John Zube

The Road to Voluntarism




The theoretical and practical feature that best characterizes panarchy is voluntarism. Through voluntarism the chances of achieving peace and freedom (by the individual and by the groups) are higher than through any other personal and social arrangement. This because fighting against our own voluntary choices is something that is not part and parcel of the human experience (unless there are serious pathological factors in operation).

In these three short writings John Zube highlights the links between panarchy, peace and freedom, and stresses once more that aterritorialism and voluntarism are the essential pre-conditions for their implementation.



Through Panarchism to Peace and Freedom


Panarchism is nothing but the consistent application of a basic anarchist principle that has often been expressed and in various wordings.

Thus Errico Malatesta says (From: Ein anarchistisches Programm, 2, Kap., Wege und Mittel ):

"Thus freedom for everybody, so that they can propagate their ideas and experiment with them. Freedom without any other restriction than that arising quite naturally from the equal right of everyone else to be free."

Unfortunately, such general clauses, often even contained in the bills of rights passed by governments, can be very differently interpreted and have been very differently interpreted by anarchists, libertarians and statists.

Panarchists assert that they are the only ones who have given this idea a consistently anarchistic, voluntaryist, individualistic interpretation.

The best analogy is probably that of religious tolerance as opposed to religious hierarchy. Under this religious freedom, any kind person can freely hold and practise his religious beliefs side by side with freethinkers, rationalists, agnostics, atheists and humanists, who do their own things.

They may still argue with each other, extensively but by words only. Otherwise, they do peacefully coexist and leave each other alone or only try to make individual converts to their cause.

The panarchist equivalent to this, in the political, economic and social sphere, is statism for statists and anarchism for anarchists, any form of statism for those who believe in it ( as long as they can stand it ) and any kind of non-governmental organization for those who believe in it.

As K. H. Z. Solneman put it:

"To each the government of his dreams."

To which I added: "or the no-government of his or her dreams."

The assumption is that in this case the diverse groups would have the least reasons and motives to be antagonistic to the actions of others, who are doing merely their things, either to or for themselves and this at their own expense and risk only - because thereby the own actions would be least restricted, if at all.

Such a change does, naturally, have consequences upon the present party struggles, resistance and terrorist attempts, civil wars and international wars. All of these presuppose a uniform territorial rule for all with almost no exceptions tolerated in the political, economic and social spheres.

We do already have and enjoy (unconscious of its panarchistic implications ) panarchism in many other spheres of life that are most important in the views of most people, namely, e.g., in sports, fashions, diets, entertainment, arts, crafts, choice of jobs or professions, choice of reading, studying and teaching activities, private lifestyles, private movement and transport choices, alternative medical and fitness means, organizational forms of private and cooperative enterprises, a great diversity of voluntary associations for a variety of purposes, in friendship circles, in sexual relations (even easy marriage and divorce contract options are panarchistic ), in religion and in natural science experimentation.

However, because of a number of popular myths, prejudices and errors, we have so far exempted the political, economic and social spheres from this kind of freedom of action, competition or experimental freedom.

Panarchists are nothing but consistent anarchists, who want to realize this freedom in these three important spheres also, which were so far monopolized by territorial governments.

They do expect to achieve, through this extension of liberty (which includes even the liberty not to be free, according to individual choice ), at least the same kind of advantages (quite apart from the ethical justification ), that can be derived from freedom of action in the above-mentioned minor spheres, where diversity of actions is already the norm, the accepted thing, where each does his own thing, not imposing it upon others and takes this kind of mutual tolerance for granted.

Panarchism means no more than extension of freedom to experiment, freedom to act, into all spheres - as long as the same freedoms are fully respected in others, with their different choices.

Moreover, panarchists are realistic enough to realize that mere words, no matter how skilfully combined and advanced, do not have a sufficient persuasive power over most other people. They have not had this power over the last few hundred years and are unlikely to gain it during the next few hundred years, namely the power to persuade all people to subscribe to one particular form of anarchism.

Panarchism is a kind of uncompromising compromise. Each gets his own way in his own affairs - but he does not get his ideal practiced by others - unless others come to individually accept it.

Freedom to live one's own preferred lifestyle in every way, among like-minded people, quite independent from the preferences of others, which they realize among themselves, is already a great achievement, e.g. for anarchists.

Moreover, in such a new social situation, they do not only have verbal and educational freedom to make more converts, and a, however small, chance to one day persuade everybody to accept anarchism for himself, but they are then quite free to demonstrate their kind of anarchism and whatever benefits they can derive from it, to their neighbours and all other observers close-by.

Their successful actions, as well as their failures would also be likely to become reported world-wide.

