Radical gradualism

This is a pointless thought experiment, but I think it gives interesting results. Assume that you gain political power in a country, and - before you become absolutely corrupted - try to turn it into a happy anarcho-capitalistic society. How would you do it?

The first approach is to dissolve the State. Tear apart the whole structure, leave your office and throw the key. Unfortunately, should you do that, the State will be recreated instantly, election held etc. Society is sensitive to hysteresis, it's not just the institutions that define how it works, it's also where you come from. By shutting down the State, you will just have quit your job not destroyed it. The second approach is to gradually transform the State by reforming it until it completely disappears. Unfortunately, this second approach has drawbacks. First, it is unethical, it makes you a criminal. Second, you are very susceptible to become corrupted by the power on the way, to encounter obstacles etc.

Fortunately, there is a way to combine gradualism and radicalism all in an ethical way (hooray).

The way to do it is to grant secession rights to every landowner. Most likely, few people will use that right at first, because the services provided by the states are needed, therefore they will voluntarily chose to stay in the State. Once this right is granted, you are not a criminal anymore! You can then engage in extensive gradual reforms with the ultimate check and balance that people can secede.

At first, secession would probably be used to create free trade zones, that require little protection. Later on it could be used for gated communities. Meanwhile, you'd try to do the best job you can to provide something efficient people want to stay in, with very little budget due to easy tax avoidance.

The key idea here, is that market will provide the best balance between incremental changes and radical transformation of society by letting people chose. Pragmatism dictates that people won't probably secede en masse, but their right to ensures efficient policies and satisfies any ethical concerns.

Share this

The Landowner Class

Given the amount of class warfare engaged in by collectivists, any rights granted to landowners would immediately result in attacks on the landowners. Now, it may be a conflict the landowners could win, but you'd have to be prepared for it. The left is always willing to inflict violence and violate persons and property to acheive their goals.

As I think about everything the government does, I wonder, what if we could just opt out? What if we could call up the Social Security office and ask them to destroy our number? What if they did exactly what we asked, and when people asked for it we could provide them with a free market alternative instead? How about the same thing for driver's licenses? Currency?

Even here, the collectivists would notice eventually. But perhaps, with a good dose of misdirection, they would be rendered ineffective.

What you describe is one

What you describe is one advantage of seasteading that I hadn't thought of. If you convert an existing state, you have a lot more transition pain. If you slowly build a new one on the ocean building by building, then people can move there only when the level of governmental services is sufficient for their needs.

Great post. I've run into

Great post. I've run into the "First, it is unethical, it makes you a criminal" problem before in my arguments with John T. Kennedy. I like your approach - the focus on exit is important.

Good post but ...

Why aren't you still a "criminal" with regards to those who don't own land. Those are scare quotes around criminal.

On a related note...

the whole "landowner" requirement seems misplaced. An apartment dweller is not good enough to secede from the state?

At any moment you are on

At any moment you are on someone's land, therefore you need that person's consent in order to be here. By default I assume that this person consented provided that you abide by the State's laws. If he does not, then he can secede.


"The key idea here, is that market will provide the best balance between incremental changes and radical transformation of society by letting people chose."


However, it needen't be on the basis of landholding, necessarily or only. I'm sure there are a dozen other ways it could be done (form a "corporation" and secede into it, or something)... However, I don't agree with the commenter who expects class warfare on that basis -- anybody can buy land these days, they actually give it away in states like Kansas and you can buy 20 acres in the Southwest for less than it costs to rent a one bedroom apartment in Manhattan for a month.