A Fearful Society

White Flag Over BrooklynSomeone raised two bleached American flags on the Brooklyn Bridge. Apparently the cameras and Orwellian police surveillance signs did not stop them. Nor did it, yet, allow the New York Police Department to catch who did it. If the juxtaposition of this sign and the flags — perhaps a protest, the symbolism is your guess — didn’t illustrate a problem this statement made by Eric Adams, the Brooklyn Borough President might:

“If flying a white flag atop the Brooklyn Bridge is someone’s idea of a joke, I’m not laughing. The public safety of our city is of paramount importance, particularly our landmarks and bridges that are already known to be high-risk targets. We will not surrender our public safety to anyone, at any time. Political and social expression, whatever its message may be, has a place in our society, but not at the expense of others’ security. I am confident in the NYPD’s ability to investigate this matter.”

“We will not surrender our public safety to anyone, at any time.” Speak for yourself, Eric. Many individuals prefer dangerous freedom to living in a secure police state. And your statement reads like the political equivalent of an old man telling children to get off of his lawn. Except the old man is confused and it is not even his lawn to begin with.


Where’s Eric Garner’s Amargosa? (C4SS)

In the city of Amargosa in Brazil, citizens took to the streets after a stray bullet fire by a local police officer struck and killed a one-year-old girl. But they didn’t stay in the streets. They quickly took the police station, freeing prisoners, jacking state-owned weaponry and burning the station and police vehicles to the ground.

In the end, no one was seriously harmed and the message was sent: We won’t accept your institution’s “collateral damage” any longer. We are taking it, we are burning it, we are taking the weapons of the police for ourselves. Eventually, this “riot” was quelled by neighboring police forces, but in the Battle of Amargosa 16th of July 2014, the victors were the citizens. And what of the state officials most likely to face the wrath of these fierce, enraged individuals? Like the cowards they are, they held up inside a local hotel.

Eric Garner is dead and nothing will change because of that. At most, we will see a policy shift discouraging chokeholds (will of course not be abided by). Tomorrow or next week, there will be another Eric Garner. There will be another Eric Garner because there is still an NYPD precinct that wasn’t razed.

Read it in full: Where’s Eric Garner’s Amargosa?

A very good article by Ryan Calhoun on Eric Garner. I have said the same myself: until Americans begin to fight back aggressively against the police then the brutality will continue to escalate. Although many people would argue that fighting back will precipitate additional police aggression, I feel confident to say this line of reasoning is mistaken. It is the very willingness of people to fight back against the police that has kept police brutality in check in Europe and Latin America. Nor does the fear of additional police aggression delegitimize the right to fight back. It simply keeps people fearful, cowed and submissive. If Americans adopted this pessimistic attitude of defeat in the 18th century the American Revolution might have never happened.

Direct Action: 200 Women Kill Rapist On Courthouse Floor

‘Arrest us all’: the 200 women who killed a rapist

At 3pm on August 13 2004, Akku Yadav was lynched by a mob of around 200 women from Kasturba Nagar. It took them 15 minutes to hack to death the man they say raped them with impunity for more than a decade. Chilli powder was thrown in his face and stones hurled. As he flailed and fought, one of his alleged victims hacked off his penis with a vegetable knife. A further 70 stab wounds were left on his body. The incident was made all the more extraordinary by its setting. Yadav was murdered not in the dark alleys of the slum, but on the shiny white marble floor of Nagpur district court.

Laughed at and abused by the police when they reported being raped by Yadav, the women took the law into their own hands. A local thug, Yadav and his gang had terrorised the 300 families of Kasturba Nagar for more than a decade, barging into homes demanding money, shouting threats and abuse.

