(From the Ask Dr. Ruwart section in Volume 19, No. 19 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)
QUESTION: What is the libertarian non-aggression principle?
MY SHORT ANSWER: Libertarianism is based on a single ideal, the non-aggression principle.
Libertarians oppose the initiation of force to achieve social or political goals. They reject “first-strike” force, fraud or theft against others; they only use force in self-defense. Those who violate this “non-aggression principle” are expected to make their victims whole as much as possible, via restitution.
This “Good Neighbor Policy” is what most of us were taught as children. We were told not to lie, cheat, steal, or strike our playmates, except if they hit us first. If we broke a friend’s toy, we were expected to replace it.
Most of us still practice what we learned as children with other individuals, but we have grown accustomed to letting government aggress against others when we think we benefit. Consequently, our world is full of poverty and strife, instead of the harmony and abundance that freedom (i.e., freedom from aggression) brings.
Simply put, libertarians take the non-aggression principle that most people implicitly follow in their interactions with other individuals, and apply it to group actions, including government actions, as well.
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