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Is the initiation of force preferable to the non initiation of force?

–7 votes
Should I expect a consistent anarchist to be for or against using initiatory violence against other people?

Does consistent anarchism require adherence to the non-aggression principle?
asked Dec 16, 2013 by VoluntaryThinker (380 points)
it seems like you already have an answer in mind.

but I think you should know that the terms you're using reflect a lot of assumptions that people on this site (and @s in general) tend to violently disagree with.

what is implied by the so called non aggression principle? how do we know when someone is "aggressing" us versus when they aren't? what about situations with subtler forms of control and violence, like employment, marriages, military service, homelessness, etc.?

it seems like there are so many complicated and ambiguous forms of violence in the world, that to talk about it only in terms of "initiation of force" is to completely miss the point.

not to mention, why are you even suggesting that we should be held to a moral standard in the first place?? and what does non-aggression have to do with anarchy, necessarily?
Our discussion in:

http://anarchy101.org/2382/is-any-form-of-money-currency-compatible-with-anarchism

started to revolve around the issue of the NAP and so some of what I mention here will be related to earlier discussion in that thread (apologies for any confusion).

@Syrphant point 1:

Broccoli and weeds are not 'others'. The equating of human beings to the level of flora and fauna is something I have taken issue with environmentalists many times. Happy to discuss in an environmental thread.

:funky's point:
"what you seem to be ignoring or avoiding is the relationship between the nap and the idea of a universal morality. saying anything is "inherently wrong" is essentially the definition of universal morality."

My response:
'Universal morality' is far less of a problem when it is detached from aggressive physical violence (apv) backing it up (which incidentally describes the State as it is currently perceived).

"if you are a believer in the nap, then it is part of your context. you are creating a false dichotomy"

@funky: If you don't believe in the NAP and it is not a part of your context then you take no issue with apv. All 'discussion', 'opinion', 'debate' etc. that follows isn't mere a discussion or debate it is a grab for power, backed up by violence (e.g. every election). How's that for a false dichotomy?

These were my last points in the money thread:
@funky/ba:
Which is a more authoritarian approach, context only, or application of the NAP?

I appreciate your rejection of "universal morality", which is why I have limited my perspective to the NAP only. The alternative, however, is to passively accept the armed monopoly of the State as characterized in the example above.

In short, I suggest it as an anti-authoritarian principle because it cannot be enforced through apv. I am suggesting the NAP becomes a part of everyone's context. Suggesting, there is no way for me, or anyone else, to enforce it. That is the key difference to the State. The State is not suggesting any principle. It backs up whatever 'moral' perspective it has manipulated into it's hands with apv.

@ba:
"somebody beaten to death in front of me" already describes. Yes, I would say your reaction is predominantly negative and I see it as a 'good' thing if this is broadly understood to be 'wrong' and from there broadly understood that the State cannot function without apv.

again, the nap is defined by a universal morality.

apv - aggressive physical violence

for starters, both "aggressive" and "violence" are terms that are completely subjective. as to "physical"... why would emotional/psychological violence be excluded from your universal morality? as i see it, the government gains far more control and does far more damage through (non-physical) coercion and indoctrination than through apv. the threat of imprisonment is a part of that, but i would say a much smaller part (at the current point in human history) than the ease with which people's perceived needs and desires can be manipulated. you don't need the threat of violence to coerce people, that much is abundantly clear to me.

[edit] dns, would you consider "property destruction" to be aggressive physical violence? regardless of your answer, i think that is a perfect example of how subjective those terms are. [/edit]

"If you don't believe in the NAP and it is not a part of your context then you take no issue with apv."

do you not see how absurd that statement is? it's kind of like saying "if you don't believe in laws, then you take no issue with rape". come on, you can do better than that. or i don't know, maybe you can't; breaking free from dogma ain't easy.

dns, you continually twist my words to fit your (very different) viewpoint....so, i have no interest in further discussion at this point.
@ba: I don't see how 'predominantly negative' is a twist on your words. It's not intentional if it's there at all. You are welcome to correct as I have done many times. Now the thread is finally on topic.
yeah, i know you don't see it....and i feel quite tired of trying to express it so that you will see it....

@funky:

Physical violence has an objective component. Has physical damage to the body taken place?

