Principles of Panarchism
The philosophy of political coexistence
Elaborating on John Zube's Panarchist Vision
This is one of the best introductions to the ideas and principles on which Panarchy is based. Adam Knott has done a beautiful work of selecting and arranging many formulations about Panarchy produced in the course of the years by the sharp and fertile mind of John Zube.
The following essay began as a collection of passages taken from John Zube's Slogans for Liberty file. The passages were grouped according to the fifteen topics listed in this book's table of contents, and then organized within each topic to read as a rough draft. Finally, the passages were edited for clarity and supplemented with additional ideas and phrases. Some passages in this book are nearly identical to the original passage in Mr. Zube's file, while some are entirely written by myself. But most passages are edited and supplemented versions of Mr. Zube's writings.
This essay does not represent a full accounting of the panarchist philosophy of John Zube, but instead represents one person's interpretation of the essential aspects of Mr. Zube's philosophy.
Mr. Zube's original writings as well as those of other panarchist writers may be found on the Internet.
Adam Knott, Sequim, WA
Territorial Anarchism and Libertarianism
Territorial Anarchism and Libertarianism (continued)
Territorial Anarchism and Libertarianism (conclusion)
The Right to Opt Out
Evolution of the State
Education by Demonstration
Panarchism Unknown to Most
Territorial Statism (^)
States are today characterized by a territorial monopoly for their laws and institutions, which also implies compulsory membership and subjection of all dissenters living in a given territory. In these basic characteristics all current States are the same, and thus each State is more or less oppressive. They are not fully based on the consent of peaceful people.
This kind of artificial and coercive construction has institutionalized wars, civil wars, revolutions, and terrorism for centuries, for it limits peaceful options for change. Dissenters who are not in a position of power and influence, and have no strong minorities or majorities to back them up, have no way out. Thus, frustrated, they tend to lash out. Add to this the fact that religious, ethnic, and ideological minorities are subjected, beyond the borders of their former homelands, to other territorial regimes they have come to resent, and understandably, all kinds of liberation efforts result.
The unchallenged principle of territorial rule assures us, that a newly liberated group, having become dominant in the territory it now claims exclusively for itself, would become a new territorial oppressor. The territorial sovereignty model can never lead to complete liberation for all. It only assures a high level of dissatisfaction and clashes of interests, again and again.
Modern territorial governments democratically represent those in power and democratically oppress those out of power. They impose taxes and laws at their discretion, camouflaged by popular slogans, but always regardless of how ineffective, wrongful, or harmful their policies are. They give their human property no individual choice in this sphere, apart from an insulting collectivist vote and some meaningless options for voicing their disagreements. In short, States are large plantations which now cover the entire globe.
To the extent that the territorial State has developed, it has done so as a parasitic growth upon society, a growth which has almost suffocated the free society based upon voluntary cooperation and exchange.
Under territorial rule, whichever system is adopted by the currently ruling minority or majority, may be constitutional, legal, and approved by its own courts, but it is, nevertheless, criminally and despotically imposed upon all good and moral people who disagree with it. Such a system leads inevitably to dissatisfactions, frustration, resentment, hatred, rebellions, terrorism, revolutions, civil wars, and wars. These wrongs and evils are inherent in the very structure of territorialism. Those obsessed by this model, as most voters, politicians, and victims are, do not see a way out of this mess.
Territorial politics, even in its most ideal form, is still an attempt by one group to impose its preferred government on everyone in a given territory, regardless of their consent. It is a system purposely designed to override voluntary consent, not to maximize it.
One territorial constitution, one legislation, one jurisdiction, one administration for all people in a territory, no matter how much some may be opposed to it, means endless feuds, religious, national, ideological, and racial wars, violent revolutions and resistance actions, including terrorist mass murders.
The territorial system forbids individual sovereignty in spheres which it has pre-empted. Thus it makes men not happy and peaceful, but instead hateful and aggressive. People may try to change their situation, but only in ways “allowed” and regulated by the State. Some anarchists and libertarians imagine that extreme territorial decentralization would offer a lasting solution. But unfortunately, they have not properly thought this through.
We are still stuck in territorial politics with all its wrongs, difficulties, and crises and, alas, most do not even recognize or consider the exterritorial alternatives to this situation.
Territorial models cannot cater sufficiently to the great diversity of capabilities, interests, beliefs, ideas, and convictions found among us. It leaves us only the choice: submit to others, or try to dominate them. The essential compromise: to each his own, is rejected by territorialism, which has instead institutionalized mutual intolerance - a permanent condition of trying to confine, restrict, and prohibit the actions of others, while they try to do the same to us. It is conquest and domination, not freedom. Laissez faire is outlawed, not only in economics but in politics and social arrangements as well.
Territorial representation is not sufficiently representative. Not a single individual disagreeing with the ideals of territorial rule is represented in such a regime.
Thus, no territorial community is a genuine community as long as it subjugates a single peaceful person, making him a compulsory member subject to laws and institutions he disagrees with. Compulsory State membership subjecting the unwilling to laws based on territory rather than consent - this is the essence of territorial Statism.
Anarchists and libertarians complain about all the choices made for us by others, at our expense and without our consent. But, as long as we see nothing wrong in territorial rule and political monopoly, we do not get to the root of the problem.
Should people who have hardly any interest in freedom and individual rights, or in their past and present conditions, or in their future potential, have a right to vote to abolish freedom, except for themselves and their ideological allies?
The present territorial system is a political kindergarten for “the people,” in which the most important decisions of their lives are made by their bureaucratic “teachers.”
How many hundreds of millions of soldiers and civilians have died in wars and revolutions, all under the tacit and largely unquestioned assumption that territorial political organization is the only possible or the best possible form, and that it would assure us security and prosperity rather than recurring wars and impoverishment?
Since "the people" is a democratic utopian fiction and since masses and majorities act (if at all) only destructively and violently against oppression, thus merely preparing the groundwork for further oppressions, it is high time to recognize in principle, as a peace-promoting and tolerant alternative, the right of individuals and minority groups to withdraw from the territorial State, and instead, to form autonomous, exterritorial, and voluntarily associations, at their own expense and risk.
As long as people remain opposed to or unaware of the voluntaristic and exterritorial option, they will be forced to deal with the consequences of territorialism, political monopolism, and their inherently coercive institutions. Through the legal system, they will continue to have their economic, political, and social life decided by people who are opposed to their values.
People should no longer be treated as farm animals in territorial pens.
Let us replace this territorial model of coerced relationships with something more moral, honorable, and principled. Let us allow individuals to choose for themselves in accordance with their reason and their stage of enlightenment. Then one day we will wonder how people ever lived under territorial political rule, as we now wonder how people could live under religious territorial rule.
Territorial Anarchism and Libertarianism (^)
The main flaw of all freedom fighters so far was that they attempted to introduce what they considered to be essential liberties and rights for a whole territory and its population against the will of numerous dissenting groups. If they had tried only to realize the liberties they desire for themselves, while advocating the right of dissenters to pursue their own paths, they could have achieved their aims much easier.
Anarchism and libertarianism are usually advanced on the basis of small territories, within which there are only anarchistic communities or only libertarian societies. Thus, their ideals are still fundamentally intolerant and authoritarian due to their remaining territorially exclusive features. They are the ideals of “true believers,” who want all people of the world to be liberated only in their way. Nothing else will satisfy them. With this approach they maximize rather than minimize the resistance against their ideal.
