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Propertarianism, or proprietarianism, is an ethical philosophy that advocates Lockean sticky property norms, where an owner keeps his property more or less until he consents to gift or sell it, rejecting the Lockean proviso.
Closely related to and overlapping with right-libertarianism, it is also often accompanied with the idea that state monopoly law should be replaced by market-generated law centered on contractual relationships. Propertarian ideals are most commonly cited to advocate for an anarcho-capitalist or minarchist society with governance systems limited to enforcing contracts and private property.
The term appears to have been coined by Edward Cain in 1963:
Since libertarians use of the word "liberty" refers almost exclusively to property, it would be helpful if we had some other word, such as "propertarian," to describe them. [...] Novelist Ayn Rand is not a conservative at all but claims to be very relevant. She is a radical capitalist, and is the closest to what I mean by a propertarian.
Marcus Cunliffe defined propertarianism in his 1973 lectures as "characteristic values of American history" in regard to property. David Boaz writes that the "propertarian approach to privacy", both morally and legally, has ensured Americans' privacy rights.
Markus Verhaegh states that Rothbardian anarcho-capitalism advocates the neo-Lockean idea that property only legitimately originates from labor and may then only legitimately change hands by trade or gift. Brian Doherty describes Murray Rothbard's form of libertarianism as propertarian because he "reduced all human rights to rights of property, beginning with the natural right of self-ownership".
In the science fiction novel The Dispossessed (1974), left-libertarian Ursula K. Le Guin contrasted a propertarian statist society with an anarchist anti-propertarian society in an attempt to show that property and state objectified human beings. A book presenting the dual opposite of this scenario is Robert Heinlein's The Moon is a Harsh Mistress which contrasts a propertarian, stateless society on the moon with a statist anti-propertarian society on earth. Other left-libertarian non-propertarians like Murray Bookchin have been called anti-propertarians. Bookchin objected to propertarians even calling themselves libertarian, arguing:
We have permitted cynical political reactionaries and the spokesmen of large corporations to pre-empt these basic libertarian American ideals. We have permitted them not only to become the specious voice of these ideals such that individualism has been used to justify egotism; the pursuit of happiness to justify greed, and even our emphasis on local and regional autonomy has been used to justify parochialism, insularism, and exclusivity – often against ethnic minorities and so-called deviant individuals. We have even permitted these reactionaries to stake out a claim to the word libertarian, a word, in fact, that was literally devised in the 1890s in France by Elisée Reclus as a substitute for the word anarchist, which the government had rendered an illegal expression for identifying one's views. The propertarians, in effect – acolytes of Ayn Rand, the earth mother of greed, egotism, and the virtues of property – have appropriated expressions and traditions that should have been expressed by radicals but were willfully neglected because of the lure of European and Asian traditions of socialism, socialisms that are now entering into decline in the very countries in which they originated.