Friday, May 18, 2018

Would You Pull the Plug?

I would like to explore something, actually a couple of things that have been raised on and off in the libertarian world.  The two topics:

A private law society will be right-libertarian.  I have heard this view more than once from libertarians.

If you could pull the plug on the state, or push a button to end it, would you do it?  Several libertarians have asked and answered this question.  The answer comes back affirmative.

I do believe the first of these to be true: a private law society will be right-libertarian, or certainly conservative.  The idea and possibility is completely consistent with my view of medieval law as being about as close to libertarian law as the west has experienced.  The idea is also consistent with my view that a society organized on left principles will self-destruct.

I should somewhat modify: I believe the first to be true in the long run – if we can get to the long run.  Which is why I incorporate the two topics together – the second topic does not contemplate a transition, the reality today, etc.

Perhaps underlying this call to pull the plug there is a contemplation of a transition given the reality today – that the transition after pulling the plug has been explored.  If it is explored, I would welcome a link.  In the meantime, I will do a little of my own exploring.  Mostly, just questions.

Now…I know there will be readers out there who will read the following and conclude something like: “that bionic, I knew he was trending statist, he is no longer libertarian.”  You are free to conclude that, but you would be wrong – and wrong for at least two reasons:

1)      If libertarians don’t have good answers for the many questions that come up about the transition, talk of pulling the plug just adds to the belief that libertarians have a utopian theory without practical application. 
2)      The issue comes right into the intersection of libertarianism and culture.  Libertarians that don’t contemplate this just add to the belief that libertarians have a utopian theory without practical application.

I personally do not believe that libertarianism is a utopian theory without practical application. 

Again – I do not say that these things have not been contemplated, and I welcome any references.  But in the shorthand of this discussion, I haven’t seen or heard any of it.  Finally, because I feel that it needs to be said: my intention here is not to criticize, but to explore the topic and to advance the discussion.

So, let’s begin.

If the plug was pulled today, on what basis would we expect that a private law society would result? 

Because if we end up with more of the same (or worse), then pulling the plug might not be a good idea.

Imagine the picture.  The plug gets pulled.  Tens of millions of government employees are unemployed; tens of millions of social security recipients and other beneficiaries of government programs are left in poverty; tens of millions of individuals who work in fields dependent on government contracting; a few million released from prison and hospitals; universities and public schools emptied or drastically reduced; all banking transactions cease.

These are just a few thoughts off the top.  Yes, I can envision as well as any libertarian theorist how this might play out over the course of time, but we are talking of pulling the plug and we are talking of a right-libertarian society emerging.

In any case, we aren’t talking about “over the course of time.”  What happens on day two to these tens of millions (maybe 100 million or more) whose lives have been existentially affected?  Do we expect that they will quietly accept their condition and respect a private property order?  When they are starving, dying on the streets, etc.?

I know you can fend them off…well, only if you and enough of your neighbors (community, town, county?) are on the same page and are unaffected by the plug being pulled.  Do you know that this is the case?  Half of your neighbors may be pretty upset about the plug being pulled – they are part of the 100 million or more that are negatively affected.  How many of the people in your surrounding area will sit quietly with the plug pulled?

Oh, I forgot to mention.  There are a few million people with access to the most sophisticated weaponry in the world – military, police, various spook agencies – who are all suddenly unemployed and without hope for pension.  Will they stand idly by, waiting for a right-libertarian society to emerge?

Will a private law society emerge from this?  Or will these 100 million or more of your very well armed and now starving neighbors impose something along the lines of the thing that just had its plug pulled…or worse?


Libertarians and culture.  Which comes first, pulling the plug or a society supportive of (truly) conservative principles?  I have been exploring this question for several years now.  The more that I explore it the more it seems to me that the culture comes first.

So…let’s advance the discussion.  If it is so that a right-libertarian society will emerge in a future libertarian order – exactly what conditions are necessary for this to be the case?  Because, when I consider today’s conditions, pulling the plug won’t get us there.

