Voluntary Association as a Possibly Coercive Tool

The stopadvertising subreddit attempts to inform its largely SJW and socialist leaning subscribers of the economic ties between platforms, advertisers, and users. Their aim is to silence the users by identifying the advertisers and doing so through the platform.

The process stopadvertising is using is an example of how targeted boycotts can undermine the advertising model that many major businesses use. Fortunately, they do not appear to have apps set up to tell their followers what to and not to buy/read, but it illustrates a part of the mechanisms at work in current social trends.

This is all voluntary association, which is why we need to be actively involved in the process or accept that big businesses and big government will mandate solutions. When an action is one of voluntary association, it innately sets itself in line with the law because no one is forced into a situation except in ways that are legal and fair.

30% of a population deciding that they will not buy a product because of the social message behind it is absolutely permissible within a just law framework. Despite the legality of this, a question remains as to whether or not it is a morally just thing* to do as it amounts to actively silencing other people.

People who want to resist the pull towards intolerance need to know how to encourage tolerant speech and recognize when groups are silencing others. We need to do this not because we agree with the actions other take but because we agree with the ways they are taking action.

If we do not defend voluntary association in all of its forms, we lose the concept as a human right. It then becomes a sort of black market value that is pruned of all of its unique qualities until only certain social groups retain its values, and often only for their own people.

The stopadvertising subreddit is wrong in its goals but correct in its methods. For that, I would prefer to counter them with dialogue and a cohesive social movement that uses the voluntary methods while protecting the social framework that people use to communicate and socialize.


  1. The issue of legally permissible and morally/socially permissible ties into a concept of legal and social tolerance. This may in part be a perversion of definitions as the concept of tolerance has a history of being treated like the Constitution of the United States. In other words, a thing is tolerant when I like it and intolerant when I don’t like it.

Original Version available on Medium.com – Published 

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