> But does socialism inherently involve advocating the use of
> force? Can't it be organized on a voluntary basis?
In theory, sure. Lots of communes have been organized on this basis, for example. Larger socialist groups could also be formed on a voluntary basis, if you could find enough volunteers. The problem arises when you start talking about how to run an existing society.
Then you have a circumstance where the group is not composed of volunteers. Instead you round up everyone who happens to live in a geographic area, and tell them they all have to live by your rules. No matter what those rules are, a significant fraction of the population won't like them - so you have to force them to go along.
Thus, any nation-state is ultimately based on force. The question is how best to minimize the amount of force that must be used in order to get a functioning society. If this is a central issue for you, then socialism is a bad deal - it requires lots and lots of rules, most of which are against the best interests of those who follow them, so they all have to be backed up with force.
For socialists, this isn't a problem. The naive ones convince themselves they won't ever need to actually shoot anyone, and the more insightful ones simply believe that other goals are more important than minimizing violence. If, however, you believe that minimizing the initiation of the use of force should be one of our top goals, it is very difficult to justify any of the more expansive types of government.
Billy Brown, MCSE+I