I do believe a transition will get us there – but what steps will make this transition effective?  In other words: which comes first, libertarianism or culture and tradition (of a specific type)?

Or is there a different question?


“Bionic wouldn’t pull the plug!”

I didn’t say that.  I am asking libertarians to help me get there. 

Or advance the discussion.  I am OK with either.


  1. "“Bionic wouldn’t pull the plug!”

    I didn’t say that. I am asking libertarians to help me get there. Or advance the discussion. "

    Something I rarely hear within the libertarian community, but I think needs to be said to those outside of it is akin to this:

    "The NAP taken to it's ultimate implementation yields conclusions that suggest things like private armies, no welfare(gov't mandated), private courts, etc.

    While the concept of "non-aggression"/voluntaryism is in and of itself a clear and moral concept, it's application is not. I don't know how a free market/NAP/voluntaryism develops some of these things down the road(and some of what I mentioned isn't a "given"), because that is nature of free market/NAP/voluntary operates. It is the major premise behind great thinkers that promote liberty, that voluntary actions between billions of people are better than the knowledge of a few at top that force their mandates upon the rest.

    Free markets usually produce a multitude of options for consumers to choose from and even if your vision of what liberty like differs from mine, we can both coexist peacefully within a decentralized society based on property rights by having as many options/communities to to choose from as possible if we can just agree to voluntarily chosen communities alone."

    Even in the above statement, there are problems- because, for example- if a child in my chosen community is shot over trespassing against another community's orchard for example, in OUR society there is most likely going to be retribution.

    However, I go back to something I've mentioned before- it is culturally "ok" in some communities to cut off the hand of a child that steals. It's a reprehensible act, yet there aren't any wars over it(maybe personal feuds though).

    I don't think we get to a place where conflict is eliminated, it's the nature of man in general. So the question in my mind is how we reduce it and promote liberty.

    We as libertarians rarely acknowledge that there are many unanswered questions as to how we get to private armies, or a return to "welfare" without mandates/property abrogation, etc.

    Instead, libertarian's write thick books that few of the general populace read that go to extreme lengths to show how "libertarian" concepts can come to fruition.

    But when those arguments are presented by 2nd hand dealers they sound unrealistic to the mass public, because in many ways they are in today's world as it's structured.

    "What do you mean no public roads?"
    "How are you going to protect us with no national army/police?"
    "If you get rid of welfare how do people who are uncapable feed themselves?"

    I could go on forever, but the simple fact is the "common sense" of the average man says you can't pull the plug on all this and when the average libertarian cites mind numbing examples of times at which roads and armies were privatized the "average man" says "bollocks" and walks away. (or pretends to listen)

    There has to be a transition. It will come, the question is will it be in the direction of liberty or towards authoritarianism. I don't know when the transition in the US comes, I think less than 100 years from now, my gut tells me less than 50 really.

    But, rather than convince everyone as to the merits of private armies, private roads, no welfare, or defending prostitution- I think we'd be more effective to simply talk about the mandates coming out of DC as eliminating the free choice of everyone to form voluntary communities that better represent local viewpoints, customs, morality, etc.

    A simple acknowledgement of the "NAP"/private property/Voluntaryism" as an IDEAL(both literally and figuratively) instead of having an "answer" for every scenario acknowledges uncertainty without defeating the concept itself.

  2. cont.(sorry for length)

    The United States used to be praised as a "cultural melting pot". Can we say that's the case anymore? The group of people that want us to be "one big happy (communist) family" are the ones that are pushing the cultural uniformity(in the name of "diversity" none the less!). I have to say though, so are the "alt-right" in their own way.(uniformity via fascism)

    Respect for private property and decentralization solves a lot of this(but not all).

