One Voluntaryist’s Perspective

    One Voluntaryist’s Perspective – Everything-Voluntary.com

  • The Voluntaryist Premise

    Post by Skyler J. Collins (Editor).

    Discovering voluntaryism usually happens after a long road through other intermediate political philosophies. It’s not an ideology on the forefront of political thought, that’s for certain. Step by step a person has reached conclusions that aggression and coercion are bad in various ways and circumstances. At last they’ve decided that aggression and coercion should always be avoided, but just as importantly, they’ve come to the realization that aggression and coercion are not only common place in many different types of relationships, but in some, they are foundational.

    Once a person adopts the label of voluntaryist (or the like) for their political identity, they assume, with good reason, the following premise: human suffering is terrible and should be prevented; aggression and coercion necessarily create human suffering. This premise leads the voluntaryist to hold a number of hypotheses with varying degrees of accuracy in some form or fashion within their minds at all times. Here are several of those hypotheses (in italics and prefaced).

    Political aggression occurs when the production of law and order is coercively monopolized by a single person or single group of people (an institution, corporation, or firm in a given area which adopts the moniker of “government”). Monopoly incentivizes bad behavior and disincentivizes good behavior, leading ultimately to human suffering.

    Economic aggression occurs when markets, the array of economic exchanges between people, are coercively interfered with by “government”. Political interference (or intervention) in markets skews or disables economic signals (prices, supply and demand), to the benefit of one group at one time, and the detriment of other groups at the same time or other times, leading ultimately to human suffering.

    Parental aggression occurs when parents use the tools of coercion (punishments like spanking and time-outs) to correct what they identify as “misbehavior” on the part of their children. Punishment used to discipline is both a failure to understand a child’s real needs and produces trauma in childhood, leading ultimately to human suffering.

    Educational aggression occurs when parents and teachers use the tools of coercion (punishments, rewards, curriculum) in the attempt to impart knowledge and skills onto children that they, the parents and teachers, deem necessary and important toward becoming an adult in society. Coercion based learning ignores the interests and passions of students and their evolutionarily programmed needs to inquire, be curious, to move constantly, be loud, and to play, leading ultimately to human suffering.

    Not every hypothesis described above undergirds the premise that each person who has adopted the label of voluntaryist holds as true. Many voluntaryists haven’t even considered the effects of coercion in parenting and education, for example. But the premise as laid out above is typically held by those who identify as a voluntaryist.

    The voluntary principle, the foundation of voluntaryism, states that “all human relations should happen voluntarily, or not at all.” It’s easier to understand the “should” in that sentence once you understand the voluntaryist premise. You may not value or desire the reduction and prevention of human suffering, in which case you are unlikely to identify as a voluntaryist. However if you do, then I recommend taking a hard look at the premises you accept as true, and how realistic are the hypotheses thereon based that you rely on for the attainment of this desire.

  • What Taxation Means

    Post by Skyler J. Collins (Editor).

    There is certainly no shortage of libertarian types who will gladly tell why they believe that the practice of taxation amounts to robbery or extortion. Likewise for those who will tell you why they believe that the practice of taxation is good and necessary. Personally, I side with the former belief that the practice of taxation is illicit and criminal. But let’s look at it another way, shall we?

    There are a great many goods and service of which I have consumed throughout my life, and continue to do so on a daily basis. These goods and services are mostly not free. Somebody must pay for them. As an adult now going on nearly two decades, I have paid for most goods and services of which I have consumed.

    I often pass on purchasing a good or service for a myriad of reasons, often because the price is too high for my liking. For goods and services I desire and are within my budget, I gladly hand over my hard earned money in exchange. It’s worth it to me to, for example, to buy groceries and trips to the movie theatre and a new set of tires. If I want a good or service, I will do what is necessary to pay for it.

    There are many things today paid for via taxation that I would gladly pay for myself. I enjoy using roads, so I have no qualms about paying for roads. Likewise the fire brigade and other emergency services. I even appreciate a bit of security in the places and areas I frequent and would gladly contribute. Libraries, one of which I am using at this very moment, are also valuable to me.

    You see, for the things I value and desire, I have no problem paying my “fair share” to use or to have them. But then there are things of which I don’t value and desire. I don’t want acupuncture, so I don’t pay for acupuncture, and I don’t want you to have acupuncture if it means I have to pay for it. You’re just not that important to me.

    Nor do I want schools or for military units to invade and occupy foreign lands in my name and supposedly for my benefit. There are a countless number of goods and services of which I do not value and desire. But others might. It’s none of my business what you purchase with your hard earned money. However, you make it my business when you demand that I contribute to the purchase of goods and services that you, not I, value and desire.

