Is the Zero Aggression Principle anarchistic?

Against Anarchy

If the Zero Aggression Principle was the law of the land then politicians could not initiate force. They could only use force defensively. Some claim this makes Zero Aggression anarchistic. In popular usage “anarchy” means no governing institutions, with violence and chaos to follow. But to us…
Legitimate government only uses force defensively, and that’s precisely the kind of governance we want. To us, initiated force is criminal, and negates the very purpose of government. Seen in this way…

Congress and the President better fit the popular understanding of anarchy. These sons and daughters of anarchy…

  • Cannot be ruled — the electorate lacks real power to restrain or direct them
  • Break laws, starting with the Constitution
  • Routinely commit crimes, including theft, murder, counterfeiting, kidnapping, extortion, and fraud

We want to counter this Statist Anarchy by promoting non-state institutions of governance that compete to serve customers. This means we want more institutions of governance, not less. And what anarchist wants more governments? Turn it around…

The State is anarchistic, not the Zero Aggression Principle.

Jim Babka

About the Author

Jim Babka

Facebook Twitter

Jim Babka is co-founder of the Zero Aggression Project and President of DownsizeDC.org, Inc. He’s an author and former talk show host.
Previously, he was the President of RealCampaignReform.org, Inc., defending free press rights all the way to the Supreme Court. He and Susie are the proud, home-schooling parents of three teenagers. He enjoys theology, UFC, target practice, and Tai Chi.

Perry Willis

About the Author

Perry Willis

Facebook Twitter Google+

Perry Willis is the co-founder of the Zero Aggression Project and Downsize DC. He was the National Director of the Libertarian National Committee on two occasions, and ran two Libertarian Party presidential campaigns. He has an extensive background in marketing and fundraising, and has ghost written direct mail appeals for numerous luminaries, including Karl Hess, Ron Paul, Charlton Heston and Harry Browne.

Subscribe form for Lever Pages

 

Show Comments 69

 

  1. The is an original approach to addressing the common misconception of anarchy. It removes the hurdle of teaching a new definition, uses the old definition, and achieves the goal of selling voluntarism. Genius!

    1. Hi Don. Thanks for your kind words about our argument. We can only hope that the rest of the movement embraces this analysis as passionately as you have.

    2. in re:
      “…the common misconception of anarchy.”
      an archon/anarchy is about “rulers” not ‘rules’. why is it that so many people think that an absence of rulERS means that there must be no rulES?! that there would be no rulES is the “misconception”. i am a practitioner of libertarian’ism [NAP] / voluntary’ism / anarchon’ism [an archon]; i do not practice hooliganism, theft, arson or vandalism. an archon – without rulERS, from the Greek language, is THE original definition.

    3. Revisiting my response after a year I find I missed two points. 1. Govt. is defined anew, i.e., the definition is changed, e.g., no govt. anywhere would qualify. 2. Anarchy is defined as “no governing institutions, with violence and chaos to follow”.
      The first definition follows logically from the original purpose of the new American govt.,namely, only to protect rights. But that is not what govt. does anywhere, on net. Therefore, all governments state a goal in their constitution, but assume the right to initiate violence, threat thereof, and commit fraud. Their constitutions are contradictory, and all contradictions are “resolved” by the govt., for the govt., favoring coercion by the govt., who claim final authority is granted them as representatives of the people. It follows the people need only repudiate the govt. as not representative, in particular, and in general.
      Repudiation of a particular govt. has been done hundreds of times, without change. It is the general concept of govt. as final authority, as initiator of violence, that has to be repudiated. The double standard of morality, one for the private sector and none for the public sector, must be recognized and addressed. This is done only if enough people see the value in having a voluntarist govt. All voluntarists agree. How do we get there? What % do we need? This should be our focus.
      The popular definition of anarchy is a stumbling block best cleared by substituting “voluntarism”. Even though we anarchists don’t accept the baggage added to it by statists, we have to deal with it. I think it’s time to abandon the old word (anarchy) as much as I have identified with it for over 5 decades. My reason is twofold. 1. Voluntarism is a positive concept which explains what we stand for, not just what we are against. And that always works better in communication. 2. We leave behind the Marxists who will cling to the old word, because they are not anti-violence, just anti-establishment.

  2. I’ve been making this argument for years. The US “government” is nothing but anarchist. Any ruling body that ignores the laws that created it are anarchists. Pure and simple.
    I have posted several blog entries over the years pointing out why I know we are already in a state of anarchy. When I talk about this with most people, even in Liberty circles, they seem to recoil at the very idea. The irony is that we wouldn’t be having discussions about our lack of freedom or the need for increased liberty if we weren’t under the boot of a lawless organization.

    1. Hi Marc. We’re definitely on the same wave length here. I think we just need to keep making this argument, and finding various ways to make the case. Repetition and the passage of time can do a lot to persuade people to a new way of looking at things.

    2. I accept your label of “lawless” or “outlaws” for govt. officials and LEOs. Many would. They act as if they are sovereign and we are not, i.e., they are rulers, we are the ruled. While they are lawless, we are not. In fact, we are smothered by, enslaved by, laws. Everything we do is considered by them as illegal until we prove it legal, not by objective law, but by their permission, their judgement of the law. They are, de facto, the law. And since “they” are not of one mind, not even of a constant mind for each individual, their law changes constantly, creating chaos. Chaos for us, not them. They know they can expect to be exempt from judgement legally.
      That said, your admission that calling govt. anarchist, even among libertarians, does not sit well, is telling. Many libertarians consider themselves anarchist. No wonder you alienate them. You put yourself in the position of having to change their definition of anarchism to the perverted definition govt. uses. So tell me, how’s that working out for you? Have you converted one person?

