Anarchy, Panarchy, and Statism

This essay gives a good framework for the movement toward anarchism. It shows how voluntary relations can develop by actually developing real social contracts and what Zube calls the ultimate vote. We see some successes in relation to the Syrian Kurds in Rojava, who have constructed a viable egalitarian society while surrounded by religious fundamentalists. I believe panarchy is the best way, alongside decentralisation of power and counter-economic activity, of achieving statelessness in the modern, Westphalian world. (by the blog author)

by John Zube

The various forms of socialism and capitalism are only various forms of secular religions and their followers and organizations do not deserve any more privileges than any church or sect does. But they are also entitled to no less rights and liberties than any church or sect has in a relatively free society, or any atheistic, humanistic and rationalistic association.

One can consider “denationalization” and “reprivatization” in a narrow sense, as referring only to the transfer of particular State enterprises into private or cooperative hands or one can understand them in a general sense, which would amount to privatizing and cooperatizing and voluntarizing ALL of the governmental political, economic and social system.

As an individualist anarchist, free-market libertarian, voluntaryist, mutualist and panarchist, I favor not only denationalization and privatization of some but of all government enterprises and departments.

Such a comprehensive denationalization would offer all kinds of voluntaristic avenues for all kinds of anarchistic, socialistic and liberal schemes and experiments, all coexisting peacefully in the same territories, supported and used only by their supporters, with their failures to be born only by them and their benefits to be shared only among them.

Such a system would, so to speak, universalize the principle of conscientious objection against military servitude, tax slavery, compulsory education, medication or prohibition.

It would realize freedom for dissenters and non-conformists, not only in the religious but also in the political, social and economic spheres.

It is not true that our “nation” is endangered but that the very existence of our “nation”, in exclusive, territorial and coercive form, endangers US and OTHERS.

What is quite voluntary, i.e. without any victimization, does rarely make enemies and it can be defended much easier and with much more justification and less costs and risk.

Panarchists plead for freedom for statists – as well as for all others – to do their own thing.

Only narrow-minded anarchists would insist that all other people make the same choice which these anarchists prefer.

By rights, anarchists can demand no more than anarchism for anarchists – within a general voluntaryist system that would leave statists to their own choices on their own affairs.

Then each could have the government or no-government of his choice and, to that extent they would no longer have to fear and fight each other.

No more forced “marriages” with any government, army, union or school.

No more compulsory associations.

Each individual to be free to divorce himself from any of them, by one-sided declarations, and to join or establish any alternatives that may take his fancy, always at his own cost and risk.

Panarchism is nothing but the freedom to disassociate and to associate – consistently applied in the last spheres where it is so far not realized, namely in political, economic and social relations.

Panarchy means freedom for communists as well as anti-communists to live the way they want to live. Both would be free to follow their beliefs – but only at their own expense and risk, as if they were religious sectarians living under religious tolerance.

Almost all of our public institutions in the political, economic and social sphere amount to ritualized and legalized intolerance and domination.

In an age of mass-murder-devices, kept ready as a matter of policy by the most powerful governments, with considerable popular support, it is high time to ritualize and institutionalize their direct opposite, namely quite tolerant, voluntary, non-coercive institutions, each doing its own things only for its own members, as best as it can, while leaving all others to their own and individually chosen actions and relationships among themselves.

“… as Lysander Spooner points out in NO TREASON, a contract surrendering the rights and basic liberties of one of the parties is absurd and invalid in terms of common law.” Kerry Wendell Thornley, “FACTSHEET 5”, 1985.

We have to replace this kind of territorial, statist, coercive, collectivist and monopolistic “social contract” relationship between rulers and citizen-subjects by something much more moral and useful, to the extent that the alternatives are preferred by individuals, in accordance with their individual stage of enlightenment.

People who see and appreciate only a small segment, like panarchic freedom in entertainment and religion, and “conscientious objection to military service”, do not see and appreciate the whole picture of it and its potential. On the contrary, our kind of “society” will tend to prejudice them against it, in many ways.

Moreover, there are all kinds of ideas on “smallness”, degree of autonomy and type of community, with most people being able to envision only exclusive and territorial ones and unable to envision non-territorial ones.

This happens in spite of the fact that much of their private lives is spent and enjoyed in non-territorial association with other likeminded people.

The libertarians say : Let those who believe in religion have religion; let those who believe in government, have government; but let those who believe in liberty, have liberty, and do not compel them to accept a religion or a government they do not want.” – Charles T. Sprading, in his introduction to “Liberty and the Great Libertarians“.

