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Saturday, March 29, 2008

RE: [LPplatform-discuss] How much aggression is allowed by the Zero Aggression Principle?

Linda Ellis wrote:

BH) I suspect you, like Kevin, are confusing 1) the general libertarian opposition to aggression with 2) the absolute opposition to any commission or endorsement of anything interpretable as force initiation -- even if it's just over-taxing gasoline-generated pollution by a few pennies a gallon. (BH

LE) I don't think I'm confused. I see the non-aggression principle as an ideal and a guiding principle. And I think that view is the normal libertarian view, with the focus on opposition to aggression, and not on the number Zero.  (LE
I agree that ZAPsolutism isn't the normal libertarian view, and that most libertarians don't take their fundamental principle against aggression to mandate absolute abstention from force-initiation.
LE)  I think you write 'Zero Aggression' instead of 'non-aggression' to emphasize the Zero, since this is what you seem to want to debate.  (LE
ZAPsolutism isn't something that I invented.  "Non-Aggression Principle" is ambiguous, so I urge people to use either "Zero Aggression Principle" or "Anti-Aggression Principle", except in cases where the ambiguity is intentional.
LE) I think the problem is that other taxes are already so high that it doesn't seem reasonable for the LP to promote any new taxes or "fines" that will be perceived as increasing taxes.  (LE
I don't let either 1) public perceptions or 2) the current mix of nanny-state policies change what I say is the right ultimate suite of policies.  What's right is right, period.  However, I've learned not to call them "pollution taxes" in front of certain audiences, and now will call them "pre-computed schedules of contestible default pollution fines".  :-)
BH) Opposition to aggression is my most fundamental political principle (BH
LE)  I was beginning to wonder after I read all the new rights to protection that you proposed in message 3652, along with stating a desire for a state monopoly on punishment.  (LE
Every one of those protections is a protection against aggression.  The only one that might not be obvious is that "equal access to the natural productivity of land" means geolibertarian opposition to the aggression constituted by attempts to monopolize ground rent.
LE) This sounds like centralization to me, possibly even world government, and it's confusing, because you earlier supported a platform plank on decentralization and secession in message 3518. Whatever happened to that idea?  (LE
I think the best level at which to protect against aggression is an empirical question. I wrote the following earlier this month to someone who 1) criticizes Ron Paul for not advocating federal protection of certain rights while 2) failing to advocate UN protection of such rights:
There are very good reasons for preferring that individual rights in early 21st-century America should be protected at the level of the federal judiciary, rather than at the level of state governments or at the level of the U.N.  However, those reasons are empirical matters of historical contingency, and have vanishingly little to do with the abstract libertarian principle of "embracing limitations on government".   Seventy years ago, when the federal government was just as bad as the various states on civil liberties, and was leading the assault on our economic liberties, it would indeed have been preferable to limit federal jurisdiction as much as possible in precisely the way that 72-year-old Ron Paul suggests.  Seventy years from now, it's just possible to imagine that the American experiment in limited government will have finished collapsing into a total nanny/chaperone state, and that technology-driven policy competition among ~200 nation-states will have made the U.N. a better advocate of liberty than the U.S. federal government.
I favor maximal decentralization of government/community provision/financing of services, and that's one of the principles I include in the EcoLibertarian Manifesto.  It can sometimes be good to centralize the judicial protection of individual rights against government interference, but I'd have to think about that more before adding it to the manifesto.  I definitely wouldn't want each county or town to have its own Bill of Rights, but I also wouldn't want the United Nations to be in charge of enforcing the Bill of Rights on U.S. territory.