This is a brief outline of why I consider myself a voluntaryist. When I say voluntaryism I mean a stateless system in which private property is protected through both for-profit and non-profit organizations.
My reasons are the following:
- I believe that voluntaryism will help maximize human happiness through economic prosperity. Markets are the greatest tools for creation and mutual benefit which mankind has ever known. It ensures efficiency, high productivity, and, most importantly, the production of the goods which people actually demand. Allowing markets to be set free ends barriers which prevent producers from providing for consumers in the cheapest and most efficient manner possible. It allows all members of society to enjoy the benefits of the fruits of production, and it increases the amount which we can all enjoy over time. The most pronounced benefits will come from the dual removal of taxation and government spending, one of which misallocates resources while the other decreases worthwhile consumption and investment. Other large factors would include the end of credit manipulation, the end of costly labor regulations, an end to the disaster of public education to be replaced by a more sensible and efficient system, the end of moral hazard in state supported companies, a general increase in competition resulting from the end of government subsidies, tax cuts, and regulations which benefit large firms, and a general increase in price flexibility as a result of government attempts at maintaining the price level. From a materialist standpoint alone voluntaryism would appear to be a great boon to world economies.
- I respect others. I find the idea that one person can force others to do things for him against his will as being disgusting and degrading to the human spirit. In the current system man does not live with respect alongside his fellow man, rather he lives at the mercy of his fellow man. Under the system of statism you are not free, you are always restricted to the freedoms which the government allows you to have. While in society you are always at the mercy of others, because a large group of people will almost always be more powerful than any individual, statism legitimizes and increases the ease with which people can use force against one another. Within a true voluntaryist society individuals must respect each others property and life choices, even if they don’t approve of either of these things. I believe this to be a much more humanistic, proud, and positive attitude upon which to build a society, while statism promotes an attitude, and a reality, of conflict, domination, and alienation between people.
- I believe that in a voluntaryist world people will be happier because they can more freely choose their lifestyles, and it will be more difficult for values to become entrenched. In a voluntaryist society individuals will be able to live how they want to live. If you want to live on a commune or in a non-materialist manner then that will be perfectly possible. Your religion, your choice of sexual partner, and any other lifestyle choice which doesn’t involve unwarranted violence against others will be permitted. Fortunately this is more or less the case in most developed nations (with the seemingly small but actually very important exception that oftentimes people are forced to work or sell off assets if only to pay property taxes). An important factor which will be removed in the voluntaryist society, however, is that there will no longer be the massive force of the state which promotes certain values and ways of life, if not through law then through sentiment. The state promotes a sense of “normalcy” and “social acceptability”. While it is not the only institution or factor in society which does this, it does help to maintain this status quo. I believe this to be very negative because it suggests to people how they should live without taking into account the personalities and situations of individuals. It convinces people that they should be trying to fit themselves into a round hole even if they are a square peg. With the death of the state, we may be seeing people living in a wider variety of ways, and hopefully these different lifestyles lead to greater happiness all around.
- I detest nationalism and collectivism. No matter what you think about point three, the state certainly tells us, if only indirectly, which groups count as people and which don’t. By having borders and a national identity which is heavily supported by the state and promoted in its public education system, we are told that everyone inside the arbitrary line is a brother (as long as they fulfill the requirement of being a “citizen”), while everyone outside of it is foreign and should be treated as a whole different group of people. This promotes an attitude that I dislike greatly. I believe firmly that men should be based on their own merit, or given the benefit of the doubt as people in general. We live in a world where half of all human beings live on less than three dollars a day, and attention to this fact is totally eclipsed by unemployment in the United States rises above a certain level, even though the homeless in America live better than the employed in many other places of the world. This sort of attitude would hopefully be totally removed with the death of the state. Even if nationalism should live on, it would hopefully revolve much more around actual values than things like race, area, and upbringing. For instance the values of the American nation might survive, but it would live on in the values of “liberty and justice for all”, rather than in the geographical region currently known as the United States. Men should be judged upon their actions and their beliefs, not upon where they happened to have been born, so hopefully in the voluntaryist world we would see greater humanism and mutual judgment based upon action and belief rather than the place which they live or were born.
- I value peace. The state has always been a promoter of war. Only through a large tax base can an institution fund a large invasive war into other areas. While there will always be those who want to engage in war and violence, the voluntaryist order will likely have checks and balances to ensure that war and violence are generally impractical and undesirable.
- Voluntaryism will probably increase the desire for social change. The government provides the appearance of a solution to social problems whether or not it acts as one or not, or whether it acts in an efficient manner. If the government is dealing with poverty then you have much less of an incentive to do your bit to fix it yourself. Education, poverty, and social enrichment are all handled by the state, and this means that it crowds out private, voluntary effort to attempt to provide for these things. In the voluntaryist society I believe that we would see more private innovation in “social” areas like in education and poor-relief. Social entrepreneurship will increase, and efforts, rather than being funneled into trying to get the state to fund projects, will now be aimed directly at solving the problems. I think that this will be much more efficient for all involved, since the state is inherently inefficient and unduly conservative in its actions. The more you and others in society worry about a good not being provided in the voluntaryist society the more the will attempt to promote solutions to this problem, whether this is through direct action or financial support.
- I am ignorant. I don’t know what the best way to run society is. I probably don’t know what’s best for you, and you probably don’t know what’s best for me, and I’d much rather have you living your own life than me vaguely indicating to some politician how you should run your life. That doesn’t seem like a very good idea to me, nor does it make much sense for everyone to vote on how to run each others lives when they presumably don’t know how to run their own lives if we’re trying to fix their behavior through government action.
- I believe that the voluntaryist society is ultimately possible. If enough people believe in the ideals of liberty and mutual respect then they will fight for these ideals and they will reject undue violence. Courts and defense, both for and not for profit, will be able to function and compete with one another, providing safety and security for people over varying areas. The peaceful nature of the voluntaryist society will make a war against it by foreign governments very difficult, if only for PR reasons. Courts and military agents who abuse power will be opposed by the people at large and by other groups, making abuse of power both unprofitable and dangerous.
These are the basic reasons why I am a voluntaryist. I am, however, not a utopian. There will still be poverty in the voluntaryist society. There will still be suicide and racism, abuse of power and violence. Should the voluntaryist society ever be achieved, then as the sun rises the next day it will not burn away all of man’s flaws in a blast of libertarian light. So long as humans are human they will be flawed, and as a result human interaction will be less than perfect. This is not the fault of voluntaryism or statism, but the fault of our very essence, our very being. Voluntaryism cannot erase this from our nature, all it can do is to provide a societal structure in which we might better combat these things and reach an ever more perfect, and happy society.
I advocate freedom because I believe that voluntary interactions will, for the most part and by and large, yield better results than the, coercive, inefficient, and perverse entity we know as the state. I fail to see how there can be any true debate over this, even I am engaged in it all the time.