On Being A “Purist” – Why “Limited Government” Doesn’t Work!
Many voluntaryists, like myself, present arguments based on the premise that the initiation of violence is inherently wrong and immoral. It logically follows that wrong behavior stays wrong, no matter how many people want it to be right at a given time, what they write down on a piece of parchment, or what names they substitute the immoral acts with, with the intent of making it seem less obvious or direct. This is a consistent position. Now often you hear people from the Alt-right, or many minarchists (those who want “limited government”), call voluntaryists things like “purist.” This is because many people in the Alt-right, or people who want a smaller government, don’t have a principled position. Their arguments are not based on any coherent philosophy. They will frequently argue that a stateless society will quickly become invaded by warlords or immigrants, so therefore we need a government. The bigger issue however, lies in the fact that they’re not being specific and clear about their actual position, which is this:
“If we peacefully coexist with each other, based on mutual agreement and voluntary interaction, then some other people that are located somewhere else, who do have a ruling class that steals people’s money, and bosses them around, will send lots of heavily armed people to come here and rule over us, and steal our money and boss us around. So therefore, in order to prevent a ruling class from bossing us around and stealing our stuff, we need to have a ruling class that bosses us around and steals our stuff. Albeit slightly less than their ruling class.”
This position does not follow logically from the previous statement. It is a non sequitur, it does not follow. Of course, they don’t dare to say it this way, but instead they will use fancy rhetoric and beguiling euphemisms like “a government for and by the people.” Not realizing that their position does not differ in any way from the political left or right. The degree to which they want a ruling class to have a say in people’s lives is just slightly lower. Which is why such self-contradictions are inevitable. And then they call people with a principled philosophy a “purist,” for not wanting to be as logically inconsistent as they are, because they think that the ends justify the means.
Now of course, some minarchists out there that read this will call this a straw-man, but this is not the case. Minarchism is not based on any underlying philosophy or coherent premise. Many minarchists have different opinions about what a “government” is supposed to be, and what it’s supposed to do. Some of them want “voluntary taxation,” and others want very little taxation, so that “government” can spend it on “important” things, and minarchists also don’t always agree about what is “important.” Some minarchists are actually anarchists, and they also just want to have organization that is based on mutual agreement and voluntary coexistence. They just want to call it “government,” and they’re scared to call themselves anarchists, because the communists have misrepresented the philosophy of anarchism for so long, and they assume that it’s the “every man for himself, no rules, no hierarchy” thing. The point is this: a minarchist that is at least consistent with its own title (one who wants minimal government), wants there to be a “government” that does things that they wouldn’t feel justified in doing themselves. When a “government” collects taxes, it demands money from your neighbors to fund what you think is a good idea, and sends armed enforces to their house to drag them away from their friends and family, and lock them up in cage if they don’t pay up. If the minarchists wanted to fund a defense system to protect people from thugs and robbers, they wouldn’t go up to their neighbor’s door and demand money from him, under the threat of hurting him and locking him up in a cage, because that would be wrong and pretty hypocritical. Stealing your neighbor’s money, so that you can pay other people to protect your neighbor from people who want to steal his money, not very rational indeed. So therefore, they want to vote for a “government” to do that for them, in the form of “taxation,” because they’ve been taught that if they vote for somebody else to do it, it’s okay, when it’s obviously not. Or take border-control for instance. Many minarchists would not feel justified in standing at an illusory line somewhere in Arizona to point machine guns at anybody who steps over that illusory line without the permission of the “government” (that supposedly gets to decide what is done with and on that area which it claims to rule). That’s why they want a “government,” so that they can have other people do that for them instead.
The self-contradictions keep adding up, because minarchism isn’t based on anything coherent or principled. If someone else’s freedom has to be sacrificed to guarantee your own safety, so be it. Which by the way, is the premise of every tyrannical regime that has ever persisted throughout history, and up to the present day. Which is one of the reasons why so many minarchists eventually turn into voluntaryists. There’s a part of them that knows that the initiation of violence is wrong, and that nobody can attain the right to control other people and take people’s money, under the threat of violence. Yet they simultaneously believe that, in some occasions, people can have the right to do that. If they want to be morally and logically consistent with themselves, eventually they will have to pick one. Because it’s hard to be aware of the fact that you’re contradicting yourself, and be comfortable with it. Which is why they try to shrug off anyone who actually decided to choose a coherent position as a “purist,” instead of being specific about what they actually believe. They know that they can’t, because they know that they would contradict their own moral code if they had to be specific about what they think a "government” should do, that normal people couldn’t do if they did it by way of mutual agreement and voluntary interaction. That’s why many minarchists simply argue about predictions, like “what will be done about this, that, and the other thing,” instead of specifying their own actual position.