A PorcFest Debate About Force (Larken Rose, Carla Gericke, Varrin Swearingen, and Josie Wales)

At the beginning Varrin Swearingen discusses the rationale of the Free State Project in “unwelcoming” Christopher Cantwell. The board of the FSP — the Free State Project is a corporation — decided that Cantwell breached a policy on “violence, racial hatred or bigotry.” Specifically, violence. Larken Rose and Josie Wales protested this policy, both individuals having ethical (if not tactical) view similar to those of Cantwell on the use of force. Rose & Josie expressed their concerns that the FSP was excluding discussions on the use of force in the video R.I.P. PorcFest.

Although Cantwell didn’t make it to PorcFest, it seems as if Larken Rose and Josie were able to have their forum on the use of force. A few highlights:

  • (19:30) Josie makes a good point, explaining that the slave on a plantation is legitimate in using force to escape from the plantation. And there are still circumstances today where it would be ethical to use force. Josie uses the example of an innocent man who is arrested. He would be, morally according to Josie, within his rights to use force against the police even if it would not be a smart move tactically.
  • (33:00) Swearingen gets a half-boo from the audience for police apologism, specifically, opposition to state agents as “bigotry.”
  • (35:50) Josie on when it is acceptable to use violence against a politician. “It’s pretty much morally justified to do that to every single politician as well. Almost every single politician is participating in the oppression.” Josie rejects this type of violence from a tactical perspective.
  • (49:50) A good question by an audience member in respect to the police who killed Kelly Thomas. Larken Rose responds.

July 5th: Revolution As Crime, Then And Now

We just missed an American holiday, the Fourth of July, Independence Day. This is a day when Americans memorialize a capital crime: the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Fifty-six (56) men, including two who would become President and ten who would sit in the United States Congress, signed the document. All of these men were — I say this in the legal sense and not as a slur — traitors. It was an act of treason. The state could execute them. The punishments included hanging and dismemberment.

John Trumbull's "Declaration of Independence."

John Trumbull’s “Declaration of Independence.”

This story might give some Americans a patriot erection. It is the story of valiant men who stood up in the face of death. They created the American Revolution. They threw off the yoke of the Crown.

It is also a story of crime. It was a crime then and it would be a crime today. If fifty-six Americans signed a New Declaration of Independence today they would be condemned as domestic terrorists. The Joint Terrorism Task Force would be on the case. The patriots would have their phones tapped. Friends and families would be indicted for conspiracy. Paramilitary police would be used to counter militia movements.

Henry David Thoreau saw it:

“All men recognize the right to revolution: that is, the right to refuse allegiance to, and to resist, the government, when its tyranny or its inefficiency are great and unendurable. But almost all say that such is not the case now. But such was the case, they think, in the Revolution of ’75.”

Thoreau wrote this in 1848, but it is even more true today. Many Americans idolize a revolution, but the same Americans simultaneously believe that it would be illegitimate to have a revolution. The conditions are different, they say, just as they said in 1848. No doubt Loyalists also said this in ’76. But if men have a right to revolution then nothing has changed.

It was slavery and the Mexican-American War that made Thoreau believe a new revolution was justified. Compared to slavery and war, Thoreau said, the rationale for the American Revolution — taxation — was minor. Yet not only do Americans pay more taxes today (and with less representation), but they still suffer from slavery and war. Even excluding those how many new issues do Americans face that would justify a revolution? The prisons? The NSA? The War on Drugs?

Curry John Brown Mural

Curry’s “Tragic Prelude” is a mural celebrating John Brown on the wall of the Kansas Statehouse.

Thoreau had met an abolitionist named John Brown. John Brown wanted to free the slaves. He picked up a broadsword and killed five pro-slavery men in Kansas. This became known as the Pottawatomie Massacre. Then Brown raided the federal armory in Harpers Ferry. He was captured and hung. Two years later the American Civil War took place. John Brown had accomplished his goal from the grave.

John Brown would take his place as another contemporary American hero: controversial for a short period after his death, but a hero in the long run. As Emma Goldman said:

“If not for the direct action of a John Brown and his comrades, America would still trade in the flesh of the black man. True, the trade in white flesh is still going on; but that, too, will have to be abolished by direct action.”

