What is the Non-Aggression Principle?
QUESTION: What is the libertarian “non-aggression principle” (or “non-aggression axiom”)?
MY SHORT ANSWER: Libertarianism is based on a single ideal, the non-aggression principle, so libertarian rhetoric tends to be remarkably consistent. 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. This “Good Neighbor Policy” is what most of us were taught as children. We were told not to lie, cheat, steal, not to strike our playmates unless 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.
You might have heard the Libertarian Party (LP) referred to as the “Party of Principle.” This is because the LP bases its programs and policy positions on the non-aggression principle.