    Who hasn't gone to "Little Italy" in/near some major metropolis? If they aren't Italian, they visit, eat some food, take in the culture and then go home. Same as "German town", or "China town", etc. et al

    That, to me, is an example of cultural bindings and decentralization in action. Sure, right now mandates from DC apply to all of them, but that wasn't how it was for some time.

    You can turn this old notion of the strength of America being it's diversity on it's head and use it against those pushing for a super state that reflects their viewpoints on us all.

    For example, a SJW homosexual says "I'm going to use the government to force you to accept me and bake me a cake!" and that is his notion of "diversity" even though it's the direct opposite. A response might be "Ok, what if the Alt-Right gets into power in DC and decides that San Francisco is a center of immorality and bans homosexuality?"

    The only way "diversity" truly occurs is when the structure of governance is decentralized/localized,and there's a respect for property rights/NAP between communities.

    A simple acknowledgement of the problem of a massive centralized state instead of arguing libertarian minutia and presupposing an "answer" to privatized everything that flies in the face of the common sense of the average man might be the better tack.(even if privatized everything is the ideal)

    Look, Californian's are seeing the merits of decentralization now and that is surely saying something.

    I'm tired of trying to convince commie's that their model is faulty, let them repeat history, just give me someplace to go where I don't have to suffer for their decisions!

    1. Nick

      Your post describes well why one of the best practical applications of libertarian theory in the real world is for libertarians to support every move toward decentralization - even if individual libertarians may have a disagreement about the internal politics of the newly separate state.

      Throughout the world, there are dozens of calls for decentralization - many in the population are longing for exactly what libertarianism would look like if applied.

      Yet too many libertarians (from what I have read, I would describe these as "left" libertarians) cannot see this reality.

  3. As has been said before many times, I think a good a place as any to start in the transformation would be a reestablishment of the law. An agreed upon law (good and old). And a mediation/enforcement/court system that actually applies to each and every person the same (no favoritism, no cronyism). A law that is established and set and agreed upon that doesn't change at every whim and be added to at 3000 pages a year. A law that applies to the country, the president and the legislators as it does to lowly old me and even the mosquito. A law that is understood by all in such a way that ordinary people may know the law and how they obey/disobey it. One where rights are agreed upon and set and cannot be taken away either incrementally or in whole. There is a lot more to be said, but you are asking for steps and how to get there. Is there something else that would be more fundamental than a reestablishment of the law?


    1. Will good law spring forward from corrupt people? I don't hold my breath.

    2. Nor do I. If we are completely honest, though, who of us is not corrupt in some/many way(s)?


    3. Perhaps the best reason to rely on custom grounded in the best traditions of Western Civilization.

    4. Agreed. But why stop there and not go back even further to the Source? Paging Ted Weiland. :)


    5. I look to medieval history as it offers real evidence with real humans of a decentralized society, governed via law that is not "man-made" (as we understand the term today).

      I haven't seen examples of the Beatitudes turned into a real-world basis for law.

      Germanic law is not straight Scripture, just as Catholicism is not straight Scripture.

      The medieval Germans, it seems, found a way to take some version of Christ's message and turn it into a functioning, decentralized political system.

      Man is not perfect; when it comes to law on earth, I lean toward reasonably libertarian examples that have demonstrated lasting power.