How would America treat John Brown if he were alive today? How would America treat those who signed the Declaration of Independence? Most likely the way they were treated at the time. We could expect to see Benjamin Franklin or any one of the other fifty-six signers — not exclusively those who took part in the violence — in a cell next to Ted Kaczynski in ADX Florence, the Colorado supermax prison. Instead of hanging we would have seen John Brown strapped to a table and injected with a lethal mixture of sodium thiopental, pancuronium bromide and potassium chloride.

The methods may have changed, but the way the state responds to revolutionaries has not. Americans would see their Thoreaus, Franklins and Browns under surveillance, in prison or dead. Americans would treat their Thomas Paines as a Snowden or Manning.

This is why Americans need their Thoreaus, Franklins and Browns right now more than ever before. Not the idols, but the men. The criminals. And it must be accepted that all revolutionaries will be deemed criminal by the state they revolt against. Henry Thoreau believed that the rules came from the individual, Benjamin Franklin believed that the rules came from reason and John Brown believed it was God that made the rules. But none of these men respected the rule of law. It was that very willingness to break the law, noted Goldman, that made the revolutionary spirit possible, for “everything illegal necessitates integrity, self-reliance and courage.” All revolution is crime. If Americans are to be revolutionaries they, too, must become criminals.

Study: 95% of terror convictions used “preemptive prosecution”

‘Inventing Terrorists’ Study Offers Critical Examination of Government’s Use of Preemptive Prosecutions

Nearly ninety-five percent of individuals on a Justice Department list of “terrorism and terrorism-related convictions” from 2001-2010 included some elements of preemptive prosecution, according to a study by attorneys which they say is the first to “directly examine and critique preemptive prosecution and its abuses.”

The study is called “Inventing Terrorists: The Lawfare of Preemptive Prosecution” [PDF]. It was released by Project SALAM, which stands for Support and Legal Advocacy for Muslims, and the National Coalition to Protect Civil Freedoms (NCPCF), a coalition of groups that “oppose profiling, preemptive prosecution and prisoner abuse.”

What does “preemptive prosecution” look like? Well, try to put yourself in the shoes of a young Muslim. 18, 19, or 20  years old. You watch the news. You may be more politically literate the most, particularly on foreign affairs. And you see Muslims getting killed by the United States overseas on a daily basis.

Naturally, over time you begin to develop radical feelings. (This is now known as blowback.) You join an Internet forum of people who share your newly developed radicalism. And the topics of discussion bolster the collective ire and radicalization of all involved.

Eventually you make a good friend. You meet in real life. Coincidentally (wink, wink) he just happens to lives in your city. He may have an interesting background. For example, he may be a refugee. He may be the relative of a martyr. He or his family may have been victims of the American war on terror.

You and your new friend start attending a mosque and praying together. You continue your discussions on the unjust wars in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen. You read about innocent people killed daily by drones. And the media inundates you with reports of torture and abuse out of Guantanamo Bay. The environment you have been inducted into is a further breeding ground for radicalism.

Then one day your new friend suggests that you commit a violent act. You may not even want to. But the rationale is sound: the United States has committed war crimes. The act would be legitimate. You would be a martyr. The response would be justified. Your new friend also says he knows people affiliated with real terror group. Militants that can provide explosives. After a long period of rage, ire, abuse and feeling powerless you decide to commit to an act of war. You consent to the violent plan. The trap is set.

Your friend talks to his foreign contact to acquire the materials. The explosives are delivered. You take them to an agreed point to carry out your attack: a public gathering, a park, or a mall. Upon your arrival the police rush in. They are sporting black balaclavas pointing rifles in your face. You’re under arrest.

You’re a terrorist, now. Your life is over. Your friend was an informant all along. There were no explosives. They were an inert dummy. Even the forum where you met  your friend — the place that contributed most to your radicalization — turned out to be an FBI honeypot.

