A Deeper View on Voluntaryism.

With all ideologies or philosophies, the answer to the question “What is Voluntaryism?” is in one part simple, and in another quite complex.

In short – Voluntaryism is the idea that unjust coercion in any and all forms is wrong and should be avoided at all costs when engaging with others in society.

Sounds pretty good right? I’m sure we all would prefer to live our lives day to day without the threat and will of others being imposed on ourselves and our capacity to do as we please with our property and lives, unfortunately, this is not the state of the world in which we live, and this is where things get complicated.

Bad actors both large and small exist in the world, and I’m sure some obvious examples may come to mind. The robber or thief, who takes the property of others against their will. The extortionist, who maligns an individual’s ability to live and act safely lest they comply with their demands. The murderer, who claims the lives of others unjustly, snuffing out the most precious of resources on the Earth. The slaver, who claims others as property, stripping them of their humanity and dignity. Any individual who would fit these categorizations would certainly see no sympathy in the eyes of any rational being, sinking to a level below each of our capacities as humans down to the state of nature, one of conflict and war.

If you were to picture these bad actors, these agents of injustice, these magistrates of misery, you might imagine the most stereotypical depiction of the archetypes. The thief for example, a man in a mask breaking into homes in the dead of night, clad in all black, carrying a crowbar to open any locked doors, his eyes bloodshot from the adrenaline pumping in his veins, sneakily sifting through the belongings of others wary of the slightest sound that might threaten his exploitations. These stereotypes exist for a reason, they identify a common set of features to help us identify a thief when we see one, but what happens when we peel away the eccentricities and replace them?

A thief is someone who takes an individual’s property without their consent, we know this to be true, so it would be fair to say that if the thief’s eyes were not bloodshot he would still be a thief. What if you were to replace his mask and black attire with a clean cut of hair and sharp suit? Well, as long as he is still engaged in taking property without consent then he must still be a thief. Replace the crowbar with a clipboard of documents, and his fear of capture with a perspective of the righteousness of his actions, if he still takes another’s property without consent then he must still be a thief, right?

Then what exactly separates the stereotypical thief from a sanctioned representative of the IRS?

To some of you, the line drawn may be a rational one, but to others, perhaps even to many, this may seem a drastic leap in logic. It is to the latter that this discussion is the most important, not to for my sake, or for the sake of the rest of the Voluntary Virtue team, or its activities. Regardless of your determination one way or another, we will continue to help others regardless. Rather this is important for yourself. For your safety. To the benefit of your own life.

Identifying the link between the common thief and the governmental representative brings about two major questions each deeply connected to one another, the question of authority, and the question of consent.

Authority is a peculiar idea, defined as – the power to influence or command thought, opinion, or behavior. This definition may already seem to conflict with the previously supplied definition of Voluntaryism given above to some, but it would be incorrect to assert that Voluntaryism as a whole is against any and all authority, it specifically dismisses any authority deemed unjust, and to determine whether or not an authority is just, we must determine the consent of the one being commanded.

Consent is much more familiar to us in the abstract, defined as – to give assent, as to the proposal of another; agree. Each of us engages in consent on a daily basis, “Excuse me, can you please move your cart?”, “Would you like 2 or 3 sugars?”, “Can I come inside?”, “Is pizza alright for dinner?”, “Can you please clean your room?”, the possible examples given are limited only by your capacity to imagine them. Consent is also something that can be denied or revoked if one chooses, “No, don’t do that.”, “Sorry, not interested.”, “Maybe next week.”, again, a nigh limitless set of examples exist to demonstrate a denial of consent. Consent cannot be given under threat, or when the individual is unable to make decisions in a rational capacity, these ideas are well known, and well understood (whether or not they are always respected).