    6. Yes, the eternal question: Is Man Good Enough to Govern Himself?
      From long ago until the recent past, survival was the primary issue. Tribes were small; Dunbar's number ( You personally knew everyone that mattered in your tribe, and you had at least a modicum of acquaintance with everyone else. To be reasonably fit, strong, of competent IQ and agreeable personality was the norm; otherwise you were dead. Mutual trust and respect developed naturally within your small social ecosystem, as well as a strong cultural conformity... all of this because survival depended on it.
      Not the case today. Our turbo-charged, hyper-stimulating and grossly-unnatural choice-filled reality. My take is that our current reality is too fast, too disconnected, and far beyond human-agreeable scale. Our human world has side-stepped nature in innumerable ways; it is far less obedient or constrained to Nature across the board. For example, diet and health: in a nature-constrained world, most common chronic diseases don't exist because you cannot find Oreos on trees, fried pig ears under a rock, nor mega-gulp frosties flowing out of natural springs.
      In all ways, a nature-dominated and constraining reality was the crucible for Homo Sapiens. Of course this is and has always been true for all animals, all Life. Within Nature, our biochemistry and neurology, our cognitive capabilities, social conditioning and overall world-view had fairly distinct boundaries in place we were required to work within. Optimizing our individual and group lives within those boundaries resulted in what might be called a Human Organic Reality that demanded the same degree of orderliness and acceptable behaviour as it did for all other animals on the planet. Survival depended on it. Stray too far from Organic Reality and you were deselected; gone.
      Now, of course it is true that the fantastic newly emergent attributes in H. Sapiens – self-awareness and creative abilities - unveiled all manner of new possibilities. The larger question is, “Do we have the wisdom to intelligently and carefully build upon that which actually works for us: Nature and Natural Laws? Can we maintain our species integrity, mind and body, while also maintaining the integrity of the natural world around us, as we simultaneously explore and create with our wondrous new abilities? Or do we vaingloriously cast them aside in favor of spurious, fragmented, unsustainable ideas that humans have generated, and will tire of soon enough?
      Whereas Bionic nicely tackles the issue of workable, sustainable human culture as the basis and bulwark of any future sustainable libertarian society, I add the issues of mind/body health and ecological health as equally fundamental requirements. After all, every Old & Good Law coupled with Old & Good Culture was birthed, tested and matured in an era undergirded with far greater Organic Reality than we have today. Every Old Tribe and Society was of manageable population size, its inhabitants largely required to maintain a sturdy body and sound mind, and the local environment was essentially intact and life-supportive. I suspect that Bionic implicitly or subconsciously understands this, but I have not seen it mentioned.
      Summary: If you want a Small and sustainable libertarian society, it’s gotta be based on NAP and an ethical cultural base. That base needs healthy, high-caliber people of strong mind and body. Such people only come from a base of healthful, intelligent lifestyles surrounded by a healthfully functioning environment. Undermine any of these base structures, and you are doomed to degenerate people demonstrating degenerate behaviour inside a degenerate society.
      If you want a Large, nation-state-sized libertarian society, it ain’t gonna happen.

    7. BDev, thank you for this.

      "If you want a Large, nation-state-sized libertarian society, it ain’t gonna happen."

      I think this is right. Perhaps one more reason to consider that libertarianism in theory in decentralization in practice.

    8. Bionic - Definitely agree: Decentralize and Downsize. It's the only way to keep everyone accountable. CHS nails it here:
      "Once we grasp the critical role played by scale, we conclude that centralized hierarchies cannot function effectively because their scale makes it too easy and too rewarding for those at the top of the wealth-power pyramid to cheat and evade consequences.
      "Only small-scale markets and structures of governance can succeed in the long run because only these small scale systems can sustainably impose "skin in the game"-- consequences, accountability and oversight."

    9. Along these lines, I'll use this moment to again applaud a guy whom I consider a most brilliant libertarian thinker and writer:
      Jakub Bozydar Wisniewski
      His tagline: Civilization is the Process of Substituting Liberty for Power

      Re: Downsize & Decentralize -

      Inevitability -

      Ideas -

      Click on some of the 'Labels' at the bottom of these posts for more.

  4. I would pull the plug, IF I could pull it on all states everywhere. A FreeAmerica might have a hard time surviving in a world of aggressive states, who might have a reason for vengeance.

    I personally believe, that while utopia is not possible, a free and independent population is, IF the Non Aggression Principle is the Supreme Commandment of all.


    “No one has the right, under any circumstances, to initiate force against another, nor to delegate or authorize its use.”

