|The author is confused or disingenuous. There is no "problem" of initial acquisition. As I have pointed out in Defending Argumentation Ethics, and in The Essence of Libertarianism, the entire function of property rights is to specify a given owner of a given disputable (scarce) resource, so that peaceful (conflict-free) use may be made of these resources by people.|
Whenever a socialist like this guy wants to deny a homesteader (call him H) property rights in a resource on some grounds (whatever they are), he is necessarily asserting that someone other than H is the rightful owner of the property--say, the state, or the community as a whole, call them S. Now, it is totally irrelevant whether there is a "problem" of "initial acquisition." The point is the critic of private property here is saying that S rather than H owns the property. But if he believes this to be justified, then he must have some reason why S has a better claim than H. By assumption, H was the first possessor of the property. That means that relative to S, H had it first. The only way that S gets it is to take it from an earlier possessor.
But notice that our private property critic does not want to endorse the rule that property may be taken from its current possessor-owner by a latecomer; he does not want H to just be able to take the property back from S. In fact, to the extent he is trying to justify someone's property rights in the resource, he is implicitly and necessarily accepting the goal of finding a way to permit conflict free use of property. This means he is trying to find a way to designate the owner of the property, as distinct from mere possession. If there is no ownership--if property may be taken from a current possessor by force--then that is not a property rights system at all; it is not a system of ownership; it is the system of conflict, of might makes right, which presumably is to be avoided.
Thus the advocate of any justified claim to property at all--even if it is claimed that the State is the rightful owner--presupposes certain norms: these norms include the idea that as between two parties disputing a resource, the latecomer loses; that is, if you own property, someone may not take it from you. That is what it means to own something. In other words, by saying S owns the property, one necessarily presupposes that those who come after the state have a worse claim. That is, that an earlier possessor has better title compared to a later claimant.
And of course this rule implies that H had an even better claim to it than S did, since H had it first, and S is a latecomer with respect to H.
So it does not matter if there is a "problem" with "initial acquisition." This is just diversion. The socialist wants the rightful claim over property, and wants to be able to defend it from latecomers. That means he has to endorse the principle that a latecomer has a worse claim. But the state is a latecomer with respect to the homesteaders that the state takes the property from.