This is great to see. Far too many people just say “Society wouldn’t be able to function without government,” and then go on to continue supporting immoral initiations of force (taxation, etc) rather than put in the effort to learn about voluntary solutions to societal problems.
While Orygyn did say, “…if you posit that mandatory taxation is immoral, it falls to you to posit a society that can function well without it,” he also made a good effort to try to think of ways that various problems might be solved without coercive taxation, so I give him credit. Before I provide some information on this topic, however, I would like to correct what Orygyn said (quoted previously). Anarchists, libertarians, or other opponents of coercive taxation, do not have the burden to provide voluntary solutions to every societal problem that people hand them (see this brief article). You are right, however, that until voluntary solutions to social problems are widespread (and if they are not spread by lovers of peace, who will they be spread by?), there will be little chance that people will, on a large scale, stop supporting things like coercive taxation.
Note that I do not have answers to every question you might have about how people will be able to provide solutions to every societal problem without resorting to aggression. Before I became an anarchist I had a long debate with my friend for several months on this issue of how to solve certain social problems without government force. I was confident that certainly some aggression was “necessary” to deal with at least some problems. My friend, an anarchist, disagreed and he persevered for an unbelievable long time in our debate. I don’t think that I would have had the patience or dedication to make the intellectual journey myself. I only managed because I did not want to let my friend down by stopping answering his arguments, so I argued against him for months.
It wasn’t until I one day decided to go back and read some of our discussion from months earlier that I realized that many of the problems that I had previously believed to be unsolvable without government coercion, I now had answers to. Soon after that I decided that despite still having many unanswered questions, I knew enough that I could let go of my support of violence. Since that day I have learned a great deal more about ways in which problems can be solved peacefully rather than violently, but I still am far from having all of the answers. You can’t expect any one person to have answers to every problem that society faces. In reality, everyone in a free society would be working to come up with the best solutions to particular problems. No one person or small group of people can design a whole society. Once you become aware of voluntary solutions to a certain number of problems that you previously believed to be unsolvable without coercion, however, then I think you (Orygyn as well as anyone else reading this), like me, will be able to drop your belief that violence is necessary to solve problems. Government is not a necessary evil.
Orygyn wrote, “Government in turn funds the military, roads, emergency services, and, in most developed countries, healthcare. Now if mandatory taxation is immoral for whatever reason, the logical alternative is voluntary taxation.”
While it’s possible that organizations resembling governments (but funded voluntarily) might form in a free society, my guess is that a free market solution to these problems would come in the form of organizations resembling private businesses that you see around you today, not government central planning. As I noted above, it took me several months of debate with my friend (multiple hours each day on average) discussing voluntary solutions before I finally gave up my believe that aggressive violence was “necessary” to solve some social problems. Hence, I of course will not be able to answer all of the questions raised in your (Orygyn’s) blog post in this response. I will thus start by turning you to a few resources on the topics you mentioned that I have found educational.
Philosopher Roderick Long’s article Funding Public Goods: Six Solutions uses national defense as its prime example of a public good.
Both of economist Robert Murphy’s essays in his book Chaos Theory are recommended. The second of the two essay deals with private defense.
Economist Walter Block’s essay Free Market Transportation: Denationalizing the Roads is one of many libertarian works on the subject of roads.
I apologize for just pointing you to other resources if you were hoping for my personal input on solutions to these problems, but honestly I believe that the people and works I am referring to do a better job answering your questions than I could. It also saves me a lot of time not having to have the same discussions over and over again with people if I point them to some of the resources that I found helpful during my (ongoing) journey to learn how a free society might look and how our current society can begin to start solving social problems peacefully rather than with violence.
One introductory book on this subjection that I highly recommend is Stefan Molyneux’s Practical Anarchy. The three previous resources that I provided deal with some of the issues you raised in your blog post, but this book covers a much broader base and would likely be a better starting point for a discussion. Also, I am getting to the point where I often forget exactly what it is like not to not have any background on this subject, so many of the resources that I currently find very informative may not be as helpful to someone who does not already know about market anarchism / anarcho-capitalism / libertarianism. Practical Anarchy was one of the first books that I read on the subject (I did not become an anarchist until some time after finishing the book) and I know that it was informative to me then, so it likely will be to you as well.
Because this is such a large subject, I think the best way to go about it would be for you to read up on some other peoples’ work (such as the Practical Anarchy book, or if you want to discuss roads, Walter Block’s essay, etc) and then from there I will gladly take the time to discuss the details of any problems that you still feel cannot be adequately dealt with peacefully.
“I’ve thought about it from your perspective for a week…” That is truly great news. Few people do that. Unfortunately, it takes a lot more than a week to grasp a glimpse of what a free society would look like. I simply do not have the time to get wrapped up in another several month long discussion (although I would love to have such a discussion if I had the time) so I am not sure what you are expecting me to say to you in response to your blog post.
So as I said, perhaps you should read Practical Anarchy, or another resource that provides ideas for possible voluntary solutions to societal problems and then from there we can pick a particular problem that you are still having trouble coming up with peaceful solutions to and we can discuss it in more detail.
Lastly I just want to clarify something about libertarianism. In your post you said that an anonymous self-identified libertarian, “…said that taxation on property and on non-essential material items is fine because you can avoid having to pay such tax without being faced with a [Hobbesian] choice and that there’s an implicit understanding that having such rights is contingent upon the country’s ability to defend itself.”
I would argue that this so-called libertarian’s position is not a libertarian view. As I explained in my first post to you, the presence of this choice to avoid paying the tax is irrelevant. Such forms of taxation are still just as immoral and unjustified as forms of taxation (or theft) that do not provide an option for the victim to avoid giving the aggressor his or her property.
And finally, the mention of Thomas Hobbes in the previous quote made me think of a lecture on anarchism by Peter Leeson that I recently watch that I would say is definitely worth taking the hour and half to watch. Seriously, check it out when you get a chance.