Jun 11, 2019
14 minute read (full)
First let’s decentralize history…
This month’s thematic has been a real challenge for us and raised many questions in our minds. Why? The history of decentralization is complex and non-linear. But most of all, it is difficult to be considered from an objective point of view, stripped of the predominance of the state.
Talking about decentralization leads obviously to discuss about centralization; to find the ghosts of history, to cross-reference the victories and failures of social-political movements; to discover some contemporary alternatives to the generalized centralization of our lives. Unless we consider that a technology is neutral, in the end, we cannot talk about decentralization without talking about governance, suffrage, politics or apoliticism, autonomy, organization… and the dominant model of centralization: the nation-state. Still, if a very vast literature and documentation concerns rise of states, it must be stated that the one granted to the opposite, i. e. the absence of a state, is almost non-existent. More…
This needs to become a global trend, like McDonald’s.
By Harry Stewart
The culture trip.
We’ve all heard of places like Liechtenstein and the Vatican, tiny European nations with minuscule populations. Yet these are internationally recognized states—actual countries, if you will. Even more bizarre are Europe’s micronations: quirky little self-proclaimed lands which have come into existence for the strangest of reasons. Here are the most unusual on the continent.
The Republic of Saugeais
This tiny slice of eastern France actually formed as a state in jest back in 1947. The owner of a restaurant of the same name jokingly asked a visiting government prefect if they had permission to enter his kingdom. Upon further interrogation, the sharp-witted proprietor invented details of his kingdom on the spot, and was somehow officially appointed president of the new republic. Primarily made up of good-humored retirees, Saugeais once elected one of its many presidents after the latter received a particularly vigorous round of applause.
By Joe Quirk
If you’d like to live in a country that caters to your values and lifestyle, why not build your own? Nearly half the earth’s surface is a blue frontier over which no country holds sovereignty, and startup cities that float permanently in international waters will soon be economically feasible as construction materials get cheaper, greener and printable in 3D form. These will be homesteads on the high seas — or seasteads.
Joe QuirkBy 2020, Blue Frontiers, our for-profit spinoff from The Seasteading Institute, a nonprofit research and advocacy organization, plans to provide fresh jurisdictions on floating sustainable islands designed to adapt organically to sea level change. These will be privately financed and built by local maritime construction firms employing the latest in sustainable blue tech.We’ve already raised our seed round of investments to perform research and secure legislation, so get ready for the next wave of nations.Of course, the need for seasteads could not be greater. Americans are fed up with their government — in a recent Washington Post-ABC News poll, nearly two-thirds of Americans reported that they trust neither the Democratic or Republican establishment to represent them.But this isn’t a new sentiment. America’s founders were also fed up with their government. The New World served as a platform where political innovators could experiment with unconventional ideas. As new states and territories were established piecemeal across the frontier, they became incubators for novel ideas of governance — eventually shaping the country we have today.
Leading fourth generation warfare theorist Bill Lind, a paleconservative, discusses the possibility of a Red Tribe revolt as the Blue Tribe increasingly achieves national hegemony. Some highlights:
“…But something far more powerful than any issue is motivating the base: an ever-stronger feeling that it’s us against them. “Us” is average people who work for a living, follow the rules, go to church on Sunday, and try to be good fathers, mothers, and neighbors. “Them” is a mix of elites who despise average people, blacks and immigrants who live on working Americans’ tax payments while committing violent crimes and the Globalist 1% who get rich by exporting average peoples’ jobs….I don’t think it will accept that outcome, not when a radically Left Democratic president starts opening the borders, turning the White House into a LGBTQ wedding chapel and lets millions of black criminals out of jail while giving them the vote. At that point, there is going to be a rebellion.
In much of the South, the rebellion could take an old/new form: nullification. That issue seemed to be settled before the Civil War, when the Supreme Court ruled that states could not nullify acts of the federal government. But in recent years, nullification has come back, not from the Right but from the Left, and, because it is coming from the Left, it has been accepted by the Establishment. Two clear cases are laws regarding marijuana and enforcement of federal laws against illegal immigration. On the former, state after state has legalized marijuana despite federal law that makes its sale or use illegal. It is as clear a case of state-level nullification as I can imagine. With regard to illegal immigrants, many Left-ruled cities have proclaimed themselves “sanctuary cities” where local police will not enforce federal immigration laws.
