[Originally published in The Voluntaryist, article by Non Facies Furtum]
Though we voluntaryists are almost always well prepared to discuss the very rational and empirical foundations of our philosophy, that is to say, the objective morality of the non-aggression principle, and the reality of self-ownership and property rights, the type of objections we most frequently receive when presenting our arguments do not take issue with the conclusions of our philosophy, but with the feasibility of it. Those who disagree frequently say something to the effect of “But that could never work in reality!”, and criticize voluntaryism as a utopian fantasy. As it turns out, this is not a well thought out argument, and a society based on voluntaryism would serve humanity much better than does our current society plagued by statism.
When you think about an average day in your life, what comes to mind? Perhaps you wake early in the morning to get your coffee, go off to work, put in your hours there, grab a drink with some friends in the evening, and come home to your significant other at night. There are dozens of interactions you are involved in every day, and they are all quite peaceful, mutually beneficial, and most importantly, voluntary. The truth is, almost everybody already lives the vast majority of their lives according to voluntaryist principles. The average person does not steal from anyone, start fights, make violent threats, or defraud people. In fact, most people never seriously consider any action this heinous. Because respect for self-ownership and property rights and the non-aggression principle is in line with objective moral truth, most people act in accordance with these principles.
Excluding victims of individual crimes, for example, robbery or assault, there is only one large way in which most people do not live completely voluntary lives. In their interaction with the State, nobody truly acts voluntarily. Everyone is stolen from by the State, and to a large degree. Their tax money is then used to fund immoral laws, and destructive policies which commit even more aggressive acts, such as warfare and imprisonment of people who committed victimless crimes. Additionally, many people also receive part of the loot that the State has stolen, in the form of salaries from the government, and most often, welfare of various types. In this regard, people’s lives are not voluntary, though most do not yet realize it. Though this is a small part of most people’s daily life, it’s damage is real.
The argument that voluntaryism is a utopian and unrealizable idea seems quite certainly to be false. There is only one area in which most people are unable to act voluntarily, and most people very much would like to live a life wholly voluntarily, as they already try to do so. However, many still complain about the supposed impossibility of the provision of services which they think only the state is capable of providing.
The most common argument, to the point that it has satirical value among voluntaryists, is that without government, there would be nobody to build roads or other infrastructure. This is almost nonsensical. Is there really no way for a wealthy and ingenious population such as our’s to build something as useful and relatively uncomplicated as a system of roads without butchering and stealing from each other? Of course there is. This could materialize in the form of large businesses paying for roads so people can access them and they can trade, or even voluntary organizations reminiscent of homeowner's associations or rotary clubs paying for roads.
Many also complain about a lack of police force or fire protection. Already, however, approximately 69% of all firefighters in the United States are volunteers, funded mostly by donations, and a large part of security provided is done so privately, rather than police. Additionally, private security has no incentive to enforce immoral and unpopular laws, or to consolidate their power violently, as does government.
The constant objections to voluntaryism claiming that it is infeasible are plainly false, not only because it is already present in many areas of our society today, but also because it would not be difficult to restructure our society to create a functioning and wholly voluntary society which would indeed be more effective than that which exists today.