As I've mentioned already it is not 'my' universal morality, it is a suggested principle that you may choose or not to adopt (there would be no way for me or anyone else to enforce it anyway).

"the government gains far more control and does far more damage through (non-physical) coercion and indoctrination than through apv." It does if it can delude people into accepting apv as an inevitable and necessary part of life and it's agents have fully absorbed the delusion wrapped up as 'authority'. They can then be relied upon to suppress anyone who questions apv with the NAP (for e.g. by refusing to pay tax).

Taking the U.S. as an (admittedly more extreme) example a higher proportion of the population is today imprisoned than they were in the past.

You need the threat of violence for 'awakening' people. The more power over the mind (guilt, desire for social conformity etc.) the less violence required to control and the reverse is also the case. Since the State itself is a mind controlled delusion it follows that it consolidates it's power through mind control. The violence is necessary to effect trauma based mind control.

Someone who understands that taxation is essentially theft (currently very few) for e.g. must be violently forced to conform.

As with plants and animals I don't concern myself much with non-human related aggressive violence. The prevalent belief that it is justified if wielded by 'authority' is problem enough.

What then is your issue with apv? Are you for or against (in the human context)? Should I break free from my dogma and embrace apv?

Apart from the egregious straw man, if you don't take a position at all, you have nothing to say when the State gladly adopts it as the prevailing delusion for it's agents to justify suppressing dissent. Come on, you can do better than that.

My comments on the questions asked:

Good questions.

Is the initiation of force preferable to the non initiation of force? No.

Should I expect a consistent anarchist to be for or against using initiatory violence against other people? Against.

Does consistent anarchism require adherence to the non-aggression principle? Yes.
a question for you @dns

is conceiving and giving birth to a child an act of apv committed by the mother and/or father?

generally the process seems unpleasant for the child, and the child is certainly not asked for consent.  additionally, all further instances of pain or discomfort can be traced back to the act of conceiving and birthing the child.  does having a child violate the nap?

certainly violates the naps of the parents.  goodluck to them getting a goodnight sleep. bu dum tss
@sky: only just saw this.

Is conceiving and giving birth to a child an act of apv committed by the mother and/or father? No

Does having a child violate the nap? No

"certainly violates the naps of the parents" - how?

When you have sex does your partner consider you are aggressing against her against her will? Is she doing that to you?

As a child I would be more concerned about 'adults' who drop bombs on my head because 'adults' believe they've been given the 'moral authority' to do so via elections or some other political trick, than how I was conceived in the first place.
the child would not have to worry about bombs if they hadnt been brought into this world without consent.

also, read the 'violating the parents naps' line again
None of us would have anything to worry about if we hadn't been brought into the world with or without consent. Now that we're here the issue is what we do as a consequence of the ideas we have in our heads

Even if there is a point buried in there somewhere, it seems so remote from the essential issue that it tends to underscore the point by showing how difficult it is to create an exception to the NAP that makes any practicable sense.
it's a pun, dns.
@dns I'm sure you categorise stealing as in violation of the nap

but what about buying or using stolen goods?

Ah, hence "bu dum tss". Ok, but a pun won't help us to clarify.

I limit my understanding of the nap to the initiation of violent physical aggression against humans. If something is taken from someone without violence then it can be taken back without violence.

Personally I wouldn't buy or use stolen goods. Would you?

good job the pun wasnt there to be clarifying then, eh?

i find your use of the word 'can' rather sloppy.  if the government takes something during you, then you 'cannot' get it back without force, and a lot of it.  it seems you mean something more like 'has the right to'.

yes.  I steal quite often in fact.  it's cheaper.  additionally the origin of modern property is the ability to take defend and control something, which is just 'theft' by another name.  hence everything made is 'stolen'.  think colonisation, feudalism, nationalism, etc
Interesting how you NAP people ignore emotional or psychological damage to a person as playing into violence, or what aggression is in NAP, but god forbid I put a freaking tomato in my pocket at Walmart tomorrow.
@sky: yeah, who would want to clarify something that is already riddled with confusion.

Can, not necessarily would. If something belonging to me is taken then I can take it back. If my taking it back is violently resisted then who has initiated violence?

Is the State such a violent entity? Yes, of course, and it's violence is compounded by the widespread belief that it has the 'right' to use that violence.

