My latest Liberty Chat post pushes back against people trying to blame radical libertarian rhetoric for the recent shooting of two police officers in Las Vegas. An excerpt:
Thus we see that if the SPLC and others try to pin such violence on “anti-government rhetoric” then they have failed to carefully digest what the principled libertarian worldview actually is (surprise, surprise). Yes, it’s true that in his fiery writings Rothbard would refer to the State as a “gang of thieves writ large.” Yet from that worldview it does not follow that an individual is justified in attacking agents of the State. Libertarian theory certainly offers no defense for walking up to two random police officers eating pizza and opening fire, as allegedly happened in this case.
Even if a mob boss has systematically shaken you down, taking money from you over the years, in standard libertarian theory you’re not allowed to walk up to him point-blank and shoot him. That would be punishment in excess of the crime. So even for libertarians who take “the State is a big gang” as a genuine statement of fact, rather than a metaphor, it still doesn’t follow that one is justified in shooting at agents of the State, merely because they are working for a group that has stolen money from your paychecks.
Now let’s move on to the pragmatic considerations. Suppose there are readers who are not persuaded by my above appeals to justice and morality. Perhaps they’ll say, “This is war!” (which is always a sign that awful things are about to happen). Perhaps they’ll draw analogies with the American Revolution.
Yet hang on a second. It would be weird to look with pride upon the American colonists for their violent uprising against Great Britain, when what modern liberty lovers hate is the State that grew out of the American Revolution. The Confederate states tried to use violence to get the people in DC to back down. That didn’t work out very well. Not only did hundreds of thousands of people die, but the US empire emerged even stronger from the carnage of the 1860s.