Shooting Someone in the Back of the Head is NOT Applied Non-Aggression

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“I’d have a hard time coming up with a historical reference to any revolution that didn’t involve people killing government agents,” states commentator Christopher Cantwell. “In fact, I’m pretty sure that’s part and parcel of the deal.”

Mr. Cantwell’s observation was prompted by my reaction to the recent killings in Las Vegas, in which three people, including two police officers, were murdered:

“No genuine `revolution’ can be carried out through aggressive violence, or led by people who mimic the worst behavior of those who act in the name of the murderous fiction called the State.”

Mr. Cantwell objected to what he called “silly word games” dealing with the concept of aggression. In doing so, however, he committed an act of semantic subterfuge by focusing on the noun, while ignoring the modifier: Not all violence is aggressive, and defensive violence – including lethal violence to repel criminal aggression by government agents — is morally acceptable.

Unless we are going to practice situational collectivism, we should accept that aggression is defined by action, not by identity: It isn’t the who or the whom, but the *what* that matters. Police officers breaking into a house at midnight and threatening to kill those residing therein are committing aggression; police officers buying lunch from a willing merchant are not. This is why Henry Magee acted defensively when he shot and killed Deputy Adam Sowers during a no-knock, pre-dawn raid, and Jerad Miller committed murder when he shot Alyn Beck in the back of the head while he was refilling his soft drink.

As I’ve noted before, police have no enforceable duty to protect life or property; their job is to enforce the will of the self-designated political class. However, there are instances in which individual police officers, in defiance of their indoctrination and professional expectations, actually intervene to protect the helpless, even against criminal violence by their peers. Witness the cases of Ramon Perez and Regina Tasca, the latter of whom risked her life – and sacrificed her career – by interposing on behalf of a mentally troubled young man being beaten by fellow police officers.

If I understand Mr. Cantwell’s views, he would have considered it appropriate, or at least defensible, if a bystander during that episode had chosen that moment to approach Regina Tasca from behind and shoot her in the head, on the assumption that although what she did was to defend an innocent man, being an aggressor is who she was.

It is true that a police officer receives wages that are collected through theft. Roughly the same can be said of those who receive plundered largesse in the form of “welfare” benefits. As Bastiat pointed out, we live in a society in which everyone seeks to live at the expense of the others — that is, through the practice of aggression, or at least by receiving the material benefits thereof.

If it is proper to inflict summary execution for aggression of that variety, then we’ve embraced a formula for a war of all against all – a condition famously congenial to the empowerment of Leviathan. Hence my prediction, which has been quickly vindicated, that the murders in Las Vegas would be used to reinforce the Metro PD’s deadly sense of tribal solidarity, and invoked to justify enhancements of the Homeland Security State.

We cannot build a society based on the non-aggression principle if we embrace an attenuated vision of Lenin’s who/whom dichotomy, and adopt the enemy’s tactics (in this case, “targeted killings” on a supposedly “pre-emptive” basis). More than a few “revolutions” have been carried out in that fashion, all of them eventually leading to the consolidation of power in the hands of the most ruthless clique, rather than the rejection of aggressive violence as the organizing principle of society.

1:47 pm on June 10, 2014