A Method For Achieving Panarchy (Part 1)

Column by Paul Bonneau.

Exclusive to STR

I wrote up a recipe for achieving Panarchy, and posted it on a forum frequented by anarchists. It was intended as a focus for discussion more than an actual plan of events. This is a slight re-write, version 2.

*What is Panarchy?*
Panarchy is that condition, when people are affected by, and can only affect, those political institutions and structures in a political environment that they explicitly agree to be a part of. Panarchy is often compared with the separation of church and state, when people were no longer forced into churches they did not agree with, and could practice their own religion (if any) in peace. Of course, the separation is only political; all these people will still interact voluntarily with others via the market, just as people of different religions do today.

*Current Condition: The "One Size Fits All" Polity*
Currently, all people, regardless of their opinion, are forced into a single, homogenized, "one size fits all" polity (or political environment). Needless to say, this generates a lot of strife, as all are scrambling for that one great cudgel of power, to lord it over others, and to defend against others lording it over them. People become tired of fighting their neighbors all the time. Panarchy seeks to solve this problem, and to massively reduce this strife.

*A Secession of Polities*
The method to attain Panarchy envisioned here will be the creation and eventual secession of distinct polities from the "One Size Fits All" polity. For example, there may be a polity for "paleocons", a polity for "neocons", a polity for liberals, another for progressives, another for libertarian minarchists, one for anarcho-capitalists, and another for anarcho-syndicalists. It will be accomplished in stages: 1) Potentially-seceding polities; 2) Actually-seceding polities; 3) Seceded polities.

*Potentially-Seceding Polities*
The first stage is for people to form polities within a given state, by creating an online list of members who have joined, and by providing an online description of the principles members of the polity will stand for. The members will come from the voting-age population in the state. Members will sign on to the notion of seceding from the "One Size Fits All" polity, exerting "reasonable" effort to make that happen, when the time for that stage comes. The list will contain names, addresses and any other identifier or contact information of the members thought necessary. During this stage, all members are still operating politically within the "One Size Fits All" polity; but they may also be participating in other efforts within their chosen polity to form the shadow institutions and structures that will be needed within it, when the secession starts. This may also include voting for provisional polity "governors", "representatives" and other such people.

*Actually-Seceding Polities*
When half the people in the voting age population of the state have joined potentially-seceding polities, we enter the second stage. In this stage, all these new polities will attempt to extract themselves from the "One Size Fits All" polity so that their members no longer have to be victims (and victimizers) of that polity. This effort may take many forms. Certainly, it will be largely done via efforts still within the structures and institutions of the "One Size Fits All" polity, and that effort should yield good results since we will have the backing of such a large part of the population. Naturally, all new polities will cooperate in this effort even if their political philosophies are completely different, because the payoff will be complete autonomy for themselves when it is accomplished. There will also be many examples of non-violent resistance and non-cooperation against the "One Size Fits All" polity. Finally, if the "One Size Fits All" polity decides to inject violence into the picture, those in the new polities will have to decide how they should respond. At this point we are transferring our political efforts into our new institutions, seeking escape from the taxes and control of the "One Size Fits All" polity.

*The "None of the Above" Polity*
There will be some people who have not joined any new polity, yet who also do not wish to be claimed by the "One Size Fits All" polity, as it will certainly attempt to do. These may want to form a "None of the Above" polity, whose sole function is to display the names of people who do not want to be associated with the "One Size Fits All" polity or any other polity. It will have no political program as its members will be diverse. This polity may actually be pretty popular as people park here, waiting to see what the other polities have to offer.

*Seceded Polities*
At some point, the "One Size Fits All" polity will give up coercive efforts to recapture the people who have left, and will either split itself into other polities, or become effectively the "One Size Fits Some" polity, or simply disappear. At that point, we have entered the "seceded polities" stage, and at least within that state, people are now associating politically only with those they are in rough agreement with. This will give rise to competition for new members between polities, as people watch and compare how things are working out in the different polities.

