Two Wednesdays ago, St. Cloud got a sort of impromptu visit from the Motorhome Diaries guys. They are essentially three guys driving around the country in a motorhome spreading the word of liberty to people they meet along the way. They stopped in on SCSU for a little while to talk to a couple of people (about a dozen or so), most of them from the Libertarian Party club and the Young Americans for Liberty organization, and few other open-minded people.
These people described themselves as voluntaryists, meaning only decisions or actions that are made voluntarily are just and moral. They therefore oppose the state, which they see as coercive and necessarily violent. They also support anarcho-capitalism, which would be a completely stateless society in which completely unfettered laissez-faire capitalism constitutes the mode of production. The gist of their argument, I think, is that any voluntary association should be allowed so long as it does not interfere with the rights of others. Being forced to pay taxes, live in a statist society, follow statist regulations, and so forth are seen as involuntary and enforced only through the use of force and coercion by the state. Because the state lacks voluntary association, it is seen as illegitimate.
So the work these guys do is to oppose the state based on these premises. However, they, like most voluntaryists, wish to do so by working outside of state institutions. That is opposed to the Libertarian Party’s method of working within state institutions by, for example, electing officials into government for the purpose of reducing government. Instead, they opt for non-political means such as civil disobedience. Their stance reminded me of a discussion I had with Filip Spagnoli. While I agree the state is the largest perpetrator of violence and destruction, I think it’s helpful to try to improve the state. And I think one way you can do that is through electing officials that will help the cause of reducing government and ending state violence. It would be a more gradual change. I think that’s a noble cause. It’s certainly more realistic, in my opinion, than abolishing the state outright, especially given its current size.
I think that’s where I disagree with these guys. Nevertheless, I appreciate their visit and sharing their ideas about ideal society. It was intriguing, and I’m sure a new concept for many people at the meeting. Anarchism is often seen in a negative light, as a chaotic system, disorganized, lawless, and so on. The Motorhome Diaries help dispel these myths. I think anarchism is a legitimate political philosophy (it’s quite broad) and merits our careful attention as such.