Week of November 22, 1999




Statism is the notion that your life, money and property are not yours, but ultimately the property of the state.  Under statism, your life is regulated, your money is forcibly taken from you and you must obtain permission from statists before you can use your property.

All law is backed by the threat of force or its actual use.  In a free society, law only uses force in retaliation against those who initiate it.

In a statist society, such as we have today, most laws invoke the initiation of force against those who have not initiated force against anyone.  The most notable instance, in recent history, is the antitrust action against Microsoft, which has not initiated force against anyone.  The federal government and various states are seeking, through the initiation of force, to bring Microsoft—and ultimately all computer- and Internet-related companies—under their control.  If statists can bring Microsoft to its knees, then they can bring any company down.

The initiation of force is the sine qua non of statism.  Without this power, they would be impotent, unable to threaten or harm the life of another.

Many instances of the initiation of force do not involve actual physical contact between the initiator and his victim.  If you are suddenly confronted by an armed robber, you fork over your money because of the threat of force, even though the robber never touches you.  Nonetheless, the robber has initiated force against you.   The same is true when statists enact regulations robbing you of your freedom.   You comply under the threat of force by the state, out of the fear of being arrested and jailed for not obeying their regulations.

Statists are so fond of railing against guns, yet they are the biggest proponents and users of guns in the initiation of force by the state.  Rather than personally mugging you on a street corner, they mug you every day with their legislation—and if you do not comply, they have thousands of armed agents ready and willing to physically initiate force against you.  They will haul you off to jail and/or take your money and property, even though you have not used force against anyone.

There are many disparate groups fighting against statism’s advance in America: conservatives, libertarians, Objectivists and others.  The wonder is most do not focus on statism’s vulnerable underbelly: the initiation of force.

The initiation of force is the moral code of an armed thug.  Let Al Gore and his statist buddies attempt to justify it.  They can’t.  In my dreams, I would hope some journalist—in a nationally televised news conference—would ask Gore to justify it, to explain why the initiation of force by the state is somehow morally different than its use by an armed robber.

Exasperatingly, there is a wide disparity between most individuals’ private and public behavior.  As private individuals, most reject statism and the initiation of force.  I think most generally believe that your life, money and property are yours.   And most would never dream of personally initiating force against you.  Yet many, if not most, of these same individuals will publicly support statism and the state’s use of the initiation of force.

Most likely do not understand that statists are initiating force and that their actions are no different, in principle, from those of an armed thug . As long as most continue to remain blind to the actions of statists, as long as they continue to sanction the initiation of force, America’s freedom will continue its steady decline.

Force should only be used in self-defense and only in retaliation against those who initiate it.  This goes double for the state since its powers of force are many times greater than any lone robber.  What’s wrong for the robber is wrong for the state.  The state should only be in the business of protecting you from the initiation of force.  It should not be in the business of inflicting it upon you or anyone else.

There are many in this country who profess to believe in goodwill and peace among men.   If these individuals are serious and sincere, then let them join in a campaign to outlaw the initiation of force by anyone and especially by the state.  As long as the state is the aggressor, the initiator of force, it will be an instrument for the destruction of freedom, peace and goodwill. 

Fulton Huxtable
November 22, 1999

Copyright 1999 Fulton Huxtable