Actions speak louder than words. Actions in other countries, other cultures, other language areas etc., do not have quite the same persuasive powers, in spite of the modern mass media, to make alternative ways of living, working, enjoying and ruling oneself, appear as interesting and persuasive as such actions have when undertaken next door.

Even when such actions are frowned upon or despised by others, the others have, in such situations, nothing to fear from them, since they will not be imposed upon them.

For themselves they remain free to reject all practices they dislike and to use these practices among others only as their deterrent examples or for their own amusement.



On the Panarchist Road to Peace and Freedom


Is the membership in any kind of anarchistic community, collective, society or cooperative ever to become compulsory?

Are non-anarchists only to be given the choice: death or adoption of anarchism for themselves?

Are anarchists prepared to tolerate statist activities among statists adults in the same way as they want their anarchistic activities among themselves tolerated by the present statists?

Are anarchists sufficiently in favor of free individual choices to permit other people to make quite different choices for themselves than anarchists would make for their own groups?

Or do most anarchists, in common with most statists and authoritarians, centralists, universalists, territorialists etc., want to permit only one type of supposedly ideal society to exist in any country at any one time?

Should we therefore distinguish between voluntaryist anarchists and authoritarian anarchists?

If one really believes in any kind of system then one always tends to imagine that all others could or should share one's beliefs and that one day they will.

But should one be prepared to wait as long as would be necessary to persuade all?

Should one, thereupon, postpone the realization of anarchy until all have become anarchists - if ever?

Or should one rather aim at alternative institutions for all who desire them, at minority autonomy, at doing one's own thing, at one's own risk and expense, whilst leaving all others free to do their own thing, however hateful that thing may be to oneself?

If membership in anarchistic communities and societies is not to be compulsory, then what about the however limited liberties and rights which the others wish for themselves?

Are they to be free to organize and limit them in accordance with their own choices, quite undisturbed by anarchists, who are free to do their own thing? If so, then let us state this now and quite clearly:

Primarily and as realists and advocates of the rights and liberties of others as well, we want only anarchism for anarchists and FAVOR statism for statists, according to their own free and individual choices.

Organizationally this would, naturally, require some changes, preparations and precautions.

The only quite fundamental ones would be voluntary membership, based on individual secessionism and non-territorial organization, under contracts or personal laws of one's choosing.

In other words:

Minority and majority autonomy for all who desire it, based on individual sovereignty, shared and combined as much as individuals want to.



How could anarchist communities peacefully coexist even with statist ones, with each individual being free to choose between them?


For the transformation one would obviously have to do without centralistic, national, compulsory, uniform, territorial and majoritarian "solutions".

The remaining options are:

Voluntary membership for all, based on individual secessionism and individual associationism and

Non-territorial organization under personal laws or private and cooperative agreements and compacts.

Voluntarism and non-territorial organization will have to be combined to make this alternative practical.

When alternatives are permitted only on a territorial basis, then only exclusive nation-states are involved, on a smaller scale, or various ghetto, reservation, concentration camp and deportation systems to achieve the desired "territorial integrity" and uniformity, which has nothing in common with individual liberty.

Since there is nothing quite new under the sun, as a rule, one should expect that sometime, some place, between some people, such an alternative has already been practised to some extent and for a while.

If one does not only rely on nationalists, centralists and statist historians alone, then one can find, indeed, quite a number of historical precedents and even contemporary practices for the "panarchistic" alternative, for as many different "governments" or free societies as their clients, consumers or subjects desire, or, if you will, for consumer-sovereignty even with regard to governmental services or disservices.

Panarchism attempts to look at all historical precedents and future possibilities of this kind and at all the theories so far advanced on these subjects and tries to develop them further, in order to provide a political, economic and social philosophy of freedom that would release everybody's creative energies in his own self-chosen circles, while freeing or creating new options to resist all privileges, monopolies, coercion, impositions and aggressions.

For panarchists do not just dream that quite non-violent people ought to be at liberty to do their diverse things but that all people are also at liberty to resist aggressors and protect their way of life in diverse forceful and rightful ways and to collaborate in such resistance and protection efforts in many different ways.

Freedom has many more and better answers to offer than statism has.

For the foreseeable future, we cannot expect all people to agree on some, supposedly ideal protection, resistance and penal method.

Thus, in a panarchistically reorganized society, there will be a great variety of protective systems, policing and jurisdiction options, including, naturally, self-defence efforts and neighborhood watches and all kinds of voluntary jurisdiction and arbitration or popular and liberated jury systems, all agreed upon in advance.

The different autonomous and non-territorial groups would have their "international" compacts with each other on all offences across the non-territorial "borders" between them.


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