If you stole from me or anyone I knew of and violently resisted the return of the items you are simply someone I would avoid and encourage others to avoid entirely. Could you control my doing that? If so how?

Do you own a mobile phone? Did you take it? You probably exchanged value exchange for it.

If you make a pizza is it stolen? Why look backwards? Think Statism. That's the 'ism' of today and it can't exist with the widespread adoption of the nap.

I apologize if my use of language is too 'sloppy' for you. It must be because I'm not thinking colonization, feudalism, nationalism etc. with every word I write.
@DD:

If you look at earlier comments from others in the

http://anarchy101.org/2382/is-any-form-of-money-currency-compatible-with-anarchism

thread you should be able to appreciate why even a limited definition of the nap comes under skeptical scrutiny. The reasons they give there are precisely why the definition isn't widened to 'emotional or psychological damage to a person'. If you don't agree then please take it up with them, I've already stated my position clearly there.

'What aggression is in NAP'? I have already stated - initiation of violent physical aggression against humans. If you have a better definition please let us know.

None of it is directly related to theft. I've just made my position on that clear as well.

"If something is taken from someone without violence then it can be taken back without violence."

really. here's a real-world scenario.

i take the shovel that was sitting unused on land that you claim. (call it theft if you like). you eventually see that i have taken it. you ask for it back. i tell you i'll give it back when i am done using it, since you were not. you demand it now! i refuse. you attempt to physically grab it from my hand; i refuse, by simply holding it out of your reach. nothing violent has yet occurred, by your definition. what's your next move? if it involves physically overpowering me, then you are unquestionably the initiator of violence. if not, then you are actually not able to take it back, despite the fact that i used no violence at all.

[not even sure why i care enough to post that]

@funky:

As mentioned to Sky "Can, not necessarily would". How was it taken non-violently in the first place?

To answer your specific question: My next move would probably be to walk away and wait for an opportunity to take it back. I would use my judgement considering all the relevant factors. Perhaps I subscribe to a security company that has a good reputation for resolving such matters without recourse to violence.

What would you do? Perhaps your judgement would be better than mine ... if you care at all that is ...
I think you mean 'should not necessarily can', rather than 'can not necessarily would'.

also funky explained how the shovel was taken nonviolently; it was taken whilst it was just lying about.
Perhaps it could be taken back the same way ...
so you cant explain how you would do it without violence, so you're going to hire a security company to do... what? you say they have a reputation for not using violence but can you explain how they would actually succeed in handling such matters by any non violent means that you couldn't have simply engaged in yourself?

also at that point it seems worth it to just get a new shovel instead of hiring an army of goons to get a rusty shovel you weren't even using

now that I know you are coming for it, and I put it in a padlocked shed, would you violate the NAP by vandalizing my lock and shed?
To live is an act of involuntary aggression...that's what I don't like about the NAP principle. For all the an-caps and vegan pacifists out there, there is the option of suicide or jainism. Jainism sometimes entails starving yourself so that you aren't doing harm to any of the worlds living creatures. Anarcho-capitalism necessarily implies some sort of mafioso security to instill delusional ideas of private property and inviolable, permanent ownership.

Remember, statecraft takes various forms, just because you call your asset-protection peacekeeping security forces anarchists doesn't mean that they aren't police

2 Answers

+3 votes
Neither, and no.
answered Dec 16, 2013 by Rice Boy (8,610 points)
@sky:

Where did I say I have a 'notion of objective, absolute 'truth'." in relation to violence?

I have an answer to the question 'is the initiation of force preferable to the non initiation of force'. No. Is that an absolute truth? I have no idea. It's my opinion. If you don't agree with my answer say why. You can question the question etc. if you like, but that's not answering the question asked. You can complete the 'incomplete question', but you haven't. You're quick to accuse other's of 'coping out' but when this question concerns the very real issue of violence, which sometimes requires us to exercise our judgement and have an answer, for you, somehow, it suddenly becomes about 'absolute truths' not existing.
@ba:

we don't even agree on the money it seems from the crypto discussion.

for a label to have any meaning there has to be some logical consistency to it's application. Even if we agreed that we wouldn't use State apparatus, we immediately don't agree on what would replace it (for me fee charging companies in some situations, for most of you, I think, I'm not sure, you tell me(?)) e.g. in the shovel scenario.