    This is what taxation means. It means that some people should be allowed to compel, by threat or force if necessary, the funding of goods and services that they and others value and desire. Taxation means that my values and desires are less important than yours. You, by virtue of who knows what, should be allowed to force me to pay for the things that you want, and my only recourse is the chance, however small, that I can successfully defend myself from the imposition of your preferences on me.

    Taxation is the price we pay to live in a civilized society. This is true, but perhaps not in the way it was meant. Taxation is the price we submit to if we prefer civilized society over prison, or worse. If a good or service is desired, it will be paid for without the use of coercion. That taxation requires coercion proves it has nothing to do with what’s good and necessary, and everything to do with robbery and extortion.

  • Social Credit Ratings Won’t Work

    Post by Skyler J. Collins (Editor).

    Netflix’s Black Mirror and Fox’s The Orville have both dedicated episodes of their show to this idea of a social credit rating. In Black Mirror’s episode, “Nosedive” (Series 3, Episode 1), “society uses a technology where, through eye implants and mobile devices, everyone shares their daily activities and rates their interactions with others on a one-to-five star scale, which affects that person’s overall rating. One’s current average can be seen by others and has significant influence on their socioeconomic status.”

    In The Orville’s episode, “Majority Rule” (Season 1, Episode 7), “when two Union anthropologists go missing on a planet similar to 21st century Earth, Ed sends a team led by Kelly to find them, but the mission quickly goes awry when they realize the society’s government is completely based on a public voting system to determine punishment.”

    The protagonists in both episodes eventually find themselves receiving poor ratings and falling in popularity, one becoming a social pariah, and the other sentenced to mental execution. Both are excellent portrayals of the dystopian nature of social credit rating systems. Personally, I wouldn’t want to live in either society. Fortunately, I believe such rating systems will never take root in the real world in any meaningful way.

    Financial credit rating systems have existed for quite some time, and serve the very important function of tracking a person or business’s loan repayment history in order for future lenders to gauge risk. At their core, these credit rating systems are based on objective, verifiable facts. Sure, mistakes are made, and can be corrected, but for the most part, everything on your financial credit report shows exactly what happened in the real world.

    Social credit rating systems like those portrayed in Black Mirror and The Orville are not built on objective, verifiable facts. Quite the contrary; they are built on subjective, unverifiable opinions. Take two popular individuals, Barack Obama and Donald Trump. Depending on your subjectively-derived opinion, one of these men should have a 5-star rating, and the other a 1-star. If everyone in the world voted, both of these men would probably sit around 2.5-stars, which tells you exactly nothing about either men.

    Take any random controversial figure at any point in time, say Galileo Galilei. Today he’d probably have a 5-star overall rating. But in the 17th century, he wouldn’t even break 2-stars until the end of his life. What does either rating tell us about Galileo? Methinks the only individuals who would garner 5-star ratings would be those who are completely non-controversial and unknown. Your quiet, polite, domestic Aunt Sally would earn and maintain a 5-star rating. How meaningful is this?

    5-star rating systems and the like work for brands, products, and places. Records of criminal behavior and financial credit are also quite useful. But social credit ratings are not only dangerously dystopian, but impractical and ultimately meaningless. China’s new social credit score experiment notwithstanding, I doubt we’ll ever see anything like what these shows portrayed.

  • People Leave if They Can, And You’re People

    Post by Skyler J. Collins (Editor).

    The criticism spewed at supposedly “illegal” immigrants (they aren’t, and never were) betrays a disgusting level of hypocrisy. The story of humanity is a story of migration, to all corners of the world. What motivates people to leave the place where they were born in search of something better?

    Primal humans migrated as food sources dwindled in order to obtain newly replenished food sources and to allow their old grounds to replenish. Eventually they discovered new climates where they faced new challenges. Eventually so they discovered agriculture and became more settled than prior. But migration didn’t cease, it just transformed.

    Then people migrated for new reasons, mostly to escape predation by other people, or so it seems to me. When your current environment becomes politically intolerable, you change it any way you can. The simplest and most effective way to change your environment is to migrate to a new one. Sure, you may able to effect change locally and make your environment tolerable, and that’s certainly happened before, but that seems to be the minority tactic in the story of humanity.

    Mostly people have just picked up a left when and where the doors were open to them. Migrating when affairs become unbearable is a practice buried deep in our memetics as a people and genetics as a species. The pilgrims left Europe. The Mormon pioneers left the Midwest. Mexicans and Central Americans are leaving their place of birth toward lands of opportunity. Many have been the moments of migration, both individual and en masse. And many have been the moments of blocked migration by despotic and tyrannical political predators.

