Non-Aggression Principle?

I recently found a website, The Art of Not Being Governed, which claims to support the “Non-Aggression Principle. As I read through many of the articles on the website, I found that I agree with the base principles of most things on this website, but there was an underlying confrontational tone that continued to rub me the wrong way. For a group that advertises non-aggression, the site was wrought with aggressive phrases and confrontational overtones.

Anyone who has read my blog knows that I advocate homeschooling. I feel that the knowledge a child acquires in a comfortable environment from familiar and trustworthy sources in a fun and relaxed way will stay with that child easier and better than any knowledge a stranger tries to force on him/her in a strange and uncomfortable, sometimes hostile environment. Regardless of my feelings toward homeschooling, I found the article addressed to teachers confrontational and unnecessary. Teachers, such as myself, do not see ourselves as better than anyone else. Nor do we demand respect from anyone. Every teacher I know chose this profession to help children. There are many children who get lost in the crowd. They do not have loving parents who would do anything to see them succeed. Those children may not get the same quality of education as a child with the loving parents who teach him/her at home, but I still feel that every child deserves some chance.

As far as anarchy goes, the group should do a little research. History will clearly define what happens to anarchists. There is no such thing as a lack of government on a large scale. That is a pipe dream that can never truly happen. If your current government somehow dissolves, there will be chaos for a while. People will panic; many will take advantage of the situation through theft, looting, murder and other crimes because there would be no one to punish them. Eventually order would start to come about in the form of a person or group of people that would be stronger than the others. This person, or group of people, would begin calling the shots, and others would fall in line. In the end, you’d have a dictatorship. Throughout history, every period of anarchy or lack of government has been immediately followed by a dictatorship. Complete freedom sounds good on paper, but unfortunately most people are sheep, so its practical applications are quite limited.

I do think that despite the confrontational nature of the site, there were some good tips:

  1. Dig up your lawn and plant a garden (and check out Grow Food Not Lawns on Facebook, while you’re at it). If you’re renting, plant a container garden.
  2. Get to know your neighbors. Divided we are weak and afraid, together we look out for each other.
  3. Learn a useful skill.
  4. Enjoy your local farmers’ market.
  5. Try bartering for goods and services.
  6. Watch and read alternative news sources. Mainstream media is an insult to journalism and a mouthpiece for the state.
  7. Find like-minded friends to discuss and debate with.
  8. Be charitable and volunteer for causes you are passionate about.
  9. Start prepping for disaster. The less dependent you are on the government, the better. Have a “bug out bag” and a plan.
  10. Consider investing in gold, bitcoins, or other alternative currencies. Or, if not invest, at least use.
  11. Learn to debate without being a jerk. Be open to new ideas.
  12. Stop letting petty shit divide you from other people. Your color, gender, sexual orientation, and religion are just ways to keep you separated. The powers that be encourage this. Better to keep people at each others throats rather than focusing on the real issues.
  13. Parent peacefully. Teach the next generation about liberty, responsibility, and self ownership. Treat them as you would another human being, because that is what they are.
  14. Homeschool.
  15. Film the police whenever you see them. Badges should not grant extra privileges. Try to resolve conflict on your own. Become familiar with your civil rights.
  16. Just like all the creatures of Earth, being free is the natural way of things. Even though the government is obnoxiously large and invasive, it only truly effects a small portion of our every day. Treat them like the bullies they are. Refuse to be intimidated. Stand up for yourself and enjoy your life!

That last one still seems a little bit confrontational to me, but I do agree with it. I’m still not sure why this site rubbed me wrong. Like I said, I agree with most of the things on it. I guess I had a pretty strong emotional reaction to the way it was presented. In my opinion, you just can’t claim to be peaceful and non-aggressive, then go out and pick a fight.

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8 thoughts on “Non-Aggression Principle?

  1. I just want to clarify something that you seem to misunderstand: we are not pacifists. Being non-aggressive only means that we will not initiate violence. We can and will defend ourselves from it, no matter the source of said violence. While we do encourage civility in our debates, too often we encounter hostility to our views; even up to actual threats of violence. With that said, speech isn’t an act of violence (even “hate speech”.) Nobody has the right to not be offended, as being offended is itself merely a matter of not being secure enough in one’s position to shrug off criticism. It is the first step in a progression that leads to controlling the very thoughts of folk. We, quite simply, oppose external control; and any State, and those that worship them, seek to control us.

  2. Don’t confuse “non-aggression” with “passivism.” Defending yourself against attack is not being aggressive. Governments seem to be getting more and more aggressive by the day. I can see why the contributors to that site would seem confrontational. I think they are just advocating ways to defend yourself from the aggressions of the state. I have disagreements with the idea that we need punishers to behave or that practical anarchy is impossible. A later time, perhaps.

  3. Hi Gannon,

    I wanted to thank you for stopping by our site and looking around at some of our posts. Like you, we are advocates for homeschooling. It is always good to find people with shared passions with which to exchange ideas and feedback. On that note, thank you for your feedback regarding our site. I want to assure you that the confrontational tone is completely intentional.

