My Answer To the ‘Then Just Leave’ Argument

I support the non-aggression principle. And I mean it.

I support it to its logical conclusion, that the state should not exist. The state secures its place on its threat to initiate coercion against a peaceful individual. Seeing how the threat itself, let alone the exercise of it, is a form of aggression, I morally cannot justify its existence.

Even in its smallest, least powerful forms, it still rests on the threat to cage a peaceful individual if its orders are not followed. Even if this individual knows nothing of these orders, has never consented to follow these orders, nor has even been given an opportunity to voice his opposition to these orders, it matters not one bit.

The most common response is that if you don’t like it, then just move. If there is some law you are not willing to follow, then pack your bags and scoot. No one is forcing you to stay here after all, the argument goes.

Every word of that is true. My response: so what?

Let’s say that while walking down the street, a person approaches you with an offer: “If you continue standing in this spot, then I’m going to take your wallet.”

“My word,” you say, “what gives you the right? I have granted no such authority over me.”

By why so upset? The would-be mugger has given you the opportunity to leave. So by not leaving, are you not granting him consent to your wallet? Of course not.

What if the mugger gives you 30 seconds to move from that spot? Does that make his actions any more just?

What if the mugger is simply exhausted for the day and says that if you come back to this spot again, then he will take you wallet? Would you not be in the right to defend yourself?

This also true of the state. The state claims the power to initiate the use of force within a predefined geographic location. For the most part, an individual is also free to leave such a geographic area at any time and he or she knows the consequences for not following these commands.

Yet, in one case we would lock up an individual for threatening to take another’s property. In the second, we could lock up someone for defending what is already his.

What did Bastiat say of this peril? “How it corrupts its superstitious devotees!”