Bumper Stickers

Column by tzo.
Exclusive to STR
If there is one message that must continually be broadcast to people in order to improve the quality of life on this planet, it is this: Politics is aggression. Until this simple understanding becomes widespread, we will all continue to bog down in the mud.
Politics is aggression.
Recently while driving I noticed that the car ahead of me had two bumper stickers. I read the first one, which said: The main cause of violence in society is ignorance.
And the other bumper sticker proudly proclaimed in a single word: Obama
Here we have a person who does not understand that politics is aggression. To wit:
The driver believes that if people were better educated, then violence would decrease. Her motivation for placing this bumper sticker on her car must be that she wants a more educated and thus, more peaceful society. With her other bumper sticker, she then endorses politics, a coercive institution that aggresses against individuals.
Now why would a peaceful person, concerned enough about violence in society to place a public service announcement on her car, endorse violent aggression?
There is only one logical response: Because she does not understand that politics is aggression. She has not yet received the message.
And what do we call it when a person does not understand something? Ignorance.
I do not use this as a pejorative term here—I am simply applying it according to its standard dictionary definition, which is “lack of knowledge or information.”
By proclaiming her wish for a peaceful society while at the same time endorsing aggression, she announces her ignorance to the world through her contradictory statements and confirms that she, in accordance with her first bumper sticker—by being ignorant—is the main cause of violence in society.
Think about that. A person who is going out of her way to express her desire for peace is announcing that she endorses aggression as the way to achieve the desired end.
Perhaps I could interest you in the People Like Me Are the Main Cause of Violence in Society bumper sticker over in aisle five, ma’am? No?
But certainly I am getting carried away over a trivial matter here. After all, I’m sure her heart is in the right place, and she is in all probability a good person who has nothing but the best of intentions…
Well actually, that’s exactly what scares the bejeezus out of me.
Soccer moms in their SUVs and university professors in their Volvos with their confusing and conflicting slogans pasted on their bumpers are out there trying to make the world a better place, and they believe the way to achieve that end is through political action.
These are truly dangerous people—dangerous precisely because they fervently believe they are doing good. But problems cannot be resolved in an ethical manner through aggression, and, well, …
Politics is aggression.
Isabel Paterson’s book The God of the Machine (published during the carnage of World War II in 1943) contains a chapter titled The Humanitarian With the Guillotine. This chapter eloquently explains why we should all fear the results of the well-intentioned individuals who choose to utilize government to “help people.” She begins:
“Most of the harm in the world is done by good people, and not by accident, lapse, or omission. It is the result of their deliberate actions, long persevered in, which they hold to be motivated by high ideals toward virtuous ends.”
“ ... if the harm done by willful criminals were to be computed, the number of murders, the extent of damage and loss, would be found negligible in the sum total of death and devastation wrought upon human beings by their kind. Therefore it is obvious that in periods when millions are slaughtered, when torture is practiced, starvation enforced, oppression made a policy, as at present over a large part of the world, and as it has often been in the past, it must be at the behest of very many good people, and even by their direct action, for what they consider a worthy object. When they are not the immediate executants, they are on record as giving approval, elaborating justifications, or else cloaking facts with silence, and discountenancing discussion.”
And then:
“ ... there must be a very grave error in the means by which they seek to attain their ends. There must even be an error in their primary axioms, to permit them to continue using such means. Something is terribly wrong in the procedure, somewhere. What is it?”
What an astute question. As we have posited here, the answer to that question is that most people have not yet received the message: Politics is aggression.
Now that’s worthy of a bumper sticker.

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tzo's picture
Columnist tzo
Columns on STR: 64

tzo now lives in your head.


B.R. Merrick's picture

"Politics is aggression." And coercion is death. Works for me.

And spot on about soccer moms, whom I collectively refer to as HYSTERICAL soccer moms.

Suverans2's picture

Loss of natural rights is death.

B.R. Merrick's picture

I understand what you mean, but I would say loss of volition is death, as volition is inseparable from individuality, and since coercion leads directly to this loss, I equate it with death. (And I know that the words are not synonymous.)

