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voluntaryism

I ran across a great essay called The Voluntaryist Spirit By Carl Watner.

I’d almost forgotten what it was to immerse oneself in philosophy and to challenge my intellect. I found the full essay well worth reading. Go there. Read it.

Meanwhile, I clipped some choice sentences and phrases that really hit me. They are all below. But trust me, they are a fraction of the whole. Go read the whole.

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As William Godwin said, “if he who employs coercion against me could mould me to his purposes by argument, no doubt he would. He pretends to punish me because his argument is strong, but he really punishes me because he is weak.”

As Godwin added, “Force is an expedient, the use of which is much to be deplored. It is contrary to the nature of the intellect, which cannot but be improved by conviction and persuasion. It corrupts the man that employs it, and the man upon whom it is employed.” The burden of proof rests on the advocates of violence (or the State) because “liberty, or the absence of coercion, or the leaving of people to think, speak, and act as they please, is in itself a good thing. It is the object of a favorable presumption. The burden of proving it inexpedient always lies and wholly lies on those who wish to abridge it by coercion.”

Similar arguments may be applied against the State itself. Either it is good or bad. Its goodness should avoid the need to apply invasive force (for it should be possible to persuade people of its goodness) and its badness already speaks for itself. If a government cannot rely wholly on voluntary support, then it deserves not to exist. Statists, in their anxiety to coerce others, already demonstrate their own lack of faith in the prescription they suggest.

Governments have no exclusive monopoly on knowledge or any exclusive monopoly of the knowledge of facts which would enable them to run an economy. In fact, they would have no need to resort to the use of force if their services were voluntarily desired. The very fact they must initiate force to sustain themselves proves they are unwanted and undesired by at least some of the people within their purview.

The fact that the State coercively monopolizes the administration of justice (courts, police, and law code in a given geographic area) makes the State, and its employees, automatically suspect. If there are certain natural laws of justice, then there is no reason for government to become a coercive monopolist. Because the principles of justice are grounded in objective, natural laws, they fall within the province of human knowledge by all who choose to study them and reason them out. Just as we do not require a government to dictate what is right or wrong in steel-making, so we do not require a government to dictate standards and procedures in the realm of justice. If it is possible to verify objectively that one legal procedure is valid, and another not, then it does not matter who employs the procedure in question. We should look to reason and fact; not to government. On the opposing hand, if there is no such thing as natural law and natural justice, then government could certainly not claim to administer a thing which did not exist. In such case there would be no need for government.

As Murray Rothbard has asked, “if central planning is more efficient, why has it never voluntarily come about through the creation of one big firm?”

The person who does not accept physical might as the expression of truth, who rejects the doctrine that might makes right, demands logic instead of force. The person who always demands proof and who never assumes anything on faith alone therefore always remains implicitly a voluntaryist.

hey are not bound by difficulties, but by justice. They must do what they think right and let the consequences take care of themselves.

The truth is something to be done, not just something to be believed.

Again and again I faced situations from which rational deliberations could find no escape. But then something unexpected occurred that brought deliverance. I would not lose courage even now. I would do everything (I) could do. I would not tire in professing what I knew to be right . . . I regret only my willingness to compromise, not my intransigence.