In the same way I recognize blind squirrels will occasionally stumble upon a nut I recognize those with whom I typically disagree morally or intellectually occasionally stagger into the correct position.
After extensive debate on the subject, I have decided this to be the case in the recent Antifa v. Nazis conflict. I do not in any way condone or support the Antifa’s everyday actions progressing their movement as I believe those actions to be counterproductive to the goals they hope to achieve. However, I believe they were acting well within their rights under the non-aggression principle (NAP) to respond with commensurate force against immoral, coercive agents in Charlottesville. Further, I think it possible to extend this stance and argue that, when being faced with an individual who openly advocates and encourages acts of baseless violence, it is entirely, hands down, 100% permissible to punch Nazis.
As defined by the Mises Institute, “The NAP is an ethical stance which asserts that “aggression” is inherently illegitimate.” It goes on to clarify by defining aggression. “’Aggression’ is defined as the ‘initiation’ of physical force against persons or property, the threat of such, or fraud upon persons or their property.”
This raises several interesting arguments. First and foremost, the Mises Institute, widely held as one of the greatest schools of libertarian thought, clearly states that the threat of physical violence against another person or their property still falls under the definition of the initiation of aggression. The white nationalists and actual self-proclaimed Neo-Nazis present at the Unite the Right Rally in Charlottesville, NC began their aggressive gathering with a march carrying Tiki torches, of all things, while chanting “Jews will not replace us!” and “Blood and soil!” If “blood and soil” and the phrase’s historical context isn’t enough of a threat of violence, what would constitute such a threat?
Because of the nature of the rally, eventually police showed up. It didn’t take long for things to escalate to a point where mace was deployed. Christopher Cantwell, one of the most outspoken leaders of the alt-right movement, was maced not once, but twice after putting himself front and center of the most volatile areas of the rally. While recovering after the first, Cantwell’s supporters can be seen and heard around him encouraging him, “You do the lord’s work!” and “Do it for your race!” and most startlingly, “We’ll kill them for this!” “Them” being the counterprotesters, even though it was police who used mace to disperse the crowd.
Cantwell and his cronies arrived in Charlottesville looking for, hoping for, and with all intentions of inciting racial violence. Neo-Nazis present at the rally made claims that as soon as their movement gained more power they would wipe the filth from the streets forever. It is impossible to see and hear this sort of rhetoric and not also see the toxic effect it has on peaceful society. These individuals are violating the NAP. These individuals should be met with heavy, unfaltering opposition. Does this logic justify Antifa’s own hateful rhetoric and violence in other situations? No. Not by any means. However, broken clocks are right twice a day, and it’s always the right time to punch Nazis like Christopher Cantwell and his sycophants.