Are some people confused about what a government is?

Institutions that violate the purpose of government are NOT governments.

Not all institutions that call themselves government actually are. Governments are supposed to fight crime, deter invaders, adjudicate disputes, promote order and foster security. Therefore, any institution that…

…CANNOT be a government.

  • Initiating force negates the very function of government
  • Legitimate government only uses force defensively

Thus, when any so-called government routinely initiates force it will be more accurate to put the word “government” in scare quotes. Better yet, use the alternative name we suggest in our Mental Lever titled The State.

Promote empathy and Zero Aggression through linguistic clarity. Define government correctly. Do not confer the name government on institutions that are unworthy of the name.

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Jim Babka

About the Author

Jim Babka

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Jim Babka is co-founder of the Zero Aggression Project and President of, Inc. He’s an author and former talk show host.
Previously, he was the President of, Inc., defending free press rights all the way to the Supreme Court. He and Susie are the proud, home-schooling parents of three teenagers. He enjoys theology, UFC, target practice, and Tai Chi.

Perry Willis

About the Author

Perry Willis

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Perry Willis is the co-founder of the Zero Aggression Project and Downsize DC. He was the National Director of the Libertarian National Committee on two occasions, and ran two Libertarian Party presidential campaigns. He has an extensive background in marketing and fundraising, and has ghost written direct mail appeals for numerous luminaries, including Karl Hess, Ron Paul, Charlton Heston and Harry Browne.

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Show Comments 20


  1. Linguistic clarity huh? Great, now the Libertarians have decided to use the weapons of choice of the major parties — memes and linguistic redefinition. I find this completely dismaying. Not so much using actual definitions to counter all the BS out there, but referring to these strategies as “mental levers.” While we’re being so careful about definitions, look up lever — it’s a way to maximize FORCE. Sure it’s rationalizeable by claiming it’s force of argument but it’s a serious sidetrack. And for those used to playing with language on the left it’s trivial to refute and leaves us in a worst state (being hypocrites about working differently from the other parties using spin and language memes to manufacture support). At a time when our support in thè general populace is higher than ever we are shooting ourselves in the foot. I thought ZAP was a great idea but if this is the direction it’s taking, I want off the bus.

    1. Hi Eva. A lever is indeed a tool that applies force. There are many types of force — the electromagnetic force, the force of gravity, defensive force, initiated force. Only one type of force is wrong — initiated force. And, in point of fact, using the idea of levers as a metaphor works quite well in this case. I know of few cases where levers are used to initiate force. Levers are most commonly seen as a way to be constructive — to build things. That’s how we’re employing the metaphor. We want to build a sound, coherent, internally consistent approach to thinking about political issues. We hope this clarifies things.

    2. Here’s the thing for those of you who are having a hard time understanding English and the correct function of language. Words mean what they mean. It’s that simple. There is no RE-defining of words in this case. “Government” means The State. Nothing new here! It’s always meant that. The Mindbenders and Thoughttwisters have been pushing their agenda for a very long time in America. Nothing new there either. Manufacturing consent is not a new idea. Indoctrinating and conditioning the population by word manipulation and doublespeak is a tactic of the Neocon-Socialist Alliance. The Neocon-Socialist Collective Agenda has been very successfully using those tactics for generations. It is time WE counter those tactics [Which create hysteria, a mental illness, insanity, and promote mob rule, irrational democracy.] by using language and words “correctly”. By applying the correct meanings of words in our discussions [which means “debates”] and conversations. BTW, some of the comments here reflect just how successful the Mindbenders have been in indoctrinating the People. It is unfortunate that people who have been afflicted and contaminated [read : damaged and diseased] fail to See just how much they have been duped by the Mindbenders of the State and the Media.

      1. A short list of words that are misused and intentionally miss-applied in America by the State and the Media, and, hence, by the general population [out of ignorance perpetuated by the Mindbenders]
        Traitor, treason, equal/equality, underage child [a fetus], “person” [“For the purposes of the income tax the word “person” means a corporation…” This is a direct quote from US Tax Code], United States citizen [refer: 14th Amendment], pedophile [It doesn’t mean what you have been indoctrinated to believe it means], marriage [A Natural Unalienable Human Right] State marriage [A fraudulent government “program” having nothing to do with marriage! A criminal scheme to incorporate you and your spouse.] same-sex marriage [Sex is an ACT, the correct word is “gender”], income [When used by the State it means “corporate profits” Refer: U. S. Tax Code.], child [A human being under the age of puberty, pre-pubescent, universally acknowledged and accepted as being under 12. The word child has recently been miss-defined by the State to mean any “minor”, under the age of 18, which is a fabricated and arbitrary “fiction” invented out of thin air and codified in title 18 of the US Code. Title 18 makes us ALL felons for legal [State controlled system] purposes.], national security, which means the securing of State power over the country and the People, and has nothing to do with OUR security or the safety of the country.

