We believe in giving. But as so much is taken away from us today without our consent, or used for things we don’t approve of, the flame of generosity easily vanishes and in its place the ugly face of greed and bad selfishness appears.
We believe in given to things and causes we consent to and approve of. We believe in the freedom to give, because the more we give the more we receive. We believe this is a cornerstone of any decent society.
We need to reconsider the so-called social contract. A contract that hasn’t been signed and cannot be ended, what kind of contract is that? Forcing people to sign a contract, or simply claim that they implicitly have done so, is that rightful behavior? There are no valid social contracts today. Two basic things are missing, namely the consent of the individual and the possibility to end the contract. We believe in fixing those two shortcomings.
It was once outrageous to suggest something like religious freedom and tolerance, but now we see that this indeed works fine. It often happens that five men, each under a different religion, would be found walking or sitting together. How about extending this idea to all other areas of life, would that be possible at all? Well, as history tells us from this Agobard (AD779–840) quote, ‘it often happens that five men, each under a different law, would be found walking or sitting together,’ while still living in the same place. Although few seem to be aware of it, it’s a fact that the tolerance behind the idea of religious freedom has throughout history been extended to other areas of life as well.
Religious freedom is an individual’s right to dissent, to end the contract, and to find other ways. We believe in extending religious freedom and tolerance to all areas of life To learn from the good examples of the past. We believe we all have this kind of tolerance within. We believe people to be genuinely tolerant at heart.
We need to be aware that people throughout history have found a multitude of ways of interacting peacefully without any coercion. We believe people are more intelligent than some want us to think. We believe in discovering and re-discovering superior ways of interacting socially without coercion, in peace. Whether new or old, we believe there’s a great need to implement all such simply superior ways. New situations and new eras might require new ways, but we should take confidence in the fact that we have it in us already. We can do it.
On this website, we will collect real-life examples of how people can interact without coercion, examples of voluntary governance. We look beyond the obvious examples, like peaceful exchange of goods and services, to those cases that are difficult to arrange without monopolistic coercion, at least so we are told. Based on various dubious theories, these are referred to as public goods. But what’s a ‘public good’?
According to Wikipedia, ‘a public good is a good that is non-rivalrous and non-excludable. Non-rivalry means that consumption of the good by one individual does not reduce availability of the good for consumption by others; and non-excludability that no one can be effectively excluded from using the good. […] Breathing air does not significantly reduce the amount of air available to others, and people cannot be effectively excluded from using the air. This makes air a public good, albeit one that is economically trivial, since air is a free good.’
Thus, if air is a public good, religion is a public good. And as such it also needs to be monopolized, right? As religion would easily fit into this category, it can be taken as proof enough of the merits of such theories. They mean the end of basic human tolerance, and in the name of tolerance deserve all available discredit.
We believe in tolerance. We believe in discovering and re-discovering, collecting and sharing real-life examples of how people can interact without coercion. But far from everyone is convinced by mere reasoning, people also want to see real results, results that can be imitated and multiplied.
So let’s get to action. We need to start now and provide inspiration to others. Let a hundred flowers blossom, as the saying goes.
| Voluntary Governance | tolerating you, tolerating me |
Freedom, give it to me / That’s what I want now / Freedom, that’s what I need now / Freedom to live / Freedom, so I can give.
– Jimi Hendrix
To compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves and abhors, is sinful and tyrannical.
– Thomas Jefferson
If you, sir, did not covet things that don’t belong to you, they wouldn’t steal if you paid them to!
We could gain the good will even of our opponents, their tolerance for all our tolerant experiments, if we would also and clearly fight for their freedom to experiment among themselves. Instead of a further struggle, we could and should offer our opponents the fulfillment or continuation of their ideals – for themselves and at their expense and risk. They cannot rightly ask for more.
– John Zube
Selfishness is not living as one wishes to live, it is asking others to live as one wishes to live.
– Oscar Wilde
You have your way. I have my way. As for the right way, the correct way, and the only way, it does not exist.