This is more or less the same argument I have been making for decades. The Blue Tribe (“progressives”) have largely won the “culture wars” on most issues, and the “Blue zones” (large cities and coasts) are where most of the US population lives, with the Red Tribe located in the territorially large but sparsely populated rural areas. Decentralization involving urban-surburban-rural separation would largely have the effect of achieving self-determination for most cultural factions while underming the state/ruling class/power elite at the same found. An anarchist-led revolutionary populism with a far-left/radical-center/far-right “base” against the neoliberal/establishment is clearly the way to achieve such an objective. Think something like Italy’s Five Star Movement or the Pirate Parties on steroids.
One of the objections that is often raised to my perspective is that people will still be oppressed by authoritarian rightists in the Blue zones, or by authoritarian leftists in Red zones. But that is why pan-anarchism is necessary. There will not merely be Blue and Red zones, but purple, green, pink, lavendar, black, white, brown, yellow, and polka-dotted zones as well. This is not science fiction. Ancient Greece was a collection of thousands of cities with hundreds of different political systems. The Holy Roman Empire was a collection of hundreds of kingdoms and thousands of unique territories. The prototypes are already there. There are thousands of autonomous communities and startup societies around the world today.
Read the entire article here.
The future infrastructure of pan-anarchism? The city-states should only be the meta-structures for thousands of local communities, intentional communites, neighborhoods, districts, and autonomous zones. And why only 100? Ancient Greece was comprised of nearly 1100 autonomous cities. The Holy Roman Empire included hundreds of kingdoms intersecting with many more free cities and territories.
By Nolan Gray
From ancient Greece to Renaissance Italy to the Four Asian Tigers, city-states have always punched above their weight. They’ve driven culture forward, facilitated global commerce, and charged ahead of their nation-bound peers.
Indeed, cities — and the metropolitan regions that orbit around them — make sense as a political and economic unit. The key services we depend on government to do, from building infrastructure to ensuring public safety, are mostly handled by cities. And contrary to earlier predictions, the forces of globalization and the rise of the information economy have only made cities more important as economic engines and innovation hubs. It’s no surprise, then, that cities — and their mayors — are increasingly finding their voices in a world previously dominated by nations and international entities.
Unfortunately, the way the United States is structured today undermines this trend by privileging states as the key political entity. State boundaries in these modern times are typically arbitrary and often no longer reflect any meaningful political, cultural, or economic reality. Some U.S. cities, both big and small, manage to straddle state borders (think Texarkana or Bristol) while others run right up to the state edge but sharply hug the border (think Cincinnati or St. Louis). And a number of states are inexplicably fragmented because their seat of government is very different from their most populous town (think New York City/Albany and Chicago/Springfield). This often results in excessive fragmentation, unproductive competition, and a near total lack of regional land-use and transportation planning. We all suffer as a result.
Whenever a Republican president is in office, I see articles like this coming from the liberal side, and when a Democrat is in office, I see similar articles coming from conservatives. But these ideas never seem to gain any traction. Too many on the right are attached to nationalism (“USA! USA!”) and imperialism (what is euphemistically called “a strong national defense”). Too many on the left are attached to the idea of a global social democracy and “human rights imperialism,” or simply paralyzed by fear of the idea that some backwoods counties might do something un-progressive.
New York Mag
The year is 2019. California’s new governor, Gavin Newsom, recently elected on a platform that included support for the creation of a single-payer health-care system, now must figure out how to enact it. A prior nonpartisan analysis priced it at $400 billion per year — twice the state’s current budget. There appears to be no way to finance such a plan without staggering new taxes, making California a magnet for those with chronic illnesses just as its tax rates send younger, healthier Californians house-hunting in Nevada and big tech employers consider leaving the state.