    We feel strongly that our freedoms should be important to us. We should not watch them be systematically stripped away. With each freedom we lose, we lose a little of ourselves. With each invasion into our privacy, we lose a little of our dignity. Every time we let someone else take from us, we lose a little of who we are. We remember who we are and where we came from.

    We are convinced that those in power use that power to further their own private agendas because they lack the character to concern themselves with the overall harm they are doing in the process. We see that corrupted people are the ones in power through the State.

    Because of these realizations, we feel it necessary to confront agents and supporters of the State’s power. This isn’t limited to just politicians. The military, police, public school teachers, DMV employees and voters all uphold the power of the State that strips away our freedom.

    Teachers may view themselves as nobly helping children. But it is the system they support, paid for through confiscation under threat of violence that has created a society where a parent isn’t available to teach their children. But for the tax burden placed on families by the state to support failed institutions like public schools, many parents could be at home raising their children.

    Regarding our aggressive argumentation, this shouldn’t be viewed as a violation of the Non-Aggression Principle (NAP). We are hardly picking a fight. On one hand, the state and it’s agents are aggressive against free people, and we are merely acting in self-defense by calling out these state agents. On the other hand, there is nothing about the NAP that prohibits aggressive argumentation. The NAP is not pacifism. The NAP prohibits the initiation of violent action against another’s property (eg their body), not confrontational writing or self-defense.

    It is not my intention to be overly confrontational here, but you are simply wrong about anarchy. The caricature that you portray as anarchy is a fiction conceived by statists to scare children and the ill-informed. You apply a Hobbesian “state of nature” template to people in a state of chaos and call it anarchy. You aren’t describing anarchy, you are describing a failed state.

    There are examples of successful stateless societies throughout history. Most notably, is the 1,000-9,000 year history of stateless Ireland (ref:http://j.mp/131pGvv). This was not a brief period of chaos and it did not end with the rise of a dictator. It was a period marked by order and justice, advancement and minor clashes.

    On the other hand, history clearly defines what happens to those who believe in limited liberty-minded government. Having a government that respects liberties and protects freedom is the pipe dream. Elsewhere on this site you extol the virtuous founders of the United States and the government they created with their Constitution. Yet in just a couple short centuries, their state has become the most aggressive and violent imperialist power the world has ever seen. But you don’t really have to go too far past 1776 to see the oppression of the state formed by thedr enlightened founders:
    Washington crushed tax protesters
    Adams outlawed “seditious” journalism
    Jefferson violated private trade through the Embargo Act
    Jackson murdered tens of thousands of native women and children

    By the middle of the 19th Century, the abolitionist Lysander Spooner observed that the Constitution “has either authorized such a government as we have had, or has been powerless to prevent it.” This is even more true today. Limited government, protecting freedom sounds good on paper, but unfortunately the state is full of wolves, so its practical applications are quite limited.

    I hope that you will continue to visit our site and our Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/TheArtOfNotBeingGoverned) to learn more about the Non-Aggression Principle, anarchy and the true nature of the State.

    Thank you again for visiting and providing feedback. Please feel free to comment on our site and page as well.

    • It seems that I’ve upset a few people with my post. Like I said originally, I agree with most of what I saw.

      Confrontation and self-defense are two completely different things. You can have one without the other, or you can have them in conjunction with each other. To use the words interchangeably makes no sense.

      Of course people in power use their power to achieve their own ends. It’s a natural thing to do. That is why no one person or group of people should gain an extraordinary amount of power over others. After visiting and reading your link, it seems that is why the tuatha were so successful. They gave equal credence to all members of the tuatha regardless of their holdings. With everyone contributing equally to the whole, peaceful cohabitation and resolutions for disputes were much easier to come by than if a hierarchy were to emerge based on the amount of land each member contributed or their genealogy or some other factor.

      Keep in mind that the military and the police were not state controlled nor state funded when this country began. Armies and police forces (guards) were hired privately and (comparatively) paid a lot more than they are today. This is a concept that I agree with. The military should not be paid for through extortion (as you said earlier). There are plenty of private industries that feel they can make a quick buck off of the business of war. If that’s the case, THEY should be funding the wars, not US.

      As far as the police are concerned, I’m a little torn on that. Though I believe in the concept of private police, I can’t afford to pay for guards of my own. I had a rough childhood and had to rely on police protection a few times. I have to admit, if it wasn’t for the diligence of some dedicated policemen, I might not be here to write this.

      You’ve shown that it is possible to live peacefully for a prolonged amount of time without a government, but that isn’t going to happen overnight. If this government falls, first there will be panic, then chaos, then pandemonium. My question is, how do you expect to transition from that state of disarray to the peaceful society you’re envisioning?

      • “If this government falls, first there will be panic, then chaos, then pandemonium. My question is, how do you expect to transition from that state of disarray to the peaceful society you’re envisioning?”

        Historically there have been many different reasons why governments have dissolved or collapsed. However, no government has yet dissolved for the reason that the ideology of the population it rules changed to be sufficiently opposed to aggression. If a population under a government today becomes sufficiently libertarian and is thus determined to establish voluntarily-funded rights-protection agencies, etc, then I think it’s quite reasonable to expect that that population can establish a peaceful society lacking a coercive state without having to go through the chaotic transition phase that historically has occurred when one government collapses and another forms.