*Number and Size of Polities*
There should be a sweet spot, perhaps somewhere between 5 and 20 polities. Too few polities causes problems similar to the "One Size Fits All" polity, where none of the members are really satisfied. Too many, and it will cause unnecessary wasted effort of parallel institutions; however, one can imagine some institution-sharing efforts between polities that are at least in some respects similar, just as an efficiency measure. For example, those polities depending on tax revenue may share a tax-collecting institution though the taxes may be at different rates for each polity, or on different things. These shared institutions should be kept on a short leash, however, so as not to become too dominant in the political landscape. One other disadvantage of small polities is that they will be hard pressed to keep up a defensive posture against the stronger polities; so excessive fragmentation will naturally be discouraged.

*Federal Level*
Over time, other states will follow this model. Eventually the time will come that a majority of people are operating outside the "One Size Fits All" state polities, and will wish that also to be applied at the federal level. This should be accomplished in a similar fashion to the state level projects, but it is really too far into the future to speculate. We will cross that bridge when we come to it.

The reception was not what I expected.
If you look at that and other threads in this Panarchy sub-forum, there is a lot of what appears to be simple misunderstanding about what Panarchy is. The religious analogy often mentioned in documents about Panarchy seems to go completely over their heads. Perhaps people so opposed to religion at all, are not going to relate well to such an analogy. Otherwise, I don’t see how Panarchy could be confusing--it’s a very basic idea--although some implementation details certainly would need careful consideration and creativity.

Another objection seems to be that to get to Panarchy will require everybody to be anarchists in the first place, or that achieving Panarchy would make statists into actual anarchists. This objection does make some sense, strangely; after all, a world starting out full of nothing but anarchists might end up looking like a Panarchy, since the primary factor is that people voluntarily organized themselves into differing structures. “Anarchy does not mean no rules, just no rulers.” When it is voluntary, it is not statism, is it? But the answer to this is that of course most of them are still statists, with a minor adjustment to their outlook. Most will still want elections, for example, to apply imposition in a way they prefer. It’s just that the imposition will be different and more limited than it currently is now with the “One Size Fits All” polity, done by state or national borders.

Still, the above objection does have certain amusing aspects. Are anarchists really objecting that statists have become more like anarchists? Is Panarchy just a marketing ploy to fool statists into being fundamentally anarchist? One could go down this rabbit hole forever . . . .

I think the main reason Panarchy does not seem to be well accepted among anarchists (at least with this sample), is the typical anarchist habit of over-thinking things. Or the odd but common desire to have human relations work like the laws of Physics. I suspect the average Joe will have less difficulty understanding the idea--what conservative would not prefer having only conservatives in office above him--and more willingness to accept it. As I mentioned before, <a href="http://strike-the-root.com/freedom-is-not-intellectual-pursuit">freedom is not an intellectual pursuit</a>. There is irony in the notion that the path to liberty might only be accessible to statists, and not so much to anarchists! Will anarchists be no help in achieving liberty?

I suspect they will be a help, particularly with setting the stage (getting people to question conventional wisdom, etc.) but that statists will do the heavy lifting when the revolution starts.

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Paul Bonneau's picture
Columns on STR: 106


Brian Mast's picture

Hello Paul,
That link to the forum only works if you are registered to ZeroGov. I am not sure if you were aware of that. I have long been familiar with Bill Buppert and his website, so I went ahead and registered there as Bman1. I will post the following both here and there in the hopes of maximizing thoughts:
I, as an Anarchist, do not oppose trying Panarchy. Looking at it from the bigger picture, a question arises that I haven't yet seen discussed: What will be the reaction of the ruling oligarchy that controls the government be? I am referring to the banksters, Wall Street, the Trilateral Commission, etc. I do not know the answer to that question, but it bears tactical consideration.

Jim Davies's picture

"What will be the reaction of the ruling oligarchy...?"
Good question, Brian. One nuclear bomb would quite ruin their day.
More at Panarchy is for Losers.

Samarami's picture

Brian Mast:

    "...What will be the reaction of the ruling oligarchy that controls the government be?..."

Which "government" -- yours, or mine?

I am a sovereign state. I treat your "ruling oligarchy" as I treat rattlesnakes. The psychopaths who hide under the guise of that brainless abstraction exist. I can't deny that. And they can be lethal -- each individually, and especially all collectively. They are all collectivists, and they do work collectively. If I carelessly give them reign to strike me at critical points of my anatomy I can be greatly harmed.

Therefore (treating your government with the rattlesnake analogy), I wear tall boots to the woods. I walk slowly, watch where I step and stay alert when and where I reach.

