Thursday, March 9, 2023

(Paper) Thin Libertarians


…you cannot protect the value of respecting each other’s liberties with the value of respecting each other’s liberties. That value has to come from somewhere…

David French & the Vapors of Civic Virtue Escaping from a Mystery Box, Douglas Wilson (video)

It has been a while since I have written something directly and specifically about the non-aggression principle and libertarian political philosophy.  This blog started that way, and soon enough I figured out that it was not the foundation for a society that respected liberty.  In other words, paraphrasing Wilson, you cannot protect the value of liberty by using the value of liberty.

This could have been written by Hans Hoppe – he has written along these lines more than once.  Hoppe is, like Wilson, an outcast in respectable circles because he notes that a society that expects to achieve and maintain liberty will have to use values other than liberty to defend liberty.  In other words, paraphrasing Hoppe, sometimes you have to forcefully throw the bums out.

As I have noted: my libertarian society will not look libertarian to many on the outside.  You want sex orgies on your front lawn?  No, not in my libertarian society – I don’t care that your front lawn is your private property.  Such a libertarian society will not retain liberty for long.

Of course, the paper thin libertarian will retort: “you can just make the rules such that those who don’t voluntarily agree can’t join.”  Yes.  But this is my point: my “rules” won’t look libertarian to most libertarians.

This is where I came to grow weary of those who screamed “thin libertarian” as the path to liberty.  Now, admittedly, I once believed such things.  Libertarianism for children, as a good friend and well-respected (in our circles) libertarian once described such as these to me.  Yes, I once was this (look early in my archives…).  But I try not to be too hard on myself; some of the “children” are much older than I am and have been in the movement much longer – and have yet to mature.

It was through Hoppe that I came to understand that something deeper was required as foundation if one was after liberty.  I don’t recall if he put it exactly this way, but I do recall that he said something like you may occasionally have to throw the bums out if you want to preserve the liberty of which you are after.

In other words, Hoppe’s libertarian society will not seem libertarian to the bums (libertines) on the outside.  And I say…count me in.

Murray Rothbard, very early in his career (1960), understood this quite well:

What I have been trying to say is that Mises's utilitarian, relativist approach to ethics is not nearly enough to establish a full case for liberty. It must be supplemented by an absolutist ethic—an ethic of liberty, as well as of other values needed for the health and development of the individual—grounded on natural law, i.e., discovery of the laws of man's nature.

A society holding to liberty requires something more than liberty if society is to retain liberty.

Returning to Wilson:

The virtues that are embedded in our customs, mores, and laws, and which are barely hanging on anymore, are not “without father or mother” Our public virtues are not “without genealogy.” They actually had a “beginning of days.” They grew up in the black soil of a robust Christian consensus, as Francis Schaeffer cogently argued…

Our liberty, what little remains of it, came out of a specific culture, a specific tradition, grounded in certain customs and mores and laws.  It is grounded in what came out of the Christian West, and one can point to the mixing of Christian charity with Germanic honor as the source.

Of course, this came with many ills – both regarding Christianity and regarding honor.  Progress does not flow in a straight line, with no bumps, no setbacks, no difficulties.  Every culture, every tradition, suffers these.  But only one bore the fruit of liberty in any meaningful sense.  If the bad comes in every flavor, I prefer the one that also offers good.

Throw out these “virtues that are embedded in our customs, mores, and laws,” and what do you get?  Look around us today.  The answer is self-evident.  Holding the non-aggression principle as the foundation for liberty offers no defense against a society sinking into the abyss.  One cannot even raise a complaint about pedophilia or even trans surgery for minors.  After all, the age of consent is a social construct – there is nothing in the non-aggression principle that places a firm dividing line in such matters.

Men and women sharing restrooms and showers?  Why not?  The private property owner can decide.  Forced jabs?  Hey, the employer is free to require what he wants – you can always get another job (except when all employers make similar demands). 

Google and Facebook are private companies – who are you to say that they can’t share their information with the Feds?  To argue that there shouldn’t be Feds doesn’t resolve this issue.  We live in something approaching an upside-down fascism anyway – it is now the private corporations controlling the government in many ways.  All of Ayn Rand’s industrial titans have run to Washington, not to Colorado.

Which comes back to the foundation underlying the liberty we enjoy (shrinking, but evident in history).  It is Christian.  It is also Western.  Disagree?  Argue from history, not theory.

…when a society has become polytheistic, there is no a priori standard that you can establish that will exclude the ugly gods, the angry gods, the savage gods, the gods whose wrath can only be slaked with blood.

Is it possible that the non-aggression principle will be the monotheistic god replacing the Christian God?  We know the answer to this.  Contrary to this, we also know that many libertarians believe – even require – that religion has no place in the libertarian framework.  But there will always be a religion – call it a narrative.  I like the way Wilson puts it elsewhere – Christ or chaos.

Well, then: What does this mean for liberty?  As the non-aggression principle will not come to be the new monotheistic god, and as society will then be polytheistic, there is nothing to exclude the ugly, angry, savage gods.

Liberty – whether libertarian or classical liberal – has no defense against these gods.  Revisiting Wilson’s quote, from above:

…you cannot protect the value of respecting each other’s liberties with the value of respecting each other’s liberties. That value has to come from somewhere…


I have noticed a dearth of straight (thin) libertarian commentary over the last few years.  Perhaps it has grown obvious that the answers to the social and corporate destruction we find ourselves in cannot be found merely by deducing from the non-aggression principle. 

Or, perhaps if such answers can be found via this path, it has grown clear that logical arguments along these lines carry no weight.  Or, perhaps, because we have found that to defend such principles one must violate the non-aggression principle.

Instead, I have seen an ever-increasing commentary that, at its base, revolves around the following:

Ephesians 6: 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

Demons don’t play by the rules of the NAP.  There is only one way to fight the demons intent on robbing us of our humanity, let alone our liberty.  Yes.  Put on the whole armor….


