Australian Lefty on Politics, Governance, Science and Info Management

Worst Oz international lefty blog ideas ever?

Posted by Dave Bath on 2009-06-18

…Perhaps, and it’s mine – indeed this very post.

This comment by Greego (a regular at the Australian Libertarian Society blog) to my post "Worst Oz libertarian blog idea ever" (2009-06-17), itself in response to this ALS blog post got me thinking…

If a central plank generally attributed to states (law enforcement) can be essentially a competitive industry (with presumably different prices offered by different suppliers for different services), then why not open the rest to competition?

(It might be difficult to get parties in a dispute agreeing on the judge, however!  And who says politicians can’t be bought?)

Why not even let people choose the nation-state they want citizenship in?  Change their brand loyalties without friction as service offeerings change? After all, in a globalized market, with states seen as service providers, why shouldn’t this service be subject to competition and GATT?  The geographic restraint of trade is ridiculous and totally against free-market principles.

Meanwhile, think of the advantages.  States can get taxes from people according to their service offerings.  The more efficient the state, the more citizens (sorry, customers) they will attract.

On top of this, warfare between states (sorry, service providers) that destroys infrastructure is almost inconceivable.  There’s an efficiency gain straight away!

Besides, I can’t wait to watch what happens in those states that ultra-capitalists join: no rules… no taxes… no state.

Further, why should there be any barriers to new entries into the market?

Oh dear, does this libertarian train of thought lead to virtual distributed communes?

The only real problem with this system is the difficulty of finding place to train your national sports teams.  Bummer – there’s the showstopper.

Despite that, I hereby create Balneusia – with me as President until I gather enough citizens to form a governing council.  Any funds sent to the Balneusian Treasury from citizens are simply movements within the Balneusian state, so are not subject to controls and taxes of other states.

I’ll be issuing a detailed prospectus for those interested in becoming citizens shortly, but here are a few of the initial bits of legislation I’ll be passing:

  • No Collingwood Football Club supporters are accepted as citizens, and change of allegiance to that club with be deemed treason, with the criminal condemned to watch replays of every match Collingwood ever lost, and given that treason precludes the right to any electoral activity, you cannot change states again.  (There, that’ll get Balneusia a pretty big citizenship base, especially in South-Western Victoria).
  • While money transfers from other states into Balneusia are permitted, only the state can use those funds, and only for purchase of essential goods from other states.
  • The only medium of exchange between citizens is work – hours are banked in the Balneusian National Repository according to ability, and distributed according to need.
  • All citizens (subject to cognitive tests) will be required to vote on every piece of legislation, with regulation development modelled on the procedures used by the Internet Engineering Task Force and the World Wide Web Consortium for standards development and ratification.  (The penalty for not voting on a piece of legislation is to be forced to watch a replay of every Collingwood grand final victory – or listen to a playlist of songs alternating between Celine Dion and whatever death metal band I get told the name of first if the criminal is not into Aussie Rules Football.)
  • All real estate purchased or leased from other states is common property, and will be considered a consulate.
  • Citizenship is automatically granted to all anthropoid apes and cetaceans, who will have full protection under international law (yep, Balneusia expects a seat at the UN).
  • Dual citizenship is illegal.

Notes/See Also

  • I’m with Legal Eagle and her comment on my original post about competitive service providers of policing services.
  • Eeek!  According to More’s Utopia, which I like, those who seek office should be precluded from it for life.  I guess the compromise is that I’ll have to step down and merely be another ordinary governing council member – like every other citizen – as soon as somebody else becomes a Balneusian.  Oh well – whoever said something as complex as the rules for a state could avoid Kurt Gödel’s work that forces incompleteness or inconsistency!
  • Yep, I’m merely performing an acquisition of micturition products in case you hadn’t figured it out yet, (or as the latest incarnation of that foreigner, Australian PM Kevin Rudd would say, "Getting the piss").

6 Responses to “Worst Oz international lefty blog ideas ever?”

  1. I don’t think you’d find libertarians & ultra-capitalists necessarily joining a no-rule, no-tax community. I certainly wouldn’t. There is an important difference between the definition of libertarian and libertine.

