When thinking about the future of human society and the conflict between strong states and strong individuals the possible outcomes we think about tend to be extremes. Either the states rule completely, or the individual does.
This article presents a third option - “The Two Realms”. One for the state, the other for the individual.
At opposite ends of the spectrum we have the strong state and the strong individual. I use the word “strong” to emphasize the position taken. A strong state has the objective to stay strong. That means it mainly follows any lead to justify its power and control.
It is important to see that the main definition and the basic justification of the state is the “monopoly of violence” over a certain territory and all people living in that territory. This monopoly is the intellectual reason why to have a state, and this monopoly is also the source of anything any state can do.
There is no taxation without the monopoly of violence, there is no police, justice system, parliaments, etc without the centralized control of violence.
The state’s objective is always maintaining a monopoly of violence.
Everything that questions that monopoly is a danger to the state itself - and a danger to those people that are part of the state apparatus: Politicians, bureaucrats, public services employees (police, firemen, part of the health industry).
On the other side of the spectrum we have the strong individual. By definition the strong individual seeks to rule himself. He/She claims a monopoly of violence over himself by himself. As soon as a person refuses to accept the exclusive monopoly of the state on the exercise of violence, that person turns into a strong individual.
In today’s society we have several groups of strong individuals, most of them calling themselves anarchists of some kind. But there are others, such as radical religious groups, that do not accept the state as the sole ruler.
One of those groups I would like to call “libertarian”. For the sake of this discussion, we will state that libertarian groups consist of strong individuals that seek freedom of person, communication, commerce and lifestyle. This categorization is not an attempt to define a party or an organization, but to classify a group of individuals.
There is a third group to talk about: The people.
We will call the vast majority of humans on state territory “The people”. These are individuals not employed by the state and not opposing the monopoly of violence. Most of “The people” are just fine with the existence of the state, taxes, welfare, etc. They do not oppose the status quo. Certainly they have details to complain about, but they do not question the concept of the state itself.
For a large number of people the state really brings great advantages. Just imagine that 40% of all Germans get 50% or more of their income through state wealth redistribution. That includes not only welfare recipients or government officials but also construction industry, health care industry and others.
The people and the state build some kind of power exchange market formed by legislative bodies, unions, NGOs etc. These are mainly focused on protecting the status quo, even if painting it in different colors each other year.
The people are subject to the state. The desire of the state to maintain this subjugation is the reason for the state’s desire for the monopoly of violence.
There is no state without the people, but there are people without the state.
It is important to realize that most people do not oppose libertarian Utopia because they think that it is morally corrupt. The main reason for opposition is simply fear. Fear to leave the status quo without knowing how things would work out.
Many of the people are interested in experimenting with libertarian concepts, at least those people that are used to being self-responsible in the market place.
Some examples of potential libertarians are freelancers, consultants, the self employed and executives of Small/Medium Sized Enterprises (SME).
The Two Realms
When thinking about the future of society one of the central questions is this:
Can those three groups coexist on the same territory?
It is clear that “the state” and “The people” can co-exist as The people are essential for the existence of the state. But what happens if you add a few thousand strong individuals?
The standard answer is that the state will try to suppress these individuals; that the only way for the strong individual to live freely is to separate from the state and The people and to find territory that is not controlled by a monopolist of power.
The arguments for this conclusion are convincing: The state cannot accept the questioning of its authority or its monopoly on violence. Any disobedience and dissent is opposing the justification of the state and therefore a threat to its existence. Questioning endangers the state’s monopoly.
On the other hand the exercise of violence against political enemies is a danger to the state itself. We can see from history that oppression has often led to an uprising of The people against the state apparatus. The destruction of several socialist or autocratic regimes in recent history shows that open oppression can lead to the people rethinking their view on the current political system. (Never has this been a threat to the concept of the strong state itself but a threat only to the current implementation and to the people currently in positions of power.)
If the state is too harsh in its defense against strong individuals this may cause the agents of the state to threaten the state’s existence.
But this is not the only threat the state has to keep in mind. It’s merely the most extreme.