        1. Oh yes, it’s refreshing to find someone who appreciates the importance of being clear. Words are essential for precise communication. If you leave a sophist an opening by sloppy definitions, he will ignore context and misrepresent a concept to confuse and mislead.
          Thank you De McClung.
          I want to point out a trend (conspiracy?) I detected about 2000 involving the word “feel”. I started to see it used wrongly, in place of “think” or “believe”. Since I know brainwashing relies heavily on emotions, I was sensitive to this misuse. As time went on the misuse of “feel” became widespread and more egregious. Now it is used as if it is a synonym for think. This is very useful to those who want to bypass the thought process and sell the lie that if one has an emotion associated with a belief, then that belief must be correct, in fact, is self evident because of the emotion.

  2. I love your organization and all you do BUT distinguishing between government and state works only if you insert the word legitimate before the word government whenever you use the word government.
    Most government everywhere is not legitimate. That includes much local and state government everywhere. Under unlimited democracy it is nearly impossible for government to be legitimate.
    Defining your terms works in a person to person conversation. It does not work when you attempt to change the commonly understood definition.

  3. I agree with Erne. Since no legitimate govt. exists, or has ever existed, your new type of govt. might be difficult to explain as people keep shifting to the old definition. Making matters worse, no existing govt. would be fixable or changeable to your legitimate govt. That was tried in 1776. We need a completely fresh start, a new paradigm. So why not a new name for our new system of social interaction?
    A “voluntary” for voluntary governance of voluntarists.

    1. Hi voluntaryist. Do you still think government is illegitimate if it does NOT initiate force? Please notice that the Founders did NOT try to give us that kind of government.

      1. An institution that called itself “government” but on principle forbid coercion would be very confusing. It might even be good cover for existing government. Just as there is no good word for initiated force, although “coercion” is now used because it is short, and very close, there is no word for an institution that governs by voluntary interaction, unless you think using the word “private” as an adjective is a good indicator of voluntary. However, private is used to describe many monopolies, and quasi-monopolies. Monopolies exist by the indirect use of coercion, e.g., govt. excluding or limiting competition. It might be argued that no business that needs a permit is private. The act of applying for a permit implies the acceptance of a state’s authority to deny, as if the activity was not a right.
        That is why I suggested a new name for a coerce-free governing body. This is what statists fear. They fear a clear distinction because it makes it easier for people to discriminate between voluntary and coercive organizations, especially those that govern. But the new word must be carefully chosen so that it is difficult for statist/collectivists to misrepresent it.
        Doesn’t it make sense to coin a new word for a new form of governing. You may say, “But the old form did not govern.” I agree. We can go there. Or we can skip that step and go straight to introducing a new public form of interaction.

        1. By the way, your comment program does not allow editing. I put a period where a question mark should have gone. Also, I would change the word “good” to “perfect” or “exact”.

  4. As a subscriber of “The Voluntaryist” (notice the spelling) for over thirty years, I wonder who came up with the new spelling of this word? Who started it? I’m going to ask Carl.

    1. Carl doesn’t know who used it first, but Auberon Herbert, an Englishman, used the spelling “voluntaryist” in the late 1800’s.

  5. Hope that I could get some signatures on this petition I just made recently. I believe this group would understand this concept .
    Presently, law enforcement can violate rights, make arbitrary accusations, hold people in jail in private prisons that require bail money without going to court, kill and brutally assault people on the street .
    If the Non Aggression Principle is applied to law enforcement, it would change the precedence of force that government applies to not allow them to make an arrest or give a citation unless a victim has been violated, there is evidence to support the claim.
    Example: A driver gets a speeding ticket. Instead of getting a speeding ticket because of a rated speed, there would need to be a victim whom was actually harmed because the driver was speeding at the rated speed determined. So, there would have to be an accident, injury, vehicle damage, death, property destruction to prove they caused harm to a victim.
    It enables self responsibility and freedom without fear of false accusation, wrongful arrest, violation of privacy, confiscation of property.

  6. Can anyone here give a working definition of ‘government’? Without agreement on the definition of that word all these comments are confusing…

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