      1. Alienate? Naw. Get them to consider anarchy in action – yes. Working great thus far. I see unchecked non-violent human activity as beneficial but when people do not respond defensively then the ugly side of anarchy rears its head.
        Anarchy is lawlessness. It’s direct translation is “leaderless”. People living without a leader or a leading philosophy (law) will devolve into might makes right. Anarchy is nearly living without consequence. Anarchy is gone as soon as an accepted code such as not using force as a means to an end is brought into effect as now you have a law. A civilization based upon mutual defense is not anarchy. Voluntaryism is not anarchy – it is based on a simple principle that people are able to decide what they want to do without force being used on them as long as they respect the rights of others.
        Sure we may view ourselves as leaning towards anarchism in that we want no imposing rules placed on us to restrict non-violent behavior. However we are not anarchists in that we believe if a person is killed by another person it’s okay and nothing should be done about it. I’ve yet to meet a libertarian who is okay with someone just moving into their house and being informed they will live there as they wish because there is no such thing as property ownership. To the contrary most of the libertarians I know would attempt to peacefully resolve the situation and escalate to defend their property even by asking for assistance from government agents to defend property rights. Those agents we currently call police but they’d be just as effective as neighborhood security privately hired and delegated with the duty to protect us and our neighbors.
        I am curious about your thoughts and where you disagree on my points, if at all.

        1. “…police but they’d be just as effective as…privately hired…” I strongly disagree that police are “just as effective as privately hired”. The contrast is remarkable. See Detroit.
          I am surprised to learn you are successful equating anarchism with statism, especially among libertarians. I can’t explain it.
          Once you re-define anarchist as “leaderless”, or having no leader, applying the word to leaders is a no brainer. But what about all the bureaucrats and politicians who refer to the Commander in Chief as “our leader”? Are they anarchists? Or is it just the leader?
          I don’t believe the difference between libertarians and statists is lawful and lawless. The difference is the choice of what law, and how they arrive at that choice.
          You equate leaderless with no law, i.e., no philosophy. Then you claim that will “devolve into might makes right”. I disagree again. I am leaderless, but I have an ethics , and philosophy of life, and follow the natural law I have discovered. The opposite is true of people who follow leaders. The have no ethics of their own, but follow the laws of their leader, and the laws change, contradicting themselves. One unwritten law is constant: Might makes right. And the leader is the mighty one.
          Since might does not make right, the whole basis of political leadership/authority is flawed.
          I don’t use the word “anarchist” to describe myself anymore, I use voluntarist. I avoid instant resistance and communication problems due to different definitions of “anarchist”. Often I can’t get past these.
          Voluntarist is not a common word so I have to define it. But defining important words should be done anyway to facilitate communication. I explain that I follow leadership that allows my choice because it respects my sovereignty. I explain I choose by use of my reason, my experience + cognitive analysis.

    3. that the men-and-women-who-call-themselves-“government” ignore their own rules is without question but… they have rulERS; an archon y /anarchy is: “without” and “rulers” – it has nothing to do about people being without rulES. the analogy of the men-and-women-who-call-themselves-“government” not obeying their own rules is incorrect.
      of note: there is no such creature as “government”; “government” is a reification. there are only men and women calling themselves “government” who actually exist, and they have no rights that are different from anyone else except for the fact that they have been GRANTED the POWER to use “force”.

  3. I govern myself, my dog, my car, my gun. In that sense, I am a governor. But am I a government? I hire (delegate authority to) the HMO to govern my meds, my health care. Is the HMO a govt.? I hire a mechanic to change oil and make repairs I authorize. The mechanic governs the work. Is he a govt. agent? I think not. You equated institutions of governance with governments. But they are not, because I can veto the doctor’s advice. They govern until I stop them.
    A govt. cannot be stopped by request of the governed. If a plebiscite were taken tomorrow and the majority were to abolish the present govt., it would not stand down. If a plebiscite were to abolish all govt. from ever forming in a non-government region, that would not be honored by some who would work to establish a govt. I doubt the USA could have been established if the majority were consulted. (Not that a majority can nullify rights, as the Constitution does.) Government’s chief tool of control is deception. Failing that, threat of violence is used. Failing that, violence. Government initiates indirect and direct violence. That is its distinguishing characteristic, not its law following, or services.That is the root of the problem because initiated violence is immoral/impractical. Therefore, that is where we need to strike.

  4. The Non-Aggression Principle does not require that all Force be Defensive. It allows one to hunt down and punish those who aggress.
    If all Force must be Defensive, then an embezzler, or a burglar, or a rapist, must not be punished after the fact. Once the offense is committed, any Force brought later is not Defensive, it is Retributive. If I am not to be allowed Retribution, then I will not subscribe to such a Principle.

    1. In a very real sense, hunting down and punishing aggressors is defensive, albeit in the preventative sense. Retributive punishment is a form of defensive action, in that it defends against the aggression occurring again. This is why retribution is NOT simply retributive, but defensive as well.

