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Hm, new idea by AnCap professor: charter cities

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Wheylous Posted: Mon, Jan 2 2012 4:54 PM

Check it out, it actually sounds really amazing:

http://econlog.econlib.org/archives/2011/03/a_quick_case_fo.html

 

The point of charter cities is to peacefully create pockets of high-quality First World governance in the heart of the Third World.  How?  By persuading Third World governments to create new self-governing cities exempt from most existing laws.  These new cities could be governed by foreign law, and administered by foreign governments - or even a for-profit corporation.  While the specifics are intentionally flexible, there are three core building blocks of any charter city:

  1. An uninhabited piece of city-sized land, provided voluntarily by a host government.
  2. A charter that specifies the rules that will govern the new city.
  3. The freedom for would-be charter city residents, investors, and employers to move in or out.
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AJ replied on Mon, Jan 2 2012 5:03 PM

Hmm, so what happens when the city starts being a business center and the national government wants a piece of the action? I guess it'd be a teaching opportunity, though. 

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No that's what the Free State Project is for. Why move to a 3rd world country when NH is right there with plenty of an-caps already?

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"I have an idea! What if we used contract and property theory to reinvent the state?"

Wheylous, I would suggest reading that article that ES posted in the left-libertarian thread. Spangler uses a pretty good quote from Rothbard about why this is a horrible idea.

But basically, the idea is to have corporations from first world countries come in and govern the third world for profit? Where did I hear about this before?

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Malachi replied on Mon, Jan 2 2012 5:16 PM
Ok, indulge us. Where did you hear this before?
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Did you read the article? The idea is that the land is previously unoccupied and people choose to come in voluntarily. While may not result in complete AnCap/minarchy, if you're into reducing world poverty, this sounds like a good idea.

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Think about Europe circa 1800.

Seriously, this idea is disgusting on a number of levels. First, all you've effectively done is take the situation of a colony and replace key words with free market jargon. Second, who exactly are these charters making agreements with? The government of a country? It's pretty clear to see how that would go wrong, corporations making contracts with the state to run a city at profit. Especially considering the third world already owes money to the first world because of colonialism, it would be especially disgusting to see first world corporations come in for a bigger piece of the pie. Or is the charter making a contract with the people? If so, I don't see how this is substantially different from your run-of-the-mill city-state. Or does the critique of the state and taxes go out the window as long as we replace "state" with "board of directors" and "taxes" with "rent"?

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Clayton replied on Mon, Jan 2 2012 5:28 PM

Isn't that what Dubai is?

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Malachi replied on Mon, Jan 2 2012 7:42 PM
Nothing you mentioned sounds disgusting to me. The land is uninhabited, and just a wild shot in the dark here, the company has contracts with everyone involved. If you think that normal city-states have actual contracts with their inhabitants....well, that sounds like a Centinel-type idea.

the critique of mandatory government is inapplicable to voluntary government.

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The hunting lands of the Native Americans were uninhabitated too, and the people that originally colonized them did so by way of private charter...

I have a novel idea. What if the first world left the third world alone for once since the 17th century?

This mode of thinking is where the division between thickness and thinness comes into play. If we can just replace all the state's functions with private sector vocab, then everything will be okay, is the thinking of very vulgar libertarians indeed.

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Malachi replied on Mon, Jan 2 2012 8:13 PM
Well if there was a contract with some aborigines to sell some hunting land, I really dont see a problem. If the aborigine's property rights are disregarded, thats a crime. The rest of your post seems like agitprop. Heres a novel idea: why not let free individuals make mutually consensual deals.

your continual references to vocabulary are akin to an observer of the "horseless carriage" insisting that transportation will be as it always has been, you cannot change transportation by replacing "carriages" with "cars" and "hay" with "petroleum."

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There weren't contracts, and I don't understand what line of thinking makes anyone thing the first world will get it right this time.

My constant reference to vocabulary is to insist that you are suggesting no substantial change. It's not a carriage with a horse! It's a carriage with a mule!

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Malachi replied on Mon, Jan 2 2012 8:51 PM
Perhaps the difference is that, this time, there are to be contracts. This would constitute substantial change.
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Two Libertarian Cities On the Drawing Boards

Many previously planned libertarian countries have failed. Now, two libertarian cities may emerge in the Honduras, with the blessing of the government of the Honduras.

Economist magazine reports...

 

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Clayton replied on Mon, Jan 2 2012 9:10 PM

I think BP has a point. The whole motivation for wanting to go "anywhere outside the first world" is that we've screwed up our own system so bad there's no option but to start from scratch somewhere else. But that's exactly it... how will exporting this culture onto some new pinpoint on the globe fix anything? It won't, it will just spread more bad culture. The correct answer is to have the courage to confront the social ills within our society as it is.

Everyone has their own ideas about what is wrong with the culture and how to fix it but there's a way to allow everyone to keep their own (incompatible) ideas and fix the culture at the same time... namely, start with yourself, start with your family relationships, your friendships and your community. If society is healthy in the small, the rest will work itself out in time. You can't make a healthy society out of unhealthy personal relationships and exporting the unhealthy culture of our unhealthy society to yet another place won't fix anything, either.

