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Freedom's Phoenix

I am a voluntaryist and you can be too, if you want.

January 2, 2010
 by Ross Kenyon


Why Voluntaryism is the best and only legitimate moral philosophy.

I specifically refer to myself as a voluntaryist because I believe it is the only moral position to assume. It is my humble opinion that the only reason libertarianism is worth a damn is because it is a philosophy of nonviolence and acknowledges the immense value of the non-aggression principle and the sovereignty of the individual.

Noncoercion is infinitely preferable to coercion. Even statists will agree with this abstract statement, albeit befuddedly. Libertarianism and conservativism as a whole still believe in the morality of forcing others into systems based upon their chosen ideologies. Voluntaryism is the moral philosophy of import because it leaves room for Marxists, monarchists, and theocrats to exercise their negative right of self-ownership and self-determination. If a group of individuals chooses to form a socialist commune where negative rights of participants are neglected in favor of a collectivist ethic then this can be completely consistent with voluntaryism and the non-aggression principle so long as everyone participating is doing so voluntarily and they aren’t violating the person or justly acquired property of others outside of the chosen system. In other words, it is not consistent with libertarian values to coerce others into libertarianism. Respecting the fact that others might not wish to live under Sharia Law or as a Leninist or as a state libertarian is a core value of voluntaryism. This is one of the first ways I broach this subject with statists and state libertarians alike.

I will concede that the individual has a legitimate right to govern themselves and to voluntarily associate with any other individual so long as it is mutual and nonaggressive to those outside of the agreement. With self-admitted socialists this is one of the first things I will proffer. Convincing someone who instinctively distrusts the free market and loves the state that the opposite is consequentially better is an arduous and frustrating process in my experience. 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 attack their philosophy except the part based upon coercion over voluntary association. If they believe it is moral to force others into their system I would challenge on what grounds they have inherited such bountiful and justifiable authority. I will challenge this idea as immoral and condemn it, but most people I’ve gotten to this point with are extremely resistant to the idea of leaving the veil of legitimacy that the state and coercion currently possess. If they lack the courage to see the truth for what it is then they are no real asset to the philosophy of voluntaryism anyways.

In addition to the sovereignty argument, I will approach our allies 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 society. Pragmatically they believe that statism is so entrenched that it is better to make changes from within and to gather solemnly the few crumbs of freedom that can be attained. I will posit that they underestimate the dangerous corrupting and moderating forces that holding the reins of the state engenders.

There is no middle ground between coercion and nonviolence. Trying to dismantle systems of coercion by gaining the ability to use coercion is not only inconsistent to the ends of voluntaryism and a free society but this participation in democracy also signals our consent to be governed by democracy. I am a voluntaryist because I respect the wishes of individuals to live their lives so long as they are nonaggressive and I hope that the same courtesy would be shown to me. I oppose violence no matter what costume or badge is worn and do not acknowledge the validity of involuntary relationships.

Related Content:

Changing the World - Nick Coons
Seatbelts! Free Choice in the Age of Coercion - Ross Kenyon
Freedom In Your Lifetime - Nick Coons

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