Voluntaryism in Simple Terms

All Human Relationships Should Be Mutually Consensual 

Voluntaryism is simply the belief that all human relationships should be mutually consensual, or “voluntary”.

Voluntaryists reject the initiation of aggression in all its forms; violence, threats of violence, theft, coercion, fraud, bullying, rape, murder, etc.

Self-defense using physical force is not an initiation of aggression, but rather a reaction to it; therefore, it is morally acceptable to use force to defend your life, the lives of others, and justly acquired property.

Voluntaryists follow the Non-Aggression Principle, which is a moral principle that “prohibits the initiation of force by one person against another.”

This belief is hardly a controversial one. It is little more than basic, kindergarten ethics. Few of us believe that forcing someone to do something against their will is morally acceptable, unless they are initiating aggression against someone else.

When you force someone to have sex with you, it’s called rape.

When you force someone to give you something they own, it’s called theft.

When you force someone to die, it’s called murder.

While you likely agree with the Non-Aggression Principle, as most do, and conduct your life accordingly, there is still a rather large group of people within society that violates this moral principle in egregious ways every single day, and does so legally.

You likely support this group, give money to this group, defend its actions, and believe that its violations of the Non-Aggression Principle are legitimate, without even realizing it.

Government is Made Up of Human Beings

The “Law of Non-Contradiction” is one of the basic laws in Classical Logic.  It states that something cannot be both true and not true at the same time. For example, I cannot be both blind, and not blind at the same time. I cannot be both alive, and not alive at the same time.

“Government” is made up of human beings just like you and I. They are not supernatural. There is nothing inherently special about these human beings. We are the same exact species.

They are susceptible to all of the same human flaws and maladies; greed, illogical thinking, selfishness, pride, lust, envy, etc.

Because the government is nothing more than a group of human beings, according to the Law of Non-Contradiction, an action cannot be both moral for those human beings (the government) and immoral for you and I, at the same time.

I cannot levy taxes against you, and put you in a cage at gunpoint if you don’t pay me.

I cannot tell you how to live your life, and put you in a cage at gunpoint if you don’t obey me.

These are things that I cannot do, because they are immoral.

The government has acknowledged these things are immoral, which is why they have also made them illegal.

These things clearly violate the Non-Aggression Principle.

Yet, you support the government doing these things.

These things cannot be both immoral for you and I, and moral for the people who call themselves the “government” at the same time.

After all, the government is made up of people just like you and I.

So, how do we resolve this obvious, logical contradiction?

The Social Contract

According to the Wikipedia definition of “Social Contract Theory”:

Social contract arguments typically posit that individuals have consented, either explicitly or tacitly, to surrender some of their freedoms and submit to the authority of the ruler or magistrate (or to the decision of a majority), in exchange for protection of their remaining rights.

The so-called “Social Contract” that is used to justify the government’s authority fails to meet the legal standards of a “Contract”.

According to the Wikipedia definition, a “Contract” is:

An agreement having a lawful object entered into voluntarily by two or more parties, each of whom intends to create one or more legal obligations between them.

The elements of a contract are “offer” and “acceptance” by “competent persons” having legal capacity who exchange “consideration” to create “mutuality of obligation.”

In fact, the “Social Contract” is entirely unenforceable by the government’s own standards.

In order to be legally enforceably, a contract must be agreed to:

  • Voluntarily.
  • “Without Duress” (without the threat of harm)
  • Both parties must be “Competent”.
  • There can be no “Undue Influence”.
  • There must be a “Mutuality of Obligation”.

If you live in the United States, you are entered into the Social Contract from the moment you are born, without your voluntary consent, and if you refuse to acknowledge the social contract, force will be used against you. You are under duress.

You can’t enter into a legal contract with a new-born infant. Yet, you are entered into the Social Contract from birth, before you are considered “Competent” under the law.

Undue influence involves “one person taking advantage of a position of power over another person.” This one is obvious. Under the “Social Contract”, one of the parties employs legions of armed men, and possesses a seemingly endless amount of power and resources.

With no “Mutuality of Obligation,” there can be no contract. If the other side of the contract is not meeting their obligations, there must be recourse.

The United States Supreme Court ruled that police have no obligation to protect you, even if you are a woman who has obtained a court-issued protective order against a violent husband.

The appeals court had permitted a lawsuit to proceed against a Colorado town, Castle Rock, for the failure of the police to respond to a woman’s pleas for help after her estranged husband violated a protective order by kidnapping their three young daughters, whom he eventually killed.

For hours on the night of June 22, 1999, Jessica Gonzales tried to get the Castle Rock police to find and arrest her estranged husband, Simon Gonzales, who was under a court order to stay 100 yards away from the house. He had taken the children, ages 7, 9 and 10, as they played outside, and he later called his wife to tell her that he had the girls at an amusement park in Denver.

Ms. Gonzales conveyed the information to the police, but they failed to act before Mr. Gonzales arrived at the police station hours later, firing a gun, with the bodies of the girls in the back of his truck.

In fact, most police officers openly state that “The No. 1 duty of a police officer is to go home to his or her family at the end of the shift.”

It is not to protect you from violent criminals, it is to protect themselves.

If self-preservation is the first and foremost priority of a police officer, then you get what we have seen in recent months and years — a series of unsettling police shootings.

You get what we saw on that video released last week showing Dallas police shooting a mentally ill man nonchalantly holding a screwdriver in his hands.

You get the questions swirling around the shooting death last month of an unarmed man said to be approaching a Grapevine officer with his hands raised.

It would explain other such shootings in situations that seemed to pose no immediate threat to officers.

