The leftist believes that absolute property ownership is thuggish. The leftst says, “God/Providence/Gaia made the earth, not you the property owner. You do not have the right to pay your armed security guards to evict this poor worker from your factory just because he wants to start a union. That would be thuggish.” The leftist believes that private property ownership is not absolute – it is secondary to the overall ownership of the state. Personal ownership should be curbed and subservient to ‘the people’ – where the people have been carefully guided by a caste of intellectuals.
The libertarian believes that private property ownership is absolute. By natural right, every property owner owns an alloidial title. The property owner should not be subject to the taxing or police powers of a superior land lord. Any tax is thuggish theft.
The formalist believes that promises should be kept. Implied promises should be formalized and made explicit. By promises we mean property rights, contracts, civil rights, etc. As a matter of current reality and current promises, private property owners in the U.S. do not have an allodial title, they have what is essentially a fee simple title. This means means the title holder is subject to taxing and police power (which includes the power to regulate vice, such as narcotic production and consumption). Therefore it is not thuggish for the government to tax, just as it is not thuggish for my landlord to charge me rent.
The government acts thuggish when it breaks its promises. FDR was a thug because he smashed to pieces the promises made in the Constitution regarding federal powers. Woodrow Wilson was a thug, because he promised to keep the nation out of war, but then drafted slave soldiers to fight and die thousands of miles away.
Conversely, if an ultra-libertarian party came to power, slashed social security completely, and left senior citizens with nothing, they would be thuggish because they broke promises made to retirees.
Thus the formalist starts with a seemingly agreeable and non-controversial premise – promises should be kept – yet he quickly earns the ire of both the progressive and liberatarian.
The formalists believes that democratic governments are especially prone to not keeping promises because the moods and the passions of the mob can swing so quickly.
In general, the governments of sovereign states act more thuggish than private individuals. The formalist believes that governments act thuggish because governments (by definition) have no higher power which can hold them in check and make them keep promises. The anarchist believes that the government is thuggish because the government has a monopoly on force. Therefore, if this monopoly was broken by introducing more military competition, then there would be less thuggishness. The formalists believes that eliminating the state and replacing it with 100 “protection agencies” would simply result in 100 thuggish paramilitaries that had no higher power to hold them in check and keep promises. The situation would now be much, much worse.