There are two fundamental moral principles through which I hold the case for libertarian anarchism: the non-aggression principle, whereby one does not harm another’s body or property except in instances of self-defence, and the presumption of innocence embodied in law. While there will certainly be nuances and particular qualifications for these principles relative to the creation of social and private contracts in a panarchist order of multiple different communities and associations, these are core principles that underpin the voluntary arrangements of these groupings.
Understanding this, we come to the title of this essay, that it is entirely justified to shoot a police officer based on these conceptions of a free society. Police officers are the enforcers of the state’s will. If it were a mafia hierarchy, the police would be soldiers and associates. They enforce theft by the state, and make sure all its laws (irrelevant of their morality and practicality) are implemented. As a result, we end up with the vile drug wars found in the United States and the entrenchment of poverty as the black economy is outlawed and destroyed due to the existence of state regulation (much of it made off the back of corporate lobbying and top-down political directives).
In this sense, police officers are violating the property and body of the victims of these illegitimate laws and regulations, and as a result are violating the non-aggression principle by stealing and destroying their property. Enforcing taxation simply means enforcing theft writ large. Now this theft is sometimes legitimised by saying that the state provides services and safety, however a mafia family does the same thing by providing protection services to businesses. But this doesn’t excuse the extortion used to receive payment for this protection. Tax is simply extortion by an organisation legitimised by much stronger power relations and institutions than those in a criminal organisation. In a similar sense, regulation pushes through the destruction of one’s property by outlawing legitimate, non-aggressive political and economic actions. If you don’t allow someone to engage in a non-aggressive activity, you are thereby limiting their freedom. It is simply another violation of the NAP.
Going on from this, these immoral violations of the NAP are followed by equally unjustified violations of the presumption of innocence. A police officer being able to pull over an individual while driving based simply on the suspicions and prejudices of that police officer is a violation of one’s supposed innocence. The use of no-knock warrants and police raids to coerce individuals to be pulled into state courts is the use violence against an individual before charges have been properly presented to the accused party. The mass surveillance by the NSA also violate the presumption of innocence.
In the end, the things I’m listing are examples of the unjustified expropriation of private property by an institution that does not have the explicit consent of those its expropriating from. It is no better than a common thief or a drug cartel. It relies on fear tactics, a massive propaganda arm and a significant police apparatus, much like many large criminal organisation does. However, in the case of criminals, an individual is perfectly within their rights to defend themselves against theft, intimidation and other such egregious acts.
I’m proposing that the same standard be used against police officers and any other agent of the state who blatantly violate basic principles of the rule of law and Western morality. If a police officer bashes down your door and fails to present adequate reason for this, the individual being aggressed against would be well within their rights to shoot that police officer. If a police officer comes to your business and tells you to shutdown unless you follow particular regulations and pay particular taxes, the business owner should be able make that police officer leave with a bloody nose. There is no moral justification for the actions of the state, except through mealy-mouthed nonsense about indirect consent through voting or a belief in the state as the highest strata of civilisation. It is an immoral organisation of vested interests and networks of unjustified wealth and power, and it should be resisted, even if that’s through the barrel of a gun.