The libertarian favors a condition of freedom for all, yet he realizes that freedom, because of its nature, can never be imposed by force.” – Robert LeFevre, “LEFEVRE’S JOURNAL”, Spring 1974.

Consequently, opponents of anarchism must be left at liberty, to continue and enjoy as much as they can the kind of statism they do like, as long as they do.

Anarchists must not threaten them with the abolition of their kind of beloved state and government but, rather, guarantee it to them, as long as it remains their own free choice.

Towards them anarchists can rightly advocate only the one-man revolutions that are exemplified by individual secessionism that is based on individual sovereignty or self-ownership – as soon as people are enlightened enough to want to claim this basic right.

And even then they might only be partly enlightened and will only choose new and lesser ties but still restrictions upon their own liberties. They should be at liberty to do so. Anarchists should not threaten their choice with destruction but, at most, try to convert them by words or by their own cooperative and competing examples of living in complete freedom.

By uniting the ideas of freedom in social affairs and freedom in economic affairs, the libertarian philosophy also does something else. It almost completely (some people would say completely) eliminates the power of the third area – politics. It frees both our social and economic affairs from political manipulation, domination and control. It allows individual people to control their own social and economic affairs.

This libertarian philosophy, based as it is on voluntarism or individual freedom, can equally encompass people who wish to live as communists in voluntary communes, and people who wish to be free traders and run their own business enterprises for a profit.” – Bob Howard and John Singleton: “Rip Van Australia”, 12.

I would add, for the sake of clarification and consistent application of the principles involved, that the people in any group need not be territorially united. A non-territorial association will serve them as well as it did serve churches and sects.

If it were not for the fact that libertarianism freely concedes the right of men voluntarily to form communities or governments on the same ethical basis, libertarianism could be called anarchy.” – Stan Lehr and Louis Rossetto Jr., THE NEW YORK TIMES MAGAZINE, Jan. 10, 1971.

I see no difference between consistent libertarianism and consistent anarchism. Their common basis is voluntaryism, self-ownership, natural rights and liberties, individual sovereignty, free choice. Nothing but consumer sovereignty towards so-called “government services” is involved.

Why only “let MY people go”? Why not let ALL people GO – THEIR OWN WAY?”         

If the Libertarian Party came out quite clearly in favor of individual secessionism, then I, as an individualist anarchist, would have no other and quite as fundamental objection against it.

But as an individualist I have to oppose even those anarchists, whose political ideal I do share, whenever they do try to impose or aim to impose their ideal upon all who doubt anarchy or who are its enemies.

All such attempts are, inevitably, self-defeating, since they do provoke negative feed-back, often of a severely repressive type.

Once one compares one’s own political, economic and social beliefs with beliefs in religious doctrines, one becomes aware why this is the case. From then on one will tend to try to advocate one’s beliefs with respect for human nature and all its present foibles, rather than against it.

People are different. Let them make their different choices, still away from anarchy, as long as they want to.

A full franchise includes the right to vote oneself out of any coercive political, economic and social system and into any system that corresponds to one’s own individual choice or invention, and to have, moreover, all the other voting powers that one wants to have – but only among likeminded volunteers.

To oppose party politics and party powers does not require that one opposes the political, economic, social and military policies of individual secessionism but, on the contrary, it requires such a consistent opposition to territorial statism and consistent expression of voluntarism and of exterritorial autonomy.

Most territorial governments are “good” only for the waging of more or less open and aggressive international or civil wars and for their prolongation against the wishes of external and internal dissenters. They are thus warfare States.

Only full exterritorial autonomy for all dissenters can establish peace, justice and freedom for all.

It would soon maximize prosperity, at least via the successful experimental examples set by some dissenters.

And this autonomy for all volunteers and their associates would be possible and maximized only on a non-territorial, i.e. a personal law basis.

Secessionists of the world unite, into a world federation that works for non-territorial autonomy for all volunteers who desire it, for all minorities that wish it for themselves and for other minorities, and even for the majority.




Although it follows from a consistent application of often repeated anarchist principles and proposals, panarchism still remains, to a large extent, an unknown ideal, even among most anarchists, in the same way as anarchism, as a consistent democracy, is still largely unknown or misunderstood among most democrats and other advocates of self-government or rule by consent only.

Panarchism proposes to offer a conscientious objection opportunity not only against conscription, compulsory taxation, unions and school attendance and other particular coercive practices – but a comprehensive one against all coercive, exclusive, territorial, political, economic and social systems, institutions and practices, on the basis of complete autonomy for conscientious objectors, who are prepared, in order to be able to follow their conscience, to cut all their ties to the old system, losing all their civil rights of the old association, they seceded from, while upholding all their individual rights.

