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Imaginary voluntarist society: is it statist or voluntarist?

One hundred persons voluntarily form a village under a written contract with the following stipulations:

1. All members agree to pay 10% of the value of their property, income or purchases as they choose annually
2. All members agree to be subject to sit on jury in judgement of those who violate the contract
3. The penalties for violations are laid out in the original contract
4. Anyone who violates the contract and refuses the penalty has to leave the village
5. The signatories to the contract agree to submit to a draft in case of attack
6. The signatories agree to modifications to the contract by popular vote according to some described procedure

After everyone signs and the land is acquired and divided between the signatories, inexplicable natural disasters occur which make this village the only habitable area on the Earth surrounded by mutant shark infested radioactive waters.

As the oldest members die and children are born, the children must sign the contract upon majority or else leave the village. To leave the village of course implies facing the danger of mutant sharks and radioactive waves.

Therefore, the only means of changing the laws is by participating in the contractually defined procedures of changing the terms of the contract.

Does this private village conform to the conditions of NAP and not violate any libertarian ethics?

If so, how does this differ from a modern constitutional state?

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Cyril's picture

Well, he was POST-"Enlightenment".

Well, he was POST-"Enlightenment".

He came 50 years later.

He had some time to reflect on the Greatness of the French Revolution...

You won't be disappointed, I suppose, about what he had to say of the "Enlightenment" ! ;)

"Cyril" pronounced "see real". I code stuff.


"To study and not think is a waste. To think and not study is dangerous." -- Confucius

That's one of the reasons I'm favorable.

Will check it out, thanks.

Cyril's picture

Clicky ?

>>> Clicky ? <<<

"Cyril" pronounced "see real". I code stuff.


"To study and not think is a waste. To think and not study is dangerous." -- Confucius

OMG! It's BILL3...I've been trolled!

Whatever big guy :)
Good on you for getting me again.
Quite a character.

Did you even describe a state?

It's hard to tell from your thumbnail sketch:
"Members can be drafted"...by what entity? Who is doing the drafting?
"Members pay 10%"...to what entity? Who is doing the collecting?
A modern constitutional republic, like all governments/states, is an entity that has achieved military dominance over society and has claimed the power to harm (that society) with legal impunity.

Does your hypothetical contain these elements? It may not even have a state.

If it does, in a matter of controversy between an individual and the state, would the judiciary be established, controlled, and paid for by the state (like it is now)? Would the state have primacy in the controversy?

Also, the difference between agreeing to pay x to an entity is 100% the opposite of getting taxed by an entity because a tax is a "nonconsensual taking". The state takes what it wants, when wants, how it wants regardless of your consent. It can do with the proceeds whatever it wants.

Lastly, if my assumptions are correct, it sounds like you described a constitutional direct democracy. Which would be absolutely STATIST.

Happy to chat more about it if you want.

Every member agreed to the contract terms voluntarily.

How is it statist? The law is enforced by a private government that signs members via contract.

"6. The signatories agree to

"6. The signatories agree to modifications to the contract by popular vote according to some described procedure."

Could that procedure involve the majority voting away the rights of the minority?

It would entail whatever

the voluntary signers agreed to in the contract. If they signed a contract stating that the majority can vote for a period of no free speech during a war, then they would be held to the contract they signed.

If you counter that people can't sign such a contract, you have to answer who's going to stop them? Libertarian big brother? Ancap Dick Cheney gonna invade to re establish true democracy?

People can always revolt. Force decides everything in the end. If people think something is morally reprehensible, they can fight back without Rothbard's permission. I'm not at all advocating the above society/contract, just showing how it's fully in line with voluntarism.

When everything collapses who

When everything collapses who gets the WhiteHouse?


gets it

If you don’t know the difference

between your example and the “modern constitutional state” than ……frankly you just don’t know anything. Our “modern constitutional state” is exactly what it was intended to be…….an Empire.

This post reminds me of a certain movie

by M. Night Shyamalan.