But Newsom is not alone. Other governors have made similar promises, and Newsom calls together the executives of the most ideologically like-minded states — Oregon, Washington, New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Maryland. What if they banded to create a sole unified single-payer health-care system, spreading risk around a much larger pool of potential patients while creating uniformity across some of the country’s wealthiest states?
Only 7? Sounds a bit moderate. It’s interesting how these ideas keep getting circulated but never really catch on beyond the margins. Are that many people really that unhappy with the system? Or are political partisans really just equivalents of sports fans (with “extremists” like the Antifa and Alt-Right merely assuming the role of the football hooligans)?.
By Bonnie Kristian
Look, we had a good run.
Well, maybe “good” isn’t quite the right word … but certainly it’s been interesting. These United States were a grand experiment. But the experiment has gotten out of hand. It’s time to peacefully dissolve the union.
I know, I know. This is not what good Americans are supposed to suggest. “Four score and seven years ago” and all that. But to borrow a lesser-known phrase from that brief address, it seems to me we have tested whether this nation “can long endure,” and increasingly it is clear it cannot. It’s just not working. Do you really disagree? Do you like the way things are?
By Umair Haque
America is ripping itself apart. So much so that I couldn’t help but notice another strange, gruesome, and bizarre turning point in American collapse today. On the heels of Trump mocking Dr Ford, many famous and powerful right-wing extremists were bellowing, for the first time I can remember, in unison, a shared, loud, and explicit support of real, physical violence — “I love fighting!! What kind of man hasn’t been in a fight? Not a real one, I’ll tell you that!” Violence is virtuous, healthy, ennobling, in other words. My friends, this is far, far outside the lines of discourse we should expect from a civilized society. These are the kinds of things the sneering thugs and grandees who become the proud lieutenants and captains in the armies of dictators tend to say just before a democracy collapses. So while all that might strike you as inconsequential, I think it’s indicative of a deeper and truer malaise — because, of course, on the heels of the Kavanaugh debacle, it is a justification for the idea that anything should go. But can anything go in a democracy?
Americans don’t agree on two things anymore. Personhood and violence. They don’t agree that all people are people, or should be, or even can be — and therefore, many Americans appear to believe in many or most of the following things. It’s perfectly acceptable to rape women if you can get away with it, it’s perfectly fine to put children in camps, it’s perfectly desirable to suggest, believe, “know that” some groups are inherently superior to others, it’s quite alright to want to ethnically cleanse a society, it’s perfectly healthy to “debate” ideas like authoritarianism and fascism (as if two world wars hadn’t settled the question). Need I go on?
The Russians are coming!
An amusing and at times interesting presentation from the Left-Birchers, featuring some of the usual suspects. Watch this video, and then watch the video at the bottom of this post featuring an interview with Dr. Fred Schwarz of the Christian Anti-Communist Crusade from William F. Buckley’s “Firing Line” in 1967. Notice the similarities. The Russians are coming!
Thursday, May 17, 2018 at Third Place Books Alexander Reid Ross, Eva Cherniavsky, Shane Burley, Charu Charusheela, Philip Wohlstetter (moderator) Secession–the founding of a new community by breaking off from an existing state–is an idea that comes both in a Left version (anarcho-commune) and a Right version (white identity state). Under neoliberalism, the state itself has been seceding from its former functions like funding public works and providing a social safety net. How will these opposing forces interact both globally and in the future? What kind of strategies are open to the Left? Join Alexander Reid Ross (Against the Fascist Creep, AK Press); Eva Cherniavsky (Neocitizenship: Political Life After Democracy, NYU Press); Shane Burley (Fascism: What It Is and How to End It, AK Press) and Charu Charusheela (Rethinking Marxism) as they tease out the answers.
Startup Societies Summit San Francisco, California Aug 11, 2017 Tom Reed New State Movement Chair, d10e
By Scott Shackford
Another movement to split up California is brewing. This one wants to create a state called “New California,” essentially by separating the red from the blue.
New California would be made up of the inland and non-metropolitan parts of the state (with the notable exception of San Diego). Classic California would consist of the coastal regions from San Francisco down to Los Angeles. A stubby finger pointing eastward from the Bay Area would lump Sacramento in with the coastal folks.