If you happen to be a minarchist, then I would like to ask you a few simple questions. What do you think a government should have the ability to do, that ordinary people wouldn’t have the ability to do if they did it by way of mutual agreement and voluntary interaction? If your answer is something akin to: “Defend against foreign and domestic aggression,” then would you be able to explain how such a defense force will be funded? Will it be voluntary funding or will it be demanded from people, under the threat of violence? If it’s voluntary, then I would agree. But let’s say that I and a few others were not interested in your defense force, because we think that we would do a better job at it if we had our own private defense company that would do the exact same thing – defend against foreign and domestic aggression. Our security company would likewise be funded voluntarily by the people in our town, because they already know us, and know that we are reliable. They prefer our local, private security service over your centralized defense force. Would your government be okay with that, or would it try to interfere, and do something about it? And could you explain, in literal terms, what your government would do about our private security company? If it’s okay with it, then I agree. Now what if multiple towns throughout the area would also prefer their own private security company, in light of your centralized one? Would your "government” be okay with that as well? If so, then that is the voluntaryist position. You, and the people who voluntarily work with you, have your own organization in the area where you are located. Other people have their own local organization in the area where they are located. If you prefer to call that “government,” then I fail to understand why, but that’s beside the point. And if there are people who don’t want something like that, and instead want to live in nature with their family, and want to do things differently, then that’s okay as well.
Of course, there will always be conflicts between people. That is true, whether you have a “government” or not. So what about justice? Will there be a centralized “government” court system that will solve conflicts between people as a final arbiter? I’m pretty sure that not many people would prefer that, since that might quickly become a corrupted monstrosity that serves the people it is paid to serve, rather than serving justice. So what then? Well, if the centralized court system is run by people who endeavor to give a fair arbitration, until it gets corrupted of course, then who will run a local court system that is decentralized? The same exact people who endeavor to give a fair arbitration, only this time their pay check depends on them actually serving justice, because if they didn’t, people would go to a different arbitration that doesn’t have a reputation of being corrupt or biased, and people would spend their money there instead. And eventually the arbitration companies that are the most reliable and honorable will always stay on top of the least reliable, because reputation is what makes people follow or use something, not coercion and violence. Companies don’t have to be loving and caring to be reliable, because the loss of customers would deter them from being unreliable. And the case is the same with courts or arbitrations. When the people are able to voluntarily spend their own money on the service that they think is best, then that service will endeavor to stay the best. Not necessarily because the people providing the service are the most loving people, but because they don’t want to close their business. Juxtapose that with a centralized “government” stealing everybody’s money and spending it on service providers that aren’t even the best, and may even be corrupt. Or starts spending that money on things that don’t even benefit you, like bailouts and wars. Now what? Are you going to spend your money on reliable services, that you actually want to spend your money on? Well then “government” will send armed mercenaries after you to kick down your door, drag you away from you friends and family, and lock you up in a cage for “tax-evasion.” Of course, you can whine and beg at a protest, yelling that they shouldn’t do that, but they’ll just ignore you or send their armored thugs to brutally attack you with sticks, water canons, or rubber bullets. The point is that a centralized “authority” on everything is never better than voluntary, mutual agreement. It is the worst idea ever, and we see it time and time again. Not because we naturally gravitate towards rulership and domination, but because we were always trained to run to a centralized authority to settle differences, and to never take any matters into our own hands. Do you want to keep trying the same exact system that keeps leading you to your own detriment, because it sounds nice and assuring? That didn’t work out for the communists, so why would it work out for us?
Voluntaryism does not exclude any form of organization, cooperation, and defense. The only thing it excludes is rulership, and involuntary interaction. No ruler gets to own thousands of square miles of land, land that is already occupied by millions of people, and gets to decide who may or may not enter the area that it now claims as its “jurisdiction” or territory, and gets to decide what people can or cannot do in the area that it claims to rule over, and can take people’s money without their consent, even when you think it’s justified in some occasion. If it would be insane and immoral for myself to randomly claim exclusive ownership over a huge area, an area that is already occupied by the people living there, and claim the right to decide what those people can or cannot do in that huge area, then it would be equally as insane and immoral for politicians to do the same thing, because nobody can ever attain the right to do so. It’s called; having a principle, and being morally and logically consistent with yourself. And that is why I am a “purist.” For more on that, learn more from two videos that relate to these topics. One being ‘Is Democracy The Same As Freedom?’ and the other, ‘The Truth About Anarchy.” This may help you truly understand voluntaryism. These videos can be viewed on ‘realeyesation.com' or on the Youtube channel ‘Realeyesation.’