Revised: October 18, 2015
The views and opinions in this article written by Chris LeRoux do not represent the views and opinions of other people that write on peacefreedomprosperity.com. This article is solely the opinion of Chris LeRoux and no one else.
“That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it…” ~Declaration of Independence (July 4, 1776)
The law of private property is absolute, axiomatic, eternal, objective, and universal: No one may ever lawfully initiate aggression, coercion, or fraud [Hoppe, Economics and Ethics of Private Property]. Yet while all initiation of violence is criminal, defense, when proportional, is lawful. Thus it would not be lawful to shoot someone who merely steps across the front yard of your house but only to issue a warning. But if a trespasser refuses to desist, a greater amount of force becomes appropriate and even deadly force could become necessary. Likewise, if your house is robbed while you are out, it is lawful to seek proportional restitution. If the criminal resists, deadly force could become appropriate.
In our present, barbaric society, some people claim to be exempt from the law because they work for a fictional entity called the “state” or “government.” Every moment of our lives, we groan under the domination of these violent criminals. The extortion they call taxation and their billions of dictations oppress our existence day and night. Their aggression, coercion, and fraud are unceasing, unrepentant, and enforced with any amount of violence they deem necessary to maintain total control. However, all individuals are equal under the law of private property, the only social law. As Rothbard puts it:
“First, it is axiom of libertarian thought that the State is a criminal gang, living off the robbery of tax-coercion and using these funds to murder, pillage, enslave, and endow favored groups with special privilege. The State is founded and has its very being in the use of aggressive violence. Therefore, any violence used against the State is moral, for it is the moral equivalent of using violence to protect one’s person and property from armed marauders. The act of revolution is, therefore, always moral. For similar reasons, any revolutionary act against any State is aesthetically pleasing, for at least some State is being weakened, or some State official is getting his deserved comeuppance [When Revolution?].”
Thus the absolute right of proportional self-defense against the “state” is established. So what defensive coercion is proportional? To ask this question should be to answer it. How much violence do they use against those who resist their crimes? They send overwhelming force, from a SWAT team with tanks and machine guns doing no-knock raids to dropping nuclear bombs. Thus we each have the right to stop their crimes with whatever force is necessary. We each have the right to win the fight that the “state” already initiated, whatever it takes to successfully defend ourselves and our property.
If we could simply ask them to stop, it would be out of proportion and criminal to use violence. If we could stop them all by shooting one, shooting more would be criminal. If we could stop them by sitting in our house and waiting until they send a SWAT team, it would be criminal to act by “surprise.” But the “state” is willing to use any amount of violence to force submission. Further, warning them would get us caged or killed preemptively as they call that a crime. Private property means nothing to them. Killing one of them as an attempted warning would only stimulate greater aggressions. Thus there is no other option to stop their crimes but to match their force with superior force.
If it is impractical to warn them to cease and desist or to wait for an armed attack against a fixed position, is it moral to take the initiative in a defensive struggle? Can we lawfully target and kill a “police officer” at home in his unjustly acquired bed for instance? Yes, it is lawful if it is necessary to reduce or abolish the crimes being committed against us. We have no duty to submit to our slavery. We may target “police” or any other “government” employee, even in their unjustly acquired homes, in the middle of the night, if we believe it will reduce the crimes being committed against us.
Does this justify going on a random killing spree of “state” employees? No, proportional defense against aggressors not in the immediate act of aggressing is clearly only justified as part of an effort to achieve restitution or to reduce aggression. Our goal is freedom and peace, not revenge. Additionally, an important benefit of maintaing a defensive posture is that if in attempting to repulse a SWAT team, for example, you shoot, miss, and hurt an innocent, then it would be the crime of the “state” agents. If you take the initiative against the aggressor and hurt an innocent, you are a criminal also.