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Malachi replied on Mon, Jan 2 2012 9:17 PM
I'm not ready to abandon Mars to the wolves if thats what youre suggesting. I believe in multiple approaches. The state is losing, its inevitable. They know it, I can give you references. The more paths to a post-state society, the more opportunities for people to find a path that suits them.
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What if the first world left the third world alone for once since the 17th century?

As in not trade with them?

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Clayton replied on Mon, Jan 2 2012 9:50 PM

I can give you references

@Malachi... would love to see whatever you have. I've seen some clips of Brzezinski saying stuff that almost sounded along these lines...

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"As in not trade with them?"

No, as in not systematically taking land and resources away from them and asking them to front the bill in the mean time. They did it then with taxes and war reparations (even when the first world lost like with Haiti) and they do it today with their debt.

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Wheylous replied on Tue, Jan 3 2012 12:36 AM

Do they own the land in the country, though? If it is unoccupied, by your standard it should be fair game, no? Occ/use? Why not advocate anarcho-communist communes in Africa?

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"Do they own the land in the country, though? If it is unoccupied, by your standard it should be fair game, no? Occ/use? Why not advocate anarcho-communist communes in Africa?"

Because I don't live in Africa and I believe in autonomy. If there are African Anarchists out there then they have my solidarity and I support them. If not, I've got my plate full at home. There's no need for cultural imperialism.

Wheylous, do you know anything about the first world's involvment in Africa?

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Wheylous replied on Tue, Jan 3 2012 12:49 AM

Autonomy of the governments of Africa?

Yes. There's been extensive aggressive involvement in Africa.

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"Autonomy of the governments of Africa?

Yes. There's been extensive aggressive involvement in Africa."

No, autonomy of the people. Unless I get a fucking golden ticket and a postcard that says, "Hey! We really want you to come to Africa and settle down! Signed, every-fucking-African," I don't intend on messing around with the land and law of the local peoples. I don't intend to potentially fuck up hunting grounds or fertile soil with agriculture when there are plenty of indigenous living just fine off of their "unoccupied" land. Furthermore, I have absolutely no interest in supporting another western corporation extracting resources from Africa and its people for profit at home while the vast majority of Africans starve due to a debt crisis the first world created.

What makes you think corporations will get it right this time?

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I don't intend to potentially fuck up hunting grounds or fertile soil with agriculture when there are plenty of indigenous living just fine off of their "unoccupied" land.

Hm, seems more of a georgist view than occ/use...

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So you're implying that, unless you're a georgist, your philosophy is that any land in any time and any place is yours for the taking?

My argument is not that land in Africa cannot be legitimately acquired. My argument is that it's unethical to practice imperialism whether its private or public.

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How the hell is it imperialism if no one is using the land? No hunting ground, no growing, no water usage.

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"How the hell is it imperialism if no one is using the land? No hunting ground, no growing, no water usage."

Is that the case? Why would you want land with no vegetarion or watter supply? And, once again, why Africa? That really is the best question, seeing as how it would be just as easy to set up a chartered city in the US. When there are sufficient options for such a thing much closer to home (and much less expensively considering travel) one really must ask why another corporation must go to Africa and use land that could be used by the African people, most of whom do not have the luxury of being able to travel to another country to live in a chartered city.

And if the cities are actually for African people, I ask again, what's the difference between that and any other state? A foreign entity entering a third world country and extracting rent from the local people who slave for (probably another western corporation) barely enough to eat: how does that not sound like imperialism?

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Misesians here must find it both unsurprising and amusing that leftists ITT are disgusted by sincere proposals that would very likely lead to an incredible increase in quality of life for millions of relatively impoverished human beings. Like the freer market and freer trade reforms in China from the 1970s to 2000s or the capitalist corporatism of 1980s West Germany: see our leftist boogeyman "neoliberalism" naked in full view! Who cares about consequences for the actually-existing poor? Neoliberalism is pure evil!

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Kakugo replied on Tue, Jan 3 2012 5:24 AM

If I remember correctly The Philippines did something similar (though in smaller scale) with the area where the US military base of Subic Bay was located. Surprisingly it was the people of the area who had the idea of converting the base into a "free economic zone" and even more surprisingly (and much to its credit) the government in Manila decided to go along with it. Of course this doesn't mean Subic Bay is an anarcho-capitalist commune, but it's a workable (and highly successful) model of free-trade oriented charter city.

In fact the idea is so successful another similar "charter city" has been authorized on the site of the former Clark Air Base near Angeles, though there are some practical issues needing to be addressed.

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Yes, heaven forbid capitalism were actually given the chance to pull people out of poverty, lest the leftists be left with nothing to bitch about, their self-identity as anticapitalists wavering and their their collective self-esteem plummeting like the population of North Korea after a glorious famine. Someone should do a chart comparing Singapore/Hong Kong and North Korea (or hell, why not North Korea and South Korea); as close to an empirical proof as one can get that capitalism works.

