NVC, Unschooling Dads, The Fallacy of Violent Communication

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“Finding the Challenges” is an original column appearing, usually every other week at Everything-Voluntary.com, by Verbal Vol. Verbal is a software engineer, college professor, corporate information officer, life long student, farmer, libertarian, literarian, student of computer science, nonviolent communication, and self-ordering phenomena, pre-TSA world traveler, domestic traveler. Archived columns can be found here. FTC-only RSS feed available here.

One never stops learning.  Today, I learned again that whenever you take a malfunctioning something to a fix-it place, the thing will begin to work splendidly and will stubbornly refuse to repeat the malfunction.  The case in point was a gimpy smart phone, but this has wide applicability.  Sick pets will stage miraculous recuperation on the front step of the veterinary clinic.  Then there was a second thing I learned — the thing that behaved perfectly before the caregiver will suffer a dramatic relapse on the way home.

And, as usual, I learned some new things about Voluntaryism in the past two weeks, which I will duly share with you today:  1) a new influence called “non-violent communication,” 2) a great new book from Skyler, as editor and publisher, entitled Unschooling Dads, and 3) a particularly toxic form of begged question, communication in the form of browbeating.

Nonviolent Communication

A few days ago, I was invited to join a Facebook Group,  wherein members sought to see the match between voluntaryism and nonviolent communication.  By way of introduction, we were asked to write a brief hello telling how we came to voluntaryism and to nonviolent communication.  As I considered this assignment, I realized that though I might be a good voluntaryist, I had very little skill at transferring my non-violent outlook to my ways of thinking, listening, talking, and writing.  Here is how I responded:

I have always acted in a way to avoid violence, but culturally I have been influenced toward verbal aggression. In a family which was very competitive in professional pursuits, I was encouraged to be dominant in communications. I have had a lifelong struggle trying to turn my bent away from verbal aggression. I am getting much better now since I have discovered voluntaryism.

I left out that I was also trained, in every venue, to respond, slavishly, to violent communication.  In order to have a quiet zone around me, I have become a wielder of a flame-throwing tongue.  In the days since, I have been amazed at how often I have carried on an internal monologue of things I should not say to my worst enemy — silent temper tantrums.  Even now, as I write, I am becoming overwrought, feeling buckling in the layers beneath the thin veneer of placidity that I show to others.

Just this Tuesday, the (University of) Kentucky Wildcats Men’s Basketball Team lost to a below-average Tennessee team, blowing a double-digit lead.  How many unkind words have I spoken in my imagination about that?  It is not going to be easy.

I have discovered that it takes more than just a philosophical disposition against war.  It will take consistency.  It will take a willingness to recognize the problem to relinquish violent, negative, aggressive thinking.  It is not enough to just cork our violent thoughts.  Nonviolence best precedes from nonviolent thinking.  Nonviolence cannot really be suppressed violence.  Of course existing violence should be suppressed, but that is not the main road to nonviolence

Unschooling Dads — A Voluntaryist View

During the last week, I have had the distinct pleasure of listening to the new audio book, Unschooling Dads.  So why does a septuagenarian grandfather need ideas on unschooling; hasn’t that water gone over the dam?

Well, no.  There are a number of reasons, not the least of which are 2 daughters, 8 grandchildren, and 2 great-grandchildren.  All of them are, luckily for Lin and I, very much part of our daily lives.  Currently, we are supporting and encouraging piano, flute, saxophone, singing, running, and basketball.  We never mature away from parenting.  In fact, since someone like me has been parenting himself for seven decades, it is lifelong truth for even childless persons.  And I always knew, but have realized later, that self-education is critical.  Being voluntaryist, being an individualist, I know that no one can hold my course across the sea of knowledge and experience but me.  To me, our independence from prescribed education has always been fact, while association with institutions has only been incidental.

I am saying that each of us engages in unschooling regardless of what schooling we may have.   I may have been taught on occasion, but I still had to learn everything, voluntarily, for myself.

