Tag Archives: libertarian theory

Can a Voluntaryist Vote?

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This presidential election has found me pensive on the matter of voting. There is something of a debate within voluntaryism as to whether voting is an immoral activity, or one strategy to be used in the fight for liberty. The anti-voters claim that voting is “supporting the system” and provides legitimacy to The State. The pro-voters assert that voting for whatever policy or candidate that results in the least amount of aggression is a positive (although not very effective) way of bringing about a more free world.

The most serious objection to voting is that it qualifies as an act of aggression. The reason the objectors believe this is that voting for the lesser of two evils is still evil, and that voting is authorizing immoral and horrible government power. This is patently false because the government exists, whether people vote or not! The State is just giving it’s slaves the option to choose between evils — it will force evil on the populace even if no one votes! If you have an option to vote on a ballot that  will legalize marijuana even if with high taxes and regulations, that clearly isn’t authorizing aggression (which is impossible by definition), but only a selection for the reduction of government power. The same would go for voting for a Libertarian candidate, voting for a reduction in taxation, voting to reduce regulations, etc., etc.

The far more convincing argument against voting is the one which states that voting is a complete waste of time, is irrational behavior, and is focused more on exercising your “civic duty” and partaking in the sacraments of the State than it is on achieving libertarian goals. Notice that this is not so much about the morality of voting as it is about the effectiveness or strategic value of doing so.  While it is absolutely true that a person has a greater chance of getting into a fatal car accident on the way to the booth than influencing the outcome, voting is still a way of reducing government power. Even if the odds are small that you will affect just a little amount of good, why wouldn’t you take advantage of every opportunity to oppose the State and minimize the amount of aggression in the world? After all, filling out an absentee ballot is positively easy and takes virtually no time or hassle — you’re not even  herded into a little enclosure or made to stand in line!

Then there is the argument from those concerned with libertarian strategy that voting results in greater perceived legitimacy. However, voter turnout doesn’t have anything to do with “legitimacy”, and no one really cares how many people voted or pays any attention to those numbers, they show up to the polls because they’re passionate about what’s being voted on, not because of perceived legitimacy! I think the results of a vote matter more to people than which people didn’t vote (or why). If a Libertarian candidate gets elected, doesn’t that expose the libertarian philosophy to a large number of people, as opposed to only having the Republicans and Democrats in office? Doesn’t a Libertarian or a libertarian (non-Libertarian Party libertarian) getting lots of votes gather interest in what it is that they stand for? Besides, these people/ballot measure getting elected/passed really do make a difference – all those states that passed marijuana legalization measures are perfect examples of libertarian voting making a freer society.

In conclusion, voting is perfectly moral, doesn’t (necessarily) support the State, and can even be a somewhat effective tool to combat it. As a voluntaryist you should be doing everything you can to make a voluntary society — so go ahead, register as a Libertarian and vote without feeling like you’re doing something wrong! And, in case you were wondering, I supported Gary Johnson in the election, with Donald Trump ranking second on my preference scale, Jill Stein third, and Killary Clinton ranking last.

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Animal Rights and Voluntaryism

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One of the most controversial and unstudied aspects of voluntaryism is on the subject of animals and the proper relationship between them and humans. Some have put animals in the same moral realm as humans, others have put them as something between humans and inanimate objects, and still others reject the notion that animals have any rights at all.

The fundamental question to be asked is this: are animals persons? Hans-Hermann Hoppe has defined persons as rational beings, and rational beings as beings capable of argumentation. According to Argumentation Ethics, only those capable of argumentation (persons) are capable of property ownership and subject to the Non-Aggression Principle. It is, therefore, obvious that no animal known to man qualifies as a person. Perhaps in the future an alien race will be discovered which does qualify for personhood, but that day has not yet come. Animals must be seen as scarce means to satisfy a person’s wants, not as persons themselves. Personhood being ascribed to animals is a product man’s empathy: we see that animals have wills, experience pain and pleasure, suffer losses and enjoy gains, so we feel for them because we too experience these things, and by this make the mistake of thinking they are more like us than they are. Simply being able to feel hurt or happiness does not grant rights or qualify one for personhood — only rationality can do that.

Another way to demonstrate the validity of my position is like this: if animals have rights, that means that they also have the duty to observe others’ rights. Therefore, animals must be taken to court and take other animals to court for infractions of others’ rights. The wildebeest must take the lion to court for eating their brethren, all the animals must take mosquitoes to court for violating their self-ownership, the mice should take the cats to court for attacking them, the birds should take the snakes to court for eating their eggs, the dogs should sue the fleas for biting them, etc., etc. The absurdity of this makes the answer quite clear: animals are not persons.

Animal rights, conservationism, and environmentalism are all destructive, anti-human ideologies. On their surface, this is not readily perceivable. Nonetheless, it is absolutely true. If we are to treat (non-human) animals, the environment, and “Mother Nature” as people, where does that leave us humans? If animals are people too, we mustn’t aggress against their property, their air, or their environment. Everywhere humans try to live, move to, or develop, animals live or used to live. Chop down a tree? How dare you, an eagle used to live there! Built a house? You just destroyed many animals’ habitat! Drain a swamp in your backyard? You annihilated thousands of species entire ecosystem! Nearly every time someone homesteads or uses their property, they are invading animals’ living space. Nearly every industry uses natural resources which animals used to possess, or at least made use of the land (or sea) from which the resources were extracted. According to the animal rights advocates, conservationists, and environmentalists, animals would be better off if people just did………NOTHING! Don’t shower, don’t eat meat, don’t drive a car, don’t build that new factory or resort, don’t mine or drill for resources, don’t turn your lights on, don’t bag your groceries, don’t spray hairspray, don’t behave as if you’re actually alive. These people, deep down, wish that they (and everyone else) didn’t exist.

On the other hand, I’m not saying that we shouldn’t care about animals, or that animal abuse is fine and dandy, I’m just saying that it doesn’t qualify as aggression. All this article is trying to validate is that force cannot morally be used against the animal-harmer; it says nothing as to how animals should be treated other than as non-persons. Personally, I abhor the mistreatment of animals and am a volunteer at a local Humane Society, but I respect the right of control by owners over their animals.

This is a tricky subject, and I know that many will be made uncomfortable with these conclusions, but these insights are important to the libertarian theory of justice, and are needed to combat the progressive and anti-human nature of the animal rights position.

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~Ethan from TheLibertyAdvocate.com