For me, it started in 2006 when I learned about the income tax scam. Then, in 2008, I helped with the Ron Paul presidential campaign and saw first hand all the backstabbing and what a rotten system politics really is. Then, I continued to learn by reading the voluntaryist website and listening to Marc Steven’s radio show, The No State Project. After a while, it was a natural progression to realize that a voluntary based society is the only system that is compatible with human nature, because it’s obvious that you can persuade, motivate, and give incentives to people, but you just can’t force them to do anything. The old adage, “you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink,” pretty much sums it up.
I really appreciate this opportunity to correspond with you! Of course you know that people with beliefs like ours are considered the Ultimate Radicals and I often experience a sense of isolation, even among friends, because the gulf between my beliefs and theirs simply cannot be bridged. Even when we discuss issues [which is often], our conversations become a game of Devil’s Advocate; no matter how sound my logic, how morally true my arguments, there seems to be a wall up in their minds that prevents them from giving any serious thought to the notion that Government by its very nature is destructive and immoral.
I found your web page; really enjoyed your article about the mails. I’ve also found segments of Lysander Spooner’s NO TREASON on the web, which are incredibly persuasive, moral and practical (The Constitution of No Authority, especially, is incredible) . Since my last letter to you I’ve read FOR A NEW LIBERTY and also DISCOVERY OF FREEDOM, by Rose Wilder Lane . I had been teetering on the edge of “anarcho-capitalism” when I wrote to you last, and Rothbard’s book, coupled with the issues of THE VOLUNTARYIST you sent, kicked me right over. The transformation has given me a surprising sense of peace, as it seems to be my natural inclination, which I’d never been able to articulate before.
A little about myself: I was raised to be a good liberal, and chanted the mantra “Regulate, Redistribute” until I was pregnant and planning a home birth. I was shocked to discover that midwives had been “taken in” at gun point, had their records seized, and been incinerated for “practicing medicine without a license.” From there I discovered vaccination legislation, homeschooling regulation, and other controls which I knew instinctively were not in the sphere of “legitimate” State interference. From there I became your standard American constitutionalist, Restore the Constitution, Restore Liberty, etc. I read voraciously, both extremist patriot literature and more scholarly studies of American History, and while I knew that a return to Constitutional principles would certainly be infinitely preferable to what we have today, to me it seemed that Constitutional limits on government were not enough. I was especially annoyed each time I heard the rallying cry “State’s Rights!”, for to my mind, the state had no more right to control an individual than the feds. But nothing I read seemed to hit the proverbial nail on the head, including mainstream Libertarian Party type literature. When I read the John Singer article in JOURNAL OF ALTERNATIVE EDUCATION, the name “Voluntaryist” struck me as something important, and the rest is history.
I still subscribe to several patriot publications, with THE NEW AMERICAN being my favorite, but I have released my fantasy of America Restored as “the answer,” which has not been very difficult. I’d always had nagging doubts about the reality of American Liberty (apart from slavery) at any point in history, as I’d read court cases and quotes from very early on which struck me as “not quite right”. I just didn’t know there was, or could be, anything MORE right. But an “anarcho-capitalist” friend put it to me quite well one night. He said something like, “If we want to avoid the Ultimate Totalitarian State, a world State, we cannot merely rethink government, we must exist without it!” And that made perfect sense to me. It seemed that just as a baby MUST grow into an adult (unless it dies), the nature of the State is always to increase its own power, until it becomes the Ultimate Authority, replacing not only all national governments, but also the Creator, the ONLY real nonpolitical authority which exists.
First published in Issue 89 of The Voluntaryist
The most basic and important lesson I learned while growing up [in my father’s store] was that you must cheat on your taxes to succeed or even survive in business, and that most everyone who could, did so. It all began when I realized we treated the front ‘cash’ register different from the ‘back’ cash register. After a little persistent questioning, my father said that we paid taxes on one, but not necessarily the other. He explained that if we paid taxes on every dollar of sales, we would barely break even, and that if we went out of business both we and our customers would be worse off. The meaning of this was clear to me and I understood its implications. This was not stealing. It was our money and if we gave it to the government they would just go and build more urban renewal [or spend it in ways different than those who paid it would have chosen]. Getting ‘let in on’ the family business made my job even more enjoyable, and I would regularly divert sales to the tax-free register.