Wilson then does his best Lysander Spooner impression – with a very Christian twist:

What social compact? Who made it? Why is it binding on me? Suppose we disagree with Hobbes, or Rousseau, or Locke, or whoever else made up these imaginary parliaments. What then? Will Christ judge us for walking away from this social compact? If so, where does the Bible say that? If not, then why should we care whether we are upholding our end of the social compact or not?

Is the Declaration of Independence an example of social contract thinking? If it is not, then shouldn’t we go with the Declaration, being Americans and all? If so, then is it really true that the social compact contains a provision that “whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government?”

And if we have that right according to the social compact, then why wouldn’t it be okay to do it by storming the Capitol? You know, with the praise music optional?

Just curious.


  1. Oh Bionic. You keep hitting the right notes. Doug Wilson also has shown that the Evangelical Church is included in the big fascist mish-mash of those controlling The Regime. He and others call it Big Eva. It doesn't include a majority of evangelical Christians but a majority of Evangelical Christian Celebrity Pastors/Leaders. Doug French. Russell Moore. Tim Keller. Mark Dever. They control the Southern Baptist Convention and its seminaries, the PCUSA, The Gospel Coalition website, and Christianity Today. Michael O'Fallon uncovered years ago that none other than George Soros gives money to some of these leaders. It is a big mess. Localism even in the church is key. Win over your local church.

    More and more I think the NAP applies to less of life. We should follow it with our neighbors and stores in our community. But it can't apply to those demonic forces in power over us. Just think of the mass theft politicians are guilty of at every level of government. I don't even think it is possible to escape taxes 100%, but the ever increasing theft through taxation, debt, and money creation must be fought against. The NAP simply does not apply to those who steal from us every day and think of new ways to spend our money. Justice requires aggression be applied in some way. But of course today is not that day because you have to have power to do so with out forfeiting your liberty and life.

    So in the meantime vote for those aren't afraid to use power in a righteous way. Run for office yourself. Or at the least continue to develop your understanding of a true Christian political theory. I suggest reading Samuel Rutherford's "Lex Rex" or at least a synopsis of it. He doesn't get it all right. But he argues proper politics from a Biblical point of view. Christians today should build on it with our own insights and thoughts.

  2. One, but not the only reason, I learn from this web site is that it is among the few that raise serious questions about the relationship of the NAP to wider moral concerns, to religious questions. It encourages me that you, Mr. Bionic Mosquito, never waver on the political importance of the NAP, while being well aware that it is not the sole guide regarding how to live your life, to fulfill your natural, or God granted, telos.
    I find helpful illustrations of the limits of "thin libertarianism" in fiction. One of my favorite examples is Eric Frank Russell's The Great Explosion. Russell gives a depiction of two societies (situated on different planets), both broadly libertarian, but starkly different in moral and spiritual values. Thus, the novel suggests how the wider culture shapes the concrete practice of the NAP. One society practices "voluntary criminality" (folks are expected to get the better of one another), while the other (the world of the "Gands", derived from Gandhi) has a spiritual basis. Both societies respect NAP rights, yet one of them I judge very unappealing. The second world, not unexpectedly, appears quite "bourgeois", something reminiscent of the American 1950's, which now, personally, seems almost a golden age.
    God grant many years to you, Mr. Mosquito and your readers!

  3. How does defending your principles against a bunch of lunatics who want to impose their ways on you amount to a violation of the non aggression principle? You've lost me here.

    If a private property owner wants to allow co ed bathrooms and showers on their own property then why should that be a problem for you? Just don't go on their property. I'm assuming that you have that choice.

    If your employer requires the jab and you don't want to take the jab, then you should make other arrangements. You have no right to dictate the terms of your employment to your employer. Even if they are the only employer.

    Sorry, but it seems like you've gone off the deep end here.

    1. Libertarianism for children. Thank you for providing a perfect example.

    2. Call it what you want, Bionic. But I call your approach libertarianism for neocons.

    3. You really do not understand terms if you label what I write as "neocon."

    4. I would characterize a neocon as someone who considers their ideology as exceptional, and that gives them license to impose it on peaceful individuals who disagree. When you advocate for violating the non aggression principle you turn into that.

    5. Please point to one instance where I have written that I would impose laws via aggressive means. You will not find one.

    6. When you say that sometimes you have to forcefully throw the bums out, and then refer to private property owners allowing men and women to share showers and bathrooms and employers as requiring their employees to get the job in a way that appears as if you think that private property owners and employers shouldn't be permitted to do that, it convinces me that you want to impose laws by aggressive means. If I'm wrong about that then I'm wrong. But if I'm not, then I believe that you're making a terrible mistake.

    7. How would you impose laws via non-aggressive means?

    8. Laws against consensual behavior on private property because it offends you?

      In your conclusion you said that to defend such principles requires us to violate the non-aggression principle. Do you realize that to violate the non-aggression principle means to use force against non-aggressors? Is that the road you want to go down?

    9. It's one thing to say that the non-aggression principle is not enough to protect liberty, but it's quite another thing to say that we may need to violate the non-aggression principle. Sometimes you have to just shake the dust off your sandals and move on to the next town.

    10. Several "anonymous" comments, I will address via one reply:

      One could impose laws via non-aggressive means via voluntary contract - for example, something like an HOA today, or a rental agreement. This isn't the hard part.

      The hard part is, how do we get from here to there? The best path, also without aggression, is for, once again, natural law ethics to be accepted by a broad slice of society. For this, I have always advocated that it is the duty of Christian churches to teach this and hold their members to account. Catholic Universities may have the biggest role to play here; unfortunately, they are very far away from playing this role.

      The medium path? Throw the bums out. Call it a violation of the NAP if you like. Or just ostracize them, marginalize them, ignore them, don't do business with them. But for this to function, again, some meaningful portion of society must agree that they are bums worthy of being ignored and ostracized. This doesn’t happen unless the best path (above) begins to gain traction…soon.

