But: There is an underlying ontological reality to NAP: The mutually-assured destruction (MAD) that adult men communicate to each other by means of the nod of acknowledgement.
If you imagine two strangers meeting in isolation, the thing that engenders and sustains the peace between them, and which makes overtures toward mutually-beneficial cooperation possible in due course, is the conviction on the part of each of them that they are evenly matched – approximately equal in ferocity, martial prowess and weaponry. By means of a glance followed by a quick nod, each of them communicates these ideas:
• I see you.
• You see me.
• I have values I will die to defend.
• I am prepared in body, mind and emotional commitment to kill you, if necessary, even if I die in the process.
• Ergo, we should be friends, or at least non-combatants, instead.
When the parties are unequally matched – as with a bully encountering an untouchable or thugs plucking a ripe teenage girl – crime ensues, NAP be damned. What makes peace (and the concomitant plenty) possible is not NAP but MAD.
So when Rand says, “The precondition of a civilized society is the barring of physical force from social relationships” – she is talking out her ass. It is the mutual and simultaneous pre-emptive assertion of the threat of violence that creates the peace necessary to negotiate any further fruits of that peace. To the extent that it relies on either Rand or Rothbard’s cribbing of Rand, all of libertarianism-writ-large is a cargo cult, a pantomime of philosophy raging on in spite of uncontroverted ontological fact.
We take our virtually-uninterrupted placidity for granted because we grew up in it – in an incredibly peaceful, plentiful golden age – but the behavior and attitudes resulting from the shared commitment to MAD are never absent from our social encounters. Almost all of us exercise nearly-perfect self-restraint nearly all the time, all while the most bookish among us insist this is caused by magical incantations like NAP.
In fact, the sole cause of peace is the MAD we learned from our fathers (and their frail substitutes), the thoroughly-confident masculine frame that says, silently and non-confrontationally, thousands upon thousands of times over the years, “Play with fire, thumb-sucker, and you’ll get burned.” Without that there is no peace, as you can discover in any day’s news reports.
Everything that falls out from this mutually-assured destruction is in its turn directly related to the job of being a man, a husband and a father: Men who know each other know they are mutually ‘Golden-Rulishly’ bound not to despoil each other, not to compete for each other’s wives and not to exploit each other’s children. All of this is at risk where that mutual commitment to MAD is absent – or where power is asymmetrical.
That’s the actual ontology behind NAP, to the extent there is anything at all, besides hand-waving, behind either Rand, Rothbard or Nozick – or the aggressively-unreadable Doolittle.
(And this is why Marx (and Rand and Molyneux) have to destroy fatherhood – because only thoroughgoing fatherhood can resist physical or emotional tyranny.)
The actual purpose of NAP is to rationalize precisely the kind of crimes it purports to prevent: Pre-emptive agression brought against people who, at that moment at least, present no peril to the on-going peace. That is, NAP exists to “license” coercive post hoc “retaliatory” “justice” – even though the proponents of NAP know this cannot be justified under any conception of either equal rights or voluntaryism.
People who live in fear cannot conceive of any means of resolving disputes except force, so they will contort their minds in whatever bizarre shapes they think necessary to avoid admitting that they are the bad guys.
And to that kind of “thinking,” as always: Sic semper tyrannosauris. Thus always to dinosaurs.