The "Criminal" Metaphor
in the Libertarian Tradition
by Carl Watner
the last 350 years of constitutional and political struggle in England
and the United States, perhaps the most libertarian image to be invoked
by political theorists has been the comparison of existing, so-called
"legitimate" governments to “organized gangs of banditti,
pirates, highwaymen, and robbers." Such metaphors have been
a constantly recurring theme because the central thrust of libertarian
thinking is to oppose any and all forms of invasion against property
rights of individuals, in their own persons and in the material objects
they have voluntarily acquired. The Levellers and other opponents
of King Charles I and Oliver Cromwell were among the first to challenge
the legitimacy of governments as being tyrannical and unjust.
The rebels in the American colonies based their revolt against the English
Crown on similar grounds of natural law, as outlined in the Declaration
of Independence. Early antislavery radicals in both countries
extended their libertarian arguments against slavery and challenged
any government that sanctioned a violation of man's natural rights.
Propelled by the logic of the natural law tradition and the events of
the American Civil War, Lysander Spooner relied heavily on the "criminal"
metaphor to buttress his arguments for individualist anarchism.
doctrine of natural liberty is ultimately grounded on two premises which
are necessary to the understanding of why governments are "criminal."
By the self-ownership axiom, every individual has an absolute right
to his or her own mind and body and the labor thereof; i.e., each person
has the right to control that mind and body free of coercive interference.
By the homesteading axiom, the first user, the first person who transforms
and uses previously unclaimed and unused resources, becomes their absolute
owner. Since people must live in a particular place and their
labor must be applied to the material objects around them, they rightfully
become the owners of hitherto unclaimed and untransformed natural resources.
As defined by libertarianism, freedom is a condition in which a person's
ownership rights of his own body and of his legitimately (according
to libertarian principles) acquired material property are neither invaded
nor aggressed against. Crime, in the same context, is an act of
aggression against these property rights, either in an individual's
own person or in his materially owned objects.
people would probably support the libertarian rejection of crime in
their personal dealings. They would reject the use of violence,
such a murder, theft, kidnapping and extortion. The uniqueness of libertarianism
consists in the manner in which this principle of non-aggression is
developed. To the libertarian, it
matters neither who commits a crime, nor how many are involved in sanctioning
its commission. As one early libertarian said:
constitutes despotism or cruelty will be continually the same. Considerations
of rank and power can never alter the genuine character of human action;
if the scymeter is stained with innocent blood, it matters nothing whether
the fatal blow was struck by a monarch or a robber. Oppression
and crime are the same in every corner of the globe; the experience
of mankind with respect to their characteristics will be constant and
uniform; upon those subjects, therefore, the sentence of human understanding
will be ever steady and correspondent.
other words, for the libertarian, "Crime is crime, aggression against
rights is aggression, no matter how many citizens agree to the oppression."
"Even if 90 percent of the people decided to murder or enslave
the other 10 percent, this would still
be murder and slavery." Libertarians unanimously endorse
respect for individual rights and they conclude that the only possible
crime among men is the violation of individual rights. The important
consideration for libertarians is that individuals are always responsible
for a violation of rights. Groups never act; it is always and necessarily
individual members of the group who commit crimes in the name of the
larger organization. "Men never lose their individuality.
Though in authority, they are still men and act as men. . . . The acts
of a government are acts of individuals - of individual men, whose accountability
is in no respect changed by their official character."
natural law tradition affirms the libertarian attitude towards crime
and aggression. The philosophy of natural law defends the rational
dignity of the human individual. It provides the only basis on
which the individual may rightfully criticize, in word and deed, every
institution and social structure which is incompatible with the universally
held moral principles of natural law. In his discourse on "The
People's Ancient and Just Liberties," William Penn outlined the
contents of the natural law, which he considered fundamental and immutable:
[these] we understand such laws as enjoin men to be just, honest, virtuous,
to do no wrong, to kill, rob, deceive, prejudice none; but to do as
one would be done unto; to cherish good and to terrify wicked men; in
short, Universal Reason, which are not subject to any revolution, because
no emergency, time or occasion, can ever justify a suspension of their
execution, much less their utter abrogation.
this interpretation, no man-made law which conflicts with the natural
law of honest dealing and non-aggression is considered binding.
