Libertarians conflate many senses of the word voluntary (and consent) and exclude others to suit their ideological needs of the moment. To libertarians, being forced to live in a system of laissez faire capitalism is voluntary for everyone because you could die instead. All government is considered involuntary, even though you can exit. And paradoxically, all voluntary exchange is based on involuntary systems of rights (primarily enforced by government.) See also Voluntaryism and private charity (voluntarism).
What a deal if you get to narrow the choices that your victims choose among "voluntarily". If they are limited to working for others or starving, which is the majority case in capitalist societies, what a deal for the capitalists!
- Involuntary (1 link)
- There are many things which are inescapably involuntary on an individual level in our lives. Start with social institutions such as property. And commons, many of which are biological, not social. Demands for voluntary or voluntarism conveniently ignore these issues in order to oppose social choices such as taxation.
- Capitalism Is Coercive (11 links)
- Libertarians pretend that there is no coercion in capitalism, but its foundation in private property is coercive and allows further coercion through economic power and Private Government. Capitalists loot, plunder and enslave their fellow men. They do it directly when they can, and do it indirectly by enclosure of commons and subsequent denial of resources to future generations.
- Independence, Propertylessness, and Basic Income: A Theory of Freedom as the Power to Say No (book, online)
- "[A] new theory of Freedom [...] freedom as the power to say no... It shows that most societies today put the poor in situations in which they lack this crucial freedom, making them vulnerable to poverty, exploitation, and injustice despite other policies in place to help them. People who have no other option but to work for someone else to meet their basic needs are effectively forced laborers and are fundamentally unfree."
- Listen Libertarians! Part 1 [More...]
- Part I of David Ellerman's review of John Tomasi’s Free Market Fairness. The fundamental consent-versus-coercion misframing.
- Property Is Coercive (22 links)
- Claims that government is coercive but capitalism and markets are not overlook the coercion involved in property.
- The big lie of libertarianism [More...]
- "The big lie libertarians make is that membership in the State and any collective mutual advantage insurance agreements it establishes is not voluntary, when everybody knows that there is a market in State memberships, and if one does not like to be a member of the UK for instance one can shop around and say purchase membership in the Monaco Principality."
- The Physical Basis of Voluntary Trade [More...]
- "This article has put forth a theory of the default conditions a person needs to make a voluntary decision to participate in the economic system. It argues that genuinely voluntary trade requires that individuals have unconditional alternative to market participation that is not thoroughly bad in an absolute sense. This alternative involves individuals having access to the resources or the goods necessary to secure their basic needs which can be understood in terms of Nussbaum’s basic capabilities or Doyal and Gough’s basic human needs."
- Violence Vouchers: A Descriptive Account of Property [More...]
- When a state upholds a system of property, all it is doing is issuing to owners a set of vouchers for violence against those who ignore property. Trade is similarly based on property and violence. Rents also are based on violence, ruling out just deserts and just processes arguments.
- Voluntaryism (5 links)
- A faction of anarchist libertarians who want entirely voluntary relations, but assume free markets and property (which are not voluntary.) An exercise in wishful thinking, that the world will voluntarily swirl around your indestructible rights.
- What do voluntary mean? [More...]
- Matt Bruenig makes clear that following antidiscrimination rules for business is exactly as voluntary as following property rules for business. Because you have a choice of not being in that business. And if one violates self-ownership, so does the other.
The maintenance of a government apparatus of courts, police officers, prisons, and of armed forces requires considerable expenditure. To levy taxes for these purposes is fully compatible with the freedom the individual enjoys in a free market economy.
Ludwig von Mises, "Human Action: The Scholar's Edition"
From this point of view one has to deal with the often-raised problem of whether conscription and the levy of taxes mean a restriction of freedom. If the principles of the market economy were acknowledged by all people all over the world, there would not be any reason to wage war and the individual states could live in undisturbed peace. But as conditions are in our age, a free nation is continually threatened by the aggressive schemes of totalitarian autocracies. If it wants to preserve its freedom, it must be prepared to defend its independence. If the government of a free country forces every citizen to cooperate fully in its designs to repel the aggressors and every able-bodied man to join the armed forces, it does not impose upon the individual a duty that would step beyond the tasks the praxeological law dictates. In a world full of unswerving aggressors and enslavers, integral unconditional pacifism is tantamount to unconditional surrender to the most ruthless oppressors. He who wants to remain free, must fight unto death those who are intent upon depriving him of his freedom. As isolated attempts on the part of each individual to resist are doomed to failure, the only workable way is to organize resistance by the government. The essential task of government is defense of the social system not only against domestic gangsters but also against external foes. He who in our age opposes armaments and conscription is, perhaps unbeknown to himself, an abettor of those aiming at the enslavement of all.
Ludwig von Mises, "Human Action: The Scholar's Edition"
The non-consensual constraints on conduct recognized by libertarians are quite extensive. Our duties to respect the lives and the physical integrity of others' persons, and their freedom of action and extensive property claims, our obligations to keep our contracts, avoid fraud, and make reparations for harms we cause, are not based in free choice, consent, or any kind of agreement (actual or hypothetical). These are natural rights and duties, libertarians claim, that people possess independent of social interaction. Despite their emphasis on consent, voluntariness, and contract, libertarians are averse to appeals to consent or social agreement to justify their preferred list of moral rights and duties.
Samuel Freeman, "Illiberal Libertarians: Why Libertarianism Is Not a Liberal View" pg. 125
All political governments today behave as if consent to a social contract is tacit and implied: just as all libertarians behave as if consent to a system of property rights is tacit and implied.
Mike Huben, "Mike Huben's Criticisms"
[W]e have now sunk to a depth at which the restatement of the obvious is the first duty of intelligent men.
George Orwell, "Review of Power: A New Social Analysis by Bertrand Russell"
[M]ost libertarians would say that we have a non-voluntary responsibility to respect property, and would enforce that with violence. That’s the basic hypocrisy of voluntaristic ideas of libertarianism: everything is supposed to be voluntary and non-coercive BUT the basic principles of your ideology such as property are obviously not.
Mike Huben, in comments for "Taxation Is Not Theft"
There isn’t some a priori theory that tells us whether we are more at risk, relatively, of being busybodied by our neighbor or excessively nose-counted by the state. Or killed by a soldier of the state, or lynched by a voluntary local association of neighbors wearing pillowcases on their heads.
John Holbo, "Thinking About Groups"
[...] our economic life contains plenty of coercion; Nature coerces us, as a community, to provide ourselves with food, shelter, and other necessities; we mediate that coercion, reduce it with technology and self-organization, add to it with structures of power and authority, and apply it to individuals. Specifically, many individuals are coerced into labor. The curious nature of our economic system requires that this coercion take the _form_ of consensuality, but it is consensual only in the sense that a slave consents to slavery if she does not kill herself.
Gordon Fitch, alt.politics.libertarian Sat Feb 12 14:35:07 EST 1994