neocameralism for ancaps

David Friedman proposes, in his classic Machinery of Freedoma world of protection agencies, in contract with each other, so as to replace nation-states. the only difference from this to Moldbug’s Patchwork is territoriality. Moldbug dismisses right away the military feasibility of protection agencies competing over the same territory (as the good Hobbesian he is), and so territorializes Friedman’s  agencies in Webberian-state-like corporations.

are non-territorial sovcorps, and so ancap itself, feasible? let’s start with Moldbug’s model and make only a few feasible transformations, and see if the end result looks like something an ancap would love more than the Patchwork.

the first transformation is for a territorial sovcorp to allow private courts in its territory. although it’s still solely responsible for any enforcement in its territory, there’s no reason all judicial procedures need to be carried out by the sovereign. someone may appeal to the sovereign, but it is not required to do anything. also, private courts allows for one less expense and one more source of profits.

the operation of private courts will likely involve insurance agencies, which may start selling insurance policies that include specific adjudication in case of certain crimes or other covered risks.

the next step is a little more rogue, but equally feasible. the sovcorp abstains itself from enforcing contracts or law (now private) inside its territory, allowing protection agencies to freely enter the market. it’s a bold move, but if has enough military power to remain sovereign in a largely hostile world, it can certainly contain a few private armies. it may demand some sort of regulation, restricting the protection agencies’ military power to the degree it can contain. ultimate appeals are still possible, and conflicts among protection agencies are still mediated by the sovcorp.

another way to think about this is to imagine a virtual federalism, in which protection agencies are states, and the sovcorp is the federal government. essentially, the sovcorp has the same functions as the Constitution originally envisioned for the fedgov: external relations, protection from outside forces, adjudication of conflicts among member states.

the final step is way less bold than the second one, but more consequential. now, the protection agencies become all shareholders of the sovcorp. which turns the sovcorp into a constitutional contract among protection agencies. by either Friedman’s or Long‘s account, this is ancap proper: non-territorial protection agencies in contract among each other, replacing nation-states.

the punch-line of all this reasoning is: ancaps have good reason to spouse neocameralism, since it’s only three feasible steps away from ancapism. how to get to neocameralism? all power to the pilots.


6 thoughts on “neocameralism for ancaps

  1. This is interesting, 1 is certainly feasible. 2 and 3 are indeed a bit more complicated, once the sovcorp allows for defense agencies inside its territory I think we might bring back the problem of uncertainty( ) since, I believe, territoriality is central to solving that. As David Friedman recognized in the new edition of Machinery of Freedom, defense agencies also sell the guarantee of the enforcement of its own laws against people from other agencies, from that we can see that the optimal point for a defense agency is to enforce all contracts according to its own constitution, unless you are proposing that there is only one regional constitution.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. in step two, uncertainty is to be reduced by the sovcorp’s sheer superior force. it should not allow security agencies that are stronger than its military (the very prohibition would demand that, realistically).

      in step three, the security agencies would be shareholders in the sovcorp holding. they will have great incentives not to come into physical attrition, since that would reduce their profits. and still, the holding sovcorp’s army would still need to be larger and stronger than any one security agency.


  2. Yes, this is actually quite similar to the corporative federalism that Proudhon espoused.

    The difficulty I saw with Moldbug’s neocameralism is that it seemed to implicitly contradict his Bodinian conception of sovereignty as absolute, inalienable and unconstrainable. Now Moldbug’s reasonable economic assumption is that profitability (financial responsibility) is the most effective form of ensuring responsibility in a state, i.e. it does not deploy its sovereign prerogative to destructive, anti-propertarian actions.

    My stance is that it is impossible for a sovcorp to dedicate itself to a profitability condition, precisely because of the nature of sovereignty. Neocameralism as an idea is too tightly bound to public choice assumptions rather than, say, Paretian sociology. Sovcorps having the ultimate allod in their territory means that they are incentivized to float their exchange rates, to issue paper scrip, to disconnect taxation from spending, to build coalitions through protection, so on and so forth.

    This is unless the ruling classes in question adhere to a more counterrevolutionary ethic. As a result, it seems to me that a system of seignioral proprietorships, bishoprics and patronage with monarchy as the ultimate allod-holder is more sustainable despite lacking joint-stock governance due to the fact that it is a system which fundamentally revolves around law as a local, historically grounded custom (a la Friedrich Carl von Savigny and other jurists of his school), rather than the calculating rationalism of joint-stock companies.

    In short, when it seems unlikely that an institution can be made financially rational, a robust system of personalistic and hierarchical authority with differing social roles seems like the second best option. Such psychology and group dynamics are always frail, but it is the closest approximation to primordial kin groups and clan structures.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. yeah, I recommend you refer back to my series on neocameralism and constitutions (and further to Nick Land’s “Quibbles with Moldbug”), where I discussed this conception of sovereignty as unbounded.

      to sum it up roughly, sovereignty is necessarily bounded, even if only by Gnon. the corporative structure offers a good way to probe reality through market discovery (and failure), that’s why neocameralism recommends it (rather than dynastic rulers, which usually fails to be liquidated smoothly)


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