It is because of my fortune in grasping the principles of unschooling that I want to learn more.  I see important principles as these:

  • Learning is not from intervention, even though an urge to learn can be influenced by others.
  • Others can affect your natural learning inclinations by intervening forcefully, with or without premeditation, in your best learning years.
  • But learning proceeds in every being no matter how stultifying the strictures or how late the date.
  • Having an unschooling heart becomes all the more important when the environment suppresses learning.

With these principles in mind, I will now re-listen to the book and I will read in print many passages.  And then, if I get the chance, I may share certain views in this space in coming columns.

Logic Fallacy #43 — Violent Communication

It is fundamental that if there were such a thing as nonviolent communication, that there must be its opposite, violent communication.  But what can be the constructive function of violent communication?  Nonviolent communication is a redundant phrase, while violent communication is an oxymoron.  Violence destroys or, at least, deteriorates communication.

So, an event that heightens communication without regard to intensity is nonviolent communication.   NVC is not about the feel-good content of communication.  It is about content.  If violent utterance only carries an attempt to intimidate, loudly or quietly, it is fallacious.  Cheering at a football game is not inherently violent, but screaming “Kill the quarterback” is.  Using a stentorian tone to warn an infant away from a fire is not necessarily violent, but using the same tone all the time is.  Dodging an argument by labeling part of the discussion “stupid” is uncaringly violent, while agreeing to objective criteria by which debate will be judged is nonviolent.

I was in a Facebook thread about the effectiveness of voting.  One interlocutor declared that not voting was “moronic!”  How shall we unpack that?  In that context, the word is only a wrecking ball.  It wrecked the poster’s position and it terminated a useful debate.  It had nothing to do with analysis of either the premise or the sad state of being a moron.


This column is about discovery, the discovery of new sides to valued objects.  Nonviolent communication is a new trailhead for me.  Unschooling is an exciting idea to refresh one’s journey through the landscape of experience, not just a resolution to stop the hassle of getting children out the door tomorrow.  And employing fear or defamation to communicate is a failure to communicate.


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Voluntaryism vs. Anarcho-Capitalism

A friend on Facebook asked, “Can someone give me an example of a situation in which a voluntaryist and an ancap could reach different conclusions about something? I’ve been trying to use more precise language and I’d like to have a better understanding of any differences in the meanings of the two terms.”

Ancaps don’t really have much on parenting because they can’t decide what rights children have. Voluntaryists say that all human relations should be voluntary, not just adult relations, which puts a bigger emphasis on parenting than does ancap philosophy.

Also, I don’t think there’s much if anything on social coercion for the ancap, while “all human relations should be voluntary” is as concerned with non-physical forms of coercion (shame, blackmail, initiatory ostracism) as it is with physical coercion (aggression, force, violence).

And, “all human relations should be voluntary” suggests we give a strong consideration to nonviolent forms of resistance to both petty crime and state aggression. It’s a strong suggestion when it makes sense. Ancap philosophy seems more concerned with justifying force than in trying to avoid force altogether. Which also leads to the abstention from electoral politics, as political solutions are necessarily violent solutions.

Oh and, Ancap philosophy has a specific theory of property rights (original appropriation of land and resources), and what constitutes aggression depends on who owns what. But I think that non-ancaps can be voluntaryists so long as they favor nonviolence and persuasion over brute force for the protection of whatever constitutes property for them. Ancoms, for example, as ancoms would justify the use of force to take over a factory, whereas ancoms as voluntaryists would negotiate or separate and start their own factories. In other words, I think the voluntary principle strongly advises refraining from the use of coercion, even when you believe its justified (retaliatory), because others might disagree and conflict will only increase rather than decrease through its use.

Oh and (hah!), Ancap philosophy doesn’t say anything on being voluntary with yourself and self-talk and self-knowledge. I see voluntaryism as more of a whole life, whole family philosophy, while ancap is just concerned about politics and markets. I personally favor ancap philosophy (capitalism as defined by Rothbard, Hoppe, and the like) for political and economic issues, but I don’t think that’s required to be a voluntaryist.

Skyler.

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The Philosophy of 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.