To tie the two ideas together, a just authority is one that is engaged consensually. To elaborate, if someone commands you to move your vehicle from your driveway, the authoritative command would only be just if you consented to the command or had already consented to the authority itself. Many relationships can be described in this manner, student to teacher, employee to employer, child to parent, and in all of these relationships as a function of consent, the purview of authority can be rescinded at any moment for any reason. Let’s modify the original scenario a bit, assume you had not already consented to any potential authority of the other person before this, if they were to issue the same command but instead added something like, “otherwise I’ll crush your car.” or “and if you don’t I’ll just take it and sell it.”

At this point we’ve got an issue – you can no longer consent to the command. Of course, you still have the physical capacity to move your car, but your ability to consent has been irreparably violated by the threat of violence. Regardless of how reasonable the request may be, whether or not you would have consented otherwise, the presence of the threat of violence alone has removed your ability to make your own choice free of undue externalities. This is a textbook case of coercive violence.

Coercive violence is the act of compelling any action or choice with the threat of violence. Your boss may compel you to file paperwork or to get started on the next building project because you have already consented to their authority, for example, “I need you to step up your game on this next presentation.” is most certainly coercion, there are implications inside of the request that suggest that something, perhaps your career, is on the line, but coercion without prior consent is vacuous, as the authority has no power over you or your life. If your boss were to say, “I need you to step up your game on this next presentation, or I’ll hold your family hostage until you perform better.” the situation has escalated to coercive violence, and is, unless specifically allowed via prior consent, is immoral.

Understanding this, again I ask.

Then what exactly separates the stereotypical thief from a sanctioned representative of the IRS?

First, it starts with consent. Do you consent to the authority of the thief or the IRS agent?

“Of course I consent to the IRS agent, and deny the thief my consent.”

And that’s the trick, you can’t.

What is the standard process for someone who chooses, for whatever reason, to not pay their taxes? Most likely a series of letters and phone calls, a few fines which slowly escalate, maybe a home visit or two, but ultimately at the end of the road if someone chooses to not pay their taxes, the end result is jail, and if they resist that, then death. We’ve already demonstrated and agreed that you can’t consent under threats of violence, and I believe it to be even more obviously so when the consequence of your lack of compliance could be the loss of your own life.

So, not only can you not consent to the wishes of the tax collector, you can’t even consent to the authority which anointed him, to begin with. We can’t move on to step two, consent has been violated, and until the procedures are to change, consent cannot ever be given.

“So what, Voluntaryism puts into the question the authority of the entire government?”


Voluntaryism is the idea that unjust coercion in any and all forms is wrong and should be avoided at all costs when engaging with others in society. When unjust coercion that impedes individual’s ability to live their lives as they see fit is identified, it must be called as it is, immoral, and unjustifiable, no matter how righteous the institution or individual is broadly perceived.

In our case, the act of charity itself has been monopolized and captured by this same coercive entity and is done in an inefficient and ineffective manner becoming of an unjust and unaccountable authority. We see ourselves, as both Voluntaryists and individuals seeking opportunities to act virtuously, as critical pieces in the demonstration of the capacity of individuals acting in good faith, and the wonders they can perform when united in a consensual and principled manner.

And that’s Voluntaryism.

The breadth of Voluntaryist thought can hardly be encapsulated in one post, and I would encourage any of you with further questions to seek out and consume any and all material necessary to quell your concerns, or perhaps reach out to us and our team of seasoned Voluntaryists directly, but I’d like to take a moment to iterate an important detail.

Whether or not you agree with Voluntary Virtue’s advocacy position, we will continue earnestly on our mission to promote charitable action free of coercive violence. Our goal is not necessarily to convert all who read this or see our actions to Voluntaryism or to suggest that with a single post we might change one’s entire worldview. We expect ourselves to be leading examples of voluntary charitable action that may inspire others to better understand what motivates us and our cause, and we will pursue that end with a fervent passion that cannot be denied.

For those of you who have already donated to help us on our mission of aiding those in need, thank you earnestly from the bottom of my heart, and to those of you who will contribute or volunteer in the future your contributions you are equally appreciated by not only myself, but by the entirety of the Voluntary Virtue team and those we help.


Christian G. Moore

Christian Moore