Voluntaryism is easy to grasp. It says that all interactions among people must be voluntary, i.e., without aggression. This is Ayn Rand without the psychological repression, the judgmentalism and the fake statism weakly glued on. This is anarcho-capitalism, without any hint of state capitalism. This is free market anarchism. This is left libertarianism. This is complete liberty … plus love, Gandhi, Martin Luther King and so much more. Voluntaryism is the essence of liberty with the widest possible range of ideas and influences.
Consistent with My Beliefs
Voluntaryism is the political philosophy I specifically most identify with because it holds the conceptual essence of my beliefs:
- an emphasis on self-improvement first and foremost, i.e., inside-the-self activism.
- that the state’s lifeblood is its veneer of legitimacy, which we can end through civil disobedience and withdrawal of consent.
- an emphasis on education, direct action and other non-violent tactics in outside-the-self activism.
- the recognition that the state is aggression and to be consistent with one’s principles one must never participate in the state, including its elections.
- it is not pacifism. In other words, I reserve my right to self-defense.
Voluntaryism is NOT Pacifism
So when I see good, principled people like Mike Gogulski specifically disassociating themselves from voluntaryism (Why I am not specifically a voluntaryist, Sep 17, nostate.com), I know something is wrong. Mike argues that the voluntaryist emphasis on non-violent tactics contradicts his personal readiness to use violence in self-defense. But this is no contradiction. Voluntaryism is not pacifism. Voluntaryists favor only voluntary interactions with our fellow man. However, if our fellow man attempts to initiate force against us, we (many of us, at least) do not rule out the use of force in self-defense.
The Responsibility to Defend One’s Own Life
I, for one, identify very closely with voluntaryism yet I have a firearms hobby and open carry everywhere I go. I am certain that one day someone will, by their aggressive act, force me to choose between my life, or the life of a loved one, and the aggressor’s life. I will, in a second, choose the former. It is self-defense. The corollary to the right to life is the responsibility to defend it. Just as I do not wait for my neighbor to feed, clothe, shelter, heal or entertain me at his expense, neither do I expect him to take responsibility for the defense of my life.
What Separates a Voluntaryist from a Non-Voluntaryist?
The decision not to seek opportunities for violence, in self-defense or otherwise, is one critical factor that distinguishes voluntaryists from non-voluntaryists. If/when the day comes that non-violent tactics (or my capacity to use them) have been exhausted, I will be right there next to Mike exercising my right to self-defense. And I’ll end that exercise just as soon as I can as well. What separates Mike and I is merely a nuance.
Let’s Get to Work – And Find the Real Disagreements
Instead of debating nuances, let’s get to work on finding opportunities to work together to expand the space for liberty worldwide, peacefully – but always with a firearm on our hips, proverbial or not. :)