The Absolute Nature of Property, Butler Shaffer

Butler Shaffer had a JD degree in Law. was the renowned author of several books, a contributor to, and a former faculty member at Southwestern University School of Law in Los Angeles. He taught Administrative, Antitrust, and Property Law. Butler was a frequent speaker at the Mises Instituted and below are other examples of his talks on youtube:

In this video, the speaker discusses one of his several books, which you can obtain below:

Boundaries of Order: Private Property as a Social System, Butler Shaffer

We have a copy of his book.

He died on Dec. 31, 2019. Below is his obituary:

On the bench where Butler’s ashes lay in a cemetery is written the following epitaph:

 “Civilizations are created by individuals.  They are destroyed by collectives.”

More on the evils of collectivism in:

Collectivism and How to Resist It, Form #12.024

It’s kind of sad that someone so educated in law and who even taught Administrative law, never applied that knowledge to any of the following ideas surrounding the thesis of his book:

  1. How “the collective” that he hated so much and even identified on his epitaph as the source of ALL evil is implemented by the civil statutory law, or Roman “jus civile” and cannot be implemented ANY OTHER way.
  2. How a civil statutory “person” (Form #05.042) IS, in fact, an agent and representative of the collective that he hated so much.
  3. Why our present legal system of roman civil law, or jus civile, or civil statutory law does not and can NEVER implement the system he proposes.
  4. How a legal system that implements the theme of his book would be implemented.
  5. That Administrative Law (Form #12.023 which he taught as a professor) can only regulate PUBLIC property and never PRIVATE property.
  6. How the common law, also called “jus gentium” under the Roman law, is the only legal system that can practically implement the ideal society he proposes.
  7. How the system of Administrative Law (Form #12.023) he specialized in is IRRELEVANT to the common law system and works AGAINST it and the goals of his book.

Like most people today, he may have been a prisoner of his fears by placing his own career survival above the common good of all implemented with the common law and never civil statutory law. He couldn’t bite the hand that feeds him by using any of his vast legal knowledge to establish any of the above things. That would have been a Third Rail issue he could never talk about. He clearly loved himself more than he loved God or His neighbor, and his message was therefore vain for not applying his knowledge in a moral and edifying way to our contemporary society. That’s idolatry. And NO, it’s not virtual signaling or “histrionic pearl-clutching” to say that. Its merely a fact.

How can someone:

  1. Spend 40 years studying law and libertarian thought.
  2. Write extensively on libertarian thought.
  3. Publish several books on law.
  4. Teach law as a PhD in law.

. . . and yet NOT realize or expose ANY of the above “cognitive dissonance” and hypocrisy in writing this book and NOT apply it to his professional career and try to build a REAL, working, breathing PRIVATE community like that described in Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged book? Would you EVER hire a builder who spent 40 years looking at blueprints for houses but never actually built one? To realistically apply the thesis of his book to the modern world and his own profession, he would have to commit professional suicide as a law professional and admit his profession is largely irrelevant to fully apply the theme of his book to the modern world. We must conclude that he was an atheist, because in the preface of his secular book, he makes the following bold statement:

“Is it possible for millions to live together in ways in which social harmony and individual autonomy are neither “balanced” nor sacrificed one to the other, but become the integrated expression of what it means to be human? Can such an inquiry proceed not from religious or ideological conviction or other abstract thinking but from an understanding of the conditions that are essential to the self-directed nature of living systems?

[Boundaries of Order: Private Property as a Social System, Butler Shaffer, pp. xi – xiii]

So he was clearly proceeding from a humanist perspective in an atheistic vacuum. He likens man to an animal for his book, not a creature made in the image of his Creator. He uses the metaphor in his book that life is like a river, with dead bodies on the shore victimized by the violence of collectivist institutions. Apparently, he didn’t want to be a dead body on the shore by leaving the collectivist mainstream of liberal academia he made his living from and actually confront, punish, and prevent the evil and violence. It isn’t enough to merely EXPLAIN it without also confronting it. No wonder he never wanted to confront the issues we indicate above! Jesus taught about the need to confront this evil head on as follows:

Christ Brings Division

34 Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. 35 For I have come to ‘set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law’; 36 and ‘a man’s enemies will be those of his own household.’ 37 He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. 38 And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. 39 He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.

[Matt. 10:34-39, Bible, NKJV]

Ayn Rand and her atheist brand of objectivism tried to attack the same problem from a secular point of view in her novel Atlas Shrugged, but she failed from a spiritual level, and thereby alienated the largest segment of humankind, who are overwhelmingly religious. Like Shaffer, she too lacked any sense of charisma or empathy. See the About->Ayn Rand v. SEDM menu for a summary of Rand’s approach:

Ayn Rand v. SEDM

We try very hard to attack the problem from ALL angles, not just an atheist one like Shaffer and Rand, so that our message has a broader appeal. Unfortunately, this is a much more daunting task that takes longer to germinate and is more abstract. We do, however, agree with Shaffer about the need to simplify the issues and remove their abstract nature by addressing it through the far more intuitive laws of property in a way that will appeal to a jury of the legally ignorant. We try to do this in the following document on our site:

Separation Between Public and Private Course, Form #12.025

If you would like a REAL practical application of how to implement the thesis of his book in a practical and real sense by fixing all of the problems with our current legal system, please read the following documents on our website:

Self Government Federation: Articles of Confederation, Form #13.003

For those wishing to apply the concepts in his took to a family situation, see:

Family Constitution, Form #13.002

If you want to read more of Butler’s articles on, which is a libertarian think tank frequented by Rand Paul containing lots of interesting academic articles (not unlike, visit:

If you would like to know more about the many books he published, click on the link below:


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