“Equality” and the “A Word” 

“Should individuals be denied their rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness simply because they are different looking than you?”

There is not much to say about the Women’s March that hasn’t already been said, good or bad. Most of what I have seen from both sides has been vulgar and not worth listening to. I’ll get to that another post. 
What I will say now is that I completely agree with treating women with respect and honor and as equal to men in rights and protection under the law. I fully support the right of people to protest and speak out against abuse and aggression. I have no problem with speaking truth to power and making sure the underrepresented are represented properly in law and culture. 

Which is why I support the rights of the unborn.

So much has been said mocking the women marching around the world. So much bile has been spewed from their opponents, someone has to stand up and actually pick on a principle not just on people. 

These women are people, and people don’t deserve abuse. As opponents to their ideals,  we don’t need to make jokes about their weight. We don’t have to make sandwich jokes. We don’t have to mock their poorly spelled signs. We should be better than that. We should be mature enough to hit where it counts: right in the hypocrisy. 

They claim to be marching for equal rights. But are they? 

Access to abortion is not a “right”, it is a privilege. A right is something every human being is created with. A privilege is something bestowed by elites upon those they have power over. The privilege of abortion is only given to women, by lawmakers interested in keeping women voters in lock step. 

Men have no such privilege. This is hardly equality. These women are not honestly concerned with equality, they are interested in keeping their privilege. The politicians who grant them the privilege are not concerned about equality either, they just want votes.  

Abortion is not just a privilege that women have that men do not, it is a privilege they have over very very young people. I will refrain from using emotionally charged words like “baby” and I will simply call them what they are: people, persons, individuals. 

Far too many of these women are claiming they should have the privilege of murdering a specific group of individuals simply based on the age of those individuals. 

I have heard the arguments before: persons in the womb have no self-awareness. Neither does a sleeping person, or a person in a coma. We do not murder the comatose or sleeping and justify it by saying “they weren’t self aware so it was okay.” Why do we do this with pre-born people? Do we even know how self-aware they are? 

“Oh, but they aren’t really alive.” So you mean to tell me that two living cells came together and started multiplying into some sort of undead/unliving vampiric lump of tissue? This is what you consider a person before they escape the trappings of the womb? 

“Oh, but they aren’t people.” By all objective standards,  a fetus is an individual with unique human DNA and as they grow, miniature human organs. There is nothing unhuman about a person before they are born. They simply don’t look like adults. 

“Oh, but they are trespassing in the womb.” No. You put them there. You made a choice to create the circumstances where this person is now dependent on you for sustenance until they self-evict from the womb. 

Let’s say you owned a dock, opened it to the public, and kept it in disrepair. Let’s say someone fell off the dock and into the water. You have the ability to save them but you don’t. Instead you let them drown. Are you morally culpable?

Let’s say you actually pushed them into the water, then sat there and watched them drown. In both instances you would be culpable for murder, one count involuntary, the other voluntary. By your actions you put those people in positions of dependence on you. 

When a women places herself in a situation where she might get pregnant, by having sex, she is creating a circumstance where another person can come into existence. The individual who takes up residence inside of her was placed there by her actions. This is not trespass. This individual should not be punished for her actions. 

Yes, less than 1% to 3% (depending on who you ask) of abortions are performed on rape victims. Rape is a crime, it is a violation of the NAP, it is abhorrent and disgusting. There is a great amount of pain and vulnerability involved in rape, more than I, as a man,  could ever understand. 

I do not claim that women who have been raped are in any way culpable for their rape. I don’t care what she is wearing, I don’t even really care if she was drunk. She is a victim and is not morally culpable or responsible for the life that is within her.

However, the person in the womb is not responsible for the rape either. The death penalty should not be carried out on an innocent party.

In the case of a woman pregnant by rape, the rapist is the party responsible for the individual in the womb. The rapist should be made to pay all medical expenses, the cost of the delivery, and the entire cost of adopting the child out. They should pay further restitution to the rape victim and the child up to a limit determined by a judge. 