Maybe it’s time to quit nodding along and question the maxim that going home at the end of the day trumps all other considerations.

The government takes our money in exchange for protection services, yet has no obligation to actually render those services. When they fail to provide those services, you have no recourse.

If you pay for a service from a private business, and don’t receive that service, you can sue them and get your money back.

If the government had the same obligation, everyone affected by 9/11 would get a large refund.

Any time the government fails to protect someone from harm or violations of their rights, they have failed to uphold their end of the contract.

By any legal standard, the “Social Contract” fails. 

It is legally invalid at best, and criminally fraudulent at worst.

There is nothing legitimate about the belief that, because you were born in a certain country and have not moved, that you have implicitly consented to surrender your rights in exchange for protective services (that the government isn’t obligated to give you, anyways).

The entire argument underpinning a government’s legitimate authority over a “country” and its “citizens” is false in its premise, and incredibly flawed in practice.

The idea that the government has to violate your rights in order to protect your rights is absurd anyways.

Borders are imaginary lines. Countries don’t exist. Governments don’t exist. The “Social Contract” doesn’t exist. Laws don’t exist.

Human beings exist.

We are all of the same species. We are all flawed. We are all equal.

Not one of us is qualified to “govern” anyone else.

There is no evidence or argument justifying the claim that governments have authority over us, or that their laws and constitutions apply to anyone. It’s merely an opinion; an assertion of power.

The justification for the government’s power is nothing more than “because we said so, and if you disagree, we will use force against you.”

A law is nothing more than an opinion with a gun.

There are no facts. There is no proof. There is no evidence (other than circular logic saying “the law applies because the law says so”, or the “Appeal to Authority” logical fallacy).

If you disagree, just try calling the government, and asking them what facts or evidence exists that their laws apply to you.

Call your local IRS office right now, and ask for the evidence yourself:

https://www.irs.gov/uac/Contact-Your-Local-IRS-Office-1

If you don’t feel like doing that, then check out Marc Steven’s videos on Youtube. He’s asked many IRS agents this very question, including a federal magistrate and other educated bureaucrats such as John Buttrick and Nick Cort:

The “government” is nothing more than men and women forcing us to pay them.

It’s just that simple.

If you did business in the same manner as the government, by forcing people to pay you, you would be considered a criminal.

Laws, taxation and force

Even if your argument is that this group of people receives just power from the “consent of the governed”, you must also admit that one cannot give consent on someone else’s behalf, without their permission.

You may consent to being governed, but that does not mean that I, or anybody else, necessarily consented to be governed as well.

Because not everyone does consent to be governed, or at least don’t consent to all of the laws that the government passes, force must be used.

To impose governance by force on a peaceful person who has not harmed you or violated your rights is an immoral act.

To impose anything by force on a peaceful person who has not harmed you or violated your rights is an immoral act. This is the very definition of aggression.

When it comes to forced taxation, you do not get to choose whether your tax dollars fund the Iraq war and locking up non-violent drug users, or whether your tax dollars fund homeless shelters and welfare programs.

To put it another way, would you personally pay the bill for the bullets and bombs that kill innocent civilians?

Would you personally contribute to raiding and locking up peaceful people for owning a plant the government said they can’t have?

If you answered “yes” to those questions, quit reading now.

If not, then why do you believe that forcing people to pay for these things via taxation is a moral thing to do?

If you live in a country with a government that commits acts that you deem immoral, you don’t get to refuse to fund that government.

You either give money to the government to fund all of their actions, or they can and will use force against you.

Taxation is not consensual or voluntary. It violates the Non-Aggression Principle, and if you or I tried to do it to each other, it would be called coercion and theft.

If you refuse to pay taxes to the government to fund things that you disagree with, they will forcibly extract money from you through wage garnishments, or property and bank levies.

If you resist, you will eventually be put in jail.

If you resist being put in jail, physical force will be used against you, up to and including lethal force.

The government will kill you if you don’t pay them. It really is as simple as that.

Do you think this statement is hyperbole?

Consider the case of Eric Garner, who was, quite literally, killed by the government for not paying a tax.

[Eric Garner] died after being placed in a chokehold while being arrested for allegedly selling untaxed cigarettes on Staten Island on July 17.

garner

Every law the government passes carries this same death threat if you do not comply with it.

Yale Law School Professor Stephen Carter writes for Bloomberg in an op-ed called Law Puts Us All in the Same Danger as Eric Garner:

On the opening day of law school, I always counsel my first-year students never to support a law they are not willing to kill to enforce. Usually they greet this advice with something between skepticism and puzzlement, until I remind them that the police go armed to enforce the will of the state, and if you resist, they might kill you.

I wish this caution were only theoretical. It isn’t.

Every new law requires enforcement; every act of enforcement includes the possibility of violence.

There are many painful lessons to be drawn from the Garner tragedy, but one of them, sadly, is the same as the advice I give my students on the first day of classes:

Don’t ever fight to make something illegal unless you’re willing to risk the lives of your fellow citizens to get your way.

If you support taxation, this is what you are supporting.

If I disagree with a government program that you support, and I choose not to fund it, you are supporting the direct use of violence against me.

While you may have originally agreed with the Non-Aggression Principle, you support the government violating it when it comes to laws and taxation.

For some reason, simple, logical, moral rules are completely abandoned when it comes to our relationship with the government.

“The Government is a Monopoly on Violence”

This is not a statement made by Ronald Reagan, a religious conservative, a libertarian, a Tea Party member, or an anarchist.

It is a statement made by President Barack Obama.

What Obama is literally saying is, “violence is bad for you, but okay for me”.

This is the belief that government is the one and only institution in society that can morally, legally and legitimately use violence against others in order to accomplish its goals.

