Adam told me of a blog called A Thousand Nations. Last week their theme was Secession. On Friday they had a sub-theme, if you will, of Non-territorial Secession, to which Adam posted a comment. The main blogger there, who goes by the name patrissimo, posted another article called An Introduction to Non-Territorial Secession. Panarchy, the right of personal secession, would certainly be a non-territorial form of secession. Richard Johnsson and, I believe, Michael Rozeff have both advanced the moral arguments for personal rather than territorial secession.

For a kritarchy to exist (it being a particular form of government, one that is free-market and based on natural law), it is first necessary to create a space in which it may exist. Panarchy, which proposes that the right to “exit in place” from any government constitutes a human right, is the philosophical foundation for the effort to create that space; hence my interest in panarchy.

To that end, I have drafted a letter to send to all my fellow citizens in the New Jersey town where I live.

Americans are rightly proud of their history. Those who first came to these shores from Europe faced a very uncertain future, yet came nonetheless, because they had courage.

When they began to suffer from injustices perpetrated by their own rulers in England, they stood up and declared their independence, pledging their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor. And more than this, they turned away from familiar forms of government and established their own, knowing that, as human beings, they had that unalienable right. Government, after all, gets its right to govern by the consent of the people.

The right to choose for oneself a form of government conducive to ones values and needs did not expire with the last of the founding fathers. We too, as human beings, continue to have this unalienable right. What we do not have, at the present time, is the ability to exercise that right. This is a situation that we, the Panarchy Society of Cherry Hill, wish to correct.

Our intention is to approach the government of Cherry Hill to negotiate an agreement that will give all citizens of Cherry Hill the right to choose for themselves and their families not to be governed by the current local government, but to be excused from all the rights and obligations that, up to this time, have been chosen for them as subjects of that government, the Municipality of Cherry Hill Township.

While the proposed agreement would give to all citizens of Cherry Hill the right to choose to be governed or not to be governed by the current local government, we assume that most will not avail of the right to not be so governed. To those we say, that is your right. But to those who say that we do not have the right to choose, we fervently disagree, and will not let the injustice of having this right denied to us stand.

A meeting has been called, to which all are invited. We especially welcome those who wish to join the petition of the Panarchy Society. To all our fellow inhabitants of Cherry Hill we say, remember your history, and stand up for your rights. All of them.

Great article on Panarchy

January 22, 2009

Professor Michael Rozeff has a wonderful article today on entitled “Why I am a Panarchist”. I wrote the following memo to Professor Rozeff in response.

Professor Rozeff,

I was once again energized by one of your articles on LRC. I have written to you before about my interest in kritarchy. I see kritarchy is one positive expression of panarchy (as would potentially be many other forms of government so long as they are truly “by the consent of the governed”).

Panarchy, by contrast, seems to describe not so much a form of government as a philosophy of morality that opposes enslavement by government, and has a distinct mission as a result. That mission is to bring people together who oppose government without consent without regard to how they individually wish to be governed. Panarchy is an expression of civil rights as well as basic human rights.

What is needed, it seems to me, is a Declaration of Freedom from Government Without Consent that expresses first the negative aspects (why we oppose government that is non-consensual), and the positive aspects (what we intend to do about it).

You certainly would be the best person to enumerate the reasons why we oppose government without consent, and why we desire to say to government “let us go” (I cannot help hearing the voice of Moses in this). Let me take a moment to put together some statements expressing the positive aspects.

1. Panarchists will create chapters throughout the country and the world of like-minded people who believe that no government should force any individual person to be subject to it.

2. Each chapter will meet locally on the third Sunday of every May (a day to be called Panarchy Day) in order to proclaim panarchy, to petition their local government to “let us go”, and to provide information about panarchy to their neighbors and friends.

3. We endorse every form of non-violent opposition to governments that insist on governing those of us who do not give our explicit consent to be so governed.

I chose the third Sunday of May as Panarchy Day for a number of reasons. First, it will be a good day in most localities for an outdoor celebration. Second, it will not directly interfere with the plans of many families who use the Memorial Day weekend for other pursuits. Third, as it becomes more successful over time, it might replace Memorial Day as a meaningful day of celebration at the beginning of the summer season.

