The Involuntary Citizenship Amendment

Many of us believe that for ethical and practical reasons societies would be better off without a centralized ruling government.

The major unresolved challenge has been how could we get from here to there without chaos?

Not having an answer to that question, I’ve been writing about Concurrent Voluntaryism,  building up voluntaryist social structures in parallel with the existing State complex.

But what if, with a few simple words, you could simultaneously…

  • eliminate the one feature of Government that is the source of its coercive power
  • maintain and enhance the Government’s incentive to provide services to those who still desire them
  • allow immediate freedom from centralized Government for everyone who desires that option

That would get us a long way from here to there without creating chaos.

Therefore, I hereby propose the following Constitutional Amendment, which would accomplish all of those goals:

“Whereas all Men are created equal and endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, and that to secure these rights Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…

Section 1. Involuntary Citizenship shall no longer exist within the United States or in any place subject to their jurisdiction.

Section 2. The Benefits and Protections of Citizenship shall apply only to those who voluntarily agree to and accept the Responsibilities of Citizenship.

Section 3. The Jurisdiction of the United States, and of the individual States, shall hereafter extend only to the property of voluntary Citizens and to any property acquired by Government through voluntary exchange.

Section 4. The Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.”

Appropriately, the wording of Section 1 of the proposed Amendment echoes the wording of the 13th Amendment, which ended Involuntary Servitude in the United States.

Below is a brief discussion of how this Involuntary Citizenship Amendment fulfills the goals listed above.

“eliminate the one feature of Government that is the source of its coercive power”

Many of the services provided by Government are important and would need to be provided, one way or another, in any modern society. The two major problems with having them provided by the State are that they are monopolies and that they are funded by theft, both features maintained by violence and threats. Eliminating its territorial monopoly eliminates the Government’s ability to enforce all of its other monopolies, except among those voluntary citizens who willingly pay for them. This is essentially the definition of ‘panarchy‘.

“maintain and enhance the Government’s incentive to provide services to those who still desire them”

Without a territorial monopoly on theft the Government will have to provide services that people willingly pay for. And they will face competition from independent service providers and from competing governments. If the current Government’s services didn’t continue, and even improve, they would risk losing all subscribers and going out of business entirely.

“allow immediate freedom from centralized Government for everyone who desires that option”

With citizenship becoming voluntary, anyone could walk away at any time. Renouncing citizenship might entail having to forfeit some future entitlement benefit or having to pay some sort of early termination fee. One might fear that such terms could be drastic and punitive, but again, because they would be competing for current and future members (citizens), there is a built-in incentive to discourage the Government from setting up terms that are overly punitive.

No way to get from here to there without total chaos?

I am not suggesting that we could successfully pass this Constitutional amendment. But I do think it eliminates the argument that a voluntary society is impossible simply because there is no way to transition from here to there without creating immediate chaos.

What do you think?


8 thoughts on “The Involuntary Citizenship Amendment

  1. enleuk

    I think your solution prevents chaos and constitutes the kind of change that will eventually realize anarchism. However my view is that anarchism is a long way off and society will go through a lot of changes before we reach the stage where this amendment becomes a realistic political change. The changes I refer to include an increase in direct democracy in some forms, a smaller government, a more pacifistic police and military, a smaller body of laws, a blurrying of nation-state borders and similar gradual changes that pave the way for anarchism, not the least in the minds of the populace.

  2. @Veresapiens Post author

    I agree with you that any of these paths to a free society have to take hold in the minds of the broader populace in order to make any significant progress.

  3. Dave Burns

    Your proposal would work in principle, but not in practice. Perhaps that is part of your point, but if so, I am a bit confused. You point out that the amendment would not pass, and I would add that if it somehow passed, it would probably not be observed. It is a nice conceptual tool, perhaps, but if it lacks realism, is it really much better than claiming “God will provide a miracle” or “the market will solve it?” The sort of tools we would need if your amendment was adopted are subtly different from the tools we need to get to a place where it would have a chance of being adopted.
    I think I prefer your old approach, that we are already in anarchy, and unfortunately it is possible for coercive criminal gangs to operate within anarchy with such success that they even convince their victims that the victims are better off with them than without. We need to figure out how to minimize the impact of such gangs.

    1. @VereSapiens Post author

      I don’t disagree with any of your comments. Actually the point I wanted to make – and probably should have made it more distinctly – was to shoot down the argument: “even if we all wanted to, there is no conceivable way to get from the all-encompassing State to anarchy because of all of the entanglements people have with the State”. So my point was that the anarchy amendment would allow those who wished to to start ‘leaving’ the State while those still too entangled could remain until they were ready, if ever.
      The State would never allow this to happen, given the true nature of the State, but this is a workable path from the State to anarchy. So I’m saying it is possible/doable, but the State would fight to prevent it.
      Meanwhile, yes, concurrent voluntaryism – building free societies in an environment dominated by coercive gangs – is my preferred course.

  4. spm (@spm)

    It was in a nice valley in the mountains, where sheeps were eating grass. Every night a bunch of sheeps were eaten by wolves.
    They tried to move somewhere hard too reach, but the kills continued.
    The anachist sheep said “let’s fight back ! Let’s put some booby traps”.
    The minarchist replied “no, that’s evil, I can talk to them and get an agreement who please both parts”.
    The minarchist went to the wolves, and never came back.
    A group of minarchists decided maybe he was lost, and decided to go see the wolves in group. They went to the wolves, and they came back with an agreement : “the wolves agreed to eat one of us every other night ! We just have to put the sheep to be eaten in a specific place”.
    The agreement started the next nights, and although the sheeps were sad for the ones of them who were eaten, there was always someone to say “oh, that’s the necessary cost of life”. Being the one eaten gave a high position in the sheep people, like to be the king for 2 days.
    The anarchist said that was not acceptable, but he was answered “how you dare put in jeopardy our way of life ? That insults the ones who gave their life for our peace !”, and he was marginalised.
    After some time the wolves asked to have one sheep every day.
    The sheeps asked the minarchists how that was possible ? The minarchists suggested there was certainly some good reason behind that, and they asked the wolves. The wolves replied “yes the agreement was good, but you know it was ok then, today things have changed. Wolf population increased, the agreement was just updated in that way”
    Most of the sheeps thought that was still better than previously. Some of the sheeps said it was normal as the population of sheeps was too important for the land, it needed to be reduced.
    After more time the wolves asked even more sheeps, putting forward some struggle with the bears, and they needed more energy to fight.
    The minarchists decided that was too much. They announced to the other sheeps : “we are going to get a better agreement !”

    1. James Howe Post author

      Yes, once their jurisdiction was limited to the persons and property of voluntary citizens, anyone else could create money, removing that avenue of coercion.


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