Libertarians Against Violence?

Written together by C.Jay Engel and Mitchell Thompson

One theme in the libertarian world that has, much like a plethora of other phrases and terms, been distorted in recent years is the libertarian opposition to violence.  When I speak of this distortion, I speak of a distortion that has occurred within the self-described libertarian movement itself.  And, again, I think that this distortion is rooted in the present day progressivist mentality that has clouded the libertarian world at large.

To the libertarian, or at least the Rothbardian paleolibertarian, what is meant by his opposition to violence is quite simple: regarding political theory, the libertarian holds that the civil government is never to use the initiation of coercion to accomplish its ends; and regarding legal theory, the libertarian holds that illegal activity should be those actions which are identified by an initiation of coercion against the person and property of another individual.

What libertarian opposition to violence does not mean is that humans are necessarily unethical when they act with ferocious physical intensity, even if against another human.  For that is far too general.  Not only does libertarianism allow the individual to defend himself, either with his two fists or with a pistol against the night intruder, but the libertarian also allows the rise of fights and “violence” in other contexts as well.  As, for example, in the case of a sport such as boxing, or perhaps even in a less conspicuous setting such as in a field so as to solve a given conflict.  It is here in this last example where the Progressive libertarians are most vocally opposed.  For, they say, “violence should not be used to solve conflicts!”  Now, such an opinion is perfectly allowable and they may have a moral conviction against the swinging of the fist, but it does not stem from the libertarian creed that two men cannot battle against each other.

This may surprise the reader, but how can something be unlibertarian that has been agreed to by the two parties (who are exclusive in their dispute)?  If in a dispute over who owns an acre of land, is it not the right of the two claimants to either take their case to a court of law or else mutually agree that the winner of the fist fight stays on the land?  There is no libertarian demand that the court is the only solution. It is only if Person A disagrees to the fight that has been suggested by Person B that the fight is wrong if undertaken.  Courts have their social function, as do arbitration services, and these would certainly and happily arise in society to meet the needs to claimants unwilling to settle the matter on their own.  But there is nothing wrong with a good traditional fist fight with a classy handshake afterwards.

I am motivated to say all this after reading the ever-addicting and always sarcastic Fred Reed, who once wrote:

It’s getting worse. I read in The Capital of Annapolis, Maryland, home of the Naval Academy, that the principaless of West Annapolis Elementary has banned tag on the playground. Yep, tag: You’re it. It’s for safety. Tag is dangerous. She is going to Protect Our Children.

The principaless in question, Joan Brisco, described the horror of tag.

“They would start up, and inevitably it got too rough. The reason we stopped tag was because we didn’t want them getting hurt.”

Well, I guess. I can imagine that the emergency rooms of Annapolis have done land-office trade in broken and bleeding children, victims of tag. Probably the halls rattle with the tippy-tap of peg legs. No doubt the children’s studies suffer because of missing limbs. That’s how tag usually is. When I played tag as a kid, we always had the shock-trauma unit on full alert.

If fact, tag is a leading cause of death in children, ranking just behind meteor strikes.

Start ’em young apparently. Can’t let boys be boys, get a little toughened up.  They might hurt themselves.

Here’s what I think: I think that there is a social war on the old fashioned man. Consider this a minority libertarian position, not because libertarianism contradicts it, but because the libertarian world has been overrun by a youthful population that decries everything from former generations as “too conservative.”  This is a fundamental mistake.  The libertarian should not deride things from the past simply because they are the past.  Rather than holding to the belief that libertarianism should inspire us to stop shooting guns, stop learning how to fight, and stop training to physically defend ourselves from opponents, the opposite is true.  For this pacifistic trend is actually the outcome of an increasingly large government, which expands under the guise of protecting you.  But what happened to the man who can protect himself?  What happened to the man with the shotgun on his porch blockading his family from a criminal? I’ll tell you what: the almighty State has replaced the man of the family.

Libertarianism, the absence of the protect racket called the National Security State, demands the return of the man who is capable of protecting his life and property.  We have become a generation of pampered and soft “males” who, drink lattes and frequent the malls and shriek at the sign of dirt on the hand.  We as men need to be warriors, take responsibility for the protection of our families, which we were created to lead and safeguard.  The shrinkage of government, which libertarians are supposed to demand, requires that men fill the void.  No, we don’t need drones flying around our property to alert the authorities that there is a “bad guy.”  If there is a bad guy, then on our property, we are the authorities.  For all the talk about “security” from the media bullhorns which represent the Fear State, it sure seems like things are getting worse for our safety.  The State can’t do anything well. Especially “Protect Us.”  At any rate, my tax bill informs me that in the name of protecting me and my property, I suddenly have less property in my wallet.  My suspicions are raised.

Violence is perfectly acceptable in certain contexts (no one believes that is fine to go around punching people in the face).  And it is healthy for the development of man.  We need to train, to prepare, for whatever comes our way.  We need to raise up our sons to do the same. We need a return of men, of the village hero.  And yet, the everyday libertarian basement crusader, who has no idea how to even change his oil or switch out a flat tire, much less productively contribute to the economy on a full time basis, is pontificating about how bad it is to “be violent.”

Look, I am quite interested in philosophy consider the intellect the most important of mankind’s tools, and further, I am robustly anti-revolution (I’m a fierce advocate of radical secessionism though), but none of these things preclude the importance of knowing how to fight, how to be aggressive, and when to stand up for yourself.  Maybe if today’s youth hadn’t turned into a collection of useless beta males, we wouldn’t be talking revolution in the first place.  And maybe, if men had stood up to the tax-hungry and conflict hungry State during its rise, the State wouldn’t have the means to start its own international conflicts and wars.  All that the State has it has first stolen, and this includes the resources dedicated to war.  Perhaps the inability –or refusal — of men to defend themselves at home has given way to the terrible tragedy of war in the hands of world powers.  But of course the Progressives probably would refer to this as “victim blaming.”

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