What is Voluntary Polycentrism?
Voluntary Polycentrism is the only way in which a truly civilized society can be structured. If the abolition of slavery was the first step in the long road to eliminating the mantra of “might makes right” from the structure of society, then Voluntary Polycentrism is the last step. It puts the final nail in the coffin of a state based society.
The root of all evil is interventionism. What is interventionism? It is not solely getting involved in some foreign land. Interventionism occurs both domestically and internationally. It means for one or more parties to interfere in the peaceful actions or lives of another party or parties without their express permission. It almost universally involves employing violence or the threat of violence. Consider: any “good” action is transformed into an “evil” action if done so without permission. Sex becomes rape. A gift becomes theft. Work becomes slavery. Immigration and trade become war. Choice becomes monopoly. And so on. It is not the actions that are evil, rather the evilness lies within the coercive intent of one party that alters what another party would otherwise do absent such coercion.
The sole reason for the existence of the state is to intervene against those that would disagree with its “leaders.” Therefore if interventionism is evil and the state is interventionist in its nature there is no other ethical path than to deconstruct the state.
When that day comes to pass, what shall replace it? Voluntary Polycentrism. In order to understand this concept we must breakdown both words.
“Voluntary” is the polar opposite of “Compulsion”. “Compulsion” is what the state of today is built upon. “Voluntary” means simply that we shall choose whom we shall associate with in order to secure the benefits the state monopolistally purports to provide. Choosing means actually making the choice, not merely voting and hoping others choose as we do. We will not have a choice forced upon us simply by virtue of the happenstance of the geographical coordinates of our home or the choices of those around us.
“Polycentrism” means that your neighbor’s choice will have no bearing on your choice. Just as people of varying religious beliefs can all live side by side and feel no need to compel their neighbor to conform to their beliefs, so too shall people’s political alignments coexist without the need to force their neighbor to conform to their political beliefs. Perhaps the simplest analogy is that of multiple states coexisting within the same geographical territory, i.e. borderless states. However such “states” would differ from current states because people would voluntarily choose to join them. So one could decide to be a member of the “Georgia” state and follow its rules voluntarily but physically live in what is now considered Iowa. This is no different than being Catholic and attending church in one place and then traveling far away and attending the exact same church in another place.
To briefly respond to the most obvious and common criticism of such a structure, namely that it would be chaos with so many different rules and laws and one group not following the laws of another group, I would say: So what? If one religion’s teachings demand they attend church on Wednesday does it somehow cause a problem that others who are not a member of that religion do not do so? Obviously everyone would have the same type of laws against murder, rape, theft – such crimes are completely non-controversial and laws against them have existed since civilization began. There is no reason to think they would suddenly disappear under such a system. However all other laws are merely an expression of personal preference (“I don’t like alcohol, ban it, I don’t like drugs, ban them, I don’t like raw milk, ban it”, etc). If some groups did not impose a minimum wage law on their members or permitted homogender unions would it really affect in any meaningful way the lives of those that did have laws concerning those things in their own group? Not one bit. Those with a strong revulsion to those with differing preferences could and would come together in private covenant-type communities (think HOAs on steroids).
Voluntary Polycentrism would allow for society improvement insofar as there would be competition between all the various groups for members. Over time the groups that produced better societal outcomes (measured by whatever metric was most important to those doing the judging – wealth, literacy, education, happiness, health, etc) would attract more and more adherents (voluntarily). Over time the most efficient groups would tend to dominate in terms of “members”. However, being strictly voluntary they would never have the right to overrule even the small minorities that disagreed with them as we experience under our current monopolistic system of governance.
Although I’m not necessarily advocating such a system be put in place tomorrow (as it would of course be highly disruptive) what I am saying is that long term this is the solution we will see come to pass. Someday we will look back on our statist past with the same level of contempt and and bewilderment as we do when we consider the prevalence of slavery not that long ago. The first step, however, toward this goal would be one in which the federal/national government is diminished in its power and more power is returned to the states. In this way we could have a somewhat voluntary system in that if you disagree with how a state is run you can move to a better one that you do agree with. Over time those states that lose population will be forced to change their policies to mimic those of the states gaining population. We shouldn’t have to move in order to enjoy such freedoms, but it is preferable to having no choice whatsoever which is the situation we have today. No one can escape Federal edicts (Obamacare, Social Security, minimum wage, Federal Reserve system, etc). Now just imagine the nightmare of a one world UN run government? There would be no place on the planet to hide from those that would meddle within our lives.