How I Became a Voluntaryist

By An Anonymous Lawyer

I was born in the early 1970s and raised on a farm in the Midwest. In public school I was taught that the State was a necessary part of life without which we would have chaos and be invaded by other countries. I learned that democracy was the ideal form of government and voting was the duty of every good citizen. It took several decades before I recognized the true nature of the State.

The seeds of my doubt about the State were unknowingly planted by my father. He was a Republican, but he had an anti-authority, libertarian streak that he passed on to me. He often said that “you can’t legislate morality,” nor was he particularly fond of law enforcement, or, for that matter, public school officials. He wasn’t a fan of the State, but it was only because he believed that the wrong people were being elected.

During my teen years, I was a political junkie. I watched the news each night and was convinced that the world’s problems could be solved if more Republicans were elected and the U.S. military received more funding. I cringe now to think about it, but I was excited to vote for George H.W. Bush.

College was my ticket off the farm, so I applied and was accepted to a state college. It was there that I first heard the term libertarian and began identifying politically as a libertarian. A liberal professor caused me to reconsider my belief that U.S. military intervention is the solution to the world’s problems. Although I didn’t join the Libertarian Party in college, I started voting for Libertarian Party candidates.

Despite my new-found belief in a smaller State, I barely avoided joining the military when I was caught up in the drumbeat to war before the first Gulf War. I was one signature away from joining the Army and going to Officer Candidate School after college but nagging doubts about whether that’s what I wanted to do with my life and a high school friend who said in passing that I should be a lawyer changed my plans. I backed out of joining the Army and started focusing on admission to law school.

Law school was a different world. Professors and students assumed without debate that the State was necessary in all parts of life to force people to do what was “right.” My professors presented the legal system as a necessary tool of the State in which judges diligently applied case precedent to disputes to arrive at fair, well-reasoned opinions. Most of my classmates were liberal and believed that the State was a benevolent force for good. I learned to keep my libertarian thoughts to myself.

After law school, I joined a law firm that represented many government employees who had been retaliated against for whistleblowing. Those cases opened my eyes to the vindictiveness of a bureaucrat scorned. I was idealistic (and naïve) enough to believe that justice would prevail. Federal judges knocked that idealism out of me. I quickly learned it was a legal system, not a justice system.

9/11 came and went, and my concern about the erosion of constitutional rights deepened. I formally joined the Libertarian Party thinking that would make a difference. It didn’t, but it did introduce me to the non-aggression principle, which I’m sure I heard back in my college days but had ignored.

I started my own practice, and began dealing with even more bureaucrats and politicians. My view that the State merely needed the right actors to work properly took a beating. Finally, after working in and around the State for several years and seeing “how the sausage gets made,” I could no longer avoid the fact that the State causes much more harm than good. Its purpose is not to solve problems, prevent disputes, or even to protect us, but to perpetuate its existence and increase its power (and thereby the power of those people who form the State).

Election after election changed nothing and only underscored in my mind that electoral politics is a waste of time. There had to be a better way. This started me delving more deeply into libertarian topics, including anarcho-capitalism, and listening to libertarian-oriented radio shows.

It was while listening to a radio show called “Free Talk Live”, that I first heard the term “voluntaryism”. I started reading about voluntaryism online and that led me to voluntaryist.com. I devoured the contents of the site.

Voluntaryism makes sense to me. The majority voting one way or the other doesn’t make a wrong right. Electoral politics is simply dressing up violence in a socially acceptable manner. I’m embarrassed now that it took me so long to discover the beautiful, peaceful doctrine of voluntaryism. Better late than never.