On the surface, murder is antithetical to everything the liberty movement stands for: after all, depriving another human being of life means depriving them of all of their freedoms simultaneously, as well as the freedom to do with their future as they see fit. This is why those who call themselves libertarians tend to subscribe to some form of a “non-aggression principle”, which proscribes the initiation of violence, but allows (and even encourages) violence as a response to gross violations of an individual’s rights.
However, consider abortion. While a polarizing topic at the best of times, most libertarians still concede that the life of an unborn baby is less valuable than the life of a mother, in a situation where one is forced to choose between the two. This becomes starkly clear if the mother is a Nobel prize-winning physician, whose continued existence is instrumental in preserving the liberties of thousands of people, and the baby has cancer.
Here’s another example. Imagine a hostage situation: an aggressor is holding a crowd of libertarians at gunpoint and will start shooting in three seconds. Let us assume they are poor libertarians, or else were forced into a gun-free zone, and were thus unable to resist being taken hostage. Be that as it may, there is a sniper on the roof of another building. She is able to kill the hostage-taker, but only by shooting through one of the hostages. Let us also assume she is using a high-powered rifle, even a glancing hit from which is 100% lethal.
A final example. Say, there are five libertarians laying on a train track. This is, obviously, already a violation of the NAP. A train is headed for them and will kill all five, unless another libertarian turns a switch, which directs the train down another track. As you might have already guessed, there is a third libertarian on that track, who will be killed instead of the first five. Since libertarians are opposed to death, it stands to reason that killing a single libertarian is preferable to killing five – they have five times as much liberty to lose.
Of course, all of the above describe murder. However, they are all examples of murder that any pragmatic libertarian would agree to. If five people are not enough for you, imagine five thousand in their place. As you can see, this simple calculation proves unequivocally there is a libertarian case to be made for murder. You can, in fact, justify any number of murders, by arbitrarily increasing the number of libertarians on the first track to make up for the corresponding increase in libertarians on the second track. As one can plainly see, the non-aggression principle clearly supports mass murder.
Did this article make you feel angry? Did it, perhaps, make you question the author’s sanity? Good. That’s exactly how I feel when I hear libertarians justify a Universal Basic Income as a cheaper alternative to welfare. Sure, politics is politics and sometimes, you have to compromise. However, when you bring your whole ideology in line with a compromise you had to make to get anything done at all, you’re opening yourself up for an even worse compromise down the line. After all, you’ve already thrown your weight behind that last thing.
Rodion Feldman is a freelance writer (Russian mostly) from Israel. It’s not that he’s so much of a libertarian; it’s more that he hasn’t been able to find common ground with any other group of people. Too cynical. Currently an editor of satiric news website beseder.ru and the chief editor of satiric news website fakejews.co.il. Yes, there’s a pattern here somewhere…