All that is missing is a room to store the fake monster costumes, to keep people in the village.

“Although it was the middle of winter, I finally realized that, within me, summer was inextinguishable.” — Albert Camus


The village does conform to the NAP and libertarian ethics. The land belonging to the village is the private property of some entity, and hence that entity can "make the rules" for whoever is on the property.

However, this is not the same situation as the modern constitutional state. Consider the following counter-example. At the dawn of time, the first humans roamed North America ("native Americans", if you will). One father settles on a plot of land and it becomes his private property. When the father gets old, he passes on the ownership of the land to his son, and that son eventually gives it to his son, and so on. Then one day a group of outsiders declares the entire surrounding land to be the "United States of America" along with a constitution. That is fine, UNLESS the outsiders try to force the native American to comply with their laws.

This is perhaps an extreme example, but it illustrates the main point: at no point was the United States the complete private property of any one entity. Therefore, unlike in the village example, it is morally wrong to force any newborn (or any person, in fact) to automatically conform to the laws of the country.

Let me point out why it doesnt conform...

once the disaster happens and its all they have, the people can vote to take as much or as little money for the state as they want. Bill just described a constitutional direct democracy.

The idea that historical thefts

render present day agreements void is absurd. We have no way of knowing exactly what happened in history. Europe and Asia were once populated by genetically distinct non modern humanoids who were displaced.

Private property didn't even exist in those times. Property in land is a pretty recent social invention, and things even more abstract like corporate ownership of vast tracts of land are even more recent.

These OPs

are getting ever more desperate to make a non-existent point.

it just occurred to me that this isn't even a valid contract

A valid contract, in libertarian terms, is a transfer of a title of property. What is the property being transferred here, from whom to who, and under what conditional requirements?

This appears to be based on the "binding promise" theory of contract, which libertarians reject.

EDIT: If the contract is for the purchase of the land, I guess I could see it as a whole bunch of easements put on the land. I guess I am fine with that, as it was all voluntarily agreed upon. The question then becomes: what is the homesteading principle? If someone abandons their land or dies without heirs, and the land becomes unowned, how can others rightfully claim it?

“Although it was the middle of winter, I finally realized that, within me, summer was inextinguishable.” — Albert Camus


You say the contract is invalid, but if two people agree to something and find a private person with a gun willing to enforce it, who is the fourth party declaring it invalid? The ghost of Murray Rothbard?

You say that a valid contract "in libertarian terms" is such and such. But there's no libertarian dictator in anarchocap world. People can agree to whatever they want and agencies can compete to enforce any contracts. In "reality-ian" terms or "Bill3ian" terms, such contracts and and do exist. Declaring them invalid, despite being voluntary, not only undermines the voluntary principle, it also makes private law communities impossible since they can never promise to abide by any terms and conditions.

You then modified your position to say that they can in fact agree to terms and conditions, so long as they somehow "inhere" in the mindless, inert property, as if the land or house was a mysterous god with powers to confer rightness onto an agreement rather than the actual people making the agreement.

With this little bit of superstition, then every possible insane contract would be made acceptable, as long as the terms are seated in the property and not in the agreement itself.

Finally, in the real world, the libertarian theory only prevails if all the successful law enforcement agencies agree only to enforce that kind of contract. If they choose to enforce some other system of delimited valid contract, with some other theory of what is just property, that would be the one to get enforced.

Suppose one law agency just decided to go rogue and rob people of their property. Some larger agency would have to swoop in, on the house, and restore their property. But to do so it would have to be bigger and stronger than the other agency. Not just a little bigger, but so much bigger that the losses incurred in recovering the property could be made up by payment from the property owners.

Even then, the winning agency could just steal the loot, and power could just coalesce from anarchy into monopoly. Then you're back to a force monopoly, the character of which we have no way of guessing.

How do you claim land? If you

How do you claim land? If you could afford to buy a country, would you charge the residents rent? If no, why not?

With guns

more specifically, with a superior violence making machine and,or the agreement/recognition of other relevant people.