As I learned more about our operation, it seemed like everything we did violated some government rule or other, but none of the regulations – from recycling prescription bottles to the location and storage of cocaine – made sense. We never got caught and never got sued. I never heard a customer complain and we had plenty of happy long-term customers of all races and creeds.
First published in Issue 152 of The Voluntaryist
Voluntaryism makes sense to me today because I see it as the only way to relate to others on the basis of such things as honesty, respect and mutual agreements. Voluntaryism is the only means for accomplishing peace, prosperity and freedom. I so long for these things!
When I was little, I was told how horrible I was. Free expression of my questions, my emotions, and my intuitive statements were never allowed. I learned quickly to just remain silent, but sometimes I just had to cry out, “This is not right! You do not treat people like this!” My sense of justice was developing early.
In high school I loved my government class, writing and arguing a point. In college in the 80s, I continued to follow my quest for knowledge regarding human relationships in the political, educational, and economic worlds. I involved myself in various rallies to legalize homeschooling, legalize home birthing, and stop abortion. Eight men in Nebraska were put in jail, and the authorities padlocked their church. I was at the rally. I wrote letters to my congressmen and editors of the local papers. One congressman had the nerve to write to me saying, “Because there is no law, it is illegal.” I was shocked. I cried out, “That is not right! How can they make enough laws to cover every detail in our lives?” Little did I know at the time, that was exactly what they were doing.
A seminar on God and government provided great stimulation for my inquiring mind. I thought, what does God have to do with government? This started me on a path to understand our American system and its history. I grew to respect the Founding Fathers and what I thought at the time to be our system of freedom.
The Republican Central Committee was a place for me to do something and do my part in preserving freedom, I thought. That did not happen. Soon I discovered Howard Phillips and the U.S. Taxpayers Party (which became the Constitution Party.) I became an Independent, and we worked in Nebraska to get Howard on the ballot in the 1990s. This did not happen either. However, the third party debates were fascinating to me, and I soon discovered all kinds of political ideas. The media control protecting the two party system is not right!
Homeschooling seven children took me out of the public world and into our home to study more on the American founding principles. Over the years of listening, learning and experiencing the realities of our social world, I realized that the systems that surround much of our experience treat us as children. Children grow up with parents and teachers dictating their world and experience. Once we think we become an adult and finally graduate from home and school, we end up in another system that attempts to dictate the rest of our lives with regulation, taxation, and threats of punishment if we do not comply and obey. I cry out, “This is not right either!”
My middle daughter was born in 1992; her name is Liberty. What a precious concept! America is the land of the free and the home of the brave. Right? I was discovering this is not so! I think my kids were more free than I was. They did not have birth certificates, vaccinations or social security numbers. We enjoyed our home and each other. I still have the two youngest at home teaching me more about life and social relationships.
The more I read and experience this world, the more I discover that relationships matter the most to me. My children were certainly human beings, not objects and numbers. With each child I discovered that they each are special and definitely an individual with their own purpose and destiny. It was not my job to dictate who or what they were but to enjoy the unfolding of their discovery.
I refuse to be a number and yet that is how I am treated by the system we have in place. My twelve-year-old daughter and I were having one of THOSE conversations the other day. She was angry and not willing to accept what I had to say. “Mom, you are treating me just like you complain about the government treating you. You do not like it any more than I like being treated this way,” she said. I laughed. She was not happy with me, but right on! The government is treating us like children or just plain numbers. This is not right!
Four years ago, I moved to Colorado and met a woman that introduced me to V-50. Her mom was in Andrew Galambos’ live lectures in California in the 1960s and 70s. I purchased the V-50cd set that J. Snelson prepared in which he elaborates on the original Galambos material. I listened to over 50 hours of these lectures on the science of freedom. Now I am listening to the original lectures by Galambos himself. Galambos and Snelson changed my world. I finally found what I was looking for: a peaceful, just, and humane way of solving my problems and the world’s problems. What a beautiful world that can be created with voluntary action!