– Friedrich Nietzsche
The truth is that there is not the right kind of freedom, the fundamental freedom to choose to be free or not to be free, according to one’s preference. Every human being becomes a self-appointed judge, and settles this question according to his particular tastes or needs. Since there abound as many opinions as individuals, tot homines, tot sensus, one can see what confusion is graced by the fine name of politics. The freedom of some denies the rights of others, and vice versa. Even the wisest and best of governments never functions with the full and free consent of all its subjects. There are parties, either victorious or defeated; there are majorities and minorities in perpetual struggle; and the more confused their notions are, the more passionately they hold to their ideals.
– Paul Emile de Puydt
Any action that is dictated by fear or by coercion of any kind ceases to be moral….Freedom of the individual is at the root of all progress.
The laws of God, the laws of man, / He may keep that will and can; / Not I: let God and man decree / Laws for themselves and not for me; / And if my ways are not as theirs / Let them mind their own affairs. / Their deeds I judge and much condemn, / Yet when did I make laws for them? / Please yourselves, say I, and they / Need only look the other way.
– Alfred Edward Housman
Voluntarism decries the end of any monopolistic pretence and the paramount respect for the will of the individual to be member or non-member of any community of his/her choice, always and in every case.
– Gian Piero de Bellis
Do ut des — I give in order that you should give — meaning I give in order to exchange with you. In the course of the centuries, this brought about all those conditions which we now consider as conditions of modern civilized life.
– Ludwig von Mises
If one religion only were allowed in England, the Government would very possibly become arbitrary; if there were but two, the people would cut one another’s throats; but as there are such a multitude, they all live happy and in peace.
Do not treat others in ways you would not like to be treated.
– The Universal Golden Rule
To each the government of his dreams.
– K. H. Z. Solneman (aka Kurt Zube)
It seems just as foolish to propose uniformity of law as uniformity of faith. For how come tolerance is good in one sphere of life, and not in others? Why indeed stop at religious tolerance?
– Richard CB Johnsson
[E]ach submitted to their own laws while resident in the same country. Indeed, the system was so general that in one of the tracts of the Bishop Agobard, it is said: ‘It often happens that five men, each under a different law, would be found walking or sitting together.’
– Shih Shun Liu
[T]he laws of the barbarians were adapted to their wants and desires, their occupations and their capacity; and they all contributed to preserve the peace, and promote the improvements, of the society for whose use they were originally established. The Merovingians, instead of imposing a uniform rule of conduct on their various subjects, permitted each people, and each family, of their empire freely to enjoy their domestic institutions; nor were the [remaining] Romans excluded from the common benefits of this legal toleration.
– Edward Gibbon
Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field. I will meet you there.
– Jalal ad-Din Rumi
There are many more than five or six Churches in England, and it frequently happens that members of several of them live in the same house. There are many more than five or six insurance companies in England, and it is by no means uncommon for members of the same family to insure their lives and goods against accident or fire in different companies. Does any harm come of it? Why, then, should there not be a considerable number of defensive associations in England, in which people, even members of the same family, might insure their lives and goods against murderers or thieves?
– Benjamin R. Tucker
It is an assumption by one man, or body of men, of absolute, irresponsible dominion over all other men whom they can subject to their power. It is the assumption by one man, or body of men, of a right to subject all other men to their will and their service. It is the assumption by one man, or body of men, of a right to abolish outright all the natural rights, all the natural liberty of all other men; to make all other men their slaves; to arbitrarily dictate to all other men what they may, and may not, do; what they may, and may not, have; what they may, and may not, be.
– Lysander Spooner
Say: O ye Unbelievers!
I worship not what ye worship,
And ye are not worshippers of what I worship;
And I am not a worshipper of what ye have worshipped,
And ye are not worshippers of what I worship.
To you your religion; and to me my religion.
– The Quran
Mankind is at its best when it is most free.
– Dante Alighieri