In an earlier article for this website I’ve written about the non-coercion principle and how it is connected to individual liberty and morality itself. I laid out the reasons why moral rules that we hold dear are really products of individual liberty by using the imagery from Lord of the Rings. It was a little fun but I was not attempting to belittle the reader’s intelligence but to illustrate that the cause of all evil is the violation of the non-coercion principle which really is an assumption of power over other people.
Think of the worst act a human being can do to another which is rape. This is a crime in every culture but the difference between rape and sex is the non-coercion principle. Sex is a voluntary act between two willing people but rape is an involuntary act. The physical act does not change itself since it is intercourse as defined by medicine but the difference is free-will. Two people who engage in sex have free-will and each other’s consent to do it but rape is an absence of consent of one person. What made it a moral crime against another person was not the act itself since the act is essentially the same in both situations but more an absence of free-will. The absence of free-will made it an act of evil since there was none.
Not only does this rule apply to that situation but it also applies in all other situations where human beings interact with each other. The act of theft is no different than the act of trade since it involves the movement of one person’s property to another. The only difference is the absence of free-will. A person who exchanges their property with another does so freely of their own free-will. They may do this for charitable reasons or to get something that someone else has but whatever the reason is it is always done in accordance with their free-will.
The act of theft is an involuntary exchange of property between two people just like an act of rape is an involuntary act between two people. The similarities between these two acts are that they are both involuntary interactions where one person is forced to participate with what the other person wants. This turned a normal interaction into an act of evil.
This is also observable in other moral crimes such as murder because it is when someone’s life is removed from them against their own wishes. A person may wish to be killed in some situations because many people have to make the terrible decision to let a loved one go because of wishes expressed in a living will. This is not considered an evil deed because it was a voluntary act between the person who was suffering and the loved one that agreed to do it. It was a voluntary interaction between them.
This is what many philosophers believed in when they envisioned a free society of people where all interactions between any of them were voluntary. I believe it was Locke who rhetorically asked what evil can happen in such a society. They knew that where free-will of the individual was maintained no evil could happen since a person’s free-will could act as a check against another person’s ill intentions for them.
No person agrees to be raped, murdered, or have their possessions forcibly removed from them and if they did it would no longer be something evil. The true nature of evil is the violation of a person’s free-will because what turns any interaction between two people into something evil is the absence of choice to participate in that interaction.
It is unknown to this author how exactly that makes something evil but it is written in most religious text that only God knows the difference between good and evil. Perhaps this is the true nature of evil that mankind is only beginning to discover for ourselves. Perhaps our species is beginning to learn what that is and like all other scientific discoveries it will allow us to live better lives.
In order to understand whether or not something mankind devises is good or evil we must apply the non-coercion test to it. Everything in the world is divided between good and evil and so is law. Good law is law that does not coerce the people to act against their own free-will while evil law (like evil people) does.
Evil law is law that has the power to commands an individual to act against their own free will. This is known as positive law because any act against any person that compels them to act against their own free-will is a positive action. A positive action can be an act of theft against someone’s property, an act of involuntary sex against someone’s body, and act of murder is an act against someone’s desire to live which all are considered evil. Governments that take positive actions against a person are no different than any other person who wants to violate the free-will of others and is thrown in the evil category.
One might wonder if it possible for a good act to happen because of positive action but if there was no harm intended by the positive action then what is the reason for force? It should be obvious that if the action benefited the person in a way that satisfied them then there should be no reason why they should oppose the positive action.
This is way any positive action is evil and positive law is no different because it becomes an instrument of evil for the people in power. The people they pass laws over lose their ability to resist the positive actions of the government which enables those in power to do whatever evil they can think of. This will always be a permanent aspect of government which makes all government an evil social institution no different than the mafia.
There is a way to channel the evilness of government to benefit the freedom of the people. When someone takes a positive action against another it is negated by the free-will of that person which is simply a negative action against the person’s positive action. The net affect is zero action because it stopped the positive action. The government can use its force to negate the positive actions of others in order to maintain the freedom of all. This is called negative law where it protects people from theft, rape, murder, and other violations of the non-coercion principle.
This is the only good government that really exists since it uses its power to insulate the people from the control of others. This rarely happens because people have power over others so they will always use it for positive law. This is why constitutions exist because that becomes the supreme authority of the people and not other people who happen to be in positions of power. This government becomes defined to the supreme law instead of the law being defined by the government.
The history of freedom has always been the non-coercion principle and for most of that history the biggest violator of the non-coercion principle has been government itself. The biggest threat to our liberty has never been our neighbor because we can easily thwart any attempt for them to control us instead the biggest threat has always came from the government. This is because government is the one institution we can not reject in the same way we can reject our neighbor which prevents your neighbor from devouring your freedom. The ability to reject government in the same way does not exist which allows the people in power to consume our natural rights. This is why the most evil things that have ever happened always come from governments and not our neighbors.
Society can only consider itself moral when its inhabitants have the power to freely interact with other inhabitants. The moral identity of a society is violated when a segment of that society is allowed to interact with others in an involuntary manor. It is like having a percentage of our society that can’t be told that they can not steal, they can not rape, or they can not murder. They simply are immune from any objection we have against our free-will which is why what they have is called power which is the root of all evil. It becomes a great enabler for evil and a humiliation for our spirit since they know that we can not resist them in any way. A rapist, a thief, and a murderer uses a gun in order to have power in order to inhibit someone’s free-will so they may do whatever evil they want to us.
Government has power and we are told that it is for our own good that it does but what good can it have in mind for us when it is used to violate the non-coercion principle? The only good that power can be used for is to negate the power that other people may attempt to obtain against us which is negative law. Since this is the exception and positive law seems to be the natural direction of it then we must conclude that the true ambition of government is to be evil. There are many who falsely believe that the state is a stairway to some divine will of the people but if power is the root of all evil and all power exist in the state then the state can be nothing more than a doorway to hell.