Two Types of Laws; The Voluntaryist Perspective on Politics

The best way to understand the voluntaryist perspective on politics is to realize that there are only two types of laws: 1) those that prohibit crime, and 2) those that prohibit liberties.

Crimes are actions that produce victims, which in popular usage can mean almost anything undesirable under the sun. A more principled approach to understanding crime and victimhood is to narrow the definition to a state in which somebody has been forcefully or fraudulently deprived of life, liberty, or property.

Crime includes such obvious actions like murder, battery, rape, assault, and theft. How particular people define particular instances of these types of action may differ, but for the most part, physically hurting people or taking their stuff is generally viewed as criminal behavior.

Liberties, on the other hand, are actions that do not produce an identifiable victim. They are actions that people should be free to perform as they do not victimize, in the criminal sense, other people.

Liberty includes a much broader spectrum of actions than does crime. I think we can confidently say that any action that is not criminal, is a liberty. Liberties typically comprise 100% of people’s actions day-to-day. Think of anything you do: does it physically hurt somebody or take/damage their stuff? Then it’s a liberty, not a crime.

Liberties may be offensive in the sensibilities sense, but so long as they are not criminal, they should not be prohibited by political authorities. While every property owner may prohibit the liberties enjoyed within their private domain, they may not call upon third parties with guns to prohibit them in other domains.

Unfortunately, doing so is all too common, and makes up most of the actions that political authorities engage in today. Politicians, eager to get and remain elected, pander to sensibilities and push through laws that not only prohibit crime, but in too many ways, prohibit liberties.

The prohibition of liberties is not limited to what people eat, drink, smoke, how they use their bodies, and other such actions. It goes much further, all the way to the very foundations of political authority: the prohibition of competition in the provision of law and order. This prohibition is the root of a dangerous and corrupt system of governance. It amounts to one group of people forcing others to pay them, or else, and with little recourse on the part of their ignorant victims.

In any event, understanding the voluntaryist perspective on politics is not difficult. It might be bitter, but it is simple. If an action is voluntary vis a vis other people, it’s not a crime, and should not be forcefully prohibited by political authorities. To do so constitutes a crime in and of itself, wouldn’t you think?

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Written by 

Founder and editor of and, Skyler is a husband and unschooling father of three beautiful children. His writings include the column series “One Voluntaryist’s Perspective” and “One Improved Unit,” and blog series “Two Cents“. Skyler also wrote the books No Hitting! and Toward a Free Society, and edited the books Everything Voluntary and Unschooling Dads. You can hear Skyler chatting away on his podcasts, Everything Voluntary and Thinking & Doing.

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Kent McManigal
4 years ago

I also see two kinds of laws: the unnecessary and the harmful.
Laws prohibiting crime are unnecessary, since you don’t have to wait for the law to exist to defend your life, liberty, or property from a violator (or to demand restitution).
Laws prohibiting liberty are harmful to society because they destroy individuals.

4 years ago

In ABSOLUTE the 2 TYPES of “LAWS” are , 1.) NATURAL part of which is COMMON Law and 2.)CORPORATE Statutory, incorrectly called Laws. IN truth they are man-made REGULATIONS. “Maritime, called “laws”” is one example

NATURAL are those laws which have no hand in their creation from Man whereas CORPORATE are completely created by Man and thus UNLAWFUL for the Individual HUMAN and which we have NO MORAL OBLIGATION to Obey. They are FORCED by THREATS, and Brutality, for that reason

Verbal Vol
4 years ago

Excellent …

4 years ago

Thank you for this essay