The War on Privacy – or, Privacy as a Strategy for Liberty
Keywords:privacy, Rothbard, theory of strategy for liberty
In the last chapter of The Ethics of Liberty, Rothbard discusses his theory of strategy for liberty, and recommends tools such as education that libertarians can lean on to attain the highest political goal of freedom. Building on Rothbard’s shoulders, the main thesis of this paper is that an effective theory of strategy for liberty cannot dispense with privacy, which needs to be understood as a condition for the enjoyment of liberty and not as a right per se. In the first section, the discussion is framed in the context of natural rights libertarianism. Then, a metaphysical taxonomy of property is provided, which articulates the functioning of property rights and privacy in the realm of the body and of the mind, in the realm of alienable goods and services, and in the realm of information. The third section deals with the war on privacy that is raging nowadays; not coincidentally, the ultimate enemy of this war is private property. The last part of the paper contends that Rothbard is correct in reducing privacy rights to property rights, but this doesn’t mean that privacy has no place in libertarian thought; on the contrary, privacy is one of the main conditions for the defense and preservation of property rights, and, in the case of information, property cannot even exist without it. If these theses are true, libertarians need to find a proper place for privacy in their theory of strategy for liberty.
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