    Two points of correction for those criticizing “illegal” immigrants: 1) you are ignoring the root causes, the predation, often due to the policies and behavior of your government, that are motivating people to migrate from one place to another; and 2) you are ignoring the fact that were you in their shoes, you’d be doing the exact same thing.

    “Ye, hypocrites!” said Jesus, whose own people migrated out of Egypt. “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.” Do you qualify as “meek” if you are criticizing at best, violently opposing at worst those who are saving themselves and their families from predation and death?

    You’re criticism is bullshit, and you know it!

  • Should Social Media Platforms Protect Free Speech?

    Post by Skyler J. Collins (Editor).

    On a recent Reason Podcast episode, Nick Gillespie spoke with two libertarians (Robby Soave and Mike Riggs) who had competing views on the question of what social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and reddit should do about free speech.

    Robby Soave’s view is that social media platforms should not police speech, and instead allow anything and everything (except obviously criminal threats) to have its day, all the while users may use tools to block or hide speech or content they don’t want to see.

    Mike Riggs’ view is that when social media platforms fail to police content, they are degrading the experience for 99% of users who aren’t trolls and don’t engage with controversial topics.

    My view is that both Soave and Riggs’ views have merit. I’m not a troll, but I do engage with controversial topics. I would prefer that the social media platforms I use don’t censor me. I would also prefer that the social media platforms I use don’t allow things like shitposting and spamming. I don’t allow shitposting and spamming within the real and virtual domains I own and control. But neither do I censor most controversial topics (no, you may not discuss my children’s genitals).

    There’s no debate here on what rights social media platforms have to police speech. As private organizations, they may police speech as much as they’d like. The debate here is on whether or not social media is a better experience if speech is policed.

    As long as users have the tools to block or hide content they prefer not to see, why must the platform also engage in policing speech? Facebook allows you to block people and leave incompatible groups. Twitter allows blocking or muting. reddit not only allows blocking, but segregates all content into subreddits where you choose to subscribe.

    All of these tools seem sufficient to me to protect your social media experience. While I much prefer virtual platforms and real businesses and spaces to keep things I prefer not to see from my view, how much would doing so negatively affect me personally? As someone whose kids don’t go to school, maybe nearby businesses and spaces won’t allow entry to my kids during school hours. As a radical voluntaryist, maybe may views are just too controversial for others to abide.

    Maybe our “safe spaces” are where we make them, and elsewhere we learn to use the tools available to us.

  • Free Migration is My Jam

    Post by Skyler J. Collins (Editor).

    Justin Faber, who I had a chat with on the podcast and has published at EVC, wrote recently, “You: Open borders are incompatible with a welfare state. Me: A welfare state is incompatible with open borders.” And therein lies the difference between libertarian types who disagree on the borders question.

    Neither disagrees that private property owners have the right to close their property borders. That’s not what’s under dispute. What’s under dispute is the role the [admittedly criminal] government should play vis a vis it’s arbitrarily placed lines on a map. Should the government enforce strict border controls in order to protect its welfare state supporting taxpayers? Or should the government leave borders alone and allow the free migration of peaceful people who may or may not become a burden to the welfare state?

    I have two biases that I bring to these questions. The first is my very strong bias against so-called government solutions to any problem under the sun. Simply put, government doesn’t and can’t have all the knowledge required to solve a problem of this magnitude efficiently and effectively, all the while minimizing or eliminating unintended consequences. The second is my very strong bias for the freedom to migrate wherever the hell I want to. I demand the liberty to travel to France, New Zealand, and Japan as easily as I travel to Oregon, Texas, and Illinois, regardless of the duration I’m choosing to spend at each location. If I want to move and work anywhere else in the world, I should be totally free to do so as long as someone is willing to sell or rent to and employ me. It’s none of your goddamn business. Learning the language and adapting to the culture is my challenge, not yours.

    In my opinion, the libertarian solution to the problem of welfare statism and open borders, a problem created by government, is not more government in the form of border and immigration control. The libertarian solution is the abolition of the welfare state. Obviously, the welfare state is incompatible with open government borders, but open government borders are the libertarian position. The welfare state is the intrusion. Why should my liberty and your liberty be curtailed because of a government intrusion?

    Tell me: why should libertarians demand more government intrusion into the lives of peaceful people just because government has already intruded into the lives of peaceful people?

    They shouldn’t, and to do so makes them accomplices to aggression.

  • Libertarians Shouldn’t Be Accomplices of Aggression

    Post by Skyler J. Collins (Editor).