J3rBear's picture

Great little column. Very succinct and clear. So where can I get my "politics is aggression" sticker?

trajanslovechild's picture

Instead of "politics is aggression," how about we just say, "humans are aggression." It would boil the argument down to the marrow. In my mind, there will be aggression, and there always was aggression with or without government. There would be no politics without humans to fill the bureaucratic slots of governance. Even if there was anarchy, there would be aggression, since anarchy is a survival of the fittest mentality. Stronger people would take away food, water, or land away from those that are weak...as it has been since the beginning of time. It is not as if politics disappeared, we would go back to some mythical time of the 'noble savage' that never existed in the first place. Is government too large and obstructionist? Of course, and it increases in size by the day with every law that is shoveled through the court system. The great leviathan of government needs to be put on a starvation diet. But, without any form of politics, there would still be aggression, and it would no place to raise a child. Humans are social creatures, and we have a sense of need to belong to something. We call it politics, some call it a clan or a tribe. Either way, humans will be killing humans. Even if a Utopian society arose (which it never will...just look at the historical evidence), and humans were kind and traded without governance, there would be a strong group of governed people that would covet this Utopia and take it away easily because they are organized and governed through politics. There is no such thing as knowing life without aggression. There are different forms of severity of course. One of the soccer moms you mentioned, would be appalled at the level of violence I witnessed in Colombia as a soldier, but the same soccer mom would be willing to dish out violence to anyone that harmed her child (without the use of a machete). It is nice to dream of a world without violence, but politics is not the root of all evil. Aggression is a universally human disease. Thank you.

J3rBear's picture

Aggression may be common but it is not all encompassing to human nature as you insist it is. I manage to get by day after day purely on voluntary interactions with my fellow humans. I did not use agression to get my girlfriend, my job, my friends, my home, my motorcycle, etc, etc. If we have the capacity to live generally peacefully with each other, then that is something worth striving for. Saying that humans are just naturally violent and then throwing up your hands in the air is a cop-out. What makes humans different is that we have the capacity for rationality, embrace that and you'll have a better understanding of what we're talking about here.

trajanslovechild's picture

You missed my point. You manage to get things that you want within the framework of a governmental political system, that you claim is "aggression." I find it hard to believe that you can achieve these material possessions without the support of a political system (that was created to stop irrational and violent behavior). I have lived in countries where there is little to no government, and when food, water, and other essentials are held by the strong, things are much less civilized, which lead to corruption and violence. I do not have to rely on philosophy from a comfortable chair, since I have seen this with my own eyes while I was in the army stationed in shit holes around the world where they did not have the education to wax philosophical about their plight. Let's leave the third World. Look at Germany in the 20th century. They are one of the most educated nations in the Western World with plenty of historical brain power. Look at the atrocities the "rational," educated Germans committed against people across Europe. Rationality is the norm when the lights are on, and the supermarkets are full of food. Rationality takes a vacation when things get desperate, and men become animals. I am not throwing up my hands; I am just using my own common sense and experiences (which is lacking in the academic world) to know what is real and what is academic. I know what you are talking about, and it is a fallacy that is made by people that have never lived without a safety net. Tell me; what is the alternative? Living in anarchy? Yes, there would be no aggression under a system of anarchy, right? I just don't feel like living in fantasy land. Thank you.

B.R. Merrick's picture

trajanslovechild is correct, that the overthrow of a governmental system will lead to the creation of another. Humans made government and all other systems of coercion. They do this out of deep-seated hurt and fear, and also out of habit.

I am not an anarchist because I believe it will happen; it won't. I am an anarchist because the revolution has been won. I've said it before and I'll say it again. There must be three criteria:

1. It must be peaceful.
2. It must be individual, with no mass movement to join.
3. It must lack a charismatic leader.

I am an anarchist because it is logical and life-oriented. It matters little to me that I live in a world of death-oriented individuals. The revolution is won because my mind has been changed. trajanslovechild is correct that it is easy to think this way, living in relatively peaceful, prosperous, present-day America. But I do not believe this is because of our political system. It happens when humanity has greater access to knowledge and technology, free market principles (upon which America used to be based), and greater understanding of humanity, things severely lacking in the Third World.

tzo's picture

Hi Steve,

Let's start by defining aggression as unjustly imposing force, or violence, against someone. I agree with you that we will never be rid of the people who aggress against others, and none of my thoughts include a Utopian future where there is no violence and we all have ponies and lollipops and everyone is friends. Anarchy has nothing to do with Utopia.

Anarchy has everything to do with organizing society without coercion. It does not mean there would be no law, no order, no force used against aggressors, and to leap to such a conclusion is to not understand the subject. Society is one concept, and government is another. Societies can perform all the functions that governments currently perform, and more efficiently at that, and they can accomplish all this without resorting to coercion. The Common Law and the Law Merchant were not created by government, they were created by society. No one had to pay a single penny in taxes in order for these structures to be built.

We all want a peaceful society. We also know that there will always be some who are violent. Obviously, these people must be dealt with. To claim that anarchists imagine these people will not exist is a slightly bewildering claim. But why the automatic leap to a group that must be given a monopoly on the use of force that is funded through coercion (taxes)? We want peace, so we must use coercion to achieve it? And if people are so scummy so as not to be able to organize themselves peacefully, then you are going to award a small number of these vile creatures all the guns? Does that really make sense? Because if you want a sociopath's eyes to light up, just tell him he can earn a living taking other people's money and telling them what they have to do. Those jobs will quickly be filled with all the bottom of the barrel folks you wish to be protected from.

