A Pragmatic Case for the Non-Aggression Principle
I want to clarify and restate some things which I wrote previously using more of my own observations, reasoning, and intuition instead of anthropological and theological ideas which I am not qualified to discuss with certainty. I might recommend reading this before or instead of what I wrote earlier. The point I was trying to express is the simple pragmatic argument in favor of the non-aggression principle that, with all else being equal, it is better to not make enemies, and aggression creates enemies by definition. Additionally, if one is not far more powerful than his enemies, he should leave them a path of retreat or else they will fight with total desperation. I say the problem is not the non-aggression principle, but the question of who ought to be treated as the legitimate owner of which property, as I argued before. Perhaps what I am arguing for is better called the non-antagonization principle. My purpose for explaining David Gornoski’s ideas is that they seem to provide an explanation as to why this principle might apply in this present situation even if I could not cite any historical examples of a strategy such as what I imagine being used. However, I think this principle might be how the United States has become so powerful and why democracy has dominated the west. A democratic government can remain stable even when it governs people with diverse and conflicting interest. Most people feel like they are represented and they tolerate the government. What I am trying to do is think of a right-wing, undemocratic way to do the same thing.
I imagine that many of the “post-libertarians” whom I am responding to would not disagree very much with what I say here. The point I am trying to make to them is that they do not need to reject the underlying ideas of libertarianism or anarchism. There is no need to reject the ideology which once seemed so logically consistent. I get that they are annoyed by libertarians being useless or counterproductive while attacking others for supposedly not being ideologically pure, and so the kind of contrarian who would be drawn to this ideology in the first place would then reject it in response. Additionally, the words “non-aggression principle” is simply awkward and annoying to repeatedly hear or say and it is easy to become exasperated by people who constantly talk about it. For people coming from libertarianism, what I write here might be mostly a matter of semantics which is only useful for resolving the kinds of nitpicking debates libertarians have, especially since I do not think there is a need to apply what I write here at the local level and maybe not the state level, which are the only areas where they are likely to achieve anything. However, federal politics still exists and people will always attempt to engage with it. I think my arguments here are worth considering for any unlibertarian right-winger who has a chance of success in doing so, lest he squander the opportunity. People far more qualified than I am discuss the specifics of how to acquire power and what to do with it. What I write here is only what I think should be considered in addition to what they propose.
Part of the problem many libertarians, as well as all other idealists, have, which the “post-libertarians” have pointed out, is that they tend to act as if they believe the best ideas will win and they just need to spread those ideas, when the reality is that change is driven by those who acquire the most wealth, power, and influence. As may become evident here, I also have trouble avoiding that pitfall, but Ideas and messaging do matter. Acquiring power will involve communicating with and propagandizing both allies and enemies. It seems rather obvious to me that anarchism based on the non-aggression principle can be easily reframed as, not an ideal of universal liberty, but as a way of deciding who one’s enemies are. The point of anarchism and libertarianism is not just that aggression is wrong, but that state action is aggression, even if it is democratic. For me, realizing this made it perfectly clear to me, even before 2020, that politics is war by other means. The non-aggression principle is why it is perfectly justified to use any means to stop one’s enemies from gaining power; such actions are defensive, even if they violate the norms of what is considered respectable in the political system. To use an extreme example, if the leader of a movement were to make himself dictator and forbid elections challenging his rule, most would say that is aggressive and antithetical to democratic norms, but a libertarian, who sees no inherent value in those norms, should see this as denying other factions from acquiring aggressive power. What actually matters is what the dictator does with that power.
Libertarianism is good for explaining all the destructive things governments do and what one’s political opponents will do if they win. On the margins, this will undermine opponents’ moral certainty and may make some of them stop supporting their movement. This is not very effective without a strong opposing movement which will take power away from them, as well as further spread the message condemning them. Libertarianism can be used to build and strengthen such a movement by informing its potential supporters of the urgency of stopping their opponents. The apparent problem is that such a movement would be unable acquire and use power without doing what it condemned its opponents for. My point is that this is only a problem for a libertarian who thinks the goal can only be less or no government. This does not make sense. If the non-aggression principle means people can do what they want as long as they do not hurt people, then a government can do what the people running it want as long as they do not hurt people, which means they only need to be allowed to opt-out.