This new push is happening for pretty much the same reason as every other push for secession in California: People in one part of the state feel ignored, unrepresented, and abandoned by state government. From Sacramento’s CBS affiliate:
“Well, it’s been ungovernable for a long time. High taxes, education, you name it, and we’re rated around 48th or 50th from a business climate and standpoint in California,” said founder Robert Paul Preston….
“There’s something wrong when you have a rural county such as this one, and you go down to Orange County which is mostly urban, and it has the same set of problems, and it happens because of how the state is being governed and taxed,” Preston said.
New California would remain in the union; they just want their own state. It is not unlike the efforts in northern California to break away into a new state named Jefferson.
The infrastructure of pan-anarchism is already being created.
Mexico’s corrupt, failing government that covers up official mass murders by attacking journalists and dissidents with cyberweapons is locked in a stalemate with the country’s horrific, mass-murdering gangs, and the Mexican people are caught in the crossfire.
The weak Mexican state has made it possible for cities across the country to effectively secede, abandoning the political parties, the state-funded police, and even the rule of law in a bid to find stability.
By Jeff Deist
Dr. Robert Murphy and I enjoyed a robust discussion of the current political landscape this past weekend at the University of Central Florida. A significant percentage of attendees, maybe half, agreed with the proposition that the US is past the point of political solutions. Everyone agreed, regardless of their age and background, that the possibility of America breaking — violently or voluntarily — is very real.
My talk focused on the value of smaller polities. Given the stubborn tendency for governments to emerge and endure in human societies, we should focus our efforts on creating smaller political units that more closely allow for a Misesian vision of democratic self-determination. This may not satisfy libertarians and anarcho-capitalists, but neither will trying to persuade a winning electorate of 70 million Americans to vote for even a reasonably liberty-minded presidential candidate.
Mass democracy, in a decidedly diverse nation of 320 million people, is a recipe for disaster. And we’re seeing that disaster unfold in the cold civil war known as the Trump era. Increasingly federalized state power, combined with our winner-takes-all, top-down rule by DC, creates terrible zero-sum outcomes for millions. Five people on the Supreme Court wield an extra-constitutional power that creates deep and lasting cultural divides. 535 members of Congress have the ability to spend, tax, regulate, inflate, and war us into oblivion.
A few salient points from my presentation:
By Trey Goff
[Your Next Government?: From the Nation State to Stateless Nations by Tom. W. Bell]
When I first met him, Tom W. Bell seemed more like the successful lawyer/entrepreneur type than he did the type of guy to write an intensely well-sourced book synthesizing information from a variety of fields. On that front, he pleasantly surprised me: this book is an excellent, abundantly well-sourced paean to consent, choice, and competitive governance.
Bell begins the book by explaining how smaller, consent-rich and decentralized government is creating a “bottom-up, peaceful revolution” in the way governance is organized around the world. He cites the usual examples of Chinese special economic zones and SEZs all around the world generally as evidence of this. All of this has been surveyed extensively by other authors as well, but Bell does an excellent jo of succinctly re-presenting it here. However, Bell forays into a field I’ve not seen broached elsewhere by examining previous examples of special jurisdiction-type entities within the United States. Specifically, he details the extensive use of foreign trade zones (FTZs) throughout the United States as an example of special jurisdictions closer to home. These zones exempt the businesses within them from many aspects of US customs, excise taxes, and import taxes. These zones are ubiquitous and play host to a sizeable portion of US foreign trade. He closes this survey of the evidence of special jurisdictions by dedicating a chapter to some interesting examples: Henry Ford’s spectacularly failed attempt to make a massive city in the middle of the Brazilian rain forest (Fordlandia), Honduran ZEDEs, and seasteads.
A recent interview. Listen here.
The world has been watching the play-by-play of Catalonia’s bid for independence from Spain, but one group is tuning in more closely than most: California secessionists.
The California Freedom Coalition, the campaign that has taken the lead in the effort to break California off from the United States, sees similarities with Catalonia’s secessionist movement. But there’s an important caveat: they believe California has more legal tools at its disposal, creating an easier path to secession – if that’s what Californians decide they want.
