lf-defense is one topic I have never been quite clear on. Granted, the basics are clear: one should be allowed to defend oneself against aggressors (I wouldn’t necessarily say that one should necessarily do so: after all, pacifists would disagree, so I’ll set that issue aside). The fuzziness starts when we examine exactly what we mean by aggressors. It is clear that a direct and immediate threat of force, or use of force, is aggression, but the line is not clearly defined.
I would like you to tell me what you think about the following hypotheticals. if I get enough answers, I will post the results on a future entry.
Is it self-defense to use force again someone who:
(1) has a gun trained on you and has hostile intentions.
(2) threatens to kill you (via a death threat, for instance), with the capacity to back it up.
(3) threatens to possibly kill you at a later date, with the capacity to back it up.
(4) threatens to possibly force you to kill someone else at a later date, with the capacity to back it up.
(5) is part of a social institution or system that implicitly threatens your life and that of others.
(6) is part of a social institution or system that implicitly and indirectly (or distally) threatens your life and that of others.
I started grappling with these issues with the Timothy McVeigh bombing. At the time I was not an Anarchist was despairing of ever finding a solution to politics. I thought violence was probably the only solution we had, and as such I could not get myself to argue against the bombing. Now it is obvious to me that violence is not the answer, but the issue of self-defense against the State is still an important one in my mind. We should not use violence, but we can be sure that some people will. Furthermore, in order to have a clear idea of the rights and freedoms of the individual, we should at least have a summary theory of self-defense. Here is another issue:
(7) When is vigilantism legitimate and when is it not?
Now this is a very vast issue, so I don’t expect precise replies. But I’d like to hear what you think.