As soon as you establish a government, you are on a one way path to totalitarianism. You will populate the offices with the worst sorts of people who will simply expand the grip they have on their power over society. It has never worked any other way in all of human history. No government will ever 'go on a diet.' The U.S. instituted the most hands-off type of minimalist government ever attempted, and here we are. The toothpaste ain't going back into the tube.

So to me, the belief in some sort of minimum governmental structure that stays minimal is analogous to believing in Utopias and other such fantasy lands.

All the bad stuff you have seen in your travels is due to governments being in charge. Every place you have ever been has been under the authority of a government. All the Colombian evil you may have witnessed is because of the Colombian government. They are in charge and are responsible. You say you have seen some places that have little or no government and the people suffer. It is the government itself, not the lack of it, that makes those people suffer.

You mentioned Nazi Germany. What better case against government can possibly exist? The only reason there was a WW2 was because a bunch of States threw a bunch of soldiers at each other. Those German 'historically rational brains' fell into lockstep with what their government told them and many of them 'just did their jobs' to great effect. Who else but a government can organize such large scale mindless horror?

Our gummint edukayshun makes it seem automatic that a government has to run a society and to think otherwise is just plain silly. Of course they teach this, otherwise there wouldn't be any gummint skools if we didn't really believe it. If you decide to do your own research into the subject, you may just discover that there are actual alternatives to coercion, and that you cannot achieve peace through aggression.

Your objections to anarchy thus far have been based on the false assumptions that anarchy equals Utopia, and that a government-less society would have no way to deal with aggressors. You will have to come up with something more substantial, I believe, to make your case.


Paul's picture

I think it might be a bit misleading to blame everything on government. Certainly there are some areas where what we think of government is nonexistent, yet there are still gangs with strongmen and his soldiers running the show.

I'd rather look at it from the other angle. That there have always been gangs of violent people preying on the producers and the less violent. Most places the largest gang is institutionalized and has a veneer of legitimacy as government, but they are still gangs.

Now, the problem is that these gangs have power. They can force people to do things. The power is the problem, or at any rate, the disparity of power. Another problem is brainwashing, keeping the peons down by telling them they have to believe in the divine right of kings, or whatever its modern manifestation is.

Get rid of the brainwashing and the disparity of power, and things start to look different. People are learning from the internet, not from controlled media and government schools. Homeschooling is flourishing. So the brainwashing is going away. Newspapers are failing everywhere.

People now can have just as much power as government thugs do, too. Just go down to the gun store and buy a battle rifle along with a couple thousand rounds of ammo. The more people who do this, the worse it looks for the government gang, because we far outnumber them.

Why did predators first appear on this earth? Because there were prey for them to exploit. How to get around this fact of life? Stop being prey.

B.R. Merrick's picture

Another MUST READ comment from tzo, and I also agree with a lot of what Paul says. Government is the manifestation of the problem. The source of the problem, as I see it, is the DESIRE to use coercion, whether systematically or not. Where does it come from, and how do I rid myself of it? This is what happens when an individual wins the revolution in his own mind. If he succeeds, he can tell others, and watch the peaceful revolution for freedom take shape again and again. It's marvelous.

trajanslovechild's picture

Hi tzo,

Thank you for the response. How about you give me a clear definition of your version of anarchy. There are several definitions like, 'absence of law' to 'a lack of government, but people obey a social code.' You say, "Anarchy has everything to do with organizing society without coercion." If you have ever had to organize any large group in your life, you will know that is difficult, and that sounds like a Utopian ideal to me. There is always someone that will disagree. Later you write, "It does not mean there would be no law, no order, no force used against aggressors, and to leap to such a conclusion is to not understand the subject." So, there would be anarchy, but there would still be laws, order, and force (which you say is bad under a government) under that form of governance. That sounds like a contradiction to me. You are right, I don't understand. That does not sound like anarchy to me, that sound like a political movement. You want the best of both worlds. Maybe you need to call it something besides anarchy, since that is such a loaded term. Tell me, who would enforce these laws if everyone has individual liberty?

I think that is a noble ideal, because I believe that every man should be free to use his talents to make a life for himself without the intrusion of the government and without hefty taxes to punish a person for being successful.