The entire terror plot, from the planting of radical seeds, to singling out vulnerable individuals, to religious rhetoric and the focus on (justified) feelings of abuse, have all been set up and fostered by the FBI. They pulled the long con with a finesse that would put the professional grifter to shame.

That’s the modus operandi of the FBI. This, more or less, how 95% of “terrorist attacks” have been prevented. Few of these individuals would have engaged in an attempt at violence if not guided by the bit by the FBI.

That is your “terror threat.” That is how the state manufactures terrorism.

Punishment & Protection: A Libertarian Defense of the Cop-Killers

Put your emotion and knee-jerk reactions aside. To understand when and if violence is permitted, based upon the libertarian nonaggression principle forwarded by Murray Rothbard, we may have to wade into uncomfortable waters. Take it as an exercise in philosophy. And take the following events as the uncomfortable waters needed for our exercise to bear fruit.

Three Recent Events

“I’m sorry for the lack of mercy that people are displaying for [Justin] and for the friend [Daniel Levesque] he lost and for the lack of justice in this world and that he felt it was necessary to take justice into his own hands and set things straight for the family and loved ones of the dead boy [Levesque].”

“I’m sorry for the lack of mercy that people are displaying for [Justin] and for the friend [Daniel Levesque] he lost and for the lack of justice in this world and that he felt it was necessary to take justice into his own hands and set things straight for the family and loved ones of the dead boy [Levesque].” – Jasper Stam, friend of Justin Bourque.

Justin Bourque

On June 4, Justin Bourque ambushed and killed five Moncton RCMP officers. His friend would later state that Bourque’s actions may have been retaliation for the RCMP shooting of Daniel Levesque, a friend of Justin. Daniel Levesque was killed by a Codiac RCMP officer in July of 2013. The investigation, conducted internally by the Fredericton Police, cleared the RCMP officer of all wrongdoing. Despite Levesque having been shot four times, it was ruled that his death was the result of previous stab wounds suffered from an unknown assailant. This has aroused some controversy and local Canadian media outlets have now begun to ask if the Moncton RCMP are paying the price for a pattern of abuse that has received little publicity.

Dennis Marx

On June 6, Dennis Marx drove his SUV up the steps of the Forsyth County courthouse in Cumming, Georgia. He brought homemade explosives, homemade spike strips to delay oncoming vehicles, tear gas canisters, a gas mask and zip tie restraints. Local police stated that his intention was to occupy the courthouse. After engaging in a three-minute gun battle with Deputy James Rush, local SWAT arrived on scene and ended Marx’s life.

Marx was to enter a plea at the courthouse that day on ten counts of the manufacture, possession and sale of illicit drugs, including marijuana, plus one count of having a firearm while in the commission of a felony. In essence, Marx was called to court for victimless crimes. Marx was growing marijuana (a felony) and was in possession of a firearm while growing marijuana (it is a felony to possess a firearm in the commission of a second felony, such as growing marijuana, in the United States). If Marx were convicted he could receive multiple decades — an effective life sentence — for nonviolent crimes.

Amanda & Jared Miller

On June 8, Amanda and Jared Miller, who I previously wrote about here, walked into a CiCi’s Pizza Buffet in Las Vegas and shot two uniformed police officers. They then entered a nearby Wal-Mart, ordered everyone to leave the building and fatally shot a concealed weapons carrier who attempted to defend himself. Although it was initially reported that Amanda shot Jared Miller in a suicide pact, it has now emerged that a Las Vegas officer shot Jared Miller and Amanda shot herself. The initial reports of links to white supremacist movements or neo-Nazi ideology have also been repudiated (as I predicted in my previous article):

Investigators said they believe the shooting was an “isolated act,” and that the couple is not believed to be white supremacists. Instead, they said, the couple appeared to believe the government as oppressive and officers as the enforcement of that oppression.

