To defend George Smith against the continuing accusations that he somehow turned into a mystic or Gandhi-cultist, Issue 6 includes a portion of a letter written by George to Carl as they were forming the organization.
But this letter does much more than that, at least for me.
First of all, I can see that there was discussion and debate on whether they should put strategies down in writing. This letter even mentions platforms and planks so at some point they were discussing such matters.
When reading this excerpt, I noticed that Carl and George disagree on whether the Voluntaryist insight means the rejection of all violent acts. In this letter George makes a good case for not putting nonviolence forth as a necessary Voluntaryist strategy and he gives several reasons why:
1. To include a definite concept of strategy as part of our organizational structure will discourage investigation into other alternatives. It will appear as if we have finalized this issue, which we have not.George just wanted nonviolence to be one of the many strategies that would be investigated rather than being something that defines Voluntaryism.
2. 1 remain uncomfortable with nonviolent strategy (i.e., nonviolent in the broad sense, e.g., a Gandhian theory). There are important insights here, certainly, but they have not been fully adapted (to my satisfaction) to libertarian ends. In other words, more work remains in this area.
3. To include nonviolence will "turn-off" many libertarians who tend to regard Gandhianism, etc. as somewhat cranky (as does Murray, for example). We want to attract all the anti-political libertarians, whatever their views of strategy, or however well formed they may be. We should cast as wide a net as possible.
He goes on to talk about self-defense as a legitimate moral act, not only against aggression, but also as a possible strategy to get the state to back down. The point for him is not to advocate it, but merely to acknowledge it as a valid strategy.
The one problem with using self-defense that he mentions that I think is worth noting is that it could get twisted up with those who aren’t really so much wanting to defend individual liberty as they are simply wanting to establish another government.
I think that is a big danger and I know I always get uncomfortable when I hear people talking about “taking up arms” against the state or whatever because it seems like that will always just end in another form of government, one that was ultimately created through violent means.
From the first time I found The Voluntaryist, I very much related to Carl’s favorite quote, "If one takes care of the means, the end will take care of itself," and if we can move towards freedom peacefully, then it seems to me that’s when we will be much more likely to actually keep it.
One more thing I discovered after reading this letter and seeing this disagreement is that The Voluntaryist Statement of Purpose is different now than it is in the current issues I’ve been reading. The difference comes in the first line. Here’s the first line in the current Issue:
The Voluntaryists are libertarians who have organized to promote non-political strategies to achieve a free society.And here’s what that line says in the present day:
Voluntaryists are advocates of non-political, non-violent strategies to achieve a free society.I don’t know what this may mean as far as George Smith’s and perhaps others’ continued participation, but I guess I will find out as I keep reading and learning.