How can Wenzel be a libertarian if he is for the coercive intervention of the state against individuals who have come across an idea that they did not steal?The answer is I am in favor of no such state coercion. I am against all state interventions. I am in favor of a private property society. Consider the Hertz example that I used in the debate with Norman Stephan Kinsella.
Hertz rents a car to B, who is supposed to return it in a week, but who instead sells it to C. B has removed all stickers and other identifying marks from the car that would identify the car as belonging to C, so that C is not aware that the car is a Hetrz rental. C is innocent relative to the broken contract between Hertz and B. Under existing law, Hertz can take the car away from C.
Within the current society, where the state has a monopoly on coercion, Hertz would have to call in the state to get the car back from C. This does not mean that Hertz would use the state in a private society world, indeed there would be no state coercion apparatus. However, since we do not live in such an ideal world, Hertz is forced to use this arm of the state.
It is no different than a person using government created sidewalks, streets, etc. There may be no alternatives. It would be absurd to charge someone using the sidewalks as being pro-state.
It's is the same for those in favor of intellectual property protection based on the guidelines of private property and the sanctity of contract. If A has a contract with B by which A reveals a formula to B with the understanding that B does not reveal the contract to anyone and B violates that contract by telling C, then A has every right in such a society to demand that C stop using the formula in any fashion, including selling or revealing it in any way to others. (Note well: A only has a claim if he can show that C obtained the formula via B violating the contract, not if C independently discovered the formula.)
The fact that A may call in, under the current state of affairs, the government to stop the property violation does not mean that A is in favor of government. It may simply mean that, like sidewalks and roads, government has chosen to monopolize the sector. In a private property society, there would be some method to stop private property violations. Presumably, Hertz and A would both use such methods in a private property society. Thus, protection of property, real or intellectual, is not something that is tied to the state. It would occur in a private property society where the state does not exist. There is no connection between pro-IP advocates and the state any more so than there is a connection between dog walkers and their use of sidewalks or car drivers and their use of roads. In a private property society, all would use non state methods to accomplish their goals.
Note: I can hear now the mad howls of the anti-IP crowd that the formula C is using can not be scarce. Well, under a tortured definition of scarce, it may not be. However, if A is entering into a contract with B to protect a formula, it certainly means that A and B must believe the idea is scarce, otherwise why would they go through the effort of agreeing to a contract and, what's more, why would B go through the motions of agreeing to the contract which may involve risk of penalty if he reveals the contract? If the idea is not viewed by B to be scarce in the common manner in which the word scarce is used and by the way the term is understood in economics, why would he even agree to enter into a contract? No one is entering into contracts with sellers of air. Air is under most conditions non-scarce, superabundant. When was the last time in your daily routine that you agreed to a contract to breathe the air? Air is a non-scarce item, as Ludwig von Mises put it:
The available supply of every commodity is limited. If it were not scarce with regard to the demand of the public, the thing in question would not be considered an economic good, and no price would be paid for it.Hint to the anti-IP crowd: No one makes contracts or fights over or has legal battles over free air when it is superabundant. If someone wants to protect a formula, it means it is scarce in the economic sense. If someone is agreeing to a contract over some good, it is an economic good and scarce in the economic sense. None of this is tied to a pro-state position.