    What libertarians who call for government to enforce its immigration laws fail to understand is their arbitrary nature and become accomplices in government aggression. A quick review is in order.

    People who call themselves “government” make claims that their codes and constitutions apply (jurisdiction) to other people just because of their physical location. In order for these claims not to be arbitrary in nature, they must be supported with factual evidence. People who call themselves “government” have been unable or unwilling time and time again to make such factual evidence available for examination. It is logical to conclude that people who call themselves “government” have no factual evidence to support their claims of jurisdiction. Hence, claims of jurisdiction by people who call themselves “government” are arbitrary. Using violence to enforce arbitrary claims of jurisdiction against peaceful people is an act of aggression. Libertarians, by definition, are opposed to acts of aggression. When libertarians call for people who call themselves “government” to use their enforcement power against peaceful people, they are serving as accomplices in aggression.

    Whether enforcing border laws, drug laws, cohabitation laws, economic regulations, zoning laws, et cetera, if libertarians are allying with people who can’t prove their jurisdictional claims, they are siding with aggression. QED.

    Immigrants don’t arrive in a place uninvited. They have friends, family members, and/or business relationships who have invited them and provided them some of the means of doing so successfully. It is short order before they are back on their feet and producing value for others. These people are not criminals. They are our fellow human beings doing exactly what we’d all be doing if we were in their place. It’s the height of hubris and arrogance to believe it’s okay to direct violence at them simply because you are annoyed.

    I do not and will not condemn anybody trying to find for themselves and their families a better life. Nor will I support anyone acting aggressively against peaceful people, be them an immigrant or bureaucrat. You might think you’re logically correct, but you are wrong.

  • Does “Obedience” Have Any Redeeming Qualities?

    Post by Skyler J. Collins (Editor).

    I’ve been sitting on the topic of obedience for awhile now, trying to tease it apart in a way that redeems the phrase, “obedience is a virtue.” But alas, I cannot. Obedience, in my view, is not a virtue. Obedience is abhorrent.

    What do I mean by obedience? I’m not sure, actually. I could mean “submission to a higher power or authority”, and by submission I could mean, “the act of referring to a third party for judgment or decision.” In what ways can obedience be considered virtuous?

    For starters, virtue, again in my view, requires willful intention. If one is being coerced into behaving virtuously, then no virtue is truly being engaged in. Except perhaps in a meta sort of way, ie. going along with a government’s demands to refrain from [insert coerced virtuous behavior here] in order to stay out of jail so that you can fulfill your parental obligations.

    In those cases, obedience is nowhere to be found. A threatened person is not “obeying” or “submitting” in the sense as defined above, but in a wholly different sense, that of a “letting down” of one’s intention to defend themselves from harm, and instead avoiding harm by doing as commanded to do. This type of obedience betrays virtue.

    Are there any other cases of “obedience” being demanded that are not also coercive? Parents demanding obedience is obviously as coercive as government’s demanding it. Same goes for prophets and priests, demanding obedience to their god’s laws and what not.

    Obedience seems to be a confused concept. The definitions provided above came from an etymological dictionary. Yet, how people define obedience today is not merely a matter of voluntary reference to a third party. That sort of things happens all the time. When I research a fix for a malfunctioning computer, I am referring to a third party’s judgment and proceeding to follow it. But I wouldn’t call that “obedience”.

    If some action is a good or wise in the pursuit of one’s desired and chosen ends, then we can expect it will be performed. If you find yourself demanding “obedience” of another person, child or adult, then methinks you should stop and think about what actions you are demanding, and why. Are they something the other person would do without your demand? If not, why not?

    When I ask my children to do something, I’m not demanding obedience, but asking for a favor. If they don’t want to do it, I may whine about it for a bit, but I don’t threaten them. If I need them to behave in a certain way during a particular visit somewhere, I will explain my needs and the visit’s requirements ahead of time, those who agree will participate, and those who don’t, won’t. If the visit won’t meet their own needs, they may decline to come. That’s usually fine. When it’s not, it’s my job to spend more time convincing them of the merits of coming, perhaps appealing to their self-interest. This shouldn’t look any different from convincing another adult of the same thing.

    Obedience, or rather, the demand for obedience, seems always to ignore the demandee’s own desires. “Obey me” has become an abhorrent phrase to me for both the implied threat and implied belief that other people can’t be reasoned with, that they are or should be mindless. If something is a good idea for its own sake, you don’t need to demand obedience. If it’s not a good idea, then you probably shouldn’t be doing it. Leave “obedience” for dog training. At least that’s the way I see it.

  • Rights as a Stato-Legal Construct

    Post by Skyler J. Collins (Editor).

