Princess Navina Visits Voluntaria
Could a society get along without forcing people to be good? This is the question posed in the final volume of the series. In the first three books, the Princess has visited countries with deplorable governmentsall thinly disguised instances of the modern welfare state. Now, in Voluntaria, it is the authors turn to paint a positive vision, a society that visitors would wish to copy.
The Princess and her party find a seemingly well-run society in Voluntaria, only theres a problem: they cant locate the government! There is no taxation (with or without representation), no coercive regulation, and no laws (and therefore no lawyers!). All the ordinary services, from schools and social assistance to health and safety inspections, are provided by a plethora of voluntary groups.
Not that the Voluntarians are perfect. They exhibit the failings found in any real society. There are, for example, some violent aggressorsmurderers and robbers. These are dealt with by a voluntary groupthe Committee on Public Order and Safety, known by its acronym, COPS. Streets and bridges are maintained by voluntary groups, too. Sometimes donations slack off and facilities fall into disrepair—but that, as their host points out, only strengthens the society in the long run:
Every failure in any public service teaches this same lesson, that society depends on generosity and cooperation, and that we must try harder in the future to overcome selfishness. In this way, healthy values are continually reinforced, and our culture grows more generous and more neighborly every generation.
Payne doesnt answer every possible objection to a society based on voluntary principles, but in the brief compass of this book, he makes it seem quite viable. His portrait of a society self-consciously avoiding the use of force prompts the reader to wonder why generations of philosophers and political theorists have ignored the promise of this simple ideal.
(105 pages, illustrations, published 2002)
“This is the first of the Princess Navina series I've read, and I'm just blown away by how well done it is. It is beautifully written in the great tradition of children's books also being good literature. It quickly and convincingly teaches its lessons without being pedantic, boring, or dogmatic. It is optimistic and fun-loving in tone, making it an easy and welcome read for children and adults alike. Finally, if read by children, its message of the importance of generosity, cooperation, and nonviolence could positively shape entire lives. I believe children and adults of all ages will benefit greatly from reading this book. I'll definitely be giving this book away to nieces, nephews, and even brothers and sisters at Christmas.”
– Joseph L. Bast, President of the Heartland Institute
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