“But it’s my body, my choice.” Yes, you have ownership of your body, but they too, have ownership of theirs. You do not have the right to treat them as property for your disposal any more than a man should have the right to treat women as property at his disposal.

If you feel that somehow your age gives you some sort of privilege over the unborn, you are no better the chauvinist pigs who feel their sex gives them privilege over women. 

Those who support the privilege of murdering the inconvenient are no better morally speaking than those who supported keeping slavery legal. 

Slavery supporters in this nation used color as an excuse to deny rights to an entire class of individuals. Those who support keeping abortion legal use age and dependency as an excuse to deny rights to an entire class of individuals.

Women of the marches tell me this: should individuals be denied their rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness simply because they are different looking than you? 

If your answer is yes, than you are no better than the creeps you protest against. 

Killing and Dying 

The NAP has many conclusions, one such conclusion that I have come to is that there is very little in this world worth dying/killing for. Killing or dying for anything other than the true defense of another against harm is not worth it. 
To die “for honor” is often just a euphemism for dying for a narcissistic desire to be honored. To kill “in defense of our nation” is often just a euphemism for killing in the defense of the State and its interests. To abort a baby “to protect the life of the mother” is often just a euphemism for “we don’t want this baby” or “we aren’t willing to try to fight for both lives”. To kill in the name of justice is often just a euphemism for revenge. 

“Honor” is used a lot in our violence prone culture. All one has to do to in our culture to die “with honor” is to be a part of the military. 

This is not a knock against those who fight in true defense of their people or their property. I am not saying every soldier in the military is a sadistic baby killer who wants nothing but to kill innocents to fulfill a bloodlust. 

What I am saying is that a good soldier despises war and does not wish to rush into it hastily. Unfortunately, soldiers are dehumanized in training to minimize their sensitivity to killing. They are further brainwashed to believe that when they kill they are doing so in defense of the lives and liberties of all those people they know and love back home.  

Frankly, those people almost never have a connection to the country or government that our State is at war with. Their liberty is not at stake and their lives are not in danger. When soldiers are told they are “fighting for the liberty of those back home” it generally means they are fighting for the interests of the State and the cronies that fund the State. 

 A “good” mother wishes to protect the life of her child above her own. She will fight to keep that child alive at all costs, even the price of her own life. The instances where the life of a mother is truly in danger if the baby remains in utero are statistically nil and becoming rarer. In most of these circumstances the baby can be safely removed from the womb and placed in NICU. Most of the arguments used to defend the murder of unborn children boil down to laziness or ageism.

When one embraces the Non-Aggression Principle it becomes almost intolerable to listen to people defend the murder of innocents overseas and in the womb. 

In fact it becomes difficult to listen to the defense of any killing unless that killing is to protect life or property. 

I used to support the death penalty wholeheartedly. Now I see it as a tool of the State to get revenge on behalf of the victims. It is hard to support giving the power of execution to the very entity that sees no problem stealing your money and giving it out to others in exchange for votes. I won’t categorically say I oppose the death penalty. I support allowing the victims family to choose the just punishment after a judge has determined the crime. As Christians we should not be quick to call for bloodshed, even for the worst of criminals. 

Being pro-life means supporting the preservation of life at all stages. From conception to the grave, we should protect life to our fullest ability. This means we oppose abortion, we oppose unjust war, and we oppose the reckless use of the death penalty. 

Where The NAP Began

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So now that I have given an introduction to the NAP and a description of how the NAP applies to Libertarianism I should probably explain where the NAP comes from. To what does the NAP owe its existence? Where did I come to the conclusion that aggression is wrong? It would seem logical to assume I just did, right? Everyone knows aggression is wrong, correct? You would be surprised.

To me, the NAP is nothing more than a restatement and expansion of the Golden Rule, which is a simplification of the Natural Law science of justice. I do not want others to aggress against me so I should not aggress against others. If I desire to be free from coercion, should I coerce others? Logically, no. By extension, should I hire another agent to aggress in my stead? I don’t wish others to do so against me, so why should I support any system which monopolizes such agency?