Panarchism, while providing an excellent framework for all types of anarchism and libertarianism - for those who are prepared to act tolerantly, at their own risk and expense, in the realization of their own ideal among themselves - also offers the same liberty, right, and opportunity to all other dissenting groups as well. Rather than alienating people with plans of domination, panarchists hope to befriend people once the goals and aims of panarchism are sufficiently and widely comprehended. People do not have to fear a movement that does not aim to dominate, and that does not claim to rule a whole territory and all its inhabitants. No one has to fear the person who is prepared to pay his own bills and bear his self-chosen risks himself and with his associates. Territorial monopoly claims, on the other hand, threaten all those who disagree with the claimants. This leads to permanent strife and suspicion, to lies and deception, to power plays and tragedies, to party struggles and to “politics as usual.”
Instead of making plans for a single, universal, and supposedly ideal society for oneself and all others, we should think of our political plans and ideals as only applying to those who think alike, while leaving others who see things differently free to plan and enact their own tolerant societies, at their expense and risk. Political liberties to those want them. At the same time, restrictions and prohibitions for others, to the extent that they want them and are patient enough to suffer them. The decisive point is that each individual be allowed to make his or her choice to join or not join, to form or not form, a society in accordance with his or her reason, understanding, and degree of enlightenment.
Anarchists and libertarians fail to envision the consequence of freedom, when applied to people who are not anarchists or libertarians and do not want to live as anarchists or libertarians now or in the future. For them there must also be tolerance and the associational freedom to live according to their political ideals. Until anarchists and libertarians have that clear in their own mind, and succeed in conveying this good intention and political ideal to others, they will continue to frustrate most of their own efforts.
Alas, most anarchists and libertarians define their political program otherwise. While some of them would be tolerant towards all or most of their ideological allies, few of them would concede to statists the right to live as statists among themselves.
Instead, they want all individuals, groups, communities, and societies living in a particular geographical region to become similarly liberated. Anarchists want everyone to be autonomous and self-directing, while libertarians want everyone to live in a minimal State. They don't conceive of freedom for volunteers to form other than anarchistic or libertarian organizations or associations. If there is to be no such freedom for others, then anarchism and libertarianism are conceived not as a voluntaristic reorganization of society, but instead as an authoritarian or totalitarian reorganization of society toward “anarchist” or “libertarian” values.
This is the fundamental contradiction of present day anarchism and libertarianism. The aim of political and legal uniformity is only suitable if all share the same genera political convictions and beliefs. But even within the anarchist and libertarian movements, there are dozens of different factions, each holding mutually exclusive views. This raises the question: which faction's version of anarchism or libertarianism should be installed as the law of the land? Just the consideration of this program and procedure provokes endless internal disputes and hostilities, not to mention that it can never satisfy the much more numerous and diverse groups of statists. Thus, every step taken in this direction becomes self-defeating. Anarchists have still to learn that each type of anarchism is suitable only for that type of anarchist, and therefore they should demand each type of anarchism only for the particular anarchists who subscribe to it. Of course the same goes for libertarians. In order to achieve their ideals for themselves, as fast as possible, they must eventually come to advocate, also on the basis of voluntarism, each kind of statism for each kind of statist. On that basis they can make their peace with tolerant statists and even form an alliance with them against intolerant territorial monopolists and coercers. Such an alliance has the potential to become the most revolutionary political force on earth. Unfortunately, the monopolistic ideal that anarchists and libertarians still hold condemns each anarchist and libertarian faction to political insignificance. Their political efforts are wasted on a self-defeating ideal.
Anarchists and libertarians tend to forget that they are still a minority among many other minorities, and further, that most minority groups still believe in statism. The fastest road to anarchist and libertarian society is panarchism.
Territorial Anarchism and Libertarianism (continued) (^)
It is hard to understand why anarchists and libertarians would want to interfere with those statists who wish to maintain or establish statism only among themselves.
The State, any form of it except the territorial one - for all those who want it for themselves. That should be one of the main demands of consistent anarchists and libertarians, who, using the same kind of individual choice, would want to establish their desired degrees of liberty among themselves, quite undisturbed by the statists.
The people in any group need not be territorially united. A nonterritorial political association will serve us as well as nonterritorial associations serve church members.
The decentralist movement has still to explore the concept of exterritorial political association. Decentralize exterritorially instead of territorially!
Through individual choice and exterritorial autonomy for voluntary societies and communities, all without a territorial monopoly. Apparently, a concept hard to understand for all those who automatically define government as a territorial institution.
Anarchists and libertarians to be free to do what they want with their own property, persons, and communities. Neither they nor anyone else has the right to be aggressors or coercive "liberators" of those who disagree with them or those who would rather do their own things for or to themselves, whether guided by propertarian or egalitarian ideals.
Consistent anarchists and libertarians would instantly comprehend panarchy and demand it in every possible application. But then there are very few consistent anarchists and libertarians around. Almost all of them are more or less infected by absolutist visions of society - never mind their assertions to the contrary. The real strength and staying power of statism lies in the statism of anarchists and libertarians. They are absolutist territorialists at heart and imagine that all ought to subscribe to what they perceive to be the truth.
The problem of anarchism versus limited government libertarianism is solved by panarchism, which would offer to both of these freedom advocates what they want for themselves, and to all other advocates their individual choices, all at the same time, in the same country or world-wide, if that is their desire. To each his own!
To each his own governmental or nongovernmental social system, including his tax or contribution system, his jury or arbitration system, etc. Limited government advocates have all too much limited themselves, rather than extending liberty into all social spheres. They are still territorial statists, differing only in degree from other territorial statists. They too, in most cases, want to impose their supposedly just ideal upon peaceful, nonviolent dissenters, in what they consider to be their exclusive territory or turf. The same applies to most of those who call themselves anarchists. Most merely want to decentralize exclusive territories rather than move beyond territorial rule altogether. All too many of them still strive to establish anarchist hierarchies according to a federalist model. Most do not envision or envisage fully free competition, free markets, consumer sovereignty, free choice, or free contracts when it comes to governments and societies - especially for others trying to realize non-anarchist ideals. Most still think only in terms of territorial models, within which one can only be an anvil or a hammer.
Is the membership in any kind of anarchist or libertarian community, collective, society, or cooperative ever to become compulsory? Are non-anarchists and non-libertarians only to be given the choice: death or adoption of anarchism or libertarianism? Are anarchists and libertarians prepared to tolerate statist activities among statist adults in the same way as they want their anarchistic or libertarian activities among themselves tolerated by present day statists? Are anarchists and libertarians sufficiently in favor of free individual choices to permit other people to make quite different choices for themselves than anarchists and libertarians would make for themselves? Or do most anarchists and libertarians, in common with most statists and authoritarians, centralists, unity fanatics, territorialists, etc., want to permit only one type of society to exist in any country or region at any one time? Should we therefore distinguish between voluntaryist and authoritarian anarchists and libertarians?
Is membership in anarchist or libertarian communities and societies to be voluntary? Are non-anarchists and non-libertarians to be free to organize, arrange, and limit their own institutions in accordance with their own choices, undisturbed by anarchists and libertarians who would be left free to do their own things?
