Non-Aggression Principle and Children

Libertarianism is based on a principle that it is not OK for institutions to implement social programs using force (the non-aggression principle). Surely governments are a major source of force against the individual. Steve Davies talked in June about close-knit communities being another one. And there is a third source of force – the family.

How universal is the libertarian requirement of non-aggression? Does it apply to people of all ages?

School Class

© Michael 1952

Children are semi-slaves. They eat, play, sleep, and spend their free time in ways chosen by their parents, often against children’s will. It is normal practice to ban children from certain activities and games. Children are forced to go to schools which they often hate and stay there to do things they do not enjoy. In the UK and US most children experience corporal punishment at home, something grown-ups have abolished for themselves long ago.

I believe that coercion against children is more important than most libertarians think. It is universal. It is applied to people during their most formative age. When internalised makes it easier to accept violent authorities in adulthood. People who grow up in coercive homes are perfect building blocks for a coercive political society.

On the other hand, force used against children is mostly within our control as parents. It is easier to start listening to your child than to abolish, say, the Bank of England.

So are young people exempt from the libertarian non-aggression principle or does it apply to all humans? Is it OK for libertarian parents to spank children? Shame them? Put them on naughty spots? Should we support laws banning spanking?



Jan Iwanik will be speaking on this topic at the Rose and Crown on September 5th.

This note, all links and all images were added by Simon.


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