Voluntary Sector and Violent Sector

I think we should start using these terms — The Voluntary Sector and The Violent Sector. Here’s why…
Currently, people use these labels…

  • The Public Sector
  • The Private Sector

I think these terms are deceptive, and cause mischief in the mind.

  • The word “public” is mostly used when referring to anything involving The State.
  • The word “private” mostly refers to the rest of society.

But does that make sense?

Private has a connotation of “walled off” and “exclusive,” when, in fact, nearly all private businesses are open to the public, and access to so-called public institutions is often more restrictive than it is for so-called private property.
In addition, many businesses are described as being publicly owned, because they belong to large numbers of shareholders, but this use of the word “public” doesn’t mean that these companies are owned by The State. You see, the way we use these words is inconsistent and often contradictory.

Most importantly, using the word “public” as another name for The State deceives people into thinking they have more control over The State than they actually do.

It seems to me that the true distinction we ought to make is as follows . . .

Voluntary Sector and Violent Sector

  • The so-called private sector is based on peaceful, voluntary transactions and relationships. Therefore, we should call it The Voluntary Sector.
  • The so-called public sector — The State — is based on violence and threats thereof. Do what we say or else we will hurt you. Everything done by the politicians and bureaucrats who run The State is based on initiated force — coercion. Therefore, the term we use for this sector should reflect this violent reality. In other words, The Violent Sector.

Now, this basic concept can also be rendered in other ways. Just as the Eskimos are believed to have multiple words to describe snow (because the subject is so important to them), we too can benefit from having multiple ways to describe the distinction between The Voluntary Sector and The Violent Sector. For instance, we could talk about The Choice Sector vs. The Monopoly State

The important thing is to strive to use terms that focus on the most crucial distinctions . . .

  • The Voluntary Sector uses peaceful means to give us a variety of choices
  • The Violent Sector threatens or initiates force to restrict our choices in a monopolistic way

We are engaged in an intellectual contest, and we must correctly label the nature of that contest. It is The Voluntary Sector vs The Violent Sector.

We hope you decide to adopt and share this concept. You can do that right now by sharing on this article with friends or on social media.

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Perry Willis is the co-creator of the Zero Aggression Project.

Show Comments 4


  1. I think your suggestion is great, and will try to use it. Several years ago, I stopped saying public schools, and use the term government schools. In this instance do you think saying violent sector schools would be better?

    1. Post

      Hi Ben. Yes, I do think calling them violent sector schools would be better. I also like to use the term violence-based, as in violence-based funding (taxation) and violence-based education (state schooling).

  2. Good point, Perry, but similar to our earlier conversation about “legitimate government” as opposed to “the state,” I need to point out that (1) whereas semantics are VERY important, as Frank Luntz has demonstrated (viz. “illegal” immigrants for those peaceful people without papers); and (2) it is not typically successful to attempt to introduce new labels.
    If we are going to pursue this program of cleaning up the concepts of the language, I suggest you focus on building two-word identifications, such as “voluntary cooperation” as opposed to “government enforcement.” My concern is not to break into public view with various key and visible “odd labels” that people have to figure out in context.
    It is of course smart to stop calling “government” agencies “public,” hence I always call those names like “government schools” and “government unions.”

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