Mission & Philosophy

Voluntarism starts with the premise that the healthy way to work for a better world is using voluntary means, and that the use of force should be avoided whenever possible. The most rewarding way to implement this idea is to support voluntary groups, which are the most visible agents of the voluntary approach to community problem-solving.

This mission is attractive on several levels. First, it is practical. Voluntary organizations make for a better community. They are the altruistic institutions based on generosity that assist the young, the old, and the disabled. They assist the arts, they foster education. They work to promote healthy habits and constructive lifestyle choices. They work on beautification and environmental protection. They provide spiritual guidance and fellowship. In truth, voluntary organizations are a social problem-solving system, a system that parallels government, but which avoids many of government’s problems. For the idealistic individual, working within a voluntary group is a definite way to make the world a better place.

Voluntarism also ties to a larger historical movement. A great deal of evidence suggests that mankind is moving away from the use of force. Force-based practices, from human sacrifice to war, from religious persecution to slavery, are being abandoned. Therefore, in the long run, the human race can expect to go beyond institutions based on force; certainly it will move beyond institutions that rely on the initiation of force to address community problems. When this more peaceful stage in human development is reached, voluntary organizations will be the remaining collective, idealistic social problem-solving system.!  Hence, those who strengthen the voluntary sector are the wave of the future.

For more background on Voluntarism:

For an eloquent exposition of the idea that voluntary groups are an effective, efficient problem-solving system superior to government see: Richard Cornuelle, Reclaiming the American Dream; The Role of Private Individuals and Voluntary Associations (First published in 1965; Transaction edition, 1993). To order, click here.

For a review of the trends in the use of force throughout history, see, James L. Payne, A History of Force; Exploring the Worldwide Movement against Habits of Coercion, Bloodshed, and Mayhem (Lytton 2004). To order click here.

For a picture of a utopia where government is unknown and voluntary organizations handle all public services see James L. Payne, Princess Navina Visits Voluntaria (Lytton 2002). to order click here.

For an overview of voluntarism as a political philosophy (ignored even by its most successful practitioners), see James L. Payne, “The Birth and Death of Voluntarism” (Washington, DC, Capital Research Center, July 1997). For an evaluation of voluntary groups compared to government as a social problem-solving system see James L. Payne, The Promise of Community; Local Voluntary Organizations as Problem-Solvers (Indianapolis: Philanthropy Roundtable, 1994). These last two works are available at no charge from North Idaho Voluntarists. For a copy, contact [email protected]

For an exploration of the distinctions between voluntarism, voluntaryism, and libertarianism, click here.