Are there exceptions to the Zero Aggression Principle?

Statists think it’s okay to violate the Zero Aggression Principle to achieve a good result, or prevent a bad one. But this creates a contradiction, because initiating force is itself a bad result.

[wp-svg-icons icon=”key-2″ wrap=”i”]Key Concept: Doing something negative (initiating force) takes you away from the positive. You’re in arrears the moment you attempt to use bad means to achieve good ends.

This should create a bias against initiating force, even for the best intentions. Instead of digging deep for exceptions to the Zero Aggression Principle, people should choose one of the many nonviolent options available to pursue their goals. But…
Statists love violence-based solutions, so they keep striving to find justifications. Our “Statism & Statist Myths” collection of Mental Levers rebuts many of these attempted excuses.

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 6


  1. Exception: I don’t believe people have a right to purchase a ( bomb or nuclear bomb ). These are reserved for military purposes… If I purchase a bomb and a burglar breaks into my house, I not only kill him but myself and maybe my neighbors.

    1. Nuclear weapons have very low utility except as part of a nation state’s violence based enforcement system. Their operation and maintenance costs are also substantial over time. Just look at the estimates of the NNSA budget. The net present value of buying and owning even a small one is in the billions of dollars. Given their low utility to an individual or non-violence based group, the price alone is sufficient deterrent.

  2. I love the ZAP mental levers and have been using them in my life for a while. As I think about solutions for issues of local concern in my home and neighborhood, I keep running into a concept boundary. The ZAP has a fundamental basis in that all individuals are assumed to have equal agency.

    As someone who values a healthy natural environment (ie decrease pollution). How do you practice defensive force on behalf of another without agency? They all seem like initiated force to my thinking. Any thoughts in this area would help my understanding. Thank you!

    1. Thanks for the excellent question. I’m going to write an extended article about this subject in the near future, but for right now the basic answer is this…

      Pollution is trespass. Juries will decide when the trespass is actionable and what the remedy is. And class-action suits will still be a thing in a voluntaryist society. This addresses your agency question.

      A lot needs to be said about difficult issues related to air pollution, prior restraint, etc, and I will try to do that in an upcoming article. Thanks again for the question and sorry for the delayed response.

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