I thought I was an anarchist. I loved reading The Conscience of an Anarchist by Gary Chartier. What a compelling argument. I agree it is time to leave the State and build a free society! However, anarchy has such a negative connotation I think we need a new word. I like voluntaryism. It sounds better. So I am a voluntaryist, if I have to have a label. Generally I do not fit too neatly in any box so I hesitate labeling myself. I just think that how we treat one another and engage in exchange with others must be voluntary if we want peace, prosperity and freedom. I so long for these things!
Many years ago I worked with a fellow who said he was a ‘libertarian’. He never explained what it was, other than the fact that libertarians were ok with him smoking marijuana. I wrote it off as something akin to the marijuana party. But a seed of a different kind had been planted. Fast forward to the last year or so when I started to realize that my involvement in the structured system that most people accept as normal wasn’t working for me, but actually against me and almost every one else, the seed started to germinate.
I had been talking to a friend in NYC about libertarianism and liked what I was hearing. I was struggling with some of the social network issues (I am Canadian) such as socialized medicine and social assistance for the disabled and unemployed. He agreed that the Canadian model worked better than the big medicine/ big pharma model from the USA. Then I started to think. I don’t use a regular doctor, I go to a doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine, that isn’t covered under our provincial health plan. I came to realize i was paying through the provincial health plan for EVERYONE ELSE’S health care and then paying cash for my families on top of it. The snowball was rolling down hill and picking up mass and speed.
Then another friend from Manitoba posted something about voluntaryism on Facebook. Wow. It blew my mind. It was every thing I knew in my heart to be right. Living your life the way you want and allowing others to be free. Such a simple concept but it was like the red pill in the matrix. It radically changed my life outlook. I read more and realized that government is self perpetuating, that there is no such thing as just a little government, that it will always regrow. It made voluntaryism the only conceivable alternative.
I had been politically active in the past and now realize that no participation is the only reasoned response in light of the facts I had been presented with. I realized that heath care, unemployment insurance, welfare were all more expensive though the system as there are always attendant administrative cost that are part of normal operations.
Now I am a outspoken and unapologetic voluntaryist. Something I don’t see changing anytime soon.
This is a subject I have thought about since 12 and studied online at mises.org. among other sites. I went to the library at 13 and checked out “The Communist Manifesto” because my father and grandfather were communists. I was given books by Marx and Engles my father had hidden. He was afraid to admit his political beliefs for a long time. We met a 74 year old socialist economist who ran his garden supply & nursery when I was 16. Every Sunday, if it was raining, we would discuss politics and economics for hours instead of working in the garden or yard. Harvey (the socialist) told me to investigate the Federal Reserve Act. He claimed it was the worst piece of legislation ever passed. I have read many books on it. He was correct. My political and economic re-education was by independent reading, not in the public system. I remember being sent to the principle’s office at Whitney Ave. School for asking questions of my teacher, Jack Smith, could not answer. Why? Because my questions pointed out his contradictions. (He claimed the U.S. was Capitalist but could not explain import taxes to protect American businesses at the expense of American consumers.) At La Sierra I constantly argued with Mr. Frizzi when he criticized Capitalism. His slanders were unsubstantiated and I kept pointing that out. At 16 I had become a Capitalist despite my upbringing. I do not believe this country has been Capitalist for 100 years. It was never completely Capitalist. It has always had a mixed economy, part Capitalist and part Socialist. There is no third system and the mixture is unstable and becomes Socialist because Capitalism has not been understood, even by Capitalist businessmen. Ayn Rand wrote a book to explain why Capitalism is the only system that works: “Capitalism, the Unknown Ideal”. If this were taught in school we would not have the current mess, here and worldwide. But a public school would not allow such a book. Government and Socialism support each other. They are both founded on the idea that the individual must be sacrificed to the “general welfare”. In this system we are asked to accept injustice on a personal scale for a “greater good”. No property rights can exist under this system even though the proponents claim the reverse. No right to life exists also. This system had been tried for thousands of years in hundreds of cultures. The most remarkable resent example is the USSR. After 74 years of untold suffering and denial of reality, they finally admitted it was not working. Socialists here are NOT deterred. The same can be said around the world. The problem is they have no idea how freedom works, even though they use the word. Why should they? Schooling is by government which always indoctrinates in one way: authoritarianism. Public schools teach us to be a good citizen, i.e., follow the law, i.e., do what we are told, even if it makes no sense or if it seems irrational or self destructive. This is pure superstition. It is the most dangerous, anti-life superstition ever proposed. It must be questioned. It must be exposed and rejected.