Natural Law is law derived from the observation of the natural universe. Our most basic observations are of our own person. If I observe that I have a preference for the preservation of my life, my liberty, and the protection of my property, it is probably a safe bet that my neighbors do as well. However, we also observe man’s destructive nature. Many will use man’s natural gravitation towards aggression and inborn sin nature to say that the NAP cannot be arrived at through Natural Law.

When interpreting our observations and discerning natural laws one should worry less about an observation of what is, one should instead think about what ought. Simply because natural man is aggressive does not then imply that men ought to be. Again, we arrive at the Golden Rule. The Golden Rule does not tell us how we do act in our sinful nature but rather how we should act. We should treat others how we want to be treated ourselves.

Logically, one who does not like to be aggressed against should not be in favor of committing acts of aggression himself. When living by the Golden Rule it is irrational to treat others in a way which one would not like to be treated. The fact that man is so apt to do so is highly compelling evidence that man is in fact depraved.

But if man is depraved, isn’t his faculty for reason depraved as well? Man should not be able to arrive at the NAP simply by observation of the universe around him. Romans 1 says that the minds of men are darkened and futile. Just as some Christians disagree that we can know God through nature apart from Scripture (Presuppositionalists), some will use Romans 1 to say we cannot arrive at the NAP simply by natural perception or by rational thought apart from Divine intervention. As in a previous post of mine, a basic reading of Romans 18-22 makes this argument mute.

“18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. 21 For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.”

Man observes nature and self and understands the existence of God, as well as His attributes and nature. He knows God and understands His attributes just by virtue of being created in the image of God and in being able to observe the creation around him. He knows before he suppresses, he is perfectly able to discern, he just chooses out of his depravity to suppress the knowledge.

If we believe God created nature, does it not make sense to believe that God’s law is visible in it? God did not hide His attributes or character when He created the universe. He made both evident to man by imparting knowledge directly into man, and by giving man the faculty to observe creation. We are doubly without excuse when we deny God or His attributes.

We can discern injustice and justice with our senses, even if we suppress and deny what we observe and act unjust ourselves. We can observe that it does not feel right or pleasant to be aggressed against. We can logically conclude through observation that others feel what we feel and if we are empathetic we will not aggress against them.

Man is perfectly capable of understanding God’s law revealed in nature and in the imprinted “image” of God upon the mind of man. Because of this, man is able to arrive at the NAP through logical reasoning about his observations of justice and injustice in relation to himself.

“But Natural Man has a futile mind.”

Yes, but only because in his sinfulness he suppresses his knowledge of the truth. In a sense even the most aggressive war-monger understands the Golden Rule deep down inside.

We do not believe in utter depravity when it comes to man’s moral ability to do “good” deeds, we only say that man is “totally depraved”. By degree, man is capable of doing “good” even if only for wrong reasons. God’s universal grace prevents mankind from falling into utter depravity and the chaos that would result. Because of this grace, man is capable of grasping some truth and is not utterly darkened in his perceptive capacity or his faculty of reason.

Thus, it makes sense that would could arrive at the Non-Aggression Principle simply by observing the universe around him. Between the imprinted Law of God on his heart and his observation of others, he could rationally conclude that man ought not aggress against man.

Of course, I would be lying if I said I arrived at the NAP by my own observation, the terminology didn’t exist in my mind as a child or young adult. I only knew it as the Golden Rule. In a way presuppositional apologists got this one right. I started with Scripture and validated the NAP. But as I have demonstrated, it is perfectly possible to embrace the NAP through other avenues. The best thing about scripture is that nature validates scripture.

What’s This About a NAP?

For about 2 years now I’ve labeled myself politically as an anarcho-capitalist.

Most folks have never heard that label. Prior to that I called myself a more familiar label: libertarian. Looking back now I get the impression that I didn’t really know what a libertarian was back then. I just thought a libertarian was someone who valued liberty, and valued it more than the average run of the mill conservative. It wasn’t until I learned about the non-aggression principle and its broad applications that I fully understood what a “libertarian” is.