Philosophy is, etymologically, the “love of wisdom”. One of the best ways I’ve read to define wisdom is this saying, “Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.” In other words, knowledge is what is known, and wisdom is the proper use of that knowledge in relation to one’s purposes. The discovery and application of wisdom is the purpose of philosophy. And because wisdom is useful in all sorts of endeavors, there are different types of philosophies. Voluntaryism is a multifaceted philosophy with broad application.

Voluntaryism

The foundation of the philosophy of voluntaryism is the voluntary principle, which states that all human relations should happen voluntarily, or not at all. Like all principles, the voluntary principle is only useful if it’s application leads to the ends desired by the individual observing it. Voluntaryists, those who practice voluntaryism, do so because they believe that the voluntary principle is the proper means to achieve their desired ends. Which ends are those? And why is the voluntary principle the proper means to achieve them? Or rather, what is so wise about practicing voluntaryism? And just how far does it go? How “broad” is it, really? And even, is it ever wise to disregard the voluntary principle?

Self-Improvement

I think that the beginning of any desire to live by the principles espoused in a given philosophy is the intention to improve one’s life. If following a philosophy means anything, it means becoming wiser about how to go about obtaining one’s valued ends. And desires and values necessarily imply individualism, the belief that the individual has needs and wants and deserves to have them met so long as he allows every other individual to do likewise. And so, the human relation that every voluntaryist must start with is the self. He must recognize his right and ability to adopt whatever philosophy or philosophies that he wants for himself, and to do so voluntarily.

One should not shame or guilt or otherwise coerce himself into accepting the voluntary principle, for it would then be a violation of said principle, thereby showing by his actions that he does not really consider it valid. No, committing to be a voluntaryist must be made voluntarily. And further, if the voluntary principle is a valid principle for self-improvement, then self-reflection and self-actualization on the basis of non-coercion will aid in improving one’s mental health (mood, confidence, outlook, et cetera).

Virtue

Along the lines of self-improvement, many value the virtues. Virtue is “a positive trait or quality deemed morally good.” Wisdom, love, courage, patience, temperance, justice, et cetera, are virtues, but how virtuous is the action if it’s coerced? As Murray Rothbard wrote (p. 128), “The concept of ‘morality’ makes no sense unless the moral act is freely chosen.” Thus, if you value virtuous living, then you must allow the virtues to be expressed voluntarily, both by yourself and others. Otherwise, the only thing being freely chosen is the act to coerce others into virtue, and that seems immoral, the opposite of virtue. It’s a peculiar person who values virtue to the point of violating it.

Interpersonal Relations

What are the chances that someone utilizing coercion, the “political means” as Franz Oppenheimer calls it (p. 25), in their interpersonal relations will ever find peace and happiness? Quite unlikely, for the use of coercion puts one at odds with the rest of society. Coercion is predation, and predators are often hunted down and slaughtered in order to make society safer. We’ll get to political predation, which is far safer for the predator, but for now I’m talking about what is often called private crime. Murder, robbery, rape, battery, and the like, are incompatible with the values that most people hold. The voluntary principle clearly prohibits crimes of this sort, with the benefits to the individual and society obvious to all.

However, what is not always so clear is who owns what. This matters if we are to know if a murder, robbery, rape, or battery has actually occurred. Different theories of ownership abound, some more defensible than others, but most people accept self-ownership and the right of personal possession. The less directly used something is, the more uncertain things are in property rights theory. In any event, the voluntary principle is very encouraging toward first agreeing on who owns what with all involved parties, before commencing to murder, rob, rape, or batter. And actually, why are we even considering such actions? What moves us to desire ends that require these means? Where has the voluntary principle been violated toward us by others or by us toward ourselves that we would resort to actions of this nature?

Consider also the Golden Rule. There have been many formulations of the Golden Rule over the centuries, but they all have on thing in common: consideration of others as individuals, rather than as means to be manipulated and coerced. When we coerce others, we are inviting coercion upon ourselves. If that sounds unpleasant or undesirable to you, then your relations with others should happen in accordance with the voluntary principle.

