“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.” (Romeo and Juliet)
That is a famous quote by Shakespeare with which many people will agree. However, a name is not so insignificant in many cases especially if the fragrance is not widely accepted.
Anarchocapitalism is the philosophy of individualism or Individual anarchism which suggest that Individuals should have the right to voluntarily associate with each other without any coercion. Idea of Anarchocapitalist society is based on three basic principles namely;
1) Self Ownership: Every person owns him/herself. John Locke explained the principle of self ownership as,
“Though the earth and all inferior creatures be common to all men, yet every man has a “property” in his own “person.” This nobody has any right to but himself.”
2) Property Rights: Since an Individual owns his own self, he has proper right to own every materialistic thing that he produces or creates by mixing his labor with material.
3) Non Aggression Principle: this is the most important aspect of Anarchocapitalism which suggest that there should not be aggression or coercion towards any individual and that, an individual should not be coerced to associate with others, that is, an Individual’s association and interaction with other individuals and the society should be voluntary.
Anarchocapitalism is a special case. This term represents two philosophies, one is anarchy and other is philosophy of capitalism. Anarchy is a state with no hierarchy or government and capitalism is an economic system that promotes individual rights over property produced, owned or inherited by them.
Voluntaryism is a simple philosophy of voluntary association of people. It is an idea which supports a free and voluntary society where people do whatever they want as long as they don’t engage in coercion against others.
Voluntaryists advocate non-political, non-violent strategies and actions to create a free society that works on principle of voluntaryism. Voluntaryists do not believe in electoral politics as it is incompatible with libertarian principles. Voluntaryists believe that the government can be delegitimized through proper free education. Voluntaryists campaign for withdrawal of the cooperation and unexpressed consent for the government.
Difference between Anarchocapitalism and Voluntaryism:
There is hardly any difference between the two terms, both represents an idea leading towards a voluntary free society based on non-aggression principle. Since free market, laissez-faire capitalism is the only way for voluntary transactions and contracts between free individuals; a voluntary society leads to Anarchocapitalism.
However, there is a definite difference between an Anarchocapitalist and Voluntaryist. Anarchocapitalism is super-set of Voluntaryism1 . A Voluntaryist is always an Anarchocapitalist but an Anarchocapitalist may not be a Voluntaryists. The difference is; Voluntaryists advocate that electoral politics is incompatible with libertarian principles and we cannot achieve an Anarchocapitalist or free society with the help of political deliberations and consensus2 . On the other hand, some Anarchocapitalist can be parliamentarian Anarchocapitalist who suggest that proper political deliberations will help in spreading the basic idea of voluntary free society.
Why the term Voluntaryism is better?
Many Anarchocapitalist prefer the term “market anarchism” to avoid the scorn of people against Capitalism. Many leftist hate the term capitalism, they will literally ignore what you say once you’ve said “I support capitalism.” Socialists use the word “capitalism” to suggest a system of government support via coercion of the interests of those who have capital. While they are surely wrong, but they have that right, since the word was invented by Karl Marx for that purpose of vilifying capitalism in exact manner.
Furthermore, many people believe that the current system is capitalist and they hate it. It would be foolish to spend our energies in making them understand that it is not capitalism, so better way is to opt for a better term which is Voluntaryism.
Voluntaryism suggests that free voluntary society isn’t at all about capitalism. There is nothing in Voluntaryism or Anarchocapitalism that precludes people choosing to live socialistically.
Voluntaryism tries to attack a problem identified by Frederic Bastiat in 1850:
“Socialism, like the ancient ideas from which it springs, confuses the distinction between government and society. As a result of this, every time we object to a thing being done by government, the socialists conclude that we object to its being done at all. We disapprove of state education. Then the socialists say that we are opposed to any education. We object to a state religion. Then the socialists say that we want no religion at all. We object to a state-enforced equality. Then they say that we are against equality. And so on, and so on. It is as if the socialists were to accuse us of not wanting persons to eat because we do not want the state to raise grain.” ― The Law3
A voluntary society rely completely upon those individuals who voluntarily choose to associate with each other irrespective of what purpose or philosophy they have in common and not under the duress of the “government” to point guns at people to make them agree and do what you (or the majority?) want.
Similarly, Anarchism is also a vilified term. Statists often mistreat the term Anarchy because they believe that anarchy is an order less, lawless state. However, the Anarchocapitalism is not anarchy in real sense rather; it is a voluntary society with no government because the institution of government is direct breach of non-aggression because the nature of government creates monopoly on law and enforcement. Anarchocapitalism supports voluntary private law society with no monopoly of government. Or, we can say Anarchocapitalism is a system with competitive governments and the individual citizens will have complete right in this society to voluntary choose any of those governments which they feel is most honest and efficient to provide the necessary security. The term Anarchy has historically belonged to anti-capitalists and to the mainstream, it signifies chaos. But Anarchocapitalism isn’t anarchy, rather it is spontaneous order, there wouldn’t be chaos in spontaneous order. It is thus necessary to avoid the term Anarchocapitalism.
Voluntarism just sounds a lot nicer, saying that you “support a free and voluntary society where people do whatever they want as long as they don’t engage in coercion is” is just REALLY hard to disagree with. It also places emphasis on the voluntary interaction itself, which is the fundamental basis of market exchange.
Some people create a false dichotomy between “individualism” and “government/democracy/socialism”, which I sometimes call the “angry hermit on a flagpole fallacy.” They claim that society is impossible without government because No Man is Island4 .
Can you imagine me exchanging $20 for a book with myself? Is there any possible benefit to switching one from my left hand to my right? When we exchange my $20 for your book, or vice versa, this is a profoundly social act which benefits both of us. Contrast this with a forced exchange: I cause the government (through a process which is euphemistically called “democratic deliberation”) to force you to buy my book for $20 or even $50. Perhaps the government even picks your pocket via taxation for my benefit. This is all presumed to be kosher because it has been rubber-stamped by the process of “democratic deliberation.”
The first process, the voluntary exchange, is “individualism” only in this sense: I respect your right to make your own individual choices, and you respect mine. Nothing in that respect for individuality prevents us from engaging in social interactions, including voluntary exchanges. The second process, which uses “democratic deliberation” or some other form of government to compel one of us to act on the behalf of the other, disrespects our individuality and works against the natural social instincts which would otherwise encourage us to work voluntarily with each other.
Voluntaryism also means that if a set of people voluntarily accepts a socialist system for them then it is compatible with voluntaryism. Within our own family, we often work on communist principles – we share things, we don’t demarcate everything as mine and thine, and we don’t charge our children for our considerable efforts on their behalf; they do not have to pay for meals and lodging. I have no problem with any of this, since I emphasize the voluntary nature of the relationship, not the socialist or capitalistic aspects.
Capitalism is strong enough to defend itself, if no force prevents it from doing so. If capitalism did not exist, it would be necessary to invent it, and its discovery would be rightly regarded as one of the great triumphs of the human mind5 .