Ron Paul and the Non-Aggression Axiom of Libertarianism

Even the most die-hard fans of Ron Paul must by now admit that he will not be the GOP nominee for President of the USA. That is not big news by this point in time; but the man is still the leader of the “liberty movement” and one of the reasons is that he is the leader is that he has supported the non-aggression axiom solidly throughout his public career even if he might use other language at times in referring to that bedrock principle.

Walter Block once wrote:

The non-aggression axiom is the lynchpin of the philosophy of libertarianism. It states, simply, that it shall be legal for anyone to do anything he wants, provided only that he not initiate (or threaten) violence against the person or legitimately owned property of another. That is, in the free society, one has the right to manufacture, buy or sell any good or service at any mutually agreeable terms. Thus, there would be no victimless crime prohibitions, price controls, government regulation of the economy, etc.

If the non-aggression axiom is the basic building block of libertarianism, private property rights based on (Lockean and Rothbardian) homesteading principles are the foundation. For if A reaches into B’s pocket, pulls out his wallet and runs away with it, we cannot know that A is the aggressor and B the victim. It may be that A is merely repossessing his own wallet, the one B stole from him yesterday. But given a correct grounding in property rights, the non-aggression axiom is a very powerful tool in the war of ideas. For most individuals believe, and fervently so, that it is wrong to invade other people or their property. Who, after all, favors theft, murder or rape? With this as an entering wedge, libertarians are free to apply this axiom to all of human action, including, radically, to unions, taxes, and even government itself.

Ron Paul is leading a movement of people who mostly seem to understand that aggression is wrong and that the biggest aggressor on planet Earth in our times is the US government. We can all agree that we need the help and support of anyone who is opposed to the brutal US Empire as it presently exists.

The question becomes, “how do we provide for liberty in our times?” The old time conservatives (old right or paleo-conservatives) think that reducing the central government to its role as outlined in the Constitution would do the job. But it did not do that job the first time! And the state and local governments are all out of control also. What about the draconian laws and taxes at the local level? Don’t get me wrong; I would love to see the US government return to doing only the functions it did in the first century of its existence and no more: but that is not enough. I love that the “old right” is on our side, but they are not radical enough to do the whole job.

What about “libertarians”? There are many people who call themselves “libertarian”. Some who call themselves “libertarian” are, unfortunately, just beltway power seekers who want lax drug laws. Some are principled libertarians who believe that government can be controlled and we need government to provide for “public services”. These people would be the intellectual descendants of the Classic Liberals who built this country. The modern “classic liberals” come in all flavors and are united mainly by a deep suspicion of government power. They can be inconsistent at times but they love liberty.

The true “libertarian” is one that takes the non-aggression axiom to its logical conclusion and sees that market anarchy is the only solution for our human condition. We need no ‘rulers’ ordering us about.

In the end, our strategy must be to start as many people as possible on the road towards believing in voluntary cooperation. If they don’t see life without government at first — well, they are still our friends and allies. The path from propagandized statist to market anarchy supporter can be a long and winding road. The key is to get them to take that fist step.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s