There are 2 common objections against voting that are made by anarchists. The first is moral, the second is pragmatic:

OBJECTION #1: Voting is always aggression (since the majority is imposing their will on the minority, via government FORCE). So voting violates the Non-Aggression Principle, and is therefore immoral. And…

OBJECTION #2: Voting is pointless, because the only way to abolish the state via voting is if there were enough anarchists to form a majority – in which case you could just ignore away the state (instead of voting).

Both these objections seem true on the surface – but upon closer examination, they are actually both fallacies.

In this article, I shall debunk both of these objections. I’ll also demonstrate how voting can be both a moral and effective tool for “striking the root” of statism.

Don’t believe me? Just read till the end of this article, then you be the judge.

1. MORALITY: Many anarchists and voluntaryists don’t believe in voting, because they believe ALL voting is a form of aggression (the majority imposing their will on the minority by force) and is therefore immoral.

But upon closer examination, this is not true – NOT all voting is aggression. Because just like a gun can be used for self-defense instead of aggression, one can also vote DEFENSIVELY (as advocated by some anarchist thought-leaders, e.g. Lysander Spooner and Murray Rothbard).

For example, let’s say we get to vote on a new law that says Native Americans should be enslaved. Clearly, proponents of the law are advocating aggression against Native Americans.

Is it “aggression” to vote against this law? I don’t think so. Because by voting against this law, you are not advocating aggression against anyone. If you vote against this law, and you win, you are NOT “forcing” anything onto your opponents. You are simply stopping them from aggressing against Native Americans, you are defending Native Americans against aggression – this is voting defensively.

So not only is it moral to vote against this law… I’ll go even further and say this: if you are an anarchist or voluntaryist who believes in non-aggression, yet you refuse to vote against this law, then you are morally inconsistent. Because you are being offered a simple, straightforward, and peaceful way to defend others against aggression – yet you are turning down the opportunity.

Likewise, one can vote defensively against new taxes, new laws that criminalize victimless activities, new wars, etc. Or, by supporting political candidates that oppose these things – if a candidate’s policy positions always reduces state aggression instead of adding to it.

(Ron Paul was an example of such a candidate. His 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns probably exposed more people to libertarian ideas, and converted more statists into libertarians, than anyone else in history. If libertarians had all boycotted Ron Paul’s campaigns, because they “didn’t believe in voting or elections”, the liberty movement would only be a tiny fraction of what it is today. How would that help advance liberty? So keep in mind that libertarian political candidates can leverage their media attention, to spread the liberty message much further and wider than you or I can. This advantage should not be dismissed by any serious advocate of liberty.)

So voting is NOT always aggression. Just like how force (and guns) can be used defensively, so can voting.

2. PRAGMATISM: Many anarchists believe voting is pointless, because you’d need an anarchist majority to vote away the state – in which case voting would be unnecessary (since an anarchist majority could just ignore away the state).

Again, upon closer examination, this is not true. I’ll demonstrate how we can abolish the state via voting, even WITHOUT anything close to an anarchist majority. (Note that what I describe is just one way – it’s not necessarily the only way.)

In fact, you’ll see that what I describe is also one of the most effective ways to convert hardcore statists into anarchists.

First, note that one of the hardest things in the world is to get people to change their beliefs, so they’ll be open to trying things a different way.

It’s far easier to do it the other way round: give them strong incentives to try things a different way – then once they’ve experienced things a different way, and see that it works better, their beliefs will naturally change. This is the persuasion principle of “show, don’t tell“.

Secondly, note that even the most hardcore statists have certain objections against the state. Even the most hardcore statists have certain government activities they don’t want their tax dollars to fund (e.g. war & corporate favors for leftists/Democrats, welfare & redistribution for rightists/Republicans, etc). And even the most hardcore statists want government to be more ACCOUNTABLE (although they attribute this lack of accountability to not having “elected the right people”).

