The entire philosophy of libertarianism rests on the Non-Aggression Principle: (NAP) No one may initiate coercion, violence or aggression against an innocent person or their property.
At the risk of sounding like the monk reading the Book of Armaments from Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Libertarianism is the NAP, no more, no less. NAP is the foundation of libertarianism and the foundation of libertarianism is the NAP. Libertarianism does not deal with matters pertaining to religion or personal morality. It is not a religion and does not pretend to replace the State as an object of worship. It does not provide a purpose or meaning for one’s life or existence.
Once you add anything else to the NAP, it because something more than libertarianism. Once you remove the NAP, it ceases to be libertarianism.
It is impossible to overstate the importance of understanding and accepting the NAP. To accept it is to reject all that runs counter to it, which includes the apparatuses of the State and all other forms of coercion and aggression carried out in society. It brings about a transformation of a person’s politics, but most importantly their perspective of life. One is never the same.
Eric Peters writes:
And once you do, there is no turning back. Awareness of the NAP is not unlike having knowledge of good and evil, as per the Adam and Eve story. Indeed, it is exactly that. Knowledge of good – and of evil. And once you do know – once one comes face to face with the NAP – you must decide on which side of the fence you stand. There is no more ambiguity. No more gray area. Either you embrace aggressive violence – or reject it.
There is no in-between. There can be no in-between.
I can personally attest to this. Once I became aware of the Non-Aggression Principle a few years ago, I realized that no form of government could be rationally justified. From the moment I comprehended the true definition of government as an entity which claims a monopoly on the legitimate use of violence over a certain section of land, I rediscovered beliefs I had long put aside after being told they were beyond the realm of reasonable opinion.
Once you accept the NAP, you cease to be an aggressor and become a true man or woman of peace. To embrace the NAP is to step out of the darkness of political barbarism and savagery and into the light of the politically civilized (whether one is civilized in other areas is another matter, of course).
To paraphrase Martin Luther’s statement on his belief in sola fide (salvation by faith alone), libertarianism stands or falls on the NAP. It cannot stand on any other foundation.