You can contract for more

You can contract for more than just property sales. An easy example is the contract you make with your attorney who is selling the property. If contracts for services are abolished in your anarchist dystopia....

FYI I just read Kinsella's article on the subject and I find it to be insane. Adding title to money basically incredibly hinders the utility of money. Anyone can say that money has "title" but what about enforcement?!?! Money no longer becomes fungible.

Ventura 2012

A contract for services is a valid contract

if, in return for the services, money is transferred to the service provider.

Of course money has title. Title means that you own the money. Title doesn't mean you have to have a piece of paper saying this here money belongs to me. Possession of money implies ownership, unless someone else makes a claim. Then you take it to the courts and the decide.

Enforcement? I don't get what the problem is with that. If two people both claim a $100 bill, you would take it the small claims court and the judge would decide who has a better claim based on the evidence.

“Although it was the middle of winter, I finally realized that, within me, summer was inextinguishable.” — Albert Camus

OMG This was awesome.

I bursted out laughing out loud at work. Great work. Thanks! :)

You got it.

That's what I like to hear.

If you read Hans Hoppe, David Friedman, and Gil Guillory

They describe a society almost exactly like this, which is in practice almost exactly like a state. this is of course the BEST CASE SCENARIO(!) The marginal benefits of such a system are certainly not worth the risk, future upheaval and present political blacklisting that anarchists heap upon us.

Ventura 2012

The problem is the children

To force someone to leave the place to which they are connected---no matter what kind of contract others have agreed upon---is aggression. If the children have not consented, then it is aggression to force them to abandon their place. Property ownership proceeds from connection and responsibility, not title or contract.

Jefferson felt strongly that each generation should renegotiate the social contract. The same thing was a problem for him because he couldn't determine the division line between generations (and he didn't understand the possibility of full non-consent either I don't think).

I think we have an advantage now. Non-consent, coupled with a reasonable notion of responsibility and property rights---along with the ingredients for a viable, sustainable economy---and there is hope for a voluntary/voluntarist society.

same thought

"As the oldest members die and children are born, the children must sign the contract upon majority or else leave the village. "

Why must they? Isn't that force?

"Endless money forms the sinews of war." - Cicero, www.freedomshift.blogspot.com

Yes and that's where this hypothetical needs more specifics

In other contracts, once the parties are dead the contract expires. That's why I asked Bill the questions I did about the entity overseeing this whole arrangement.

Are you saying ...

... that the squatter has a legitimate claim to property?

Property ownership proceeds from connection and responsibility, not title or contract.

Sounds like you are making the case for squatter's rights. How are title and contract not valid?


"Squatter's rights" sounds like it's part of your title and contract framework, but yes, certain squatters have more rights to property than anyone with a title or contract.

To my knowledge, this was first recognized by slaves after 1865 who felt they had more right to the land they worked than the massa in the big house who held the title.

In short, if you sustainably derive your existence from a place to which you are connected and in which you live and defend, you have a fundamental right to ownwership of that place.

Anyone acting under the cover of title and contract who overcomes your defense and violates your fundamental property right is violating natural law. Title and contract, in this context, are not valid simply because they have no voluntary foundation. They exist in a framework to which the fundamental property owner has not consented. You can build up a title and contract system on the foundation of fundamental property rights by connection to place, but when that system attempts to exceed the bounds of sustainable derivation of life, it is in violation of natural law.

So my answer is that, while not every squatter has a legitimate claim to property, some do. And every living person has a valid claim to some property. And those things exist outside any framework of title and contract you might construct.

Let me ask you: How is title and contract valid?

In my view it is not an "all or nothing" proposition. Title and contract can be valid within certain limitations. But the framework we have now is far outside those limitations. We have people/corporations/whatever destroying vast resources of fertility and creating uninhabitable places all around the world in places to which they have a title but not connection. There is no right to execute such destruction. People do not build nuclear power plants in their own backyards---i.e., in places to which they are connected and from which they sustainably derive their existence.