Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Non-Libertarians cause of trouble

(My Clovis News Journal column for September 4, 2015)

What’s one of the fastest ways to get in serious trouble? By acting in ways libertarians warn against. Can this be right?

Aren’t libertarians supposed to be troublemakers who oppose cooperation and generosity? Aren’t they known as rugged individualists who advocate “every man for himself?”

Think again.

The heart of libertarianism is the principle that no one has the right to use violence- even gently or "for your own good"- against anyone who is neither already using violence, nor violating private property. The principle which goes hand-in-hand with this one reminds you to not violate the property of another. That's really all there is to it. Everything else is just working out details and getting rid of exceptions.

I frequently see people getting in trouble precisely because they aren't living up to libertarian principles. They initiate force- this means they use physical force first. They violate property through theft, trespassing, or by preventing the owner from using the full value of his property. They try to cheat and defraud people. Then, when the consequences come home to roost they often seem to be shocked by the turn of events.

What exactly are these behaviors which are most likely to get people into trouble? Fighting, attacking, raping, robbing, defrauding, trespassing, and murdering. All acts your libertarians friends are constantly reminding others to not commit.

Some people also get in trouble because they neglect to defend themselves from those who commit these anti-libertarian acts. Defensive violence is never wrong- even if it isn't always smart, such as when you are outnumbered or outgunned. You aren't obligated to defend yourself or others, but you'll have more respect for yourself if you do. It's usually the right thing to do.

Of course, today the other fast way to get in trouble might seem contradictory: being libertarian. Living your Rightful Liberty by doing things no one has a right to forbid or control. Things which lawmakers who lack libertarian principles have decided to declare illegal, or subject to rationing, even though those things don't violate person or property. You can't always avoid these bullies and the exceptions they pretend to carve for themselves. Beware of them.

Non-libertarians make excuses for those exceptions as long as they are committed by government employees under the excuse of "law", but it doesn't make the acts of violation right.

Do the right thing. Stay out of trouble for doing the wrong thing. Act libertarian even if you don't believe in the principles.


The most ethical way to live

(Previously posted to Patreon)

How would the world be if everyone lived by the Zero Aggression Principle (ZAP)? It would be Utopia. No one would ever even debate whether an act is aggression or not since even self defense would be unnecessary. This is not a world any of us will ever experience.

What if, instead of thinking about that Utopian scenario, we just think what would happen if most people followed the ZAP most of the time? Because this is the real world you and I already exist in. Not perfect, by any stretch of the imagination, but with the potential to be much better.

People already understand they have no right to initiate force. Most people follow this pretty well. They buy instead of steal, and request rather than punch. People already know the ZAP is the right way to live, even if they don't know how to put it into words.

If it were not the case, even statism would quickly collapse. It is the reluctance to initiate force which keeps bullies safe. If no one were concerned about whether an act justified a violent response, no IRS agent would survive his first audit. No cop would survive his first day molesting "speeders". Yes, even tyrants and bullies rely on people following the ZAP while pretending they are exempt due to their "job".

The only way to make things better would be to stop pretending there are people and "jobs" which qualify for that imaginary exemption. Stop calling acts of theft or aggression by the statist euphemisms that seem to excuse them.

But, switching gears a bit... What if no one ever followed the ZAP? Civilization would be impossible. Society would collapse. No peaceful encounter would be possible.

Looking at these 3 possibilities clearly illustrates that to live by the Zero Aggression Principle is the most ethical way to live- bar none.


First they ignore you...

One of the quotes I see used the most often to give hope to people like you and me, is this one from Gandhi:

First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.

What isn't mentioned in that quote is you have to be grounded in reality first. Skip that important part and "they" will probably never move beyond laughing at you. Or, if you do "win", it will be a fleeting victory.

If you are grounded in reality, you have won before they have even moved beyond ignoring you, they just don't know it yet.