The human race is oppressed. What makes this unique is that humans are also the ones that do the oppressing. It does not take a doctorate of philosophy to demonstrate why oppressors are acting unjustly and immorally. And even those of us who accept the principle that it is immoral to initiate force, embrace the individual’s right to self-defense. Does political violence, (‘terrorism’, assassinations, military coups) fall under the category of self-defense by the oppressed? The ambiguity in this question makes it impossible to answer.
Political violence is the use of physical force to affect change in the political landscape of a Nation, or the world. This definition encompasses a wide variety of potential types of political violence and each individual case of political violence must be examined. We can however come to some general conclusions about the nature of political violence.
Even the most devout believers of the Social Contract understand and accept the contractual obligations that such concepts imply. These include paying taxes and obeying the laws, and are rewarded with ‘safety’ and ‘order’. The ‘Social Contract’ in the U.S. is actually a written document, making it much easier to prove that Uncle Sam has not fulfilled its contractual obligations. Those who are ‘bound’ by this contract have every right to sever the contract and refuse the paying of taxes or obeying tyrannical laws. As Aquinas said, “An unjust law is no law”, and when a government enforces unjust laws that aggress upon private property, it becomes tyrannical.
This brings us to the question at hand. Is it immoral to use force to oust a tyrant?
Our culture is permeated from the top down with the use of force in order to reduce the use of force, starting with the monopolist itself, government. This is an oxymoronic contradiction that sheds light upon the real definition of government. This of course, goes largely unnoticed to the average person but goes a long way to explaining the militaristic tendencies of the populace.
The overthrow of a government cannot be cloaked in the shroud of “political violence”, but must be seen as the mass social interaction that it is. Society is merely an abstract representation of individuals whom have rights that do not change. In this respect we have to consider the actions involved in a militia-style coup and assess the relation to the principle of non-aggression.
Consider the typical storming of a State’s central government office. Are the doormen, janitors, tourists, clerks and tour guides initiating force or threatening the initiation of force? It is inevitable that the oppressors will not be the only casualties. Even if it was possible to engage in a swift destabilization effort without initiating force against anyone but the oppressors, is the threat they are posing at the moment imminent? If not, the act is immoral and unjustified. As libertarian anarchists we recognize that the only moral and most efficient social action is by means of persuasion and not coercion. There is a difference between revenge, and self-defense. If we can agree that it is immoral to initiate force against others then we have a solid common ground.
Is Voting Political Violence? Is it Self-Defense?
Is it immoral to use the coercive force of the ballot to impose one’s views upon a fellow human being? This would be a more pertinent question if voting actually mattered, but let us say for instance you are about to cast the deciding vote in an election. Is it moral to vote for the candidate who supports less coercion, thus making the vote an act of self-defense? Absolutely not, as you have no right to force or compel another person to live free of government coercion. Voting cannot be solely an act of self-defense; it is always supportive of some form of coercion on others.
As evidenced by decades of libertarian theory, coercion is inefficient and often arrives at unintended consequences. Voting is merely another form of coercion, and how has that worked out for is?
There is only one way to free humanity;
Hearts and Minds
- Adam Alcorn, @AdamBlacksburg, email@example.com