More likely is the radicalization of the strong individuals if they are able to organize themselves to follow their common objectives.
Since strong individuals tend to be well educated, well funded and creative, they can be a strong enemy. Especially their creativity and their independence from the restrictions of state laws and rules of conduct. All of this makes them a difficult adversary to fight. Strong individuals would very likely target the central infrastructure, instruments and people that hold the state together.
The state has much to lose in such a battle.
An alternative could be the concept of “two realms”. If a strong state and a strong individual try to stay out of each other’s realm it is less likely that a bloody conflict might arise.
The Two Realms Explored
Let us examine what those realms could be, how they can co-exist in parallel and where they would likely clash.
The state’s realm is where the state rules exclusively and where the people are ruled.
This will be public places, public transportation, public welfare, public health care, and the state’s justice system, including courts, police and prisons. Furthermore all activities taking place in any of these areas are in the state’s realm and solely under its control.
We call this “The first realm”.
The other realm would consist of privately owned space, such as certain shops and houses, as well as certain communication systems that already exist. This is the realm of the strong individuals, which we will call “The second realm”.
Both of these realms would have their own economic and monetary system and would both try to stay out of each other’s business.
Examples of separate territories within one nation state already exist. Just think about those quarters that the police won’t enter at night. What is crucial for such a concept to succeed is that both realms try to stay out of each other’s business as much as possible. Both realms need to be as separate as possible. This, first and foremost, means that the intersections of both economic and money systems need to be avoided as much as possible.
Working in the realm of the strong individuals? Don’t use the state’s banking system to conduct transactions.
Working in the realm of the state? Don’t use the strong individual’s money system to launder your proceeds.
Separating the realms is crucial. But also having physical space to meet, trade, exchange, follow your lifestyle. Coffee shops, restaurants, “free houses” that are exclusively for the use of strong individuals. There is no substitute for sitting together to cooperate and collaborate.
And these dedicated physical spaces build bridges for effective commerce. What about settling your transactions by exchanging real physical gold (or whatever medium of exchange you prefer)?
Or physically delivering goods to your customer?
Those “free zones” don’t have to be huge and protected by gunmen. Any coffee shop run by a strong individual can become such a place.
Immigrant communities are an example for effective working structures of this kind.
Furthermore the realm of the strong individuals consists of unrestricted digital communication systems. Even today we already have the means to exchange any data freely, unregulated and anonymously. Systems like Tor and I2P are only the better known ones. The states have long realized that they will not be able to control those advanced communication systems. This is why they focus mostly on wide spread “The people” technology like Short Messaging Service, telephone, client-server VoIP, standard email, web surfing and so on.
When putting the picture together, we soon notice that these two realms cannot be completely separate. For a long while the second realm will be too small to be economically sustainable. People that work in the second realm must still go shopping at a supermarket in the first realm. But the volume of cross-realm commerce can be massively reduced if there are physical bridgeheads that allow for physical commerce. The cost of transactions would be greatly reduced, barter and the enforcement of contracts would become easier etc.
But we also have to admit that there is a big problem attached to those physical bridgeheads - the coffee shops, free houses and rural communities where strong individuals connect. We would need to come into the light. Many of us are too paranoid to do so. The state could send agents that would get to know our faces.
This is a very valid counter argument. But we already know ways to protect ourselves. Separation of physical identity, communication identity, physical proxies, etc already exist. And such things existed before and have been successfully used before by other underground movements that were much more a target than we are currently or may ever be.
We often discuss the possibilities of forming new states:- To colonize the seas, the solar system or to take over islands to form new societies. I don’t want to wait that long. Waiting for a better world, a perfect place, turns the place into Utopia. Reality works by dreaming big dreams but building with bricks and mortar.
Do not get me wrong, - I also have these big dreams. I look forward to my personal floating platform on the high seas. But today I would like to have a glimpse of this Utopia in my real life. We have so many tools that we are already a power by ourselves.
But to become more effective, to implement more of our dreams today, I believe we need to claim our realm.