    When two companies contract with one another, each obtain certain “rights” or “privileges” to the other’s stuff. For example, a company building a new apartment complex will lease building equipment from another company. For a period of time, the building company has rights or privileges over the use of the leased building equipment. At the end of the period, the rights or privileges evaporate, to be leased again to another building company.

    People often give each other a “lease” on the use of what they consider to be their property. This quite often is much more than just a temporary lease, but a permanent title transfer. Your property becomes my property, and vice versa. Once it becomes my property, you no longer have rights or privileges over its use. Nobody has rights or privileges over the use of my property without my say-so, or so common convention goes.

    I believe that in many ways, this is how people think of whatever legal systems exercise power over their lives. Nor do I believe that thinking this way is an accident, but rather an intentionally created mindset due in large part to government schooling. One of the very first things I learned in my government schooling about society is our need, and thus desire, for people to make rules about what we can and can’t do with ourselves and with each other.

    From a very young age the idea was planted that our lives must be controlled by other people for, supposedly, our own good. Preceding this “social studies” lesson were very similar lessons from Mom and Dad at home. Without this control, people would hurt one another, and everyone would always be in fear of their lives. So instead of living in a barbaric world, people got together and created a “social contract”, which grants to everyone permission to do some things, and forbids them from doing others.

    If there is something you desire to do, then you must consider whether or not government has granted you the privilege to do it. Going to school, driving a car, starting a business, these are privileges that must be granted, and may be taken away. I do remember learning about governments being “reset” in the past, and new governments forming, and new constitutions being written, and some people fearing the new governments wouldn’t recognize certain pre-existing rights and privileges, and so sought amendments to their constitutions to prevent the abolition of these pre-existing rights and privileges. And often these rights and privileges were described in naturalistic ways, but at the end of the day what was being argued over was a legal document.

    And so, centuries later, people are confused about what they may or may not due in a so-called “free society.” Some people figure it out and are quickly labeled “radical” and “extreme” and kicked to the curb as crazy. Rights are whatever we may do after laws are passed to tell us, say most. Otherwise we’d all be murdered within the week.

    At this point, “rights” are a stato-legal construct in the minds of most anyone you’ll encounter. Maybe “rights” need to be thrown in the garbage heap of history.

  • Safe Spaces Make Sense, but Not Always

    Post by Skyler J. Collins (Editor).

    Feeling safe, at least temporarily, could probably be categorized as a human need. People seek out places to feel safe and secure. Nobody wants to constantly be looking over their shoulder or stepping lightly. That’s probably not a healthy way to live.

    Adults buy or rent property in order to sequester themselves and their stuff from the risk of being harmed or stolen. Children find spots in their homes or their neighborhoods where they can feel safer than otherwise.

    Safe spaces are a necessary component of the human experience. Without safe spaces, people become short-sighted about the choices they make. We need security in order to plan and prepare for the future. Children especially need safe spaces where they are free from physical and emotional harm. This space should be their entire home, with their families, but more often than not, they aren’t.

    Safe spaces are only as guaranteed as are property rights secured. What you allow other people to do on your property should be entirely up to you. Same goes for any other privately owned property, be it residential, commercial, industrial, or academic.

    Conflict regarding the desire for safe spaces is no different on a fundamental level than conflict regarding speech and behavior. Case in point: the hue and cry for “safe spaces” on college campuses. Should college campuses have safe spaces? Should the entire college campus be a safe space?

    Where people have contracted for room and board, the safe space nature of those places should be up to the parties of the contract. I for one would not rent a dorm room that did not guarantee I would be free from either physical or emotional molestation. Had I done so believing so, and molestation ensued, I would be just as upset as anyone calling for safe spaces on college campuses.

    The issue shouldn’t concern privately owned or rented places, and I don’t think it does. The issue does concern places designated for public use. And therein lies the root of the problem. It’s the age old economic problem, the tragedy of the commons. Nobody specific has ownership rights over these places, and so nobody can exercise control in designating some as “safe” and others as not.

    The solution is simple: sell public colleges and universities to the highest bidders. Case closed. Unfortunately, that’ll never happen. And so methinks we’ll always have one problem or another of this sort. Today’s it’s safe spaces, free speech, and immigration. Tomorrow it’s… what will it be? It will be contentious and loud… and totally avoidable.

    “Safe spaces” makes sense for dormitories and cafeterias, since in there people should feel safe from encountering potentially offensive ideas. It doesn’t make sense for classrooms and lecture halls, since in there people should feel safe expressing potentially offensive ideas. And that’s all I have to say about that.

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