If so, then let us state this now and quite clearly:
As realists and also as advocates of the rights and liberties of others, we want only anarchism and libertarianism for anarchists and libertarians, and we favor statism for statists, according to their own free choices.
Territorial Anarchism and Libertarianism (conclusion) (^)
Almost all existing governments are territorial governments with compulsory membership and subjugation, competing only on the territorial level with other governments of the same kind, in a struggle for territorial monopolies. Contemporary politics is essentially a struggle for political turf, waged by gangs each cloaking themselves in the aura of democracy. However, it would be quite wrong to indiscriminately condemn as "governments" all of the past, current, and future governments or societies that either were or strive to be exterritorially autonomous with voluntary members. Such conceivable governments and societies are rightful, practical, and possible.
As long as we are not tolerant towards other tolerant people with regard to the so-called law of the land, we assume the attitude of totalitarians, no matter how antitotalitarian we claim to be. The statists say that all that is not explicitly allowed is prohibited, while most anarchists and libertarians say: only anarchist actions are permitted and only libertarian society is allowed. Anything that is not explicitly anarchistic or libertarian according to their own particular faction is not to be permitted. And they fancy themselves entitled to use force or systematic intimidation against dissenters. In short, they do not want to allow others to achieve their own successes or make their own mistakes, to follow their own reason and understanding, or pursue their own ideals. They are thus not in favor of freedom for all but only in favor of the kind of freedom they and their clan approve of.
Panarchists assert that their choice is right for them and only for them. They err when they attempt to impose their beliefs upon dissenters of whatever persuasion.
The degree of tolerance practiced by panarchism is very different from that practiced by territorial anarchism or limited government libertarianism. A generalized limited government, or anarchism with a territorial monopoly, are both intolerant towards peaceful exterritorial alternatives to their organizational forms.
Only panarchism maximizes tolerance towards the various social alternatives. For anarchists and libertarians it offers nothing more than a relatively easy road to their kind of anarchism or libertarianism for themselves, while minimizing friction with those who hold different ideals. What more could they rightly ask for? Must others follow the anarchist or libertarian dream as well? It is time to ask: how has that approach been working lately?
To achieve our ideals for ourselves, we first must stop trying to force them on others. Someone or some group must break the vicious cycle of “rule or be ruled.” Panarchists propose to do exactly that.
Panarchism, not territorial anarchism or libertarianism, is the fundamental alternative to territorial political monopolism. To each the government or non-government of his or her choice. No form of social organization to be imposed upon anybody.
Panarchism means the extension of freedom into all spheres as long as the same freedoms are fully respected in others. Panarchists expect to achieve through this extension of liberty (which includes the freedom to choose a society of prohibitions and restrictions) at least the same kind of advantages that can be derived from freedom of action in other spheres of life. In other realms of choice, such as religious faith, life partners, friends, and careers, diversity is already accepted as the norm, and each proceeds on his own path, not imposing his choices on others. Here, mutual tolerance is taken for granted.
As consistent anarchists and libertarians, panarchists want to realize freedom of action in the more important spheres of politics, economics, and social arrangements. Without the freedom to disassociate oneself individually and to associate in exterritorially autonomous volunteer communities, there is not sufficient freedom in our political, economic, and social arrangements. In its insistence on voluntary consent and freedom of action in all spheres of life, panarchism is simply a consistent and highly evolved form of liberalism, democracy, libertarianism, and anarchism.
Panarchism is based upon the difference between collectivist, territorial, monopolistic, and imposed laws - and exterritorial, diverse, individually and freely chosen laws.
Panarchists are engaged in an attempt to rediscover and reestablish individuals as members of free, voluntary, autonomous, and exterritorial groups that, together, would form a free and peaceful society. This kind of free society is now buried under the petrified and accumulated deposits of thousands of years of coercive territorial statism. Panarchists are trying to achieve liberty first by pointing out in what way anarchist and libertarian aims are contradictory and self-defeating. In seeking to arrange uniformity of legal relationships within a geographic region, we contradict our own program of political self-determination by attempting to deny political self-determination to others.
Multi-party political pluralism in a territory, under national sovereignty, with uniformly imposed constitutions, laws, jurisdiction, and police, is something very different from the pluralism envisioned by panarchism, wherein an unlimited number of exterritorially autonomous communities of volunteers coexist. In panarchism, each community might have its own statist, anarchist, or libertarian institutions, laws, and norms. The liberties they enjoy are those liberties corresponding to their degree of enlightenment, rather than the liberties their rulers claim are best for them.
Many people change their studies, hobbies, crafts, jobs, professions, and residences. They change friends, marriage partners, and even religious faiths. But with regard to territorially imposed legal systems, the only option is emigration into another legal system which is essentially the same. Panarchism envisions a voluntary exterritorial option as well, for all adult, peaceful, and productive people, whatever race, religion, or ideology they belong to.
Panarchism offers a way out of the territorial dilemma. It allows individuals to opt out of collectively arranged societies and to individually form or join new societies of their own choosing.
It provides a just and common sense framework for governmentalists, anarchists, and libertarians to coexist. Thus it is much more practical than a vision in which the preferred society of one group negates and excludes the preferred society of another group. Anarchists and libertarians especially, as minority groups likely to be outnumbered for a long time, should at least consider panarchism, rather than continuing to insist (implicitly or explicitly) that their particular type of anarchism or libertarianism become the law of the land.
Panarchists apply the principles of religious liberty and religious tolerance, and of voluntarism and consent, to the political, economic, and social spheres. When people achieve freedom and independence in these territorially restricted spheres of action, panarchists expect peace, progress, and prosperity to blossom in these areas of endeavor, as they do whenever the creative spirit of good and moral people is unshackled.
It means the realization of as many different and autonomous communities as are wanted by volunteers for themselves, all non-territorially coexisting, side by side and intermingled as their members are, in the same territory or even world-wide and yet separated from each other by freely chosen laws, administrations, and jurisdictions, as different churches are or ought to be.
Panarchism aims not only at liberating anarchists and libertarians, to live as autonomously as they want to without having to leave their country, but intends to provide them with that liberty precisely by offering every other dissatisfied minority or majority the same kind of free choice for their kind of non-anarchist and non-libertarian ideal. Thus it can turn adversaries into allies, while each proceeds on his own path.
Panarchies (coexisting societies) provide unlimited blueprints and examples for progress through imitation, replication, and emulation. Panarchism is a general framework for a free society, one that creatively combines the principles of voluntarism, mutualism, pluralism, consent, free choice, freedom of contract, freedom of association, individual sovereignty, individual secessionism, freedom of action, freedom to experiment, freedom to dissociate, freedom to give notice, free enterprise, competition, consumer sovereignty, self-rule, self-government, self-determination, self-reliance, self-help, and autonomy.
Panarchism may be understood as the principle of religious liberty or religious tolerance applied consistently to the political, economic, and social spheres.
If individuals strove only to achieve exterritorial autonomy for themselves and for like-minded people they might achieve this limited aim, and they might find that this satisfied them. By this approach they might create allies out of adversaries, or at least minimize antagonisms and distrust.
Under present conditions our situation is virtually hopeless. Minorities try to liberate themselves by imposing their ideals on others through the legal system. But people do not want to live in the utopias of others. Our fellow citizens do not want to live in an anarchist or libertarian world. They have their own utopias in mind which they too hope to achieve via territorial statism.