      1. I think you’re right Penni. Though I think punishments must be agreed to by unanimous juries.

        1. I can see the logic behind that, there is a ‘unanimity principle’ we hold to in our household. If all cannot agree on a major course of action, we usually delay the action til all can agree. Mostly we’ve required a reasonable defense of why we should do something, on lesser matters we might allow a ‘I just don’t feel right about it’ defense. Of Course, there can be a danger to a unanimous decision, (ancient Israel essentially assumed a ‘mob mentality’ if the Sanhedrin voted unanimously, and would set a criminal free an a unanimous verdict) but that is largely avoided by having a jury of your peers, rather than a jury of the ruling class.

  5. I’ve been thinking about a tiny piece of this plan recently, perhaps a starting point.
    I don’t believe most federal agencies should be allowed a SWAT team. Currently, almost every branch of the federal government has a SWAT team, why does the FDA need a SWAT team? I don’t believe my federal government needs any gun toting peace officers at all in most cases.
    I believe that when the federal government has adequate evidence to effect an arrest they should be required to seek the local Sheriff’s assistance. The Sheriff would make the arrest as he sees fit and then turn the suspects over to the federal authority.

  6. Zack, I don’t think that follows (i.e. we agree with you). The word “defensive” is used here as the opposite of “initiated force” or aggression.
    This article is interesting. I’m not entirely convinced of the efficacy of voluntary law enforcement though. I’ve thought about this for quite a while, and I just cannot find the essential difference between contracted defensive force and a nascent state. What is the mechanism to prevent someone from hiring thugs for the purpose of aggression? Admittedly the state has not been as good at this as we would like, but at the same time there is a difference in degree between the violence routinely employed now and that seen in feudal times. It seems to me that the size of the state is in part responsible for that, simply because it is the perceived vulnerability of the defender that allows an aggressor to entertain an investment in the means of force.
    Thoughts?

    1. Hi Geoff. How many consumers will want to pay their security provider to attack other people? I think the answer is very close to none. How many security companies would accept such jobs? I think the answer is exactly none. We no longer live in the culture that spawned feudalism.

  7. This is an excellent new one, Perry. Your forceful turning of the logical tables on the “chaos” argument is well done.
    I was reading a link about Hayek’s “Inividualism” distinction (true vs false individualism) in his 1945 lecture and he makes this point in regard to central government planning vs. market pricing and private property, the “invisible hand” that socialists want to deny.
    You are doing good work.

      1. And a small note of criticism of this blog. I get emailed notices when something new is added. But when I come to look at it, nothing is in chronological order – this blog uses “thread ordered” – but it is damned hard to find what was just posted without scrolling through the whole blog and looking closely at dates.
        Is there a software improvement you could implement?

    1. gned, you postulated:
      “…the best way to handle the issue of smoking in private restaurants is to have a rebuttable presumption that any given restaurant has a no-smoking zone, and if a particular restaurant doesn’t, then it must post a sign to that effect… ”
      the owner of any private property has no duty to anyone else other than to notify where his property begins and ends – so as to prevent people from accidentally trespassing – unless the owner wants to be burdened with continually physically informing people.
      an owner/operator of an establishment does NOT HAVE TO provide anything for anyone’s convenience although they might want to do so in order to get the most benefit from their establishment. and in order not to ‘turn away’ future ‘would be’ customers it would be in the best interest of an owner to notify people from a distance what the establishment does not allow. but “MUST”..!
      in re “..the Presumed Right not to be discriminated against…” no such thing exists, nor should it exist. the owner MUST take the consequences – good or bad – of any discrimination decision. no one has a right not to have their ‘feelings’ hurt.
      “…could be fraud..? that is not clear-cut. ‘consequences’ will handle any conceived problem.
      “…separate clothing optional part of a beach) so that the general public isn’t exposed to it, without violating anyone’s rights…” no one has a right not to be offended. if the part of the beach is owned by someone then they will decide the rules, thus a ‘nudist’ could not trespass on that area to ‘offend’ anyone. the “private property” concept seems to be missing in some parts of your ‘plan’. [but overall i am liking it.]

      1. Technically you’re right; NAP etc. does not really allow for the “presumed rights” and “limited rights” limitation as I discuss – those are only suggestions for compromises, or at least the latter one. Ideally we should be able to have a libertarian society without those compromises, but they may be necessary to get the chance to establish one in the first place.

  8. Is this 1984? Do we get to redefine words willy nilly?
    Just because the laws are not enforced equitably, does not mean there are no laws, or no leaders.
    Libertarians without a Christian basis are always trying to put forth a utopian society that can’t ever exist. It is no different than communism in the end. It assumes humans will do the right thing when by their very nature they are sinful and self centered and believe might makes right. If they are one of the weak ones, they will band together to be a group that is stronger than the strong individual and then become what they were trying to oppose.
    How does your private security force decide what is aggression, so they know if they can defend? Someone has to decide what amount of force is moral based on the act committed. Zach Bass wants to be able to have retribution. If Joe steals property from Zach and is walking off with it, does Zach have the right to shoot Joe in the back to get his property back? Then do Joe’s relatives have the right to kill Zach for killing Joe? Who would decide, and on what basis? What if I don’t agree with your security forces laws, and my security force has a different set of laws? Which set of laws should be followed?
    This is the real reason people don’t bring up voluntarism, anarchism, etc. They are utopian dreams.
    You should spend more time on the Downsize DC items. They are way more fruitful.
    God (of the Bible) gave government the sword to punish the evil doer and praise the good. When people will not self-govern, which they cannot do without Christian morals, they will be governed by tyrants.