We all believe that it is wrong for us to use violence against one another in order to get what we want, yet the group of people who call themselves “government” somehow get an exemption from this rule.

If you think that the phrase “monopoly on violence” is hyperbole, just review the past few decades of reports on people killed by police, police brutality and excessive force.

According to a national study by the U.S. Department of Justice:

  • 84% of police officers “Witnessed fellow officers using more force than necessary.”
  • 62% of police officers “Do not always report serious abuse by fellow officers.”
  • 52% of police officers agree that “It is not unusual for a police officer to turn a blind eye to improper conduct of other officers.”
  • 43% of police officers agree that  “Always following the rules is not compatible with getting the job done.”

No other group in society can commit these acts without going immediately to jail.

If a private security company was committing these acts, they would be drowning in lawsuits and jail time.

Illya Somin writes for The Washington Post:

…a society where almost everyone is a criminal will still be a society where the sheer number of hostile interactions between police and civilians will be very large, which in turn ensures that there will be considerable room for abuse.

Moreover, curbing police abuse through training, supervision, and after-the-fact accountability is far from an easy task. Among other things, prosecutors are understandably reluctant to go after the very same police departments whose cooperation they need to gather evidence and apprehend suspects.

In addition, police are a well-organized interest group with considerable lobbying power and influence over both major political parties.

There is no way to exaggerate the epidemic of violence by our government on its own citizens, often for acts as innocuous as being the wrong color, or possessing a plant that some politicians decided you can’t have (let alone enjoy).

Again, there is nothing inherently special about the group of people that calls themselves “government”.

When their uniform is off, violence is immoral and illegal, but the second they put their uniform on, using violence against other humans instantly becomes legal and morally acceptable for them.

hoppe

The Gun in the Room

Upon hearing this, most people will say, “Yeah, but that’s why we have democracy! The majority gets to vote and choose who we use violence against. That way, it’s fair”.

The fact that we vote, and the majority gets to decide who violence is used against does not make it morally acceptable to use violence against peaceful people.

If you vote Republican or Democrat (or any other party, for that matter), you are voting for the government to force your ideology, values, priorities, and preferences onto millions of other people, through legislation.

There is no fundamental difference between liberals and conservatives, aside from what they want the government to force you and I to pay for, and what rules they want the government to force you and I to obey.

You would never hold a gun to someone’s head to get what you want. You have the government do it for you.

And that’s all a law is; an opinion with a gun.

Penn Jillette points out the gun in the room when it comes to helping the poor:

penn

No matter where you are on the political spectrum, it is never morally acceptable to use the guns of government to force someone else to obey your will.

Whether you want to use the government to stop gays from getting married, or force bakers to bake cakes for gay couples, you are holding a gun to a peaceful person’s head and forcing them to do something against their will.

This is barbaric.

bake-my-damned-cake

The way you get rid of bigots is by choosing, voluntarily, not to buy products from bigots, trade with them, or associate with them.

If someone wants to hang a “No Gays Allowed” or “No Blacks Allowed” sign on their business, they won’t be in business very long, anyways.

You don’t get rid of bigotry with force, threats, guns, and violence. This is the opposite of “progressive”.

You get rid of bigots by ostracizing them; giving them the “social death penalty”.

Ostracism is way more painful, way more effective, way more efficient, and way less immoral than using guns, anyways.

Ostracism or exclusion may not leave external scars, but it can cause pain that often is deeper and lasts longer than a physical injury, according to a Purdue University expert.

When a person is ostracized, the brain’s dorsal anterior cingulate cortex, which registers physical pain, also feels this social injury, Williams said.

When society chooses to ostracize bigots, it hurts them more than if you beat them physically.

Not associating with someone does, in no way, violate the Non-Aggression Principle. Everyone has the freedom to associate with anyone they choose to, and no one can force you to associate with a bigot.

So, don’t.

If other people choose to associate with bigots, let them.

People respond to pain. Bigots can’t live as hermits. We all depend on each other for survival. If all of us as a human society choose to only associate with non-bigots, eventually bigotry dies a painful death.

Guns and threats of violence aren’t the answer.

Laws are not moral principles

There are several times in history where the law has flagrantly broken fundamental moral principles.

Slavery is the first example that comes to mind.

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Here are just a few examples of when the government was on the wrong side of history:

  • The Fugitive Slave Clause, enshrined by the Founders in the Constitution (which also considered blacks as only 3/5 of a human being
  • The Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 (which Lincoln enforced, along with his judges and his federal marshals)
  • The segregation and Jim Crow laws of the late-1800’s to mid-1900’s
  • Alcohol Prohibition, which made the manufacture, sale and transportation of alcohol illegal in the 20’s and 30’s

simple

Many on the right believe that the police are justified in using force any time someone is “breaking the law”.

These people believe that, no matter how illogical or immoral the law is, if you are breaking it, the police are justified in using force, up to and including lethal force, against you.

These same people seem to forget that the entire American Revolution was a blatant violation of British law, and Jesus himself was tried, convicted, and executed for breaking the laws of the government he was under at the time.

How can these people support law enforcement, and still hold criminal acts like the American Revolution, and criminals like Jesus in such high regard?

This is yet another seemingly unresolvable contradiction.

The arrest and crucifixion of Jesus should, at the very least, tell us that governments occasionally condemn peaceful, innocent people.

The government is an extremely unreliable measure of ethics.

Police officers enforce unjust laws every single day. They are not allowed to choose which laws they enforce. They are required to use force on, and lock peaceful people in cages every day for “crimes” that have no victim.