So, I will give you an example. Say, if a man steals my cow, I can go to this "society" to ask for my cow back. They go to the man, and ask for the cow, and he refuses. In an anarchical form of society, as you say, they have a voice, but does this "society" have teeth? What kind of aggression will they use to get my cow back and enforce the standards of this society? Because I guarantee you I will get my cow back, one way or another. In this case, I think a governmental system would actually stop a violent end by asking for the cow back, or he would have to go to jail and pay a fine. That is a preferable form of aggression, since if no laws existed, I would take the problem into my own hands, and go to his house with a shotgun to get my cow back. That would be a greater form of aggression than the police stopping by to tell him he needs to return my cow. If you let a man steal your cow without a repercussion, where will he stop? What happened if you were mugged, who would you call to be the aggressor in your defense? You may deny it all you want, but it still has the sheen of a Utopian society.

By your definition, anarchy is a political system, just under another name. In the case of defense of the society, how would it defend itself against a more organized state that is aggressive? What form of aggression would this imaginary society use to defend themselves? You know you cannot defend yourself without using one form of aggression or another.

The violence I witnessed was not due to the Colombian government, it was due to the Marxist guerrillas (FARC) that controlled those parts Colombia. In the border regions between the FARC and government controlled areas, anarchy reigned, and guess what, those people moved to the government side of the border. The FARC and cartels joined forces after 1989 to make their own thugocracy, and their mission was to depose the government so they could make another Cuba, and we know how successful that experiment worked. Granted, the Colombian government is not the best in the world, but they also do not slaughter whole villages with machetes or kidnap and decapitate the children of soldiers like the FARC does.

You have still not given me a clear example of how a government-less society can dish out punishments and defend itself without using aggression. The Communists thought they had a great idea by making everyone an equal, but look how it turned out. Communist states have murdered many more millions of people than Hitler ever dreamed about. An ideal is not the problem, human nature is the problem. Thank you.

Suverans2's picture

"That is a preferable form of aggression, since if no laws existed, I would take the problem into my own hands, and go to his house with a shotgun to get my cow back. That would be a greater form of aggression than the police stopping by to tell him he needs to return my cow." ~ trajanslovechild

Let's see now, (a) you with a shotgun or (b) the police "stopping by" with a shotgun, a handgun, handcuffs, mace, night stick and equally heavily armed back-up. Hm-m-m-m-m, tough decision here. LOL I'm curious to ask, though, why couldn't you first try just "stopping by to tell him to return [your] cow"?

Oh, and by the way, there "existed", long antecedent to the governments of men, a natural law which forbids the unlawful taking of a man's justly acquired property.

Suverans2's picture

AGGRESS'ION, n. The first attack, or act of hostility; the first act of injury... ~ Webster's 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language

As we can see "aggression" is not for punishment or defense, it is the initiation of force.

trajanslovechild's picture

Don't rely on semantics. Here is another definition, since you like those and quotes: "a forceful action or procedure, especially when intended to dominate or master." The rules of a society are an attempt to dominate and/or master the people to obey the norms by a threat of aggression? If you don't want to answer the question, just say so.

In men, aggression is built into our DNA by a combination of testosterone and areas of the brain. Have you ever heard of a counter-attack? You cannot have a victory without one if you are fighting a war of defense. It is an act of hostility. You don't think that punishment is a form of aggression? Punishment is the threat of aggression towards an individual.

Suverans2's picture

You have still not given me a clear example of how a government-less society can dish out punishments and defend itself without using aggression. ~ trajanslovechild

trajanslovechild, I was not trying to be aggressive, i.e. launch an "unprovoked attack, I was merely showing you that you might want to choose another word, say "force" for example, in the above quoted sentence.

aggression 1610s, "unprovoked attack," noun of action from verb aggress "to approach, to start an argument" (1570s), from Fr. aggresser, from L.L. aggressare, freq. of L. aggredi (pp. aggressus) "to approach, attack," from ad- "to" + gradi (pp. gressus) "to step," from gradus "a step" ~ Online Etymology Dictionary

p.s. Wasn't Trajan the Roman general turned Emperor who wanted to aggress against the whole of Mesopotamia? Is he your hero-of-sorts, trajanslovechild?

trajanslovechild's picture

Again with the word play. Yes, Trajan was a Roman Emperor, but you don't have to dissect my name like Glenn Beck on a chalk board. I do not work for MoveOn.org, and I didn't go to Obama's church. My Master's thesis was on Trajan's invasion and colonization of Dacia. I proved why he was able to successfully invade Dacia, while other commanders previous to him could not. Trajan expanded the empire to its furthest reaches of the time by reaching the Persian Gulf and he died on campaign. Many Roman historians consider him the Roman Alexander. He is not my "hero," but I do respect him as a leader and military commander, since I spent a year studying him. Look, I appreciate your idealism, but I do not think your ideals are practical or realistic. You would have to have a society of philosophers to achieve your goals, and a majority of the people on earth are barely literate. It is one thing to overthrow a government, but another to improve the system.