        I’ve made a collection of several great quotes on the subject of “How To Achieve A Free Society: that are relevant to your question. Here’s one example:

        “Historically, States do not dismantle willingly or easily. While they can disintegrate with startling speed, as in Russia in 1917 or France in 1968, almost always new States arise to take their place. The reason for this, I believe, is that men cannot bring themselves to believe in the practical feasibility of a society in which perfect liberty, security of life and property, and law and justice can be attained without the coercive violence of the State. Men have for so long been enslaved by the State that they cannot rid themselves of a Statist mentality. The myth of the State as a necessary part of social reality constitutes the greatest single obstacle to the achievement of a libertarian voluntarist society.” – Joseph R. Peden, Stateless Societies: Ancient Ireland, April, 1971 The Libertarian Forum [PDF] p. 3

        The above quote and the rest that I have collected on this subject can be found here: http://peacerequiresanarchy.wordpress.com/quotes/#howto

      • 🙂 Indeed, it looks like you stirred up some debate regarding non-aggression/pacifism and the idea of self-defense. To add just a little more color to the idea of confrontation as self-defense, and specifically as it relates to public teachers, consider the following scenario.

        If I slap someone’s hand, it appears confrontational. But if I slap that hand because it is holding a gun to my face and I’m slapping it away, is it still confrontational? Well yes, but it is also self-defense. Now consider that the person who is holding the gun to my face, doesn’t realize it is a gun, but thinks it is flowers. The act of slapping the hand away will seem very confrontational to the owner of the hand, but to me it is self-defense. Does the fact that the owner thinks they are holding flowers out to me make my action any less self-defense?

        The public school teacher sees that they are holding flowers out to me. “I care enough to educate your kids and improve the community”. I see the gun of taxation pointed at me. The public school teacher is the one holding the gun from a moral standpoint. Sure, logistically they have outsourced the gun-wielding to the government, but that doesn’t absolve them of culpability.

        Hopefully, our self-defensive confrontation reveals the presence and nature of the gun (often, nothing but a confrontation will). Once revealed we can have an honest conversation about it. But until the presence of the gun is revealed and accepted, we are going to be confrontational… in self-defense.

        To answer your question about how we will transition to a stateless society, I will borrow a quote from Hemingway: “Two ways. Gradually, then suddenly.” That is, the sudden collapse of the State won’t come first resulting in a need to establish some sort of new society. Rather, the State is losing its grasp on the minds of many and gradually more people are waking up to the idea that the State is an unnecessary evil. As our numbers grow, the need for a State will become more and more obviously absurd. In a generation or three, the idea of needing the State will seem as outdated as hirudotherapy, slaves picking cotton or sailing off the end of the world.

        The multi-generational long view is why we are adamantly against public schools and seem aggressive toward teachers. Among the site admins, we raise our children peacefully and without coercion. We teach them to be self-owners and creative. Public schools are counter to all of these principles by design. You have highlighted the problems with grouping and segregation that goes on in schools. Those 12 years of indoctrination, allegiance-swearing and authoritarian reinforcement create the next generation of dependent statists.

        Which brings us back to self-defense. We are confrontational in the defense of ourselves and our children. In defense of our present, but more importantly, in defense of our future. We will transition to a stateless society gradually over the next generations and then suddenly when the need for the State is finally accepted as a myth by our children and our children’s children.

      • The issue with your analogy is that the public school teachers are holding nothing out to you. They are not taking from you, nor are they forcing you to partake from their education. Their salary might be paid for with tax dollars (and if you were to look at our education budget, you’d see that it is a fraction compared to what tax dollars truly pay for), but the government is the one who is forcefully taking your money. School teachers, like everyone else, need to work and pay their bills. Not everyone can teach for a private company the way I do. Unfortunately we are no longer an industrial based economy. We are a service based economy. That means we have a lot (not enough for everyone mind you) minimum wage jobs, and a few CEO level positions. There a some in between, but again, certainly not enough for everyone. I’m certainly not making as much money as my education level demands, but this country has screwed itself in that regard.

        Back to the point. You seem under the impression that teachers are doing you a personal harm. That isn’t true. It your choice to send your children to public school. Unfortunately I did not have that choice with my children, but my daughter does. My grandson will have the opportunity to be educated in better way, in a better environment. The minute amount that teachers are paid are not taken by them, it’s taken by the state. You’ve already villainized the state, why don’t you stick with that.

        As far as your transition goes, I see your main obstacle to be fear. People can embrace a pacifist view from the cozy side of a laptop screen quite easily. Even if the state falls gradually, watching that fall is not going to be comforting. As power lines and phone lines fail, as internet connections cease, as communication through ordinary and familiar means becomes impossible, fear will set in, and people will panic. That is human nature. Without communication, unity is impossible. I’m sure the people who support your cause are not all together in one little community. If these people from all over the world cannot come together, what then?

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