We see this superstition go unquestioned in the article about Wal-Mart you sent. It proposed we let Wal-Mart run the country. What does it mean to “run the country”? It means to rule. I don’t want to be ruled or be ruler. I want to self govern. I want to protect myself because no one has ever come up with a system that will protect me from a group of monopoly protectors. Private protection agencies may be flawed but they can be fired and must guard their reputation. Government has no such restraint. As all the world’s experiments with government have shown; all governments grow into monsters.
We don’t need a violent revolution. All we need to do is: stop supporting our destroyers.
I shop at Wal-Mart a lot. They are a good example of a more or less free market. I really love Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods Market. These 3 get 95% of my business. I would use the farmer’s market if it was closer.
About 10 years ago I was told that it’d be in my best interest to open a bank account to have somewhere to store the money that I was earning. Seemed reasonably at the time. That’s what you’re supposed to do right?
So I open the account and was told I could open a checking/debit account for easier transactions. I said “Ok cool, sign me up”. I even got a card with my picture on it. This was really exciting for me at the time. I was growing up and taking control of my life.
Little did I know that a year later I was going to get the first in my face dose of “things are not what they seem”. I was tight on cash but was confident that I had enough money [in my year old account] to put some gas in my car. Paid at the pump, gassed up and headed home. The next day I get an email that my account had been over drafted. They had charged me $5 for dropping below the $25 minimum balance requirement.
So I’m getting charged for not have enough funds? How is that right? Then, because of that initial $5 fee my account over drafted from the gas I purchased and I was charged another fee. This one was $30! Now my account balance was actually a negative number. I owed my bank money because I wasn’t thinking about all the fine print from a year ago.
This all started a chain reaction of money issues for me which I was eventually able to work out. But, I’ve never trusted a bank since.
Not too much longer after getting my first taste of being legally robbed, a major national incident happened. I was sitting in my 11th grade US History class [of all the classes i could have been in] when one of the other teachers came frantically into our class with a TV. A couple of planes had just plowed into the twin towers. Just watching the videos of the towers falling, I could tell something wasn’t right. It just felt like I was being lied to. Why would these buildings just fall straight down like that? I kept asking myself. Not to mention my school mates where running around excited about how we where getting out early that day. The whole world had changed, almost like a movie.
For the next 7 years I just floated through life. Knowing that things weren’t alright. We’re in all of these wars, gas prices are exploding and we’re in this “Greatest Depression”. I felt trapped. Well then I’m just going to party and work on my career, I decided. So somehow (it’s a long story) I ended up in Las Vegas. Living with a couple gnarly roommates, this is where I really started pulling my head out of the sand.
My roommate walks up to me and starts saying something about this new agenda to combine Canada, the US and Mexico. There was even this supposed new currency called the Amero. How the hell is this possible and I’ve never heard a thing about it? So my rommate shows me this crazy movie [you might have heard of it] called Zeitgeist. “Ladies and gentlemen, please fasten your seatbelts it’s going to be a crazy ride”. This opened the floodgates. I wanted to know MORE.