      The worst path, but one that will come eventually if nothing changes, is to just allow natural law ethics to eventually defend themselves - which they will, with violence and vengeance. For example, a society cannot long pretend that a man is a woman without there being no society. A society cannot pretend that DEI can build bridges before the bridges all collapse. A society cannot pretend that it can fight infinite wars abroad before it crumbles internally. A society cannot pretend fiat is money for long before it consumes itself. Like I said, this is the worst path, and we will all pay a price - both the ethical and the unethical.

      None of the paths identified above violate the non-aggression principle. But what if the worst path is followed? You, or your children or grandchildren will live in hell – a hell caused by those who are not violating the non-aggression principle. Is this acceptable to you?

      You say “shake the dust off your sandals and move on to the next town.” There won’t be a “next town.”

      With all this said, the method I have always advocated is for churches (and Catholic Universities) to return to a teaching of natural law ethics. It is the practical application of how we are expected to live according to Biblical principles.

    11. To ostracize, ignore, refuse to do business with or refuse to associate with, unless you have an agreed upon obligation to do so, are things that I would definitely not consider to be violations of the non-aggression principle. They don't involve force at all. They amount to individuals acting completely within their natural rights.

      Thanks for clarifying what you meant, Bionic. But I don't think what you meant is what you said in your article. It took me by surprise.

    12. There may come a point where throwing the money-changers out of the temple will be the best path. I am not averse to this.

      The thin libertarian's definition of property might be too thin, unworkable. It is certainly a weapon held against thin libertarians (and classical liberals). Using this thin definition of property, libertarians have no defense solely via the NAP.

      Can you argue otherwise?

    13. The temple was Jesus' house. It belonged to Him. So He was within His rights to throw them out. That's how I look at it.

    14. "The temple was Jesus' house."

      As is this world. So, having put on the armor of God ... well, two plus two and all that.

    15. Thin libertarianism cannot even define what the NAP means apart from culture and tradition.

      What is consent? What is the age of consent? What constitutes use of property? Abuse? Confinement? Nuisance? Destruction? What constitutes a credible threat? An imminent one? What about property? What are the limits of original appropriation? These are all concepts which cannot be objectively defined by thin armchair libertarians, and yet they are of paramount importance to any well functioning political order. To define all of these requires culture and tradition.

      As many are probably tired of me saying, the libertarian philosophy is the skeleton of a good and just society (it provides rigidity in times of stress and strain), but without the flesh and blood of culture and tradition, and I would argue the soul of religion, you have only a pile of useless and lifeless bones. The natural law ties the NAP, culture, tradition, and religion together in one cohesive whole, binding the past and the future together in the present, but allowing for marginal and prudential corrections of past errors towards a better future.

    16. ATL, I do not grow tired of any of your comments. I especially appreciate your second paragraph, a reminder of some of the earliest questions I had when considering the necessity of culture and tradition as providing a framework within which the NAP can function.

      The fallback for the armchair libertarians is "continuum." Like we know the extremes of what's in and what's out, but the stuff in the middle is tough.

      But it is in the middle where we all live, and all the theorizing in the world will not give us objective answers to such questions.

    17. The world belongs to God. You are not God. The world doesn't belong to you. God has allowed each of us the right to carve out a piece of this world for ourselves. What someone else has carved out is theirs, not yours.

      The NAP simply means that we may not INITIATE force against other people. It's not the be all and end all of libertarianism. But, if we are to remain as libertarians, we cannot violate that rule. If you violate the NAP then you cease to be a libertarian.

    18. ATL,

      To add to your list.

      What is self-defense and protection of one's rights and property? Is it evasive? Violent? Pacifist? Do we have to wait until someone aggressively assaults us before we begin to mount a counter-attack or would the knowledge of a credible threat be sufficient? Was Vladimir Putin justified in invading Ukraine because he heard and believed that it might be attempting to procure nuclear weapons?


      Solzhenitsyn said that the line between good and evil runs through every human heart. Likewise, there is a very thin line between initiating force against other people and taking action to defend yourself. At some point in everyone's life, assault and force have been used against them. Can you explain where the tipping point is?

    19. Anon,

      The NAP is the end-all be-all of libertarianism, but libertarianism cannot be our sole philosophy in life. It was only ever meant to apply to a small facet of our lives in community with one another, that which involves the use of force or coercion.

      We as libertarians must necessarily be something else too. We must have principles outside and indeed above the NAP in order to promote a culture which will achieve and maintain liberty. The NAP is the lowest bar of ethics, but a healthy society needs high bars too. Both Rothbard and Hoppe understood(stand) this. It's high time the 'modal' or typical libertarian understood this as well.

      "If you violate the NAP then you cease to be a libertarian."

      In this world of democratic aggression, the barrel of the gun which does damage to us and our families is shrouded in a mist behind the secret ballot box and behind hundreds of years of propaganda and cultural poisoning. How can we defend ourselves against this sort of nebulous threat? It is not just the government which aggresses upon us, but the masses of people also who vote for its expansion of power and prerogative. How are we to respond to them, if not in kind, i.e. democracy?

    20. Roger,

      Yes, and I'm sure there are many more examples. In the real free world to come (outside Theorylandria), judges, defense, and security professionals will have to sort out these issues, and the market for governance will decide more or less where the lines are drawn. A mix of culture, tradition, principle, religion, and prudence will dictate no doubt.

    21. How can we defend ourselves against this sort of nebulous threat? Not by violating the NAP. If there is a legitimate threat then you are not violating the NAP if you defend yourself. How is someone engaging in consensual interactions on their own property a threat to you? Yet that's what Bionic seems to imply in his article.

    22. Roger, just because we can't all agree on exactly what constitutes initiating force does not mean that we should abandon the idea of its impermissibility for a civilized society.

    23. Anon, this is precisely the issue. I don't abandon the idea that initiating force is impermissible. The entire question rests on this point: when can it be considered that someone initiated force such that it is permissible for me to then respond with force?

      Of course, the other questions raised by Roger and ATL also remain at issue. Nothing in the NAP answers or defines any of these.

      You cannot protect the value of the NAP by the value of the NAP. The NAP answers almost none of the questions raised. It is built on something, a set of objective values that are necessary for the value of the NAP to thrive.