    I’d probably try out a few different communities, if they’d accept me. Perhaps a communitarian kibbutz for a while. Then a hippy commune. Perhaps something more stable and socially conservative when I have young children. And then a place with a focus on providing opportunities for the most disadvantaged. Who knows? Diversity is the spice of life.

    It would be quite easy to have pre-arranged judges for dispute resolution. It is in everybody’s interest to make an agreement and it’s in the judge’s interest to be as fair as possible as their business success would depend on their reputation for fairness.

  2. Greego said

    You are essentially describing Panarchy which would be my preferred system of governance as it maximises freedom of choice:

    I note you’ve described it in such a way as to poke fun at it but haven’t actually provided any arguments as to why it wouldn’t be a workable system. In a lot of ways the EU is panarchic – EU citizens have free movement within the federation to choose where they want to live and work (and thus what government they have.) The original USA was similar too (before their federal government became the behemoth it is today.) The difference here would be that the states can physically overlap, and there wouldn’t be an overarching EU or US-style government (however there could be competing non-state arbitrators who would provide similar services.)

  3. Dave Bath said

    Greego and John
    Yes, poking fun… but, my hidden within is the key to my criticism of standard models… the only demonstration of a large scale anarchic system that creates order is the open source community (the W3C and IETF standards definitions process are the hint)… and that works as a gift economy: the more people take from me, the happier I am. And property is theft. (OK, rms a.k.a. Stallman would go the “free as in speech not free as in beer”, but most of the OS community is into giving away free beer).

    Of course, it only works because there is no property (once code is released into the public domain), so there can be no theft. And the OpenSource community approach, while it can define laws (techical standards), has no way of enforcing them… so violent crime cannot be addressed in the metaphor. If there /is/ ownership, it is tenuous, and is granted more as a custodianship because the custodian-by-acclamation can do more for the community with that custodianship than anyone else.

    It also has the problem of limited resources (e.g. bandwidth). I’ll admit to a few instances of “violent” retaliation to spammers (we are talking bang-path and uucp mail days here) of punitive mailbombings (stuffing their intrays so they’d run out of quotas and their local sysadmin would remove their account). That vigilanteeism had limitations – and there was much debate about it. In the physical world, I don’t know what an analogy might be.

    Regardless of how pure it might be, there are massive problems moving from the “AS-IS” architecture of modern states to the “TO-BE” architecture. The current geographical nation states are now as useful as city states would have been in the 19th century.

    The only possible migration path that I can see to a desirable outcome is via a single state, with liberal democratic social policies and justice systems, and common ownership/custodianship of resources, work being the only medium of exchange, with a state guiding people to work in the areas they are best at. More’s Utopia has given me much to think about here.

    There’ll be more posts on this sort of thing later, but the opensource movement as a model for government has much to recommend it. But I /do/ want to explore the weaknesses of transferring the model to the “real world”.

    As to the weaknesses of the system I’m poking fun at… provision of infrastructure, administration of who is a citizen of what…. very difficult.

    Anyway, more another day. But just think, who apart from the geeks and nerds are happy with gift economies? Fix that, teach/indoctrinate them into being willing participants in a gift economy, and then so many problems besetting us disappear.

  4. I think Dave’s idea isn’t based on geography which is what makes it a bit silly (intentionally). If you add borders and defined states/regions it becomes much less silly.

  5. blinq said

    i agree, dave’s idea is just silly

  6. Regarding infrastructure — that can be (and often is) provided privately. Even the first lighthouses were built and maintained privately. (Ironically, they are used as the example of a perfect public good that “proves” the need for government.)

    Regarding citizenship — it’s quite easy for groups to keep records of their members. I can’t see that as a problem.

    As for an example of anarchist systems in real life — the free-market, civil society, families… basically everything except the government. I would suggest that the above three all work better than the government.

    And as for the idea of politicians and bureaucrats deciding what job each person should have, that sounds like a stalinist nightmare.

    Finally, ownership includes the freedom to sell. If I don’t have the right to sell my “share” of the ABC or a resource, then I don’t really own it. When people talk about “common ownership” what they actually mean is “government ownership”. And the government is not the same thing as society.

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