Collectivism vs. Voluntaryism

I have an eternal hostility to collective thinking and some think that should mean that I want to be some sort of loner. Far from it. I think the key to people living well is to recognize that humans are social beings and that they have a deep physical, psychological, and spiritual need for cooperation with others. We are meant to be members of a tribe. But we also are meant to fulfill our own individual nature and direction in life. We are meant to cooperate voluntarily and not by coercion. Slaves cooperate under the lash of the overseer — that is not what humans need or want.

When groups of people rise up in a mob and act emotionally, what they do is rarely ever something to be proud of. Often the most heinousness of atrocities are committed by the mob. But what is the state and its continuous war making but mob violence? Wars destroy lives, property and take away opportunities from everyone but even worse they diminish all the qualities that go into making us free and humane. But we must see that all forms of collectivism do that to one degree or another.

What should be the interplay between the individual and the group? It is obvious that humans need to form groups and cooperate with the group. We are simply so wired. We must have some form of society. The simplest one to understand and the first we normally associate with is the family. Then comes our immediate neighborhood and community; and then often some organization like a church. It is when our membership in the collective becomes mandatory and the rules of behavior for membership are dictated from on high that the trouble begins. I can go into a Church and I can behave during services in a manner acceptable to the members there — and if the rules of behavior are to onerous for me then I can leave and go to a different church. I can associate voluntarily with the group that I desire to associate with.

Regardless of one’s politics, most people often think in a coersive and collective manner. Often people (even some libertarians!) want to enact laws and use the raw force of the state to force people to “do the right thing”. The whole point of “collectivism” always boils down to using force, fraud and intimidation to make the individual follow the rules of the collective. And yet only individuals act, not organizations; so that means that there must be someone or some small group at the top making decisions. So in a collective you end up with, no matter your stated goals, a tyranny run by a small elitist minority.

A “voluntaryist” society on the other hand is one where members of the society interact with one another in a mutually voluntary manner. Everyone comes to agreements on who does what and how one should act by an ever evolving natural interplay of people’s beliefs and opinions. This is the only real democracy — one where everyone votes every day with every action he takes. But what about crime? That has been dealt with in societies over time in many different ways in the absence of a monopoly collective. The Irish did that for, perhaps, 9,000 years. The key here is the non-aggression principle that tells us that it is immoral to initiate aggression against anyone who has not attacked you first. You may retaliate but not initiate.

The impulse to apply the force of the collective to coerce the individual to obey the rulers has a long history, and yet it is exactly those places where peaceful and voluntary cooperation was allowed to flourish where mankind found the most happiness and prosperity. Why then do we not see that a “voluntaryist” society is the best model to follow? I think it is the envy of the egalitarians that can explain most of the troubles.

Once upon a time not so long ago in this country there was near unrestricted freedom of entry into various trades and occupations. This was way of life was consistent with ideas of self-ownership which is a concept foreign to men and women of collectivist persuasion. This allowed for much better economic progress and stability as well as giving people much more control over the shape of their own lives than the totally regulated economy of our present police state. Economic decision-making was much more decentralized and mainly in the hands of individuals rather than centralized in institutions. Since most transactions and decisions were made between individuals face to face there was a much more personal nature to the interactions and this reinforced the concept that men and women were the authority in their own lives.

The collectivists and egalitarians, eaten up with envy as they are, have promoted the primary social evil of our time and that is the lack of respect for self-ownership rights. This lack of respect underlies the crimes perpetuated by the state as well as the millions upon millions of rules, regulations, laws, and other impediments to a laissez-faire free market where each individual interacted with others in a voluntary way. We have seen radical collectivism lead to the state claiming the right to total control over how your body is to be used.

It is time for you to choose to “live and let live” and not seek to use the raw force of the gang of criminals writ large that we call the state (or government) to make others act as you would have them do. Do not support the state in any manner. Withdraw your consent to be ruled by the evil of the state. The first thing a slave must do is realize in his own mind that he is born a free spirit and that his condition of slavery is morally wrong in the extreme. Realize that it is you who owns your own body and the fruits of its labors.

Reject the state today.



4 thoughts on “Collectivism vs. Voluntaryism

  1. Mark,
    You may well enjoy “Envy: A Theory of Social Behaviour” by Helmut Schoeck. It’s long, and in places a touch tedious, but very well researched and, I think, on the money.

  2. In all too general terms you are already a panarchist or consistent voluntarist. However, would you also be tolerant towards tolerant statists and collectivists, wishing to do their things only to themselves and at their own risk and expense? If so, then I do with to be your friend.

    • It is the right of any group in a voluntaryist or market-anarchy to purchase property and set up a commune. I think that various groups would indeed try the commune idea. I predict failure, but it is their right to give it a try as long as no force, fraud, or intimidation is used on anyone.

      As for “statists” setting up a state, I have some problem seeing how they would conform to the non-aggression principle setting up that system. But if a group owned a large piece of territory and wanted to have a king (or whatever) then it would be their right to do so. I would argue with them that they should not do it; but it would be their right to give it a try.

      Good day, mate.

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