      Read the Rothbard quote in the post again. He wrote this over 60 years ago, and too many libertarians still don't get it.

    24. Answer me this, Bionic, if you will. What do you do if you encounter someone and the two of you honestly can't agree on the rules? Do you fight it out and the strongest rules over the weakest? Or do you go your separate ways? Which of those would be your preference?

    25. Anonymous, thank you for entering the fray. It is good to sharpen swords with each other.

      The NAP, while laudable and something to work toward, in the end is nothing more than a rule created by which people should live. As such, in order for it to work, it must be forcefully imposed on those who are unwilling to live that way, which imposition is a contradiction of the concept itself. Adherence to the NAP cannot be made mandatory or it is no longer the NAP. It must be practiced in a voluntary manner. All that can be done by law is to enforce penalties against violations of it.

      This means that adherence to the NAP becomes a matter of personal choice--morally, socially, and culturally. It is not one of law. Therefore, while it may not be admissible to prohibit someone from performing sex orgies on their front lawn in full view of God and neighbors, it is certainly right and proper that these things should not happen, and ultimately, the "governing" criteria for what should not happen falls on society at large in which an individual's behavior is curtailed, restricted, and regulated in some way. History is full of instances where this has occurred and it is inevitable that will continue.

      "All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful. All things are lawful for me, but not all things edify." (1 Corinthians 10:23)

      This statement on its own, even outside the Christian religion, has an undeniable truth. We simply do not do some things because they are not helpful. Over the course of thousands of years of humanity, we have learned what does and what does not work. The problem is that we are not willing to take those lessons to heart and live by them, but have to repeat them over and over again.

      If you love your neighbor as you love yourself, you will do nothing to harm him, even if it means that you have to take your passion inside your home...and close the curtains.

    26. Bionic, I want to apologize for suggesting that you were going off the deep end. That was uncalled for. It's a mistake that I make more often than I should.


    27. Anon, it really depends on the specific rule we cannot agree upon. This I can decide without agreement from the person with which I have a dispute. How important is that rule to me?

      It also depends on if I believe fighting it out is a better short-term and long-term option for me and those I care about. Of course, I can decide to not fight it out, but the other guy might not agree. But then I guess I am not violating the NAP as he started the fight. Even here, I may choose not to fight back, as the consequences of fighting back are worse than living with the rule with which I disagree.

      Most importantly, and not at all in my control, it also depends on if the person I disagree with would willingly and peacefully allow me to go my separate way. Just because I chant NAP all day, doesn't mean he will.

      You have asked a question that, in fact, describes the world we live in. I live with many rules with which I do not agree. Thus far, I have chosen to fight it out only via stretching the rules within legal limits and only via writing at this blog and supporting others who also fight against these rules with which I disagree.

      However, in this world that we live in, the other guy won’t allow me to merely go my separate way. Do I physically fight it out with this enemy? I have not yet found an issue where martyrdom is worth the cause. Someday, this could change.

      Now, how does chanting NAP, NAP, NAP, convince him to allow me this simple liberty of going my separate way? It doesn’t. He doesn’t live under the principle of the NAP. He doesn’t care. Roger, immediately above, explains why this is actually important – that the value of the NAP doesn’t have the tools to defend the value of the NAP. Which was the point of this post all along.

      It is the issue you have not addressed, and continue to ignore.

    28. Anon,

      See Bionic's statement below.

      "when can it be considered that someone initiated force such that it is permissible for me to then respond with force?"

      Say that we live in a corrupt democratic two-party republic like the one we have now, with one party pushing welfare goodies and extreme centralization of power (the liberal party), and the other marginally less bad and more interested in returning to a limited constitutional form of government (the conservative party). If mass immigration, legal or illegal, is benefitting the former over the latter at the ballot box and is large enough to cause a substantial demographic shift in the next several years, what are we authorized to do about this via the NAP?

      The immigrants, as a group, have shown a strong demonstrated preference for the liberal party, and this means further support for increasing depredations of the hapless taxpayer and further violations of the NAP by the state upon the citizenry. But any given individual immigrant or family has not committed any crime against the NAP. Come election day, however, it is assured by group demonstrated preference, that they will vote for an increasingly despotic state. So what then is the libertarian to do about this great potential of increasing aggression? Nothing?

    29. Roger,

      "As such, in order for it to work, it must be forcefully imposed on those who are unwilling to live that way, which imposition is a contradiction of the concept itself."

      If I may disagree with you a bit, I would say that you can certainly force the NAP on someone without their consent, and it is 100% NAP compliant. For instance, a man attacks a woman in an alley. I see this, and I am armed. It appears he intends to do more than simply rob her. I run over and tell him to get off of her. He stands up and pulls a gun on me, but two rounds from my gun are already burrowed through his chest. I have just enforced the NAP. Similarly, a man comes to my property and says he wants to take it from me and threatens the safety of my family if I do not yield to his demands. He also wants to take the land of my neighbors. We band together and drive this man out of town or kill him. NAP enforced.

      Last example. We live in a private law confederation. The NAP is abided by all but criminals, but there are many voluntarily accepted positive laws in the various private law associations in the confederacy. Let's call this "NAP+". A group of men and women are forming an underground democratic and/or communist movement and intend a revolution of this order of polycentric NAP+ compliant liberty. The various private defense companies band together and throw these bums out of the territory, and they are effectively excommunicated for life by all associations in the confederacy. NAP enforced.

      In all these examples, the NAP was not violated by the defensive actions, because in each case the one receiving force had already negated their own rights by either aggressing upon another or credibly threatening to.

    30. Bionic, the NAP, by itself, is not sufficient to sustain liberty, and I've NEVER claimed that it is. But the NAP is necessary to sustain liberty. It's just not the only thing that is necessary. Forcefully defending yourself or someone else against a threat, like the example ATL gives in his comment above, is not violating the NAP, it is upholding the NAP. It's preventing an aggressor from initiating force against an innocent person. Why is that so difficult to understand?

    31. The question you continue to ignore, the question begged by the opening quote of this post, which I have directed you to more than once: what upholds the NAP?

