What We Are For? - What Do We Believe?
From Issue 29 - December, 1987
Past editorials and articles have made it clear that THE VOLUNTARY1ST is unique in that it is the only regularly published libertarian
publication to advocate non-State, pro-free market attitudes
coupled with an anti-electoral stance and a predilection for nonviolent
means. In fact, we could probably argue that THE VOLUNTARYIST
is the only journal in the world that consistently upholds
individualist anarchism (by which we mean self-government),
rejection of electoral politics
, and the advocacy of non-violent
means to achieve social change. This after all is what we signify
when we use the term 'voluntaryist'.
THE VOLUNTARYIST is seldom, if ever, concerned with personalities;
but we are concerned with ideas. Our interest is in the
enduring aspects of libertarianism. Among these ideas we would
include the concept that taxation is theft; that the State is an inherently
invasive institution, a coercive monopoly, that war is the
health of the State; that power corrupts (especially State power);
that there is no service demanded on the free market that cannot
be provided by market methods; and that the delineation and implementation
of property rights are the solution to many of our
social and economic ills. nor to be overlooked is our insistence on
the congruence of means and ends; that it is means which determine
ends, and not the end which justifies the means.
Voluntaryist thinking forms a link in the chain of ideas started
many centuries ago. We have reviewed some of the significant
sources of radical libertarian thought in Issue 25. Our roots are to
be found in antiquity, when moral thinkers realized that character
building, the building of morally strong individuals, was the essential
basis of human happiness - as well as the prerequisite of a better
society. Self-responsibility was inextricably linked to self-control.
The ideas of personal integrity, honesty, productive work,
fulfillment of one's promises and the practice of non-retaliation set
the stage for social harmony and abundance, wherever and
whenever these two attributes of social life were to surface in the
These ideas helped set the stage for the voluntaryist outlook on
means and ends. A person could never use evil means to attain
good ends. For one thing, such an attempt would never work. It
would be impractical and self-defeating. For another thing, it would
be inconsistent with personal integrity. A person would not resort
to lying and cheating, for example, even if he or she mistakenly
thought such base means could result in good ends. Evil means,
like these, would always be rejected by an honest person.
Impure means must lead to an impure end since means always
come before ends. The means are at hand, closest to us. They dictate
what road we shall set out on and thus eventually determine
our destination. Different means must inevitably lead to different
destinations for the simple reason that they lead us down different
paths. Thus it is that voluntaryists reject electoral politics
as revolutionary violence, neither of these methods could ever approximate
voluntaryist goals - the ideal of a society of free individuals,
nor do either bring about a change or improvement in
the moral tone of the people who comprise it.
Voluntaryists have a clear understanding of the nature of power -
what we have labelled "the voluntaryist insight.' We know that the
State, like all human institutions, depends on the consent and
cooperation of its participants. We also know that we are self-controlling
individuals, with ultimate responsibility for what we do.
We cannot be compelled to do anything against our will, though we
may suffer the consequences for a refusal to obey the State or any
other gangster who holds a gun at us. The State may do what it
pleases with our bodies, but it cannot force us to change our ideas.
We may lose our liberty behind jail bars (liberty being the absence
of coercion or physical restraints), but we cannot lose our freedom
(freedom being the inner spirit or conscience) unless we give it up
Voluntaryism offers a moral and practical way for advancing the
cause of freedom. It rests on a belief in the efficacy of the free
market and on a historic and philosophic antagonism to the State.
It rests on an understanding of the inter-relatedness of means and
ends, and on a belief that "if one takes care of the means, the end
will take care of itself." We are pro-free market, anti-State, nonviolent,
and anti-electoral. This, in a few short phrases, is what we
are for; what we believe.