Understand The Assailants And Their Motives

Amanda Miller Las Vegas Shooting

Amanda Miller had no criminal history, but suffered as her husband Jared Miller was imprisoned and had his rights restricted due to a victimless, nonviolent marijuana conviction.

Neither Justin Bourque, The Millers, nor Dennis Marx had a violent past. Justin Bourque had no criminal history, nor did Amanda Miller. Jared Miller had a felony drug conviction stemming from a marijuana-related arrest for which he served time in a county jail. Dennis Marx was facing serious felony charges for the production of marijuana. Marx, facing multiple decades in prison, had nothing to lose.

None of the past “crimes” of these individuals — before the violence of course — would be criminal in a libertarian society.

Even in the case of firearms charges, to quote Rothbard: “It should further be clear from our discussion of defense that every man has the absolute right to bear arms — whether for self-defense or any other licit purpose.  The crime comes not from bearing arms, but from using them for purposes of threatened or actual invasion.” The state has no legitimate authority, not from a libertarian point of view, to restrict firearm ownership. Not even for felons. Not even for violent felons, much less nonviolent marijuana felons.

We must admit that these laws are unjust. And the Millers, as well as Marx, were the victims of unjust laws. They had a legitimate grievance with the state. They shared the same legitimate grievance that all nonviolent, victimless offenders share. This may not excuse what came next, but it does explain it. Jared wrote extensively on Facebook that he believed he had the right to own a firearm. The United States prohibits nonviolent felony offenders from owning firearms. Marx knew he was going to spend the rest of his life in prison for growing a plant. Can we truly be shocked that these individuals were goaded to violence?

Rothbard, The Ethics of Liberty & Self-Defense

Murray RothbardMurray Rothbard began his chapter on self-defense by stating: “If every man has the absolute right to his justly-held property it then follows that he has the right to keep that property — to defend it by violence against violent invasion.”1 Rothbard clarified that “defensive violence may only be used against an actual or directly threatened invasion of a person’s property” and that “defensive violence, therefore, must be confined to resisting invasive acts against person or property.” This was not restricted to a defense against physical force, but included “two corollaries to actual physical aggression: intimidation, or a direct threat of physical violence; and fraud, which involves the appropriation of someone else’s.” Rothbard explained that if one were to use “the threat of invasion to obtain your obedience to his commands” that this would be “the equivalent to the invasion itself.”

The “threat of invasion to obtain your obedience” is ever present in the modern state. This is the threat that compelled Dennis Marx to appear in court. It is the threat that prevents you from smoking marijuana in public. It is the threat that stops you from opening a lemonade stand without a permit. It is the threat behind every arbitrary, moralistic or victimless law.

The legitimacy of force used to fend off such a threat does not permit what Rothbard described as a “grotesque” use of disproportionate force. He rejected the idea that the shopkeeper may use force against the street urchin who steals a pack of gum: “By concentrating on the storekeeper’s right to his bubble gum, it totally ignores another highly precious property-right: every man’s — including the urchin’s — right of self-ownership.” Yet this is not a universally accepted premise in the context of the nonaggression principle. Rothbard admitted, but personally rejected, that the “maximalist” position would allow lethal force to be used against the urchin.

Nonetheless the maximalists who would shoot the gum-stealing urchin have no place in our discussion. Justin Bourque, Dennis Marx and the Millers did not face off against an urchin. They confronted the what Murray Rothbard had previously described as a “gang of organized criminals”2 — state law enforcement. It is important to understand the Rothbardian paradigm of law enforcement. As a gang, state law enforcement agencies take on a new character. What we call an arrest is kidnapping in the Rothbardian paradigm. What we call incarceration is slavery in the the Rothbardian paradigm.

Keep this in mind, because from here on out we will be working under the Rothbardian assumption that state law enforcement is a gang whose primary actions consist of kidnapping and enslaving individuals. And the same may be extrapolated to correctional officers who work in jails, court officials and legislators.

