Lysander Spooner criticized the false freedom offered by the voting system


Rothbard on Voting

“This was by no means the competition that Molinari envisaged: for, in fact, the state still levied compulsory taxes, prohibited any real “competi­tion” with its monopoly, and disposed of stolen “tax” money and privileges through the voting system. In another context, the individualist anarchist, Lysander Spooner, criticized the false freedom offered by the voting system:

“In truth, in the case of individuals, their actual voting is not to be taken as proof of consent, even for the time being. On the contrary, it is to be considered that, without his consent having been asked a man finds himself environed by a government that he cannot resist; a govern­ment that forces him to pay money, render service, and forego the exer­cise of many of his natural rights, under peril of weighty punishments. He sees, too, that other men practice this tyranny over him by the use of the ballot. He sees further, that, if he will but use the ballot himself, he has some chance of relieving himself from this tyranny of others, by subjecting them to his own. In short, he finds himself, without his consent, so situated that, if he uses the ballot, he may become a master; if he does not use it, he must become a slave. And he has no other alter­native than these two. In self-defense, he attempts the former. His case is analogous to that of a man who has been forced into battle, where he must either kill others, or be killed himself. Because, to save his own life in battle, a man attempts to take the lives of his opponents, it is not to be inferred that the battle is one of his own choosing. Neither in contests with the ballot — which is a mere substitute for the bullet — because, as his only chance of self-preservation, a man uses a ballot, is it to be inferred that the contest is one into which he voluntarily entered; that he voluntarily set up all his own natural rights, as a stake against those of others, to be lost or won by the mere power of numbers. On the con­trary, it is to be considered that, in an exigency into which he had been forced by others, and in which no other means of self-defense offered, as a matter of necessity, used the only one that was left to him.

Doubtless the most miserable of men, under the most oppressive government in the world, if allowed the ballot, would use it, if they could see any chance of thereby meliorating their condition. But it would not, therefore, be a legitimate inference that the government itself, that crushes them, was one which they had voluntarily set up, or even consented to.91

91 Lysander Spooner, No Treason: The Constitution of No Authority, no. 2 (1867), quoted in No Treason, Libertarian Broadsides, no. 5, ed. James J. Martin (1870; Colorado Springs, Colo: Ralph Myles, 1973), p. 15.


Gustave de Molinari and The Anti-statist Liberal Tradition, Part 2

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