The problem I see with governments is that you have "duties" (from the position of legislators) even despite the fact you didn't choose to be born in any particular state. Therefore, probably it would be better to allow people to choose where to live, at least since some age. But it does not merely mean a freedom of movement across all the Earth but an ability to start a new society with its own conventions (maybe only the really small core should be accepted by any new society) like how you can start a new SE site or a new subreddit on reddit.

Indeed, what I propose is to replace states with voluntary organizations, meaning you can at any time escape the government you are in and start your own. Is this model recognized? Does it even have a name?

  • +1. I don't know why this perfectly proper question should have been downvoted.
    – Geoffrey Thomas
    Commented Sep 26, 2018 at 11:08
  • Something like this goes back to the "social contract" of Enlightenment times (Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau), SEP calls it Contractarianism. Gauthier and Rawls are modern derivatives, but it is less utopian than what you describe.
    – Conifold
    Commented Sep 26, 2018 at 17:50
  • @Conifold, what I describe is the possibility to break a contract that you never signed. And that you signed too. At the same time make an ability to be contractless. And, well, I do not argue against some basic rules (like protection of one organizations from others), don't know what is so utopian here.
    – rus9384
    Commented Sep 26, 2018 at 18:12
  • 1
    one term that matches your description is "sovereign citizen". others are "voluntarism" and "mutualism"
    – amphibient
    Commented Sep 26, 2018 at 18:50
  • 1
    I am guessing criminals would love to escape the government they are in and start their own. At any time. And starting new societies would make sharing of limited resources even lovelier. As with other theories, you are not finding takers because a minute's thought is enough to dismiss them.
    – Conifold
    Commented Sep 26, 2018 at 21:33

4 Answers 4


You are describing Panarchy

In 1860 Paul Emile de Puydt described a system where citizens would select the form of government they preferred. This selection would be entirely independent from their geographic location so that your neighbor may live under a completely different system than the one you chose.

In each community a new office is opened, a "Bureau of Political Membership". This office would send every responsible citizen a declaration form to fill in, just as for income tax or dog registration.

Question: What form of government would you desire? Quite freely you would answer, monarchy, or democracy, or any other.

Question: If monarchy, would you have it absolute or moderate ..., if moderated, how? You would answer constitutional, I suppose.

Anyway, whatever your reply, your answer would be entered in a register arranged for this purpose; and once registered, unless you withdrew your declaration, observing due legal form and process, you would thereby become either a royal subject or citizen of the republic. Thereafter you would in no way be involved with anyone else's government - no more than a Prussian subject is with Belgian authorities. You would obey your own leaders, your own laws, and your own regulations. You would pay neither more nor less, but morally it would be a completely different situation. Ultimately, everyone would live in his own individual political community, quite as if there were not another, nay, ten other, political communities nearby, each having its own contributors too.


  • Hm, isn't modern usage of panarchy different?
    – rus9384
    Commented Sep 28, 2018 at 21:00
  • @rus9384 There are more modern senses of the word that refer to other ideas in system theory, or the notion of global governance, but as a form of governance, de Puydt's Panarchy is what you're looking for.
    – Harabeck
    Commented Sep 28, 2018 at 21:11
  • The boundary on freedom from the place is too utopian, of course, but accepted as being a real answer. Of course, some comments on my question could be classified as answers too be them expanded.
    – rus9384
    Commented Sep 28, 2018 at 21:15

What your proposing sort of exists at the moment - some countries (the US and the UK for example) have mechanisms in place to allow you to renounce your citizenship. It's not quite what you are proposing since you usually need to have an alternative citizenship, so hypothetically let's say we remove that requirement.

You can now go and start your own society elsewhere - finding some land that has no recognized claim against it is difficult though. But for the sake of argument let's say you discover a brand new island that's located outside of any existing territorial waters and has yet to be claimed. You could go there, plant a flag or whatever and issue a proclimation declaring yourself King rus9384 of Rustopia and have whatever conventions, laws, rules, and societal structure you wanted (essentially this is what lead to the formation of America)

Congratulations! You are the new ruler of your very own micronation. The difficult bit comes in getting other governments to recognize Rustopia as a legitimate state. Assuming your new homeland can support sufficient agriculture or hunter/gatherer actions to support you for your remaining lifespan it probably won't make much difference whether they do or don't.

On the other hand if you actually want to interact with other nations, maybe engage in some trade, or even go on holiday to another country you might have problems.

There are of course other problems as well, which essentially mean a society cannot exist in true isolation - since we've given that same freedom to renounce to everybody else maybe someone else (let's call him Big Bob) has the same idea as you and decides to establish The Grand Empire of Bob on "your" island.

After a long, harrowing, 30 mins of kicking each other in the nuts you both decide that it's going to be better for everyone if you agree to share the island and the "Ow, my testicles really hurt!" accords are signed, stipulating which bits of the island are Rustopia and which are The Grand Empire of Bob.