Suverans2's picture

Not intended to be "word play", my learned friend, it is just that I ascribe to what Voltaire wrote, "Define your terms, you will permit me again to say, or we shall never understand one another...” and what Ayn Rand believed, "The truth or falsehood of all of man’s conclusions, inferences, thought and knowledge rests on the truth or falsehood of his definitions", because words are all we have to work with here.

So, your fantasy, it would seem, is to "improve the system" we now have, with "a majority of the people on earth barely literate". Good luck.

"Glenn Beck on a chalkboard"...lol...got a chuckle out of that comparison, so, thanks.

Presidential candidate Palantine: Can I ask you something?
Travis: Sure.
Presidential candidate Palantine: What is the one thing about this country that bugs you the most?
Travis: I don't know. I don't follow political issues that closely.
Presidential candidate Palantine: There must be something.
Travis: Well, whatever it is, he should clean up this city here...because this city is like an open sewer, it's full of filth and scum. Sometimes I can hardly take it. Whoever becomes the president should just...really clean it up, know what I mean? Sometimes I go out and I smell it. I get headaches, it's so bad. It's like-- They never go away. It's like the president should clean up this whole mess here. He should flush it down the f**king toilet.
Presidential candidate Palantine: Well, I think I know what you mean, Travis. But it's not gonna be easy. ~ Excerpted from Taxi Driver Script - Dialogue Transcript by Drew's Script-O-Rama

Suverans2's picture

"Don't rely on semantics. Here is another definition, since you like those and quotes: "a forceful action or procedure, especially when intended to dominate or master."" ~ trajanslovechild [Emphasis added]

Hm-m-m-m, I thought de jure "Governments [were supposed to be] instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed", to defend their consenting members' natural rights, not to aggress against them with the intent to "dominate and master" them.

Oh, and yes, I have heard of a "counter-attack", but isn't that by definition, the "second" attack, i.e. defensive?

1. an attack made as an offset or reply to another attack.
2. Military . an attack by a ground combat unit to drive back an enemy attack. ~ Dictionary.com

trajanslovechild's picture

So, basically you want your fantasy country to be Poland in 1939? Nice.

Suverans2's picture

I was not aware that Poland, in 1939, or any other year, had a "de jure Government, that derived its just powers from the consent of the governed, and only used those delegated powers to defend its consenting members' natural rights, and not to aggress against them with the intent to "dominate and master" them."

So, basically, your fantasy is the status quo? Nice.

p.s. And for the record, you might want to know I have never advocated anarchism.

Suverans2's picture

Quick definitions (govern)[1]

verb:  direct or strongly influence the behavior of [it's voluntary members]
verb:  [to] bring [them] into conformity with rules or principles or usage [rules, principles and usage of the natural law (of man)]

I believe, (and maybe I am living in la-la-land, perhaps it is only a fantasy), that if a government, which I prefer to call a "protectorate", were based on the above simple principles that its membership, after a slow start, would grow exponentially.


The law perverted! And the police powers of the state perverted along with it! The law, I say, not only turned from its proper purpose, but made to follow an entirely contrary purpose! The law has become the weapon of every kind of greed! Instead of checking crime, the law itself is guilty of the evils it is supposed to punish!

If this is true,[and it is] it is a serious fact, and moral duty requires me to call the attention of my fellow-citizens to it.


We hold from our Creator the gift, which includes all others. This gift is life - physical, intellectual, and moral life.

But life cannot maintain itself alone. The Creator of life has entrusted us with the responsibility of preserving, developing, and perfecting it. In order that we may accomplish this, He has provided us with a collection of marvelous faculties. And He has put us in the midst of a variety of natural resources. By the application of our faculties to these natural resources we convert them into products, and use them. This process is necessary in order that life may run its appointed course.

Life, faculties, production - in other words, individuality, liberty, property - this is man. And in spite of the cunning of artful political leaders, these three gifts from the Creator precede all human legislation, and are superior to it. Life, liberty, and property do not exist because men have made laws. On the contrary, it was the fact that life, liberty, and property existed beforehand that caused men to make laws in the first place.


What, then, is law? It is the collective organization of the individual right to lawful defense.

Each of us has a natural right - from the Creator - to defend his person [body and soul] his liberty, and his property. These are the three basic requirements of life, and the preservation of any one of them is completely dependent upon the preservation of the other two. For what are our faculties but the extension of our individuality? And what is property but an extension of our faculties?

