Just imagine yourself in the following scenario: on a Saturday afternoon you are at a shopping center looking for clothes to wear for the upcoming summer. Well of course, you are not the only one who is looking for new clothes, but you differ from the other shoppers in quite an obvious way; namely, in your own unique preferences in clothing.
Some prefer blue trousers, some prefer black trousers, and some prefer white trousers.
Now, this great diversity is nothing new and everyone accepts that people peacefully make impersonal economic transactions that are beneficial to their own pleasure and to the pleasure of the seller.
But imagine this, you are at the register buying a blue pair of trousers and next to you is another customer buying a black pair of trousers. Suddenly, the customer buying the black trousers attacks you physically. All because he disagrees with you, based on his own preferences – he utterly hates blue trousers.
Absolutely no one would argue that, in this case, his use of physical force is justified in any way. Socialists, libertarians, conservatives, liberals, all of them would agree with each other.
But let’s assume that somebody has some weed plants in his garage, is violence justified on the basis of disagreement in preferences? Liberals, libertarians, and socialists would argue no, but conservatives on the other hand, would fall into a deep state of cognitive dissonance. They would argue that violence by the state is justified because smoking and keeping weed is immoral in some way, despite the fact that it hurts absolutely no one else in the community. Thus, they are not consistent in the premise held during the trousers case.
This inconsequence can also be found among other statists, such as liberals and socialists, in the case of refusing to pay taxes. Just imagine you disagree with the policies of your country according to your preferences, statists would argue that the use of physical force is justified in getting you to pay taxes.
You would hear things like ‘taxes are a privilege’ or ‘we pay taxes to live in a decent society’ or ‘taxes are needed for schools’ or ‘well who would protect us?’ Honestly, libertarians are not against schools, healthcare or safety; we are against the use of physical force in a broad sense (except when your freedom is at the expense of others, like in John Stuart Mill’s harm principle).
We prefer to live in society based on voluntary actions, such as the ability to buy our own healthcare on a competitive market, rather than being forced to pay taxes for an expensive and inefficient healthcare system run by the Federal Government.
Most people view the state as something gay or friendly, but that isn’t the case. The state is run based on the use of physical force, an action which, in libertarian thought, is regarded as immoral when used outside the harm principle. It is namely an infringement on the crucial natural rights of man, specifically body and property, and thus, an infringement on individual liberty.
This infringement and use of force has become quite ordinary. People accept the fact that the state is all-powerful in the life of individuals.
People would laugh at the trouser case because of its absurdity, but taxes and force are regarded as banal when exercised by the state. But, honestly, they’re the same, namely using force against some whom you disagree with.
This discrepancy is quite blatant in the case of political violence. Many people regard political violence as immoral, because the implementation of thought needs to be peaceful. But suddenly, when policy is implemented through the state rather than through private individuals at a rally, it is regarded as all different. It would be business as usual and would exist almost without critique.
This article is written in understandable language because of the necessity that people will start to doubt the existence of the current status quo and its immoral use of physical force.
We ought not to be lazy in thought; we need to rethink how to build a state outside of the box.
I would propose opening a debate on a peaceful way of collecting taxes, in absence of the use of physical force (which makes it an infringement on nature rights and legal robbery).
Political thought ought not to harm others in the end.
* Olaf Leeuwis is a political science student living in Leiden, an advocate of liberty, whiskey, blues and philosophy.