    1. Hello Jjs. I hope I can do justice to your many comments.
      First, we do not advocate utopia. We don’t believe utopia is possible. What we advocate is letting people live according to their own conscience, provided they harm no one else. We well understand that many people HATE the idea of letting other people make their own choices.
      You ask who will decide what aggression is? Unanimous juries will decide that.
      You ask how people will know what the law is. Please understand, people do not know what the law is now — there are far too many of them. It will be easier in our system. Ask yourself this, will a jury think I have assaulted or defrauded someone by this action? If the answer is yes then you are breaking the law.
      You express concern about people banding together to harm others. That would be a crime in our system, just as it is under the current system. The only difference is that we would make no exceptions for the government itself. Right now The State is the primary means by which people band together to harm others. We want to end that by creating competing consumer controlled institutions of governance.
      You presume that we are advocating anarchy despite the fact that you are commenting to an article that argues otherwise. We are not advocating anarchy. Quite the opposite. We are advocating for the world’s first true, legitimate institutions of governance — institutions the do not initiate force, that only use force defensively.
      You worry about flawed humans being allowed to go their own way, but how can giving power to politicians make this supposed problem better? After all, politicians are flawed human beings too. Giving them power over others merely magnifies the problem, it does not solve it.
      You’re cherry picking the Bible. Re-read I Samuel Ch 8. You will be hard pressed to find a better brief against monopoly governance.

      1. Many Juries will indeed want to punish me when I have sex in public. Even self-described libertarians have said so.
        I want The government to protect me from those aggressors.

        1. Hi Zack. I think we would have to define public. I’m not sure that a sidewalk in front of a store would qualify. It would seem that the sidewalk would be a limited easement, largely open to the public, but controlled by the store owner.

          1. Avatar

            I totally agree if that is the true FACT, but I think you are just waffling because you don’t want to grant us perverts anything.
            Assuming there is to be PUBLIC Space, to restrict my fucking is an Initiation of Force.

          2. Perry Willis

            You’re probably right Zack. From what I understand there are few laws in Europe against such things, and the world has not come to end. But there is the question of empathy for others. Just because you shouldn’t be arrested for an activity doesn’t mean that its a good thing to subject people to things they don’t want to see. It works the other way too — people who see things they don’t want to see, can and should look away. No violence is warranted. We should all try to be considerate of each other, and work toward each other, rather than looking for, and intentionally creating, situations designed to bother each other.

          3. Avatar

            In 2004 I had a prominent queer “Libertarian” threaten to cut off my penis with garden shears if I negected to wear my trousers ON MY OWN PROPERTY where his daughters could view me – and Tim Condon, a Director of the Free State Project, took HIS side against me! Please do not pretend that this is a minor quibble.

          4. Perry Willis

            Hi Zack. The threat against your penis was clearly a violation of the Zero Aggression Principle. But I wonder why you need to wave your weenie in your front yard? Don’t you have a backyard where you could do that?

          5. Avatar

            Perry wrote:
            “I wonder why you need to wave your weenie in your front yard?”
            Libertarianism is not about what someone thinks I NEED, it is about leaving me alone as long as I am not Initiating Force.
            Does a peacock NEED all those feathers?

          6. Perry Willis

            I won’t argue with that. I agree with it. But I do wonder — is there anything distasteful your neighbors could do where you would wonder why they don’t do that in their back yard, rather than their front yard? In other words, would you want your neighbors to treat you the way you are treating them?

          7. Avatar

            Of course there are many many things I would wish my neighbors would not be seen doing – worshipping imaginary friends, wearing hajib, eating chicken necks. But I am willing to leave them the hell alone, and that is exactly how I insist that they treat me.
            Libertarianism is not about esthetics, it is about Force. Discussing Justin Bieber or Madonna or Vermeer or what this person or that person would LIKE to see next door, in a libertarian forum, is like dancing about architecture.

          8. Perry Willis

            Hi Zack. You’re certainly morally correct. No one should aggress against you for being naked in your own front yard. And those who don’t like it can look away. Some will say, “What about the children?” Children can be taught to look away too, if a parent so desires, and nudity is hardly traumatizing. Plenty of kids have been brought up in nudist environments. I also think this will tend to be a small problem. Most people will be more considerate of their neighbors than you are.

    2. There is often confusion between Private Laws and Private ENFORCEMENT of The Law. Enforcement ought to be largely Private; The Law itself must not be for sale though.