What are your thoughts?

Non-monopolistic government

November 12, 2008

Every form of government that exists today can be described very simply as a “territorial monopoly of coercion”. Let’s break that down. Each government lays claim to a particular clearly-defined territory (though this claim is sometimes in dispute with other governments). Territories may exist within a hierarchy, such as municipalities, within counties, within states or provinces, within nations. Each government within the hierarchy negotiates in some way the matters that they have ownership of, exclusive in whole or in part, from the other levels of government. Generally speaking, these matters are dealt with in an exclusive way, leading to a monopoly of control. The monopoly of control is appropriate if the government has an ownership of the matter. But that begs the questions: does it have ownership, and, if so, how did that right of ownership come about?

Let’s look at a municipality as an example. It claims the right of ownership over all land and natural resources not privately-owned. It also claims the right to oversee much about the privately held properties, as with building codes and zoning. It claims to have ownership rights over public services such as police, courts, fire, rescue, education (all compulsory levels), waste removal, streets, vital records, etc. It claims rights over licensing of various kinds, such as marriage, pet, and many others that relate to various businesses and forms of recreation. In reality, there appear to be no limits to what a government can lay claim. Insofar as you reside within the territory, you are subject to any and all rules and regulations that issue from the monopoly municipal government, and this of course holds true for county, state, and federal governments. In short, you may think you are your own person, but you are in fact owned by all the governments of the territories in which you reside. If you have any true freedoms, these are graciously bestowed on you by the governments who own you. If you feel I have gone too far in this description, that you truly own yourself, then willfully disobey any government who claims to own you and see how long your self-ownership lasts.

But surely, this is all for our good, right? Without government we would have chaos. You can’t just let everyone do what they want.

I am certainly not encouraging chaos. Neither am I saying that monopoly government is necessary. So what is the alternative. Well, non-monopoly government, of course. And that comes about by making government a business, where you choose your government rather than have government choose you.

How could this be done? Presently, municipalities collect various taxes and fees. Most collect some sort of property tax, a graduated tax based roughly on the value of the real estate you own within the territory. These funds get lumped together into a common fund that the mayor and municipal council distributes to various departments.

But consider this alternative of a non-monopolistic municipal government. Taxes are still collected, but allocated to political parties in the municipality according to the choice of the taxpayer made once a year. Here is the key to non-monopoly government: the taxpayer votes with cash. The departments of government become non-profit organizations, funded by the parties. The mayor becomes a figurehead, who represents the municipality at parades and the opening of shopping centers. The council, no longer needed, disappears entirely.

How is this better? There is no better way to get responsive government than to pay for it directly. This finally makes government Darwinian: if they fail, they die. If the particular party that has been receiving your taxes fails to satisfy you, they will know that they cannot count on having your tax dollars in their fund next year. And if there is disagreement within a party, a split occurs, and the money follows the party based on the choice of the taxpayer.

Some of the departments will remain much as they are, but others, with less need to exist (Darwin again) will cease to exist. And some, most certainly the schools, will be auctioned off to the various parties to be managed by them individually rather than as a single unit. They will find ways to cooperate to keep costs down (joint purchasing, for example), but will be independent for the most part, working for the interests of students and their parents — or else.

Non-monopolistic government is long overdue. But once it arrives, it will change everything. Can we actually create a non-monopolistic form of government? Yes we can! You betcha!

All rights are human rights. They reside in the human person. The right of association is also the right of disassociation, for neither makes sense without the other. The right of secession is generally thought of as the right of one territory to disassociate itself politically from another. Kritarchy recognizes the right of personal secession, again because every right is a human right first and only. Groups do not have rights, though every member of a group has all human rights by virtue of their humanity.

A blog entry at Lew Rockwell reports on a survey which shows that a substantial number of Americans believe in the right of secession. That is good news for kritarchists, who seek to exercise the right of secession, not territorially but personally.

When New Hampshire became the ninth state to ratify the Constitution of the United States of America on June 21, 1788, did you lose the right to choose your government? Did the people of those times decide what type of government must prevail from that time forward in America?

