Monday, September 27, 2010

The Voluntarist Paradox

Voluntarism is the belief that government is coercion, and because coercion is bad, government is therefore bad. Voluntarists suggest, instead, that all things should be privatized and sold as a consumer good. Those who cannot provide for themselves, I am told, are to look for private charity.

My question is: how can society be voluntary if I would never voluntarily live in a society where a person’s only recourse in poverty is to crawl into the slimy arms of the church?

Moreover, why would an atheist ever want to live in a society where services like education would no longer be in the hands of a secular power, but instead in the clutches of the church? How is having non-religious options eliminated anything but religious coercion through the removal of non-religious competition?


  1. first of all, the premise of your question is wrong. private charity is not necessarily associated with religious institutions.

    secondly, eliminating "options" rendered coercively by the state does not imply that all non-religious options will be eliminated.

    your logic is dreadfully faulty.

  2. I'm not using logic, I'm using observation. The church does control most private charity and private schools, and enacting anarchy won't change this, it will only exacerbate it.

    And you are not coerced by a government that allows you to leave. There's the door *points*. You're free to go, seriously. If you feel oppressed, what are you sitting around being oppressed for, be the master of your own destiny and go make your paradise. You don't even have to leave the country, just ask the Amish.

  3. [And I also refuse to bow to corporate overlords, religious argument aside. I have at least some respect for government officials, due to our ability to bloodlessly depose them.]

  4. 1.) No, private charity is not the only alternative to the state.

    2.) No, many non-religious charities do currently operate world wide.

    3.) Voluntaryism is not equal to atheism, voluntaryists are of diverse religions and lack of religion. Your statement that 'religious options will not be eliminated' comes from your realization that voluntaryism will not achieve something that you seem to feel should happen not something that voluntaryism ever claimed would or should occur.

    4.) Your definition of voluntaryism sounds more like anarcho-capitalism to me. Many voluntaryists have advocated for communist and socialist alternatives as well as long as it is voluntary.

  5. So parallel systems competing for resources and people... how is this not borderless natiohood?

  6. Many voluntaryists have advocated for communist and socialist alternatives as well as long as it is voluntary.

    Exactly. I'd call myself a libertarian socialist, though not necessarily any longer a "voluntaryist" (though I won't go into the specific reasons for that here).

    how is this not borderless nationhood?

    If propertarian views of a more absolutist nature prevailed (though I don't think they could survive without the state as we know it), you could have de facto states (though such "states" would likely be small and not organized under one large and very oppressive central government), which is why I'm not a propertarian anymore either.

  7. @Bret many say it is close to a form of panarchy with the option to opt out.

    @Nikkolas I would consider myself closer to a mutualist at this point.

  8. wow. you put all kinds of words into my mouth, on top of your poor reasoning. at least you admitted you aren't using logic. that's quite clear.

    care to take a stab at why under the current system, religious institutions might control the majority of charitable institutions?

    then maybe you could back up your claim that abolishing the state would exaggerate that treand...

  9. I would consider myself closer to a mutualist at this point.

    I have no argument with mutualism. Also, I'm a major Kevin Carson fan.

  10. I like much of the stuff he posts at C4SS. I find he says a great deal of stuff I hear few saying that I want to see more of...

    I liked that recent article about Cultural Authoritarianism. I attempted to address that on GT with the idea of micro and macro oppression in an article, but I think he hit it on the head where I fell short.


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