This conscientious objection opportunity might also be described as freedom of action or experimental freedom or minority autonomy or voluntaryism or associationism – for all who want to be creatively active among themselves – while remaining quite tolerant towards the rightful actions of other groups and communities doing their own thing, within their own individual rights.

The practice of panarchism implies individual secessionism and personal or non-territorial law organization, on a voluntary basis, regardless of whether the secessionists and voluntary associates are anti-statists or statists.

Whatever ideology the seceded and non-territorially reorganized persons do share among themselves and want to support and practise among themselves is to be entirely up to them as their own internal affair.

Within the territory of any former large State, the diverse panarchies finally established, would be likely to represent the whole ideological spectrum. But market forces would operate to prevent some quite unrealistic schemes, to reduce the number and the followers of flawed schemes and to cut short the lifespan of false Utopias. The latter would tend to run out of followers. Well, the sooner the better. They, too, would become better trading partners for us once they, too, become as productive as they could be.

However, the same mistakes are likely to be repeated again and again by different people wanting to experiment with the same false or flawed ideas, as the statists, and especially the communists, have done, again and again. According to a remark by Ulrich von Beckerath, 1882-1969, it is communism that is the real “inherited sin” of mankind. – But it is not an inherited natural characteristic but an inherited false idea, just an ancient prejudice, all too deeply imbedded in all too many heads, in all its varieties, except that of the natural and voluntary family communism and the communism that religious orders agree upon for their members.

Jesus Christ made not only some communist but also some capitalist remarks.

Panarchists will make mistakes and repeat mistakes, too. But they will do so with a decisive difference:

Their mistakes will only be undertaken at their own expense, not like those of politicians, bureaucrats and ruling parties, at the expense, largely, of other people, even of dissenters.

Individual secessionism, the foundation of panarchism, is itself based upon the assumption that individuals do own themselves rather than being owned by others or that they are sovereign in their own affairs (individual sovereignty ) and thus may not be bound to any purposes, methods and institutions of others, as long as they do not invade the equal rights and liberties of others – which are expressly or tacitly claimed by these others.

Panarchism thus rests firmly on a proverbial view of man as the maker of his own fate, not as a mere tool or experimental subject of any God, ruler, minority or majority of his countrymen, not even of any particular anarchistic group or movement.

It would thus truly realize self-government or self-determination – for all who desire it, in any of its forms – and this without making it an imposition.

It would realize even the freedom not to be free and to choose, instead, a condition of voluntary servitude or other dependence – as long as one can stand it.

After sufficient disappointments one will not only be at liberty to secede but will want to secede from disappointing, because all too authoritarian, autonomous and non-territorial communities.

Each is to advance into a fully self-responsible human being only at his own speed – but always with the best ideas and examples in his sight.

Panarchy also rests upon the full recognition of all individual rights – to the extent that these are known, publicized and understood.

Since individual rights do offer only options or free action spheres, however natural these may be to fully grown up and enlightened men, they do not oblige people to use them to the fullest. They may even temporarily renounce them, for themselves and introduce, like Catholics have done, e.g. censorship among themselves.

Consequently, WITHIN their own community and among the own voluntary members, panarchists would only have to abide by their own and particular bill of rights or other rules subscribed to by them.

In their relations with others, they would have to pay attention to the genuine and fundamental rights and liberties claimed by them, also to their particular laws or rules.

All individual rights do thus merely describe the maximum sphere or accumulation of rights and freedom of action spheres within which panarchic experiments may be freely undertaken.

To use a simple analogy: Freedom of press does not mean that everybody ought to publish a newspaper, ought to buy one, read it fully or ought to write a letter or article for one every day of the year. He ought only to be at liberty to do so to the extent that he likes doing it – and can afford the costs, time and labor.

Basic rights can, naturally, either be used or not used by different people in many different ways.

In short, the diverse panarchies, that would arise under this degree of liberty, would have to recognize each other and respect their differences. The same would apply to their individual members.

The assumption will always have to be in favor of individual rights unless certain rights have been expressly or to a particular degree renounced by members of one or the other autonomous and non-territorial community of volunteers.

One could sum up the aims and means of panarchists with statements like: statism for statists, anarchy for anarchists, free trade for free traders, protectionism for protectionists, non-violence for pacifists, defensive force for those who see its justification against initiated aggression, capitalism among consenting adults and any kind of socialism for those who desire it for themselves.