Some common sense should inform everyone that just as issuing ultimatums to the “state” to cease and desist is pointless, so is targeting a single “policeman” or other “state” agent outside of some far larger plan. The “state” will simply replace one criminal with a new one, will misrepresent defensive violence as aggressive, and will use it as propaganda to increase their tyranny. Nevertheless, these are tactical and strategic issues, not moral issues. We can choose to resist the criminals in any way we each believe will be the most effective. And indeed even an “unarmed” agent of the “state” could be tactically important because of something they have, perhaps important access to a building, or if a janitor tried to sound an alarm during an attack. They could even be strategically important under certain contexts.
The slavery will have to get much worse before I am willing to die in a probably losing cause as there is still much good in my life. I do have some distinct lines drawn. I would also like my death in combat against the “state”, if necessary, to make a significant difference and do a great deal of damage, thus accelerating the coming of peace, freedom and prosperity for all. In time, I hope and expect to have more allies in the fight and thus to have the opportunity to make a bigger difference than dying in an obviously futile and trivial “protest attack.” I desire VICTORY, meaning a life of self-ownership after the slavemasters are defeated, not a holy martyrdom, no matter how forgotten or remembered. As Rothbard wrote:
“Do we then call for immediate armed insurrection against the State? Not necessarily, for now we must exercise the highly difficult—and again unscientific—art of strategic and tactical judgment. For while we have the absolute moral right to use force to repel armed marauders, we do not have the moral duty to do so. We may often find ourselves in situations where we are hopelessly outnumbered by the armed burglars, and therefore our strategically wise course is to give in. Man has no moral duty to seek martyrdom. Therefore, even where a revolution would be unimpeachably and unequivocally moral, it would not necessarily be strategically or tactically correct; when to launch a moral revolution, if at all, depends on one’s concrete judgment of the relative strength of forces, of the probabilities of success, etc” [When Revolution?].”
I recognize that our struggle is predominantly ideological. Most of the world has not even heard the message of free market anarchism or has not yet heard enough detail to realize its imminent morality and practicality. Our most effective way to fight overall, for now, is through speech, not violence no matter how justified. There are many out there that will be joining the fight over the coming years and we will become ever stronger as a result.
However, it is true that some collectivists are not redeemable in my opinion. They may indeed even be a different species so to speak and hence what we know is truth means nothing to them. Perhaps trying to persuade this different species of the importance of private property is akin to preaching at a Komodo dragon. Further, statism corrupts and the corrupt are rarely if ever open to a message of principle taking power and pelf from them. In the end, tyrants never voluntarily relinquish their power. It must be taken from them by force.
But first we must have the tacit approval of the majority as Etienne de la Boetie explained in The Politics of Obedience: The Discourse of Voluntary Servitude. Any attempt, even successful, to abolish the “state” while the majority passionately desires it will merely result in perpetual violence until a new “state” arises. As long as the “state” has the necessary public support, de la Boetie explains, it remains insurmountable. Yet, the “state” is utterly doomed without this support, “Resolve to serve no more, and you are at once freed. I do not ask that you place hands upon the tyrant to topple him over, but simply that you support him no longer; then you will behold him, like a great Colossus whose pedestal has been pulled away, fall of his own weight and break into pieces.”
Ludwig von Mises also emphasized this point, “The masses, the hosts of common men, do not conceive any ideas, sound or unsound. They only choose between the ideologies developed by the intellectual leaders of mankind. But their choice is final and determines the course of events. If they prefer bad doctrines, nothing can prevent disaster” [Human Action]. He later reiterated, “In the long run even the most despotic governments with all their brutality and cruelty are no match for ideas. Eventually the ideology that has won the support of the majority will prevail and cut the ground from under the tyrant’s feet. Then the oppressed many will rise in rebellion and overthrow their masters” [Theory and History].
Once we have convinced the majority to passionately reject the “state”, little violence will be necessary to deal with the few remaining criminals. In the meantime, make your own choices and make them wisely. Resistance is not futile, but it is inevitably suicide at this time unless perhaps you are a historic military genius and have adequate resources to execute an incredibly brilliant plan against the most powerful empire in world history. In any case, it is up to you if and how you fight as long as you hurt no one but agents of the “state” in a sincere effort to reduce and-or stop aggressions being committed against you.