So, what is the Non-Aggression Principle or NAP? How should it be applied to society? Why am I an anarcho-capitalist and not just a libertarian?

Murray Rothbard defined the NAP this way in his essay War, Peace, and the State:

“No one may threaten or commit violence (‘aggress’) against another man’s person or property. Violence may be employed only against the man who commits such violence; that is, only defensively against the aggressive violence of another. In short, no violence may be employed against a nonaggressor. Here is the fundamental rule from which can be deduced the entire corpus of libertarian theory.”

In short the Non-Aggression Principle holds that no initiation of force is morally legitimate unless it is in response to another’s initiation of aggression or force. Any act of violence which is not self-defensive is an act of aggression, and aggression is morally wrong. Any act of coercion is also morally wrong. No one may coerce another with violence or threats of violence and maintain good moral character.

This is not controversial to most people or at least it should not be. Many Christians ask “Where do you find the NAP in the Bible?” To them I answer: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” And “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.”

To me the NAP is essentially a restatement of these laws as “Do not initiate force against others who have not initiated force against you.” And “Love your neighbor as you love yourself by not committing violence against them.”

Even that seems reasonable to most decent people, so what’s the big deal?

The controversy of the Non-Aggression Principle becomes evident when it is taken to its logical conclusion and applied outside the sphere of individual interaction.

According to the NAP, all coercion is immoral. All non-defensive force is immoral. If those two statements are held to be true and they are taken to their logical conclusion, how can we tolerate an individual or an entity holding a monopoly on aggression?  If the The State is nothing more than a coercive monopoly of aggression, how can we not rationally call for the abolition of the State? How can we support an entity whose entire purpose is to coerce society into following it?

Many answer these questions by assigning privileges and rights to the State that individuals do not have.

Is there some right or privilege inherent in the collective that the individual does not have? Do entities composed of individuals possess moral authority that the individuals do not? If the government derives its authority and power from the individuals under it can it have authority that the individuals themselves do not? More particularly, does it have the authority to aggress in violation of the NAP? Can government break moral axioms just because it is the State?

Leftists and Neoconservatives alike would have to say “yes” to those questions. If they disagree they would have to oppose the pre-emptive wars we are currently waging in the Middle East. They would have to oppose the violence inflicted on citizens through the theft known as taxation. They would have to oppose stringent regulations on the free market that aggress against the rights of producers and consumers. In order to support the State as it is, one has to assume the State has some higher moral authority than the individuals who give it its authority.

Old Right Conservatives and Libertarians would say “no” to the questions above. Old Right Conservatives more in foreign policy than elsewhere. Broad application of the NAP is what makes libertarianism different from other political ideologies. Within libertarianism, however, there is a great deal of infighting about just how far the NAP goes.

What makes a libertarian? In short, a libertarian is an individual who believes the Non-Aggression Principal to be axiomatic and strives to mold the political structure of society into a voluntaryist structure and not a coercive one.

Some who claim the libertarian mantle are nothing more than statists in practice. They want “freedom” but only at the point of a gun. These people are basically war-lords, concerned with protecting their own liberty and property, everyone else be damned. They have no problem with a monopolized entity of coercion as long as that entity is them.

Some neo-cons are notorious for calling themselves “libertarian” but neo-cons cannot hold to the NAP consistently. They may rightly oppose the aggression of the State against committers of victimless “crimes.” But when they also support the aggression of the State against foreign nations, not in self-defense, but as preemptive “security”, they violate the NAP and forfeit their privilege to use the label. Aggression is aggression, and it is all immoral under the Non-Aggression Principle. Fully realized, the NAP allows for no exceptions. Aggression of any sort is out. If we have to use the State to “enforce” freedom we are violating the NAP and are no longer worthy of the libertarian label.

There are also “libertarians” who are perfectly happy with the government extorting money to provide for the greater good. As long as government sticks to building roads and schooling children but stays out of the bedroom or the private lives of individuals, these people are perfectly content letting the State coercively take money from individuals to distribute it as it sees fit.

