Hoppe aims to show that the private property ethic is the only ethic that can be justified argumentatively. Does he succeed?

Hoppe describes his argument as the ultimate justification of private property, but what is it about argumentation that participants must actually presuppose?

Participants in argumentation need immunity from duress, so they can make up their minds and seek a peaceful resolution to their disagreements; and (according to Hoppe) they are entitled to legitimate ownership of things they acquire by homesteading or voluntary exchange. But not all critics of private property are authoritarians or paternalists whose preferred social arrangements make use of involuntary means.

At least a few alternatives to private property have advocates who would claim they operate on a voluntary basis. Maybe they contradict homesteading? That doesn’t work either. If we stipulate a norm against duress and institute a first user homesteading rule, we can still devise a rather severe collectivist property arrangement. Imagine an organization based on the following voluntary agreement (with the “private property” basis of each clause included in parentheses):

  1. On voluntarily joining the organization, new members donate all their private property to the organization. (gift or contract)
  2. They further agree that they will act as agents of the organization in homesteading any new property while their status as members continues. If they homestead anything, it belongs entirely to the organization. (contract)
  3. The organization ultimately owns everything that its members possess and can re-allocate any of it at will. (Property owner can exclude persons arbitrarily.)
  4. In spite of that, members may make use of land or objects that they homestead or that the organization has allocated to them, using the goods or lands as if they were renters or stewards, or even pretending to own them in an inferior sense. They may do as they like with the property allocated to them until the organization tells them otherwise. (Owner may delegate ownership rights.)
  5. Members will voluntarily obey the decisions and instructions of the organization and the delegates of the organization, or accept punishment for disobedience voluntarily, or resign and depart. (Owner can exclude persons arbitrarily.)
  6. Members are free to resign from the organization at any time, for any reason, including to avoid obeying a command or accepting punishment, so they are never under duress. But they cannot take any property belonging to the organization with them when they go, or remain on land owned by the organization. Trespassers will be evicted. (Owner can exclude persons arbitrarily.)

This agreement satisfies the criticisms of those who criticize private property by using the principles of free association, private property and voluntary agreement to create a situation where no individuals have any private property. All property is owned by the organization/collective/state/community/whatever. We may not wish to join such an organization (indeed, I have tried to make it appear as unappealing as possible); but would someone advocating for it necessarily contradict the argumentative norms against duress and favoring homesteading that Hoppe defends? Or does the scenario violate some other norm presupposed by arguers that I have overlooked? I would appreciate any suggestions or comments.

How much does advocacy for this peculiar organization differ from advocacy of other non-private property schemes excluded by Hoppe’s criteria? Can’t the advocates of those other alternatives sterilize their arguments by stipulating that participants can join or resign freely but must refrain from engaging in aggression against outsiders and agree to act as agents of the collective with respect to homesteading? As long as they do not advocate explicit violations of the argumentative norms, they appear to pass Hoppe’s test.

I am not sure whether to treat this as a refutation of Hoppe or a confirmation. On the one hand, this pseudo-Hobbesian social contract violates my expectations regarding what I want to describe as  conforming to a “private property ethic”. On the other hand, maybe this just highlights what is worst about non-private property ethics – they allow groups to force new members to join, prevent existing members from resigning, or encourage their members to steal from, capture or kill non-members. But can we really convert a Stalinist nightmare into a “private property ethic” so easily?