If every man has the right to defend - even by force – his person, his liberty, and his property, then it follows that a group of men have the right to organize and support a common force to protect these rights constantly. Thus the principle of collective right - its reason for existing, its lawfulness - is based on individual right. And the common force that protects this collective right cannot logically have any other purpose or any other mission than that for which it acts as a substitute. Thus, since an individual cannot lawfully use force against the person, liberty, or property of another individual, then the common force - for the same reason - cannot lawfully be used to destroy the person, liberty, or property of individuals or groups.

Such a perversion of force would be, in both cases, contrary to our premise. Force has been given to us to defend our own individual rights. Who will dare to say that force has been given to us to destroy the equal rights of our brothers? Since no individual acting separately can lawfully use force to destroy the rights of others, does it not logically follow that the same principle also applies to the common force that is nothing more than the organized combination of the individual forces?

If this is true, then nothing can be more evident than this: The law is the organization of the natural right of lawful defense. It is the substitution of a common force for individual forces. And this common force is to do only what the individual forces have a natural and lawful right to do: to protect individuals, liberties, and properties, to maintain the right of each, and to cause justice to reign over us all.


If a nation were founded on this basis, it seems to me that order would prevail among the people, in thought as well as in deed. It seems to me that such a nation would have the simplest, easiest to accept, economical, limited, non-oppressive, just, and enduring government imaginable - whatever its political form might be.

Under such an administration, everyone would understand that he possessed all the privileges as well as all the responsibilities of his existence. No one would have any argument with government, provided that his person was respected, his labor was free, and the fruits of his labor were protected against all unjust attack. When successful, we would not have to thank the state for our success. And, conversely, when unsuccessful, we would no more think of blaming the state for our misfortune than would the farmers blame the state because of hail or frost. The state would be felt only by the invaluable blessings of safety provided by this concept of government.

It can be further stated that, thanks to the non-intervention of the state in private affairs, our wants and their satisfactions would develop themselves in a logical manner. We would not see poor families seeking literary instruction before they have bread. We would not see the great displacements of capital, labor, and population that are caused by legislative decisions.

The sources of our existence are made uncertain and precarious by these state-created displacements. And, furthermore, these acts burden the government with increased responsibilities. ~ Excerpted from The Law by Frederic Bastiat

[1] http://public.onelook.com/?w=govern&ls=a [Bracketed information added]

Paul's picture

"That is a preferable form of aggression, since if no laws existed, I would take the problem into my own hands, and go to his house with a shotgun to get my cow back. That would be a greater form of aggression than the police stopping by to tell him he needs to return my cow."

Not really. You are concentrating on the one event, and ignoring the much more broadspread aggression (taxes) that maintain the police in the first place.

Anyway, it is not "aggression" if he stole your cow first. Folks here use aggression to mean "initiation of violence". You would be using retaliatory violence, which is morally permissible.

Right now, there are government techniques to reduce rustling activity (e.g. brand inspection). There are also new techniques available to prove ownership better than the old-fashioned brands (e.g. RFID tags). It's reasonable to assume even anarchist ranchers would want to prevent rustling and would put together a voluntary system or modify the existing one, and would pay to do so. You probably wouldn't have to go to somebody's house with a shotgun; or if you did you'd be backed up by your compatriots in the anti-rustling society. The problem is not the existence of anti-rustling measures, it is the anti-voluntary nature of the current system.

tzo's picture

Hi Steve,

Anarchy is a general term that means 'without government.' What is government? An organization that depends upon forcibly extracting money (taxation) for its existence. I subscribe to the idea of voluntaryism, wherein all transactions between people are voluntary. This necessarily excludes the existence of government, so is a brand of anarchy.

I do not say that force is bad, I say that aggression is bad. Force is necessary to defend oneself against aggression. You have to understand the distinction between the two words, and not to conflate them. Aggression is initiating force (unjustly) and defense is retaliatory force set against an aggressor. Since the former always will exist, the latter is also necessary. But they are quite different.

If my company agrees to police your neighborhood for a fee, we have voluntarily come to this agreement. You are the customer, I am the service provider. If for any reason you are dissatisfied with the service, you can terminate the agreement. You can then contract someone else, or decide to do the job yourself. Contrast this with government service, where taxes are extracted up front under threat of violence, an aggressive act, and then service is forced upon the 'customer' whether he wants it or not. The customer is not free to contract another service provider, because the government claims a monopoly on that service. This is what I mean when I say that politics is aggression.

Your cow example misuses the word aggression. Attempting to get your cow back is not aggressive, but defensive. Society can have just as sharp a set of teeth as a government when it comes to legal and judicial services. Legal and judicial services traditionally arise in society independent of government, so this is not just theoretical. It is historical fact.

