Wednesday, June 28, 2006

The Non-Aggression Principle

The Non-Aggression Principle (NAP), the cornerstone of the market anarchist framework, can be expressed as such :

No one has the right, under any circumstances, to initiate force against another human being, nor to delegate its initiation.
L. Neil Smith


Although a pacifist obviously follows the NAP, the NAP does not demand pacifism, as self-defense is not an "initiation" of force by definition. Of course, the issue is then raised of what consists and does not consist self-defense, an issue I have no intention of getting into here. Suffice it to say that for the sake of discussion the notions of self-defense as defined in our current laws are good enough for a first approximation (i.e. anyone pointing guns at anyone else is fair game).

Superficially, most people support the NAP, and do not use force in their own lives. However, when it comes to the violence and coercion inherent to government, we get the old excuse of "that's how the system works". Policemen and soldiers routinely gun down, jail and otherwise make life horrible for people without fear of punishment. They feel perfectly legitimized - in fact, they are proud of it ! - because their actions are sanctioned by government, which is itself legitimized by its own propaganda. And the population in general has no qualms supporting the existence of a monopoly of police and army, and supporting wars, because they are too brainwashed to examine these things from a moral perspective.

So once again we have to come back to the Moral Razor. If something is moral for one person, then it must be moral for all people. It is good that any person be honest, and therefore honesty is a virtue for all. It is good that any person be rational, and therefore rationality is a virtue for all.

What about "killing the enemies" ? "Shooting down criminals" ? "Arresting people for illegal acts" ? "Collecting income tax" ? If it is proper for a few, and not proper to all, then that makes it indefensible. Either anyone should be permitted to kill their enemies, shoot down criminals, arrest people for acts they find illegal, or collect income tax for themselves, or we are no longer in the realm of morality, but rather in the realm of exploitation of one group against another.

Of course, the eager defenders of democracy will pipe up and claim that all of this coercion is justified by good intentions and goals. This is, of course, complete and utter nonsense. Whatever your intention is, if you need to kill or ruin people's lives for it, it's not a good intention ! If I hold you up but claim that I will use the money I steal from you to give to a good cause, that does not make my theft any more moral, only more hypocrite. It is a mass mentality, the democratic knee-jerk reflex of invoking government for any problem, without any consideration as to whose lives are being trampled.

The market anarchist solution is that you actually have to deal with other people's values, and live like adults, instead of fighting for a paternal government's gun. If your intentions really are good, then prove it. If your cause is just, then sell it. If you're right, then you'll have many takers. If you're wrong, then few people will follow you.

Of course, market judgment is the last thing statists want. They wish their coercive ideas to be enforced without reference to other people's values, because the very nature of democratic government is that of a constant struggle to get one's values enforced over others. Like Christians who hide behind their interpretation of "divine laws" to escape moral judgment, the statist hides behind the coercive "common good" in order to escape judgment from their peers, and derides us as "pacifists".

Thus is the way of the Aggression Principle, the way of the coward and the brute.

6 comments:

chris said...

I want to admit up front I am a Christian who values freedom and I am trying to understand your ideas. I don't want to impose my opinions and convictions on others. I would much rather people choose of their own free will. Otherwise, their faith is brainwashing vs. their own conviction. Debate is good and there is nothing inherently bad about a little conflict now and again. My questions: Is there any place for the organized protection from external governments who would invade? Who protects those who cannot protect themselves within societies? http://noeo.wordpress.com

Francois Tremblay said...

No need for a big prelude, as long as you have a modestly intelligent question I'll answer it... and it turns out you do:

"My questions: Is there any place for the organized protection from external governments who would invade? Who protects those who cannot protect themselves within societies?"

Agencies would provide for the common defense, probably by contracting to a specifically military company. I imagine that the current military would become a smaller private company which would provide heavy-duty security and military applications.

Of course, the #1 way to defend yourself against a state, as history proves, is to have nuclear bombs. With only one small exception, no two nuclear bearing powers have fought each other. This is because politicians don't want to sacrifice themselves for a cause they don't really believe in- at heart, they are cowards.

This also neatly answers your other question, as everyone is equally protected by such a prospect.

chris said...

Wouldn't this military company tend to give its loyalties to the highest bidder? I would think "agencies" would continue to grow (by whatever means necessary) in an attempt to garner more and more assets if this were the case. It seems this would only result in a warlord type of coercive society, eventually...might makes right? Or, are you thinking more homogenous groups would band together in community and be essentially peaceful so long as no outside forces coerced it to be any different than it is? I'll share your "modestly intelligent" comment with my wife. She's still not so sure about me.

Francois Tremblay said...

"Wouldn't this military company tend to give its loyalties to the highest bidder? I would think "agencies" would continue to grow (by whatever means necessary) in an attempt to garner more and more assets if this were the case."

Well sure, any company seeks to expand. That's the point of competition. But to expand you need to provide a good service to your customers.


"It seems this would only result in a warlord type of coercive society, eventually...might makes right?"

Why would they seek to coerce anyone? Coercion is expensive and profits less than cooperation. There is only an interest in coercion when the costs of it are delegated to "the people", as in a statist system. Market anarchist territories in history tend to be more peaceful than their statist homologues.


"Or, are you thinking more homogenous groups would band together in community and be essentially peaceful so long as no outside forces coerced it to be any different than it is?"

Well, it depends on the scenario.

chris said...

"Market anarchist territories in history tend to be more peaceful than their statist homologues."

Do you have any examples? This intrigues me.

Francois Tremblay said...

They are all on my web site simplyanarchy.com, in the pro-anarchy section.