Politics is like turf war. Tug-o-war. Or a game of king of the mountain. Titanic election cycles mean we’re sinking resources into deadweight activism. More and more resources are going into the promises of politicians who consistently let us down. The system is rigged: left, right and center. Corporations are spending more time, energy and money protecting their asses, colluding with politicians, or chasing the spoils of legislation—instead of innovating. Entrepreneurship, social or otherwise, is starting to languish. The resources we use to play king of the mountain don’t get used on positive social change. As a result, we’re increasingly disillusioned, polarized and angry. I say enough already. And there is a way to end it.
Paul-Emile de Puydt didn’t have Facebook when he wrote the following in 1860:
It is simply a matter of declaration before one's local political commission, for one to move from republic to monarchy, from representative government to autocracy, from oligarchy to democracy, or even to Mr. Proudhon's anarchy - without even the necessity of removing one's dressing gown or slippers.
Let that sink in for a minute. De Puydt is suggesting something simple and profound. If each one of us – progressive, libertarian, conservative or liberal – were willing to give up what I’ll call territorial monopoly, we could each have almost any system we wanted. Any system—within reason. Think about it: you certainly don’t get the system you want now. You might get the temporary high of your chosen candidate winning. But that high is contingent on factors completely beyond your control. Your ideals, whatever they are, will always be muddied by compromise, corruption and horse-trading. That is the nature of a representative democracy with territorial monopolies. Your party affiliations may satisfy something tribal in you, but implementation never satisfies your deeper ideals – the beauty, elegance and pragmatism of your chosen system.
So how can you have your system?
Enter panarchy. It’s a clumsy name. But think of it as sort of like Facebook government, which boils down to a simple change in the rules: You have a right of exit. Beyond that, you can join any community or system you like, as long as that system accepts you as a member. Community is crafted in the image of its members. As with Facebook and the Web in general, we become a nation of joiners again. Like Tocqueville’s America, we would get even more pluralism, more experimentation. Paradoxically, I think we would get more peace and prosperity, too. Why? Because with a right of exit, politics of the sort we’re used to utterly disintegrates. When systems compete, you win. You must only be willing forfeit any "legal" right to impose your system on others and, to a considerable degree, say goodbye to large territorial monopolies. That's panarchy in a nutshell.