An unjust law binds no one, according to the libertarian, since a law
higher than that of government holds the individual responsible for
his actions. One of the Leveller leaders in the struggle against
Charles I thought that:
Law taken from its original reason and end is made a shell without a
kernel, a shadow without a substance, a carcass without life; for the
equity and reason thereof is that which gives it a legal being and
life, and makes it authoritative and binding. If this be not
granted, injustice may be a Law, tyranny may be a Law, lust, will, pride,
covetousness and what not? may be Laws.
In his opinion:
there been the letter of the Law directly against me, yea if it were
contradicted by the equity of the Law, I had not been at all bound thereto,
except to oppose it: for the Letter if it control and overthrow the
Equity, it is to be so controlled and overthrown itself, upon peril
of treason to the Equity, and the Equity to be preserved is the only
thing legally obligatory and binding.
eighteenth-century libertarian summed up this point of view when he
declared that " 'the Powers that be' cannot bind the conscience
when they exceed just limits,
any more than the threats of lawless Banditti"
can succeed in demanding obedience.
of the basic corollaries of libertarian thinking is that it is wrong
to engage in aggression against non-aggressors. According to libertarian
doctrine, an aggressor, to the extent he invades another's person or
property, loses his own individual rights. The person so invaded
may resort to violence in self-defense. In nearly all times and
places, this defensive principle has been recognized as the right of
the individual against the criminal. It has also been used as
the only true basis for revolution against unjust and tyrannical governments.
Richard Overton, who was arbitrarily arrested and imprisoned by the
House of Lords in 1647, argued that:
pursuance of the just and necessary defensive opposition
we may lawfully, and are in Conscience bound to destroy, kill and slay
the otherwise irresistible enemy for our own preservation and safety,
whether they attack us in our lives, our Laws, or our liberties: And
against. the justice of this defensive principle,,
no degrees, Orders, or titles among men can or may prevail. 
his struggle with the government, Overton claimed that government laws
which were consistent with natural law could be turned against the government
itself. Having been arrested without a valid, legal warrant, he
if assaulting men's persons, invading and entering their houses, and
taking what of their goods such men please [as had happened in his own
case] and that all by a force of Arms, be simply a Magisterial Act,
then all thieves and murderers are justified thereby; for their violence
is without any Magisterial Authority appearing; but by the Law it is
therefore adjudged theft and murder, etc.
circumstances, "the persons invaded and assaulted by such open
force of Arms may lawfully arm themselves, fortify their houses (which
are their Castles in the judgment of the Law) against them, yea, disarm,
beat, wound, repress, and kill them in their just necessary defense
of their own persons, houses, goods, wives and families, and not be
guilty of the least offense."
hundred years later, Granville Sharp used similar reasoning to denounce
the unlawfulness of the press gang. Those who resisted the impressment
officers, Sharp maintained, were acting legally in defense of their
own rightful freedom and against unjust violence. Such resisters were
deemed guilty of murder, even if they kill the assailants, provided
the killing be inevitable in their defense; and that they cannot otherwise
maintain their rights. Nay men are not only justified in defending
themselves with force of arms, but may also legally defend and rescue
any other persons whatever that are attacked or oppressed by unlawful
Allen, a critic of Cromwell, in his written attack on the Protectorate,
beautifully summed up the complementarity of the libertarian principles
of self-defense and non-aggression. He pointed out that the "law
of Nature gives every man to oppose Force with Force, and to make Justice
where he finds none." In this pamphlet, Killing No
Murder, the author advocated the assassination of the tyrant Cromwell
and made these highly libertarian pronouncements:
what can be more absurd in Nature and contrary to all common sense,
than to call him Thief and kill him that comes alone or with a few to
rob me; and to call him Lord Protector and obey him that robs me with
regiments and troops? As if to rove with 2 or 3 ships were to be a Pirate,
but with 50 an Admiral? But if it be the number of Adherents only,
not the cause, that makes the difference between a Robber and a Protector:
I will that number were defined, that we might know where the Thief
ends and the Prince begins. And be able to distinguish between
a Robbery and a Tax. But sure no Englishman can be ignorant that
it is his Birthright to be Master of his own estate; and that none can
command any part of it but by his own grant and consent, either made
expressly by himself, or Virtually by a Parliament. All other
names are mere Robberies in other names. . . .To rob, to extort, to
murder Tyrants falsely called to govern, and to make a desolation, they
call to settle peace: in every assessment we are robbed, the excise
is robbery. the customs is robbery, and without doubt, whenever tis
prudent, tis always lawful to kill the Thieves whom we can bring to
no other justice. And not only lawful, and to do ourselves right,
but Glorious and to deliver mankind, to free the world of that common
Robber, that universal Pirate under whom and for whom these lesser beasts
hundred years later these same sentiments were expressed by a radical
abolitionist in a slightly different context. Henry Clarke Wright,
an associate of Garrison in the abolition struggle, had exactly the
same attitude towards government:
and Nations are to be regarded as we regard combinations of men to pick
pockets, to steal sheep, to rob on the road, to steal men, to range
over the sea as pirates - only on a larger and more imposing scale.
When men steal, rob and murder as states and nations, it gives respectability
to crime - the enormity of their crimes is lost sight of, amid the imposing
number that commit them, and amid the glitter and pomp of equipage.
The little band of thieves is scorned and hunted down as a felon; the
great, or governmental band of thieves, is made respectable by numbers,
and their crimes cease to be criminal and hateful in proportion to the
number combined to do them. If a community of ten commit piracy,
they are all hung, and a man is made infamous if he joins this little
band of pirates; but if a community of 25,000,000, called Great Britain
or Austria, do the same deed, it is all right, and Christian, and heaven-ordained,
and a man is made infamous if he refuses to join this great
band of pirates. Such reasoning is most false. I cast it
from me. I can no more join a community of 25,000,000, that exists
by plunder and murder, than I can join one composed of ten. 
all of the antislavery radicals of the late-eighteenth and nineteenth
centuries were repelled by the idea that the local law of slave communities
could establish a condition which infringed upon basic human rights.
If there were no eternal laws which applied equally to all men, then
any kind of banditry might be cloaked in legal forms. If governments
were allowed to justify slavery and the slave trade, then they could
justify any form of crime. In order to reject government sanction
of slavery, these radical libertarians had to establish a theory of
proprietary justice independent of government law and not subject to
re-definition by government. They did this by referring back to
the natural law tradition and by accepting the self-ownership axiom.
Paine, an early supporter of the American Revolution, was a critic of
slavery and the slave trade. Paine equated slavery with man-stealing
and kidnapping. For him, the buying and selling of slaves was
not an ordinary commercial transaction. The equation of slaves with
stolen property had radical implications for Paine:
men [the purchasers of slaves] may as well join with a known band of
robbers, buy their ill-gotten goods, and help on the trade; ignorance
is no more pleadable in one case than in the other; the sellers plainly
own how they obtain them [the slaves]. But none can lawfully buy
without evidence that they are not concurring with men-stealers; and
as the true owner has a right to reclaim his goods that were stolen,
and sold; so the slave, who is the proper owner of his freedom, has
a right to reclaim it, however often sold.
slaves were "stolen" men, it was a simple step to equate slave
traders with pirates and robbers. Paine enunciated a dual libertarian
argument. Each slave, being a person, was entitled to self-ownership
rights. Moreover, since every owner could rightfully recover stolen
property that belonged to him, regardless of how many times over it
had been sold, a slave could legitimately reclaim his freedom at any
time. A thief could never divest the rightful owner of property
of his title, even if an innocent purchaser bought the stolen property
in good faith. In this fashion, the early radicals made a telling
case for justice in property titles.
as Paine pointed out, when "innocent" purchasers were "buying"
men, it was impossible that they claim ignorance as an excuse.
That the claim of a slave to his freedom was necessarily stronger than
the claim of an owner whose chattels were stolen was pointed out by
Samuel Hopkins in 1776:
your neighbor buys a horse . . . of any thief who stole it from you,
while he had no thought it was stolen, would you not think you had a
right to demand your horse of your neighbor, and pronounce him very
unjust if he should refuse to deliver him to you. . . ? And have
not your (African] servants as great a right to themselves, to their
liberty, as you have to your stolen horse? They
have been stolen and sold, and when you bought them, in your own wrong,
you had much more reason to think they were stolen than he who bought
Hopkins also compared slave
traders to pirate's, much to their discomfort:
is granted by all, that common pirates may be punished by the laws of
any state, when apprehended, wherever or in whatever part of the world
their crimes were committed. . . .The slave trader who buys and sells
his fellow men, by which traffic he is the death of many, and of reducing
others to the most miserable bondage during life, is as really an enemy
to mankind as the pirate, and violates common law, which is, or ought
to be, the law of all nations, and is guilty of crimes of greater magnitude,
exercises more inhumanity and cruelty, sheds more blood and plunders
more, and commits greater outrages against his fellow men than most
of those who are called pirates. In short, if any men deserve
the name of pirates, these [slave traders] ought to be considered in
the first and highest class of them.
the most vigorous of the antislavery radicals was Henry Clarke Wright.
He was one of the few who extended his argument for abolition of slavery
to include abolition of the state that sanctioned slavery.
Wright saw that if he were successful in using natural law to nullify
state-sanctioned slavery, then he could, on similar grounds, attack
other forms of state tyranny, such as conscription and taxation.
No government that upheld such injustices could be legitimate in his
eyes. In his most radical pamphlet, No Rights, No Duties,
he consistently used the "criminal" metaphor to make his points
against governments and slavery. "The thesis he presented
was simple. Slaves have no obligation at all to their masters, who good
or bad, deserve no more respect or consideration than a gang of pirates
or kidnappers. Freedom must be won by the slaves themselves in
alliance with their sympathizers among white freemen - by all and every
means that the latter would feel justified in using against 'burglars,
incendiaries, and highway robbers', who might threaten them."
Wright argued that:
individual pirate, as a pirate, has no rights. No laws nor constitutions
of human device can create for and secure to him any rights; and if
they attempt to do so, it is the duty of all to ignore such rights,
and trample such enactments beneath their feet. This is true of
all who hold and use human beings as chattels.
corporate body of pirates, though called a State or nation, can have
no rights. It is an organized, systematized banditti, and any
individual or State is authorized to destroy it. So, a corporate
body of slave-holders, though called Virginia, Maryland, Kentucky, or
Missouri, is a self-incorporated body of marauders, and as such, any
man, or set of men is authorized to destroy it.
efforts to compromise with slavery and those who embody it, for any
cause, is to compound with rape, robbery, and piracy: is to complot
with "the sum of all villany.". . . It is the sacred duty
of the people and States of the North to side with the slaves.
As in a conflict between a band of highway robbers or pirates, and those
whom they would plunder and murder, it is their duty to side with the
wronged and the outraged.
claimed that the basis of every governmental organization in America
was the right of every person to defend his life, liberty, and property.
This was the essence of the American Revolution and was embodied in
the Declaration of Independence. The supporters of the Constitution
were inconsistent if they refused to allow slaves to exercise this right
of self - defense. "If all highway robbers, midnight assassins,
or pirates, or all organized bands of such marauders and desperadoes,
have forfeited all rights, and if any man or set of men has a right
to exterminate them, then . . . slaveholders and slaveholding States
[have] forfeited all their rights, and the people and States of the
North have a right to exterminate them on their own territory, or wherever
they may exist." The motto that Wright chose for his
title, No Rights, No Duties,
meant that "no slaveholder, as such, has any rights, and that no
man owes him any duties, except to compel him to cease to steal and
enslave men, and to let the oppressed go free."
of Wright's reasoning was in accord with natural law thinking about
the subject. A hundred years earlier, another natural law lawyer,
Thomas Rutherforth, had written in his Institutes of Natural Law
band of robbers or a company of pirates may be in fact united to one
another by compact; and may have stipulated with one another in this
compact to be directed by the common understanding and to act by the
common force for their general benefit. But they are still by
the law of nature only a number of unconnected individuals; and consequently
in the view of the law of nations, they are not considered as one co1lective
body or public person. For the compact. by which they united themselves,
is void: because the matter of it is unlawful. The individuals,
that form themselves into a civil society, are bound by their social
compact to pursue and maintain a common benefit: but this common benefit
is such an one, as is intended to be consistent with the obligations
which they are naturally under to the rest of mankind. Whereas
the common benefit, which a band of robbers or a company of pirates
propose to themselves, consists in doing harm to the rest of mankind.
some natural law thinkers have placed credence in a so-called social
contract theory, others have delved behind the origins of government.
The very fact that all governments are coercive is prima facie
evidence that they originated in and perpetuate themselves by violence.
Thomas Paine pointed out that
is more than probable, could we take off the dark covering of antiquity
and trace them [kings and their government] to their first rise, we
should find the first of them nothing better than the principal ruffian
of some restless gang, whose savage manners or preeminence in subtility
obtained him the title of chief among plunderers; and who by increasing
in power, and extending his depredations, overawed the quiet and defenceless,
to purchase their safety by frequent contributions.
Spooner, another great nineteenth-century radical who was probably the
only constitutional lawyer to evolve into an individualist anarchist,
confirmed Paine's suspicions about the origins of government.
In his pamphlet. Natural Law or the Science of Justice,
which was subtitled, “A Treatise on Natural Law, Natural Justice,
Natural Rights. Natural Liberty, and Natural Society; Showing That All
Legislation Whatsoever is an Absurdity, A Usurpation, and a Crime,"
the great governments of the world - those now existing as well as those
that have passed away - have been of this character. They have
been mere bands of robbers, who have associated for purposes of plunder,
conquest, and the enslavement of their fellow men. And their laws,
as they have ca1led them, have only been such agreements as they have
found it necessary to enter into, in order to maintain their organizations,
and act together in plundering and enslaving others, and in securing
to each his agreed share of the spoils.
these laws have had no more real obligation than have the agreements
which brigands, bandits, and pirates find it necessary to enter into
with each other, for the more successful accomplishment of their crimes,
and the more peaceable division of their spoils.
to the libertarian view, all governments exhibit at least two fundamentally
aggressive, and therefore criminal, attributes. First, governments
obtain their revenue by means of taxation; that is, by compulsory levy.
Taxation is contrary to the basic principles of libertarianism because
it involves aggression against non-aggressive citizens who refuse to
pay their taxes. It makes no difference that the government offers
goods and services in return for the tax money. What matters is
that taxation is not voluntary. Secondly, all governments presume
to establish compulsory monopolies of defense services (police, courts,
and law code) over certain geographical areas. Even if governments
were financed by "voluntary" contributions, their second aggressive
feature would remain. Individual property owners who prefer not
to subscribe at all or to subscribe to another defense company within
that area are not permitted to do so. Government, apart from individual
outlaws, is the only organization in society that can use its funds
to commit violence against its subjects. Only the government is
empowered to aggress against the property rights of its citizens, whether
to extract revenue or to impose its own moral code. This analysis
leads directly to the two most important questions of political philosophy:
What distinguishes the edicts of the State from the commands of a bandit
gang? and Can taxation be defined in such a way as to make it different
from robbery? In his appendix on "Taxation" which
appeared in his book Trial by Jury,
Spooner answered these questions thus:
take a man's property without his consent is robbery; and to assume
his consent where no consent is given, makes the taking none the less
robbery. If it did not, the highwayman has the same right to assume
a man's consent to part with his purse, that any other man, or body
of men, can have. And his assumption would afford as much moral
justification for his robbery as does a like assumption, on the part
of the government, for taking a man's property without his consent.
The government's pretense of protecting him, as an equivalent for the
taxation, affords no justification. It is for himself to decide
whether he desires such protection as the government offers him.
If he does not desire it, or does not bargain for it, the government
has no more right, than any other insurance company to impose it upon
him, or make him pay for it.
the American Civil War proved him wrong, Spooner had believed that the
American government and Constitution were based on the "consent
of the governed." Although slaveholders were themselves in
violation of natural law doctrine, Spooner maintained that they still
had the right to secede from the Union. To be taxed against their
will and to be held to membership in an association to which they did
not wish to belong was contrary to the principles of a voluntary government.
In 1867, in the second part of his pamphlet series, No Treason,
Spooner wrote that there is no middle ground between taxation and consent:
"taxation without consent is robbery," or it is not.
If it is not, then any number of men, who choose, may at any
time associate; call themselves a government; assume absolute authority
over all weaker than themselves; plunder them at will, and kill them
if they resist it. If, on the other hand, "taxation without
consent is robbery," it necessarily follows that every man
who has not consented to be taxed, has the same natural right to defend
his property against a tax gatherer, that he has to defend it against
Part VI of No Treason we find Spooner's analysis of the State
as a robber group, which "is perhaps the most devastating ever
is true that the theory of our Constitution is, that all taxes
are paid voluntarily; that our government is a mutual insurance company,
voluntarily entered into by the people with each other; that each man
makes a free and purely voluntary contract with all others who are parties
to the Constitution, to pay so much money for so much protection, the
same as he does with any other insurance company; and that he is just
as free not to be protected, and not to pay any tax, as he is to pay
a tax, and be protected.
this theory of our government is wholly different from the practical
fact. The fact is that the government, like a highwayman, says
to a man: "Your money, or your life." And many, if not
most, taxes are paid under the compulsion of that threat.
government does not, indeed, waylay a man in a lonely place, spring
upon him from the roadside, and holding a pistol to his head, proceed
to rifle his pockets. But the robbery is none the less a robbery
on that account; and it is far more dastardly and shameful.
highwayman takes solely upon himself the responsibility, danger, and
crime of his own act. He does not pretend that he has any rightful
claim to your money, or that he intends to use it for your own benefit.
