Commenter I.Georgiev challenges Gene: "Gene, your quote of Block is misplaced. In this paper Block give an example where an individual is FIRST robbed by a Mafia, THEN he tries to get his stolen property back and IN THE PROCESS of doing so he harms the Mafia's agents who are trying to prevent him from doing so. Would you please be so kind to let me know where is the injustice in this example? A ) Is it the act of ROBBERY by the Mafia's agents, B) is it the act of restitution performed by the Mafia's victim (which involves the physical harm of individuals trying to prevent the JUST owner of the property to gain possession of what is rightfully his)?
Mr. Block does not (explicitly) specify the course of actions, that is, whether the victim first finds out that the Mafia keeps its loot (a part of which is his now-stolen property) in a store-house where there are "guards" who do not have guns with them, but rather are there in order to politely give back the loot to the robbed-original-property owners who find the store-house and express their wish to get their belongings back, and whether the victim knowing this information buys himself a kalashnikov goes to the store-house murders all the "guards" and takes his property; or whether the "guards" actually ARE guards, are NOT polite (i.e. do not want to cooperate) but rather hostile and prefer to try their best to stop any victim of their robberies from performing restitution. In the second case where the guards are guards and as such they respectfully DECLINE to peacefully give back what is NOT THEIRS, THEN:
"pretty much anything you do to or against them will be more than fully deserved."
what Block is NOT saying is EXACTLY WHAT YOU TRY TO INSINUATE HE IS SAYING, and that is what you paint to be as a LIBERTARIAN CALLING, something as a duty that makes one a real libertarian, and this duty is supposed to be: go ahead and murder the state and its agents."
Now I don't know Walter Block's thinking on these things in any great detail so I need you guys to help me sort this out. I.Georgiev seems to me to be contradicting himself here although I find his prose somewhat confusing. Unless he's saying "Block thinks killing agents of the state is justified but not necessarily a duty" - perhaps he's saying that - but I can't understand how he's not at least saying that it's justified. If you think the government is akin to the Mafia and you think that responding to the Mafia with violence is acceptable under the non-aggression principle because you aren't the aggressor (they are), then what argument could you possibly make against the Breivik situation. It seems to me once you accept the premise that the government is a criminal enterprise that we're all victims of, you've given up any counter-argument to Breivik and you certainly can't hide behind the non-aggression principle. Block seems to understand this. Lots of other people seem to be in denial. I don't happen to agree with Block. I don't think government in general is analagous to a criminal enterprise at all (although certain governments have been criminal).
I made this point in this post too, where I made the probably too strong suggestion of saying that libertarians didn't really believe taxation is theft because they didn't respond to it the way they would respond to a thief in their house. Later I conceded the point on a lot of that. However, even if there are very good reasons why any given libertarian might (1.) think taxation is theft, but (2.) not respond, it seems to me nobody that thinks taxation is theft would begrudge someone else's response or consider them to be acting unjustly. I understand not all libertarians are going to respond this way and they might have good reason not too, but if you really think the state is criminal and taxation is theft how could you argue against someone who refuses to take that aggression lying down? It seems to me you have two options: (1.) think the state is criminal and a violent response is justified, it's just not for you, or (2.) think the state is not a criminal enterprise and thus that a violent response is unjustified.
A lot of libertarians seem to want it both ways. They want to say the state is the mafia, the state is criminal, the state is the biggest mass murderer in history, the state is the biggest thief in history - put simply, the state is the biggest aggressor in history. But then when someone says "I am going to respond to this aggressor" they try to whip out the non-aggression principle as a defense.
I don't think that works, guys.
This is getting way past the "is Breivik a libertarian" question. Let's say he's not at all, he just happens to think the state is an aggressor. I know what I'd say in response to that: "The state is not an aggressor and you, Mr. Breivik, are a murderer and you're lucky you don't live in a country where they execute murderers because if I were on your jury I know what my sentencing recommendation would be". What can libertarians say? Can they dispute that the state is an aggressor? No, I don't think so. Can they invoke the non-aggression principle if the state is an aggressor? No, I don't think so. What's the argument against Breivik if you've burrowed yourself in this ethical hole? I truly don't understand what the argument is except for a gut feeling (which isn't necessarily a bad thing - gut feelings are there for a reason). I just wish more people would compare what they feel in their gut to their more formal pronouncements about ethics, justice, and the state.
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