    In accordance:

    Each person has the individual right to self defense and the defense of their property.

    Each individual person owns their own body and no other.

    Private property represents our investment.

    No one has more "rights" than any other, except over their own body or on their own property.

    (You don’t have to agree with them, just don’t violate them. You have been warned!)

    It's a start Bionic. You are asking and answering some wonderful and important questions. Thanks!


    1. >I would pull the plug, IF I could pull it on all states everywhere.

      Ah the ol' world revolutionary impulse again. I guess you take it as a given that every Nation in the world would be better off with its State gone tomorrow, or you just believe it's a price worth paying for your own freedom even if it leads to wholesale slaughter elsewhere.

      I respect the later more than the former.

    2. Tahn

      "IF the Non Aggression Principle is the Supreme Commandment of all."

      This is the point, isn't it? And not just because other states continue to exist, but because your out-of-work and starving neighbors now also exist.

      It seems I can assume from your response that you would not, therefore, pull the plug if you could.


    3. Bionic and UC,

      My reason, which I thought to have given in my second sentence, was that pulling the plug only in America or any one country, would put us/them at a disadvantage with foreign mobilized state tyrannies. If the plug could be pulled worldwide and on all organized state offensive armies and their govrnments, only then would we have a chance to survive. That was my sole argument.

      I do not agree that the absence of a state would reduce anyone to poverty, except possibly bureaucrats unable to do useful work. In fact it may very well raise the overall level of economic prosperity. To believe otherwise is to believe in Statism, rather than the free market.

      UC, I DO believe that all the PEOPLE of the world would be better off without the state, except maybe the parasites that live off of the work of others.

      If we can have a magic plug to pull to bring down the state, can we not have a magic switch to throw declaring. “The NAP is The Supreme Command Of Mankind.”

      Could either of you live in a community with only “The Law” as I outlined it?


  5. >If you could pull the plug on the state, or push a button to end it, would you do it?

    Well this is a libertarian fantasy that needs some clarification.
    Push a bottom to physically exterminate the US Government, its financiers, NGOs, and academics?- Yes of course. Who wouldn't push the "kill all your enemies" the button? My (your?) enemies would do it.

    Push a button to deligitmize D.C in the minds of the subjects?- Yes I would do it but would it be *all* subjects or just enough to kick of a long and violent road war (that D.C. could still win with enough key support)? Honestly I would do it either way.

    >If the plug was pulled today, on what basis would we expect a private law society to emerge?

    Oh we wouldn't. Different groups will lay claim to different territories and State-formation would begin. Society cannot be governed by law it can only be governed by power. The iron law of Oligarchy holds true always, the political question is *who will be the ruling class, what will their ideals be, and who will be king?." The libertarian preoccupation with designing an (impossible) society with no ruling class is a distraction from the question of how to get and wield power effectively in order maximize freedom (the potential of a ppl).

    BM, I highly recommend you check out James Burnham's "The Machiavellians: Defenders of Freedom."

    I will email you a copy.

    1. "...the political question is *who will be the ruling class, what will their ideals be, and who will be king?.""

      Gary North says something similar: people will always ask who is in charge here and what are the rules (I am paraphrasing; something like this and he has a list of five items. Max, can you find this for me?)

      I used to rebel against this back in my days of "thin NAP applied." Obviously, you and others here know the journey I have taken in the last years.

  6. For this binary choice, status quo to continue as we are or pull the plug ... I say pull the plug.

  7. "Would You Pull the Plug?"

    system is based on inbuilt destruction mechanism

    The Great Default Is Inevitable: The Bankruptcy of Social Security and Medicare.

    government checks will bounce or will not buy much

    people who believe in liberty,small government, peaceful cooperation...

    just need to be patient and wait.

    also need to be ready to explain why is going to happen and what need to be done.

    we are basically remnant -- probably less than 5% of population in any state.


all his websites are doing all they can to spread word :


it is something like prophet bringing messages.

