A new worldview in ten questions and answers

By Perry Willis

Revised on Thursday, April 21, 2022

1. What is crime? Crime is the initiation of force or fraud against others. Said differently, crime is an act of aggression. This is why libertarians advocate the Zero Aggression Principle: Don’t aggress against others, personally or politically.

2. What is government? Government, properly understood, has one legitimate function — to use force defensively to fight criminals, foreign or domestic. In other words, a legitimate government obeys the Zero Aggression Principle. It does not use violence aggressively. It does not initiate force. It only uses violence defensively.

3. What is The State? The State is an institution that commits crimes (initiates force) under the guise of providing governance. But you can’t be both a crime creator and a crime fighter. In other words, The State is the opposite of government. It contradicts the very purpose of government. That means, to be pro-government you must be anti-state. True, legitimate governments currently exist nowhere on Earth. Libertarians want to change that, especially voluntaryist libertarians (see below).

4. What is a statist? A statist is a person who advocates statism (see the next question). A statist is willing to aggress against others politically. There are three general types of statists: left-statists, right-statists, and libertarian statists. Left-statists are the so-called liberals, progressives, and socialists. Right-statists are so-called conservatives. Libertarian statists are people who want to limit The State to the core defensive functions of police, courts, and national defense.

5. What is statism? Statism is the belief that it’s okay for The State to commit crimes (initiate force) so long as the statist favors the purpose of the crime. In other words, to the statist, his or her good intentions justify the use of criminal means.

6. What do libertarians want? Libertarians want legitimate government. That means institutions of governance that only use force defensively.

Libertarian statists believe this can be most closely approximated by limiting The State to the core defensive functions of police, courts, and national defense. The only laws would be those that aim to prosecute people who aggress against others. But libertarian statists believe these functions should still be funded by taxation and should enjoy monopoly status.  Taxation and police-enforced monopoly status are both acts of aggression. By contrast…

Voluntaryist libertarians want to replace The State entirely. They want institutions of governance, such as police, courts, and military defense, to be voluntarily funded on a competitive basis. This means…

For example…

  • You could pay the city police to patrol your neighborhood, or you could a hire a firm to do it.
  • You could agree to private arbitration to adjudicate crimes and disputes.
  • You could offer as little or as much money as you want to fund military defense – or you could favor decentralized defensive alternatives, or perhaps even non-violent resistance or pacifism.

The same voluntary approach would apply to the regulatory and charitable functions The State currently imposes on people. For instance…

  • You could decide to only use medicines that undergo FDA testing, or you could prefer products certified by Underwriters Laboratory, NSF, or some other testing company.
  • You could give your money to HUD, or Habitat for Humanity, or some other cause entirely.

7. Why would the voluntaryist approach work better? Violence-based funding insulates statist institutions from the need to perform well. They get paid whether they do a good job or not. Even worse, they actually get increased budgets when they fail. Voluntary funding and competition would compel governmental institutions to do a good job. This approach would give us consumer-controlled government instead of political government.

8. What’s the difference between political government and consumer-controlled government? You have far more power as a consumer than as a voter. You can fire any company at any time, but with political government you must gain the permission of a majority of your neighbors to cause any change. Consumer-controlled government will give more people more of what they want more often. It will commit crimes against no one. Consumer-controlled government is superior, both morally and practically.

9. What if voluntary funding doesn’t provide enough money? The question is backward. The amount of government needed should be determined by what people are willing to fund, NOT by what politicians want to impose.

10. What is the path to such a society? Adopt and promote the Zero Aggression Principle. Resolve to initiate force against no one, personally or politically. Pursue your goals and promote your preferences using only non-violent persuasion and voluntary cooperation.

Does this way of thinking intrigue you? Do you want to learn more or participate in creating such a society? Then please subscribe to the Zero Aggression Project.

Show Comments 47


  1. Perry, Great index-card summary of anarcho-capitalism — deserves wide dissemination & support.

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  2. Pingback: A new worldview in ten questions and answers–Can the libertarian philosophy be explained in 10 questions? – Biblical Truths and Economics

  3. The question is how can we get others to open their eyes & ears.??

    I talk to a lot of people and they all say the same thing. I DON’T KNOW. really.
    And some people say it every time I talk to them. WHAT you say.?? Yes.

    1. Yep, good question Irvin. and you know what? I think we’re about OWT of time now. It’s about bleeping time to start with the Hitler’s Germany questions, because….. well what else might work frankly? It is about time for the complacency addicts in this country to start thinking more/ more HONESTLY about the choices the make. The Storm Clouds Gathering video (on YouTube ofcourse) “Recipe for a Revolution” is some good inspiration. Maybe this link will work: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tUihneekaLg . And then many of Naomi Wolf’s and Chris Hedges speeches and interviews are good inspirations too. If none of that helps a person to think more honestly, move on to the next person I gess.