    3. I have been an atheist from the age of 8, when I first considered the question of the existence of god. It took me 3 months to decide, during which I had heard no arguments for atheism from anyone, not even my atheist father. He would not tell his position because he wanted me to make my decision without any emotional or non-rational influences. He explained that this decision would be one of the most important I would ever make, and therefore had to be made by me alone. He did not explain further: 1. Why it was important. 2. Why I had to decide without undue influence (prejudicial advice). I asked my mother for guidance and she sent me to Sunday School. I think she did so because she was a theist. So I got only the theist side of the position. I struggled. I thought. I considered the question of belief/obedience together because that is how it was presented to me in church. I was taught that it was not enough to believe, but I had to prove my belief (called “faith”) by actions. I had to follow the Christen religious moral code. This code was not defended by comparison with other codes. I was expected to have faith in it just as I was expected to have faith in god.
      I considered the personal meaning, the psychological consequences of obedience. I asked myself if I could follow the dictates of another, without question, i.e., on faith, the rest of my life. I decided I could not voluntarily obey another over myself, over my choices, over my conscience, over my own view of right and wrong, however flawed that might be. I thought doing so would be a mistake. I thought I would be losing myself and my life would not be worth living if I did not make my own decisions. I did not know if I was under the control of an all powerful being who could take my life anytime if I did not obey, but I did know that I did not want to live such a life, i.e., death would be preferable. I was afraid of death, but I was more afraid of not living fully, as my own person. So, at 8, I rejected servitude, and embraced self governance. I rejected the possibility of eternal life, because I did not consider the religious life worth living. At 73, I have never doubted or regretted that decision.
      I have developed my own moral code. I embrace self governance by use of reason. I reject the tyranny I see the majority supporting. I witness religion and authoritarianism destroying humanity. These twin superstitions are anti-life in every respect, and only survive by fear, fraud, and force. I am only one, but I recognize reason to be the only road to truth, and I have no respect for those who practice blind belief or subjugation to authority. I would ignore them, live and let live, but they will not do the same.
      That is why they are a threat to me and themselves.

      1. Well, the only way you can truly be free is to have a relationship with Jesus Christ. Without him you are a slave to sin.
        The atheist system has no REASON. Reason is borrowed from the Christian worldview.
        Atheist believe the world came about by random chance processes. Reason cannot be built on chaos. It needs rules of logic.
        Evolution begins with the idea that something came from nothing, but can’t explain how that happens.It is a belief system. It believes that the rules of science were not in existence at the “beginning” but were somehow set in place afterwards and then now they are rules that do not change.(Law that matter/energy can neither be created nor destroyed, etc) If they changed before, then they can change again. So they cannot be relied upon. DNA is the code and the decoder in one. That cannot happen by chance.
        You want to believe there is no god, because if you acknowledge that there is a god, you soon find out you will be held accountable for what you do here on earth.
        Under your system of “reason” based ideas, you have no way to condemn the action of the mob to kill you and take everything you have just because they wanted it. They used their own reason to decide they needed it more than you did. Why is there reason less valuable than your reason? The only system you ever end up with outside of Christian morality is Might makes Right.
        Christianity today has been co-opted by many to get people to follow them to bomb other countries who are no threat. But that does not mean that the teachings of the Bible are wrong which actually teach just war theory, which is basically a defensive view of waging war. Pre-emptive strikes are not just according to the Bible.
        Smoking marijuana may be sin (if it is bad for the body, which is the temple of the Holy Spirit) but that does not mean it should be a crime. If marijuana causes you to crash your car and kill someone, then you should be tried for murder, because you killed the person. You don’t need to be tried for possession of marijuana.
        When you steal from someone, you should pay restitution. We don’t have a Christian system in place today, no matter how many times people say we live in a Christian nation, we don’t. There are relics of a once christian nation, but they are fading away.
        Christianity has been manipulated over the decades/centuries, but that does not make Christianity wrong, it just makes the actions of the manipulators and the manipulated wrong.
        I have been a Christian all my life and never have I felt like a slave in the sense you mean it. But I am a slave to Christ because I love him because he first loved us. While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us, which includes you Voluntarist, Perrv Wills, Zach Bass, and everyone else that ever lived.
        It is a sin to get drunk, am I a slave because I can’t drink to the point of drunkenness? How many people ruin their lives by drunkenness? It is a protection for me, not a matter of not living a full life. The guy who gets drunk and lives a wild life on a regular basis dies early from bad diseases. He is a slave to alcohol.
        Coveting other people’s things makes you discontent, which makes people not happy, which then leads people to do things they ought not do which gets them in trouble because they end up stealing/cheating to get those things they covet. They are a slave to their covetousness.
        There is a proverb about the adulterer who in the end gives his labor and money to build someone else’s household. When people get divorced they have to support two households through alimony and child support. People that are not monogomous end up with STD’s. They are slave to their lust.
        God wants what is best for us, which is why he gave us the commandments. Not to make us slaves, but to free us. I could go on with many more examples of how sin makes you a slave, but I think you get the point.
        So if you want to call me a slave to Christ, I gladly take that compliment. Christians are not perfect here on earth, we still have a sinful flesh that we are to drown everyday anew. But when I recognize the sin in my life, I repent. I know that Jesus paid the ultimate sacrifice for my sins by living a perfect life, dieing and innocent death on the cross, and rising from the dead. The next day I try to do better.
        The thief on the cross came to faith the last day of his life here on earth and is now spending eternity with Lord Jesus. So there is still time while you have breath. I pray you will reconsider.

        1. Hi J Shultz. I just read your latest. You seem to NOT be interacting with anything Jim or I or others have written. You seem to be mainly talking AT people rather than WITH them. It’s hard to imagine that working very well, but you’re clearly willing to put a lot of time into it, given the length of your posts. Feel free to continue if you wish, but don’t be surprised if people come to ignore what you say in the same way that you ignore what they say.

