Can initiated force be limited?

Once upon a time a local fire department was being plagued by calls to fight non-existent fires. A local politician offered his solution — “Don’t respond to false alarms.”
Most statists have a similar idea about initiated force. They believe they can simply decide to never use initiated force for bad purposes, and insto presto, the problem will be solved.
But how could you possibly limit The State to only initiating force in good ways? No person or group can really resist or control any institution that has the power to use violence against them. As a practical matter…

[wp-svg-icons icon=”key-2″ wrap=”i”]Key Concept: Giving The State the power to initiate force instantly frees it from most limits.

Thus, the power you give The State to do things you like, will always be used to do things you hate. Or, said another way, the power you give The State to do good will also be used to do evil.

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 4


  1. I have thought about this one extensively. Consider this case: man brings his young son to the ER and says the boy fell down the stairs. Hospital staff suspect the son is malnourished and has been beaten. Should it not be acceptable then for agents of the state to forcibly check on the kid for his safety in the future? and possibly even take children away from abusive guardians? ALSO there was actually a case I know that was claimed to have gone like this: a small time landscaper gets a contract with a big time hotel for a job that is to pay x thousands of dollars. The landscaper does a great job fulfilling the contract. the hotel owner only pays a third of what seemed to be the promised amount and has very intimidating lawyers. the landscaper has zero lawyers and zero dollars to pay lawyers. Couldn’t/shouldn’t there be a state agency to force people to live up to their business agreements on the behalf of everyone living under the one legal system? Your turn now…..

    1. Oddly enough in both cases that you bring up the state is/would be _responding_ to force- not initiating the force (item 1 the investigation of possible physical force against the boy, and item 2 the use of fraud – a type of force- in contract). Both situations exist now, today, with a government that DOES have the ability and ‘legal privilege’ to initiate force.
      Only responding to force is the only decent way for a government (or individual) to act. Honestly if you took away the power of taxation you would take away 90% of the governments ability to initiate force. Sure our _current_ government would go broke quickly (not that it isn’t broke already), but until the advent of personal income tax and the war on bootleg booze, the US federal government was very weak in initiating force in most cases.

    2. You should think about it a bit more. The question arises from a failure of imagination — an inability to imagine society without the state. Start with the proposition that the state in any form with any powers is illegitimate (this is obvious to anyone whose fundamental moral foundation is based on the non-aggression principle). Now the question is how are such innocents as you have described to be protected in a stateless peaceful society (anarchy)?
      Since only private sources and private property would exist in a stateless society, there would not be any agencies, companies, or individuals with a license to violate other’s personal and property rights. Any actions — including force — taken by any individual to protect others would come with full accountability and responsibility for any damage done to innocent parties, something that is almost totally lacking with state agents.
      This suggests that in a stateless society companies providing protection and insurance companies would play major roles in maintaining order and providing justice according to due process of law. Natural law that is, with actual victims, not the artificial statutory fraud that is commonly called “law” today and largely exists to benefit the state which pretends to be the “victim” in victimless “crimes.” Charities would naturally interface with such companies to provide for the indigent and unfortunate in society who have always depended on the kindness of strangers.

    3. In both cases you mention government would be responding to evidence that force was being initiated. This fits perfectly with our definition of government as any institution that uses force defensively. The State, by contrast, is NOT an institution that only uses force defensively. Instead, it initiates force in all that it does. As such, it is NOT a government, it is simply a criminal gang that pretends to be a government.

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