The Community Idea

I want to share an idea that I think should be much more talked about in libertarian politics these days. The main flaw of libertarianism is that it does not integrate today’s predominent socialist ideas, for obvious reasons. This distances it from the mainstream and makes it look like a ridiculous and unfeasable position.

“It is a libertarian principle that we have the right to associate, or refuse to associate, with anyone we desire. However, what is not agreed upon is to what extent we have the right to associate.”

The idea that I’d like to propose to the libertarian community is not a compromise, but a reformulation of ideas that includes most systems in some meaningful way, and thereby giving libertarianism the positive scope that it needs to be a winning idea. This concept is the idea of communities.

Now this is not at all a new idea. We already have gated communities, open communities, racial or sexual ghettos, and locally-imposed community restrictions. However, they are not widespread and influential political entities, or even socially accepted, being mostly made for security and familiarity. This is explainable, as they would have little leeway to do so.

The “community idea” consists in integrating the notion of the community in the political landscape. Not only that, but to give them extraordinary powers which, even in a libertarian society, would not exist for anyone else. This would have the consequence of giving every citizen a choice of political lifestyle while retaining the libertarian basis of society.

Let me explain this a little further. It is a libertarian principle that we have the right to associate, or refuse to associate, with anyone we desire. However, what is not agreed upon is to what extent we have the right to associate. The classical example is the person who sells himself to slavery. To what extent does he has the right to do so? It is, after all, his free and willful decision.

One thing is certain, however. Socialist and mixed systems, as we know them, demand enforced slavery in the part of its citizens in many ways. Obviously this is a big attraction, if only in principle. The community idea entails that this slavery can be agreed upon by all participants, and enforced by the participants as they have seen fit. Of course, there could be no coercion of outside parties to this system, unlike the procedures of today’s governments. In short, contractual agreement could be open to actions which would be forbidden to the government or even non-contractually-bound persons.

This idea also steals the thunder of “anarcho-capitalism”: individual choice. While it retains the personal choice of all participants in a free market context, it also insures the protection of all citizen’s rights if they so desire.

Why should this idea be the linchpin of the libertarian movement? Because it makes it an open-ended framework of evolutionary politics and is therefore all-inclusive of other systems. It can be seen as similar to the state-based lawmaking idea, except that the administration of states is public and all-inclusive, and therefore force. Instead, libertarian-based communities could be the focus of libertarian reconciliation, not only a free market solution to division based on vote-based democracy but a channel for political and social self-determination

It would, of course, change our social landscape forever: and one can presume, in a good way. Since it is a free market solution, and since libertarianism is a most attractive and effective solution, one could suppose that freedom would eventually become the norm. However, whenever it does or not is not as important as the mechanism by which we obtain an all-inclusive yet libertarian society

One may argue that this is bound to fail because socialists do not want people to be able to choose. Indeed, why would they stop trying to use force in order to mold society to their linking? However, rejecting free choice puts them in a delicate position. If they contend that their solution is the best one, then people should have no qualm in choosing it. If it isn’t, then they admit that they are trying to use society for their own ends. The “social contract” would reveal itself as it truly is: institutionalized slavery.

Eventually we should see profound changes in our way of perceiving one’s social status. Even today one’s status is mostly determined by fortune and rank in corporate/governmental hierarchies. Eventually another factor would become more proeminent, like it is today on a global scale: whenever one lives in a free or unfree system.

What form would these communities take? Obviously they are either closed or open. With new communication technologies like the Internet, decentralized communities are more and more convenient. Of course, people who assemble together with the aim of disarming the innocent, for example, would be most likely to assemble in a closed community, because physical barriers become important.