          1. Avatar

            Perry,
            I am not sure what your standard for “interacting” is. But the post you just replied to, I went point by point on what Voluntarist wrote to show him how I found what he said to be incorrect. Should I have asked, “Do you agree?” so he can feel free to respond?
            The other posts I did the same thing. Jim said it was rude to not read the other levers. I wrote back and told him I had and what I found lacking about the lever on rights being based on emotion.
            The first post I wrote was directed at what was stated in the lever.
            The one post I talked about Zach wanting retribution, based on his post about wanting retribution.
            So please clarify what you mean by not interacting?
            Do you simply want me to pose a question at the end of each post for them to respond to?
            I believe the people that comment here in the comment section (at least that is what it is called at the top, not a discussion section) here do not need my permission to respond without waiting for me to ask them to.
            Hopefully this post is interactive enough for you. 🙂
            JJS

    4. in re:
      “Libertarians without a Christian basis are always trying to put forth a utopian society that can’t ever exist.”
      such a blanket statement is undeserving of any libertarian or any christian. i believe that a utopian society in UN-attainable – and i am not a christian. wouldn’t it be better to say that ‘some’ libertarians w/o a christian basis, etc.? it would also save having to read replies like this.

      1. Where is that quote from? (“Libertarians without a Christian basis …”) I agree with the statement that Non-Christians can also be complete Libertarians, Voluntarists, or just friendly, peaceful folks.
        I think Arisotle’s Ethics is sufficient for a “reasonable” person to find the path to a satisfying and full life, without concern about supernatural ideas after death.
        The Zero Aggression Principle is my personal foundation for Ethical behavior, and I advocate it in the political sphere as a (perennial) candidate for the Libertarian Party. I cannot be a “practical” anarchist because we all inherited a flawed State and we must work to change it into a better Minimal State if possible (a labor of Sisyphus).
        When it comes to “believing in” the State, I do not and never have. There is no “social contract legitimacy” for political authority.

        1. “…we all inherited a flawed state…” does not justify “must work to change it into a better…state…”
          The state = initiation of force. That is a “fatal flaw”, i.e., rule by force, not reason. You added, “if possible” and I claim it is impossible to justify a mini-state, i.e., very little violation of NAP. That is how the “Great American Experiment” (a govt. whose justification was the protection of rights), started. The goal sought was impossible to achieve by the means chosen (initiation of force). It was obvious from the start when G.W. used federalized troops to put down a defense against an income theft( the whiskey tax). The Whiskey Rebellion was as justified as the American Revolution. I believe it would have been successful if it were done in a non-violent manner. But I digress.
          I agree with you on all your other points, Aristotle’s ethics, no supernatural ideas, no legit “social contract”. The Social Contract is a modification of the “Original Sin” argument, and just as valid.
          Jjs has presented an illogical, misrepresentation, e.g., straw man argument, for evolution. His use of “random & chance” are redundant and not applicable to the evolution theory. Describing a cause as “random” is not an explanation but the opposite. It is an admittance that the cause is unknown. Both “random & chance” are epistemological words, not metaphysical. They tell us about the speaker’s lack of knowledge, not the subject. No competent scientist would claim to have explained a phenomena by calling it “random”. Furthermore, his claim that “reason” is Christen based is ignorance of Aristotle, who predated Christ. He probably got that idea from reading Thomas Aquinas, who got his “reason & logic” from reading Aristotle.

  9. One of the things that happens in these comment threads is that folks react to a very brief Mental Lever by raising an issue we’ve addressed in another brief Mental Lever. Each is designed to make a point or two, not support an entire philosophical debate. It’s not a book.
    Still, it’s understandable. We’re pleased to answer. We care about these ideas. But…
    I cannot encourage anyone, strongly enough, before posting your question, to read the other Mental Levers. We have often already answered your question or concern. In fact, we’ve labeled every one of these Mental Levers with a question — so you should be able to match up what you’re looking for.
    That said, one of the bothersome things that happens (and I even think it rude) is that folks who’ve done what I just described, on other Mental Levers, show up in future Mental Levers (like this) and raise EXACTLY the same question we already answered. These folks are not interested in dialogue. Their mind is set. Accordingly, we’re not interested in listening to someone who doesn’t have the respect to read the answers we posted last time.

    1. Jim,
      I think you misunderstood my questions about the issues. It was not that I don’t understand the answers or have not read the other mental levers, it is that they are utopian fantasy that cannot work, which is what you figure out when you answer the question.
      Under this system, there is no rights. I have read the mental lever on where do your rights come from. Since they don’t come from God according to your mental lever, they really do not exist. If all my neighbors are not empathetic, then I have no rights???? I know my neighbors are sinful human beings who by nature want what is best for themselves. So I have no rights under your system. It is utopian to believe men are inherently good, which is what this system has to assume in order to work.
      “The libertarian approach uses various principles, facts, examples, and bits of logic to make thinking more efficient and accurate. Here at the Zero Aggression Project we call these tools Mental Levers”
      I am pointing out how this mental lever is based not on fact or logic, but all sorts of flawed logic. It cannot be used as a mental lever if it cannot stand on it own.
      Any right not given by God, is not a right at all, but some man made thing that can change like the wind.
      Empathy is an emotion, and yet your page on mental levers says THINKING people need levers so they don’t make decisions based on emotion, but on logic and fact. Sounds like a contradiction.
      Read the bills act, one subject at a time, all great stuff. Spend more time there.
      Perry,
      By pointing out the flaws in your utopian society, I was not defending by any means the mess that we are in as a country. Knocking down the current system does not defend your system.
      I never called your system anarchy. I called it the same as communism, a utopian dream world.
      I am not sure how you think I am Cherry Picking passages. My only point with the only passage I presented said exactly what it means.
      The israelites in your 1 Sam 8 passage wanted to go from being led by God to being led by man and were going to get exactly what they deserved, high taxes, forced labor, etc. Not at all what I am advocating. As the people fell more and more away from God, the kings got more and more tyrannical.
      Rights coming from empathy, how more utopian can it get?