There are numerous minority groups in almost all countries. Between them, their populations run into the hundreds of millions. It should be possible to interest at least some of them in the idea of individual liberty on a nonterritorial basis. Naturally, it would seem we should first try to interest anarchists and libertarians in panarchism. But additionally, there are numerous other minorities also becoming disillusioned with territorialism. We should not neglect them, even when their ideologies and values are not the same as ours.
Panarchism can release, utilize, and coordinate all reformist, resistance, and revolutionary forces without threatening those who are conservatively inclined.
Panarchism expresses a new kind of allegiance, loyalty, and solidarity toward one's own ideal and toward individual rights, voluntarism, and the maximum possible tolerance for tolerant actions, including freely chosen constitutions, societies, juridical and legal systems, etc.
Under panarchism, one's political convictions and practices, and those of others, will be matters of individual conscience, just as religious or spiritual convictions are now.
Panarchism amounts to political, economic, and social Protestantism, and it aims to preach and practice the same kind of voluntarism and tolerance, all on the basis of exterritorial autonomy for all voluntary members of their communities. For this purpose it insists upon the rightfulness of individual sovereignty and individual and minority group secessionism, the liberty to live under individually chosen laws, constitutions, and jurisdictions. These as preconditions for a free, just, peaceful, prosperous and progressive world, in which all people have liberty, and in which liberty is restricted only for those who choose it.
We propose extending tolerance and freedom of action to their maximum limits. We aim to releases all of man's creative energies and to reduce his destructive tendencies. This can be achieved by the consistent application of free market and laissez faire ideas to the spheres where they have so far been prohibited: to government and to all related social spheres currently monopolized by territorial States.
Panarchism is perhaps the only practicable road towards full self-government, political self-determination, individual anarchism, and libertarian society. Panarchy is a framework that could make anarchism and libertarianism at least tolerable to non-anarchists and non-libertarians. Nothing else can serve as well to strengthen us against authoritarianism, despotism, and totalitarianism. A panarchistic theory and practice that offers all kinds of anarchism for all kinds of anarchists and all kinds of states for all kinds of statists, at least has the potential to satisfy the most diversified human aspirations.
Without it we may be condemned to a perpetual war of all against all for political and territorial supremacy.
What is missing from most anarchist and libertarian thought, is the provision of authority - if there is to be one at all - only upon the basis of consent, i.e., chosen by individuals and for themselves only.
Panarchism may be defined as a radical stand for voluntary individual consent, against collectivist, coercive, and monopolistic territorial decision-making. It supports and is supported by individual secessionism and individual sovereignty and by exterritorial autonomy for volunteer groups.
Panarchism means voluntarism among people of your own choice, in all spheres.
It means a consistent application of freedom of association, which includes the freedom of individuals to give notice to any kind of association.
Panarchism favors not so much a particular organization but rather the ethical principle of voluntarism. Panarchism is a radical theory of pluralist society.
Everything begins with individual sovereignty and individual consent, freedom of association and freedom of disassociation.
The aim pursued is less important than the means used. If any system is forced upon non-criminal dissenters, then it is a coercive system opposed to individual liberty. If a system is not forced upon its members, then we, as dissenters and outsiders, claim that this system is still anarchistic and libertarian. It is based on voluntary consent. As the expression of their own individual choice, a society is anarchistic or libertarian for its voluntary members, no matter how exploitive or restrictive it appears to outsiders. The measuring stick is consent and it is tested and kept in check by individual secessions. As long as people are free, any system is tolerable for those who like it and should be all the more tolerable for those who dislike it but are not compelled to join it.
Panarchism applies voluntary associationism and voluntary disassociationism to all of politics, economics, social relations, and their institutions, not just to those areas of life which territorial politics has so far permitted.
Panarchism offers to individuals free enterprise and voluntary association, going to full exterritorial autonomy in the spheres of politics and economic systems. It recognizes individual sovereignty, individual secessionism, the possibility for exterritorial organization and individually chosen laws. It recognizes the right and freedom to pursue one's chosen path in spheres in which constitutional government has prohibited free choice. It teaches that in all affairs, in principle and in practice, each should be the master of his own fate.
I am an individualist anarchist. But I do not want people forced to live my way. I am a panarchist before I am an anarchist. For me the essence of anarchism, libertarianism, and rightful governmentalism is voluntarism.
The ultimate voluntarism is not an imposed or coerced voluntarism, whether of an egalitarian or propertarian kind.
Individual Choice (^)
We already have, to a large extent, panarchism in our private lives: in arts, sports, crafts, hobbies, religions, philosophies, literature, music, consumer choices , choice of careers, etc. All we need in order to overcome the remaining political, economic, and social problems, is the same freedom of choice in political, economic, and social systems. It works in our private lives, and it will work in our public lives.
You want a better system for yourself, or one that you believe is better? Opt out of your present one and subscribe to the one you prefer.
Choice of laws rather than equality under the law. Diversity under individually chosen laws rather than imposed uniform laws. Exterritorial autonomy for all who want to realize their individual and group preferences as much as this is possible without interfering with the voluntary and exterritorially autonomous activities of others. Individual sovereignty and volunteer community autonomy rather than geographical and coercive “unity.”
Free individual choice in governments and non-governmental social systems, on an exterritorial basis, is just as important as free individual choice in one's private activities. In many important areas of life we already conduct ourselves as autonomous beings, and don't limit our choices to only one for every geographical region. It is time we become as autonomous in the remaining spheres of life and gain freedom of choice in the political, economic, and social realms too. The territorial system is antiquated. It is designed to prevent us from making some of the most important decisions about our lives, our liberties, and our property.
Allow everyone to choose his own leaders, his own administrators, mediators, and protectors. Let them choose their own ideal society, according to their own reason and understanding, and according to their own level of enlightenment. No government and no utopia is good enough to be forced upon anyone.
Panarchism offers you this choice in the three spheres that have been monopolized by territorial governments: the political, economic, and social spheres. As many or as few politicians, laws, and bureaucratic public services as you are willing to hire for yourself. Also, only the kind of jurisdiction, police protection, and defense arrangements you prefer for yourself. Likewise, only the financial and monetary arrangements of your choosing, and only the currency you want to use or offer. Moreover, your own preferred insurance and health system. No academic or socialistic theory, utopia, or ideal of others to remain territorially imposed upon you.
You ought to be free to opt out or secede from all of them and free to choose from many different services. Free to do your own things with or without others, at your own expense and risk. This is the meaning of panarchism. And this is what territorial statism withholds from you.
Freedom in the political, economic, and social spheres!
Any individually chosen or voluntarily accepted leadership is not a domination. Rather, it is an individual choice like any other. It is a choice that can succeed or fail, a choice that can lead to happiness or unhappiness. The relationship between leaders and followers, individually or in organizations, is rightful if voluntary. It is natural, and it is also educational, for those involved, and for those who merely observe as outsiders.
Laws and rules by individual choice. Not by impositions upon any peaceful citizen, in any territory, by any statist, libertarian, or anarchist.
No one to have the right to institutionalize his personal ethics as the law of the land. Everyone to have only the right to institutionalize his ethics for himself and his willing followers.