This second point is what we can leverage to vote away the state, even WITHOUT an anarchist majority. Here’s how (again, note that this is just one possible way – it’s not necessarily the only way):

Suppose there is a new bill that makes taxation “compartmentalized” and voluntary – e.g. if you pay the road tax, then you get to use government roads… but one can also choose NOT to pay the road tax, and forgo the right to use government roads. There is a separate “voluntary tax” for every other government service (hence “compartmentalized”) – e.g. a separate tax for funding healthcare… if you pay the healthcare tax, you can use government healthcare services… otherwise, you have to use private healthcare.

This shouldn’t be morally objectionable to any rational person – after all, this is already how we pay for all non-government products and services.

And as I explained earlier – since this bill removes a huge source of aggression (i.e. coercive taxes) – anarchists should have no problem voting for this bill. It would be voting defensively… and any anarchist who believes in non-aggression, but refuses to vote for this bill, would be morally inconsistent.

Even Democrats and Republicans (at least, the ones who are willing to put their money where their mouths are) should be open to supporting this bill. After all, this is a great way to objectively demonstrate and determine whose ideas are right.

E.g. Democrats believe that government can run healthcare more efficiently and cost-effectively than private profit-oriented healthcare providers. How do we test this hypothesis in real life?

Simple – through a voluntary and compartmentalized “healthcare tax” for government healthcare. People who opt for government healthcare can pay the tax and enjoy government healthcare. People who want private healthcare can opt-out of the tax, and pay for private healthcare.

Over time, we can compare the quality and price of government vs private healthcare. And people can “switch sides” accordingly, if they so choose. If government healthcare is indeed better, it will gain popularity over private healthcare… and vice versa.

(This is one of the most effective ways to convert hardcore statists into libertarians, or even anarchists. By having them personally pay the price of government inefficiency, while providing them a real-time side-by-side comparison with superior market solutions. When they realize they are paying inflated prices for inferior government services, they will have to re-examine their statist and anti-market beliefs.)

And the beauty of this is that BOTH Republicans and Democrats can have their different choices peacefully co-exist. Each person makes their own choices between government vs private providers, and bears the consequences of those choices. Shouldn’t it be this way?

So even statists (at least, the ones who are willing to put their money where their mouths are) should be willing to support Compartmentalized Voluntary Taxation.

And for the statists who object to Compartmentalized Voluntary Taxation, at least they will be exposing their TRUE underlying reasons for their statism – that is, they want to FORCE others to fund their ideas. (Even though they’re unwilling to put their ideas up to a side-by-side test with market alternatives.)

Also, at the very least, this system of Compartmentalized Voluntary Taxation would bring much more ACCOUNTABILITY to each department of government. We can already see that voting once every 4 years is a poor way to keep government accountable. Compartmentalized Voluntary Taxation would keep the government accountable EVERY DAY (instead of only once every 4 years), because they’d have to compete with private providers of those same services.

The areas where government does well, people will choose the government to handle (and pay the government accordingly)… the areas where private providers do better, people will choose private providers (and pay them accordingly too).

So anyone who wants more government accountability, regardless of their political beliefs, should also be open to supporting Compartmentalized Voluntary Taxation.

Again – whether a leftist who doesn’t want their taxes to fund war, or a rightist who doesn’t want their taxes to fund freeloaders – practically every statist has some things they don’t want their tax dollars to support.

So “Compartmentalized Voluntary Taxation” is a proposition that can unite people from all over the political spectrum. It is a practical proposition that can be voted into law, if enough people can be introduced to the idea.

And it would reduce government to precisely the size where it serves the people best (because citizens will vote with their dollars accordingly).

And if that optimal size is zero (as anarchists advocate), then that’s what would eventually happen, as private providers out-compete the government and become the default providers of those services typically provided by government.

If you imagine statism to be a tree, then voting is often ineffective because it’s usually only used to hack at the leaves and branches. But what I describe above is one way to use voting to “strike the root” of statism.

Voting CAN be a moral and highly effective tool for advancing liberty, if enough people can be introduced to the idea (and benefits) of Compartmentalized Voluntary Taxation.

Of course there are other ways to transition to a Voluntaryist society (such as Agorism). But above is what I believe to be one moral and pragmatic way – one that should not be ignored by liberty advocates.