It’s an oft-repeated phrase, especially around tax season. That libertarian friend you know and love will remind you that taking anything by force violates the non-aggression principle (or the NAP), a philosophical view that force of any kind, outside of self-defense, is wrong.
In the strictest sense, your friend is right. No one wants forced used against them, and unless you are violating another, it is hard to justify it. But this philosophy ignores several facets of reality that must be reconciled with any practical world view:
Universe Does Not Validate Force
The universe, all creation, God, whatever you want to call everything that is around us – the material world that we live in, be it our own creation or some divine experiment, does not care in the slightest the reason that force is used, or even its outcome. The universe seeks balance and will enforce it at all costs.
If force is used, at some point, somewhere, an equal and opposite reaction will occur. I’m not necessarily talking about Newton’s Third Law, but that physical effect is a manifestation of this universal principle. The conservation of balance is the most universal law in this reality. Regardless, the universe does not assign good or bad labels to incidents of force.
It is remarkably indifferent.
The Power of Culture
Since the universe doesn’t give any consideration to validating the use of force, who does? This is generally a cultural concept. People of a certain geographic area, ethnicity, spiritual belief system assign moral and ethical judgments that either validate or invalidate an action. Though these judgments seem quite real, but essentially they are simply human-placed abstractions upon our actions.
Humans, as far as we know, are unique on Earth in our desire to judge our own, and other’s, behaviors. Animals simply do what is necessary and do not encounter moral agony over stealing young out of a prey’s nest. We might find these behavior’s abhorrent, but they do what they must to survive. Whether or not they give a second thought to these behaviors is up for debate, and unfortunately we may never know.
Regardless, it is our culture that defines what is good and bad. This is not some universal truth.
Are You Ready to Rule Yourself?
In Anarchist-Capitalist and Libertarian circles, there is a lot of talk about doing without government of any kind in here. But I would ask the question – are you really ready to completely rule yourself? To be responsible in every way for the consequences of manifesting reality in your life? Can you do without government entirely?
Before you immediately answer yes, ask yourself how you will survive? Will you cling to the notion of property rights, as many pure libertarians do? If so, I would suggest that you have immediately leaned upon a crutch of government. Property rights do not come from some universal or natural law. It is not an inherent concept in reality. It is created through government, a government which we, at one time, gave consent.
I would posit that the vast majority of people reading this, in fact, the vast majority of people in the world, are not quite ready to become our own masters in all matters in the material plane.
To use, but hopefully not abuse the phrase “check your privilege”, do not assume that you are ready for this monumental task. Humans will get there. It’s inevitable. No system lasts forever. But we are just beginning to awaken to new possibilities, new systems of thought and belief that only a couple hundred years of go would have landed you in a lot of hot water for even uttering in public.
Any knee-jerk reaction to assume humankind, or even one individual, is ready to be completely without government is a vestige of relative manufactured comfort. It is easy to feel self-sufficient with Amazon Prime, a fancy water filter, and some solar panels. But that is just the tip of the iceberg of the immense responsibility that awaits us.
Check your privilege, pay your taxes, and all the while learn to be a master of yourself. One day, perhaps in the not so distant future, we will be able to take a more substantive step of material and spiritual self-sufficiency.