Only individually chosen laws can give us the freedom we want and at the same time give to others the laws they want. Society by the individual choices of honest and peaceful persons. All your productive and peaceful actions to be your own or self-chosen ones.
This requires only individual sovereignty and free choice of governments or societies.
Panarchy puts the pursuit of happiness, in social, economic, and political affairs, back into the hands of individuals.
Coexisting Societies (^)
Panarchists suggest the possibility and desirability of multiple societies, peacefully coexisting in the same territory, each in the attempt to realize its own set of values, as far as it can manage - but only for its own voluntary members. Panarchism envisions several voluntaristic communities coexisting in the same territory, with each operating under its own constitution, laws, jurisdiction, administration, faiths, principles, membership criteria, or any other common traits or preferences.
Panarchism means that there may be anywhere and at the same time as many different "governments" or non-governmental societies as can find voluntary supporters. They are then in the same position as churches are in countries with religious liberty.
Different political, economic, and social systems can peacefully coexist for their voluntary supporters in the same way as diverse sports clubs, hobby and craft groups, etc., all peacefully doing their own things.
Panarchists want to preserve the State but only for the statists, as an avenue for them, via exterritorial autonomy for all volunteers. They want only anarchists to live as anarchists, and libertarians to live as libertarians, while all other believers, reformers, and revolutionaries would be likewise free to live in accordance with their beliefs, at their own expense and risk, in tolerant forms of organization that permit, encourage, protect, and perpetuate such peaceful coexistence.
Those who don't subscribe to anarchist or libertarian ideals must be left at liberty, to continue and enjoy as much as they can the kind of statism they like, as long as they like it. We must not threaten them with the abolition of their kind of beloved state and government, but rather help guarantee it to them, as long as it remains their own free choice. Towards them we can rightly advocate only the one-man revolutions that are exemplified by individual secessionism based on individual sovereignty and self-ownership - if and when people become sufficiently enlightened to want to claim this right. Even then, people may possibly choose various restrictions upon their own liberties. They should be at liberty to do so. It is not our place to threaten their statist choices with abolition and aggressive intentions. If anything, we might try to persuade them by words or by demonstrating another way.
Panarchism creates a perpetual frontier society side by side with traditional societies and values, both in peaceful coexistence and with voluntary supporters, giving each individual the opportunity to choose the social freedoms and constraints that correspond to his understanding, abilities, and preferences.
Panarchistic societies, being exterritorially autonomous and subject to voluntary membership, are similar to private business enterprises. They grow, stagnate, or decline, subject to individual free choices. Their laws are accepted by their individual members. They have no involuntary subjects. They represent a method of social organization appropriate for our times. Or at least for a future time, when free, peaceful, and prosperous societies are wanted.
No Imposition (^)
As an individualist, I have to oppose anarchists and libertarians, whose political ideals I share, whenever they try to impose their ideal upon all who either question anarchy and libertarianism or are against them. All such attempts are inevitably self-defeating, since they only provoke negative feedback, often of a severely repressive type. If we reflect for a moment, and consider our social and political beliefs as religions, we can immediately see why trying to impose them on others can't work. Once one comprehends this situation and its implications, one may become free from the burden of trying to change everyone else's ideology, and one may begin to gain a general respect for the different social and political views of others, in the same way one respects the religious convictions of others. People are different. Let them make their different choices, according to their own reason, understanding, and enlightenment.
No imposed laws, customs, or traditions!
Anarchists and libertarians ask: why should we allow any government, not having our individual consent, to impose any economic, political or social system upon us?
But we ask anarchists and libertarians: why the wrongful, futile, and self-defeating attempt to impose our own preferred constitution and laws, our own social and political ideals, territorially upon whole populations?
Instead, let people choose and have full consumer sovereignty towards all societal and governmental services.
I contend that you have no right to act like the State or like intolerant anarchists and libertarians towards dissenters and nonconformists who do not agree with your point of view. No one has the authority or right to impose property and profit relationships between another, nor to impose losses on him, nor to expropriate him.
If you do not want to dominate others then you should not want to impose anarchism or libertarianism on others. Instead, allow them to live under the government of their individual choice. Liberty entails asserting one's own rights against others, not imposing one's beliefs upon them.
Thus, no governmental experiment or reform should ever be imposed upon dissenters, no more so than any religion or church should ever be imposed upon dissenters and nonconformists, even if a majority should be in favor of such an imposition. Full tolerance and freedom of choice for individuals and their voluntary associations are as much justified in the political spheres as they are in religion. Compulsory membership in any tyranny or democracy, in any territorial regime or State, even in any "limited" government, amounts to despotism. No territorial imposition of any system upon a whole country and all its people. Territorial rule to be replaced by voluntary membership.
We want liberty for ourselves but do not want to impose it upon others. Even freedom should not be obligatory for all but only optional, and each should have only as much liberty as he wants and is willing to handle, with more being optional, if and when he is ready for it. Tolerance is required towards statists and authoritarians provided they are tolerant enough toward free people, other statists, and other authoritarians (a notion that may seem contradictory, but isn't). The example of religious liberty makes this clear: tolerance for the liberal religions, the traditional religions, and the strict fundamentalist religions, as long as they respect the religious liberty of non-members with different religious or non-religious preferences.
Radical liberties, rights, or restrictions, to be entirely optional within exterritorial and autonomous communities of volunteers.
We have to stop inventing nightmares for others and forcing these upon them. We would no longer need to do so in self-defense, once we were free to follow our own path undisturbed by others.
Rather than a system which hands anyone a ready-made apparatus to impose his chosen government or utopia upon all others, panarchism would allow each person to follow his own dreams, at his own risk and expense. What more could anybody rightfully ask for?
No form of social organization should any longer be forcefully and exclusively upheld, either by compulsory membership or by compulsory taxes. Nobody's failed social theories to rein over whole territories and their unwilling inhabitants.
The Right to Opt Out (^)
The right to leave or not to join, the right to grant or deny membership, and the right to refuse to participate, are all aspects of the right to associate and to disassociate. Under territorial statism, trying to peacefully secede, individually or in minority groups, and attempting to establish or to join exterritorially autonomous communities of whatever kind, is a crime. To the State, political freedom is a criminal offense. This is one example among many - intellectual property laws are another example - where rather than protecting people against crime, the State invents crimes to intimidate people into acting in accordance with its ends. Victimless crimes are the State's signature achievement.
Is the right to opt out of some proposed ideal society clearly and explicitly spelled out? Or is it not even mentioned or only vaguely hinted at? Is the right to opt out unconditional and total, or is this right, as in contemporary society, highly conditional?
If no right of opt out is clearly articulated in a particular social theory, this usually means that opting out of the system is considered a crime. The proposed system is based on the presumption that its laws are absolutely, indisputably, and immutably good. Naturally then, behavior not in accord with these laws is presumed to be absolutely, indisputably, and immutably evil.
If you opt out of my system, proposing to act differently than my laws demand, you must be a criminal, because I have discovered the only set of laws suited to mankind. Behavior that deviates from the laws that I and my group propose constitutes a crime since these laws alone are in accord with nature. The laws we propose to enforce are absolute, immutable, and of universal validity for all times and places.
What if my proposed law is found to be contrary to the nature of man? What if, with reference to this law, I have prosecuted people as criminals, but I now believe my law was wrong, and their behavior was moral? Oh well, an understandable mistake has been made!
