This article was published in the Winter 1997-98 issue of Formulations
by the Free Nation Foundation
Property and United Action
in a Natural Government
by Jack Coxe

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The term "united action" implies leaders who make plans, and followers who cooperate with the plans. Property, on the other hand, suggests to most people the idea of individual self-government—each person being in charge of their own property. Yet, further analysis suggests that no one can own property unless there is a prevailing agreement on how to acquire property and how to settle disputes over who owns what. And if that agreement involves an authority with the coercive power to enforce decisions, then the door is wide open for power strugglers who would try to acquire property by manipulating the agreed-on procedures to coerce.

I believe that a logical analysis reveals natural procedures which people in a free nation might agree on, for determining who owns what. And I believe that most people, once they understand those procedures, would naturally cooperate with them. But this cooperative majority is naturally individualistic—reluctant to organize, especially in any effort to manipulate the procedures for coercion.

Can this silent majority offer any real competition to collectivist-minded people who naturally seek leaders to organize their manipulation of the procedures to coerce?

So far, in this world, the collectivists almost always wield the preponderant influence on the use of coercion. Even though almost any man on the street might be able to offer a reasonably natural and fair opinion as to who ought to own what, those who have struggled their way into the actual positions of making those decisions often seem to have little use for such simple common sense. It takes only a very small group of well-organized and skillful power strugglers to out-maneuver a large majority of individualists in a struggle for the power to coerce.

It is the power struggle that is the culprit. And power struggles are possible only to the extent that options to make deliberate use of coercion do exist—that there are agreed-on procedures for the deliberate use of coercion. Those agreed-on procedures might involve the election of government officials, or they might simply be for any offended person to reach for his gun. No matter what those procedures are, as long as they provide people with options to make deliberate use of coercion, there will be people who struggle to manipulate them, just as surely as a gold mine attracts gold miners.

Even our American Constitution, so skillfully designed with checks and balances on positions of power, was out-maneuvered by people who skillfully subverted its original intent and re-interpreted it for their power-struggling purposes.

My article entitled "Natural Government versus Artificial Government" in the Autumn, 1997 issue of Formulations, suggests that logically the only way to eliminate power struggles is to arrange a system which makes the option to resort to coercive arbitration readily available, but completely uncontrollable. Such a system of coercive arbitration, designed to be an option which every person has good reason to avoid, would involve arbiters selected completely at random for each case of unresolved conflict, and then prohibiting any attempt to place any artificial controls or restrictions on the decisions of the arbiters. The effect would be for everyone, including arbiters, policemen, leaders and followers of every description, to be faced with the perpetual choice—either truly seek genuine voluntary agreement with all adversaries, or risk coercive arbitration by arbiters who they have no way of controlling or pressuring. For more information on how this random arbiter system might work, you could refer to the above mentioned article.

The following are a few suggestions on how people might naturally react to their pressing need to seek voluntary agreement. The natural reaction to this need is what natural government is.

If you imagine yourself faced with the perpetual choice of either seeking true agreement or risking uncontrollable coercive arbitration, isn’t it likely that you and everyone else would very soon realize that you might often be carelessly or unnecessarily offending someone without realizing it, and that it is therefore likely for that offended person to call for a coercive arbitration concerning your offensive action? How can you be sure that your actions are not offending anyone? Isn’t it likely that you and everyone else would realize the pressing need for some kind of agreed-on guidelines to help people to know how to act without offending each other?

Logically, in order to agree on guidelines, people must communicate on a large scale. There needs to be an agreed-on procedure to provide options for people who have ideas for cooperative action, to make proposals, and for everyone else to pledge their monetary and/or moral support for the proposals of their choice. In this way, people could discover and agree on various guidelines and procedures to meet whatever needs arise.

"Proposal planning systems" would be needed. A proposal planning system might involve a proposal bulletin of some kind. It might be a weekly magazine—maybe also on the computer internet. To enter a proposal in the proposal bulletin, maybe the requirement would be for a person to produce a petition signed by 50 people in support of the proposal. Then the proposal bulletin might publish the proposal, maybe for a maximum of 30 days. Then subscribers to the proposal bulletin could respond with pledges of support for the proposal, if they agree with it. Proposals that receive considerable support, might be published in guideline books. Guideline books might become as popular as dictionaries or encyclopedias. There would, of course, be no law books.

The guidelines might not be universally accepted. But the amount of support they received in the proposal bulletin would give a person a clue as to what a random selection of arbiters might decide, if the guideline was ignored and someone called for coercive arbitration. In order to make practical use of the guidelines as a means of avoiding offending anyone, people would need to use honest common sense—a sincere effort to apply the true spirit of the guidelines, instead of an attempt to manipulate the letter of the guidelines.

People might propose guidelines for acquiring land, for land zoning, for how long a person might reserve a plot of land for future use, for sharing water, for garbage disposal, for dealing with offensive actions, for foreign relations and national defense, for dealing with natural disasters, for assisting disabled or disadvantaged people, for protecting the environment, for ownership of inventions and publications, even for how a person ought to respond to the proposal bulletin and how they ought to be treated if they don’t, and so on.

Proposals could also be designed for organized action, such as charity organizations, public parks, road building, fire departments, police departments, voluntary arbitration organizations (as a much-preferred alternative to coercive arbitration), planning organizations (probably becoming the source of most proposals), marketing new inventions, advice and inspection organizations, and so on.

You might be thinking that responding to all these proposals would be way too much of a burden for most people. But so is cement work too much of a burden for most people. And as we know, any demand invites a market to supply it. Professional proposal watchers might offer their services of responding to the proposal bulletin. Busy people might simply choose their proposal watchers and pay them for their services—sort of like paying taxes (completely voluntary, of course). Some people might prefer to do their own proposal watching. College students might offer their services as proposal watchers. Or organizations such as churches of clubs might publish recommendation sheets on which proposals to support.

It would be completely voluntary, no matter which method a person used to deal with this need for large scale communication and cooperation. Yet, for every person, the need would be real and pressing, as a means of avoiding being called for uncontrollable coercive arbitration. Natural circumstances would be compelling.

A random arbiter system would make it impossible for anyone to deliberately control the use of coercion, thereby providing everyone with pressing personal motivation to find a way to agree with all adversaries. But first a prevailing agreement on the validity of a random arbiter system would need to be built.

In order to build it, a more specific proposal would need to be formed and somehow published. Other people might then improve on the proposal, and eventually arrive at a proposal that more and more people will agree with. And there would need to be some way for people who agree, to tell each other of their agreement—some way that they might respond with notices of their agreement.

Formulations might be a step in that direction. D

Jack Coxe is a cement contractor who lives near Ione, California.

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