The following article was authored by my friend in liberty Robert F. Eschauzier, and is published here with his permission. Visit Robert’s website: The Online Freedom Academy. Also, I believe this article dovetails nicely with my own article, The Fundamental Flaw in Non-Anarchistic Libertarian Thought, which you may wish to read upon completion of Robert’s article.
There is a fundamental difference in perspective which underlies the recurring philosophical debate over institutional coercion and the Non-Aggression Principle (NAP). It is the difference between a collectivist (statist) approach and an individualist (anarchist) approach. At first glance, these two camps appear to be in general agreement by both declaring that coercive behavior (defined as “unwarranted initiation of violence towards others”) is undesirable and not conducive to the healthy function of human society.
As far as human nature lying at the root of this division, I refer you to Segment 1 of The Freedom Academy material (appropriately titled “Human Nature”) which you will find at http://www.tolfa.us/L1.htm.
The debate is therefore less about the philosophical validity of people seeking to interact non-aggressively (by voluntary agreement). The US Constitution itself is evidence of that. Where we diverge is how best this may be achieved. Should the resolution of any dispute over perceived aggression be left to the individuals involved or should a resolution be coercively imposed by the State (defined as “outsiders acting under color of government”).
The individualist claim is that such disputes must be resolved by mutual agreement between the parties involved; that outsiders not directly affected have no place at the negotiating table. The collectivist position is that the disputants cannot be allowed to resolve their differences and that a solution must be coerced upon them by the State.
That the former position is in fact nothing less than a description of the root condition of nature is most often entirely overlooked by both camps. The collectivist position is thus coercively imposed on nature under the utopian assumption that this is an improvement.
To add insult to injury, the collectivists in their hubris then create an additional layer of aggression upon the afore mentioned disputants by declaring their dispute a “crime against the State” and for this imposing punishment (further aggression) on both.
Far from leading nowhere, the NAP (defined as “Do not do unto others what you would not have them do to you.”), is fundamentally accepted by all as a valid philosophical starting point. The dispute arises out of a disagreement of how best to achieve a general adherence to it.
Over 6.000 years of recorded history provides an uninterrupted trail of empirical evidence that the statist approach has been a miserable failure. Individualists, in recognizing this, are not claiming that anarchy will produce some mystical Nirvana where all live in peaceful harmony – far from it.
That dubious utopian claim is invariably made by statists who insist that if only “their” leader or party were given control of Government – the arguably most violent institution ever invented – all will be “peace on earth everlasting”.
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