This is one of the fundamental shortcomings of intolerant territorial anarchism and libertarianism. One group wants to arrive, for example, at a universal system criminalizing any deviance from intellectual property laws. Another group wants to criminalize only deviance from copyright laws, but views patents as an unjust infringement on individual liberty. And yet a third group (now comprised partially of former members of the first two groups) wants to abolish all intellectual property laws. And all three groups will claim “natural law” or “the nature of man” as the basis for their systems!!
They seem not to realize, nor to care, that what they are proposing are systems of universal criminalization. They propose to criminalize the activities of other men who consider these activities both normal and moral. They propose to criminally prosecute their fellow man according to what they believe he should be “allowed” to do, although this belief changes, day by day, and year by year. In return, their fellow man seeks to do the same. And thus the unavoidable struggle for control of “the” legal system.
The solution to this problem is not to arrive now at a fourth and “more correct” position (on intellectual property, for example) and then seek to implement this universally. Many other people may presently be subscribing to one of the first three political ideals (the same ones the absolutist once held to be right, but now believes to be wrong). Or people may presently be subscribing to a fifth ideal, which we have not yet come to know and understand. The solution is not for one group's ideals to triumph over the ideals held by all others.
The solution is to allow one's fellow man to choose the laws by which his conduct will be limited, circumscribed, and judged, rather than taking the position of a supreme law giver and trying to do this for all others.
Each should become free to disassociate himself, as far as he likes, from other people's social and political ideals, alone or in association with like-minded people, rather than being involuntarily wedded to them via collective voting and government coercion. Individuals should be free to opt out from any territorial State and free to establish another exterritorial society more to their liking.
Allow the free traders to secede from the protectionists, the self-defense people from the gun-control people, the anti-abortionists from the abortionists, the propertarians from the socialists, the freedom lovers from the statists.
Let each be married only to the constitution, laws, and other institutions of his choice, and permit easy divorce in this sphere as well!
Grant territorial privileges to no one!
Political Monopolism (^)
While schisms are the rule rather than the exception in religion, philosophy, arts, literature, music, etc., in territorial politics they are outlawed and suppressed. Social and political differences are largely “illegal” in territorial politics, which monopolizes these spheres in an attempt to impose a forced solution. However, social democracy, especially its territorial form, is not the final end of mankind's political development. Instead it is quickly becoming an old and outdated political form, destructive of the happiness of many of its citizens.
Those who try to govern others who disagree with them and who live in the same territory are unwise and insufficiently informed. The wise ought to strive towards freedom of action and political self-determination for themselves, in order to set inspiring examples to all others, while simultaneously enjoying the benefits of individual liberty.
Panarchism does not demand one constitution for all but, instead, to each his own constitution. This principled diversity, characterized by coexistence and non-intervention, is to be the only common feature for numerous different, autonomous, and exterritorial societies. It amounts to a systematic non-system. It is the consistent application of the idea of freedom to politics. It even includes the freedom to choose a society of extreme restrictions and prohibitions, or extreme regulation and taxation.
De Puydt did not propose one universal government, omnipresent and omniscient, and interfering with all affairs. He proposed instead, any number of governments or communities, all coexisting exterritorially, as many as are desired by volunteers for themselves.
We ridicule political fanatics when they force their subjects to wear uniform clothing. Are we more advanced in forcing all our subjects to live under the same coercive laws and institutions? Panarchism would end all this wrongful and prejudiced nonsense for all who do not choose it for themselves.
Intolerant authoritarians out of power, and self-interested politicians in power, want to monopolize all “public affairs” decisions - all important decisions in the political, economic, and social spheres. They haven't considered nonterritorial alternatives. The united and happy society they claim to want, can never be anything more than a society pitting the various social, ideological, and political groups against one other in an endless struggle for domination. Such a society, artificially constructed and forcefully held together, can never lead to social or political harmony. The model itself - the political form of geographical rule - is unsuitable for the achievement of this aim.
Evolution of the State (^)
It's not a question of attacking or defending the State, but of confining its membership to voluntary consent. In short, the State should be deprived of its absolute territorial sovereignty.
The aim ought not to be to reform, fight, abolish, or destroy governments, but to secure for those who want them, voluntary associations that are exterritorially autonomous. That requires merely freedom to secede from the old and to join or to set up new associations. This introduces freedom of action and experimentation for all who desire it, without requiring it of others. The old institutions continue to exist through and for their remaining voluntary followers.
There is a vast difference between abolition by destruction, and abolition step by step as individuals choose from among alternatives as they are ready for them. As the world is still a statist world, and as people tend to support those political forms they are familiar with, it is extremely unwise to aim at the abolition of statist institutions. What one can rightfully and rationally aim for is to be free of statist territorial impositions. “Let us go!” Or: Let us do our own things for or to ourselves, while you go on doing your things for or to yourselves. We have arrived at that compromise in most private matters. It is time to realize it in most pubic matters. With such a compromise one does not arouse maximum opposition.
Only gradually will people likely want to opt out of old and familiar political forms. Over time, the size and scope of these remaining governments will tend to correspond to the desires of their membership, rather than to the geographical contours of the planet. Compare the prolonged existence of the Catholic Church, even in the face of competition from other religions and nonbelievers.
Are we to expect enlightened world views and philosophies and their radical practices immediately from most people? The speed of individual enlightenment will probably be maximized by panarchist political pluralism and political liberty, just as enlightenment was speeded by religious liberty. However, experience teaches that the things we believe are certain to come, often take much longer than we had expected.
Panarchism aims to achieve the same protestant revolution in the political, economic, and social spheres that succeeded in the religious sphere - and this by peaceful means, via individual and group secessionism combined with exterritorial autonomy, leaving all associations people secede from intact for their remaining adherents, who may continue to live under the political forms with which they are familiar.
Panarchism, as new as it is, might proceed rather slowly at first, with few individuals or minorities organizing themselves in this new way. There are many possible degrees of autonomy and many conceivable types of community, and most of us have difficulty imagining all the different possible nonterritorial political forms which might one day emerge - this in spite of the fact that much of our private lives are spent and enjoyed in nonterritorial association with other like-minded people.
Panarchism need not be introduced completely in a single step. It is more important that the principles of political pluralism, voluntarism, and nonterritorial political coexistence be established, regardless of the magnitude of the initial implementation of such principles.
Panarchism offers us a path toward our own governments, institutions, and social relationships, at the same time it offers a path toward tolerance of others and their practices. Panarchism does not seek to destroy what exists, but rather seeks to bring forth what still does not exist: full political freedom.
Education by Demonstration (^)
We consider the various voluntary societies as opportunities for people to teach and to demonstrate what is possible. Our goal is not to rule, but to tap these resources, to learn and to free ourselves from all unjustified and inhumane political constraints.
Progress will never stop as long as experimental freedom exists for individuals and groups of volunteers, no matter how many missteps they may take.
We already have and enjoy panarchism (by a other names) in many important spheres of life: sports, fashions, diets, entertainment, arts, crafts, jobs and professions, private lifestyles, private movement and transport choices, residences, alternative medical and fitness means, private organizational forms and cooperative enterprises, friendship circles, life partners, philosophies, and so on.
