To achieve a libertarian society, there must be the constitution of an organization which is able to produce justice and security for its members. The constitution of a republic, or any society, is not based on contract but on agreement – the institution of a contract assumes a neutral arbitrator to whom the contract acts as a witness, and a sovereign society being its own arbitrator, no arbitration ever takes place. The First Distributed Republic is an agreement between libertarians to protect each others’ property everywhere in the world, in any state.
I will explain the meaning of the terms constitution and distributed republic. A private society, such as a corporation or a partnership, is constituted by a contract between shareholders and partners over the terms of their association. For example, a partnership contract determines in what share the partners divide earnings, how new partners are made, and under what terms the partnership is to be dissolved.
The constitution of a modern republic is similar. It defines how the processes of legislation and executive direction work, and how new territories are admitted into the republic, or how a territory is allowed to leave (should such a possibility even exist). There is, however, one major difference in the constitution of a partnership and the constitution of a republic. While a partnership contract can be taken to a sovereign’s court for enforcement in the case of a dispute (even though often simple arbitration will suffice), the republic is the sovereign itself, and its constitution is not backed by anything more than the agreement of the different parts of society.
So, while the agreement holds, the sovereign organization appears united, once a serious dispute occurs, the different subgroups within the state must decide on their own how to act, and what power they have to use against the other members. Such a crisis occurred in Chile during the presidency of Salvador Allende, who was declared an outlaw president who refused to enforce the constitution (the mandate of the presidency) by the congress, yet whose impeachment only had a simple majority instead of the necessary supermajority as defined by the constitution. The military forces commanded by Augusto Pinochet decided to side with the congress and remove the president, and the legality of this operation has and will forever be in dispute. Another similar event occurred in post-WWII France when, unable to handle the escalating conflict in colonial Algeria, the government of the Fourth Republic was threatened with a military coup by paratrooper units unless its war hero Charles de Gaulle returned to become president. Charles de Gaulle took office as the president with a whole new constitution, the Fifth Republic, that granted the office new powers.
Because the constitution of a sovereign power is backed by nothing more than agreement, any written constitution is utterly meaningless. A written contract only has force when a neutral arbitrator considers it to be the witness of an agreement between its signatories. Disputes within a sovereign power are never settled by a neutral arbitrator, but by the willingness of its members to act to preserve a state of affair. When these members act to create a new state of affair, the constitution of the society has changed completely, regardless of any paper agreements. This is how, for example, the constitution of the United States of America has amendments that are redefined by the courts over time, such as the amendment guaranteeing well-regulated militias with the right to bear arms (the signatory states have long stopped keeping their own independent militias). This is also why a country with no written constitution, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, can have very strong traditions and institutions established in precedent. It is also interesting to consider that the UK, while claiming to be a monarchy in name, has a republican constitution in fact where the monarch has no authority to appoint and remove the commanders of any of the bureaucracies and commissions of the state. This authority rests in the prime minister, whose legitimacy comes from parliamentary elections.
Any sovereign society must have a constitution, otherwise it is nothing more united than a loose confederation or alliance, consisting of many sovereignties. This constitution, however, does not have to be explicit or signed. It must only be acted out.
Having defined what a constitution is, I define what a distributed republic is. A modern sovereign republic is typically associated with a state, that is to say a land area it claims full dominion over, including anything within it. It is often claimed that the state is sovereign interchangeably with the republic being sovereign. However, even within the state, there are areas and people that are not subject to the dominion or sovereignty of the republic, namely diplomatic outposts of other sovereign republics. These are often called embassies and are considered to be sovereign territory off-limits to the agents of the state and/or republic. Diplomats will also enjoy diplomatic immunity from being pulled over in their vehicles, the vehicles will enjoy diplomatic immunity and such strange contraptions as diplomatic bags will also be off-limits to agents of the state. All of these properties are sovereign properties within the state where the state’s sovereignty does not extend.
How is this possible? How can the state be terrified of violating the property of such hapless, isolated houses and cars? Because the diplomats, houses and cars are protected by the sovereignty of another republic, associated with a foreign state, within which there exists diplomats and embassies belonging to the former, and which are vulnerable to retaliation should the sovereignty of the latter’s domains be violated. Because of this balance of power, the sovereignty of the “encircled” people and properties is respected.
Libertarians do not believe in the need for a state in order to defend themselves. Their stateless society has therefore no need to establish for itself a land area in order to declare its sovereignty. All that it needs in order to achieve sovereignty is for the world’s other republics to feel vulnerable to its force. Once a libertarian republic has achieved sovereignty, that is to say that other sovereign powers refrain from violating the property of its citizens out of fear of retaliation, then all the property of all of its citizens achieves “diplomatic immunity”, becoming immune from persecution by the state’s agents. Within a state such as the USA, for example, the houses, businesses and vehicles of the members of the libertarian republic are off-limits to the state’s agents, and are pockets of sovereignty within the state. This republic is said to be distributed across the property of all of its members, and its boundaries fluctuate depending upon the acquisitions and sales of property, and the addition of citizens and their property. Over time, these citizens may even acquire ownership of small states, starting with villages, counties and towns.
Therefore, for a distributed republic to exist, two conditions must be met;
- A libertarian society must have a constitution organizing enough power to threaten the established sovereigns,
- Diplomatic relations must be established with these sovereigns where they agree to respect the property boundaries of the citizens of the distributed republic, wherever they may be at any time.
I will outline how such a society could be constituted, and how it could achieve the force necessary to obtain sovereignty and diplomatic recognition of other sovereigns, in an upcoming post.