Damaging Government Property?

Ben Stone of the Bad Quaker podcast, who I’ve recently begun listening to (but too early to recommend), wrote an essay on civil disobedience for DailyAnarchist.com. It’s very good, but I took issue with a piece of his setup. This:

It’s impossible for government to legitimately own anything. Everything that is commonly considered “government property” is actually unowned property, and it is perfectly legitimate to damage it. Breaking a window in a government building is not a violation of the Zero Aggression Principle. It may be unwise, but it’s not aggression. However, if you accidentally harm a person in the process you have violated the Zero Aggression Principle. There is no situation where an exploding device should ever be used by an anarchist, because there is always too great a risk of harming an innocent person. You’re actions must be according to wisdom.

I don’t think that damaging government property doesn’t violate the “zero aggression principle” (or non-aggression principle, as I put it). Government steals wealth and then makes buildings. Though that property is not rightfully the government’s, it is rightfully the property of those whom the government robbed to build it. To destroy or damage it would be an act of aggression against its rightful owners. Therefore, whether you’re using an explosive or a baseball, damaging government property is a violation of the non-aggression principle.


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Founder and editor of Everything-Voluntary.com and UnschoolingDads.com, Skyler is a husband and unschooling father of three beautiful children. His writings include the column series “One Voluntaryist’s Perspective” and “One Improved Unit,” and blog series “Two Cents“. Skyler also wrote the books No Hitting! and Toward a Free Society, and edited the books Everything Voluntary and Unschooling Dads. You can hear Skyler chatting away on his podcasts, Everything Voluntary and Thinking & Doing.