As an enemy of the state I find my opposition is numerous beyond my abilities to count. I find opposition on the far left, the far right, in the middle, and from people whose politics defy being categorized. What these people all have in common is a deep belief that it is the state itself can be our salvation. Consider the “watermelons” (green on the outside and red on the inside) who want to use the state to force mankind back into a preindustrial state of being: they see the state as the ultimate salvation of life on this planet!
modern liberals “progressives” are by far the worst of the bunch as they are forever preaching that “the ends justify the means” and hence morality, ethics, honest debate, or any objective standard of behavior does not apply to them since they are trying to “save the world” and/or liberate mankind. I have been accused of being far to concrete and absolutist since I believe that there are, indeed, eternal truths that lead to an unchanging morality that is not relative to the situation at hand. There are things that are right and things that are wrong.
I find that many moderns claim that those who don’t believe that the end justifies the means are guilty of some sort of belief in a moral sense and code delivered by some deity either mystically or via some ancient revelation as in the Christian Bible. This, of course, means to them that I am sincerely deluded and they love to beat up on this straw-man version of where folks like myself find our morals. To the progressive as well as many other statists, morals just get in the way of whatever program they want to see enacted by the force and brutality of the state this week.
But the fact is that we can develop the whole of our morality from one simple axiom. That axiom is often called the non-aggression principle. By this we simply mean that we have no right at all to commit aggression against someone who has not aggressed against ourselves first.
The wiki at the Mises Institute defines the non-aggression principle thusly:
The non-aggression principle (also called the non-aggression axiom, or the anti-coercion or zero aggression principle or non-initiation of force) is an ethical stance which asserts that “aggression” is inherently illegitimate. “Aggression” is defined as the “initiation” of physical force against persons or property, the threat of such, or fraud upon persons or their property. In contrast to pacifism, the non-aggression principle does not preclude violent self-defense. The principle is a deontological (or rule-based) ethical stance. (link)
The Mises Institute wiki entry goes on to say that the non-aggression principle has a long tradition that stretches back into the mists of time but that market anarchists and other schools of libertarianism have done the most to popularize the principle in these modern days. Many, such as Rothbard himself, have pointed out that non-aggression is a basic part of philosophical Taoism and has been for at least three thousand years.
What is special about the non-aggression principle? It is simply a statement of basic fairness that we all know deep in our hearts. This principle allows mankind to cooperate with one another and to build society which is the hallmark and basis for our very survival. In the early days, the European colonists of North America thought that banishment from the community was tantamount to a death sentence and most of the time they likely were right. Humans must cooperate with each other to find the peace, prosperity, and enjoyment of life that we all seek. This cooperation must be voluntary and based on mutual respect and trust — and only the non-aggression principle is going to serve us in this regard. The servant and his master do no cooperate because of mutual, voluntary trust but rather the servant fears the master and the relationship is based on force, fraud, and intimidation.
Force, fraud, and intimidation are the calling card of all states and their minions. The record of the state throughout history has been one of death, destruction, injustice, brutality, greed, murder, torture, and all the rest. The record of the state serves to prove to us that there is a better way. That better way is non-aggression leading to voluntary, mutual, beneficial cooperation among people.
The great philosopher, historian, and economist Murray Rothbard developed his entire “anarcho-capitalist” system from the simple starting point of non-aggression. To me, the starting point of non-aggression (or do unto others as you would have them do unto you) is the ultimate tool to answer any problem of morals or ethics. I find the there is no “moral relativism” in the moral questions of life. Moral relativism (like the end justifies the means) is the tool of those who seek to brutalize others even if they claim the brutalization is for your own good. (it never is)
I submit to my friends and foes alike, that there is one simple and unchanging rock that you can use to discover the deeper truths of how we should live and that rock is the non-aggression principle. You should meditate on that principle long and hard. Apply it in your daily life. Only bad Karma will come from violation of the Non-Aggression Principle.