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      Property owners can establish borders. Borders can also be established for electoral purposes. But borders that seek to limit human movement through public spaces are inherently immoral, and that which is inherently immoral is also inherently illegal.

      I believe the Founders may have understood this. It would explain why they created an enumerated power for naturalization (deciding who gets to vote), but no power at all for controlling who gets to enter or exit the country.

      A practical objection is often made that we cannot have free human movement in conjunction with a tax-funded welfare state. This objection would have more force if those who make it concentrated on getting rid of tax-funded welfare, but they don’t. Instead, they devote most of their energy to opposing free human movement. I think this says a lot about their character or lack thereof. I hope that answers your question.

      1. Interesting. How would your concept of consumer gov’t work with open borders?
        Or, I could read your open letter on immigration that I just found!
        So, never mind I suppose. 🙂

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          I hope the open letter helped answer your question. I’m not immediately clear on what problems open borders might cause for consumer-controlled governance, but I’d be happy to try and evaluate any that occur to you.

          1. How would consumer controlled governance or the Zero Aggression Principle in general deal with enemies of the country? I read the Scripture references “proving” that open borders are scriptural/Christian. However, the culture of Bible Times has to be considered before applying to current times. Otherwise, slavery would be acceptable based on Ephesians 6:5-9. Slave ownership is not prohibited but BAD slave ownership is.
            I am opposed to open borders but do support well-vetted borders because we cannot trust everyone else to be nice. I think of the Peanuts cartoon where Lucy keeps promising to not pull away the football, but then does. There are too many Lucys out there.

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            Thanks for the clarification Kay. Consumer-controlled governance would deal with enemies by allowing you to donate to defense efforts in the amounts and ways that you deem best. Congress (or other potential defense providers) would have to do a good job with your money or risk losing your funding.

            Re vetting – it sounds nice, but I doubt it’s practical. From where will the information come to do the vetting? I’ve never seen a good answer to this question. But here’s the main problem…

            People are innocent until proven guilty. This moral principle pre-dates the Constitution. It’s part of the inalienable rights Jefferson invoked in the Declaration of Independence. As such, the principle is pre-constitutional and applies to all humans, not just Americans. If we cannot, to quote you, trust everyone else to be nice, then that applies to Americans too. Americans should have to be vetted before they can be allowed to travel around the country.

            We must avoid special pleading. The same moral principles should apply to everyone. Indeed, special pleading is the root of all evil. It’s a violation of the Golden Rule when we erect easy standards for ourselves to follow, but hard standards for everyone else.

    2. Perry Willis and I have written quite a bit on this topic, over the years. Here, for your convenience, are four of the best articles we’ve published. It’s a quick way to cover quite a bit of ground. And if anyone reading this list wants to write to object to any argument therein, chances are incredibly high we’ve already answered your concern in one of these three pieces. It’s been years since we heard anything new on this subject.
      1) Immigration control: a Trojan Horse to destroy your freedom and waste your money 2) Maybe Immigration Caps are Unconstitutional, but the Bible Says… 3) I Want Lew Rockwell to Be Libertarian on Immigration 4) Open Letter: Justifying our immigration position

  4. Sorry so long since I’ve tried using this forum! (esp. since it did work correctly the last time I tried it) It’s just that I’ve been having to deal with too many things for too long – one of which actually being, whether there is any chance that I can help to enlighten anyone about any thing that really matters, or not. I’ve been noticing the rock solid popularity of statism, ignorance, complacency, the 2 party paradigm and basically everyone I know continuing to believe their favorite lies for too long. But luckily in the last few days I’ve been looking more at things like Larken Rose’s new project, The Mirror, the things Ron Paul is still doing and now what’s going on with DownsizeDC and ZPG. We just need to remember that rocks really do break and crumble with time though. It’s all really about as simple, and/or as complicated as telling the truth to any and all who might listen to it I suppose. All these things going on really are heartening. I’m ready to try helping more again.

  5. This is good, but it lacks consideration (as far as i can tell) for the threat of market capture. There are myriad ways to entice consumers into situations that put them (individually or collectively) under threat, constraining their liberty and leveraging their demand to constrict their choices. I believe it is a crucial function of government to not only defend citizens against initiation of force and fraud, but also against non-fraudulent, non-forced market capture. Monopolies, of course, are the most well-known example of corporate entities which threaten liberty by their very nature. Unless you can convince me that no market could ever be captured and leveraged immorally by non-violent, non-fraudulent means, i would never want to take anti-trust powers away from the Government.

