Those Non-Violent Libertarians

"Libertarianism is the one political theory extant that consistently preaches non-violence in every way..." -- Lew Rockwell

Is that so?

"However, there is a presumption that all government employees are indeed guilty of a crime against humanity." -- Walter Block

"Police may use such coercive methods [as beating and torturing suspects] provided that the suspect turns out to be guilty, and provided that the police are treated themselves as criminal suspects if the suspect is not proven guilty. For, in that case, the rule of no force against non-criminals would still apply. Suppose, for example, that police beat and torture a suspected murderer to find information… If the suspect turns out to be guilty, then the police should be exonerated..." -- Murray Rothbard

"Applying our theory to parents and children, this means that a parent does not have the right to aggress against his children, but also that the parent should not have a legal obligation to feed, clothe, or educate his children, since such obligations would entail positive acts coerced upon the parent and depriving the parent of his rights. The parent therefore may not murder or mutilate his child, and the law properly outlaws a parent from doing so. But the parent should also have the legal right not to feed the child, i.e., to allow it to die." -- Murray Rothbard

"As soon as mature members of society habitually express acceptance or even advocate egalitarian sentiments, whether in the form of democracy (majority rule) or of communism, it becomes essential that other members, and in particular the natural social elites, be prepared to act decisively and, in the case of continued nonconformity, exclude and ultimately expel these members from society... There can be no tolerance toward democrats and communists in a libertarian social order. They will have to be physically separated and expelled from society." -- Hans-Hermann Hoppe

"First, you are standing on the balcony of a 25th story high-rise apartment when, much to your dismay, you lose your footing and fall out. Happily, in your downward descent, you manage to grab onto a flagpole protruding from the 15th floor of the balcony of another apartment, 10 floors below. Unhappily, the owner of this apartment comes out to her balcony, states that you are [trespassing] by holding on to her flag pole, and demands that you let go (e.g., drop another 15 floors to your death)... the only proper questions which can be addressed in [the libertarian] philosophy are of the sort, if the flagpole hanger attempts to come in to the apartment, and the occupant shoots him for trespassing, Would the forces of law and order punish the home owner?... When put in this way, the answer is clear. The owner... is in the right, and the trespasser in the wrong." -- Walter Block

Of course, Rockwell is probably not familiar with Rothbard, Hoppe, or Block. He was thinking of some other libertarians, no doubt.


  1. You should write an article compiling all these statements and noting the disastrous assertions that can result from a thoughtless adherence to rationalism that is untempered by an acknowledgement of the frailty of our own minds.

  2. Not Rockwell's finest hour by a longshot as can be seen in the comment section over there.

  3. A paper like that would never work, Daniel.

  4. Well, if violence is defined as initiation of force (which, of course, presupposes certain property rights), then I think Rockwell is correct - as long as we're talking about doctrinaire NAP-proponents instead of cosmotarian smaller government-types. However, these examples (especially Rothbard's child example and Block's flagpole example) do run against some very basic moral intuitions, even if they aren't technically speaking violence. (Although most would consider shooting a man for trespassing violence, but there we run into the tricky question of property rights)

    Block is especially horrid on some moral issues. I just cannot understand how he is able to adhere to the NAP on every conceivable issue and think that it's the proper grounding for all ethical solutions, when it's clear that it isn't. He's consistent, I'll tell you that, but not a particularly multidimensional thinker. (If I were to complain to him about the quality of burgers in McDonald's, he'd probably reply "Well, did they violate your rights? Are you going to use the government to shut them down? They're a private business and they satisfy their customers, so why do you want to destroy capitalism?")

  5. Gene, just for fairness and accuracy, of the 5 quotes you posted thinking they show how libertarianism condones violence, actually 2 or 3 of them show when violence may not be used.

    E.g. if I say, "I don't think we should execute Casey Anthony," you would construe that as, "Bob supports murder!!" the way you've handled 2 or 3 of these quotes in this post.

    I grant you that 3 or 2 of the quotes condone violence.

  6. Watoosh and Bob: I'm replying with a new blog post.


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