    In my Publisher's Preface, I offered five questions to help you remember this model and apply it to every institution:
    1. Who's in charge here?
    2. To whom do I report?
    3. What are the rules?
    4. What do I get if I obey (disobey)?
    5. Does this outfit have a future?


    1. Max, thank you for the list. As I mentioned, I used to rebel against this. I no longer do.

  8. "Would you pull the plug?" The question had earlier applications. Differences in opinion on that matter had something to do with bringing about the Late Unpleasantness (though I'd argue Lincoln's War had more to do with tariffs).

    Immediate or gradual emancipation of chattel slaves? How about tax slaves? Same or different answer? Why?

    I'd say pull the plug on the empire. End the wars. Bring all U.S. troops home first thing in the morning if it's too late to do it tonight. Pay them one month of severance for each year of service to a maximum of 24. That'll give them ample time and resources to land on their feet.

    Lay off 90 percent of federal and state employees, too. Leave most of the municipal governments intact, at least in the short term. Extend tax breaks to those who contract with private schools, security agencies, and dispute resolution organizations.

    Privatization will happen. Freedom will grow.

    1. "Immediate or gradual emancipation of chattel slaves? How about tax slaves? Same or different answer? Why?"

      Immediate for both - (regarding tax slaves) certainly regarding the income tax.

      "That'll give them ample time and resources to land on their feet....Lay off 90 percent of federal and state employees, too."

      That's not pulling the plug.

  9. Pulling the plug without a replacement system IN PLACE will result in the death of billions, possibly all of mankind.

    The big kick is the uncontrolled "shutdown" of nuclear reactors. Once these begin to spew plutonium, its over. Goodbye mankind!

    For better or worse, we have too many systems in place that are not "walk away safe". Nuclear reactors being the worst, but there are many more that would inflict horrible tragedies.

    The problem is of course that we may face an uncontrolled pulling of the plug regardless. Either due to a solar flare or through a self inflicted societal collapse.

    As far as switching to a NAP state is concerned: That is not possible imo with an average IQ of 100. A democracy needs an average IQ of 90, but a libertarian society will need a much higher average IQ than that. If I have to make an estimate, I would say at least a standard deviation higher than the average today... say 115.

  10. Under the political model, WAR is the means by which sovereignty and autonomy is gained over a piece of land. Under the libertarian model, sovereignty and autonomy are simply PURCHASED from the government currently in possession of them.


  11. "pull the plug" sounds like a euphemism for revolution. No, I wouldn't. I've seen how those turn out. The state has to fail in full view of the people. Killing the state will not end the state, but produce one or more new states, likely worse than we have now.

  12. Well then, would ANYONE reading this, choose to live in a world, where the only law was the NAP?


    “No one has the right, under any circumstances, to initiate force (violence) against another, nor to delegate or authorize its use.”

    In accordance:

    Each person has the individual right to self defense and the defense of their property.

    Each individual person owns their own body and no other.

    Private property represents our investment.

    No one has more "rights" than any other, except over their own body or their own property.

    (You don’t have to agree with them, just don’t violate them. You have been warned!)

    Just wondering. Tahn

  13. As an addendum, I would answer the above excellent questions.

    1. Who's in charge here? The property owner.

    2. To whom do I report? The property owner.

    3. What are the rules? The NAP, as specified above.

    4. What do I get if I obey (disobey)? If you obey, you get freedom. If you disobey, the victim will decide.

    5. Does this outfit have a future? That is my question above.


    1. An excellent set of replies if one chooses to live a self-sustaining solitary life on top of a mountain.

      Otherwise, what do you think happens when the property owner - who is in charge, with no one or nothing above him other than the NAP - decides to shoot a kid for picking an apple?

    2. Bionic,

      I am not sure if you are objecting to “The Supreme Law of the Community” and its accords or my statement below that the victim has the right to choose the penalty, which is really a different discussion.

