NAP time


Lots of chatter on the social media lately about the NAP, or "non aggression principle" so widely talked about in libertarian circles. I thought I'd take a minute to give a couple thoughts on what the NAP is, and isn't "supposed" to be.

When talking about the NAP, I often find myself paraphrasing a certain saying in constitutional law discourse: "The NAP is not a suicide pact." What do I mean? Firstly, let's discuss what may seem obvious but is often overlooked.

The P in NAP stands for Principle. The non-aggression PRINCIPLE doesn't mean an Inviolable Law of the Universe. It's a guide...a standard which, while perhaps impossible to adhere to 100% of the time, give us something to strive towards.

You certainly wouldn't want to claim "but, the NAP!!!" while you were watching an elderly man get mugged for his wallet on the street; obviously the aggression did not originate with you or the victim, rather the perpetrator. In other words, the P does not in any way stand for "pacifism". Likewise, our Founding Fathers evidently had a breaking point where the aggressions of the Crown cumulatively reached a point where localized initiation of aggression was seen as a justifiable response

This really isn't hard to understand for anyone who internalizes the "second greatest commandment" of Christ, aka the Golden Rule: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you". The NAP in my view is essentially a secularized version of this most basic rule of human behavior. You can also find elements of this in the Ten Commandments, especially the commandments dealing with behavior towards one's neighbor.

Second, what does the NAP mean in today's seemingly volatile political environment? Much of it is covered in what most of us would consider the basics of criminal law: assault, battery, theft, fraud, etc are violations of the NAP, aka aggressions against one's person (or indirectly by way of their property). It's not ok to mug someone for their wallet. It's not ok to steal someone's car, or vandalize their real property, or cheat/violate the terms of a contract. It's kindergarten level ethics that most children instinctively understand. It's the essence of the commonly heard phrase: Don't hurt people and don't take their stuff.

Comments welcome.


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