Over the past few months, I’ve found that’s it’s become increasingly difficult—if not downright impossible—to engage in political or sociological discussions and/or debates on social media.
Not only have most of these devolved into hot-button, knee-jerk, reactionary brawls—which I liken to that of a grade school classroom—but even my own side of the discussion, my own position, has become increasingly difficult to articulate, so much so that I’ve begun avoiding participation altogether, or even going back and deleting the thread after I’ve started a discussion which quickly devolved into utter chaos.
When I noticed this relatively new quandary, I began analyzing it, trying to identify the cause. Why it is that this entire exercise has become so beleaguering and belaboring (aside from the inherent futility, which I’d generally come to accept anyway; that component was nothing new). No, something else was happening here…the exercise itself was becoming very problematic for me.
Then suddenly, I identified the problem, realized why my participation in such discourse—even with fellow voluntaryists—has become so difficult, nearly impossible: It’s because ultimately, voluntaryists must attempt to present their case within two distinct contexts—effectively straddling a contextual dichotomy (if that’s even possible!)
Statists debate (whether amongst themselves or with advocates of statelessness) within in the context of our current reality, the existence of the state, the construct of an institutionally governed society—while voluntaryists, on the other hand, must attempt to debate within both that context as well as the context of what today is merely an ideal, a possible future, a hypothetical construct devoid of the many consequences of an existing state or institutionalized government (while in its initial inception, I briefly touched on this idea at the beginning of my interview on The Seeds of Liberty Podcast, at the 8:15 mark).
And because of this inherent and unavoidable contextual dichotomy, there is so much requisite prefacing on the part of the voluntaryist, and so many qualifiers plaguing their presentation in order to establish and maintain the correct context (or to attempt to straddle both) that the entire debate becomes muddled, complex, confusing—and nearly impossible for statists (and often even us voluntaryist ourselves) to follow.
Perhaps this sudden confusion lies within the insidious nature of the libertarian to voluntaryist transition? In my own case, for nearly twenty years (since Newt Gingrich‘s deceptive “Contract With America” and its resulting farcical “Republican Revolution” of 1994), I considered myself a “constitutional libertarian”—so during that period of my life, I was typically discussing/debating constitutional law, what the federal government should or should not be doing, the legitimate functions of government, what the ideal roll of government in society should be, etc.
But then a year or so ago, my thinking finally reached the ultimate logical conclusion of libertarian thought: I ascended (or my preferred term: graduated) to the anarchist/voluntaryist ideology. And that transition suddenly and unexpectedly made my engagement in sociological and political discourse extremely difficult, if not impossible. Once I realized that the entire premise that (current and historical) society is based upon—even limited government, or constitutional libertarianism—is faulty, even immoral (see my article The Fundamental Flaw in Non-Anarchistic Libertarian Thought for more on this)—then suddenly, it became nearly impossible for me to continue participating in such debates, because the principles are wrong, the premise is wrong, all of it is wrong—and so the discussion or debate itself became pointless or irrelevant.
To put it simply, it’s like saying “Well, we shouldn’t kill innocent people—but since we do, then we should only kill these people, or only kill those people…” But when you take the position that we shouldn’t be killing ANY innocent people, then it’s impossible to participate in discussions or debates as to which people we should or shouldn’t kill, because the entire debate founded upon a false or faulty premise.
Now obviously, that’s an over-simplification, but the point stands: you cannot effectively participate in a discussion or debate which is based upon a faulty or unacceptable premise.
Now here are some real-world examples:
Statists speak of a “refugee crisis”, and want to discuss what to do with all those refugees, where to send them, who should pay for them, etc.—while voluntaryists speak of murderous governments bombing people’s homeland, and want to discuss ending the wars, and thus ending the creation of refugees in the first place; statists speak of an “immigration crisis”, and want to discuss how to stop the flood of immigrants and the burden they become on our economy and society, and their impact on our culture—while voluntaryists speak of our out-of-control government, and want to discuss ending the war on drugs, ending the welfare state, honoring the property rights of individuals, and upholding the human right of free, unrestricted travel by implementing an open border policy; statists speak of a “gun crime crisis”, and want to discuss increasing background checks and license/permit requirements, stricter gun control laws, factoring in possible mental health issues, or even banning guns altogether, and disarming the populace—while voluntaryists speak of restoring the individual’s uninfringed right to keep and bear arms, and that the government is incapable of protecting the people, preventing crime, or stopping a crime in process, only unabashedly armed citizens can effectively do so….
The list goes on and on and on.
The reality is that most—if not all—of the issues, problems, crises, etc. that humanity faces is usually caused, or at least exacerbated (and often both), by government. So, as long as government remains in the equation, it’s impossible to formulate solutions to the problems, or procedures to handle the issues—because as each problem or issue is boiled down to its root cause, there it is: government.
But once government is removed from the equation, most of those problems simply vanish—and as long as government remains in the equation, the problems are unsolvable, because there’s no way to solve problems within a system or ideology that not only doesn’t work, but is actually causing most of the problems in the first place.
Voluntaryists understand that the only real solutions to these problems lie outside of the current societal construct of institutionalized government. And, as Einstein correctly pointed out: “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”
So voluntaryists continue to debate the issues within the context of removing government from the equation, while statists continue to debate them within the context of the existing institutionally-governed society, and this contextual dichotomy makes it nearly impossible for voluntaryists to engage in any meaningful sociological or political discourse with statists—and there seems to be no way around this obstacle.
And that, my friends, is the voluntaryist’s dilemma.
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