Why Voluntary Human Interaction is Not a “Utopian Ideal”
Many critics of the voluntaryist philosophy and private property ethic often critize the ideas contained therein, calling them “utopian” or “unrealistic.”
After all, what is going to make billions of people magically agree to respect one another’s bodies and property, right?
Well, this argument, while sometimes sounding at least somewhat sensible on its face, detonates fabulously upon even the most cursory, basic examination. Actually, this mostly obtuse criticism and argument self-detonates in so many different ways, it almost constitutes a kind of fourth of July fireworks show of logical inconsistencies and incongruity.
1. “PEOPLE ARE BAD”
I trust myself and my friends, but we’re good people! Those OTHER people are not!
While it is definitely true that there are “bad” people in the world who violate others and their property, saying that a select few people called politicians should have power over billions of others makes zero sense. If indeed “people are bad” (they’re not, for the most part, by the way) then what sense does it make to give bad people EVEN MORE POWER by opening seats of power in a violence-based thing called government/the state? If people are inherently bad, then government by the initiation of force is a bad idea.
To say that the violent power afforded by the state won’t corrupt one’s “special guy” politician, is nothing more than special pleading.
2. PEOPLE WON’T HELP EACH OTHER WITHOUT A STATE.
I am not sure why the butcher, the baker, and the candlestick maker would mysteriously stop providing their services for a living in the absence of the state, but it seems many think that this would indeed be the case.
I am not sure why doctors and medical specialists would no longer be incentivized to provide care. I am not sure why their passion for healing and need for a living wage would magically dissipate along with the dissipation of a violent nation state. This really doesn’t make any sense.
Markets, order, rules, charity, arbitration, security, and police can all exist in the context of voluntaryist, propertarian anarchy.
The real self-detonator of this criticism, however, is found in asking the criticizer, “What? You would not help your neighbor if he needed help? Why not?” If the state was gone, and that rendered everyone immediately thieves, rapists, lazy, uninterested and shiftless bums, perhaps we don’t deserve to be alive in the first place. And anyway, if the only reason folks are working and helping one another is because the state is threatening them, and they are secretly evil and waiting for a chance to exercise this evil in the absence of the state, then the state is definitely a bad idea. What happens when these nuts come into positions of government power?!
3. PEOPLE WON’T MAGICALLY AGREE TO THE NAP!
The NAP, or Non-Agression Principle, maintains that it is illegitimate and unacceptable to initiate force against another non-violent human being’s body or property.
This criticism, that people won’t magically agree to the NAP, is actually correct. Some people won’t. This is why self-defense is an entirely acceptable avenue of recourse in view of Voluntaryism, when one is being violated.
Should someone attack me, they have initiated force. My response, using force to stop said initiation and end the threat is NOT A VIOLATION. It is not violence, as my defensive actions are not violating the other individual, but defending against him or her.
Individual self-ownership. The most practical thing there is.
While the three criticisms detailed above are all self-detonating, the Voluntaryist argument that in order for minimal violent conflict to occur in any setting, large or small, there must be a universalizable property norm based on individual self-ownership, is not.
People are not perfect. This is why affording certain groups of people “special rights” to use violence against the other groups, is not a good idea. This arbitrary assignment of “extra rights” objectively potentiates violent conflict, as many will potentially (as all humans have various, differing wants and needs) disagree about who should have what “extra rights,” and to what degree.
If individuals exercising their individual self-ownership through freely acquiring property by non-violent means, and living life as they see fit, would refuse to help themselves, their families or community members in providing goods, services, and other means by which to ensure their well-being and survival in interdependent social existence, then not even the presence of a government violence would justify the advocation of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness and peace for all.
After all, if humans must be forced to be self-interested (an absurd and unsubstantiated claim), and to care for one another (a result, ultimately, of self-interest), who would be forcing those same humans in government to do so? Who would be forcing those humans to care for the others?
We are all alone, is the final conclusion. Alone and together as interdependent, social animals called humans. The question is now, will we respect our unique position among conscious mammals, being so much more for our capabilities of articulate awareness, and honor the biological, metaphysical and immutable reality of our individual autonomy—our individual self-ownership—or will we opt to continue playing this brutal and heartless game in the name of the world’s largest religious cult, where government is “GOD”?
The choice is up to you.
Graham Smith is a Voluntaryist activist, creator, and peaceful parent residing in Niigata City, Japan. Graham runs the "Voluntary Japan" online initiative with a presence here on Steem, as well as DLive and Twitter. (Hit me up so I can stop talking about myself in the third person!)