Christian Relaunch

Countering Encroachment

The Modes of Counteraction

1. Reaction

Reaction is against actual past encroachments.

1a. Retribution

Retribution (retaliation) punishes encroachments.

Retribution is God's reaction against the wickedness that theatens to disrupt his purpose. In general, the principle that "Vengeance is mine says Yahweh, I will repay" applies, and it is not for us to try to help him. But in this one case it is proper for man to execute God's retribution, when our doing so is a direct reaction against wickedness that impinges on us.

Enforcement is the intended consequence of retribution, but the latter is broader. We should not confine ourselves to calculating specific predictable deterrent or disabling effects, but should react spontaneously against encroachments (punish them), confident that in doing so we are part of God's upholding of his restorative purpose. God's judgment is always remedial, and insofar as we execute that judgment so, ultimately, is ours, but we cannot always foresee the manner of that remedy. For one thing, it may be posthumous. Other applications of the surgical principle are to be assessed purely by their foreseeable consequences; here alone there is another factor. Here we react directly against the wrongdoer, and over and above measurable consequences is the imponderable remedial effect of the retribution itself. Unless there is a motive over and above the consequences, we should punish those who are generally believed to be guilty rather than those who are really guilty; this would have the requisite deterrent effect. Few, I think, would accept such a view, but the only alternative is to accept that the guilty should be punished, first and foremost, because they deserve it. (I know not who first pointed this out, but I had it from C. S. Lewis.)

The Lesser Evil. The better-known lesser evil theory also seeks to explain how actions that would "normally" be wrong can occasionally be right. My Surgical Principle shares much with it, but differs as follows. "Lesser evil" theorists often speak as if the actions in question were inherently wrong, are still wrong in the circumstances, but that we should do them anyway because the only alternative actions are even wronger. But I deny the possibility of any circumstances in which every choice is wrong. I think it is always possible to act well, though sometimes every choice has some bad consequences. Alternatively, the "lesser evil" may refer to foreseeable consequences, but I think this too narrow a criterion.

The form taken by retribution may properly be affected by proactive considerations.

Torture of a known encroacher may be proper. The case against it, insofar as rational at all, usually hinges on the unreliability of information so gained, but this is irrelevant; such torture is intended to yield clues not proof, to be investigated critically, and is not to be confused with the risible extraction of bogus "confessions" practised by many regimes.

Branding may be useful as a permanent warning that the brandee, while free, may not be suitable for certain roles.

Disruption reduces an encroacher's capacity to encroach in future, for instance by destroying his weapons.

1b. Restitution

Restitution reverses the effects of encroachment, by restoring property to its owner or by requiring the encroacher to put matters right in some other way.

Restitution may involve restoring more than was stolen. The additional amount is compensation for lost time and effort. Anything beyond that is retribution, not restitution; if it goes to the victim, this is incidental, and generally it more appropriately goes more widely.

2. Proaction

Proaction aims at security against potential future encroachments.

2a. Deterrence

Deterrence seeks security via the capacity to inflict retribution on potential encroachers.

2b. Defence

Defence seeks security by hindering potential encroachers from proceeding.

Innocent Parties. Defence never aims to harm the potential encroacher, for that would itself be an encroachment. But it may (colaterally) involve harming them, or even harming third parties.

The Forms of Counteraction

Deceit is proper against aggressors, as in the well-known case of the mad axeman asking where his intended victim is. But the self-serving deceits known as "white lies" are improper, and excusing them fails to recognise the difference between normal interactions and reactions against wrongdoers.

The Sources of Encroachment


Aggression is when a man interferes with another man's body, family or property.

This timeic aggression differs from ethoic aggression. A timeic aggressor may or may not display ethoic aggression. A man defending his domain is entitled to be ethoically aggressive against his timeic aggressor. A different word might be helpful, but the word is firmly established in its dual use. The two topics seldom overlap, so there is little danger of confusion.

Counteraction against aggression aims to achieve security.

Security Leagues. In an unspoiled world there would be no aggression so no need for security measures. Friction would be resolved through arbitration leagues. As it is, there is frequent aggression, not only by individual criminals and foreign gangs, but also by local gangs, the chief of which are the self-styled "states", and respect for others' property (and one's own) entails security measures against all these. An accord with this aim (a security league) either arises from an extant arbitration league or incorporates a new one.

War is one form of reaction.

Mercenaries. A belligerent may employ foreign mercenaries or paid local volunteers; whether the warrior is a native or a foreigner makes no difference.

Breach of contract may constitute aggression, for instance if a party witholds goods whose ownership he has transferred.


Frowardness is when a subject disobeys her king.

Counteraction against frowardness is domestic discipline.

BEWARE. A man practising domestic discipline nowadays in England, and in many other lands, risks aggression from the dominant gangsters, who have declared such actions "illegal", so it may be wiser to refrain. I mention this here lest any reader be unaware of the risk, and also to reduce the risk to myself of being persecuted for "incitement". I may still be persecuted for "hate speech" or some such nonsense, but I see no way to avoid that except silence, which conscience forbids me. "Woe to me if I preach not the gospel" applies not only to the creed but also to supporting details like the present topic.

A king's role in relation to a subject is like that of a captain. His role is, not to enforce God's law, but to choose and manage a plan. Admittedly this sometimes entails that his view of what is right prevails, but that is incidental. Counteraction is directed not against her wickedness in general (which, like his, is between the self and God), but specifically against her attempts to reject his plan and follow her own. If she encroaches on his rule in this way, he should enforce it. This may involve corporal punishment for his wards, his bride, and any other women he rules.

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