“There are definitely similarities in the fiscal situation – we both give more than we get back,” said Dave Marin, director of research and policy for the California Freedom Coalition. “But there’s more flexibility in the U.S. Constitution for secession than there is in the Spanish one. California has more tools available to it.”
Catalonia has approached secession in the best way it could, Marin said. If secession is what Californians want, he says their path to independence will be easier thanks to the 10th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which says any powers not explicitly given to the federal government are retained by the states. The states cannot unilaterally declare independence, but Marin argues that the Constitution provides the federal government and the states a sanctioned path toward that negotiation.
The California Freedom Coalition is collecting signatures to get its ballot initiative in front of voters in 2018. It does not definitively say California will declare independence from the United States; it would repeal a provision in the state constitution that says California is “an inseparable part of the United States.” It also directs the governor to negotiate for greater autonomy from the federal government and establishes an advisory commission on California autonomy and independence.
By Jennifer Maffesanti
Foundation for Economic Education
We’re seeing a huge uptick in provinces and territories seeking independence from their parent countries all over the globe. I already wrote about Catalonia — a dramatic situation that is still ongoing — but they are by no means the only ones. And with these attempts to make new sovereign nations, lovers of liberty are faced with some hard truths about other people’s choices.
Around the World
Iraqi Kurdistan is similar to Catalonia in that it enjoys a measure of relative autonomy within the Iraqi state. It has also spent a long time chafing under the rule of one country or another, including the Ottoman empire, the British empire, and Iraq. Unlike Catalonia, the Kurds have actually mounted armed revolts a few times, and each one was put down savagely.
Earlier this week, though, they tried a different tactic: voting. In a regional referendum, Iraqi Kurds and non-Kurds alike overwhelmingly voted for secession. Haider al-Abadi, the Iraqi prime minister, is apparently unhappy with the outcome as he’s called for the result to be canceled. Baghdad has also canceled international flights into the region.
Again, I can understand why Iraq wouldn’t want to let go of the Kurdistan region as it’s very rich in oil. In fact, the Iraqi parliament has asked the prime minister to deploy troops to the region to bring the residents under control. The Kurds themselves have taken up arms in preparation. And with the outside influences of the international community, both for and against independence, it’s all becoming quite a mess.
The Flanders region of Belgium has been agitating for independence for some time. Like the Catalans, the Flemish have their own language and their own national identity separate from Belgium. Unlike Catalonia, which enjoys widespread support for its secession by the European community, Flanders has been labeled as being divisive and “threatening instability.”
Belgium is also not thrilled with the Flemish independence movement. But, then again, the Flemish independence movement has roots that go back as far as 1788, and Flanders has yet to gain its independence. Also like Catalonia, Flanders is one of the wealthiest parts of Belgium. Of course they don’t want to let that go.
The recent events involving the efforts of Catalonia to separate itself from Spain, and the resulting repression at the hands of the Spanish state, along with the growing prominence of the Kurdish independence movement, have been accompanied by a range of criticisms being levied against both movements.
The Catalan independence movement has been criticized for not being radical enough, for essentially being a conservative movement within an affluent region that does not wish to pay taxes to the Spanish state, for advocating for a state of its own, and for not rejecting the global capitalist system per se. A similar movement exists in the form of the Lombard League in Northern Italy. The Kurdish independence movement has been criticized for being tacitly allied with the USA and Israel against the Eastern axis within global capitalism, whereas the Socialist hard left and revolutionary nationalists alike tend to have more favorable view of the Eastern axis as opposed to the Western axis
These criticisms are certainly legitimate. However, the issue of the legitimization of secession as an end unto itself is a separate issue from the actual reasons for a particular secession or the objectives of particular groups of secessionists. Having looked at the ideas of hundreds, if not thousands, of secessionist tendencies around the world, I tend to disagree, often strongly, with the specific ideological orientations of these groups. For instance, we have a California secessionist tendency in America that more or less wants California to be a one-party state ruled by the Democratic Party. We have what amounts to a Republican version of the same thing in Texas and Alaska. Some of the Native American reservations here have a semi-independent status even if they function as de facto Bantustans for the US federal regime.