“Rule a nation with justice. Wage war with surprise moves. Become master of the universe without striving. How do I know that this is so? Because of this!
The more laws and restrictions there are, the poorer people become. The sharper men’s weapons, the more trouble in the land. The more ingenious and clever men are, the more strange things happen. The more rules and regulations, the more thieves and robbers.
Therefore the sage says: I take no action and people are reformed. I enjoy peace and people become honest. I do nothing and people become rich. I have no desires and people return to the good and simple life.”
Lao Tzu understood the principle of non-aggression. I do not say that leaving others alone is the climax of moral achievement unless I am allowed to answer for he who is able to leave others alone. He must be free of vice, greed, jealousy, anger, and much else.
Lao Tzu recognizes the relationship between external restriction of the voluntary spirit (production and trade) and poverty. He recognizes that the ruler who leaves his people alone makes them the richest.
And note that Lao Tzu does not absolutely reject war. In fact he recommends it by surprise moves, a most excellent strategy. But it is too obvious that such war is only legitimate as a form of aggression against he who aggresses.
Lao Tzu seems to my mind to recognize the difference between initiated and responsive aggression. He seems to my mind to recognize that where the rational social animal is left alone (free) much good will come. He will find the way. He will set to work. Or he will face the consequences. No initiated aggression is necessary.