Does initiated force solve social problems or beget more violence?

Politicians design programs they believe will initiate force precisely and sparingly. But in reality, they’ve opened Pandora’s Box.

Key Concept: Initiated force, once unleashed, brings with it still more violence.

EXAMPLE: Politicians outlaw drug use to fight addiction. But then a cop gets shot because some addict or dealer doesn’t want to go to jail. The suddenly-awakened public cries, “do something!” The politicians have only one “something” they can do — initiate even more force…

  • The politicians increase the criminal penalties for possession and militarize the police
  • More doors are kicked down, and family pets are shot
  • Additional activities, common to dealers and addicts, are also criminalized

Surely, now the problem of addiction will go away, right? On the contrary.

  • Drug dealers become more sophisticated, use new techniques, bribe cops and judges, or increase their own violence
  • The politicians respond with increased violence of their own. Their new controls impact your life in more and more ways, even though you don’t use drugs
  • You find it hard to do cash transactions or buy cough syrup

Your inability to buy cough syrup traces to the naive decision to initiate force to solve a social problem.
Meanwhile, social commentators engage in their own naivete. Policies of initiated force create social division. Yet these commentators bemoan the fact that people have no respect for the cops.
This phenomenon is not limited to drug prohibition.

  • Every form of prohibition is plagued with the same cycle of expanding violence. Each results in a black market, with all its nasty side effects
  • Likewise, foreign policy interventions cause blowback

Nobility of intent provides zero protection from this Pandora’s Box. Initiated violence begets still more violence, not less.

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.

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.

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Show Comments 8


  1. Good stuff. But… is a black market actually bad? What’s the difference between a black market and a free market?

    1. Black markets are free markets. The only essential difference is that a black market is forced to operate in secrecy and thus is hampered in it’s operation. Beyond the threat of violence from the State, there is essentially no difference.

      1. I think it is debatable whether ‘black markets are free markets’. In a free market (i.e., a social system, in this case, an economic system, in which all rules follow or can be deduced from NAP), there exists some mechanism for dispute resolution. For example, X buys a product from Y that does not work as promised, or more generally issues relating to breach of contract, fraud, or the like. Given that disputes are inevitable, even if both X and Y practice NAP, dispute resolution appears to be a vital component of a free market.
        The current mechanisms for dispute resolution are mostly monopoly-based access to state-sanctioned courts, that is violence-based rather than NAP-based. While such is inadequate for a free market, state-based courts do represent an example of dispute resolution. Black markets, which, as you say, ‘are forced to operate in secrecy’, do not appear to have an adequate dispute resolution mechanism. Rather, black markets appear to rely on caveat emptor, or ‘let the buyer beware’.
        I’m not sure caveat emptor is a sufficient mechanism for a free market.