There is a pragmatic reason in two parts for a political movement to tell their potential opponents that they will be allowed to secede if this is movement were to put its people in power and for them to actually allow it if they are. The first is that this is a way to tell their opponents that they do not need to be enemies. The real enemies are the corrupt elites who are guilty of innumerable crimes and responsible for no small part of the horrors of the past century which continue today, not the common person who has honest disagreements. The problem with populist political movements is that they have been unable to overcome the duopoly. The left and the right cannot unite against the elites. A movement which is clearly associated with one side cannot oppose the elites without also declaring war on the other half of the population. If that movement manages to get someone like Donald Trump elected, then that will trigger a hostile reaction from the other side, as well as the regime. Overcoming this problem requires leaving the 3x5 index card of allowable opinion and introducing ideas such as secession. If this populist movement were to try to compromise with other factions, the only thing they need to agree on is opposition to the things which cause them to be in conflict. There is no need to build a big tent if a small tent can avoid making more enemies than it needs to. The struggle for control over a polity as large as the United States with no possibility of secession makes this impossible.
Many say that the left should not be compromised with in any way, that the left will hate anyone who opposes them even a little. My first response would be that “compromising” in the present political paradigm has nearly always meant moderating one’s position, not trying to find a way for factions which disagree to peacefully separate without either of them moderating. My second response is that, yes, it is probable that if there were any kind of significant right-wing secession movement, the left would call them traitors and Neo-Confederates and demand their mass-murder and the regime which worships Abraham Lincoln as a god would oblige. If there were a right-wing takeover of the federal government, the left would call them fascists and enemies of democracy, even and perhaps especially if they allowed secession. This brings me to the second and more important part of the pragmatic reason for all of this. More important than trying to convince some potential opponents on the margins that this political movement will not bring tyranny is convincing its own members and potential supporters. A right-wing movement which seeks to acquire and use power effectively needs a way act without the fear of being tyrannical. The non-aggression principle is a way to distinguish one’s true enemies true enemies from innocent people who just disagree, as well as justify doing what is needed to defeat those enemies by showing that “democratic norms” do nothing but protect the criminal elites. If it is true that the left would not be satisfied with being allowed to opt-out of a government they call “fascist” and have their own government, then that is exactly why the left needs to be destroyed and why doing so would be purely defensive. What I propose is a way to separate the power-hungry liars from the useful idiots, a way to separate the communists, woke extremists, pedophilia normalizers, and the corrupt elites from the average non-ideological left-leaning person who thinks he just cares about the poor and minorities and has disagreements over policy positions. This way, even if this right-wing movement were to fail, its supporters would have no less legitimacy if they were to attempt secession.
In the present time, there is little excuse for not recognizing the severity of the situation. Anyone who objects to doing what is needed to stop this is rightly denounced as blue-pilled, Conservative Inc., or lolbertarian. Nevertheless, many people still are those things. Moreover, the situation should not have gotten this far. There should have been a way to tell people on the right to get serious, as many are now, in 2019 or in the future when less insane times return and the issue of what tax rate is best is the most important thing to debate. The benefit of having a consistently held principle is that it can be applied in any situation. The pandemic regime is terrible, but there were still all kinds of problems before that, but it was not so obvious what every decent person should agree on. Whatever the solution to all those problems are, libertarianism would say, even then, that people should be allowed to opt-out.
The only other argument against what I propose here I can think of is that it might seem like allowing any kind of secession would mean losing power. Again, I would have a few responses. The first is that this is only giving up power which cannot be held onto. Opting-out does not need to be made easy. It could be made harder if a government were to provide truly valuable goods and services which people would not want to give up. However, if there are people who are so severely discontent that they would make the difficult choice to secede, then it is better that they be allowed to so that they can be separated from the rest of the population and would not foment more discontent. My second response is that there actually might be historical examples similar to what I propose, despite what I wrote earlier. The constitution of the United States was ratified because it allowed so much federalism. Ironically, it might also be worth looking at how there was reconciliation after the Civil War. My last response is that all regimes lose power eventually whether it happens in a thousand years or after the next election. What I propose can be done in ways which allow some control over how this happens. In the present time, with the condition of the United States and the hostility and division among its people, the historical example which should be looked to and learned from to avoid the problems associated with it is the break-up of the Soviet Union. I argue that the main goals of a right-wing political movement at the federal level should be removing the left and the corrupt elites from power, deescalating the hostility with or without ending the division, and managing the peaceful and gradual dissolution of both the foreign and domestic empire. I might say that it is impossible to do any of these things without doing all of them.