Let me begin by saying that voluntaryism in my assessment is just a new word for anarchism being used by pro-capitalist, right-wing “libertarians” who got tired of defending their views on the wage system and absentee land ownership from criticism by actual anarchists. And yes, I have a right to say “actual anarchists”. Anarchists are historically and ideologically anti-capitalist. Anarchism is the belief in the creation of human societies where all individuals are free to reach their greatest possible potential absent coercion, not a clean slate where individuals can position themselves above others in society and use that position to extract wealth from their labor.
Voluntaryists like to reduce all matters of moral action down to the voluntary consent of individuals while completely ignoring presupposed environmental variables which they sneak in the backdoor. For instance, one can easily say that I “voluntarily” pay rent to live in this apartment. And indeed, I of my own will cash my check and deposit the money into the landlord’s account on a monthly basis. Indeed, I signed the contract agreeing to pay this amount monthly. What voluntaryists ignore however, is that I by my very nature do not have a choice in whether I occupy space on the planet, or whether the “right” to occupy that specific space has been claimed by someone else. They ignore the consequences of not paying rent, homelessness, while claiming that the payment of rent represents a voluntary agreement. The threat of homelessness in this case could be easily equated to the threat of an armed robbers gun. Sure it can be said one voluntarily gives up their valuables to the robber if we choose to ignore the coercive variable which compel them to do so, their own necessity. It could just as easily be said that a 19th century English peasant voluntarily accepted monarchy by bowing to royalty if we ignore the law commanding them to do so.
These rationalizations for rent and usury are just logical extensions of what Walter Block called “Voluntary Slavery”. It stems from the idea that individuals should be able to barter their present liberty as a bargaining chip in an economic exchange. Rather than renting ones self to a capitalist, Block argues that you should be able to sell your future liberty indefinitely. While not all voluntaryists agree with this extreme example, they do agree in principle that a person should be able to sell their liberty, in part, for access to necessary property, i.e. wage employment.
So what is the justification for it all? Well natural rights, of course! “This man owns his property!” they cry, “who could dispossess him of it without being a thief or a tyrant?”. They argue that legitimate property is made legitimate by voluntary purchase, and that that purchase grants them an absolute right to the use value of said property, again, without consideration of their presupposition that an absolute right to the use of physical matter, or property, is legitimate in the first place. They do not consider a voluntary agreement to this absolutist conception of property as a qualifier for voluntary action in regard to it, and they go to great lengths to hide that fact. Some even claim to reject natural rights, like Ludwig Von Mises, instead favoring “universal absolutes”, which are basically the exact same thing. They will say “Look around you, property is everywhere! One cannot even live without the use of property!” without ever reconciling the fact that they have merely just labeled all physical matter that can be potentially possessed by humans as their conception of “property”. One using or possessing something has absolutely no correlation to it being considered their property, therefore one cannot make the argument that things merely being used or possessed makes the concept of property a “universal absolute”. One may use the light of the moon to navigate in the darkness, yet they do not own it, likewise one may own a building they never step foot in. One is not mutually exclusive to the other.
So why does it matter? As an anarchist I believe in the unimpeded right of all individuals to reach their greatest possible potential. I see anarchism as the liberatory force which can free humanity from these imagined social spooks which cause unending social ills and are the source of exploitation of man by man. When I see people arguing for what I believe to be the complete subjugation of millions of people to propertied individuals under the title of anarchism I am compelled to speak out against it. When I see people arguing for the “liberty” to sell ones liberty for economic necessity under the banner of human liberation I am outraged and disgusted, and rightfully so. Anarchist apartheid? No, Roderick, this is a defense of anarchism from people who have clearly stated goals which are the antithesis of anarchism. This is an intellectual purging of the enemies of human liberty.
Until all are free