      Further, the NAP is meaningless without a framework for defining the terms necessary to apply the NAP. And these cannot be derived via the NAP, and these can be understood differently in different places, in different times, in different contexts.

      Further still, if one is confronted by a situation where another is peacefully destroying that which is necessary to uphold the NAP, the NAP as thinly understood offers no means by which to stop this destruction.

      In such a scenario, if there is no means via the NAP to stop this destruction, might those desirous of liberty be free to use violent means to ensure that liberty is preserved (throw the bums out)?

      If not...there is no hope for liberty.

      Why is that so difficult to understand?

    32. You said the we have found that in order to defend such principles (I take that to mean liberty) we must violate the non-aggression principle. That's my issue. No, we must not violate the non-aggression principle. We must uphold the non-aggression principle. Without the non-aggression principle there is no liberty.

    33. ATL,

      I appreciate your comment but your hypothetical scenarios do not convince me because once violence/force/aggression is introduced, whether defensive or not, the whole situation has changed.

      Boiled down to its most basic element (as I understand it), the NAP simply forbids the initiation of aggression (in all its various forms) by any individual against any other. This means that no one can take action in the way you have described above and still be 100% true to the spirit of the NAP. Once such action HAS been taken, we are no longer living under the aegis of the NAP, but something completely different, known as self-defense and/or criminal justice, respectively applied toward an attack against oneself and/or an attack against another.

      Technically speaking, the very thin line of the NAP is entirely negative, or as Bionic has described it so many times, "Don't hit first, don't take my stuff." Beyond this, it is aggression, which may be justified as self-defense or justice, and in that light, your hypotheticals have some validity.

      There is only one way for the NAP to work perfectly and this has also been addressed here numerous times. " your neighbor as yourself." Until and unless everyone, everywhere, lives under this guideline and "...does not work any ill toward his neighbor..." (Romans 13:10), there will be a need to use imposed force to comply with the NAP, and as I have mentioned, this is outside the bounds of the NAP, thus contradicting it.

      I do not belittle the NAP, however, it is nothing more than a rewording of the scriptures quoted and must be adhered to just as a purely voluntary manner. At the very heart of the NAP and liberty is the core concept--love. Love of God, of yourself, of your neighbor. The NAP and liberty cannot exist without it.

    34. Anon,

      "We must uphold the non-aggression principle. Without the non-aggression principle there is no liberty."

      Let's not force the perfect to be the enemy of the good. I would certainly prefer no one violate the NAP or degrade the cultural foundations of it. But that's not the reality will live in. Continuing aggression and degradation is aimed at us through the apparatus of the state everyday and shows no signs of slowing down, let alone disappearing. And it isn't just the elected state officials and the bureaucrats; it's also the tens of millions of people who support them and their aggressive and degrading policies.

      In light of this situation, I think it is okay to support people who represent only a lesser potential for violating the NAP and degrading the culture. This does not mean we are abandoning the NAP and liberty. It means that we are looking to achieve real steps towards liberty in the real world.

    35. "Boiled down to its most basic element (as I understand it), the NAP simply forbids the initiation of aggression (in all its various forms)..."

      It forbids the initiation (or introduction) of force, violence, and coercion. Here is where the confusion of terms creates such an important obstacle towards agreement of even like-minded individuals. Aggression has a very specific meaning in the philosophy of libertarianism. Libertarians did not change the definition, but they did refine it in light of their view of the inviolability of person and property.

      Aggression, to the libertarian, is defined as the initiation of (or 'first') force/violence/coercion. So, force, violence, and coercion are not bad per se, but only if they are employed to invade rights rather than to defend or reclaim them. If force/violence/coercion is applied aggressively, i.e. it is introduced into a peaceful situation, then it is not justified. To the libertarian it matters who hit who first or who took what first. For instance, you see a man take another's watch, so you tackle and force him to submit the watch back to the other man, but it turns out that the watch was rightfully his (he was only reclaiming it from the thief), and now you have committed aggression against him too. Questioning who did what first in the real world can get complicated, but the truth is important.

      We all have force/violence/coercion as a legitimate tool in our toolbox, but as with any tool, it is how we use it that defines whether our behavior is right and just or not. If we introduce this tool into a peaceful community, then we have committed aggression; if the community responds to us in kind, they have not.

      "This means that no one can take action in the way you have described above and still be 100% true to the spirit of the NAP."

      The NAP authorizes self-defense via force, violence, and coercion if necessary, as mentioned above, but a confederacy of private law associations or private states will likely have a variety of laws which will dictate what level of, and under what conditions, force/violence/coercion is authorized by its members. Whether the defensive or reclamatory force is carried out by the individual wronged or his law association's authorized security force, the underlying principle remains. For instance, it may be lawful in a particular private law association to respond with violence at the moment the aggression occurs, but afterwards, the PLA may require a trial before any stolen property is forcefully restored or any retributive justice is exacted and an authorized agency to carry out these actions.

      "At the very heart of the NAP and liberty is the core concept--love. Love of God, of yourself, of your neighbor. The NAP and liberty cannot exist without it."

      It will certainly take a critical mass that believe and behave precisely in this manner to make it happen. 100%. Amen brother.

      "That great political idea, sanctifying freedom and consecrating it to God, teaching men to treasure the liberties of others as their own, and to defend them for the love of justice and charity, more than as a claim of right, has been the soul of what is great and good in the progress of the last two hundred years." - Lord Acton

  4. I fail to understand why a defense of Liberty is a violation of the NAP.

    And supposing it is not a violation of the NAP, am I limited in the ways which I can defend Liberty?

    To me, Those that haven't come to the conclusion that we have to throw the bums out are still caught in the idea that Liberty is simply falling out of favor rather than being brutally murdered.

    Children. Yup. For example the Mises Caucus... still thinking that, one, they can wrest away the mechanisms of tyranny from government, and two, once they have been allowed behind the curtain... they can change things from the inside. Pfft.

    I've watched the slow deterioration of Liberty for 25 years.... and my elders even lo ger than that. And now I'm watching the whole world go mad.

