What Libertarians Believe

Submitted by Bill St. Clair on Mon, 05 Jan 2009 13:09:35 GMT  <== Politics ==> 

L. Neil Smith and Rylla Cathryn Smith - Neil and his daughter are writing a book. This column is its introduction, explaining, of course, that libertarians believe in the Zero Aggression Principle, openly, unabashedly, honestly.

The problem--for the sophists, that is--is that, once the Zero Aggression Principle has been brought into the ethical discussion, nothing can ever be the same again. Anyone--including those who may fraudulently call themselves libertarians--who is aware of the Zero Aggression Principle and refuses to live by it, or promise to, gives himself away. He is a badguy, at least potentially, reserving a right that he mistakenly believes he has to beat you up or kill you, should he deem it necessary or convenient sometime in the future. He tells us that he cannot be trusted, as a friend, a neighbor, a colleague, or a comrade.

I have studied this extremely simple yet revolutionary concept all of my adult life, almost half a century, and I still discover aspects and ramifications that I hadn't thought of before. Unlike some other ethical systems, for example, the Zero Aggression Principle does not require us to pacifically turn the other cheek. Once an aggressor has revealed himself--by initiating force--it is up to those against whom he initiated it to decide what must be done with him. At the same time, the Zero Aggression Principle doesn't license any and all acts of violence toward others. The villain must meet highly stringent standards of villainy before anyone is ethically free to act against him.

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