Oh, I found one: http://www.ifitweremyhome.com/compare/SG/KP. Apparently, If North Korea were your home instead of Singapore, you would:

- Have 21.6 times higher chance of dying in infancy
- Consume 99.65% less oil
- Make 96.22% less money
- Use 90.48% less electricity
- Die 17.93 years sooner
- Have 68.55% more babies
- Spend 99.93% less money on healthcare
 
Wow, just look at that cheap healthcare; 99.93% cheaper, maybe socialism isn't so bad afterall! And to anyone who'd say that this argument is a strawman, and that no statist/leftist advocates North-Korea style socialism nowadays, my reply is: have you seen many statists arguing for a smaller State/less State intervention? Chances are the answer is no. Hence if they had their way, and the State just kept on growing and growing and growing, you know what you have eventually? North Korea! (Albeit sans the sexy, sexy dictator.) 
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The problem I have with the idea - as posted - is that the charter city would still be a state. I see no difference between this proposal and the one promoted by Anemone in this forum, except that the latter thinks international waters or outer space would be a more viable venue.

However, I actually have a similar proposal. It would simply involve purchasing land from a national government under allodial/sovereign title. The national government would thus be relinquishing all ownership of the land in question. At that point, what I would do is sell and rent smaller pieces of that land to others, along with developing what I have left. Those who I sold them to would then have allodial/sovereign title of that piece. In other words, now I have relinquished all ownership of those land parcels.

The result would not be what I'd call a unified community. Instead, it would be a patchwork of privately-owned areas of land. Where's the state in that?

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Misesians here must find it both unsurprising and amusing that leftists ITT are disgusted by sincere proposals that would very likely lead to an incredible increase in quality of life for millions of relatively impoverished human beings.

A lot of libertarians oppose the state as an end in itself, and these are exactly the responses you would expect to see as a result.   

they said we would have an unfair fun advantage

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Autolykos:

The problem I have with the idea - as posted - is that the charter city would still be a state. I see no difference between this proposal and the one promoted by Anemone in this forum, except that the latter thinks international waters or outer space would be a more viable venue.

However, I actually have a similar proposal. It would simply involve purchasing land from a national government under allodial/sovereign title. The national government would thus be relinquishing all ownership of the land in question. At that point, what I would do is sell and rent smaller pieces of that land to others, along with developing what I have left. Those who I sold them to would then have allodial/sovereign title of that piece. In other words, now I have relinquished all ownership of those land parcels.

The result would not be what I'd call a unified community. Instead, it would be a patchwork of privately-owned areas of land. Where's the state in that?

I would object that the states authority hasn't been abolished, it's simply transfered to private owners. The state had done nothing to homestead that land, therefore it didn't own it, therefore it had no right to pass ownership over to you, therefore your claim to property over the island is just as dubious as the state. 

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Autolykos replied on Tue, Jan 3 2012 11:02 AM

While that's true, presumably said state would oppose me - violently - if I simply went and homesteaded that land. Who do you think already owns it, if anyone?

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Autolykos replied on Tue, Jan 3 2012 11:03 AM

mikachusetts:
A lot of libertarians oppose the state as an end in itself, and these are exactly the responses you would expect to see as a result.

I don't quite understand the meaning of this. Can you please explain?

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No one is the rightful owner, in the sense that it is unused, unimproved  land as such no one should be able to exclude people from it. I should point out that if you were to buy the land from the state and then release it to whoever wished to homestead it I would have no issue with this. 

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I don't quite understand the meaning of this. Can you please explain?

I wasn't reading carefully and wsa skipping over posts, so I thought Cal was saying that a lot of posters were opposing the idea of charter cities even though they are huge improvements over the current material conditions of those areas.  The posts weren't nearly as opposed as I thought they were.

they said we would have an unfair fun advantage

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A lot of libertarians oppose the state as an end in itself, and these are exactly the responses you would expect to see as a result. 

While I am strong in my belief in a free market society, I find it foolish to not take an opportunity to improve the lives of millions of people without coercion. Fight the intellectual fight against the state in the developed world, help build the rest of the world through whatever free market we can get to them.

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"I find it foolish to not take an opportunity to improve the lives of millions of people without coercion."

A number of questions come to mind.

Did these people ask for their lives to be "improved" and do their wishes matter at all in the situation?

Is the primary goal of charter cities to make a profit with "improvement" as a side effect, or improvement despite the cost?

What if such a city is not an improvement for the vast majority of the populus, but is also profitable and justified by proprietarian theory?

Have similar enterprises really "improved" things in any subjective way for the majority of the population of other locations, or must one drop the subjectivity involved in libertarian theory and resort to empiricist and positivist measurements like GDP or standard of living to make the case that most people's lives have "improved"?

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Evilsceptic:
No one is the rightful owner, in the sense that it is unused, unimproved  land as such no one should be able to exclude people from it. I should point out that if you were to buy the land from the state and then release it to whoever wished to homestead it I would have no issue with this.

I guess I didn't make sufficiently clear earlier that, once I've paid off the government, I and those with me would homestead that land. So maybe the way to look at it is that I'm not paying the government for the land - since I agree with you that they don't rightfully own it in the first place - but that I'm simply bribing the government so that it won't attack me once I start homsteading the land. I wouldn't consider myself to actually own any of the land until I homestead it.

Does that make sense?

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