ZAP – the Zero Aggression Principle

Just as a preemptive warning, my political leanings are confused and variable. If there is a perfect political philosophy out there, I haven’t found it yet.  There is a difficult balance to be struck between compassion and strength – between freedom and safety. That said, I do have strong predilections for the so-called Zero-Aggression-Principle (ZAP) articulated by some libertarian thinkers.

There are various formulations, but the one by author L. Neil Smith is one of the snappiest…

“No one has the right, under any circumstances, to initiate force against another human being, nor to delegate its initiation.”

Sounds like something Jesus might agree with.

Just to be clear, this is a prohibition against INITIATING force. It doesn’t stop you from defending yourself, or apprehending and punishing someone who has already initiated force. Also, to be perfectly honest, the definition of “aggression” can get a little wiggy, and end up including a variety of non-actions, such as withholding from someone something to which they have a right. But on the whole, I like ZAP.

The problem is that, if we really take ZAP seriously, then much of conventional society and conventional government needs to be totally re-thought. Taxes, for example, as typically administered and collected, clearly violate ZAP, because they are collected through the threat of force if necessary.

How can society be arranged so that the initiation of force becomes unnecessary?

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