There are tens of millions of people sitting in prison right now, not because they have harmed anyone in their life, but because they were in possession of the wrong plant or substance.

The Drug War is the perfect example of the government enforcing laws that will, no doubt, be looked back upon the same way we look back on alcohol prohibition; barbaric, illogical, and immoral.

The government, to this day, is throwing people in cages, taking their property, and ruining their lives for voluntarily and peacefully giving each other pleasure.

From Reason.com:

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the New York City Police Department (NYPD) today raided the Manhattan headquarters of Rentboy.com, which bills itself as “the original and world’s largest male escort site.”

CEO Jeffrey Hurant and six other employees were arrested, according to WABC New York. The feds also seized their homes, bank accounts, and $1.4 million.

Yes, the same Department of Homeland Security set up to protect us from terrorists raided the headquarters of a gay escort site.

You can find endless news stories about armed government officials raiding homes and businesses, and throwing people in jail for selling raw milkbarbering without a license, playing low-stakes poker games, and much more.

Police officers are not allowed to object when a law is clearly immoral. They must obey their chain of command.

higgs

The same is true of soldiers fighting in unjust wars and killing innocent people in countries that have not attacked us. This is not self defense or “National Defense”. This is aggression, and it is immoral.

This unquestioning chain of command enables immorality to be legitimized by governments all over the world, and has for centuries.

Since the government is exempt from morality, and the majority “voted” for it, nobody can be held accountable.

buck

The government enables selfishness and shields people from personal responsibility

The expertise of a politician is to appeal to the irrational and selfish desires and emotions of as many short-sighted people (voters) as he possibly can. That’s how he keeps his job.

Politicians aren’t immune to this, either. After all, they’re flawed humans just like us. Their incentive is to do whatever they can to achieve their short-term goal of re-election, with no regard (or personal responsibility) for the long-term consequences of their actions.

The worst instance of this is when police officers and members of the military commit murders and other atrocities, and suffer no consequences because they are sanctioned by the government, and are virtually immune from prosecution.

Voters and politicians, for the most part, are selfish and concerned with addressing their immediate and visible needs and concerns, while disregarding the hidden, long-term consequences of their actions.

The government acts as an enabler of selfish people to grab as many short-term benefits as possible, while shielding them from the consequences of their decisions.

In Bryan Caplan’s book, The Myth of the Rational Voter: Why Democracies Choose Bad Policies, the author writes:

Almost all economists and political scientists now accept that the average citizen’s level of political knowledge is extraordinarily low. At the same time, however, scholars have also largely come to believe that this doesn’t really matter, because democracy can function well under almost any magnitude of voter ignorance. How is this possible?

Democracies frequently adopt and maintain policies harmful for most people. Protectionism is a classic example. Economists across the political spectrum have pointed out its folly for centuries, but almost every democracy restricts imports. Admittedly, this is less appalling than the Berlin Wall, yet it is more baffling. In theory, democracy is a bulwark against socially harmful policies, but in practice it gives them a safe harbor.

H. L. Mencken quipped that “democracy is a pathetic belief in the collective wisdom of individual ignorance.”

The problem of poorly informed voters is not a problem that can be fixed; it is an inherent flaw in any Democratic system.

Likewise, a politician not incentivized to be wise, intelligent or make long-term decisions for the good good of society.

His job, as a politician, is to enable voters to grab as much free stuff and visible benefits as they can in the short-term, and push the costs, responsibility, and hidden, long-term consequences off onto others as much as they possibly can.

That’s what politics and government exists for; to facilitate selfish human being’s short-term, selfish desires and preferences, and make someone else pay for the long-term consequences (and shield them from personal responsibility).

To make things worse, most people “believe in” and get emotionally invested in their chosen politician, and stop debating ideas rationally.

Then it becomes a “My Politician vs Your Politician” mud slinging competition, and the only goal is to “win”, and defend their chosen politician to the death.

Our brains are only slightly evolved over our primate cousins, and we still think in terms of My Tribe vs Your Tribe.

Brian Resnick writes for the National Journal:

“Our tend­ency to­ward par­tis­an­ship is likely the res­ult of evol­u­tion—form­ing groups is how pre­his­tor­ic hu­mans sur­vived. That’s help­ful when try­ing to mas­ter an un­for­giv­ing en­vir­on­ment with Stone Age tech­no­logy. It’s less so when try­ing to foster a func­tion­al demo­cracy.”

The government is nothing more than a funding mechanism

You may feel morally justified in advocating for using taxpayer money to fund good things, like helping the poor, free education, healthcare, roads, hospitals, national defense, space exploration, etc.

The government doesn’t actually provide any of these things. Private individuals and businesses build all of these things, and the government pays for it.

The “majority” simply uses the government as a funding mechanism for all the things they want done.

The government is nothing more than a middle man between the “majority”, and the private individuals and businesses that actually do the work, and provide the things for which we are taxed.

If the majority of people agree that something is good, and they want to fund it voluntarily anyways, you don’t need the government to force them to fund it. They will fund it on their own.

We all agree that we need protection services. No one needs to force any of us to protect ourselves from criminals.

The government currently has a monopoly on this service, and forces us to fund it, even though they have no obligation to render this service, and their number 1 priority is to protect themselves, not you and I.

As with any other monopoly, the consequences are predictable. The service is inefficient, bloated, unreliable, and there is virtually no recourse if they violate your rights.

Private, market-driven police and protection services are already here, and they are peaceful and effective.

There is no need for us to rely on government police forces for protection when private police forces can and do compete with each other to reduce crime and violence as efficiently as possible already.

When enough of us agree that something is beneficial to ourselves and society, whether it’s a business or charity, we give money to it.

