|14A021 Slappers by Jim Davies, 6/27/2014
A reader of my recent review of Walter Block's Toward a Libertarian Society wrote me in protest. He was an admirer of Ron Paul, and said that if Ron is not a libertarian, nobody is.
The trouble is that he had also just endorsed the correct opinion that libertarians are people who live by the "Non-Aggression Principle" or NAP; thus the current condition for joining the political party, for example, is that one certifies that "I oppose the initiation of force to achieve political or social goals." That's not changed since 1980 to my knowledge, though it's a sad fact that many LP members never take the time to understand what they are certifying. Even so, it's a fine principle; one hews to the NAP because every human being owns his own life, by right; so a libertarian never compels him to yield control of that life, except in self-defense.
Accordingly, a libertarian can also be called an anarchist. We adhere to the NAP.
Therefore, someone willing to initiate force in some circumstances does not adhere to the NAP (that is, the NON-Aggression Principle) and so is not a libertarian. Simple!
In the referenced ZGBlog I suggested that such folk adhere instead to a "Some Limited Aggression Principle" or SLAP. They may abstain from aggression in many respects, but if they employ it in some respects they are not NAPpers but SLAPpers. In their thinking, it's okay to deny somebody's self-ownership right in certain cases. Not good enough. They may be very fine in other ways, far above ordinary politicians ethically, but it's not right to call them something they clearly aren't; for by the Law of Identity, A is A. A is not Non-A.
So, is Ron Paul a libertarian? - does he stick to the NAP? My correspondent wanted to have it both ways, for he insisted that Ron is a libertarian but admitted he follows SLAP instead. Sorry, friend, that's a contradiction. And ever since Aristotle wrote it, contradictions exist only in the minds of those who fail to think clearly. A is not Non-A, and SLAP ≠ NAP. Let's emphasize that, large enough to reproduce on a T-shirt or b-sticker:
"Some" is not "none." Or algebraically, Some > None. To make something equal to nothing is to turn mathematics into nonsense and to deny reason. That may be done elsewhere, but it won't be done here, on the Zero Government Blog. Here are found only "rational" reflections.
Back then to Ron Paul, who is by a mile the finest politician in the world, for he very seldom calls for the initiation of force. But he does sometimes, and so he's a Slapper. My protester admitted as much, so on that point we are agreed. And Slappers aren't Nappers.
When Ron Paul was running for President in 2012, this ZGBlog analyzed his platform, piece by piece, here. I found it generally very fine - easily the finest of the bunch. But on some issues, he proposed to initiate force: regarding abortion he allowed as how a woman's choice over the future of her own body could validly be over-ridden by State governments (so dodging the issue for the Feds, a political trick) and how immigrants' choices of where to live and offer their labor could validly be over-ridden by Federal laws. In several other ways, Ron's platform was weak or partial in its condemnation of government. On others he was very good; but clearly (and as my correspondent admitted) he SLAPs. Therefore, it is not right to call him a libertarian. It diminishes the term, misuses the language.
Nonethelesss, the writer had a point. Ron is clearly in a class of his own, far above the run of ordinary rights-violators and very nearly a libertarian. That raises the good question: how shall honest anarchists regard Slappers?
The same way, I suggest, as anyone else who is still inside the statist box, even if part of his mind is already out: invite them to take the course of re-education offered in the Freedom Academy. Its very first Segment deals with the subject of human nature, including self ownership. Students are encouraged not to progress from one segment to the next until they fully understand and accept the one they are studying, so if anything will set them straight, that will. And a later segment sweeps away the illusion that any government or its aggression can, in any case, be "limited."
Slappers are already grasping that most of what government does is destructive, so the leap ought not to be a large one - but it's vital, for this process gets the basics right; the mind needs first to get its moral and philosophical compass straight and only then to figure out specific arguments about this government policy or that. Freedom will never be achieved by granting that one policy is wise and another, foolish; they are all wrong, because they are policies operated by government, whose essential nature is to deny the fundamental right of every person to own and operate his own life. That's the vital difference between a small government and a zero government.