It is Defense, Not Collective Punishment

The Ethics of LibertyLibertarianism asserts both the autonomy and the responsibility of the individual. There is no collective punishment. There is also no absolution from individual responsibility. The law enforcement officer who kidnaps a man for growing, selling or possessing marijuana cannot hide behind the facade that his career requires it any more than the assassin can hide behind the facade that his career requires assassinations. As an individual the law enforcement officer is as guilty of a kidnapping as the assassin is of a murder. As an individual the judge who sentences a man to imprisonment is guilty of enslaving a fellow human being.

A misunderstanding of libertarian ethics may make the actions of the Millers, Justin Bourque and Dennis Marx appear to be a form of collective punishment. But they are not. Every law enforcement officer who has arrested a man for a nonviolent, victimless crime is guilty of kidnapping. Every agent of the court who has sentenced a man to incarceration is guilty of an act of enslavement. Even the legislator, far removed from the actual event, is culpable in the Rothbardian view. While the legislator’s mere endorsement of a law is not sufficient to make himself or herself culpable, if they conspire to pass such as a law they become an accessory to the conspiracy: “It is obvious that if [a politician] happened to be involved in a plan or conspiracy with others to commit various crimes, and then [that politician] told them to proceed, he would then be just as implicated in the crimes as are the others—more so, if he were the mastermind who headed the criminal gang.”

These are the “mastermind[s] who headed the criminal gang” in the Rothbardian view: the legislators. They share the culpability of every arrest, every incarceration, made by a law enforcement agent or a court official. Again, this is not collective punishment. This is the direct result of an individual’s participation in a specific gang action.

Rothbardian Retaliation

Rothbard reigned in retaliation under what he called the “theory of proportionality.” This is distinct from defense as outlined above. And many misconceptions arise when defensive actions are misunderstood as retaliatory actions. When people accuse Justin Bourque, David Marx or the Millers of “collective punishment” they are mistaking defensive actions for retaliatory actions.

If defensive actions are not required to be proportional, retaliatory actions require proportionality without a doubt. “We have advanced the view that the criminal loses his rights to the extent that he deprives another of his rights: the theory of “proportionality.”3 Rothbard wrote that proportionality defines “the maximum limit on punishment that may be inflicted before the punisher himself becomes a criminal aggressor” and that “under libertarian law, capital punishment would have to be confined strictly to the crime of murder.”

Clearly, few police officers are guilty of murder. And, as such, they do not merit fatal retaliation. Nonetheless, almost all are guilty of both kidnapping and slavery. And according to Rothbard’s standard of proportionality slavery is a permitted response: “The ideal situation, then, puts the criminal frankly into a state of enslavement to his victim, the criminal continuing in that condition of just slavery until he has redressed the grievance of the man he has wronged.” The practical implication is that while the Millers, Justin Bourque, or Dennis Marx would not be justified in using homicide as retaliatory punishment they would be justified in capturing and enslaving any, and all, officers who have engaged in acts of kidnapping and slavery themselves. And that describes most officers.

But we must remind ourselves — because this is where it gets mixed up — the actions of the Millers, Justin Bourque and Daniel Marx are not necessarily retaliatory. They can also be interpreted as defensive. And as defensive actions individuals would be within their right as per libertarian ethics to use lethal force in response to the “physical aggression: intimidation, or direct threat of physical violence” perpetrated by all uniformed officers on the street.

