For years, I’ve been told (and telling others) that socialism and libertarianism are non-compatible beasts, and that those brave souls out there claiming to be libertarian socialists were either mistaken or lying. But then I started having more and more conversations with my voluntaryist friends, and that’s when the truth of the matter hit me: Voluntaryism is the mechanism by which such a thing could actually be possible.
In a voluntaryist society, each community could hypothetically choose to opt out of the main social model and opt in to a self-contained system of its own instead. In this way, one could still be “libertarian” in philosophy but “socialist” economically and still function. Jumping off of a point I’ve made elsewhere, “capitalism” is a bit of a misnomer in that it really isn’t so much an “ism” as it is simply the natural state of things when left alone. Economist and social philosopher F.A. Hayek’s discussion of “Spontaneous Order” delineates very well the hows and whys of this phenomena, but in a nutshell, if one leaves a society to its own devices, a non-governmentally regulated system will crop up out of the mere necessity of preserving order. But this is an organic process, the argument goes, and does not require artificially enforced regulations in order to occur. If true, therefore, it only makes sense that some examples likely already do exist in certain societies where either whole or partial elements seem to predate government intervention. Capitalism, argue the libertarians, is one such example.
So even if one were to prefer socialism to capitalism at the level of the local community, a voluntaryist society would, a la the Hayekian model, refrain from officially implementing any top-down regulatory measure upon all communities collectively. It would simply leave things alone in the public sector. But if Hayek was correct, then “capitalism,” that state of non-meddled with, voluntary exchange, would naturally grow from the aforementioned vacuousness. This does not mean, however, that this would interfere with the socialists who would live among this system; it would only intrude upon socialism if socialism tried to intrude first by becoming officially sanctioned by the government. Keep your socialism, but keep it within the confines of those willing to participate in it – do not force me to comply with it or pay for it in a public, voluntary space.
This post was written by Micah J. Fleck.
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