However, due to our stage of our political evolution, we have so far exempted the political, economic, and social spheres from freedom of action and from individual choice. Our political forms are still highly coercive when compared to all the other spheres of life in which we recognize and encourage freedom of action, freedom of choice, and voluntary association. Panarchists simply want to further mankind's political evolution by replacing coerced relationships with voluntarily relationships.
Exterritorial political autonomy would allow the willing to choose their own paths, thereby showing us ways we may decide to adopt or avoid. We have already recognized freedom of action and experimentation as essential in the natural sciences. Success and failure are inseparable from experimentation. An unsuccessful experiment is successful in that it eliminates a fruitless course of action from further consideration by critical outside observers and, naturally, by the participants of the failed experiment. One learns what works by trying also what doesn't work. One learns especially well when has to bear the costs of failure, and does not have the option of “socializing” those costs via the legal system.
Under panarchism, people might try an unlimited number of political forms. Creative minds would be free to apply themselves (not just publish articles) in these heretofore prohibited areas. Progress might become greatly accelerated.
Our current approach is to limit experimentation to one for every national territory, each new experiment conducted only after a regime change, with the new regime often making the same mistakes as the last one, except on a wider scale, and blaming the consequences on its adversaries. Might a better approach be possible?
A panarchist approach would speed learning and enlightenment. Successes would be self-perpetuating and failures self-eliminating. Each person and each society could learn from the other, in the same country at the same time. Less and less human energy, creativity, and capital would be wasted on the suffocating attempt to impose a massive structure of restrictions and prohibitions upon all of society. Instead, a healthy, vibrant, and active society, in which people are inspired by the possibility of achieving their ideals, and freed from the burden of trying to prevent other people from realizing their own.
I am neutral and tolerant towards all those voluntarily submitting to some government, as long as they do not try to subjugate anyone else.
As a panarchist, I like all isms - but all only for their volunteers. I like many different cultures, creeds, religions, ideologies, etc., all varieties of them, all only for their own volunteers, according to their own faiths, convictions and preferences, all chosen by themselves and for themselves only, as long as they still want them.
Let each apply the values he appreciates to himself and his affairs.
Again, the best analogy is probably that of religious tolerance as opposed to religious suppression. Under religious freedom, any peaceful person can freely hold and practice his religious beliefs side by side with those of different religious faiths, and side by side with nonbelievers, who all do their own things. They may still argue with each other extensively, and even try to make converts. But otherwise, they coexist peacefully and leave each other alone. The panarchist equivalent to this in the political, economic, and social sphere is: statism for statists and anarchism for anarchists, any form of statism for those who believe in it, as long as they want it, and any kind of non-governmental organization for those who believe in it.
Catholics were once involved in a civil war against heretics and reformists and in wars against foreign non-believers. Why have these wars stopped? Because panarchist principles were adopted in the religious sphere. The most valuable aid that any church could give to the human race now, would be to advocate the same kind of freedom and tolerance that was so successful in the religious sphere, in the social, economic, and political spheres as well. Instead, like everyone else, they tend to favor monopolism, intolerance, and repression in these remaining spheres, repeating the wrongful and mistaken approach that was once tried in religion.
Panarchism is the political, economic and social equivalent to religious liberty and religious tolerance. Governments, like churches, and like most other organizational forms, must become exterritorially autonomous. As laissez faire is right in religion and economics, it is right in politics too. The fact that politics is still thought of only in terms of territorial uniformity, while other human pursuits are thought of in terms of diversity and coexistence, is an arbitrary historical accident. It is not due to the inherent nature of politics, but rather is due simply to mankind's stage of political development. If politics were opened up to freedom and competition, politics too would advance and evolve, instead of remaining a monopolistic enterprise in which the same mistakes are made over and over again.
Political mythology does much more wrong and harm than religious mythology ever did. One need only consider the twentieth century. The principle and practice used for settling religious disputes in much of the world, by the realization of religious liberty and religious tolerance, is rejected as a solution in the political sphere. Here, people think only in terms of territory, monopoly, centralism, and coercion, which they believe must overcome dissent, conscience, and voluntary association. The nonterritorial political framework is not even taken into consideration in public debates, conferences, summit meetings, academic lectures, and the literature of political "science." Even anarchist and libertarian social thinkers and their organizations give little thought to the idea of government not based on geographical location.
If individuals, minorities, and majorities were as free in politics as they are in religion (at least in many countries), to live under their own laws and governmental or societal institutions, then they would not feel oppressed and would not feel forced to fight for territorial liberation - which is the same thing as territorial domination over others. Exterritorial autonomy for volunteer communities could do for politics what it has done for religion. It is the road to peace, justice, freedom, progress, and prosperity.
Panarchism Unknown to Most (^)
Sightings of panarchist views and insights are less common than UFO sightings, and are dismissed just as easily by most.
What is odd and hard to understand about panarchism is that this simple freedom alternative - a natural solution for moving beyond the political systems we have been suffering under for many centuries - has so far been understood and appreciated by only a very small minority.
Why should human beings, supposedly intelligent, be unable to abstract the principle involved in religious liberty, and the principles we abide by in our private actions, and apply it to the spheres of action currently monopolized by territorial governments?
Considering how people love to debate and contradict each other, especially in politics, why do they not debate and contradict the principle of territorialism?
Today, the ethics, practicability, and profitability of panarchism are less recognized (by far) than the free market principle. All too few are aware that panarchism constitutes a simple extension of the free market principle to the areas of government, social services, and organizations. Thus, it is somewhat tragic that while free-market economics is gaining ground in much of the world, political freedom in the genuine sense is not only losing ground, but is scarcely considered, even by most scholars of liberty.
Panarchy is largely an unknown and misunderstood ideal. There are probably less than a thousand people who identify themselves as panarchists. And yet panarchism could be the framework for solving many of the world's political problems. Its potential is unlimited.
It is hard to understand how this idea could have been overlooked for so long. After hundreds of millions of victims of territorial politics, one might have expected that some among the survivors would finally begin to consider the possibility of exterritorial institutions, rights, and liberties. Considering how argumentative we humans are, and how competitive, one might have expected greater numbers anarchists and libertarians to arrive at panarchism if only to win a debate, or to make their own social theory as consistent as possible. But this rarely happened. Instead the social philosophy of panarchism has been largely overlooked and ignored.
Why can't anarchists and libertarians - who should be individualists, voluntarists, and thorough anti-statists - see these and related connections? Why do they get side-tracked by notions of small, decentralized, independent territories, in which territorial coercion and monopolies are not challenged? Why do some still insist on one utopian society for all, regardless of individual consent? Why do some anarchists see liberty in the abolition of private property and the imposition of absolute equality? Why do some libertarians believe in the State as protector of people and property in spite of the State's enslavement of people and theft of property? In short, why is the ideal of many still territorial, coercively financed governments, having compulsory membership and exclusive jurisdiction? What will it take to overcome our world's monolithic belief in this approach to government and society?
The greatest problem of our time is that our political institutions are antiquated. With each passing decade, the gap between our political development and our technological and spiritual development widens. We are trapped in a world of eighteenth century democracy, nineteenth century socialism, and twentieth century statism. People increasingly understand and appreciate freedom in many spheres of life. But in politics, we are still stuck on the territorial State model.