Communication

Another area of application of the voluntary principle is in communication, both intra- and interpersonal. The words we use can be very powerful and come across as either friendly or unfriendly. If unfriendly, they’ll have a coercive effect if those we are communicating to feel threatened in some unexpected and undesired way. Psychologist Marshall Rosenberg coined the term “nonviolent communication” (NVC) to teach the principles of self-empathy, empathy toward others, and honest self-expression. The presupposition of NVC theory is that “all human behavior stems from attempts to meet universal human needs and that these needs are never in conflict. Rather, conflict arises when strategies for meeting needs clash. NVC proposes that if people can identify their needs, the needs of others, and the feelings that surround these needs, harmony can be achieved.” As it pertains to voluntaryism, NVC is a useful tool in preventing conflict that, by its nature, is likely to violate the voluntary principle, with the resulting undesirable end for those who value the peaceful meeting of their needs.

Education

How did humans evolve to learn? Are our educational needs best met through compulsory learning and regimentation, ie. schooling? Or are we best served by the voluntary principle, that is, through free play? Free play is the pursuit of one’s own interests without interference by others. Adults engage in free play when they engage in activities that interest them. Children do likewise so long as the adults in their lives observe the voluntary principle, with fantastic results. As Peter Gray shows in Free to Learn, free play is how our evolutionary ancestors learned every skill necessary for survival, at least, and why unleashing the instinct to play in modern children will make kids “happier, more self-reliant, and better students for life.” Radical unschooling is the education philosophy most compatible with free play, and is thus an integral part of voluntaryism, now and for the future.

Radical unschooling is “radical” in the sense that it extends individual choice to everything a child does, not just to academics. Contrary to popular belief, when children are allowed to “do whatever they want“, so long as they don’t violate anyone’s rights, destroy anyone’s property, or unintentionally hurt themselves, the results are entirely positive. Many a radical unschooled former child will tell how empowering and enlightening it was for them to be free to choose what to eat, where to sleep and when, what to consume media-wise and how much, and other such choices that they were allowed to make on a daily basis because their parents were adhering to the voluntary principle. Parents likewise benefit from a stronger bond with their children because they aren’t at war with their children’s instincts and desires. As radical unschoolers, parents become their children’s partners through life as a facilitator of needs and wants, educational or otherwise, and as a trusted mentor, instead of being there to stop them from experiencing life on their own terms. As such, things like “spoiled kids” and “teenage rebellion” or nonexistent features in a radical unschooling home.

Parenting

What about child discipline? The voluntary principle demands that parents approach their children on the basis of nonviolence and mutual consent. Like their learning, our evolutionary ancestors, and modern hunter-gatherers, were peaceful and respectful toward those who are still developing empathy and self-control. The first few years were filled with breastfeeding to foster the mother/baby bond, babywearing to bond with the other adults in baby’s life, and bedsharing to keep baby safe (from predators) and close to the rest of the family.

As kids aged and began exploring the world around them, they’re met with patience and love by those who’d already learned not to hurt other people. As such, they’re never spanked or put in time-out or otherwise punished for acting like inexperienced and developing children. The voluntary principle applied in parenting, along with other positive discipline practices like Parent Effectiveness Training, works better at nurturing empathy, teaching self-control, and promoting independence while strengthening family bonds, than the various coercion-based alternatives.

Economics

My first step toward becoming a voluntaryist was in learning the laws of economics and how a market works. Once I understood the negative (toward peace and prosperity) consequences of third-party (state) interference in trade, I began rejecting the use of coercion in the market. For example, when the state sets a minimum wage, low-skilled workers are priced out of the market. Low-skilled jobs like theater escort or gas station attendant disappear, and those unable to find work fall behind in terms of developing skills and a work ethic. This leads to agitation among the lower class and a falling standard of living. Likewise for rent control, prohibitions, and occupational licensing. When markets aren’t free, meaning, aren’t based on the voluntary principle, then prosperity slows, and can even reverse.

