THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 845, November 1, 2015
Attribute to L. Neil Smith's The Libertarian Enterprise
The problem—the ONLY problem—with the Zero Aggression Principle or the Non Aggression Principle is that people don't understand it.
People have become inured to government initiated force and accustomed to the government telling the people when it is acceptable to use force. They confuse "zero aggression" with "zero use of force". It's not the case and never was.
Both the ZAP and NAP prohibit the INITIATION of force. They don't prohibit it as a response to aggression. If a man points a gun at you, you are completely within ZAP and NAP to shoot him. You don't need to wait until he shoots you. You don't need to wait until he fires the gun. And you definitely don't have to try to run away.
Aggression—the initiation of force—happens when someone intentionally threatens someone and has the means to carry out that threat. The threat, whether verbal or by obvious actions, shows "will". The having the means to carry it out shows the ability. If someone tells you to go to hell, or threatens to condemn you there, that isn't a real threat. They have no ability to enforce such an edict. Thus there is no "aggression". If someone has a gun on them, but doesn't make a move towards you or verbally threaten you then they have not shown a "will" to harm you and there is no "aggression".
Accidents are not aggression. If someone is cutting a tree on their property and it falls on your house, it's not aggression. There is liability for the damage of course, but there was no "intent". That goes whether it's a falling tree, or a car accident, or a case of food poisoning.
I suggest that we address the core problem: The understanding. It's sad that we have to dumb down a message, but the latest generations have not been taught as well as prior ones. Change ZAP and NAP to ZIF (Zero Initiation of Force) or NIF (No Initiation of Force). It's easier to understand yet means the same thing.
Afterwards, we still have a long road ahead of us to teach people what that means when it comes to interactions between nations. But there is more hope there than we give credit for. With current precision munitions and drones, the US public is not willing to accept the kind of wholesale war against a civilian population that became commonplace during WWII. They may shrug off casualties due to wrong intelligence, errors in targeting or decisions of whether to strike at a terrorist while they are in the midst of innocents. However they have shown an unwillingness to accept the kind of "firebomb the whole city" approach that was used during WWII. That shows a glimmer of hope.
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