Do I have any right to impose my will on my neighbor, who is doing me no harm? All systems of morality that I know of would answer no to that question, and certainly the non-aggression principle would say no. The main problem of our time is that the state is the one institution we allow a peculiar exemption from all of the moral assumptions that guide our daily lives and our dealings with one another. But the “State” is nothing more than a group of men and women, and they also don’t have any right to impose their will by force upon others that are doing no harm to anyone.
The reality of our world is that it is very complex with billions of people reacting to each other every minute of the day. It is impossible to predict all of the ramifications of our actions and no committee of state bureaucrats can possibly order people how to live their lives and get it right. It is the problem of knowledge that von Mises pointed out so long ago and this is why moral rules are so very important. If we set out to do things ‘for the greater common good,’ we will invariably end up believing that the ends justify the means. It is this belief that the end justifies all our actions that leads to great evils. The only path that we can take and remain moral is to follow the non-aggression principle. That is, never initiate violence, fraud, or intimidation. This path also leads, happily, to the maximization of peace and prosperity.
We have seen that the state is nothing more than a group of men and women that force everyone else to obey them, fund them, buy services from them, and endure whatever brutality the state’s minions decide to dish out. The state is said to have a monopoly on the legitimate use of force within its geographical boundaries, and it uses force constantly to enforce its whims. All politics that exist within this state monopoly on the use of force and intimidation are just variations on the question of who will have wealth stolen from them and how much the state apparatus will keep for itself before giving a portion to others. This is the nature of the state and it will continue to steal and confiscate in order to survive.
It is critical to remember that laws and rights are not the same thing. Laws enacted by the state will either respect the natural rights of the people or these laws will disrespect those rights: but they do not bestow rights. Rights existed before the state and exist in spite of the state. The state cannot bestow that which it did not first possess.
Some say the state is a necessary evil because they protect us from all those “bad guys” who would rape our women and steal our food. Balderdash! What makes anyone think that government officials are even trying to protect us? The state is not a hired security guard seeking to please you as a customer. The state was born in conquest and lives by plunder. The idea that the state or its leaders seek to promote the interests of the people is laughable to anyone who takes an honest look at history; even the history of just the last few years.
As just one example of the “justice” of the law in modern America, consider the actions of the Obama administration as outlined by journalist Glenn Greenwald:
“To recap ‘Obama justice,’ if you create an illegal worldwide torture regime, illegally spy on Americans without warrants, abduct people with no legal authority, or invade and destroy another country based on false claims, then you are fully protected. But if you expose any of the evils secretly perpetrated as part of those lawless actions — by publishing the truth about what was done — then you are an Evil Criminal who deserves the harshest possible prosecution.” ~Glen Greenwald
It has often been observed that In the long run even the most despotic governments with all their brutality and cruelty are no match for ideas. Mankind has long known that the ideology that the majority support will prevail. This means that we need to educate the people that the state is their enemy and that ending the tyranny of the state will not lead to chaos but rather to liberty, prosperity, and peace. Liberty is the mother of peace. When we have educated enough of the people to this truth, then the oppressed many will rise in rebellion and overthrow their masters.
Mankind needs the decentralization of decision-making. By distributing authority widely rather than narrowly we will see a much greater flexibility which will allow individuals to voluntarily join with others in concentrated communities in which they can choose to associate with others in pursuit of shared interests. When people learn that voluntary cooperation is the path to happiness on earth, then the real future of mankind can begin.