When Is Aggression Not Aggression?

We rarely call ourselves anarchists anymore because of the  pejorative context in which it’s used by statists looking to create an enemy. We may call ourselves astatists, voluntarists, or my personal favourite (and thanks to Ankh Infinitus for this one) non-aggressionists or anti-aggressionists.

So, why the focus on being against aggression?  Because aggression is the tool at the root of every tactic used for evil.  Most voluntarists adhere to the non-aggression principle.  Aggression is defined as the initiation of force, threat of force, or fraud to achieve a desired end.  Self-defence is, ergo, not aggression because the person is reacting to existing force, and not initiating it.  Astatists believe that, even in the presence of government, everyone should follow this principle, which is why we advocate tax evasion and resisting arrest, among other things, as these are not aggression, but self defence.

But, being the gamer that I am, I got to thinking about ambush.  I asked Ankh if there was such thing as a non-aggressive ambush.  The conversation that followed (though I admit my attention was more focused on my game at the time) gave me an idea to visit several tactics known as falling under aggression and determine any non-aggressive uses of said tactics.

Let’s begin with


Ambush is when you (and usually a group) gang up on your opposition without their prior knowledge in hopes to overpower them before they have a chance.  Fraud is typically used in setting up ambush, which makes it doubly aggressive.

However, it is entirely possible that you and your friends are enjoying a friendly game of whatever it is you play when someone tips you off that aggressors are coming, and so you prepare to ambush them when they get there.  In this case, it actually prevents aggression.


Vengeance or revenge is retaliation against a person who wronged you after they are no longer reasonably considered a threat.  If they did significant damage, one might consider it an acceptable use of aggression to “teach the guy a lesson,” but let’s just call it was it is.  Aggression.

However, it is entirely possible for it to be used in a non-aggressive manner.  I can think of two examples.  One being if he stole from you in the attack.  Recovering your possessions  is defending your property and, ergo, self defence.  Though, you may only use as much force as necessary to recover your possessions.  The other being that if it can be reasonably concluded that he is an imminent danger to others.  For example, if he’s a known serial rapist and you were just one of many to be raped.  Then, you will be defending the next rape victim.


Terrorism is the manipulation of fear to achieve a desired end.  Often coupled with violence to prove you are capable of following through, it’s one of the most feared aggressive tactics in today’s society.

However, if a person is standing you down with threats of violence, you may bluff in your talk back to get him to back off.  This could be considered terrorism because you’re getting him to back off out of fear.  And, if he doesn’t, then you can use physical self defence.  So, it seems that even terrorism can be used in defence.  Is there any normally aggressive tactic that can’t?


You can take the assailant’s weapon.


Extortion is generally the threat of force to achieve a desired end. It doesn’t require the actual use of force if the person doesn’t comply, but to do so gives your threats more credibility.

One can even turn around and use extortion in self defence. One example is something from my past where I caught the person’s first punch, swung his arm around his back, and leaned in and said softly in his ear, “We’re not going to do this, are we?”  That was the end of that fight. The implied threat of violence caused him to back away.  Actually, extortion is simply a subcategory of terrorism.

So, this is all I can think of right now.  If you know of any typically aggressive tactics and are unsure as to whether they can be used defensively, that’s what the comment section below is for. I’ll analyse them and the circumstances in which they can be used and, if I get enough, I’ll do a part two.  In the mean time, have a great day and kill lots of people.

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