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What is the Non-Aggression Principle?

Explaining the Non-Aggression Principle

What, a satire site getting into something serious and boring? Come on man!  Slow your aggression… 😉 Read a little bit more, and hopefully it will make you think a little bit too.

We are starting off our ideas of freedom and liberty with a bang, and and really with one of the most basic and important principles when thinking about liberty and freedom.  If everybody lived by this principle, the world would be a much better place.  The idea is pretty simple, but can get more nuanced when digging deeper.  In our own lives, many of us actually do abide by it, but when we think about politics, this principle often gets thrown totally out the window.  The non-aggression principle is pretty similar to the golden rule: do unto others as you would like done to you.  In addition to that, this principle also says, don’t hurt others and don’t take their stuff.  Basically the idea is not to use aggression, or threats of aggression, to get what you want.  And most people would also agree that this only applies to humans, and that argument arises from some other philosophical discussions of why other animals do not fall into this principle.  I really won’t go into that in this post, as it is a much longer discussion, and has more to do with their ability to fully understand and be able to intentionally reciprocate.

So…should I just be a pacifist and let other people trample me? No, not at all.  This principle allows for defensive use of force.  If someone is hurting you and aggressing against you, by all means, a use of force may be necessary.  Sometimes, it may even be necessary to defend other people as well.  So really, is this all that hard?  If you just look at the general concept of the non-aggression principle, most everybody understands it, and most people abide by it.  Should I also just let people steal my stuff without repercussion?  No.  Private property is held in extremely high regard, and is really an extension of ourselves, as we used our labor to make the money to buy the private property.

Questions that can be confusing

Here are some questions that can make the principle kind of murky, and even those who agree with the it will argue over it.  I really won’t answer them even though I do have my own thoughts.  I’ll let you think critically and form your own answers.

  • When does life begin and at what point do you get personhood that others should not aggress against you?
  • Should other animals fall within the principle?
  • Would fraud actually be considered aggression?
  • What can be done about accidents or gross negligence as it is not cut and dry aggression, but still cause many issues?
  • If someone hurts me today, is it still defensive to go the next day and use vigilante justice against them?
  • What should be done for those who violate this, especially those who violate it continuously?
  • Where is the point of excessive use of force, especially when it is a small bit of property that was stolen?
  • Is intellectual property really property?

There are many more questions and arguments that will really make you think, and many of these are still questioned by those who hold the non-aggression principle as one of their main life principles.

Where do we go wrong?

Most of us think, yes I abide by this in my life and even teach my kids something that resembles this.  So, where do I see the biggest disconnect between our actions and us really living this?  What I see is how we understand government and how we believe government should be used.  Essentially, many of us say, no I won’t use aggression against you, but I have no problem using government against you to get what I want.  Every time we make a law, there are many unintended consequences that we don’t fully see or understand.  When all is said and done, any and all laws are backed by force (you can read more about this on the details of our Don’t Tread on Tea), and this is how the government assumes its power.

Let’s just go through how this process could play out in theory.  Say there’s a law requiring you to wear a mask in your home even if you are alone (haven’t heard of this exact law, but it sounds like something California or Australia would enact).  I own my property so I can use it as I would like.  I am not hurting anybody by not wearing a chin diaper with nobody else in my home.  Yet, we have this law that says you get a $500 fine if you don’t have the mask on.  Say we have our blinds open, and someone sees us not being a sheep so they report it.  The police then come and make a report and write the ticket.  I get the $500 ticket that I am forced to appear in court for or pay.  I then decide not to appear or pay because it is total nonsense, and I have not aggressed against anyone.  At this point, the police may be tasked to get you and drag you into court, or put you into jail for this nonsense.  If you try to defend yourself against them trying to take you against your will or resist arrest, you may be harmed and possibly killed.  Hopefully in most cases, the police are smart enough to just avoid the whole nonsense laws anyway.

Unfortunately, there is a real world example where a total nonsense law resulted in the death of a man.  Take a look into the Eric Garner incident.  He was selling loose cigarettes (not to kids from what I understand), and was being arrested for it.  Then he resisted, the police had him in a choke hold, which then attributed to him dying (though it seems he had other medical issues).  Really, if this dumb law had never been enacted, it is unlikely he would have died that day.  This is not to say you should resist arrest–it is simply to point out how laws often do not support the non-aggression principle.

Often there are things we wouldn’t do ourselves by force that we ask the government to do, by voting to pass these types of laws, or voting for the politicians who pass the laws.  We see it as giving the responsibility to someone else, so we don’t have to feel guilty for the consequence.  If it’s not acceptable for an individual to do the thing, it’s probably not ok for a group of people to do it.

After reading this information, we hope you think a little more deeply about supporting a law or policy, and trying to see it in a different light instead. Oftentimes, we think there are very few consequences for laws, but sadly, this simply isn’t the case.

Always a great message from Jordan Page about Freedom.


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