You might say that limits my freedom. You would be correct. I do not claim anarchy produces unlimited freedom to do anything I want. And particularly I do not claim anarchy gives me any "rights" to interfere in the freedom of you or anybody else. Anarchy implies that I will behave appropriately in the absence of rulers or oligarchies.

I do hope in my lifetime to see millions -- perhaps billions -- of individuals declare sovereignty. That won't happen collectively -- it will be one individual declaration at a time.
And they will not need a "Free State Project" or any other collective to bring it about. Sam

Paul's picture

No, I didn't realize that sub forum was available only to members. Dang!

Keep in mind that this was just another thought experiment, but even in that context the bottom-up nature of the change envisioned makes oppression of panarchists at least substantially more difficult. But certainly it would not hurt if more people were armed; that always tends to give pause.

Samarami's picture

Think I recently posted here my list of now over 120 "ism's" and "archy's" I've encountered on the web in my scant 15 or 20 years' exposure. So I won't take up space with that today. "Panarchy" is among them. I'm affiliated with none, intend to join none.

As I perceive them, each of the 120+ (most reading this could add one or a few more that I've overlooked or missed altogether) seem to have encrypted within them very subtle desires to rule others -- to lead-the-flock-to-freedom. I could be wrong about that. If Paul chooses to offer solid substantiation of my error as regards "Panarchy", I shall be glad to remove it from the list. Or, I should say, remove it from my suspicion that the promulgators are longing to govern, rule, or "lead" folks other than themselves and their families. I'll leave it on the list, since Panarchy is definitely an archy, or archism.

I am a sovereign state. Originally I would post that as rather of a tongue-in-cheek declaration. Eventually I came to see that once one achieves full-fledged anarchy s/he is automatically christened "sovereign" (by herself); therefore, a "sovereign state". If I'm wrong about that as pertains to you, I don't mean you. Go your way in peace. I'm not going to fight you over it.

Nor will I rattle bones in attempt to get you disfellowshipped from STR because you disagree with me about that or anything else.

Same with "rights". I've never declared that you have no rights. I've not declared that I have no rights for that matter ('tho I claim no "rights"). I have said that I ceased using the term some years ago as a part of my disengaging from statist mindset (thanks, Delmar England). I state that I make choices -- and, among my choices has been engaging in the challenge of sidestepping the beast wherever possible.

Many there are who will go to extreme lengths to interfere with the choices I make. That's an occupational hazard of the anarchist lifestyle. It's interesting to dream up means by which one can navigate around "...voluntary compliance...". Sam

Paul's picture

"Or, I should say, remove it from my suspicion that the promulgators are longing to govern, rule, or "lead" folks other than themselves and their families."

Well, rejecting that is exactly the point of panarchy. The desire to join one or another "archy" within panarchy is more a tactical consideration than anything. I would probably join the ancap polity even though I don't believe things a lot of ancaps do, just because there is safety in numbers. But joining the "none of the above" polity, or no polity at all, remains an option.

Brian Mast's picture

Re: Jim. I'm not sure if you are trying to be humorous or if you are attacking me.
Re: Sam, I have no state either, and under the above choices I would select none of the above. I am already quite comfortable being on my own. I've been an Anarchist for well over a decade. You and I have exchanged several messages a few years back Sam. I formerly had zygodactyl as a username and I was and still am a truck driver.
I lack the time to get into disputes between Paul and his opposition, but I am considering all of the points that are being made from all anti-statist sides. It would be nice if a good percentage of Statists would convert to anti-statism, but I don't see that happening any time soon unless Jims TOLFA plan works out.
My question should not have been so thoughtlessly dismissed. We already know how the media manipulates the news. If a group of punks break into store fronts, the media tells us that anarchists did that. If cops invade a well armed household; that place gets labled as a bunker. The oligarchy will not just stand down as their power and extorted income declines. We should anticipate their responses and take strategic action. These will be necessary considerations as a critical mass adopts either Anarchy or Panarchy. Ignorance is not strength.

Jim Davies's picture

"attacking me"? - far from it, Brian. As I wrote, your question is good. I showed the answer.

Paul's picture

Note: the title implies there will be follow-ups. That was the original plan but it turned out differently; part 1 is the only part there will be.