Db0 on the NAP and why it’s useless…

Db0 discusses how the Non-Aggression Principle is really a shallow principle which only takes substance when coupled with a specific view on what is or is not acceptable in a given society. Because the capitalists couple NAP with “self-ownership,” their usage of the NAP becomes a tyrannical one.

While it’s easy to understand that someone “aggresses” when they steal something from another person (which is why most other moral systems do not require a NAP to label theft as wrong), things get pretty murky when one goes beyond that. Do I “initiate force” when I use a productive machine without paying rent? How about if I pay only enough rent to cover the cost of the machine? Do I “initiate force” when I toil the unused land that is owned by someone else? How about when I trespass?

This is further complicated by the claims of the NAP proponents that the NAP does not excuse any and all acts of self-defence but is rather limited by the level of aggression. We’re informed that it does not in fact, grant the right of shooting trespassers. But this again does not really clarify the matter. Whereas in literal aggression, one is always aware of the level the initiator is using (threats, shoving, punching, lethal weapons etc) and can respond in kind, in this extended field of aggression you’re left to comparing apples with oranges. What is the correct response to someone trespassing your property? Trespassing on their property? Forcibly taking them out? Threatening to shoot them and then follow through if they don’t comply? The truth of the matter is that unlike literal aggression, you cannot discover how you can respond in kind intuitively.

On the issue of “self-ownership,” see my entries Self-ownership is a meaningless concept and The confusion of self-ownership

5 thoughts on “Db0 on the NAP and why it’s useless…

  1. […] feel the same about people who denigrate the libertarian notions of self-ownership and the non-aggression principle. The alternative to my being a self-owner is […]

  2. JA November 24, 2010 at 11:49

    Having read the whole article, I will say that the author makes good points about the problems of the non aggression principle and of right-wing libertarianism generally, I would point out that the author’s argument are used by authoritarian leftists to argue for very different conclusions than the author. As problematic as some propertarian ideas are, if you don’t have any way of dealing with these questions and see all human relations as having exploitative components than the argument is that there must be a state composed of an elite to decide how to spread the coercion around. This article is a criticism of some of those attacks on right-wing libertarianism. http://www.lewrockwell.com/rozeff/rozeff166.html Yes it’s from an “evil” libertarian site, but it would be fallacious to automatically dismiss something because of it’s origin. I realize that db0’s views and yours are not the same as those lawyers, but I simply want to point out the pitfalls of criticizing propertarian ideas in isolation of presenting a better liberty oriented view.

    • Francois Tremblay November 24, 2010 at 16:42

      What do you mean, “criticizing propertarian ideas in isolation of presenting a better liberty oriented view.” Have you not read this blog?

  3. JA November 25, 2010 at 07:03

    What do you mean, “criticizing propertarian ideas in isolation of presenting a better liberty oriented view.” Have you not read this blog?

    I certainly have and have found some of your writings to be quite valuable. When it comes to this issue though, I have found (and this is true among many left-anarchists) a lack of clarity. Having read the article and the comments On Kinsella’s blog discussing this issue, what I have found is a lot of arguing about definitions. While the NAP and self-ownership may be flawed, the proponents are trying to establish some concrete principles for deciding on whether certain actions are permitted. The question I would ask is when do you think it is permissible to restrain someone from committing certain actions and what criteria do you use.

    The reason that I ask that is because of my concern that such anti-self-ownership arguments might prove too much. Here is one example of a former right-libertarian who saw problems with that philosophy and that turned him into a run of the mill statist http://gene-callahan.blogspot.com/. Check out his posts on libertarianism and you will see what I am talking about.

    When I started to embrace left wing libertarian ideas, it was for the same reasons that I first identified with right libertarianism, because I believed in liberty. The reason I moved to left-wing branch was because it offered a fuller vision of freedom, in other words because it offered more liberty, not less.

    • Francois Tremblay November 25, 2010 at 15:14

      Clarity? Well now we’re getting into literary criticism. I guess if you don’t find my writings clear, that’s a matter to be discussed. But you can’t say I have written nothing on the issue.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: