By Steven Clyde
The World Health Organization, though incorrectly identifying “self-harm” as a form of violence, provides an otherwise laudable definition of violence:
the intentional use of physical force or power, threatened or actual, against oneself, another person, or against a group or community, which either results in or has a high likelihood of resulting in injury, death, psychological harm, maldevelopment, or deprivation
The question of primacy then for libertarians as it relates to liberty is as follows:
“Is using violence against non-violent individuals ever justified?”
A common argument is that violence is warranted when used to retrieve stolen property or to mitigate the acts of being defrauded. These examples still beg the original question, as both stealing and defrauding property are considered a form of violence itself; theft is clearly deprivation; theft is clearly intentional.
However, when “defensive violence” becomes conflated with“aggressive violence”, it becomes an obvious concealment for the true intent of the aggressors.
For example, if Robinson Crusoe shows up on an island and claims a coconut tree for himself (among many), and someone else shows up and tries to claim the same tree, it would be argued that “Crusoe is inherently violent. If someone seeks to access “his” tree”, which is given to all of us by nature, he will use violence.”
It is not asked, however, “why is person B attempting to use the tree Crusoe has claimed and begun to care for when 1.) there are plenty of other trees around to homestead, and other islands for that matter and 2.) it has been expressed that conflict will unnecessarily arise.
It cannot be taken seriously that there is real concern over scarce resources being oppressively utilized, but only that a desire to encourage conflict is prevalent in the first place; the lust of another’s source of happiness, in other words, seeks to downplay the sacrifices and time preferences of people enhancing their lives.
Yet many examples exist outside of Crusoe’s fictitious island.