Those who wish to ignore the law are simply denied the protection of the law. Anyone in society can do whatever they want to the 'outlaw' and the outlaw has no legal recourse within that society. This tends to discourage people from ignoring society's laws, as it puts a big target on his back.

So once again, of course there has to be repercussions for aggressive behavior. Pacifism is not a part of my argument.

How are laws decided? Human reason. Like I said, we've been there, and done that. It is not controversial.

The violence you witnessed in Colombia was very much due to the Colombian government. Why do governments supposedly exist? To defend their citizens. That is why they are there. What is the Colombian government's excuse for not being able to do the one thing it was designed to do, protect its citizens? They disallow the citizenry to freely possess firearms (expensive, and permits required) and then they fail to protect them? Fail, fail, fail.

Your Communist example is yet another example of government slaughter. The government killed all those people, who else? Governments killed some 200 million people in the last century. This is their expertise.

Is government necessary for national defense? Look at the U.S. military against Vietnam and Afghanistan. Now imagine 300 million gun owners protecting their property and families against a hapless invading army. And why couldn't a government-less society possess nuclear arms?

Look, I don't deny that the logistics of changing over from a government system to a voluntary system is daunting. Lots of very complex issues. There are no blueprints, because no one can plan a free market. Many people have written many pages on the subject, and it does not seem as impossible as it at first sounds. I will post a few links here if you are interested in reading more, because an internet thread cannot hope to cover all the details. It's a big subject. If you are interested in researching more, great.




trajanslovechild's picture

Hi Tzo,

Thank you for the response, but I just think your ideals are just government by another name. I am a libertarian, but I believe there needs to be a framework of government. Anarchism will only lead to more crime (especially organized), factions will battle that think they are just in disputes, since there is no final judge of decisions. The rich will control much more than they do now, especially in the area of education. I used to teach at a low income school, and most of the parents were worse off than the children. Countries like the US will turn into Renaissance Italy where city states protected themselves, and there will be crime families that run everything from necessities to luxury items. And, I have not even added the cultural, language, and religious aspects of difference that would hard to overcome. Do you think fundamentalist Muslims would like your ideals or their leaders even listen to you? You have great idealism, but I just do not think your philosophy is based in reality. Thank you.

Evan's picture

"Anarchism will only lead to more crime (especially organized)..."

The state is what you get when criminals organize.

DennisLeeWilson's picture

Great article!

I created the graphic I use for my icon and offer it as a dramatic and historic way to convey the same message: "Politics is Aggression".

For those interested, it and similar ones are available at

The best buy for labels is the 48 pack of 3" dia labels for $32.

Tony Pivetta's picture

Those who baldly assert anarchy will result in the triumph of organized crime fail to demonstrate--theoretically or historically--that it is inevitable it will do so. (In the only case study of attempted anarchy I'm aware of, medieval Iceland's chieftain system did very well in providing privatized security and defense arrangements over the course of several centuries.) But even if they're right, so what? If organized crime inevitably triumphs under anarchy, then we're right back where we started: with "a gang of thieves writ large," as Rothbard defined the State. What have we got to lose?

B.R. Merrick's picture

Tony, organized crime triumphed when the state was created. It's the mafia most people prefer. That is a very sad realization, with which I am compelled to live every day.

Tony Pivetta's picture

I agree with you one hundred percent, B.R. The State represents the ultimate triumph of the most hardened, bloodthirsty mobsters known to man.

Suverans2's picture

Wouldn't anarchy result in "unorganized" crime? LOL Sorry, couldn't resist the temptation.

Tony Pivetta's picture

People will organize in society, whether for good or nefarious purposes, with our without a government. The question is whether an anarchist society will be freer, wealthier and more *orderly* than a statist society.

More to the point, the question is not whether the State prevents some disorder. Surely it must, if only by happenstance. The question is whether the State prevents more disorder than it preserves. Looking at it in the cold light of reason, I see little evidence in the State's favor.

Suverans2's picture

Hi Tony,
I know, from reading here, that virtually no one will agree with Noah Webster (c.1825[1]), but the highlighted words in his definitions were the reason for my misplaced humor about “unorganized” crime. (They are also the reason why "I have never advocated anarchism", it is, in the minds of the vast majority of people, associated with violence and chaos.)

AN'ARCH, n. [See Anarchy.] The author of confusion; one who excites revolt. Milton.

ANARCH'ICAL, a. Without rule or government; in a state of confusion; applied to a state or society. Fielding uses anarchial, a word of less difficult pronunciation.

AN'ARCHIST, n. An anarch; one who excites revolt, or promotes disorder in a state. Stephens.