I had all of these questions now. From “how does nobody know this” to “You mean I don’t have to pay taxes”? Every question I had that got answered, just led me to more questions. Now I had a mission, a goal, something to live for. Expose the truth. Through further research I stumbled upon a little group by the name of We Are Change based out of New York City. Then I started a Meetup for our chapter in Maryland. It’s an awesome thing when you’re searching the internet about a particular topic and you come across a website that you can join and share ideas with other like-minded individuals. It all has to start somewhere.
After a couple years of street actions, protests and hours of conversation with people who just didn’t want to hear any of it, I got frustrated. I get it, so how come my friends and family are so content with ignoring the things I’m trying to show them. All of this anger and frustration led up to one question in my mind, “How can I live free, right now”? It was this question that led me to New Hampshire’s Free State Project.
There are people already joining together to live in liberty oriented communities up in New Hampshire? They’re living their lives to the fullest and not asking for permission?! This is where I stumbled upon the website for the 2010 Porcupine Freedom Festival. Before I could even finish the event description, I was forwarding the link to all of my friends and making preparations to take off of work so I could go see what this festival was all about. This was, by far, the best thing I have ever done for myself.
I came in there as a constitutionalist who was getting ready to run for my district’s Republican Central committee. I didn’t want to be a registered republican but I needed to do something more constructive than just my local activism. And boy did PorcFest change that! Who knew a bunch of Anarchists with guns could be so intelligent?
Through many conversations and after watching a ton of great speakers and debates, I was starting to realize something. Freedom doesn’t come from the top down. It comes from within. I realized that I didn’t have to wait for the system to collapse, or for everybody to wake up. I could start living more free everyday.
Leave it to an event like PorcFest to turn a “Truther” into an individualist-anarchist-voluntaryist or whatever you want to label it today. I have had a blast so far, learning ways to avoid all these governmental constraints. And just doing things everyday without anyones permission, as long as it doesn’t conflict with the Non-Agression Principle. I’ve never had such good relationships with friends and such a joy for life since I became a Voluntaryist
What follows is a brief history of a conversion to libertarianism.
I was born in 1924-6years after the mess that was WW1 and started in the 1st grade in 1930. My family REALLY knew what the depression was. There was very little money. My father was a Roosevelt supporter Democrat. I remember him [a one-horse businessman] arguing with his boyhood friend who was a bureaucrat and was anti-Roosevelt and on the other side.
As the war clouds gathered, we were very patriotic and I joined the Army in 1942. My first claim to fame is that at 0125 on D-Day I jumped into Normandy with the 501st Parachute infantry ,101st A/B Division and of course like many others was wounded later on in that operation. I was not yet 20 at the time but I will say that I grew up in the Army. My second claim to fame is that when I became 21 I cast my first vote– For Roosevelt…
As an aside, those of us who were in the service got rid of Hitler, Mussolini and Tojo– the external threats to the USA and freedom. You today have a far more difficult job getting rid of the internal threat– the rot that exists in Washington D.C. I fear for the future of freedom.
Anyway, I was discharged in 1946 and went through the University of Maryland graduating in 1951-10 years after high school. I had long realized something was wrong but did not know what. Then, in 1979 my son gave me Robert Ringer’s “Restoring the American Dream”. If ever a book changed my thinking it was that book. It really opened my eyes. Later on, attending the Free University courses at Johns Hopkins given by Carl completed my conversion to libertarianism and I have been one ever since.
As Carl once said, “libertarianism or voluntaryism does not have all of the answers but it is sure better than what we have now”.
In my teens, when I came across the Henry Thoreau quote about “that government is best which governs not at all”, it made perfect sense to me. When I later fathered two children, the most natural thing in the world was to teach them myself – not that I know everything, but it was obvious to me that many teachers at government-regulated schools knew far less.
Today, my daughter teaches her five children. The eldest just completed “third grade” (he is nine years old) , took a standardized Woodcock Johnson test, and achieved “18th grade equivalent” on all math sections; the rest of his skills aren’t too shabby, either. His siblings are far ahead of the norms in many categories. The same is widely true of home-schooled children; they average about 35 percentile points higher than their peers.