      1. Hi Jjs. I just read your latest, then went back and re-read your original and my response. I stand by what I said. I think your latest comments get a bit shifty in re-describing your original points. OK, I can understand that to a certain point. We’re all writing fast, and maybe we don’t say exactly what we intended to say the first time. So let’s drill down on a few things starting with your use of the word utopia.
        The word utopia has a specific meaning. It means a perfect society. We think no such society is possible given that each person has a different definition of social perfection. I think you’re simply saying that our prescriptions for society will never come to pass. That’s fine. But that’s simply a prediction about what will happen, NOT an argument that we are advocating utopia. Let me say it again, and in a different way, in hope of driving home the point…
        We do not have a plan for how everyone should live their life. Our proposal is much much much simpler than that. We simply want people to be free to make their own choices. THAT will not be utopia, by any definition. It also, as you predict, may not come to pass. But here’s the crucial question — should you be working for it, or against it?
        Apply the same criteria that you apply to us to your own religious beliefs (I call this the Golden Rule of ideas — treat other ideas the same way you treat your own ideas). Which is more likely, that we can create a society where people are free to choose, or that you can persuade everyone to follow your version of god’s law. It seems that, unlikely as our goal is, your religious goal is even more unlikely, barring the second coming. And yet, you continue to argue that people should follow your version of god’s law. Forgive us if we do the same for our desire to let people make their own choices. Better yet — join us. Doesn’t god also let people make their own choices, and be responsible for the consequences? That’s all we’re advocating.
        Finally, I don’t quarrel with what you say about 1 Sam 8. I’m fine with it. I don’t think it clashes with what I’m saying. I’m simply say that 1 Sam 8 makes a lot of powerful points about why you don’t want to live under a monopoly form of governance.

      2. Jjd, this is a much more original message to which we can respond, even if it makes quite a few assumptions, particularly about positions held by us.
        It’s true that empathy is very tied to our emotions. But that does not mean it’s mere emotionalism. We can agree that emotionalism is less reliable than reason.
        Empathy is not sentimentality. There’s social AND scientific evidence for the existence of empathy. Scientists are learning how it works, where it doesn’t, and to what systems it’s tied (particularly, in the brain). For just one example, see Mirror Neurons.
        Long before these scientific discoveries, Adam Smith identified that our “moral sentiments” told us that others, outside of us, deserved the same protections we desired. So, to be blunt, “Yes, your rights are dependent on your neighbor’s empathy.” Every political dispute resolves on the question of who has more empathy on their side. Is that a shaky foundation?
        Well, I happen to be a believer. Personally, I take literally the notion that we are endowed by our Creator with inalienable rights. Neither the Declaration of Independence nor the Scriptures described, precisely, how the Creator gave us these rights nor how they were to be maintained. I see no conflict in suggesting that empathy — even mirror neurons — were the method. Quite the contrary, I think the Great Commandments, the Good Samaritan, the Ten Commandments, and dozens of other teachings of the Bible are essentially a command to use empathy.
        Chief amongst these, for the Zero Aggression Project (a secular organization), is the Golden Rule. In fact, we view the Zero Aggression Principle as a (derivative) Silver Rule of sorts. Where the Golden Rule commands, “Do,” placing an affirmative obligation on me, the Zero Aggression Principle merely asks, “Please don’t,” as in leave others alone and mind your own business.
        So, whether or not it’s God-given is a philosophical debate point. It does little to unite those who use their empathy to appreciate and advance liberty. Let me be concrete…
        The co-creator of the Zero Aggression Project is not a believer. Yet his appreciation for your liberty is much greater than that of most professing believers. In fact, as just one example of jaded empathy, it’s due to conservative Christians that the U.S. is in a constant state of war. They are the necessary margin that keeps the Militarists profitable. On top of that, “War is the health of The State.” And so we see a host of bad consequences at home such as the NSA, the TSA, high taxes, etc. But the idea that we must have agreement on the notion that our rights are derived from God, as a predicate for action and change, can only put my liberty-loving business partner on the outside of my efforts, if not outright at odds with me. This makes no strategic sense and, as I’ve hopefully demonstrated, it’s not necessary.

        1. Although I know for a fact that internal mental states and “consciousness” exist, I do not agree that there is any possible scientific evidence or any way to observe consciousness. Everything you can observe would be exactly the same whether people (or rats or elephants) were conscious or not. I can think that you and Obama and Hillary and my sofa are conscious or that none of you zombies are conscious, it makes no difference scientifically. No physical experiment or test or observation can ever decide the matter one way or the other because, hey, science is about Physical stuff. Mirror neurons are physical but Consciousness is not.
          I happen to know that I myself am conscious, because direct knowledge, but that is not science. I have a FEELING that you guys are also conscious, but who knows, you could all be zombies.

        2. There never were any “inalienable” rights. Murderers have always been held to have forfeited their Right to Life, and thieves forfeited their Right to Property or Liberty. Everyone has always been aware of this fact, yet for some reason all pretend not to know it.

