“Being all equal and independent, no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty, or possessions.”
The NAP, non-aggression principle (non-aggression axiom, anticoercion, non-initiation of force) is an ethical stance asserting that aggression is inherently wrong. In this context, “aggression” is defined as initiating or threatening any forceful interference with an individual or their property.1 I came across a website dedicated to the principle also had their own definition: it is the belief that individuals should be free to act as they choose with the exception that they may not initiate force, or the threat of force, against another person or their property.2 The NAP is popularly considered to be the defining principle of Libertarianism. One of my favorite people in history was Thomas Jefferson, and in my opinion, the majority of what he said supported this principle.
On June 7, 1816 Thomas Jefferson wrote a letter to Francis W. Gilmer. “our legislatures are not sufficiently apprised of the rightful limits of their powers: that their office is to declare and enforce only our natural rights and duties, and to take none of them from us. No man has a natural right to commit aggression against another; this all in which the laws should restrain him…”3 The opening line is saying to Gilmer, that the legislatures are not sufficiently apprised (apprised-v. past tense inform, or tell (someone). Throughout our political and philosophical human history the same principle has been applied in various forms of ideologies and governments. Even in 300BC Epicurus writes in the Principle Doctrine: Natural justice is a symbol or expression of usefulness, to prevent one person from harming or being harmed by another. (Translated by Robert Drew Hicks)- Examples of non-aggression principles can be found in The Bible; we are all familiar with the story of Cain and Abel, man’s first murder. Proverbs 3:30- Strive not with a man without cause, if he have done thee no harm. Obviously, this simple idea has been around since man was capable of thinking.
In the town I currently live, we have laws I feel apply a non-aggression approach. Smoking is not allowed inside any workplace, restaurants, and not allowed within twenty feet of an establishment.
Second hand smoke is just as harmful, if not more than smoking yourself. There are people that made the choice not to smoke, and they most certainly shouldn’t be forced beyond their control. Nobody argues with the law because we know it’s an ethical point. We all know by now, how harmful smoking can be for everyone around, and a smoker isn’t very likely to consider the harm on others if never told.
Legislature then, stepped in non-aggressively and created a law that promotes a compromise between two arguing groups. I respect your choice to smoke; please respect my choice, not to smoke. Quite simply, do no harm.
Todays government seems to force everything upon the people; for examples, Obama-care (pay for health insurance or be fined and face possible jail time). Filing income tax; although, there is no currently law which states we must file a tax on our labor. The IRS reserves the right to fine any person they see avoiding or cheating taxes. Taxes in themselves are forced upon us by our government. These are not laws to declare and enforce the natural rights of one man to another. As Libertarians, we observe these natural rights of our fellow man, and this is why a philosophy of do no harm was adopted as the key party principle. Being that the Libertarian Party focuses on what is best for a population as a whole, and stand for every man’s freedom to make individual choices for their natural rights and liberties.
Philosophy-n. the study of the fundamental nature of knowledge, reality, and existence, especially when considered as an academic discipline.
Principle- n. a fundamental truth or proposition that serves as the foundation for a system of belief or behavior or for a chain of reasoning.
When a philosophy is applied as the foundation used to build a school of thought it becomes a principle. Political parties could be considered schools of thought. Within each school of thought each person may have opinionated differences, but each one has it’s own foundation. The non-aggression principle is that foundation for the Libertarian Party. Not to be confused with being pacifists whom believe there is never a reason for aggressive behaviors or violence. Living by the NAP you would assert yourself in defense of your natural rights. If someone were to break into my house, and attempt to harm my family. Under the NAP, by any means necessary I reserve the right to defend my family and my property by the use of necessary aggression. To defend a country and it’s people from a tyrannical and oppressive government is every man’s natural right. Libertarianism means liberty and freedom for every man, woman, and child living on American soil. The NAP allows for this as a reality in this country. Our founding fathers wrote The Declaration of Independence with non-aggression as the corner stone for laws to be made.
The more Libertarians we have in our government the better our chances of living a life in liberty, freedom, and justice. It is not too late for change, but it will never come without making an effort. If you truly are patriotic, and love this country then let’s unite under the NAP and make the change. Join the Libertarian movement and let us continue what our forefathers began, and create a country based on the natural rights of all men. We are the United States of America! Vote Libertarian!
Vance, Lawerence M. “The Morality of Libertarianism – The Future of Freedom Foundation.” The Future of Freedom Foundation, 1 Oct. 2015, www.fff.org/explore-freedom/article/the-morality-of-libertarianism/.
“The Non-Aggression Principle.” The Non-Aggression Principle, thenonaggressionprinciple.com/.
Ruwart, Mary. “What Is the Non-Aggression Principle?” The Advocates for Self-Government, 2 Aug. 2018, www.theadvocates.org/2016/10/aggression/.
“Jefferson Quotes & Family Letters.” Extract from Thomas Jefferson to Edward Carrington, 16 Jan. 1787 [Quote] | Jefferson Quotes & Family Letters, 7 June 1869, tjrs.monticello.org/letter/1380.
Hicks, Robert Drew. “Principle Doctrine.” The Internet Classics Archive | On Airs, Waters, and Places by Hippocrates, Epicurus/Translation, classics.mit.edu/Epicurus/princdoc.html.
Block, Walter E. “Turning Their Coats for the State – LewRockwell LewRockwell.com.” LewRockwell.com, 17 Feb. 2003, www.lewrockwell.com/2003/02/walter-e-block/turning-their-coats-for-the-state/.
About the author:
Name: Nathan Dale Baker
Born: Homestead Air Reserve Base in 1985.
Hometown: New Albany, MS
Current: Tupelo, MS
Became a member of the Mississippi Libertarian Party on February 21, 2019
There’s a particular Bible verse I feel can describe my life perfectly: Ecclesiastes 1:17- And I gave my heart to know wisdom and to know madness and folly: I perceived that this also is vexation of spirit. There’s a saying I like very much and it says, “to become a wise man you must first be a stupid kid. I chose to work after graduating high school rather than pay for college. My entire life there has been an unquenchable thirst for knowledge. This has motivated to continue educating myself throughout this life. My main focuses have always been politics, philosophy, theosophy, and theology.
Being no one, other than a passionate father of three beautiful daughters, I am determined to leave this world a better place than it is now. I have been sitting and talking for far too long. Now is the time to stand up for our natural rights: Liberty and Justice for All!! Be the change you want to see in the world!!- Nathan D. Baker