    Philosophize and try to keep some moral high ground all you want but tyranny has never been defeated without aggression. Ever.

    Time to stop thinking about fighting for Liberty, and start thinking about fighting tyranny. There is an important distinction in that which will adjust your tactics and thinking appropriately.

    1. "Time to stop thinking about fighting for Liberty, and start thinking about fighting tyranny. "

      But this is what I am doing. The way I choose to do it is morally, but not solely via the ethic of the non-aggression principle.

      "...tyranny has never been defeated without aggression. Ever."

      Ever? I seem to recall at least one time that it was so defeated, right around 2000 years ago. Perhaps the most comprehensive defeat of tyranny ever. It is by reviving just this that it will be defeated again.

    2. Joe,

      "I fail to understand why a defense of Liberty is a violation of the NAP"

      Fighting back against the government taking our guns, imprisoning us, taxing us against our will, shuttering our businesses, and other such blatant aggression is easy to justify with regard to the NAP, you are right, though such action must be tempered by prudence, i.e. don't wage an unwinnable war and get your allies killed or imprisoned.

      But some of the most egregious harm done by the state is more nuanced and difficult to oppose on NAP grounds alone. Here I am speaking to the state's poisoning of culture and religion. Feminism, Sexual Revolution, LGBTQ proliferation, critical race theory, environmental alarmism, etc. All these are cultural degradations, but they all have predictable political consequences: centralization and consolidation of state power. As cultural strength wanes, state power waxes, especially in a democracy.

      The question is can we fight back against the cultural rot, the real disease, or as libertarians, are we forced to restrict ourselves to opposing the consequences, only treating the symptoms? If the answer is the latter, I fear it will be a losing battle. As libertarians we neglect the paramount role of culture (and religion) at the peril of liberty.

      Since the aggression committed against us for generations and still aimed at us and our children into the future is accomplished democratically via means of the state, it is NAP kosher, in this libertarian's judgement, to fight back in kind. Such a strategy could go off the rails and wind up creating worse tyranny, and so the end goal of a voluntary private law association should always be kept in view. With every measure, we should think, "are we getting closer to that goal or further away?"

      It is clear that supporting 'thin libertarianism' gets us further away every day.

    3. Thank you, ATL, for this comment.

      I also thank you for pointing out to me on this blog some years back the folly of "voting." Peg

    4. Peg,

      Let me modify my views on voting a bit. Maybe they have changed since my last statement you referenced.

      I'm convinced that in our current situation, voting our way out of this mess is the least bad alternative, but voting on the national level (and in many cities on the local level) is a crap shoot. Clearly there were some shenanigans in the 2020 election, and I'm sure this sort of vote rigging has perhaps always been with us in the major Dem controlled cited. Apart from blatant election fraud, there is the powerful propaganda arm of the deep state, with its fingers in entertainment, the press, academia, and government, which convinces the masses that any unapproved candidates with potential for mass appeal are "The Next Hitler."

      Voting can be effective, however, for local referendums on independence and for voting in local authorities who will resist the central state encroachments on our traditional freedoms and perhaps restore some that have been taken away. Given our two party system dominance, it is essential to commandeer one of the major parties and voting in primaries is key. I would be much happier if new regional parties emerged, like the American Southern Party or the Middle American Party, both this would only work with mass disaffection of Republicans, Libertarians, and Independents in these areas.

      This is not to legitimize democracy, but to realize our situation. If we are forced to play this game, we might as well play to win. And should we win, we'll need the principle and courage to bring about pockets of liberty.

    5. ATL, I would say all the cultural rot involves stealing our wealth in some form or violating our natural rights. Therefore any violence against the state at this point is defensive in nature. The question at this point is what is prudent and what is winnable.

    6. ATL, Some years back I had commented on this site that I would cheerfully give up my right to vote if all other women were also deprived of the franchise.

      You replied by saying something to the effect that my suggestion was all very well and good, and instead put forward the idea that not just women, but no one, should have the vote; voting as currently understood being two wolves and a sheep voting on what to eat for dinner. Rather, you said people should “vote” their preferences simply by how they choose to spend their personal monies.

      I thought it a sound idea. Of course, getting from here to there is the rub. I’m trying to stay hopeful around what is happening in this country, hoping for a backlash, but it’s not encouraging. Peg

    7. Voting is nothing more than choosing whose hand holds the club with which you are beaten.

      It is interesting that this issue cropped up in a discussion about aggression and the use of it against others. Voting can be (or not, depending on the circumstances) seen as an act of aggression. If you vote for any person or policy which promotes the idea that someone else has something which should be taken away from them via the use of force, implied or literal, then it can be argued that you have committed aggression against them. This is a logical argument.

      There are two reasons why people vote--greed and fear, which boil down into a desire for control of circumstances and, ultimately, other people. Voting is a proxy means of controlling others and is therefore, at least potentially, aggression.

      Last fall, in the space of two months, I wrote and posted three articles which addressed this very issue, trying to explain my position more fully. You can see them at these links.

      How do you defend yourself against someone voting aggressively? In a system which worships the idea that everyone's voice MUST be considered equally, that defense is not possible. The only way to win is to not play the game at all.

    8. RMB,

      Mostly agreed. Though sometimes the violence is committed by groups and obscured through political machinations so the blame is diffuse and most don't perceive it as violence. For instance: politics funds universities... universities push gender ideologies... new teachers graduating from these universities push gender ideologies on your kids. Also: politics enriches corrupt elite with monopoly currency inflation... corrupt elite buys local judges... local judges approve teacher's right to push gender ideology on your kids.

      The origin of the cultural rot is political, or at least politics acts as an accelerant to cultural rot, but at this point simply withdrawing public funds from the universities may not solve the problem, as welcome as that would be. But what about the current crop of children being subjected to gender ideology and other inanities? My solution? Take over local politics (within the rules of the game), and restore order even if it's only little islands of sanity in a sea of the insane. Still, no easy task.

