James Clayton


(from a “Canadian” perspective)




A concise and clear re-statement of the concept of Panarchy (or voluntary communities) with specific reference to the federal territorial state of Canada.



Canada is described as a democratic constitutional monarchy with a sovereign as head of state and a prime minister as head of government. The state, embodied in the sovereign and often referred to simply as “the Crown”, claims ownership of all the land within its geopolitical boundaries and claims sovereignty over the population within its territory. The capital and shares of the Bank of Canada and the Royal Canadian Mint are also held on behalf of Elizabeth Windsor, Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada.

National currency is not a benign medium of exchange or a reliable store of value. It is systemically scarce, which keeps us in a collective state of perpetual debt, restrains economic activity, and leads to a shortage of paid employment. Every dollar is “borrowed” or credited into existence as interest-bearing debt, and the interest has to be obtained from money that is also created as interest-bearing debt. Total aggregate debt, including principal and interest, is always more than the total amount of money in circulation.

Money, in the form of credit and “loans”, is created by the financial institutions in collusion with the state and its government, central bank and mint. Government obtains credit from the financial institutions and then passes its debt to taxpayers, but taxes must also be paid with money that is created as interest-bearing debt. The central bank manipulates the price of credit by influencing interest rates, which influences decisions to “borrow” and spend and affects demand for goods and services. Legal tender notes and coins, which represent only a very small portion of the money circulating in the economy at any one time, are distributed to the financial institutions as tangible tokens of credit. When new money is brought into circulation it adds more money to the economy without necessarily bringing more goods and services to the market. This can lead to currency inflation and price inflation, which erodes the value of savings.

There does appear to be an increasing level of dissatisfaction with government and the political and monetary systems, although there isn’t a consensus in defining or solving the problems. This might pose a challenge if we expect everyone to follow the same route, but maybe an assortment of choices is part of the solution.

We can already select from an ever-expanding array of goods and services from a variety of producers and providers, and we can customize some of our purchases. Buyers and sellers can use alternative methods and media of exchange, including barter, mutual credit clearing, community currencies, cryptocurrencies and commodity money, and different arrangements can operate concurrently to facilitate the trade of goods and services. We can also seek membership in different organizations and associations with diverse religious, social, educational, economic and political interests, and various groups can coexist in the same geographical area. An even wider range of options and alternatives is possible with a little imagination and experimentation.

It seems reasonable to suggest that all products and services could compete in an open market. Different businesses and groups could compete or collaborate to attract new customers and members, based on the quality and price of any products or services offered, including instruction, health care, transportation, utilities, insurance, protection and dispute resolution.

Autonomous groups could also make their own decisions about governance, administration, representation, regulation, enforcement, adjudication and negotiations. Organized communities do not need to be defined by contiguous properties, restrictive geopolitical boundaries or exclusive territorial sovereignty and jurisdiction.

Decisions about group affiliation and the exchange or distribution of goods and services can be made without imposing one’s preferences on anyone else or forcing anyone to relocate, and without any coercive monopolies, mandatory membership, compulsory production or imposed monetary systems. We could then select the goods and services that we wish to buy and sell, negotiate mutually agreeable prices, control the allocation of our own credit, use various currencies or exchange systems, and accept or refuse any form of payment. This would certainly give us more control over our activities and interactions.

Everything comes down to costs and benefits, and various communities, arrangements and systems can exist simultaneously in any locality for the mutual benefit of all voluntary participants, at their own risk and expense.


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