  2. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has repeated his call for a temporary freeze on Muslim immigration, while a review of the different strains of Islam is done, enabling US immigration authorities to decide which Muslims are unlikely to kill Americans for being Christian or Jewish or gay or for drinking beer.
    The simplest possible test of whether a foreign religious sect or cult poses a threat to America’s diverse population, is to examine that sect’s teachings on the morality of Initiated Force.
    Sufi Islam preaches that to get peace we must practice peace. The Indian poet Rumi was the founder of Sufism. The great American athlete Muhammad Ali, a convert to Sufism, disobeyed what he considered an unlawful order from the US government, commanding him to put on a uniform, travel to Vietnam, and kill or wound people who had never done him any harm. By an 8-0 vote, the US Supreme Court agreed with Muhammad Ali, that a religion which teaches never to use force first, is a religious belief that’s constitutionally protected, and therefore, the government cannot command a person who refuses to harm others, to obey an order to do them harm. As a Sufi Muslim convert, Mr Ali was free to slug it out in a boxing ring with any and all people who volunteered to enter the ring and spar or fight. But his religion taught it was wrong to throw the first punch, at a total stranger whom some other total strangers wanted punched. And that belief, expressed as a religion, is constitutionally protected.
    In contrast, Wahhabi Islam preaches that for a society to attain peace, it must first achieve total conformity. Achieving this total conformity requires initiated force. Another sect, Shia Islam, also allows for initiated force. Shiites and Wahhabis have been killing one another for 700 years in an effort to achieve this social conformity and have obtained neither peace nor conformity. Sufi Muslims have managed not frequently to be attacked by either their Shiite or Wahhabi neighbors, and in fact, tolerated, by adhering to the Non-initiation Principle and practicing peace before preaching it.
    The simplest way for the US Government to protect Americans from foreign religious sects that propose to use violence to change or “convert” us, is to examine those sects’ teaching on Initiated Force. If we do that, we find that boxer Muhammad Ali and singer Yusuf Islam found peace, by converting to a religion that practiced Non-Initiation of Force. And that killer Omar Mateen carried out Florida’s worst mass killing in an effort to protest drinking, dancing and homosexuality by killing 52 people, and changed no one’s opinion about drinking, dancing, or sex.
    It’s eminently sensible for America to exclude immigration by people who say that they want to initiate force, to achieve some personal or social goal.
    It’s sensible for the same reason, that Libertarian voters seek not to waste their votes on politicians, who want to initiate force, to achieve some social change or other.
    Moreover, it works.
    There have been Christian sects over the centuries, who promoted something similar to the Wahhabi and Shiite ideal of peace through total conformity, who started a lot of wars in Europe, seeking to achieve that total conformity, and attained neither peace nor conformity. Meanwhile, Anabaptists, Mennonites, and Amish people fled Europe for America, practiced peace, and remained at peace with their neighbors for 300 years.
    Had the Native Americans who lived here 400 years ago, passed an immigration law, excluding those European Christian immigrants who preached that initiated force was sometimes justified, the country would have absorbed millions of refugees from wars in Europe, along with the best technologies that emerged in Europe, and would have done so with minimal violence.
    African slavery would likely have never happened here. A slave ship that landed here, would not be able to sell the slaves on board, because our laws would set those slaves free…enslaving them was an act of initiated force, so holding them is a continuation of the crime.
    Non-initiation is a powerful principle, because it actually works.

    1. Thank you for this information about the different sects of Islam. Just as Christianity has its denominations, (some of which are against initiated force) I suspected Islam had a similar sect. We hear so much about the Shi’ites and the Sunnis that it is ridiculous. There should be more coverage for Sufis, but the media and the government want to keep people divided so they are easier to rule. Sad indeed.

      1. My colleague, filmmaker Tina Petrova, did a documentary about Sufism’s influence, “Rumi Turning Ecstatic”. Worth watching, to get some background on the Sufi movement. The US media seem to follow lock-step, Hillary Clinton’s notion that religion must be forced to change, so that it fits the priorities of the elitists who seek to control society. The net effect has been to drive away their audience.

  3. Here are a few points to consider.
    The only thing missing from this discussion is the world’s (read “the majority’s”) intolerance of certain groups. Sometimes it is justified, in the minds of some, to eliminate those with whom they do not agree. And sometimes there is no peace no matter what, since it does not overcome the hate from these greater powers. The groups who are not tolerated are often destroyed, even when they wanted to be left in peace. Like the Roman Catholics have done to untold millions of Christians thru-out the ages, like the FBI did to the Branch Davidians and like other powerful groups we will do to powerless groups in the coming years.
    The native Americans never stood a chance against the Europeans. To believe otherwise is lunacy.
    Peacefulness does not guarantee anything. Nor does violence. Except the elimination of the problem, if done decisively. Those with the power will win, and those without will lose. There will be no escalation of violence from peaceful people. Any other assumption is flawed.
    So, yes, force can eliminate problems for some people, and without repercussions.

    1. The mistake is to assume that extinction of a group, has no further repercussions going forward.
      Let’s take Slavery as an example.
      All the ex-slaves and ex-masters are now dead.
      But the effort to preserve slavery, created a war.
      To pay for the war, Lincoln invented the Income Tax.
      The ex-masters lost the war. Then turned around and won the 1913 Election, and passed new laws, racially segregating the Federal government, in a new act of initiated force. They traded the power to initiate this force, for the power to create an Income Tax and the Federal Reserve System, to win that election.
      Americans got a bigger, more intrusive, less-responsive government, plus the Drug War, by trying to believe we had “won” something, by fighting the Civil War. In short, we eliminated our problems with the dead people who got eliminated in the war, and manufactured an entirely new set of bigger problems, by kidding ourselves about the repercussions of abusing power.

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