Then a libertarian party would have the option to rule over the libertarians who voted for it, the Labor Party over its voters and members and the Liberal Party over its followers while the Anarchists would free to “rule” themselves or enjoy their liberty undisturbed by any officials, as long as they did not interfere with any genuine and thus rightly claimed liberties and rights of others or with any restrictions they have, voluntarily, imposed upon themselves.

Administrative nihilism for some and administrative welfarism or even totalitarianism for others, according to their own individual choice.

There would no longer be a case for secret voting but only one for publicly registering the vote of everyone – which would only bind the individual voter to the candidates and institutions of his choice. That would be the fundamental vote.

In these elections every party would win a full victory for itself – and over all its followers, with their unanimous consent.

Only the requirement of voluntary membership and of non-territorial constitutions, laws, jurisdictions and organizations are to apply to all.

All kinds of proprietary or cooperative or self-managing private communities would still be able to do their own things on their own real estate properties.

Only the fictitious “national” property claims to whole national territories, whole countries or even continents, would no longer be recognized as morally valid. It is no more valid than the claim, finally made by one “discoverer” of Australia, who had many predecessors, of the continent for his royal majesty, or the claim of Christopher Columbus, to all of the Americas, although he was not the first one, either, and had not even set his foot on North or South America.

Most of these belated claims to exclusive possession of whole countries was made by ignoring the rights of their then present inhabitants, the natives. The individual human rights of these natives continued to be ignored for all too long, in the service of a freely invented national, monopolistic and collectivist territorial sovereignty, largely for the associations of “white” people only, which has nothing to do with genuine property rights. Nevertheless, some libertarians still manage to mix up these two institutions and treat collectivist, monopolistic, centralized and enforced statist claims in this sphere as if they constituted genuine private property rights.

Any remaining exclusive “territorial” rule, jurisdiction and administration is to be reduced to the relatively small areas of private or cooperative households, enterprises and real estates.

Even there most owners will find it economical not to impose arbitrary territorial rules but merely some common sense house- and hospitality rules, for the protection of basic rights, while leaving “alien” visitors and contractors whatever benefits they may derive from still being subject, in most respects, to their own and freely chosen personal laws.

Guests and contractors would, naturally, not enjoy non-territorial diplomatic immunity for aggressive, violent, criminal offences, or even for very impolite, inconsiderate, rude, insulting and offensive behavior, while within these small private or cooperative “areas”, which do not really deserve the name of “territories”, since they are not extensive enough for this, in most instances. The ones ought to be rendered harmless, e.g. by being arrested, under citizen arrest, and then brought to whatever justice system exists between them and the hosts. The others ought simply to be conducted, quite firmly, to the exit, unless they immediately apologize and behave properly.

If they did merely something that would not be objectively a crime of aggression but would, at least in such a private environment and among these people, be considered a severe breach of manners, customs or traditions, they would not be punished but simply be shown the way out and, most likely, never be invited or allowed in, again.

Nobody is to “at liberty” to step on anybody’s toes, even if these toes are not especially marked: “Don’t step on me!”

Thus in some respects, in ordinary and civilized social relationships between different human beings with different private preferences, little would change, at least for a considerable time to come and perhaps nothing in a quite fundamental way.

However, to mention just one tiny social innovation from South America, that I do like:

It is quite accepted there to respect and leave a person alone, who simply and quietly states a phrase like: “I am not here.” The privacy that this person claims with that phrase is there generally expected. Here one all too often feels compelled to engage in conversation, out of what is perceived to be a requirement of politeness and good manners. It tends to produce more or less covered-up boredom on both sides.

This tiny “declaration of independence” is actually also a kind of minor and temporary panarchistic and non-territorial secession by an individual and it is there respected as such and it would help to improve our own social occasions.

Panarchy, once realized, would offer anarchists the chance to enjoy anarchic relationships between themselves, right here and now, undisturbed by statists.

Moreover, once anarchists do adopt the panarchistic tolerance, they will have a common platform with statists and all other minority groups who want to panarchistically maintain or realize different ideals among themselves.

They would then only have one kind of common enemies, namely territorial totalitarians. These enemies would then and soon be only a relatively powerful minority that could be defeated and forced to become if not a tolerant then a tolerating minority.

In other words, panarchy would offer anarchists the opportunity to sow their seeds, cultivate their plants and harvest their products for themselves, here and now, undisturbed by others who cultivate other crops.

They would not have to wait for further decades or generations to get a chance to realize their ideal.

The only concession that they would have to make and that those formulating their principles have made already, in general terms, would be to let non-anarchists also do their own things among themselves.

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