The laws of supply and demand are inviolate. When states restrict supply (coercion), prices rise, hurting the poorest in society. When trade is voluntary, all else being equal, supply and demand find its equilibrium, meaning, the price charged for the good or service is just high enough to be profitable and keep the business in operation (and people employed), and just low enough to be affordable (by its intended customer base). The money earned by the business goes toward innovation and capital investment (lowering costs), and the money saved by the customer is either invested or spent with other businesses. Violating the voluntary principle in the market has disastrous effects in society. Unemployment, welfare dependency, poverty, recessions, depressions, and more are all the result of a violation of the voluntary principle by the state through economic and monetary regulations.

Politics

Most people in society value the provision of law and order, of government, while simultaneously valuing competition in the market. They understand that monopolies charge higher prices while providing poorer quality goods and services, because their monopoly protects them from losing customers to competition. Unfortunately, this understanding is lost when it comes to the state, the institution in society that monopolizes the provision of law and order in a given territorial boundary. If the laws of economics tell us that monopolies tend toward higher prices and poorer quality, then this is as much true for the provision of law and order as it is for any service provision or good production.

Monopoly is the exclusive right of sell, enforced by coercion. If the voluntary principle were practiced in the political arena, the state would not exist. Instead, law and order would be provided through competition, by entrepreneurs. As in any other industry, competition ensures lower prices and better quality. Political theorists and economists continue to debate whether or not this holds true for government, but there are other considerations to make as it concerns voluntaryism.

How does one go about monopolizing the provision of law and order, of making competition illegal? This can only happen through conquest, with superior might, and maintained through lies and propaganda. Conquest is clearly a violation of the voluntary principle, and is also a violation of many of the values that people hold, values like peace, cooperation, fraternity, and community. Conquest amounts to the extremely dangerous doctrine that “might makes right“. So long as you are powerful enough, you have the right to take what you want from others. Society can’t survive under such a doctrine for obvious reasons.

Once conquered, people must be taught that their new political arrangements are good, or at the very least, a “necessary evil“, or else they are likely to one day rebel from the injustice they see. Lies and propaganda are thus circulated, beginning in newly formed compulsory government schools, to maintain the illusion of legitimacy by the ruling class, and to keep the extracted wealth flowing in the forms of taxation and economic regulation. A few generations pass away, and the ruling class fully believes its rule is good and necessary, the natural order of things. And so long as taxation and economic regulation have remained relatively low, society prospers. Hans Hoppe calls it the “paradox of imperialism“. Lower taxation and less economic interference, the wealthier society becomes, and the more the state can extract to use in expanding its footprint in the world. Indeed, this has been the case with the United States, once the freest nation on Earth (but no longer), and now the largest and, arguably, most dangerous to world peace and stability.

Wisdom Goes Both Ways

As important as understanding the wisdom in observing the voluntary principle, I don’t think that as a philosophy, voluntaryism would be complete without also understanding when observing the voluntary principle may be foolish. If you value your life and that life is being threatened, then it’s foolish to practice the voluntary principle toward your attacker. Rather, it would be wise to defend yourself. This is also true for other lives that you value, such as family, friends, and possibly your fellow countrymen.

Now, while it may be foolish to allow others to walk over you, that’s not to say that direct retaliatory aggression is always the wisest course of action to take. Nonviolent resistance to both crime and conquest have a track record with varying degrees of success. It seems to me that since the philosophy of voluntaryism is about the wisdom of practicing the voluntary principle, voluntaryists must give due consideration to all forms of resistance in any given situation. However, it would not go against voluntaryism to use force when only force can protect you and your loved ones. The voluntary principle says that all human relations should happen voluntarily, but should only applies when the voluntary principle is useful in protecting one’s values, which as explored above, is most of the time when those values include self-improvement, virtue, communication, education, family bond, society, prosperity, and world peace.