Political leaders propose a solution. They say: reform our constitution! Anarchists and libertarians propose a solution. They say: everyone to become an anarchist or libertarian! Or: decentralize to smaller regions!
And thus the panarchist solution is overlooked again.
Without the power of demonstration, argumentation is just another unrealized project. Argumentation alone is like wishing or hoping: it is one way of bringing things about, but generally an ineffective way. Unfortunately, many freedoms today exist only as arguments.
Panarchists are idealistic enough to want liberty, but realistic enough to realize that words alone, no matter how skillfully combined, as a rule do not have sufficient persuasive power. If argumentation did once have the power to persuade, it seems to have lost much of it over the last few hundred years, and seems unlikely to gain it back in the near future. Very few people, if any, will consider changing their political beliefs or their planned political actions due to arguments.
Panarchists favor a new social reality in which people not only have the freedom to argue their case for a different way of living, but in which they are also free to demonstrate their philosophy and their unique kind of society to their neighbors and to the world. Thus, panarchists envision a world in which people can “talk the talk” and “walk the walk.” A world in which thought is matched by deeds, and in which scholarship leads to practical results. Each person and each group can demonstrate to the other, to themselves, and to the world, their way of living and their way of relating socially and politically.
From the point of view of an anarchist, the order of a statist amounts to chaos and disorder. From the point of view of a statist, the anarchy of an anarchist amounts to chaos and disorder. In a monopolistic political environment, this leads to ceaseless antagonism and social strife, as each tries to prevent the other from practicing his ideal on him without his consent. As things are now, anarchist and libertarian groups, and groups favoring more traditional States, will continue arguing endlessly and fruitlessly for several more centuries. As long as we lack the freedom to demonstrate what we argue for, how can the assertions made in our arguments be accurately appraised? How can anyone be expected to make informed social and political decisions when they choose always and only from among various arguments, and never from among various societies?
Only the freedom to associate and to organize in the social, economic, and political spheres offers a short-term and a long-term solution.
If one believes strongly in one's social vision, one tends to imagine that all others could or should share one's beliefs, and that one day they will. But in the meantime, should one be resigned to wait for all people to finally share the same vision before one can begin to realize one's own? Must we postpone the realization of a free society until all people have become anarchists or libertarians? Or should we rather strive for alternative institutions for those who desire them, for minority autonomy, for doing one's own thing at one's own risk and expense, while leaving all others free to pursue their values, however distasteful those values may be to oneself?
After some practice of this panarchistic alternative, the facts will gradually become more clear. As opposed to all the hypothetical and speculative social constructs advanced in scholarship and argument, practical social relationships and organizations would begin to emerge. The actions of individuals, demonstrating what social and political relationships they choose for themselves, would serve as a value standard for the words used in political discourse. In choosing or not choosing the various alternatives, people would learn what they actually prefer, which may be different from what they said they would prefer. Misunderstandings and antagonisms would be reduced. Extremism in debate and in action would be tempered while tolerance would be enhanced.
One of the most important reasons the territorial nation-state is perpetuated, is that out of all the possible forms of political organization, it is the only one whose workings are demonstrated. Regardless of the shortcomings of this system, it, as opposed to all other hypothetical systems, demonstrably works, no matter how badly it works in our opinion. All proposed systems are merely hypothetical. They are arguments without actions. All proposed systems have the status of wishes, expectations, prophecies, or hopes. In this sense, they are less believable and less credible than the territorial nation-state. And this is an important reason for the State's seemingly inexorable perpetuation.
Until some way is found to demonstrate political freedom - not merely argue for it - the territorial nation-state will continue to demonstrate its workings, and in the mind of many, thereby demonstrate why they should continue to support it.
Promoting Panarchism (^)
I intend to keep thinking, writing, and speaking about panarchism, its introduction and its possible achievements. I intend to draw attention to our many experiences with it, and to the panarchist thoughts of others, even if I have to do this mainly by myself and for myself. One can further an idea also by persistently arguing with oneself and by continually directing relevant observations, proposals, and arguments to others, to the extent that others are receptive. If others are turned off by my monologues, long compilations, and my single-minded preoccupation with panarchism, they do not have to read me, write to me, or visit me. I can only hope (but I do doubt) that they will find as worthy an endeavor for themselves.
Although panarchy has not yet gained wide recognition, it is liberty's best hope. Widespread ignorance about panarchism cannot be blamed on its lack of truthfulness or practicability. Its truths have been ignored in the beginning just as have other truths. People once believed the world was flat and that the sun revolved around the Earth. They now believe that political relationships must be based on geography. With the gradual defeat of these kinds of mistaken assumptions, the State as we know it will eventually evolve, and this change will bring greater harmony and happiness to mankind.
The prevalence of territorial nationalism and of state socialism merely indicates that we are not yet living in a sufficiently enlightened age. Panarchism and the freedom which it would make possible does not yet exist because certain dogmas are still widely accepted even amongst the educated: territorial integrity, uniformity of law, compulsory state membership, exclusive territorial rule, equality under the law, majority rule, representative democracy, finance by taxation, etc.
These things all require re-thinking, and that takes time. But I have yet to encounter what I consider to be a valid principled objection or alternative to panarchism. Thus, I have faith that panarchist insights will gradually spread, and perhaps one day suddenly take hold.
Thus I go on, unrepentantly, with my brainstorming and note writing, however repetitive or flawed, and without offering them as final words, but merely as suggestions and challenges for something better, more concise, more clear and convincing. It will require the efforts of many to develop the presently dispersed thoughts of panarchists into a broad nonterritorial political philosophy and political science.
Every individual who has come to be persuaded of the morality and benefits of panarchy is proof that many more can be similarly persuaded.
But the decent citizens should only act in rightful and tolerant ways as an example of panarchist tolerance in action.
For centuries most people could not conceive and apply religious tolerance. It is taking them longer still to see the potential of tolerance in the political, economic, and social spheres. But this tolerance is the way of the future. Without it we will have no future.
Thus it is high time for honest, decent, peaceful, and tolerant people to think about acting autonomously and exterritorialy in their own kinds of voluntary communities of like-minded people. We could and should uphold our rights and liberties together.
Panarchism cannot be created in a vacuum, without sufficient thought and deliberation. The oppressiveness of territorial politics provides opportunities for those sufficiently enlightened to begin to establish alternative institutions using the liberating technologies available to us. But even this requires a minimum number of convinced and enlightened members to act together to effectively spread their ideas and actions to wider and wider circles of freedom seekers. Once the panarchistic approach and practice is understood, others can imitate and replicate these principles and apply them to their own lives and situations
Panarchists are not perfect, nor do they offer a perfect social theory. Panarchists are ordinary citizens who like most, have their moral, ethical, and intellectual failings. Panarchists do not claim to love everybody, nor do they promise a universal or egalitarian brotherhood. Instead, they offer a uniquely tolerant framework and opportunity for genuine political self-determination to all peaceful people.
Why should we continue to tolerate a coercively imposed economic, political, or social system any more than we would tolerate a coercively imposed religion? Instead: freedom for dissenters and non-conformists in every respect. But freedom also for those who do not want to conform to the ideals of dissenters and non-conformists.
Lovers of liberty in this world: Unite your diverse aspirations under the banner of panarchism, which allows to each the society of his or her dreams. Then liberty will become something we have, rather than something we only write and talk about.