Re: When it is OK to strike first.
Tue, 22 Dec 1998 09:42:01 -0700

Thanks for your interesting comments, Max. You raise some important issues.

The topic is the LP pledge:
> >"I do not advocate the initiation of force to promote social or
> >political goals."

Max comments:
>[I]n real life it is not simple as the statement implies. If
>somebody comes running at you with a gun it is NOT force. It is an implied
>threat of the use of force. Stil I would stop him any way possible if
>the chance.

Let's clarify something here. "Initiation of force" is generally understood to include the threat of force. In a comprehensive statement it would be more explicit, but I think the framers of the pledge were striving for conciseness and probably expected that most potential signers would assume the omitted details.

If pointed a gun at me with obvious intent to blow me away I'd try to stop him if I couldn't take cover. Nothing in the pledge precludes self-defense.

I'd written:
>Notice the statement reads "to promote social or political goals". This
>doesn't in any way preclude defense of self or others from threat of

Max rejoins:
>But it is ok to use force for personal goals then?

Of course not, not to initiate force, that is. Just because "personal goals" (or "religious goals" or whatever) doesn't appear in the pledge doesn't mean an endorsement of initiation of force in such cases. Remember the purpose of the pledge: to state the root principle of the LP _as a political party_, as a sort of "litmus test" for potential activists.

Personally I'd prefer it to read something like: "I do not advocate the initiation of force, or threat thereof, against a human adult under any circumstances." But they neglected to ask for my input. :-)

>Or how would you define social goals?

To me, a social goal is one intended to foster some form of salutary interpersonal relation. I don't know exactly how the framers of the LP pledge define it.

Max shifts his attention to Mike:
>Carrying a weapon is an implied threat.

Balderdash. If I happen to pass you on the street with a heater in my holster, obviously I'm not threatening you. If I were to pull it out and frame you in the sight, _that_ would probably be a threat. A threat implies menacing behavior, not just the presence of a weapon.

>If not, how else could you see a
>mugger/carjacker ... as a threat when they havn't touched you yet?

It's pretty obvious when the bugger is pointing a '38 at my gut.

>I don't see much difference in the threat of using force and actually
using it.

I don't either, ethically speaking.

>Organised crime probably benefits far more from the threat of violence
>from actually violence.

True. That applies especially to "government", of course - in most countries at least.

>Carrying a concealed weapon is an implied threat, or
>else it would not have a deterent effect.

It can only be considered a "threat" by someone who intends to attack or threaten you. You're just playing with words here.

Max then introduces some conundra to illustrate his premise that prohibiting threat of force puts us on slippery ground:

>1) If you firmly believe that someone is going to hurt you or your loved
>ones you will stop them. But maybe you are wrong. Then you have initiated

Technically, yes, but not by intention. There's a difference. You're always responsible for your actions, and if you make a mistake you must be prepared to accept the consequences. We can't escape the fact that knowledge is always imperfect, but we have to act regardless, using our best judgment.

The idea behind nonaggression is clearly not to _intentionally_ initiate force.

>2) When you are trying to stop another country from attacking your country
>you are initiating force against innocent civilians. This can be an evil

I disagree that repelling or averting an invasion requires harming innocents. The innocent people are at home, while the aggressors are at your doorstep.

Btw, there's something absurd about the notion of a "necessary evil". Think about it.

>3) When you are in a police force and trying to solve a crime. You
>has to intiate force to bring in a suspect while solving the crime. The
>suspect might be innocent, if so, then the police force is initiating the
>force on behalf of you. And I do believe some kind of police force is

I agree that a police force, or its equivalent on a free market, is necessary. I don't believe in doing anything to a suspect until she's been convicted, though. I don't see why that would be necessary. And yes, even after conviction and arrest the person might be found innocent. See my rebuttal of your point #1.

>4) Somebody kills somebody you love by negligence. You want them punished.
>Can you do this without initiating force? The culprit didn't do anything,
>thus no intiation of force, but what he didn't do killed somebody.

I don't want them punished. As I've stated before, I don't believe in punishment, only in restitution. If a person causes demonstrable harm to another, whether through positive action or through inaction, the recourse is (should be) a suit to recover the value lost. Of course, in the case of wrongful death, the best that can be done is to provide some compensation to the affected survivors.

>5) somebody in a group of known violent offenders (Mobsters, Bikers ...)
>walks into your store and tells you that you live in a dangerous
>neighbourghood and they would love to protect you for a fee. You refuse.
>Your shop catches fire and your wife dies in the flames. The police
>investigations shows that it was a fire that somebody had set
>but they cannot show who did it.

You've just described a less subtle version of how "government" establishes and perpetuates itself. If you object to a protection racket run by the Mob, why do you support the same thing when the gang calls itself a State?

If you can't prove who did it, then you'll have to rely on your insurance to compensate you. Sometimes injustice prevails. That's life.

>Somebody you know about has initiated violence but you cannot proove that
>was them. How are your feelings about revenge here? is it an intialisation
>or is it a retributal?

See above. I don't consider revenge to be a worthy motive anyway, any more than envy.

>The phrase: "I do not advocate the initiation of force to promote social
>political goals." is an absolute. I don't support many theories of
>absolutes. It's usually impractical rethorics and farfecthed ideals.

I guess one person's "farfetched ideals" are another's principles, eh?

>Real life happens in a grey zone where you can only strive to do your
>and in that situation the above sentence is a good ideal to strive for

Ok, I basically agree, but apparently I'm more optimistic about the frequency of "when possible"

Dick Gray,