Final Thoughts

And there you have it, the philosophy of voluntaryism. While this exposition was lengthy, it was still brief when we consider how complex each area of human existence is as they concern the possible application of voluntaryism. Right and wrong are largely a matter of means and ends, ends which are desired on the basis of one’s values. I consider voluntaryism to be right, and it’s opposite to be wrong. But of course, my values are my own, and they’ve certainly changed, and will change, over time. That’s partly what it means to be human. We value some things, and then others, and all the while learn wisdom from knowledge and experience. The philosophy that works for us today might not work for us tomorrow, but not because their effects on the world have changed, but because we’ve changed. I can’t imagine the day I might not value the things that voluntaryism secures, but I must remain open-minded if I value adhering to principles for the right reasons.


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The Hierarchy of Law

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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.

Not only can law be defined in different ways, but the duty we feel to obey law varies with not only the kind of law we are considering, but also from person to person. Here are the types of law as I understand them, and the hierarchy at which the different types command our obedience, and why.

Self – the Highest Law

Our first duty is to ourselves, primarily our life, and as it follows, our liberty. If we value either, and we may not, then our duty to preserve our life and liberty supersedes the duty to obey any other law. If we value something higher than our lives, such as nonviolence at all costs (the way of pacifists), or our loved ones, than our duty to preserve that likewise supersedes the duty to obey any other law. In other words, the law we make for ourselves, that we will sustain our lives and uphold our values, is the highest law that we have any duty to obey. All other laws are necessarily beneath them as a matter of duty.

Conscience – Just below Self

I have a hard time believing that conscience ever moves anyone to violate the life or liberty of those who they would consider innocent of any crime. It almost seems that the nature of conscience is to remind us to “do no harm” against those who have done no harm to us. It follows, then, that conscience must be the second highest law that we have any duty to obey. To violate one’s conscience has a destructive effect toward the self, a consideration of great importance if we value our lives and liberty.

Custom – after Conscience

As we each obey the higher laws, self and conscience, while living and cooperating among others in society, what develops as a matter of custom, convention, norm, contract, et cetera, is a type of law that we each obey less as a matter of duty and more a matter of convenience. While there are customary laws that prohibit violating the life or liberty of others, their observance usually coincides with our obedience to conscience, and where it doesn’t, then to self, as their violation would prove dangerous toward our own life and liberty. Custom, then, is the next highest law that we have any duty to obey as a matter of convenience and security.

Fiat – Last, If at All

Laws, rules, decrees, and dictates as pronounced by others who have taken it upon themselves to make them have only the legitimacy that you believe they have. As I don’t consider them to have any legitimacy at all, my duty to obey them is nil. However, completely disregarding them is likely to lead to loss of either life or liberty, and on those grounds alone they should be obeyed. As I’ve written previously, obedience to these kinds of laws are a matter of mitigating risk, not duty. They are the lowest types of law, if we can even call them that.

Final Thoughts

The hierarchy of law as a matter of duty is like an inverted pyramid. The highest section at the top, which commands the largest duty, is the law that we obey as a matter of protecting our lives and liberties. The next section down, commanding the next largest amount of duty is conscience, that part of our minds that urges us not to hurt others. Below that, and getting smaller in duty, is customary law that evolves as a matter of living in society. And finally, the lowest law and smallest obligation is that which is arbitrarily created by others. What is missing from this discussion, but what I place entirely around our inverted pyramid (with fingers reaching into the top section, the self) is Natural Law, that which is obeyed as a matter of physical existence, not duty. And finally, because our primary duty is to the law that protects our life and liberty, if obedience to this higher law is disobedience to a lower one, then so be it. That is as it should be if one values what is rightfully his to keep. And thus is the hierarchy of law.


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How to Practice Nonviolent Communication

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Nonviolent Communication (NVC) includes a simple method for clear, empathic communication, consisting of four steps:

observations, feelings, needs, requests.

NVC aims to find a way for all present to get what really matters to them without the use of guilt, humiliation, shame, blame, coercion, or threats. It is useful for resolving conflicts, connecting with others, and living in a way that is conscious, present, and attuned to the genuine, living needs of yourself and others.

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A Living Testament of My Convictions

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“One Improved Unit” is an original column appearing sporadically on Monday at Everything-Voluntary.com, by the founder and editor Skyler J. Collins. Archived columns can be found here. OIU-only RSS feed available here.