Rothbardian Retaliation and Restorative Justice

Up to this point it may appear that Rothbard has endorsed “an eye for an eye.” But this is not the case. Rothbard rejected slavery, or imprisonment, as an ideal solution. This is because slavery and imprisonment do very little to restore damages to the victims. Yet, if a man is arrested (kidnapped) and enslaved (imprisoned) — if a man or woman is raped or murdered — how can true compensation be made? Rothbard noted that arbitrary fees, just as arbitrary prison sentences, do little to compensate the victim; they are “wholly arbitrary, and bear no relation to the nature of the crime itself.” Rothbard’s solution was that, as we cannot put a monetary price on kidnapping or enslavement “for proportionate punishment to be levied we would also have to add more than double so as to compensate the victim in some way for the uncertain and fearful aspects of his particular ordeal.”

And what is more than double the price of a kidnapping, the price of enslavement or the price of a rape? We have no clear answer here. Yet, we know that Rothbard’s conception of libertarian ethics permitted the death penalty. And it is not a stretch to assert that the double of a 20, 30, or 40 year prison sentence is the death penalty, nor that the double of a violent rape could be capital punishment. This is speculative, but it is worth examining in more depth. If this is the case, it would also open the door for the actions of the Millers, of Justin Bourque and Dennis Marx to enact lethal retribution upon any law enforcement officers who have taken part in a kidnapping or enslavement.

A Silver Lining

Rothbard wrote, “Many people, when confronted with the libertarian legal system, are concerned with this problem: would somebody be allowed to “take the law into his own hands”? Would the victim, or a friend of the victim, be allowed to exact justice personally on the criminal? The answer is, of course, Yes, since all rights of punishment derive from the victim’s right of self-defense.”

This sounds akin to vigilantism; passionate, imbalanced and brutal. Yet, this is because a libertarian system of criminal justice allows — just as libertarianism as a whole allows — maximum liberty. The capricious individual, the Shylock who wants his pound of flesh, may seek it in a libertarian society. But so may the individual who wants absolute mercy:

In the first place, it should be clear that the proportionate principle is a maximum, rather than a mandatory, punishment for the criminal. In the libertarian society, there are, as we have said, only two parties to a dispute or action at law: the victim, or plaintiff, and the alleged criminal, or defendant. It is the plaintiff that presses charges in the courts against the wrongdoer. In a libertarian world, there would be no crimes against an ill-defined “society,” and therefore no such person as a “district attorney” who decides on a charge and then presses those charges against an alleged criminal.

The state does not allow this and, as such, prohibits forgiveness. A crime against an individual is a crime against the state. The punishment or sentence may have no utility in restoring the rights or damages to the victim. Or, to put it another way: “If [the victim] were a Tolstoyan, and was opposed to punishment altogether, he could simply forgive the criminal, and that would be that.” But not with the state.

What, then, of Bourque, Marx and the Millers?

It is clear from Rothbard’s libertarian ethics — the ethical framework that has come to define the nonaggression principle — that the acts of Bourque, Marx and the Millers can be justified unquestionably as defensive acts in response to the ongoing intimidation, threat and persistent force of institutionalized state policing. This is not a palatable position for most, but it is fully consistent with Rothbardian libertarian ethics and the nonaggression principle. It is less clear, but there is also a strong argument that said attacks could also be legitimate reprisals, in addition to defensive acts, for kidnappings and enslavement committed by state police. When we remove emotion from the picture, when we consistently analyze the ethical principles of Rothbard’s libertarian magnum opus, these are the conclusions we must arrive at.

But, justified as they may be, these are not prescriptions for libertarian criminal justice. That is the beauty of libertarian ethics. Yes, if you are abused you may go the Jared Miller or Dennis Marx route. But you may also go the Leo Tolstoy route. You may forgive, fully and completely, those who have trespassed against you. As a victim of (multiple) violent crimes I have chosen the latter simply by refusing to call the police. But at the same time, as a libertarian, I cannot condemn the Millers, Marx or Bourque for seeking justice as they see fit.


1. Murray Rothbard, The Ethics of Liberty, Ch. 12.

2. Murray Rothbard, 1969. Confiscation and the Homestead Principle, The Libertarian Forum.

3. Murray Rothbard, The Ethics of Liberty, Ch. 13.