When something fails us to convince us that it is worth our money, we don’t give money to it.

The same economic principle applies to everything the government currently funds.

If we agree that something should be funded, then we can just fund it. There is no need for force to be involved in the transaction.

A lack of government does not mean that society’s progress slows. We can have all the services we currently have, without force and violence, if we choose to fund them voluntarily.

The fact that government funnels resources to itself as a middle man to facilitate these services just slows progress down.

Here’s a simple diagram to illustrate my point:

People who want to fund A
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NASA, for example, does a lot of good science that benefits all of us, and we will probably agree that it deserves the funding it gets.

In the same way, I am entirely convinced that my local internet service provider is deserving of my $50/month. They don’t have to force me to fund their services.

Even if only 10% of the US population agreed that NASA should be funded, they would only need to pay about $50/month each to fully fund it.

I, for one, would gladly donate $50/month for this work to be done. Nobody would need to force me to fund this. I am convinced, voluntarily, that it is worthy of my money.

Now, imagine if we could all take that $50/month, and voluntarily donate it to whichever space program we thought would use it best, such as Elon Musk’s SpaceX, or Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic?

Would NASA be able to compete, and win over donors and customers voluntarily?

If not, why should we be forced to fund it?

There is no telling where we would be, as a species, without forced taxation throwing away trillions of dollars every year on waste, excessive regulation and red tape, inefficiency, enforcement of immoral laws, and in the case of the Department of Defense, immeasurable amounts of destruction and human misery.

This is to say nothing of the staggering amount of lost human potential, not only from the lives destroyed by governments all around the world, but also of those who chose to enforce immoral laws and support our current system, rather than do something to contribute value, and benefit themselves and the rest of humanity.

The government has made us significantly poorer over the past few decades.

According to a new study in the Journal of Economic Growth:

“The average American household receives about $277,000 less annually than it would have gotten in the absence of six decades of accumulated regulations—a median household income of $330,000 instead of the $53,000 we get now.”

If you made over a quarter million a year, would it be a financial hardship for you to fund NASA for $50/month?

What would happen if each of us had an average of $277,000 additional every single year to fund charities, organizations, projects, and companies that contribute real value to the world?

How much more could NASA accomplish?

NASA doesn’t need the government to force people to fund it.

NASA just needs to convince 10% of the people in the US that it is an organization deserving of their $50/month.

The Planetary Society, founded by Carl Sagan and now led by Bill Nye, has 40,000 paying members worldwide.

The society’s stated mission is:

“To empower the world’s citizens to advance space science and exploration”

This organization is actually launching it’s own spacecraft in 2016, known as Lightsail-1.

The Planetary Society proves that science and space exploration can be funded voluntarily, in the free market, without forced taxation or violence involved.

This organization only gets funded if it can convince people like you and I that we should voluntarily donate to it. They have to make the case, and convince us that they will use our donations responsibly, efficiently, and ethically.

The government cannot possibly convince rational, grown adults that they will use our money responsibly, efficiently, and ethically.

The national debt (which is currently almost 20 trillion dollars) is evidence enough that they have absolutely no idea how to manage our money effectively. They have no incentive to.

Regardless of how essential you think these government services are, it is in no way morally acceptable to force other people to fund them.

Introducing guns into the equation is unnecessary, immoral, and counterproductive.

The fact that force is involved is an admission that the ideas aren’t good enough to convince others of voluntarily. They must be enforced at gunpoint.

All governments are inherently immoral

If I start a group that threatens to kidnap you and throw you in a cage if you don’t pay me 30% of your income, I go to jail for extortion.

The Oxford dictionary defines extortion as:

“The practice of obtaining something, especially money, through force or threats.

If the “Government” does it, it’s called “Taxation”, which is your “Civic Duty”.

As the great political philosopher Lysander Spooner famously remarked:

“If taxation without consent is not robbery, then any band of robbers have only to declare themselves a government, and all their robberies are legalized.”

These actions cannot be both moral, and immoral at the same time. You can’t be both blind, and not blind at the same time.

If extortion, violence, and coercion are wrong for you and I, they are also wrong for the people who call themselves the “government”.

Yet, these actions are the very foundation upon which all governments are built.

The very basis of a government, as President Barack Obama stated, is a monopoly on violence. This is what separates a government form every other organization in society.

Because of this, it is clear that all governments are inherently immoral, because all governments are built on ideas that violate fundamental moral rules.

Calling it “Taxation” instead of theft, or “Imprisonment” instead of kidnapping, or “War” instead of mass-murder doesn’t change the fundamental immorality of the act being done.

Made up words, titles, and uniforms don’t reverse morality.

Putting on a shiny badge and calling yourself the “government” no more makes you exempt from moral rules than putting on a Superman costume exempts you from the laws of physics.

Without government, there would be anarchy

Supporters of the government’s monopoly on violence always project characteristics of government onto what they call “anarchy”.

They say that without the government, the world would descend into chaos, disorder, violence, theft, rule by the strongest criminal gang, etc.

All of those characteristics are true of governments, which makes popular stereotypes of “anarchy” rather ironic.

The word “anarchy” simply means “without rulers” (not, “without rules”).

This makes the rulers themselves the true “anarchists”.

The rulers recognize no higher authority than themselves, and they always create exceptions for themselves to the rules they enforce on everyone else.

Don’t believe me?

Here’s an excerpt from an article about this subject from the Wall Street Journal:

For years, some have argued that we need a 28th Amendment to the Constitution providing that all members of Congress have to comply with all laws that other citizens have to obey.

Over the decades, Congress has passed innumerable statutes that regulate every aspect of life in the American workplace, then quickly exempted themselves.