      I could write a sci-fi story about the last producing apple tree on the planet or a case where a person had worked their entire life to produce a certain rare apple, where the property owner would be totally justified in shooting the thief. What if the thief was stealing an entire tree or orchard?

      There can always be an “argumentum ad absurdum” question (or answer) for every rule or law imagined or the consequences of breaking them, including the NAP or “The Golden Rule”. If we listened to such absurdness, we can never agree on anything and perhaps that has been a weakness of libertarian thought and discussion. There is no utopia, there can only be a common rule of conduct which can help guide us.

      I very much doubt that in the real world, such a travesty would happen. Still, we are all responsible for our actions and have to suffer any consequences.

      Remember, you could have such rules or laws in effect on your own property as you wish (including free apples to boys), as could UC (no minorities) or others (Muslim only) , as long as they did not violate the NAP. I believe my synopsis to be merely a slight clarification of the NAP and the definition of property rights and I am certainly not claiming any originality.

      It's an important topic and question Bionic. I hope that libertarians can reach a conclusion that will work for all, regardless of their particular beliefs.

      I do have a response to “the victim decides the penalty” if that was your objection but do not wish to clutter your most interesting thread if it was not.

      If your response was to the Supreme Law and its accords, do you have an alternative?


    3. Tahn, there is a rather well-known libertarian who suggests just such a punishment for a child taking an apple - whatever the property owner decides, because he is sovereign (or, as you say, he is in charge).

      "I do have a response to “the victim decides the penalty” if that was your objection but do not wish to clutter your most interesting thread if it was not."

      Yes, this was my point and I am curious as to who decides this if not the property owner - who is the one "in charge" as you say.

    4. Bionic,

      Again, my language has failed to properly communicate my thoughts. I meant to say that I had a response as to why the victim was the ONLY person who had the right to decide the consequences of a violation of the NAP. While a property owner may assign that right, either prior by voluntary consent to community standards or afterward by agreeing to arbitration, jury trial or other, the owner can only do so voluntarily. The right to decide the penalty cannot be taken from him without his consent, in my opinion.

      I have read of the theoretical response of using deadly force for such a trivial act and in a normal world, can see no justification for such barbarity, although as I mentioned above, there could be extenuating circumstances which could drive the apple owner to such extremes, such as a lifetime of genetic breeding being ruined. Or perhaps it's not an apple but a family Bible of little monetary value but with 20 generations of ancestry records. Who can make such a decision of value except the owner, whose heritage is being stolen away.

      Again, while such an extreme act might be theoretically correct and in keeping with the NAP, it would be hard to justify morally to oneself and certainly difficult to justify politically to the community.

      Whoever made such a decision would have to accept the consequences, just as we have to accept the consequences of all of our actions.

      Here is a copy of a post from a private forum that is among one of the arguments that convinced me of this:

      “I think that when a person commits a violation of NAP against another they have chosen a course of action that leaves them essentially at the mercy of the victim's choice of response.   

      I can't tell someone else how much they value something, I can only tell you how much I value it.
      If I own or possess something that you want, you need to pay me the value I set upon it, not a value set upon it by the community or any other entity. The value I set may be viewed as reasonable by the community, or it might be viewed as makes no difference, I can not ethically be forced to part with that thing unless the value, the price, I set for it is met to my satisfaction.

      So when you violate the NAP against me to take from me my peace, perhaps even my health or my property, it is up to I alone to decide what I price I will charge for that and in what coin I wish to be paid. 
      You failed to negotiate the terms of your purchase prior to taking possession and in doing so have  given me a blank check drawn on your most personal  account. Don't like those terms?  You shouldn't have made the choice to do "business" with me.  It was your choice, after all.”

