An argument made by anarcho-capitalists is that anarcho-capitalism can be thought of as the idea that we should prefer voluntary interactions over non-voluntary ones. Because anarcho-capitalists see government as uniquely involuntary, an-caps use this argument to explain why private solutions should be preferred to government solutions.
Note that this is consistent with Logan’s description of voluntarism that I summarized here. Logan even went on to explain how police and court systems might be handled under voluntarism. However, I went on to criticize Logan’s views of voluntarism in this article here by demonstrating that the US government easily qualifies as being voluntarist using Logan’s own criteria.
I agree with an-caps that, where available, we should prefer private solutions over government solutions. I think most political ideologies agree with this view — maybe even including communists who want to do away with states. But my opinion is that the concept of ‘voluntarism’ is an easy-to-vary explanation that can be easily fit to anything, including governments. I see libertarians as using this easy-to-vary argument to arbitrarily draw lines to match their views. (Which might differ from libertarian to libertarian.)
To demonstrate this point, I would ask libertarians the following questions:
Why do you see governments as involuntary? I am fairly certain basically all citizens of all political views, save anarcho-capitalists alone, see them as good ideas. How is this involuntary then for the ones consenting?
Even if everyone else is wrong that governments are good ideas, that wouldn’t change the fact that to nearly everyone governments are voluntary. So I don’t see why the libertarian view that governments are uniquely non-voluntary makes any sense.
If you’re a libertarian, I’m sure you’ve argued with many people over exactly this, haven’t you? Isn’t this like one of the most common arguments libertarians get into?
But this being the case, isn’t the very fact that people are arguing with you about this topic a sign that they consent to their existing government and the associated fees for services rendered? So why do you see governments as involuntary to them?
A fair question here is “What about the libertarians themselves who claim they don’t consent?” I’ll cover that in a future post. But my point here is that it’s not at all obvious to me that to most people — including myself — that governments are any less voluntarist than anything else.