Why I Call Myself a Voluntaryist or Market Anarchist – Part II

In my last post I covered various political labels that have been used to describe the means of association that I advocate – all of which I rejected for reasons covered there. Now I want to cover terms that I do have some sympathy with and explain my preference for them.


“Polycentric Law” seems to be a term used by those who admit that voluntary market associations lead to better legal structures, but are worried about alienating anyone with any reference to “anarchy.” To be honest, I think the term is too unfamiliar to the general public, but then again most who cannot grasp what this term means would likely have trouble grasping how the system it refers to would operate in practice anyway. I actually like this label enough to possibly use it to describe what I advocate. The reason being is that explaining what the term means leads to giving a straight-forward explanation of how my preferred system works: You would not be stuck with a single provider of dispute resolution or protection based on your place of residency – simple enough.


A much less common phrase that has popped up from time to time is “Panarchism.” At face value, this term seems extremely similar to “anarchism” but there is a critical distinction: Panarchism is actually a form of government that allows you to opt ought in favor of competing states or no government at all – without having to relocate.


Now comes the two terms I personally  identify with most: “Voluntaryism” and “Market Anarchy.” While they both communicate more or less the same general means of association, they place greater emphasis on different elements in the process. Market Anarchy simply means an absence of government with free market interactions providing law and other goods/services. Voluntaryism expresses support for any system that allows people to associate in whatever means possible that does not involve coercion.


At face value, there seems to be very little difference between any of these, but the subtle message that each of these terms communicate does differ slightly. Sure this is all semantics, but with such a plethora of terms that essentially mean the same thing, I figured it would make sense to clarify why I prefer two labels in particular.


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