Why Voluntaryism Is the Best and Only Legitimate Moral Philosophy
By Ross Kenyon
refer to myself as a voluntaryist because I believe voluntaryism to
be the only moral position worth assuming. It is my opinion that the
only reason libertarianism is worth a damn is because it is a philosophy
of non-aggression which acknowledges the incalculable value of individual
is infinitely preferable to coercion. Even statists will agree with
this abstract statement, albeit befuddledly. Libertarianism and conservatism
as a whole still endorse the concept of forcing others into systems
based upon their respective ideologies. Voluntaryism is the moral
philosophy because it leaves room for Marxists, monarchists, theocrats,
and everyone else to exercise their negative rights of self-ownership
and self-determination. I completely respect the initiative of individuals
who wish to form a socialist commune where the negative rights of the
participants are neglected in favor of a collectivist ethic. This
can be completely consistent with voluntaryism so long as everyone participating
is doing so voluntarily and they are not violating the person or justly
acquired property of those who remain outside of their preferred system.
In other words, it is not consistent with voluntaryist values to coerce
others into any form of libertarianism. Voluntaryists respect the fact
that others might not wish to live as they live. "Anything that
is peaceful" is a core value of voluntaryism. This is one of the
first ways I broach this subject with statists and minarchists alike.
I declare that
the individual has a legitimate right to govern him or her self and
to voluntarily associate with any other individual so long as it is
consensual and non-aggressive to those outside of the agreement. With
self-admitted state socialists this is one of the first things I will
proffer. In my experience, convincing someone who instinctively distrusts
the free market and loves the state that the inverse is consequentially
better is an arduous and frustrating process. Rather than trying to
convince involuntaryists that my ideal system has better results than
theirs, I will submit that there is room for both of our philosophies
on this planet. The Earth is large, and all I request is that the negative
rights and justly acquired property of individuals who prefer other
systems be left unmolested and in full retention of their sovereignty.
This is a very reasonable assertion and does not confront any competing
philosophy on any grounds except for the element which is based upon
coercion in the place of voluntary association. If they believe it is
moral to force others into their system I would challenge them to explain
on what grounds they have inherited the authority to rule others. I
condemn this idea of authority as immoral and coercive.
to the sovereignty argument, I will approach our close ideological allies
of the minarchist movement with the point that they have made their
peace with participating in systemic coercion so long as they can use
the guns of the state to create their version of a just society. Pragmatically,
many libertarians believe that statism is so thoroughly entrenched that
it is better to try to work from within, solemnly protecting the few
crumbs of freedom that remain. They simply underestimate the moderating
and corrupting force state power has upon those who wield it.
There is no
middle ground between coercion and non-aggression. Trying to dismantle
systems of coercion by gaining the ability to use coercion is not only
inconsistent with the ends of voluntaryism and a free society but our
participation in electoral democracy signals our consent to be governed
by democracy. I am a voluntaryist because I respect the wishes of individuals
to live their lives as they see fit so long as they are non-aggressive,
and I hope that the same courtesy will eventually be shown to me. I
oppose coercion no matter what costume or badge is worn and I do not
acknowledge the validity of involuntary relationships.
voluntaryism, individuals will continue to try to solve the complex
ethical problems facing us by resorting to coercion through the state.
They will be forever incapable of creating a just society because they
start with the premise that aggression is an acceptable tool to address
social problems. It is time for us to respect the self-determination
of all people. Voluntaryism is not only the moral way;
it is the only way to peace and justice.
[The author is a senior of American History
at Arizona State University. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
An earlier version of this essay appeared January 2, 2010 on www.libertariansolution.com.]