    Put simply, initiated force and fraud (crime) are not the only threats from which we are best defended by Government.

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      It seems strange to me that the biggest and badest monopoly of them all (The State) could somehow be seen as the cure for monopolies. Plus, when I look through history I see lots of monopolies and cartels that have been created by state action, and pretty much none that have arisen naturally in a free market. Sometimes I am offered lists of supposed monopolies in an attempt to disprove this point, but in my experience, all such lists end up being of firms that in fact had or have numerous competitors. In other words, I completely reject the concept of “market capture.”

  6. The desire/compulsion to control the lives and property of others (all forms of aggression) is the root of all evil.

    The only legitimate “government” is the voluntary association of people who agree to live and work together as self owning, self responsible individuals. And that includes defense against actual crime.

    No involuntary form of government can ever protect people and avoid initiation of force. A big part of the problem is that far too many people honestly believe that this involuntary government actually has a legitimate authority to control at least part of their lives; that it has legitimate authority to exist no matter how much they dislike what it does. That’s what has to change first.

      1. Thanks. But, unfortunately, I don’t see any of that as the foundation for the Libertarian Party… or many self styled “libertarians” either. They all seem to have a wonderful plan for our lives via government… just maybe “less” of it. I suspect that many, if not most, still don’t question the actual “authority” of non-voluntary government… and think they can build a better one with the “right people” and a few policy tweaks. Not happening.

  7. As a geo-libertarian, I must point out that, critical to any anarcho-capitalist utopia is the addressing (and proper treatment) of the question of what laws shall we all live under regarding the ownership of land and other natural resources.

    1. Harold… first, utopia of any kind is not an option. “Anarcho-capitalist” utopia is no more possible than any other, regardless of your definition of same.

      Second, all of the questions that would arise in a society of free individuals would have to be negotiated among those involved. Central planning – especially by non-voluntary government – has proven both destructive to liberty, and impossible to live with anyway.

      1. Hi, MamaLiberty. I beg to differ, as I define “utopia” to be any system based logically upon rules that all agree are fair. Do you think there is no acceptable-to-all-reasonable-people answer to the question of how to manage ownership of natural resources? Do you think different societies of free individuals would settle into several different, workable (i.e., satisfactory to all) systems? I think there’s one best system, to which all such groups eventually would gravitate, so long as they can view one another’s successes and failures.

        1. Harold, “utopia” means perfect, no problems… and likely no challenges or hills to climb. But people are not perfect, and cannot build anything perfect. What you describe is a voluntary association society that has found a way to live and let live, negotiate disagreements, and defend themselves against the few who continue to be aggressors. There will always be some.

          And no, there is nothing that is 100% acceptable to all. But we don’t really need to agree on much of anything except non-aggression.

          1. MamaLiberty, I’m sure you’re right. I was using “utopia” in the sense of “as good a system as we can ever hope to achieve,” not in the “no problem at any level exists” sense. I do think we can achieve a system that no one reasonable and knowledgeable would complain about. The problem I see with the “non-aggression principle” is one of definitions. Is “owning” more than an equal-valued share of the earth’s natural resources an aggression against those with no share? Is it aggression for the group of landowners to tell non-landowners, in effect,”get off our planet”? Or, more relevantly to today’s state of affairs, “We’ll accept some of your labor in exchange for letting you stay here on our planet.”

            One of the founding principles I do think we can agree on is that each is entitled to the fruits of his/her own labor. Conversely, I think we can all agree that the uncreated-by-man earth, when Locke’s “enough and as good” isn’t available to all, should be considered “owned” equally by all. Rights to exclusive use are necessary for those resources to be efficiently utilized, but the rental value should be shared equally among all adult citizens.

  8. No thanks, Harold. I will never agree to that last. I want no part of your “utopia” with collective systems to redistribute the wealth.

    Sounds like another “government” run by some people to control other people.

    1. MamaLiberty, I didn’t attempt to specify how those principles are instantiated or enforced. There could be competing agencies handling the transfers, all adjudicated by some universally-respected court system. The only alternative to equal earth value-sharing is that some people (landowners) get a free ride off the labor of others (renters), i.e., a form of slavery–a violation of each person’s right to all the fruits of their own labor.

      1. That “equality” nonsense is the basis of collectivism, communism, socialism. I don’t buy any of it. I’ll be non-aggressive to everyone “equally,” but that’s the extent of it.