True libertarians fall into two camps, or somewhere between them. On one side you have the minarchists, those who believe in a small, limited government, given to the task of justice and defense. On the other you have anarchists, those who believe that no central authority is necessary for such things. What generally ties the two together is free-market capitalism. What distinguishes them has much to do with how they view the free markets ability to provide EVERYTHING as opposed to NEARLY everything.

I won’t insult minarchists and call them statists, but most of them have not taken the NAP to its rational conclusion. They still cling to the idea that one small entity needs to hold a monopoly on coercion in order to provide justice and defense. They still support the most coercive part of all societies.

While most minarchists I have met would like to uphold the NAP in all areas, most have never seen a private justice system or an effective private defense firm and for practical reasons believe some centralized entity must exist to provide them. They are pragmatists, which I can’t necessarily fault them for.

I however, am no pragmatist. I’ll cling to my principles even if no practical example of said principles exists. In order to maintain consistency, I will take the NAP to its logical conclusions, therefore, I am an anarchist. I believe the free market is capable of creatively providing all services and products known to man. It may be difficult to work out the logistics of some of these services (mostly because we are so used to them being monopolized) but it is certainly worth the effort if we are to be consistently moral people.

If all non-defensive force is immoral aggression, what should we do when an individual or an entity holds the monopoly on aggression? To me the answer is clear: we abolish that monopoly and replace it with a fully voluntary economic system. We become anarchists. This is the only consistent application of the NAP.

Before the NAP

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As I have stated before I grew up a conservative. This meant that I was pro-war, even when I was not entirely sure what the war was about. It didn’t seem to matter much, what mattered was “supporting the troops” and “being proud of my country.” Now, I’m not going to bash troops or be some kind of pinko commie, so cool your jets.

Some of my earliest memories of war was watching the CNN coverage of the first Gulf War. We watched endless coverage of green tinted night vision video of missiles being launched and things blowing up. We tied yellow ribbons around our trees and the antenna of the family minivan. We were proud of our soldiers and proud that our nation was at war.

As I got older, America always seemed at war, and with the exception of some of our involvement in Bosnia (that was a Clinton war) we always seemed to support it. When I watched the towers fall in 11th grade I felt the same desire to invade somewhere and take revenge as everyone else did that day. My college days were spent writing letters to the editor in support of invading this country or that and making bumper stickers that said “War for Oil? Who Doesn’t Want Cheap Gas?”

The only war I might have been opposed to was the Vietnam War, and that was only because my favorite singers were hippies. It’s hard not to sympathize with really good musicians. (Though shockingly I never became a pinko commie like them.)

Those are some embarrassing years for me.

I’m not entirely sure when I was introduced to the Non-Aggression Principle or NAP. It may have been a gradual change, it may have been after listening to one or two Tom Woods podcasts. I honestly don’t remember. All I know is that now I am totally on board with the NAP and because of that I don’t support offensive or pre-emptive wars anymore.

But it isn’t just aggressive war that I oppose, it’s all forms of aggression.

State aggression takes its form as taxation, the prosecution of victimless “crimes”, compulsory public education, business regulations, inflationary practices, et al.

Social aggression can be as subtle as racism, sexism, or other forms of bigotry. It can also be as obvious as rape or abortion.

The NAP even extends into my personal life and how I relate to all people, including my own children. I have learned to see people in a new light, much of the “Us v Them” attitude has gone out of my life. I no longer see people as one group or another, but as individuals deserving of at least my respect as humans. Even growing up I believed all human life had value, because every person is made in the image of God, but it seems I never had any problems with bombing them into oblivion. Now I see every person as a neighbor and potential economic ally.

Is the NAP biblical? Isn’t Anarchy just chaos? Doesn’t Romans 13 say we should have a government? Who would build muh roads? All of these questions and more I hope to answer over time.

There is a meme out there that says something along the lines of “I became a libertarian when I was introduced to the NAP, I became an anarchist when I realized there are no exceptions.” This is pretty much true for me.

In my next post I’ll explain the NAP and what it means to me.