Consider these famous words from the Declaration of Independence:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

No, the right to abolish and establish governments continues. But how does it work. We are a bit rusty, having used the same form of government for the last 220 years (or, as Abe might have said, eleven score years). The people messing up things for us are not an ocean’s journey away, but right here, in our faces. We have gotten into the habit of cheering every politician that promises change, but managing only to get more of the same, only worse.

The big question in my mind is: are we required to work within the current political framework (elect “better” leaders, have “better” laws passed, make “better” amendments to the constitution)? Or is it our human right to say no to the framework itself? To say to those who claim the right to govern us, “thanks, but no thanks”.

Let’s ponder what that might look like. A group of people decide they want to detach themselves from all levels of government, yet remain Americans. They establish treaties with the various governments, local, county, state, federal, saying, “we’ll pay the sales taxes, pay the bridge tolls, and every other use tax you’ve come up with. We’ll pay the social security tax, as long as we have some expectation of getting something in return from it. But we won’t pay income taxes, and we won’t be subject to any laws except those published in plain sight for all to see, like speed limits. We’ll make our own arrangements with fire departments, police departments, and school districts. If we kill someone who is subject to your government, we will be tried by your laws, in your courts. Otherwise, we will be tried for offenses in our common law system within our own courts.”

Now, some taxpayers might feel like we would be getting a “free ride” by not paying income taxes. But think about it. That money would be going directly into the economy, creating demand for goods and services, providing more jobs, even creating higher corporate tax returns.

Would that be so horrible?

I wish to announce the formation of the first kritarchy meetup, the South Jersey Kritarchy Meetup,

What does one do at a kritarchy meetup? Obviously, the first thing you do is make sure everyone present understands what a ‘kritarchy’ is (a free market form of government in which there are no subjects, rulers, or legislatures; in which courts, judges, and police services are chosen by the litigants; in which law is not arbitrary legislation but common law discovered within natural law; in which victims rights (not punishment of offenders at the expense of taxpayers) are the priority; in which taxation is illegal; in which the inalienable human rights of life, liberty, and property of every individual are upheld).

When everyone at least has a basic understanding of that, you proceed to discuss exactly what it takes to enable a kritarchy to exist in the midst of a territory controlled  by a monopoly government (I’m sorry… you do WHAT?!). For example, how could the South Jersey Kritarchy manage to exist as a real government within Cherry Hill, within Camden County, and within the United States of America? (Are you beginning to see the issues?)

Then, and this should be a much more enjoyable part of the meeting, you discuss natural law, and begin to formulate a common law based on natural law. This is done by analysing current events, recent court cases, and determine how, in a kritarchy, these would be handled differently. The results of these discussions would be published on this site for the benefit of other intrepid souls who would also like to be kritarchists, wherever they may be.

There are two enormous problems with governments that are territorial monopolies of coercion (that is, nearly all governments). The first problem is that monopolies are always beneficial for those who hold the monopoly, and always detrimental for those who depend on their products or services. Clearly there is something wrong with a major organization in human society being bad for the vast majority of members of that society. This being the case, it is not enough to say, “Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others”, and think you have provided a satisfactory response to this problem. It is incumbent on us to do better, to find a form of government that is by nature “good” for most members of society. Kritarchy is exactly that better form of government.

The second problem exists because monopoly government claims its legitimacy comes from the consent of the governed, while at the same time it governs all within its territory, whether they consent or not. Every government that claims to govern by the consent of the governed must provide a means by which those who do not consent may live in peace. One aim of kritarchists is to find ways to live at peace within the same territory as, while not subject to, governments to which they do not give their consent.

The most harmful error.

July 22, 2008

The most harmful error in the world today is the assertion that governments have the right to create territorial monopolies of coercion. This assertion directly contradicts the assertion that government legitimacy comes from the consent of the governed.

We assert that no government has the right to create a territorial monopoly of coercion, but that they may govern only those persons who clearly give consent to be governed by them. We further assert, as human persons, the right to choose the government by which we will be governed, and that every government, at every level, must make provision for those who do not wish to be governed by them.