Libertarianism provides us with the understanding that decentralization of power works best, but only if the goal is to maximize prosperity, growth, ingenuity, and yes, peace. That’s why it’s often important to discuss forms of governance that do not involve large bureaucracies working on behalf of the “public,” an idea of homogenous unity that legitimizes power-hungry paper pushers and authoritarians alike.
In his new book, “Your Next Government?: From the Nation State to Stateless Nations,” Tom W. Bell goes through the trouble of breaking down what an essentially market-driven type of governance would look like by putting consent (and only consent) as the bedrock of its existence. And when I say market-driven, I mean it. After all, the only environment where we see consent being the condition on which people coexist is the market.
In a free market environment, service and product providers are not forced to set up shop by a government or authority and consumers aren’t driven to consumption at the point of a gun. Instead, they come in contact, exchange, or choose not to solely by consenting to serving, consuming, or not. Unfortunately, governments do not work as such and those who happen to be born or to move within the borders of a particular nation end up being subject to the rules imposed by a few, for the benefit of a few. Consent, then, is never part of the equation.
So if examples of real-world consent-based governance are to be taken seriously, as Bell attempts to do with his book by naming foreign trade zones (FTZs), Chinese special economic zones, and SEZs as examples of market-based governance, it’s clear that there are more than a couple of arguments to be made for this type of structure. Thankfully, libertarians can now discuss the practical evidence that backs their political philosophy with gusto as we now know that yes, it’s possible for us to become stateless and to do so peacefully.
Maybe now, we will finally be able to answer the age-old question regarding roads with the obvious: It doesn’t matter because the market will be the one to decide.