      Bionic, I may be arguing for something that you already agree with, due to my poor phrasing in my previous post. If so I apologize. While punishment and the proportionality of it is an important aspect of a community and neighborly relations, I am of the belief that establishing the Supreme Law of the Community, through the Non Aggression Principle (or as I believe, The Supreme Commandment) is even more so and should be decided first, which is why I enjoy your forum and fine family of philosophers.

      I would still like to know if you or others could accept it as I previously outlined it. Thank you,


    5. > You failed to negotiate the terms of your purchase prior to taking possession and in doing so have given me a blank check drawn on your most personal account. Don't like those terms? You shouldn't have made the choice to do "business" with me. It was your choice, after all.” <

      That is a very principled answer. Its also wrong (imo of course).
      I come along and shoot the owner of the apple tree, then I take the apple. Who has the blank check?

      Who "owned" the owner? His wife and children? Society? Who can lay "claim" of ownership?

      I know that the usual answer given is the wife (children & their family), but when we do that we also establish a non-ownership rule to be applied to the situation. And that opens up a can of worms that can no longer be answered by NAP and property based law. The only way out of this dilemma is to fully codify every single aspect of life, no implicit assumptions allowed. Or you get into the swaps of implied "rights".

    6. Rien,

      I thank you for your opinion. It's what makes this site so wonderful, the opinions and insight of knowledgeable people.

      You asked “I come along and shoot the owner of the apple tree, then I take the apple. Who has the blank check?”

      The answer has to be, in my humble opinion, “The heirs or assigned” of the victim. Usually, as in today's world, it is family but it may not be. The victim may have left the property to family but assigned the rights of restitution or justice to an assigned party, via private terms. Maybe it is a local “tough guy”, maybe the community via jury trial or maybe it's the “Crips or Bloods” or maybe the militia. That would be up to the owner to have previously determined, just as a will is determined today.

      I believe that N. Stephan Kinsella reached a similar conclusion in his “A Libertarian Theory of Punishment and Rights”. The victim (heirs or assigns) is the one to decide. There may be some sellers of land that require that right to be assigned to a community or certain process as a condition of purchase. The varieties are endless but the base philosophy is solid. The victim, their heirs or assigns, is the only one to decide.

      It is easy (and interesting) to get sidetracked into the minutia of community structure and relations. Some here may want a system based on historical precepts and they have that right, on their own property.

      However, the overriding Law of the community/country/world, has to be a simple one, based on the NAP, in my opinion and is my primary goal.

      Could you abide by the Supreme Law, as I outlined above Rien?


    7. Tahn

      “Again, while such an extreme act might be theoretically correct and in keeping with the NAP, it would be hard to justify morally to oneself and certainly difficult to justify politically to the community.”

      Tahn, you can’t have it both ways. Is the punishment to be determined solely by the property owner – who also happens to be the victim in this example – or is it to be determined / influenced “morally”?

      It is interesting that you used the term “morally.” As I have recently learned and written about, the word has its roots in the word “custom.” Which was my point all along when I had this discussion (to put it politely) with the well-known libertarian who said the victim could decide the punishment – even shooting a child for picking an apple (and please stop complicating this simple example – it is not a solid gold apple nor is it the apple of my eye). If the punishment is not in accord with custom (“morally”), libertarian purity will not long survive.

      As to the lengthy passage that you offer, it is the same justification offered by the well-known libertarian, and I reject it for many reasons. One of which is: what happens to the community if the victim solely decides on punishment (with whatever bounds he chooses) – as you suggest – and the community (or the father of the child) decides that the punishment exceeds “morally” reasonable bounds?

      “While punishment and the proportionality of it is an important aspect of a community and neighborly relations, I am of the belief that establishing the Supreme Law of the Community, through the Non Aggression Principle (or as I believe, The Supreme Commandment) is even more so…”

      Tahn, how long do you think the “Supreme Law of the Community” will survive if punishment is not consistent with custom?

      Quit considering the issue like a purist and instead consider it like someone who wants to live in a free society.