Category Archives: Voluntary Society

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How do we achieve a voluntary society?

How might we bring about a voluntary society, one in which individuals are free to do as they wish as long as they do not initiate physical violence against another’s person or property?  What specific actions can we take, instead of just spending time criticizing the status quo?  There are many possibilities, some of which I have outlined below, along with reasons why they would be suited or not suited to producing this society.

Revolution

Why it might work

A revolution has the appeal of immediate action.  You don’t have to play the game of an unethical system and it can appear as the only way to make any substantial change due to status quo inertia.  It is also a way to bring high-ranking criminals to justice.

Why it might not work

The government has the best weapons, training, and money.  Coordinating a large revolution would be detected and neutralized in the modern surveillance state.  Furthermore, violent revolutions are essentially war, the suspension of law and morality, so they are unethical since they inevitably result in the deaths of innocent people.  Revolutions are uncontrollable.  Just because you start a revolution doesn’t mean you are the one who ends it.  It can lead to a worse regime than the one it is replacing.  A regime built on violence to achieve power must also rely on violence to maintain power.

Secession

Why it might work

Secession allows a community of like-minded individuals to bypass trying to reform the existing corrupt system and go straight to creating an independent state.  Secession also has the advantage of using pre-existing state structures, so that there is reduced uncertainty in whether the new system will function.

Why it might not work

It would be easy to repeat the mistakes of the past if today’s issues aren’t dealt with.  You might simply end up with a smaller tyranny, or an even worse tyranny on a smaller scale.

Withdrawal

Why it might work

You can withdraw from society individually, according to your individual tastes and preferences.  Just go into the wilderness or even stay secluded within the geographic boundaries of a society, but with the ready option of escaping if things go sideways.  In either case, you are self-sufficient and ignore politics..

Why it might not work

This doesn’t really answer the question of how to bring about a voluntary society – it is a kind of defeat.  it also is not very pleasant and foregoes the benefits of division of labor in a society.

Voting

Why it might work

Voting is available to us here and now – we don’t have to wait.  Social change has been achieved with voting before, such as the civil rights movement.

Why it might not work

Unfortunately, the public doesn’t support a free society.  The public wants goodies from the government.  In any case, the real power is not in congress, so we are playing a rigged game even if we do have some victories at the voting booth.

Education

Why it might work

It is necessary to prepare people for any social change.  Before you can win at either the voting booth or in a revolutionary struggle, people must be mentally prepared for it.  In fact, education in itself may ultimately be the most effective means of social change, since whatever form such a change takes, it will inevitable reflect the prevailing sentiment of the people.

Why it might not work

Most people don’t have the time, mental bandwidth, or motivation to get educated about complex topics like politics and economics.  Only a small handful of people have the free time, money, and curiosity to sustain that kind of effort.  So, there either has to be a change in educational tactics that can influence the masses instead of just a few intellectuals, or there has to be a way for a few educated intellectuals to effect social change in an ethical manner.

Technology

Why it might work

Technology can empower individuals and free a society.  You don’t have to convince people of complex theories.  You just have to convince them that a particular technology helps them advance their own interests.  One idea, one new way of doing things, can affect millions of people.  That is enormous leverage that is difficult to achieve with education or force.

Why it might not work

Technology is a double-edged sword.  The internet can break down barriers to communication and facilitate an alternative media to shine a light on corruption.  It can also lead to a surveillance and control grid with NSA-style spying.

Voluntary coordination

Why it might work

Systems of voluntary coordination enable large-scale collective action with the consent of each individual involved, without any coercion.  Markets in general are an example of this.  Recent technologies open up new possibilities such as crowdfunding, which enables projects to get funded quickly by many people.

Why it might not work

There is not enough research and development yet on systems of voluntary coordination that are now possible with new technologies.  Even so, such systems can still be used to oppress and ostracize, if not structured correctly, such as cyber-bullying.

This list is just a start.  What other methods can you think of?  Let’s talk about concrete action we can take to actually bring about the world we want to live in.