I spent years trying to work with minarchists, viewing them as sort of “fellow travelers” – we were going in the same direction, and would discuss the final destination when we got closer, in theory. However, over the years, I’ve seen many minarchists become warhawks; they view “defense” as one of the “proper” roles of government, and forget that all the libertarian criticisms of socialism – the public choice argument that special interests will capture the bulk of benefits, and the inability of socialist “markets” to calculate what is worth doing, or how to do it efficiently – apply just as much to the military as to any other socialist institution.
Nowadays, I avoid politics and stick to the basics: helping and encouraging people to teach their own, to defend their own, and to provide for the well-being of their own, through voluntary cooperation. When enough of us get used to doing these things for ourselves, the State will be seen as obviously superfluous and counterproductive.
About eight years ago, I purchased a Nissan 350z. I then joined my350z.com. They had a politics section. I decided to go there. I posted a thread stating I thought that there needed to be more regulations to keep businesses in check. At the time I would probably have considered myself a conservative Democrat. To my surprise, the posters on the forum posted a resounding no to my question. I then had a long conversation with them (I later found out they were libertarians) after which I had to conclude that they were right and that regulations were bad for businesses to thrive and unnecessary as well for product safety. Over the next couple of years I had more conversations with them. I then started looking for more content and ran across cato.com and fee.org. I read them for a while and then came across mises.org and freetalklive.com. By this time I had become a minarchist. After having quite a bit of discussion on mises.org and listening to freetalklive, I finally gave up the whole idea of needing government. The whole process took about six years. Later I discovered Marc Stevens website and bought his book Adventures in Legal Land. This solidified my understanding of justice and how exactly government courts are not just.
August 23, 2019
After I graduated from high school in 2009, I attended Wright State University in Ohio. I loved America and was a mild xenophobe. However, I soon met and became friends with classmates from India, Iran, Nigeria, Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast), Iraq, China, Egypt, and other places that permanently transmuted my tribalism into curiosity.
I became a libertarian circa 2011, when Ron Paul was campaigning for president. I confess to wanting to live free and drive fast. America was founded by law breakers and rebels. Don’t install dictators, don’t bomb sovereign peoples, don’t invade other nations, don’t fund terrorists. Let the gays marry, keep your guns, smoke your weed, open doors for immigrants. Good deal.
Then the Republican party changed its rules, rigged its primaries, and cheated Ron Paul, and I couldn’t vote Republican in good conscience ever again. They were too authoritarian, not democratic, or liberty focused.
About 2013, my Uncle, Manuel M., from Peru came to the US on a political asylum visa. He taught kids English in his spare time and worked on houses during the day. He recruited marines from Columbus, Ohio’s Hispanic community He met the former President Bill Clinton after recruiting over 40 marines. My Uncle Manuel was deported after running a stop sign because he lacked a green card.
At the same time that my Uncle was deported, President Obama’s half-uncle (from Kenya), Onyango Obama, received special treatment and received his green card. This made me realize that the government will treat people like cogs and that bureaucracy is a callous machine for the benefit of its operators.
By this time, I had a (now estranged) friend who was a voluntaryist, and we talked and debated, and I found his positions on markets and business and such to be compelling in an economic sense, but not terribly motivational. I dug deeper (Spooner, Goldman, Rothbard, Bakunin, Stirner, Makhno) and found the moral reasons for anarchism far more compelling: Treating everyone as unique individuals (no heuristics!) and embracing radical equality (no exceptions!) seemed a better way to approach life.
I didn’t and don’t feel like the American ideals of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness can be expressed satisfactorily through the State. Its foreign policy is inimical to freedom and life. Its structures constantly constrain liberty, and its outlets for political expression consistently disempower the individual.
If I had been isolated from meeting new people, if I had been less interested in freedom, or paid less attention to politics, I might have never have been interested in anarchism. I’m not convinced there is “only one way to anarchism,” but I am convinced that there is enough room in the philosophy of anarchism for everyone to coexist.
Finding common ground, respecting differences, and practicing freedom is a surer way to find and preserve freedom than through xenophobia and hatred.