Bitcoin and Voluntaryism – Where Libertarian Philosophy Meets Crypto

For the uninitiated, voluntaryism is a philosophy based on consent. In the simplest terms it says: “If it’s not voluntary, it’s not moral.” This basic statement is often countered with “Yes, but not everyone agrees on that, some people use violence to get what they want.” This is 100% true. And this is why voluntaryists are not pacifists, but believe in and support self-defense. Self-defense as per voluntaryism is defined as protecting one’s property, which begins with the self. As such, the philosophy and its adherents have taken a remarkable interest in bitcoin, thanks to the non-violent nature of peer-to-peer, decentralized currency.

Individual Self-Ownership

The central axiom of voluntaryism is individual self-ownership. What this means simply is that an individual’s body is their own, and the bodies of others are not theirs to coerce or control via violence or threats of violence. While this sounds like a given for any moral society, common practices and ideas in current culture and society such as taxation, democracy, and authoritarianism in general are incompatible. They are incompatible because they are based on violations of property, which is the definition of violence as per the philosophy.

What Is Property?

Voluntaryist conceptions of property are arrived at via the individual. As the individual’s body and life is his or her own (individual self-ownership), by extension, those previously unowned resources which they acquire via their body’s labor become their property. If there is an unowned apple tree in a meadow, the man who picks an apple from the tree has now appropriated the fruit. In the case where there is a dispute about the tree itself, laws of property—and not arbitrary assertions of authority—decide the rightful owner.

Let’s say two people in the above scenario disagree, and both claim ownership of the apple tree. They have a few choices. They can “duke it out” and attack one another physically for dominance based on arbitrary assertion. “It’s mine because I say so!” They can alternately work out some system voluntarily by which to share the tree and its fruit. Realistically, however, this does not always happen. The third option is to determine who—if anyone—is the tree’s proper owner. “Proper” being itself related to “property.”

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