        And it is the politicians trying to “enforce” and sell this equality garbage that reap the lion’s share of the loot. No thanks.

        1. MamaLiberty, it’s not equality with respect to the fruits of labor (i.e., communist-type equal distribution), but equality of access to–and “ownership” of–Mother Nature. How can you be against that?!

          1. There is no difference at all there, Harold. They are both re-distribution of wealth systems and would require involuntary government of some sort to enforce it. With _force_. Some people would be in power to decide that “ownership.” Someone would have power to take from some people and give to others… Socialism by any other name.

            Self ownership, voluntary association, individual liberty… these are incompatible with your scheme. A voluntary society would have to negotiate all interpersonal relationships, including land ownership.

  9. MamaLiberty, using the case of Robinson Crusoe and his Man Friday, would it be “socialism” and illegitimate “wealth re-distribution” for Friday to forcibly take over some part of the island, to use for his own sustenance, even if Mr. Crusoe claims ownership of the entire island, and demands rent? Let’s assume Friday first tried unsuccessfully to reason with Crusoe, arguing for equal rights even though he arrived at the island after Crusoe.

    1. Give it up, Harold. You are bound and determined to use force any time it suits you. You are no voluntarist, merely a statist trying to justify your preferred aggression and control of other people.

      The desire/compulsion to control the lives and property of others is the ROOT of all evil.

      I hope you will find a way to give up force and control of others.

      1. I simply don’t like seeing force used against others. I don’t mind using force to stop aggression and robbery. I view the dispossessed as my problem.

        I notice you haven’t tried to answer my questions about our current (monopolistic, in my view) system of land tenure.

  10. While I find much of what you guys present on this website useful for liberty minded thinking, I’ve read complaints about your statist tendencies. Sadly I find I must agree with the complaints, because I have been accused of being an anarchist purist. Which I am.
    The edited article this comment is appended to does check many of the boxes. Nevertheless, if fails my review. On certain matters I am a pedantic A-hole. What, specifically, is “government”? What, specifically, are the traits, properties, attributes, & characteristics of government? You did well in addressing these things, yet the word government is at its core, is the very anathema of liberty. to govern is to control. I’ve drafted these words because I have been thinking on these issues awhile myself:
    Taking my cue from, and paraphrasing, the United States Declaration of Independence…

    When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary to defend against encroachments of the rights to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of humankind requires that we should declare the causes which impel us to be ready and willing to use escalating force and violence to defend against, and stop, such encroachments and violations of our Natural Rights.

    We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all humans are created with an equal lack of ownership over any other humans; that they are endowed by their Creator with inherent and unalienable rights; that among these, are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness;

    Thus, YOU DON’T OWN ME is the initial natural state of being; YDOM is a self-evident truth; You don’t own me, my life, my liberty, or my property; YDOM means you don’t have any authority over me to make rules I must obey; YDOM means you can not delegate authority over me to any other person, human or corporate; YDOM applies to every human in “government”; YDOM applies to “government”.
    Thank you for your attempts to encourage thinking. I hope to encourage thinking with courage.

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      I have no problem with nearly everything you wrote. I will make only one quibble – what do you call voluntarily funded and non-monopolistic institutions of defense and adjudication – cops, courts, and armies/militias that have no monopoly status and that collect no taxes? I call them governments. But if that word doesn’t work, then another word is needed that will be equally communicative to those who desire these institutions, which includes nearly every so-called anarchist-libertarian I have ever met. Thanks for the comment. – Perry Willis

  11. I don’t know that I need to convince libertarians of any of this, but I know “What is government? Government, properly understood, has one legitimate function” would be under serious contention for non-libertarians

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      Yes, but the contention that government is committing a crime when it commits an act of aggression is much more difficult to contend with. If they fail in that contention then the offered definition of legitimate governance follows from that. In any case, let’s spread these ideas to everyone on planet Earth and see what happens. – Perry Willis

  12. Interesting! Imagine a world where everyone lived by the Jaycee Creed?! No forced spending, no unafforddable defense budget!

    “Faith in God gives meaning and purpose to human life;
    The brotherhood of man transcends the sovereignty of nations;
    Economic justice can best be won by free man through free
    Government should be of laws rather than of men;
    Earth’s great treasure lies in human personality;
    And service to humanity is the best work of life.”

    It might even change society’s path from war to peace?!

  13. This makes perfect sense to me and I would be more than happy to support it, but I just cannot see any of the “control freaks” who are attracted to work for the government as employees or as elected officials voluntarily agreeing to this.

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      You may be right, but the only way to test it is to spread these ideas to everyone on planet Earth and then see what happens. – Perry Willis

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