The rules don’t apply to the rulers. They do whatever they want.

We always live in anarchy, and that the real question is what kind of anarchy we live under, market anarchy or non-market (political) anarchy.

Society is always in anarchy. A government only abolishes anarchy among what are called “subjects” or “citizens,”  but among those  who rule, anarchy prevails.

– Alfred G. Cuzan, Do We Ever Really Get Out of Anarchy?

The result is that governments are responsible for over 260 million murders in the 21st century alone, a phenomena referred to as Democide, a term coined by political scientist R.J. Rummel.

According to Rummel:

“The more power a regime has, the more likely people will be killed. This is a major reason for promoting freedom.”

Rummel concludes that concentrated political power is the most dangerous thing on earth.

The only explanation for these 260 million+ murders by governments is that the world is, quite literally, run by sociopaths.

Centers of power attract power-hungry people. Those who seek power are the least worthy of wielding it. The problem is, the people who are worthy of wielding power don’t have any desire to.

It takes a certain amount of sociopathy to desire to rule over other people. This is “The Problem of Political Authority”, as author Micheal Huemer states it.

Governments and rulers match the stereotype of the violent, bomb-throwing anarchist perfectly.

Chaos and anarchy already reigns in the world we live in largely due to this type of violent anarchy.

Only without these anarchists can peace be possible.

“Anarchists did not try to carry out genocide against the Armenians in Turkey; they did not deliberately starve millions of Ukrainians; they did not create a system of death camps to kill Jews, gypsies, and Slavs in Europe; they did not fire-bomb scores of large German and Japanese cities and drop nuclear bombs on two of them; they did not carry out a ‘Great Leap Forward’ that killed scores of millions of Chinese; they did not attempt to kill everybody with any appreciable education in Cambodia; they did not launch one aggressive war after another; they did not implement trade sanctions that killed perhaps 500,000 Iraqi children.

In debates between anarchists and statists, the burden of proof clearly should rest on those who place their trust in the state. Anarchy’s mayhem is wholly conjectural; the state’s mayhem is undeniably, factually horrendous.”

– Robert Higgs

Simply put, governments are too dangerous to be tolerated. They are archaic, obsolete relics of the past.

violence

Government is regressive, not progressive.

Government has done more to prevent and destroy human progress than any other organization in society.

The logical and moral conclusion of the Voluntaryist philosophy is that we must abolish the idea of “Government” entirely, much like we have done with other violent and obsolete institutions, such as serfdoom, feudalism, monarchy, slavery, etc.

The classic response when someone advocates abolishing the government is, “Who will build the roads?”

I’ll divert to Tom Woods:

Suffice to say, asking what will happen if we abolish violent institutions is silly, and a poor way to evade the moral argument presented by the Voluntaryist philosophy.

If you told a plantation owner from the deep south during the 1800’s that cotton would be picked by giant metal robots from the future that run on extinct tree juice that we sucked out from deep inside the earth, they would probably shoot you.

Yet, 200 years later, here we are:

Those who advocate for non-aggression in our society today face the same objections that abolitionists faced in the 1800’s.

As the writer of Libertarian Money points out:

“People believed that slavery couldn’t be abolished in America. Without the slaves picking the cotton, they thought there would be no way for cotton to get picked. If cotton didn’t get picked, clothing wouldn’t get made, businesses would go under, children would freeze to death, slaves couldn’t take care of themselves (racism at its worst,) and many other ridiculous things.

Today, we understand how ridiculous all that is. Since we eliminated slavery we’ve developed some of the greatest technology innovations in history to pick the cotton. That technology development would have been impossible to predict before we freed the slaves. When the slaves were freed, the incentives were in place for someone to invent it.

Morally speaking, when asked who will pick the cotton when we free the slaves, my answer is:

It doesn’t matter. If something is unethical then we shouldn’t be doing it. The ends do not justify the means. I don’t care if some people will have to walk around naked if the alternative is creating a subclass of human beings that we can exploit. Slavery is not justifiable.”

statists

The point is, we can’t predict how society will organize itself without violence and coercion, but we can rest assured that it is the only moral position to take. Without violence as the basis of our society, peace will come naturally.

As Muray Rothbard stated in his famous lecture, Society Without a State:

“If the anarchist view is correct and the state is indeed the great legalized and socially legitimated channel for all manner of antisocial crime – theft, oppression, mass murder – on a massive scale, then surely the abolition of such an engine of crime can do nothing but favor the good in man and discourage the bad.

By eliminating the living example and the social legitimacy of the massive legalized crime of the state, anarchism will to a large extent promote peaceful values in the minds of the public.”

path

If you are afraid that society will devolve into rule by the largest gang, then I’m afraid your worst nightmares have already come true. Rothbard elaborates this point in his book, The Ethics of Liberty:

“If the bulk of the public were really convinced of the illegitimacy of the State, if it were convinced that the State is nothing more nor less than a bandit gang writ large, then the State would soon collapse to take on no more status or breadth of existence than another Mafia gang.

Hence the necessity of the State’s employment of ideologists; and hence the necessity of the State’s age-old alliance with the Court Intellectuals who weave the apologia for State rule.”

Do governments “work”?

The government does not fund itself through voluntary means like every other group in society does.

It doesn’t try to please customers in order to win their business.

It doesn’t do good work in order to convince people to donate to it.

It funds itself through involuntary “taxation”, coupled with coercion and threats of violence if you refuse to pay them.

This group of people isn’t legally obligated to give you the services that you pay for, and without any competition, it doesn’t provide services in an efficient manner anyways.