AN'ARCHY, n. [Etymology omitted] Want of government; a state of society, when there is no law or supreme power, or when the laws are not efficient, and individuals do what they please with impunity; political confusion.

[1] Noah's dictionary was reportedly completed in 1825, but it took him three years to find a publisher for it, because no one in jolly old England would do it, he came to America. Hence, it became known as American Dictionary of the English Language

Tony Pivetta's picture

I am well aware that most people associate anarchy with violence and chaos. I don't care about most people. My central nervous system has organized sensory-sensual space-time data to arrive at the opposite conclusion: I associate the State with violence and chaos.

Suverans2's picture

Good day Tony Pivetta,

I don't disagree with the conclusion that your "sensory-sensual space-time data" has caused you to arrive at, (which is precisely why I am an individual secessionist, I steadfastly refuse to associate with individuals or groups that are prone to “violence and chaos”); but my point was, and is, if we use words that scare the crap out of "most people", they will immediately be “turned off”. We can't communicate with people who are “turned off”. And, to try to re-educate more than six trillion individuals to think differently about that word is a complete waste of time, in my opinion.

By comparison, when I tell people that I am an "individual secessionist", they don't have a knee-jerk-negative-reaction, because they don't really know what that is; so they are instead, more likely to be drawn into conversation with me.

From that point I can start my explanation in many ways, depending upon the attributes of my audience. One good way, I have found, is to begin by asking questions. "What would you do if you had a friend who began lying to you, most of the time?" Some of the rational ones might answer, "If I couldn't get him to stop lying, I'd have to stop associating with him." At which point I can say, "I understand exactly how you feel, I would do the same thing you would." I might then next ask, "Do you feel that people in government tell you the truth, most of the time?" If they answer, "No, I don't, I think they lie to us, most of the time!", then I can say, "Me too, that's why I've stopped associating with the government. That's what 'individual secessionism' is, it is when one individual withdraws from membership in the political association."

Unfortunately, most individuals, regardless of how much they might bitch, complain, and moan and groan about government, discover, with this new found "cure" that is now put before them, that they would rather not do without the benefits, privileges and protection they get in exchange for their freedom, and as a result they will no longer want to communicate with the individual who pointed out that “cure” to them, because he will be like a burr under their saddle, he will be a constant reminder that they have, of their own "volition", chosen the wider and easier path. So be it, we all have free will, we always have, even if it kills us. ;)

“The right of self-government rests on the right to withdraw consent from an oppressive government. That is the only really effective restriction on power, in the last analysis.” – Clyde Wilson, Secession: The Last, Best Bulwark of Our Liberties

″Most people, sometime in their lives, stumble across truth. Most jump up, brush themselves off, and hurry on about their business as if nothing had happened.″ ~ Winston Churchill

Tony Pivetta's picture

Individualist sessionist: I like the term. But I like the term "anarchist," too. I don't scare people off when I use it. They know who I am. They know I'm harmless. I just tell them anarchy means absence of government, not absence of order, and that the conflation of government and order is just part of the racket. Then I tell them government preserves far more disorder than it prevents. If I'm lucky, their whole house of cards comes tumbling down.

Suverans2's picture

Individual secessionist, not individualist secessionist, but thank you, Tony. Have a great day.

DennisLeeWilson's picture

Call Me an Abolitionist, Please*

I had my mind changed by Glen Allport regarding using and defending the term "anarchist". In an article at Strike the Root, dated 2006-Dec-18, (which was finally called to my attention 2 years later) he presents an EXCELLENT CASE for choosing another term to describe my general political position (which, of course, is broader than my specific political position which is Signatory: Covenant of Unanimous Consent).

Perhaps he can change your mind also. His article is at http://www.strike-the-root.com/62/allport/allport4.html

Henceforth, Call Me an Abolitionist, Please

Dennis Wilson
Signatory: Covenant of Unanimous Consent

*All due respects to Glen Allport and his article with the same title.

Suverans2's picture

Both “an-archist” and “a-theist” are--by definition--negative positions in their respective fields and I prefer to emphasize positives. ~ Dennis Wilson

Very good, Dennis! And I, an "Individual Secessionist", prefer to emphasize the only solution available to the individual.

"Secession: The Last, Best Bulwark of Our Liberties" ~ Clyde Wilson

I would also like to add, calling one's self an "anarchist" while voluntarily choosing to remain a citizen of the state seems a bit hypocritical, i.e. "professing feelings or virtues one does not have". So, "abolitionist" might also, for folks like that, be a more suitable title as well.

B.R. Merrick's picture

Anarchy, abolition, secession, voluntaryism, individualism, freedom, liberty... I like them all, embrace them all, and will fight to defend the original definition of each.