He does not pretend to be anything but a robber. He has not acquired
impudence enough to profess to be merely a "protector," and
that he takes men's money against their will, merely to enable him to
"protect" those infatuated travellers, who feel perfectly
able to protect themselves, or do not appreciate his peculiar system
of protection. He is too sensible a man to make such professions
as these. Furthermore, having taken your money, he leaves you,
as you wish him to do. He does not persist in following you on
the road, against your will; assuming to be your rightful "sovereign,"
on account of the "protection" he affords you. He does
not keep "protecting" you, by commanding you to bow down and
serve him; by requiring you to do this, and forbidding you to do that;
by robbing you of more money as often as he finds it for his interest
or pleasure to do so; and by branding you as a rebel, a traitor, an
enemy to your country, and shooting you down without mercy, if you dispute
his authority, or resist his demands. He is too much of a gentleman
to be guilty of such impostures, and insults, and villainies as these.
In short, he does not, in addition to robbing you, attempt to make you
either his dupe or his slave.
proceedings of those robbers and murderers, who call themselves "the
government," are directly the opposite of these of the single highwayman.
the first place, they do not, like him, make themselves individually
known; or, consequently, take upon themselves personally the responsibility
of their acts. On the contrary, they secretly (by secret ballot)
designate some one of their number to commit the robbery in their behalf,
while they keep themselves practically concealed.
that the secret ballot makes a secret government, "and a secret
government is a secret band of robbers and murderers."
The secret ballot was in effect, "a tacit understanding between
A, B, and C, that they will, by ballot, depute D as their agent, to
deprive" men of their property. Such a tacit understanding
in no way empowers D to act for them and "he is none the less a
robber, tyrant, murderer, because he claims to act as their agent, than
he would if he avowedly acted on his own responsibility."
was Spooner's contention that no government could excuse itself from
a violation of the individual's right to property and person.
He was appalled by the government's resort to conscription during the
Civil War, and by its issuance of legal tender notes. The legal
tender decisions of the Supreme Court especially upset Spooner because
they were entirely contrary to his theory of justice and property.
In his own satirical way, he recommended the practices of the Supreme
Court to all bandit gangs:
a company of bandits were to seize a man's property for their own uses,
and give him their note, promising to pay him out of their future robberies,
the transaction would not be considered a very legitimate one.
But it would be intrinsically just as legitimate as is the one which
the Supreme Court sanctions on the part of Congress [in regard to the
legal tender decisions].
. . Banditti have not usually kept supreme courts of their own, to legalize
either their robberies, or their promises to pay for past robberies,
out of the proceeds of their future ones. Perhaps they may now take
a lesson from our Supreme Court.
Lincoln administration also sought loans from abroad to bolster its
sagging finances. Spooner was upset to discover that people would entrust
their savings to such a government for such purposes as subduing the
business of lending blood-money is one of the most thoroughly sordid,
cold-blooded and criminal that was ever carried on, to any considerable
extent, amongst human beings. It is like lending money to slave-traders,
or common robbers and pirates, to be repaid out of their plunder.
And the men who loan money to governments, so-called, for the purpose
of enabling the latter to rob, enslave, and murder their people, are
among the greatest villains that the world has ever seen. And they as
much deserve to be hunted and killed (if they cannot be otherwise got
rid of) as any slave-traders, robbers, or pirates that ever lived.
ends this survey of the "criminal" metaphor in libertarian
thinking. Anyone who accepts the libertarian principles of self-ownership
and homesteading and seriously reasons out their implications will eventually
realize that the State is criminal. As has been pointed out, the
mere fact that the State must exist by violence is sufficient evidence
to brand it invasive. We need always fear and defend ourselves
from the random violence of the lone criminal; but more importantly,
we must never forget that the institutionalized violence committed upon
us by the State is actually our greatest threat.
1. See, for example, Murray
Rothbard, For a New Liberty
(New York: Macmillan Co., 1973), p.47.
pp. 26, 35.
4. See Walter Block, "Introduction,"
Defending the Undefendable
(New York: Fleet Press, 1976).