It’s a problem of incentive; when you have a monopoly on a service, and forcibly take money to fund your organization, you have no competition, and therefore no incentive to provide an affordable, efficient, high-quality service.

You’re going to get paid whether you provide a good service or not, and nobody can complain because the only place they can go to appeal and obtain recourse is… you, the government.

It is an enormous monopoly of the worst kind.

Giving a monopoly on violence to a special group of people called government may “work” in some sense. Surely, police do stop some crimes, roads get paved, and schools get built, but does that make it moral?

Do you care?

Personally, I don’t mind paying for some of these things. I do mind being forced to pay for these things.

I want whoever thinks they can provide these services best, for the lowest price, to be able to compete for my business.

Instead, we get the worst monopoly humankind has ever devised.

Governments are monopolies, and governments use their influence and legislative power to create and preserve monopolies in the marketplace.

Monopolies are inefficient and cannot compete, and do not exist in the market.

Monopolies only exist when they are protected by force.

Force is expensive, bloody, and bad for business.

Peacefully giving customers what they want is profitable.

Eventually, those who use force lose out to those who trade peacefully.

The only group that can afford to preserve monopolies through force is the government. It doe so by enacting legislation that gives certain businesses an advantage, and/or forces their competition out of the market.

This is known as “regulatory capture“.

force

Jeffrey Tucker makes this point brilliantly in an article from the Foundation for Economic Education:

The actually existing monopolies that do these bad things are created not by markets but by government policy. Think of sectors like education, mail, courts, money, or municipal taxis, and you find a reality that is the opposite of the caricature: public policy creates monopolies while markets bust them.

For generations, economists and some political figures have been trying to bring competition to these sectors, but with limited success. The case of taxis makes the point. There is no way to justify the policies that keep these cartels protected. And yet they persist — or, at least, they have persisted until very recently.

None of this is an accurate representation of capitalism. As stated previously, capitalism is nothing more than people trading voluntarily and peacefully with each other, without state intervention, violence, force, or coercion.

Violence, force, coercion, and war is expensive. Peaceful trade is cheap, and good for business.

What we see on Wall Street is a horrendous marriage of government and the market. Corporations are fictional entities created and protected by the government. In a free market, corporations couldn’t exist.

The inevitable marriage of corporate and government power is exactly why neither should be allowed to exist.

corp

Even if you are not concerned with morality, but are instead concerned more with utility, “practical solutions”, and making things “work”, the institution of statism still makes absolutely no sense, and the nearly 20 trillion dollar national debt, failing school systems, crumbling infrastructure, and high rates of violent crime are proof positive of that.

Here is a graph that contrasts 40 years of federal funding for education, and its impact on reading, math, and science scores:

An article by the Cato Institute’s Paul Ciotti examines the most expensive educational experiment ever performed in the United States. This experiment forever puts to rest the argument that the primary problem facing the public school system is funding.

Here’s a summary:

“For decades critics of the public schools have been saying, “You can’t solve educational problems by throwing money at them.”

The education establishment and its supporters have replied, “No one’s ever tried.”

In Kansas City, they did try.

For more than a decade, the Kansas City district got more money per pupil than any other of the 280 major school districts in the country. Yet in spite of having perhaps the finest facilities of any school district its size in the country, nothing changed.

Test scores stayed put, the three-grade-level achievement gap between blacks and whites did not change, and the dropout rate went up, not down.“

The rest of the article can be found here.

I have written in-depth about the harmful effects of government schools here.

This a graph showing the effects of 40 years of federal drug control spending on the rates of drug addiction:

drug-spending-v-addiction

The “War on Poverty” was declared by President Johnson in 1964. Prior to that, the poverty rate was dropping by around 1% each year.

We were only one generation away from eradicating poverty completely. Then the “War on Poverty” began. 

Every time the government declares a war on something, whatever they are fighting always grows exponentially:

poverty

On all fronts, the government largely fails at effectively providing the services it taxes you for.

Do you realize that you have virtually no recourse if the state fails to provide those services, or if they commit a crime against you, because you cannot appeal to anyone higher than the state itself?

Even if you do sue the state, the judges who decide the case work for the state, and the state has virtually an endless supply of cash and resources in which to fight you back. Lawyer costs are not an issue for the state.

Because the government has very little incentive to use tax-payer dollars wisely and responsibly, private individuals and businesses know they can over-charge the government to an obscene degree for projects they are contracted for.

This is why government projects are notorious for blowing past projected budgets and timelines.

If a department within the government completed a project on time and under-budget, their funding would likely be decreased the following year, and the individuals involved would be laid off.

Governments have a direct incentive to be bloated and inefficient.

To use money responsibly and efficiently would mean losing their jobs.

The government exists to grow itself, not to provide efficient services.

No crime, no government

Most people believe that the most important service that the government provides is preventing criminals from violating our rights, especially violent criminals who seek to harm or kill us.

This fact is irrefutable: virtually all violent criminals were abused as children. Numerous studies of family violence have found a direct relationship between the severity of childhood abuse, and later tendencies to victimize others.

In a 1988 study of 14 juveniles condemned to death in the United States, 12 had been brutally abused as children, and 5 had been sodomized by relatives.

Conversely, the more peacefully a child is raised, the more unlikely it becomes that they will ever become a violent criminal.

Christian Pfeiffer, the director of the Criminological Research Institute of Lower Saxony in Hanover, noted as much in this article by The Economist:

Mr Pfeiffer has found a correlation between declining rates of children being spanked (or otherwise punished physically) and subsequent decreases in violent crime.

It would seem that the inoculation for human violence and crime is obvious; raising children peacefully, with as little hitting, neglect, violence, and emotional harm as possible.