Part of dialogue is that you might find some kind of common agreement, consensus, that navigates the two extremes of absolutist dictates and relatavisation out of existence. I hoped to find some in advocating the NAP. Looks like I failed, although that's not so important. The question and the debate is. Perhaps we can agree, at least, on that?
@DD:

How is my 'phrase aggressive initiation of violence' ignoring 'the above discussions of what initiation is'? It's precisely the topic under discussion. So much so I had to abbreviate to apv.

Physical violence and reasonable responses is exactly what I've been addressing all along. You 'don't "give a shit' about a NAP way of thinking" so who's ignoring the discussion really?

Asking "Is that a fair representation of your position?" is not "deliberately misrepresenting my points". That's why I asked, to clarify.  The NAP is not an absolute or a universal morality just a principle that I believe, on balance, has more positives than negatives and I suggest it for all people consistently applied (i.e. to the State as well). You reject my suggestion but have said nothing regarding why you believe shooting cop in his car is a "reasonable response to other types of aggression". I've clarified my position. Can you clarify yours?

[formatting edit]
i said I don't give a shit, because you criticized my opinions because they "aren't NAP". I don't give a shit if my opinions aren't NAP and if you do find something more important to worry about. its not "ignoring the discussion" to disagree with you. stuff like that is why everyone stopped talking to you.

you didn't misrepresent my points by asking if that is a fair representation of my opinion, you misrepresented them with everything else you said in that comment. maybe you should re read it bc its pretty fucking obvious.

I already explained how ones frustration with the state may incite them to violence. now leave me alone and stop asking me to repeat what you can simply reread.

please do not direct anything else at me as its hard for me to not respond. not interested. you are belligerent as fuck. I'm not saying that because you wont change your opinion but... anyone else that reads this could see why.
@DD:

I'm simply disagreeing with your opinions. That can happen on a forum. You accused me of ignoring the discussion which I haven't.

I have no problem with people not talking to me. I'm not here to make friends. You can do that on Facebook. Political violence is serious and I do 'give a shit' about your opinions and whether mine can stand up to criticism as well. Fortunately you can't enforce you opinions on me, but unfortunately, most people can via the State apparatus.

That's why I asked. You don't explain why it's such a misrepresentation. You just return to a broad rejection of the question itself - "we are trying not to deal in absolutes". I wonder if that's how the cop in the car would see it?

The question: is-the-initiation-force-preferable-the-non-initiation-force?

Your answer appears to be: "ones frustration with the state may incite them to violence". It may. But it doesn't answer the question. I haven't asked you to repeat anything.

Its hard for you to not respond because you're not interested? Is it belligerent to point out straightforward illogicality? If it is, then, yes, 'belligerent as fuck' I am.
0 votes
Example: My friend becomes an 'anarcho-capitalist', and then I give him a stiff kick in his ass. :)

The way I understand it is that anarchism isn't a moral prescription. It doesn't and can't dictate how people should act. I'm still trying to figure out how to reconcile this with my previous conception of anarchism as a moralistic save-the-world type utopian social anarchism and Egoism. I am a confused puppy.
answered Dec 16, 2013 by formyinformation (2,390 points)
@DD:

I don't envisage a world in which it would never be necessary to lock certain (usually violently aggressive) people up. Prisons are an unfortunate necessity. Having them run by companies that I, and everyone else, can scrutinize and either support or not is preferable to an outfit that we know is run by a morally self-righteous mob that goes around imprisoning people for smoking plants and extorting everyone to pay for it's operations (or locking them up as well).

I suggest that violence is a last resort in the vast majority of circumstances and that it probably couldn't easily be justified as 'defense' in the case of the shovel. How likely is it that I'm going to come to actual physical harm due to loss of the shovel? Taking back something that belongs to you isn't 'moralizing'. It's just a restoration back to the previous circumstance.

You might judge that I'm a pushover and that now the rake etc. is up for grabs. Although, in the examples you've given previously as well, so far, I'm not impressed by your 'judgement'.

Its not apv if I deal with it in a non-aggressive way. That's how I would attempt to deal with it. Depending on circumstance this could involve more or less skill. If it's a 'tricky' situation I might turn to others with better skills and attributes than me to help resolve the issue non-violently. If your judgement led you to use apv you would be the one initiating apv, then for me it would be a matter of self-defense.

