(Era of Wisdom) We live in a world where an increasing number of people are beginning to tire of being robbed, bullied, and patronized by the political class. Time and time again, we watch our government (and governments around the world) act in ways that do not benefit the people, but violate them.
Governments and their counterparts are systems that are not only savagely destructive and corrupt in nature, but also very inefficient and wasteful. It has become transparent that government has prevented human freedom at nearly every facet of life, leading to the annihilation of many civil liberties. As time goes on, it seems these inexpediences will not improve, but only get more destructive and inefficient.
Yet, there are many good people willing to organize and work hard towards their freedom, and the freedom of others. With the creative intelligence and innovation of humans, there ARE solutions. One of the most feasible solutions, something that is happening right now, is the creation of private cities, startup societies, special economic zones (SEZs), micro-nations, etc. Let us examine why I believe these startup societies to be the future for evolved economic and political systems based completely on voluntaryist principles.
Why can’t government systems be optimized?
There are many potential reasons for why the U.S. government is a faulty system, but three of the broadest reasons governments historically fail is:
1. There is no feedback system. The state is a monopoly on force, meaning it uses force and violence to achieve everything that it does. Because of this, it can perform as poorly and expensively as it wants, and it will never face any consequence.
2. The politicians who make the decisions about our lives are often the most removed from the very things they are making decisions about.
3. Political power tends to corrupt, or at the very least, create significant moral hazards for any who wield it. The moral lines tend to get blurred for anyone in that position, since there is little consequence to individuals who make choices to profit themselves at the expense of others.
So, how can we learn from the flaws of government and apply different concepts in an alternative system to improve our situation? What productive means can we use to achieve a better system than the current?
Many believe the free market offers, not a utopian solution, but a much more efficient and free alternative. Ideas such as Agorism have become an effective way for individuals to take back power in their own hands and compete with the State. Their aim is to make the State irrelevant, and prove that voluntary exchanges among individuals is a superior method of operation than seizing control through force. Unlike our current government, the free market has a built-in feedback system. An individual has incentive to perform well and expediently in order to stay in business. The free market allows you to make your own decisions about your life, so long as you are not harming another individual or their property. Furthermore, all authority not willingly and fully agreed to after disclosure of all terms and conditions is deemed illegitimate in a free market system.
Yet, the government does provide services for the demand of genuine human needs. Things like fire departments, police departments, education, etc. So much so that most people are willing to accept the extreme limitations on their liberties in order to have these protections from a state.
However, what if you could provide these same services to people, only without the disadvantages of the State? You would be creating a better product. Imagine your respective rights and duties are laid down in a written agreement between you and the service provider. For everything else, you are free to do what you want. Hence, you are a contracting party on equal footing with a secured legal position, rather than being an object of the government or majority’s will.
So is it possible for a private company to offer all of the necessary services that government normally monopolizes? Titus Gebel, a German entrepreneur with a PhD in law, has started such a company: Free Private Cities Ltd. After 30 years of political activity, he came to the conclusion that achieving freedom through the democratic process is impossible. Subsequently, he created an entirely new product that could work as a role model in the case of success.
The creation of startup societies allows us to test new and radical ideas. The policies of tomorrow can be tested in the startup societies of today, creating a model that the world can follow if successful.
Titus Gebel calls this opening market for cities the “market of living together: voluntary exchange (including the right to reject any offer), competition between products, and the resulting diversity of the product range. A ‘state service provider’ or ‘government service provider’ could offer a specific model of living together within a defined territory and only the ones who like the offer settle there. Such offers have to be attractive — otherwise there will be no customers.”
Gebel isn’t the only one to test the waters of creating startup societies. There are currently about 5,000 worldwide. Some great examples are Hong Kong, Singapore, Fort Galt in Chile, and Liberland. Another great example of a startup society is the Seasteading Institute.
China’s Example With Special Economic Zones
Here is a brief, yet solid example of the potential of startup societies. Of all places, China implemented one of the first special economic zones in 1980 and serves as a very successful model for the creation of SEZs.
The creation of the zones was implemented by Deng Xiaoping, desperate to bring China out of its terrible poverty from the Mao dynasty. Unlike Mao, Xiaoping was more open to try new things in attempts to bring wealth into his country. For the first time, in these zones, people were able to work and trade in an area without the Communist regulations that plague the rest of China.
When these Special Economic Zones were implemented, the prosperity they brought in such a short time was phenomenal. Only 4 years later, 14 more SEZs were created. This graph from the World Bank illustrates the GDP growth since the first creation of SEZs in 1980, referring to China’s economic growth in the past 30 years as “an unprecedented development ‘miracle’ in human history”.
The Time is Now
People are striving to change the systems they live in around the world. The last few years have seen an unprecedented rise of new political movements, radical ideas, and innovative technologies.
The creation of startup societies proposes a whole new way for humans to test and evolve our current systems. The creation of private cities offers a whole spectrum of potential ideas. The main idea is that the system of government is 100% voluntary and mutually agreed upon. Furthermore, if more private cities were to appear, a natural competition would occur, possibly subjecting existing states to, as Titus Gebel puts it, “creative destruction”.
He says, “If Free Private Cities are developed across the world, they will put states under considerable pressure to change their systems towards more freedom, or else they may lose subjects and revenue. And this is precisely the positive effect of competition that has been lacking in the state market to date. Not all Free Private Cities need conform to my own ideal rules. Specialized cities offering social security or catering to specific religious, ethnical or ideological concerns are conceivable. Within this framework, even socialists would be free to try to prove that their system done properly really does work. But this time one thing is different: others do not have to suffer from this (or any other) social experiment. The superstructure of voluntary association allows many different systems to flourish. Given voluntary participation, everything is possible.”
Startup societies are the means to compete with existing states for better systems. They create a practical alternative strategy to change society than by electoral politics.
They also provide a path to the decentralization of power, promoting free markets, civil liberties, and human rights. Most importantly, this is not a future dream. This is something happening NOW. There are entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, policy makers, etc. taking interest in these ideas. There are people currently discussing the economics, infrastructure, politics, foreign policy, and technology for these cities.
This article is only a brief description of the ways the creation of startup societies could change the world as we know it, without the need for violence or revolution. This is why I believe these startup societies to be the future for evolved economic and political systems based completely on voluntaryist principles.
This article (Private Cities, Freedom Cells, Free Communities are the Solution to Hegemony) is free and open source. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Era of Wisdom.org.