    9. Peg,

      Okay I still affirm that, but that is sort of my 'button-pushing' fantasy from Theorylandria. Nobody should have a right to vote under the current political regime, but as a strategy voting can be useful, especially for restoring order locally. For instance, if a referendum came up on an election for Texas independence, you better believe I'd be organizing or at least avidly supporting a campaign to get every man and woman out to vote to secede. Lol

  5. Welcome to the fight on the side of traditional values.

    There can be no liberty, no freedom, without virtues, without individuals operating with the virtues as outlined in the Torah.

    When there are no standards to live up to, a civilization falls apart. It is that simple. When anything goes, the civilization goes.

    1. Welcome? Spend some time in the "Key Links" tab at the top of the page. I am not new to this fight.

    2. Your Torah or your Bible or your religious beliefs have nothing to do with the laws that govern all of us, Laura.

    3. Anon, you really don't know anything of history, do you.

  6. With respect; When did "eye for eye/tooth for tooth" cease to be a principal? Without consequences there can be no law but merely chaos. What am I missing?


  7. "Argue from history," is a nice demand/rule to invoke, when you believe History has favored your position, not without evidence. I would point out that the evils you describe, the forced jabs and data collection, are not evils "ruled out by Christian faith or doctrine," and history is full of examples of Christian people behaving atrociously with the support of their society, and more importantly, their political government institution. Governance, "the rules" about association and non-association that every society has, (thin libertines notwithstanding) defines a society and distinguishes one society from another. If the governance of a society comes to prescribe a forced association or forced non-association one finds odious, there isn't much the individual can do that will change that, especially when political government monopolizes a society's governance. The evils you describe, admittedly aided and abetted by "private corporations," would not be nearly so ubiquitous and uniformly oppressive without a less accountable political government body demanding these policies and supporting these "private companies" that it creates and props up. Christianity has, historically not forbidden the believer from participating in governance by politics (association or non-association dictated by force or manipulation) so I find it difficult to credit your claim that Christianity is an effective prophylactic against bad governance. In a market, where one cannot use the army and police to dragoon one's customers, there is much more sensitivity to "consumer feedback." I would also point out that History is full of Christian governments behaving egregiously. Christian theology itself tells us that God does not magically vouchsafe his own believer's good behavior (which is, in a way, pretty convenient for proselytizers).
    Lastly, let's see what happens. It's all well and good to appeal to the history already written and prophesize about or explain the prevalence of ones own preferred governance structure, but the History which counts, going forward, is the one being written in the present. From where we stand right now, by your own admission, that history is not looking so good for the Christian religion. If you argue that the success of the Christian religion is not driven by the inevitability of Divine Law, but rather rooted in the fidelity of the belief of the people, then I would say that you're appealing not to God but to the market for an explanation.

    1. Count, in every society, every culture, every religion, one will find violations of the NAP, along with hypocrisy and the like.

      They all have warts, but only one has given us a foundation for liberty. That is Christianity as it came to evolve and develop in the West. The reasons why are numerous, and I have written extensively on this. If you are serious about considering this, I will give you links for a few key articles.

  8. Per usual, Dr. Hoppe is useful again in this discussion. The ownership of private property, truly private property, involves the right to discriminate, no? So, a Zoroastrian landlord has the right to deny a lease to non-Zoroastrians. And, if enough Zoroastrian landlords get together, in a NAP based wider society, they could collaborate in setting up a Zoroastrian proprietary community, renting or selling land only to members of the faith. The Zoroastrian business owner could employ only members of the faith. Nothing in the broader NAP society would prohibit Objectivists from founding similar communities, whose membership might only be open to Objectivists. The rocket engineering genius, Jack Parsons, owned an eleven bedroom mansion in Pasadena, which rooms he rented only to atheists. Now living in a Zoroastrian proprietary community might entail things like restriction in diet, foreign to citizens of a purely secular community: no beef or pork would be permitted (see J S Mill, On Liberty, chapter 4). Strip clubs might be prohibited in this community. But some such restrictions on life styles are to be expected in a society that is grounded on property rights, i.e., on the right to discriminate whom you will have as a guest, an employee, a tenant. These proprietary could, probably would, have commercial exchanges, trade, between them. Dr. Hoppe in the last chapter of Democracy the God that Failed, indicates how a legal framework might be set up to govern the interactions of such communities: between, say, those observing common law and those based upon Sharia.
    Benjamin Tucker was an early American proponent, I believe, of the contractual proprietary community (the Gand society I mentioned earlier sounds much like what Tucker was advocating). The most comprehensive thinking on the subject is Spencer Heath, Citadel, Market, and Altar. Murray Rothbard was a great fan of Mr. Hesath.

    1. Thank you Deacon Patrick. That is an interesting book reference; I will have to look into that.

      "But some such restrictions on life styles are to be expected in a society that is grounded on property rights"

      Agreed. I would argue that many more restrictions would happen naturally and justly in a free society grounded on the inviolability of person and property than do occur now under the public monopoly state. In a certain way the state paves away these social restrictions in a ploy to liberate the masses from this sort of social 'oppression' that typically emanates from a local natural aristocracy, meanwhile subjecting the masses to a worse form of irresponsible concentrated power. It's a classic Faustian bargain. You get your license to act with immorality and not be banished from the community, but it comes at the cost of erecting a machinery of power and corruption accountable to none which has a de facto (if not de jure) license to harm all to some extent and some to the greatest extent imaginable.

  9. Of all of your blog posts pursuing this line of thought this is your best yet.

    For Americans it can be a struggle to pinpoint the starting point of the decline of our society’s foundations. Many people pick the beginning of the progressive era (1880’s) or the sexual revolution (1960’s) however, I think Gary North and Murray Rothbard were correct when they both identified the constitutional convention and it’s ultimate ratification as the starting point (1786-1791).

    It was a coup. A successful coup. Gary in particular identified the most important aspect, Madison’s greatest victory, the removal of religious test oaths from being a requirement to hold federal office which eventually spread to the state level. Until it is a requirement of serving in civil government to swear and oath to the trinitarian God of the Bible the covenant breakers will continue to have most of the success.