"how is that any different from me saying my violence isn't aggressive because I think the cop has bad judgement for becoming a cop?" Because the cop isn't actually aggressing against you as he sits in his car. Bad judgement + actual apv = a worse world for all of us. Currently we trust our extortionists to make these judgement calls for us. I suggest we do it ourselves. Such a change suggests a greater confidence in ordinary people to make judgement calls than we currently have in the State. The responsibility for good judgement falls onto the individual where it belongs. You've told me what 'good judgement' means to you. I disagree. I hope most other reasonable people would as well. Otherwise we're actually better off with no change, which, given the current state of the world would be a sad conclusion.

What "non physical types of harm could incite a reasonable person to violence"?

"I suggest that violence is a last resort in the vast majority of circumstances and that it probably couldn't easily be justified as 'defense' in the case of the shovel. How likely is it that I'm going to come to actual physical harm due to loss of the shovel? Taking back something that belongs to you isn't 'moralizing'. It's just a restoration back to the previous circumstance."

I said you are moralizing because you are talking about a system of morals and looking down on those who don't adhere to it (NAP). maybe you forgot why and when you were trying to take the shovel back without apv, which is why I implied you were going to telekinesis it with your mage powers.

"really. here's a real-world scenario.

i take the shovel that was sitting unused on land that you claim. (call it theft if you like). you eventually see that i have taken it. you ask for it back. i tell you i'll give it back when i am done using it, since you were not. you demand it now! i refuse. you attempt to physically grab it from my hand; i refuse, by simply holding it out of your reach. nothing violent has yet occurred, by your definition. what's your next move? if it involves physically overpowering me, then you are unquestionably the initiator of violence. if not, then you are actually not able to take it back, despite the fact that i used no violence at all."

"Its not apv if I deal with it in a non-aggressive way. That's how I would attempt to deal with it. Depending on circumstance this could involve more or less skill. If it's a 'tricky' situation I might turn to others with better skills and attributes than me to help resolve the issue non-violently. If your judgement led you to use apv you would be the one initiating apv, then for me it would be a matter of self-defense."

again, turning to others with more skill is a cop out, like I said earlier, until you explain how it can be done without apv, I'm assuming it cant.

"What "non physical types of harm could incite a reasonable person to violence?"

seriously? another thing from the beginning you forgot about, go read the comments on the question from the beginning.

considering that is the third thing I reminded you of, I think we are now in circles and I am finished. goodbye.

edited to clean sloppy quotes and change answer to question in the last few sentences

@DD:

Even if I was 'looking down on those who don't adhere to it (NAP)', why would that create a real problem for you? It's not like I could enforce it. I'll take other people's 'morality' (which I can ignore) over being shot sitting in a car because someone doesn't like my uniform any day.

I've set out my position on the shovel scenario already. Could it turn violent? Yes, it's possible. Should it turn violent? My judgement. Yours and anyone else who finds themselves in such a situation.

The 'others' would, of course, be confronted with the same set of issues, it's just that they may be more skilled and experienced at handling them. If the intention is to avoid violence, which, in my case, it would be, then turning to such help would be a good idea imo.

"What "non physical types of harm could incite a reasonable person to violence?" Again a question simply answered with another question i.e. a cop out.

I read the earlier comments. I don't see what I'm supposed to have forgotten.

no problem, that's just why I said you are moralizing. 

"What "non physical types of harm could incite a reasonable person to violence?"

your answer:

"I've set out my position on the shovel scenario already. Could it turn violent? yes"

and I was talking about how we mentioned non physical forms of harm like psychological and emotional abuse. manipulation, idk anything like stealing ur shovel according to u

I feel like you aren't even thinking about your responses, as you contradict yourself so much. your efforts to walk back and clean up the slop make it worse (see above).

not copping out just not worth the time. 

@DD:

It turning violent doesn't imply 'non physical types of harm'.

"psychological and emotional abuse. manipulation, idk anything" - indeed, but I specifically related the NAP to 'physical violence' which you would know if you read my earlier comments.

You haven't pointed out any contradiction. You've simply demonstrated that you never listened to or thought about what I was actually saying.

...