Now you, as a citizen of Rustopia have a duty placed upon you by virtue of your citizenship. Namely not to go to any of the areas designated as Grand Empire of Bob territory, of course since there is only the two of you there's no police, no courts, and no judges to stop you walking into Bob's territory. But if you do that he's just going to start kicking you in the nuts again.

Of course if you find the constraints of the accords too restrictive on you then you are of course free to renounce your Rustopian citizenship and go somewhere else. But since habitable locations on Earth are finite (and most of them are already part of one nation or another) you aren't going to be able to do that many times before you run out of places to go.

So in short the finite nature of Earth's resources and the current high usage levels thereof (especially habitable land) means that if you want to be able to settle down somewhere and live your life without fear of getting kicked in the nuts repeatedly by someone of another society (other unpleasant consequences of a dispute are available) you're going to have to accept some limitations placed upon you that come from other societies.

Should humanity find itself in a position to feasibly expand off-world then I expect you'll see some new societies forming then, but unless they can establish themselves to be truly self-sufficient then similar inter-societal compromises will have to be formed.


Earth is essentially full, so the notion is currently a non-starter.

PS: Not that Earth's fullness has stopped people trying - there have been dozens of attempts to start new countries over the last 150-200 years alone. "The Kingdom of North Sudan" is a recent example - Bir Tawil , a strip of officially unclaimed land (terra nullius) that a man named Jeremiah Heaton claimed as "The Kingdom of North Sudan" in 2014. Unfortunately for the aspiring monarch no other government recognized his claim and that is where the whole thing just sort of fizzled as it has done for so many Micronations over the decades.

  • "Earth is essentially full" Do you claim the whole land on the Earth is actively used (and not merely claimed to be owned) by people? Yes, currently this is impossible. But I'm talking about theory.
    – rus9384
    Commented Sep 26, 2018 at 15:58
  • @rus9384 Not necessarily "actively used", but barring a few minor exceptions it is basically all claimed. And without accepting a hypothetical universe where scarcity of "land" and all other resources humans consider to be valuable doesn't exist then sooner or later the same situation will apply. Commented Sep 26, 2018 at 16:06
  • That it all is claimed is practically an issue. Theoretically it can be overcome.
    – rus9384
    Commented Sep 26, 2018 at 16:10
  • @rus9384 In what way would this be overcome? Recent history is replete with attempts to do this in both claimed and unclaimed territory and so far the form book suggests it can't be overcome. Commented Sep 26, 2018 at 16:14
  • That previous attempts failed does not mean future attempts will. You are commiting a fallacy. If a turkey was alive for so many days it does not mean it will remain the same (thanksgiving day).
    – rus9384
    Commented Sep 26, 2018 at 16:23

It's not quite clear what you mean. When you say "escape your government", do you mean move to a place where your government doesn't have jurisdiction? The problem with that is that most habitable places already have a government, so you would just be moving to another government's jurisdiction. Or perhaps you mean that you would be able to choose what government has jurisdiction over you, regardless of where you live. This is somewhat what anarchism is: no government has a claim over you just because you happen to live in a particular location. If your "voluntary organizations" are corporation-type institutions, this sounds like anarcho-capitalism. It also sounds a bit like libertarianism, although libertarianism differs from anarchism in the libertarians accept the legitimacy of government to protect natural rights (note that libertarianism is often criticized on the basis of issues people have with the concept of natural rights) while rejecting "social contract" as a basis for governmental legitimacy.

  • So, that's the thing. Government either should not own all the land or give people area where its laws do not apply. No, it's neither anarchism nor libertarianism. There is power in some areas, but you always should be able to move somewhere there is no power. And there should be areas where there is no power. Most of the land is unused.
    – rus9384
    Commented Sep 26, 2018 at 15:54
  • @rus9384 this comment seems to be heading in a different direction to your original question, can you expand on how a "no power" area would work? Commented Sep 26, 2018 at 16:10
  • @motosubatsu, anyone can claim the land to be their own, but in order for land to be owned there always (in 3 days interval) should be someone who actually can confirm it. If there is no one in 3 days interval you can assume the land is terra nullius. The model is pretty complex.
    – rus9384
    Commented Sep 26, 2018 at 16:14
  • @rus9384 It's okay I can handle complexity. I can see some pretty gaping holes in what you've described so far though. Commented Sep 26, 2018 at 16:15
  • @motosubatsu, well, if you see holes, it is just a fog of war. In fact, it just means I did not expose my model completely. But you caught the idea of land ownership, right? Otherwise flag on the Moon would be a proof of land ownership as well.
    – rus9384
    Commented Sep 26, 2018 at 16:20

If no government has authority over me (in your hypothetical world, I can always start my own government), it's anarchy. Anarchy allows voluntary associations - in fact, that's the only sort it allows. (Exactly how voluntary it is when Bob threatens to beat me up if I don't join his is another question.)

If any government I form is constrained in a minor way, as you suppose, we've got a form of libertarianism. There are very few accepted principles, but they're presumably enforced, and whoever specifies and enforces them is a government, if a very small one. Libertarians usually (not always) accept the need for a government that interferes with people very little.

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