Action, Faith, and Voluntaryism
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“One Voluntaryist’s Perspective” is an original column appearing most Mondays at Everything-Voluntary.com, by the founder and editor Skyler J. Collins. Archived columns can be found here. OVP-only RSS feed available here.
An axiom is a starting point of reasoning, or a premise. Ludwig von Mises discovered the action axiom. Paraphrased, the action axiom states that humans “purposefully utilize means over a period of time in order to achieved desired ends.” I posit that somewhere in there belongs the principle of faith.
No, I’m not being religious. Faith is not an exclusively religious principle. Etymologically, it is synonymous with “belief, confidence, trust, expectation.” If human action is the purposeful utilization of means over a period of time in order to achieve desired ends, it is founded on faith. One does not act unless one has faith that he can achieve his desired ends. If he did not have such faith, he would not act. Actions are the proof of faith, in other words. Therefore, faith is axiomatic to action, and action is axiomatic to human behavior.
Voluntaryists and other proponents of the philosophy of liberty believe that actions should be limited to anything that is not an initiation of force. When we act toward other people, we do so on the basis of mutual consent. Our actions, or at least my actions, are guided by both this ethical standard, and our faith, meaning: we believe that people can get along, take care of each other, and prosper without resorting to the use of physical coercion; we are confident that peace and progress do not require the use of violence; we trust in ourselves and others to cooperate, create, and innovate for the mutual benefit of everyone; and we expect that as society moves forward, the old ways of aggressive monopoly government will be forced aside by new ideas and new spontaneous orders.
I agree wholeheartedly with Leonard Read, who wrote in his classic essay, “I, Pencil,” that freedom is impossible without “a faith in free people.” Everything I do in my efforts to promote voluntaryism, free markets, peaceful parenting, and radical unschooling are done on the basis of faith. My actions prove that I believe in, am confident of, trust in, and expect liberty in my life and the lives of my friends and family. We are free; we are all free and have always been free. Having accepted that, my faith now is in helping others accept it. Let us move forward having faith that tomorrow will be better than today.