There would still be a minor outlier of people with brain tumors or mental illness that have violent tendencies, but, for the most part, violent crime would be a thing of the past.

So, why is the government not actively working to advocate for peaceful parenting?

The answer is quite simple, without crime, the government would become obsolete and unnecessary.

If there were no violent criminals, there would be no need for a government to protect us against them.

Additionally, if people were raised in a healthy and peaceful manner, without dysfunction, who would want to be a police officer, prison guard, or soldier, violently enforcing laws against peaceful people?

Asking the government to advocate for peaceful parenting is like asking Marlboro to advocate for a healthy, smoke-free lifestyle.

The difference? Marlboro can’t impose taxes on you, and when you do pay Marlboro, they actually deliver what you paid for.

Government is a faith-based institution

The faith that people have in government power is staggering. Most hold it in as high of regard as they do a deity, and would never dare think critically about their beliefs in regard to government.

To do so would be to challenge the faith they have been raised in since they were born.

Government is a fairy-tale; a faith-based institution, and it brings with it all of the religious texts, symbols, rituals, ceremonies, insane beliefs, and violent zealotry of any other religion.

religion
In order to accept this religion’s claims, you must do so regardless of a complete lack of facts or evidence. Or, in spite of them.

You must take politician’s claims on faith.

The fanatical devotion you see to this murderous institution is far more dangerous than all of the jihadists and religious zealots worldwide combined.

Again, governments are responsible for 260 million murders in the 21st century alone.

Governments are the #1 leading cause of non-natural death in the world.

Government is a death cult; a deranged religion that requires human sacrifice:

dead

Most people, even skeptics, don’t think critically about government.

They worship it with the same fanatical devotion as the most extreme religious fundamentalists that they so often ridicule.

statism

“Systems based on fundamental falsehoods always get more and more complicated as endless corrections and adjustments pile on in order to make them look moral and right.

Every few generations, these accumulated errors become so ridiculously complex that the entire system becomes unsustainable and… kind of embarrassing. Even the non-expert grasps that something must be fundamentally wrong with the whole mess. And a few brave souls take out a blank sheet of paper, push aside all their prior preconceptions and start from scratch, based on reason and evidence, rather than the accumulated errors of history.

 

How’s that working out for us?”

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Voluntaryism in Simple Terms

10 thoughts on “Voluntaryism in Simple Terms

  1. Very good article. But of course I am already a voluntaryist. So I am a choir member of yours writing here. It all of course makes great sense and your logic is so impeccable. Tens of millions of people heard of libertarians, millions have heard libertarians, hundreds of thousands read libertarian writings. Harry Browne in 1973 had a best seller “How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World” and explained why he did not hold government in awe. Yet it’s 41 years later. The USA is still world cop, still in endless war. Our pockets are still being picked to aid foreign countries that maim and kill people in opposing religions and cultures. At the local level, police in cities everywhere brutalize people and then they do asset forfeiture as well, which is “guilt before innocence.” We keep trying to tell everyone. Ron Paul and his supporters would talk to anyone who would listen. And college campus auditoriums would fill to beyond capacity to hear Ron Paul. Voluntaryism on FB has over 22,000 “likes.” Lew Rockwell has over 70,000 likes. I started being active in libertarianism in 1980! I wanted to achieve a libertarian society in my lifetime. Now i’m in my 50s. I am very frustrated that your logic is so good but most people just keep the same status quo.

    Is it because they think of government as some special divine entity and not made up of people like you and me? Are government people from another planet making themselves immune from the same rules we treat each other? Is it because government has enough of our resources to propagandize against us? Is it because people have a meme that there will be blood in the streets everywhere without government (well in California I know there are a huge amount of people who do not own guns and would NOT want to own any guns and rely on the police. But in other states such as Texas and Arizona many people are armed and rely on themselves and proper reasoning to use a gun in self defense and can handle the mass rioting if anarchy is all about mass rioting).

    I am at the point where I can go off grid if I want. But I would lose a good paying job in a high tech part of California. The taxes I pay are huge, but still low enough so that I can still accumulate my funds to go off grid in a more upscale way.

  2. Mason Brewer says:

    Absolutely beautiful article! I love that it’s written in laymen’s terms for the average person to understand. I give you extra kudos for referencing important – and controversial – philosophers such as Stefan Molyneux.

  3. i think that the conflation of “violence” – physical acts directly against another human being – and “force”, which is based on much more controversial notions of “property” and “ownership”, is a big part of what holds libertarianism back. Very few people openly or consciously think that the initiation of *violence* is legitimate, but the issues around property and ownership are much more varied and controversial. If “we” (I’m certain an anti-statist) focused on the violence, I think we’d make a lot more headway against Statism… You want a government? Sure, go ahead, *just don’t allow it to initiate violence to enforce its laws*… You’d find a much weaker government/state, one that would effectively allow voluntaryism to take over, and all without the rhetoric of “should” and “morality” which is just a dead end rhetorically because you will *never* find a common ground for those things.

  4. Reblogged this on | truthaholics and commented:
    “Voluntaryists follow the Non-Aggression Principle, which is a moral principle that “prohibits the initiation of force by one person against another.”

    This belief is hardly a controversial one. It is little more than basic, kindergarten ethics. Few of us believe that forcing someone to do something against their will is morally acceptable, unless they are initiating aggression against someone else.

    When you force someone to have sex with you, it’s called rape.

    When you force someone to give you something they own, it’s called theft.

    When you force someone to die, it’s called murder.

    While you likely agree with the Non-Aggression Principle, as most do, and conduct your life accordingly, there is still a rather large group of people within society that violates this moral principle in egregious ways every single day, and does so legally.”

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