Voluntaryists vs Socialists Debate

I just heard the word voluntaryist and I like the concept so I started doing some research on it. I like the concept but I found this debate and I have to say I may be swayed to become more of a government advocate after hearing the opening remarks from the democratic socialist. This seems to be a well organised debate - I'm only up to part 3 as I post this.

Bob07's picture

Wendy, I haven't listened to much of this yet (I will), but my first impulse, in response to the question, "Is government necessary or even ligitimate?" to to ask another question:  "Could the world be worse off than it is had we not had government for the last 100 (or 1000) years?" --- ...or "...had we had government that only preserved individual freedom and inalienable rights?"

kevnkar's picture

... counter to everything we seem to believe in here, but just to play devil's advocate here. What if the large majority of humans on this earth really are just eaters. What if they really are stupid like the elite say. Granted, there are vast numbers of smart people who are suppressed by the elite but there are also even vaster numbers of folks who just aren't capable of contibuting to the betterment of mankind in a traditional sense. That being said, I know some "slower" people who are amazing beacons of light in this world who have no idea of any of it. I understand that we are all one experiencing different realities and not many experiencing one reality, but how do we get everyone else in line with this? It seems to me that a consensous reality, in the right context, is the way to go.

Just rambling

Wendy's picture

I finished the whole debate now. It seems that what the voluntaryists failed to address is how to deal with natural resources. I think neither side really came up with a way to deal with natural resources that is correct but I think the democratic socialists made a fairly good argument that these could constitute natural monopolies (of the government). However, I think after listening to the debate that I am still in favor of less government than we have today and I won't be changing political affiliations.

Unfortunately, the voluntaryists didn't bring forth the idea or concept of a voluntarily funded government. This would be the ideal in my mind. A government that does not use force to extract taxes but simply produces a list of funds every year and what those funds would be used for. Then people could pick and choose which funds they would like to contribute to and could also choose to not contribute at all. These governments are not an ideal concept but do exist in many human societies such as churches, PTA's - many human organizations run well this way.

Also, this debate didn't do a very good job of getting into the differences between centrally controlled government and locally controlled government. I continue to advocate for, not for the elimination of government but elimination of central control. Small government is beautiful in my mind.

Kevin- I agree that consensus decision making can be better than majority rule. I used to be a quaker and they did all their business decisions that way but I have to say that it was a very arduous and slow process but the few decisions that did get made were good ones.

I think majority rule could be used to elect government administrators who would only get paid from voluntarily collected taxes. I think in this debate, the concept of no government was confused with the concept of having government that had no greater rights than those of any individual. After listening to this debate, even that idea I would not agree with because I think government should have greater control over common natural resources - water, air, and perhaps land as well that individuals should not be allowed to claim ownership of.

Noa's picture

I'm posting this here because it seems to follow the discussion opened by the Voluntaryists vs. Socialists debate.

As the Occupy Movement grows and evolves, the focus is turning towards questions about what kind of world we want to live in and how do we create it. 

I think it's great we're talking about this now!







Why a Forum on the Commons?
The Occupy movement is entering a new phase, one in which many of us feel the need to combine renewed engagement through direct actions and mobilizations with a deep reflection on the strategic objectives of our movement. In order to fulfill this need, the organizing committee of Making Worlds* is inviting Occupy supporters, sympathizers, and other organizations to participate in this Forum on the politics of the commons. In particular, we are interested in understanding how groups and communities working on housing, health care, education, food, water, energy, information, communication and knowledge resources can develop a vision of these resources as commons: a third form of social organization to the state and corporate capitalism. Making Worlds has the ambitious goal of articulating a strategic vision from and for the movement as well as specific political initiatives aiming at its realization.

Structure of the Forum
The Forum is a space in which everyone can contribute to thinking and doing collectively. The structure of the Forum is meant to help us overcome the traditional theory/action divide. This will not be an "academic" event, nor an "activist" one. We believe that you don't need to belong to any particular group, or have any particular expertise in order to be entitled to participate in politics. Politics is also part of the Commons, something that should belong to everyone.

Six thematic workshops will be held during the Forum. Each will include several subjects/groups. We have agreed on the following guidelines for the workshops:

- Combine theory and practice: thinking is a way of doing, as much as doing is a way of thinking
- Set a tone of horizontality and respect
- Each sub-group will give a brief presentation/introduction (7-10 minute maximum)
- Discussion, questions, conversation
- How to keep / start building a commons in this area?
- Production of a document. Possible formats: transcriptions, interventions, interviews, synthesis of discussions...

Please see detailed program here: PROGRAM
 MAKING WORLDS-program.pdf

The organizing committee of Making Worlds is part of the Empowerment & Education Committee of OWS. Contact us at [email protected].



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