    “…there is no neutrality, and that any attempt to achieve it in covenantal affairs inevitably winds up favoring covenant-breakers in their active pursuit of God-defying agendas. This is what happened to the constitution, as I argued in 1989 and I argue here. The myth of neutrality is a myth, and every attempt to implement it judicially works to undermine the kingdom of God.” pg xxvii Conspiracy in Philidelphia

    “You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the Lord’s table and of the table of demons. Or do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than He? All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify. Let no one seek his own, but each one the other’s well-being.”
    ‭‭I Corinthians‬ ‭10‬:‭21‬-‭24‬ ‭NIV

    1. I have written a few posts based on a book by Merrill Jensen, where he examines the history of the US during the time under the Articles of Confederation (you can find these in the Bibliography tab at the top of the page).

      One of the biggest factors for the success of the leviathan we live under is that the new Constitution gave the federal government an independent taxing authority, whereas under the Articles, the federal government had to request funding from the states.

    2. Dr. Jensen's book is a solid correction of the unjust maligned view of the Articles of Confederation put forth in the standard history book. I suspect that even the Articles were a step in the direction of centralization, so I began to research the form of governance under the Continental Congresses. The best take on this, in my opinion, is Rothbard's Conceived in Liberty.
      Fly it up the flag pole and see if anybody salutes: my envisioned title for the Red States' s association after the Great Separation: The Federated Republics of North America. Why the term "state" replaced "colony" needs investigation. "Republic" has classical roots, and, I think, better expresses the independence of the political entities within the confederation.

  10. I smiled at Douglas Wilson's summation of J6: "It was a large number of sheep without a shepherd deciding to mount an incursion into a den of wolves."

  11. I just received this from Vox Day and I believe it relates to your topic:

    Atheism corresponds to an empty ecological niche. It is basically an all-bets-are-off situation. Remove the mortar, and all you have is a heap of individual bricks, which will collapse at the slightest push. An Atheist society cannot endure setbacks or violent challenges, while religious can.

    And KGB knew all this. It did not know of memetics, but it knew of “cultural hegemony” by Antonio Gramsci, and it knew religion was the only force which could turn the Communist subversion back and restore the citizen society. This was the reason why anti-religious work was so important in the ideological warfare of the Communist world against the free world. By rottening the religion from inside, USSR aimed for the collapse of the free world. And it was a success beyond measure. But the irony of history is that USSR collapsed first.

    There is also a fourth way to confirm these observations. Religions do not spread by conversion. They spread by breeding. Remember Polybios observed that widespread Atheism goes hand in hand with collapsing birth rates?

    This is exactly what is happening in the Western world today.

    Read the rest at -

  12. The great philosopher Sir Karl Popper spoke in 1945 of the paradox of tolerance, saying "Unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance. If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them."

    And tolerance and apathy, as those who have read Plato will remember, are the last "virtues" of a dying civilization and society.

    The century-long march through the institutions of the West by the cultural marxists is now complete, and we are seeing the results of the destruction of the moral and ethical ecosystem of the West. And because so many people in the west are now unmoored to any permanent moral or ethical code of any kind, let alone religion, they find themselves unable and utterly ill-equipped to cope with the destruction.

    1. Funnily enough, Popper was George Soros's guiding light. This vision of "intolerance towards the intolerant" is supposedly what the latter's "open society foundation" is promoting.

      Turns out, it's not about the spectrum of tolerance & intolerance, but rather what exactly it is that you tolerate, and how much of it. But this requires objective criteria for good and bad - this pesky natural law that Bionic is always going on about - and that would be a no-no for a modernist at heart such as Popper!

  13. Say, Bionic, did you happen to see that "ARC" initiative by Jordan Peterson? The moment he said what the acronym stood for, I thought "oh boy, Bionic will facepalm SO hard at this he might break his nose!"

    Call me cynical, but this, I think, will mark the beginning of Peterson's decline. He's throwing his hat in the democratic politics ring, albeit indirectly, via the "think tank" route. He hasn't figured out that politics, and especially democratic politics, is an irredeemable snake pit, and now he's investing his credibility in it to try and "make a difference". What a waste.

    1. Cosmic, I did see something on this new Peterson initiative. First, to the positive (in my view): it will take an institution to stand up to the corrupt institutions that are driving society to the abyss. Peterson is taking a stab at this. Further, in and of itself I am OK with the idea of responsible citizenship. But, based on what value hierarchy, based on what norms, based on what objective truths?

      Which leads to my concerns: on what foundation is this new institute built? Peterson is trying his best to salvage the Enlightenment, and, as I recently wrote, he is one of those intellectuals too smart to believe the claims made about God and Jesus, but desirous of enough others to believe it such that society can function well.

      The Enlightenment killed God. Peterson understands this, but can’t walk through the door that is the obvious solution – and nothing about this institute or the people associated with it suggests that this effort will be any different.

      Further, about the people involved: Peterson’s judgment on this score is 50/50 at best. He interviewed a Kagan to get at what was happening in Ukraine; he interviewed Netanyahu to understand the truth about Israel. A quick glance at the list of those involved with ARC offer several from some of the most horrendous “prestige” universities, history gatekeepers, defense industry strategists, etc. Now, in each case, these individuals might be the exceptions that prove the rule, but….

      From what I can tell, ARC is built on a foundation of sand. Smart people getting together to do smart things, figure out smart solutions. I am reminded of something said by NT Wright: “To be an image-bearer is more than just behavior; otherwise, we put the knowledge of good and evil before the knowledge of God.”

      Unless smart people put the knowledge of God first, before their own knowledge, good will always lose to evil. I continue to be certain that unless the conversation returns to natural law and the objective truths on which it is built, all of this talk and these efforts will, at best, come to quiet death. At worst, just one more institution useful to those who wish to control us.

    2. The use of "Responsible Citizenship" in the name, I thought, was very telling. It is such a vague, non-threatening, uninspiring thing. And little wonder, since it was apparently chosen by commitee. Not a great start.

  14. Just go to the bible. All the answers are in the bible. And not the greek orthodox church.