn’t necessarily restricted to libertarian property rights theory. Anywhere a state exists no form of property, other than the state having all rights over all property, can exist. Anarcho-communism’s concept of collectively owned means of production cannot exist. Mutualism’s concept of usage based rights cannot exist. And libertarian anarchism’s concept of absolute private property rights cannot exist.
A state is nothing more than an organized gang that claims a monopoly on the use of force within a geographic area. Different forms of states exist but all of them share a common trait: they declare a monopoly on making and enforcing the rules.
Consider the United States, a state that libertarian statists generally claim to be one of the most libertarian states in existence. Under the laws of the United States private property rights are the rule. There are no legal means by which a person can forcefully take the property of another. I’m just messing with you. In the United States nobody can be said to actually own anything. Everything is owned by the state and individuals are merely granted temporary usage and possession privileges.
If you don’t believe me try not paying your property taxes. You will soon find armed officers at your door threatening to either arrest or evict you. But large property like houses aren’t the only instance where your supposed property can be taken from you. If you fail to pay your income tax the state may put a lien against your property and seize it if you fail to pay off your “debt” within a specified period of time. Civil forfeiture laws allow the state to seize cash, automobiles, and any other property a police officers claims might be related to a drug crime. Your firearms can be seized if the state deems you a felon. There really are no limits on what the state can take.
These laws haven’t always been in existence, which is the biggest point of this post. Although the property rights granted under a particular government may be “libertarian” at one point that can change. Since a state has a monopoly on making and enforcing the rules it can change any rule at any time. Civil forfeiture laws are a prime example of the rules on property ownership changing. Before civil forfeiture laws were passed a random police officer couldn’t steal your car and all of your cash by simply claiming he believe it was somehow related to a drug crime. But the state changed the rules and now random police officers can take your stuff without so much as a court order. The income tax wasn’t always in existence but after it was brought into existence it gave the state an excuse to seize the property of anybody delinquent on their income taxes.
The reason property rights can’t exist under a state is because the state has the power to change the rules at any point. That power makes any property ownership nothing more than a temporary privilege that can be revoked at any time.