          1. Perry Willis

            Hi Zack. You make a somewhat interesting point. But can’t it be said that the right to live is inalienable up to the point that you take someone else’s life? And if so, do we really need to lose the pith of saying that rights are inalienable for the sake of a minor point, that probably most people understand pretty well? Language is fuzzy. No use of any word can withstand close scrutiny. But does this justify turning every statement into legalese, with endless rows of qualifying statements, which then themselves have to be qualified?

  10. To write “unalienable” in 1776 was pithy. When it is repeated as gospel millions of times, it ought to be qualified; many state it as inalienable fact.

    1. Hi Zack. Do you assert that rights are completely alienable. Is there an extent to which you do in fact consider them inalienable?

      1. No, there are no “Rights” you can possess that you cannot forfeit – or sell. That is what Ownership means.
        I have even seen “libertarians” oppose my right to sell my body (WHICH I OWN) because I cannot give up the “Right” to Life. Thus they would restrict my Liberty in the name of protecting my “Rights”.

        1. In “The Merchant of Venice” the concept of “right of life” was dealt with, abet not well, but the end result was the right was upheld. My point is this is a philosophical concept much written about because it has not been well developed.
          Let me take a stab. I can sell my life, because I own it. Therefore, I can put it up as collateral in a contract. But I still have it. I still control my “right to life” as long I am, as long as I exist. For example, I can change my mind and renege on my promise to sell my life at anytime I want, unilaterally. This means the contract is extremely shaky, not able to be enforced, even when the other party has delivered. The failure of the other party to recognize this is gross negligence or willful ignorance or hopeless stupidity.
          If I do commit suicide to fulfill the contract, how can anyone “restrict my liberty”?

          1. Avatar

            I said nothing about your Existence, or about selling your Life. I said that you can sell your Body, if you Own it. At which point the buyer will own that body and can toss it into the organ bank. Same if you put it up as collateral and then Forfeit by Default.

          2. Avatar

            Suppose a loving mother wants 10 million dollars to pay for medicall attention to save the lives of her 10 children. she gos on a funding site and promises to sell her BODY for tissue and organs and whatever sexual or other use can be made of it. Ten ailing men form a Company and raise 10 million dollars and buy her BODY. Ten kiddies’ lives are saved, as well as ten men’s lives. It has been a fair deal, a Voluntary transaction in which everyone deems himself to have benefited compared to not being allowed to conduct that business. Win-win.
            When you threaten one side or the other, you restrict the Liberty of both trading partners

          3. Perry Willis

            Hi Zak. That’s an interesting, if unlikely, hypothetical. I suspect the mother would have to commit suicide, as it would be hard to find doctors willing to harvest her still-living body. Probably meany people would balk at this example. But these same people would probably honor a soldier who gave his life to save his comrades. But this is very different from slavery, where the person selling himself continues to live.

          4. Perry Willis

            Hi Don Sandy. I agree with your basic argument. I would add that there’s a fundamental problem with selling an infinite asset (your whole life) in exchange for finite compensation. I do not think the present-you can make such commitments for the future-you.

        2. Hi Zack. I think there’s one flaw in your reasoning. There has to be a limit on what the present-you can obligate the future-you to pay for. I might, out of desperation, sell myself into slavery, but once the cause of the desperation passed the future-me would surely renege on the deal. I, for one, would not want to be in the business of enforcing such slavery contracts. Of course, all of these cases have very little to do with real life. They’re interesting to discuss, but of very little consequence.

          1. Avatar

            Well of course many people want to renege later, on all sorts of Contracts from mobile service to home mortgages. They ought to be Forced to honor their agreements. If they are not, then no one will make Contracts in the first place anymore. And in my example, ten kiddies will die and ten ill men will die. Is that what you want? Baby-killer, have you no compassion?
            Things like this ARE Real Life! They have been encountered many times throughout history. Until very recently, Slavery was very common everywhere, even in Ireland where they tried to stop it. Our only job is to decide when it is a violation of the Non-Aggression Principle.

  11. I think the basic idea behind “unalienable rights” is that a social contract, so conceived, cannot cede them away to another power. The American people retained them, and chose to secede when the king and parliament violated them. The property right in one’s self, not being allowed to be sold or indentured, is in the 13th Amendment basically. Unfortunately we still end up with indentured servitude through student loans that follow you beyond the grave, and problematic medical costs into the future.
    You may “own your body” and its parts, but the Authorities seem to believe they can restrict your commercial activities in regard to your property.

    1. It is my understanding that the constitution still allows slavery in the US. You can’t be born into slavery, but persons can be condemned to slavery for restitutional purposes.
      And of course the government thinks they can enslave anybody through the draft.

      1. I think all of us understand the Authoritarians will not stop: the 13th Amendment did not end the work-around the Southern States figured out as soon as Hayes withdrew the Reconstruction troops. They passed laws allowing anybody arrested to be “farmed out” to local plantation owners as field hands, for no pay. So many African-American men went right back into servitude. Military conscription was another “throwback” to the desire of the Authoritarians to dominate all the “plebians.” The US Supreme Court even went so far as to cite Vattle, “Law of Nations,” about the duty of a “signer” of the social contract to serve, but the Supreme Court also denied Japanese-Americans in 1943 to repatriate to Japan and escape detention camps. If they did not want to serve, they should have been evicted. Go figure, except that Authoritarianism does not rely on Reason.

Leave a Comment:

Fields marked with * are required