In my last column of this series, I shared my family culture and its evolution over the last two years. My purpose in doing so was to demonstrate how, in order to change our larger culture, we must first change ourselves. While our actions will have an immediate effect on those we have the most influence over, namely our spouses and children, they will also affect others that we interact with. In order to affect positive change, then, we must continually pose as a living testament to the convictions that we hold.

Self-Ownership and Non-Aggression

Self-ownership is the principle, however constructed, that says that every person is the rightful owner or proprietor of the body in which they inhabit. And non-aggression is the principle that says that because every person is the rightful owner or proprietor of the body in which they inhabit, nobody else has the right to handle or hurt that body against their will. Likewise, because ownership (the exclusive right to control) in things external to the body follows from the principle of self-ownership, the principle of non-aggression also applies to one’s rightful property.

As a firm adherent to the principles of self-ownership and non-aggression, my actions must always convey to the world two things: 1) that I will never initiate an act of aggression toward another human being or his rightful property, and 2) that I will always claim responsibility for my actions. The first prevents me from stealing from, assaulting, raping, or defrauding others, and it also prevents me from participating in my society’s political systems. The second guarantees that if I violate the first, purposefully or accidentally, I will own the consequences of my actions and do everything in my power to make things right.

Nonviolence

Voluntaryism is the philosophy that says that all interactions with other people should happen voluntarily, or not at all, ie. the voluntary principle. Though as a voluntaryist I recognize the legitimacy in retaliatory aggression (self-defense), my commitment to the voluntary principle prevents me from retaliating aggressively without first considering a voluntary, or nonviolent approach. Both in the cases of immediate (a mugger) and long-term (the state) self-defense, I will try to use and exhaust all nonviolent strategies to end the aggression. In the former, that would mean meeting the mugger’s demand for my wallet, thereby avoiding injury. And in the latter, that would mean spreading ideas antithetical to the state, disregarding the state’s myriad aggressive laws as acts of civil disobedience as safely as I can (I have a family to consider, after all), participating in the counter-economy, raising my children away from government schools, and other nonviolent acts of resistance.

Peaceful Parenting

The principles of self-ownership and non-aggression apply to every person that I interact with. If I am to be a living testament of my convictions, I cannot treat different groups of people differently. Children are in many ways different than adults. They are less mature and have less control over themselves. Many adults, even adults that claim to believe in the principles of self-ownership and non-aggression, fail to show their children the value and importance in adhering to these principles. The fail by not respecting their children’s either actual or entitled self-ownership. They use aggression, like spanking or compulsory education (schooling), and try to justify it in the grounds that its necessary. If one truly believes in the principles of self-ownership and non-aggression, how can it ever be necessary to disregard them? And more, how can one expect their children to ever learn the value and importance of these principles if they are not given the opportunity to live them, or if these principles are not observed in relation to them? I assure you, using aggression toward children is never necessary, whether its punishment or schooling.

Radical Unschooling

I believe that learning happens everywhere and all the time, for children and adults alike. As an unschooling dad, I’ve made it my top priority to help my children every way I can to explore what interests them most, each and every day. They’ve learned that they can come to me with any question or concern, and I will always listen and do what I can to facilitate their curiosity. Because learning is life and life is learning, I want my children to see that no matter how old we get, we can always find new things to be curious about. I am continually expanding my knowledge about the world both in fiction and non-fiction. I want not just my children but everyone to see that I consider education to be a life-long commitment.

Final Thoughts

The only way that I can honestly claim to believe in something is to live it. Saying one thing and doing another might be easier, but it makes one a fraud. I don’t want to be a fraud. Instead, I want to show my children and the world the value and importance of the principles of self-ownership and non-aggression. The only way to do that is to apply it equally to everyone, young and old. As a libertarian and a voluntaryist, I would be a hypocrite and a liar if I were to spank, send them to school against their will, or otherwise aggress against my children. Being a living testament means living your convictions in order to testify to others their value and importance. I hope to see more libertarians and voluntaryists become living testaments of their principles.

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