Tunis Wortman, A Treatise Concerning Political Enquiry and the Liberty
of the Press (n.p., printed by George Forman, 1800), p. 60.
6. Rothbard, For a New Liberty,
7. William Hosmer, The Higher
Law, in Its Relation to Civil Government
(1852; reprint ed., New York: Negro University Press, 1969), p. 53.
8. John Wild, Plato's Modern
Enemies and the Theory of Natural Law
(Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1953), p. 176.
9. William Penn, Selected
Works (London: James Philips. 1670), 1:112-13.
10. Richard Overton, The
Commoner's Complaint (1646), pp. 6, 12. Copy obtained from the Henry
E. Huntington Library, San Marino, California.
11. Granville Sharp, A Declaration
of the People's Natural Right to a Share in the Legislature, Which Is
the Fundamental Principle of the British Constitution of State
(1774; reprint ed., New York: Da Capo Press, 1971), p. 240.
12. Overton, An Appeale
from the Degenerate Representative Body
(1647), in Don M. Wolfe, ed., Leveller Manifestoes of the Puritan
Revolution (New York: Thomas Nelson and Sons, 1944), pp. 177-78.
13. Overton, A Defiance
Against All Arbitrary Usurpations
(1646), p. 10. Copy from the Huntington Library.
14. Overton, An Arrow Against
All Tyrants (1646), p. 9. Copy from the Huntington Library. It was
also reprinted by the Rota Press, University of Exeter, England, 1976.
15. Sharp, An Address to
the People of England: Being the Protest of a Private Person Against
Every Suspension of Law That Is Liable to Injure and Endanger Personal
Security (London, 1778), p. 71. Copy from Duke University Library.
16. William Allen, Killing
No Murder (London, 1659), p. 9. Copy from Huntington Library.
17. Ibid., p.8.
18. Letter from Henry Clarke
Wright to The Liberator (c. March 1844), in Truman Nelson, ,
ed., Documents of Upheaval (New York: Hill and Wang, 1966), p.
19. David Brion Davis, The
Problem of Slavery in Western Culture
(lthaca, N. Y .: Cornell University Press, 1966), pp. 416-17.
20. Thomas Paine, "African
Slavery in America," in The Works of Thomas Paine,
ed. William Vander Weyde, Patriot's Edition (New Rochelle, N. Y .: Thomas
Paine Historical Association, 1925), 2:5. See also Davis, The Problem
of Slavery in the Age of Revolution
(lthaca, N. Y .: Cornell University Press. 1975), p. 269.
21. Samuel Hopkins, Timely
Articles on Slavery (reprint ed., Miami, Fla.: Mnemosyne Publishing,
1%9), p. 575.
, p. 622.
23. Peter Brock, Pacifism
in the U.S. (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1968), p. 684.
24. Henry C. Wright, No
Rights, No Duties (Boston: printed for the author, 1860), p. 3.
Copy from Library of Congress,
29. Thomas Rutherforth,
Institutes of Natural Law (1744), 3rd ed. (Whitehall: printed for
William Young, bookseller, Philadelphia, 1799), 2;481-82.
30. Thomas Paine, Common
Sense, pt. 2, "Of Monarchy and Hereditary Succession."
31. Lysander Spooner, Natural
Law; or the Science of Justice
(Boston; A. Williams, 1882), chap. 3, sec. 2, p. 18. Spooner's works
have been collected by Charles Shively, ed., The Collected Works
of Lysander Spooner (Weston, Mass.; M & S Press, 1971).
32. Rothbard, For a New
Liberty, pp. 49-50.
34. Spooner, An Essay on
Trial by Jury (Boston: J. P. Jewett & Co., 1852), app., "Taxation,"
35. Spooner, No Treason,
pt. 2 (Boston; by the author, 1867), sec. 7, p. 13.
36. Rothbard, For a New
Liberty, p. 55.
37. Spooner, No Treason,
pt. 6 (Boston; by the author, 1870), sec. 3, pp. 12-14.
sec. 8, p. 29.
, sec. 8, pp. 27-28.
40. Spooner, A Letter to
Grover Cleveland, on His False Inaugural Address, the Usurpations and
Crimes of Lawmakers and Judges, and the Consequent Poverty, Ignorance,
and Servitude of the People (Boston: Benj. R. Tucker, 1886), sec.
20, p. 70. 41. Spooner, No Treason.
pt. 6, sec. 18, p. 50.