We have talked about this idea of the “voluntary state” a few times now, but now it is time to really go a little more in-depth about voluntary vs involuntary states and their implications. As we have mentioned, voluntary states actually exist right now, all across America – for example, in the form of homeowners associations (HOAs).

What is the difference between voluntary and involuntary states?

Well, the first issue is with property rights, because a person or entity must own the property to create a state on it. In order to establish property rights, we look at ownership and homesteading. In order for a valid claim to be made on land, there is a common law tenet that a person needs to actually have direct ownership of and be utilizing the land. Now, a few centuries ago, most of the US was “unsettled” (at least by the colonists) and we know “The US” eventually basically made a forceful claim to the whole landmass (which led to the Trail of Tears, etc). Nowadays though, all land is actually claimed by people, so the whole ownership/homesteading issue is figured out and from here can play out in the free market. (side note: no citizen today actually OWNS the land they live on – “The US” owns ALL land in the US and we just “rent” from them, in the form of “property taxes” – look up “allodial title” for more information on that).

In order to create a voluntary state, everyone within the confines (geographical and other) of the contract must agree to the terms. So for example, if someone wanted to buy out everyone in Montana and start a state under his own terms where everyone who wanted to live there was bound to those terms, he should have every right to do so because when he owns the property he can sell or lease it under whatever pretenses he so chooses. But if one person in Billings refuses to sell out their property, they should in no way be bound by the terms of the voluntary state. That’s just a massive oversimplification of property rights and contract, but hopefully it illustrates the point.

Then there are issues like duration/inheritance of contract (similar to what’s called “incentive trusts”). For example, I can’t go write up a contract with a few of my friends wherein we all agree that ALL of our progeny to the end of time will be bound to that contract. We can’t say “we all agree that we will put 10% of our income towards socialized roads and our great great great grandchildren have to do this too” and expect that to have any legal effect. Further, why would we even want to push such binding stipulations on our posterity born into completely different and unpredictable times? It is completely unjust and even arrogant for us to assume the right to create contracts binding on our descendants hundreds of years (or even a generation or two) from now.

Couldn’t a voluntary state become an involuntary state for those born into it? And if those born into it wished to abolish it, should they have the right to do so, against the wishes of the original signatories?

Well, let’s apply this to the United States and its “social contract”. A case could be made that the Constitution should apply to the progeny of the likes of Benjamin Franklin and the rest of its signers. However, there was no signer with my last name. None of my ancestors ever contractually “opted in” to the Constitution, and neither did I. Therefore, how is it applicable to me? It is unjust, as it is a forceful breach of my inherent right not to contract. If you want to get technical, we could say this is especially true for the descendants of those who already claimed and owned land within the US before the Constitution was ratified.

I’d take this principle further though, and apply it to ALL people, even the descendants of Franklin and the like. It is in my opinion not only unjust, but completely nonsensical, to apply the decisions of ancestors 10 generations ago to the life of a man today, especially when it affects his life in almost every way, and most especially when he is opposed to it.

I would propose stipulations to the voluntary state. For example, the contract is only valid to the end of the life of its last surviving partner. Anyone born into the contract would have the option whether to renew it or not, and renewal would take effect at the expiration of the previous contract. Just one possibility, perhaps not perfect, but a step in the right direction.

But aren’t government laws similar to contracts already?

They are similar, because laws are “delegated” contract, except that the “contract” is involuntary for anyone that doesn’t agree to it. “We” don’t have the option to change the law at any time, the government does. The government is not “me”, because if I declare something to be legal, even if I write it on parchment paper, it has no effect. I have to be “special”.

For example, at a base level, most would agree that throwing someone in a cage for having the wrong plant in his pocket is not only ridiculous, but evil. It is an assertion of violence on an innocent person for a completely non-violent and non-aggressive personal choice that affects nobody else. But when we label it the “War on Drugs” and start screaming from soapboxes about all the perceived evils of such a benign behavior, people seem to rally around the idea. That is everything statism does in a nutshell, just in various ways (taxation, tickets, etc).

If individual secession (from governments and their arbitrary rules) were recognized, there wouldn’t really be an issue. It would be the same as voluntarism, just with a first assumption that can be nullified. But individual secession is not possible with “laws”. You can’t opt out. “We” can ask our “archists” (rulers, or “representatives”) to change the law, and they can even promise they will, and then opt not to once they have the ability. Much better to just choose whether I can or can’t engage in behaviors, give to charity, or fund wars.. of my own volition, no?

For Christians

Solomon is known by God as the wisest man who has ever lived (1 Kings 4:31). Consider what he has to say about our wisdom as applied to others and their future:

For who knows what is good for a person in life, during the few and meaningless days they pass through like a shadow? Who can tell them what will happen under the sun after they are gone?

Ecclesiastes 6:12

Even Solomon recognizes that our striving to be in control and to control others is a “chasing after the wind”; the only thing eternal on this earth is in our preparation for our Lord and what He has in store for us in the next life. May we apply this towards our legacies for our children and what may come after them; let our progeny govern themselves, and let us strive mostly to ensure that they can do so under the grace of God and His wisdom.

  1. John Zube says:

    The basic ownership required for individual secessionism is not the ownership of a house and land, but, rather, self-ownership or individual sovereignty, implying all individual rights and liberties. On “laws” you should consider the long tradition of “personal law”, independent of one’s residential location.