A Citizen by Choice

This excellent post by Jeff Tucker over at Laissez Faire Books got me thinking about citizenship.  Per Jeff’s suggestion, I visited Tweetping.net and sat mesmerized as I watched communities grow across the globe, irrespective of arbitrary government borders.

Odd isn’t it; we’re born into citizenship of counties, states, and countries, which are little more than organized crime gangs with layers of bureaucracy, and we are supposed to feel allegiance to these.  Yet everywhere you turn, people are constantly joining myriad associations to get the benefits, both practical and sentimental, that state citizenship is supposed to confer.  States are an anachronism, and more so every day.  Exist costs and lack of alternatives have long been the primary reasons states maintain as many citizens as they do.  Technology is smashing both barriers.

Now you can exit the state and become the citizen of a place that meets your needs and provides a voluntary community far superior.  Most people today have overlapping citizenship in dozens of digital commercial and social jurisdictions.  You can join a better community from right where you are.  Technology has not (yet) provided a way to completely opt out of states, at least without significant risk of being pursued by armed agents, but it offers alternatives to services supposedly only states can provide, including intangible things like a sense of community.  This is exciting.

When states lose the power of patriotism we can see them more clearly for what they are: violent, inefficient and corrupt monopolizers who force us to use services of inferior quality and make us pay even if we don’t.  When state operatives have a harder time winning affection by appealing to the “us vs. them” mindset in citizens because citizens are a part of so many “us’s” and with stronger bonds than they have with the state, the edifice begins to crumble.

Far from being atomistic, critics of the state desire a world of strong and genuine social bonds.  They know the truest of such bonds are forged by cooperation not force; by choice not dictate; by mutual interest not lines on a map.  The more ties formed voluntarily, the weaker the chains of the state.

Some bureau somewhere considers me a citizen of Mount Pleasant, and South Carolina, and the United States.  They take some of my money because of it.  Whatever they need to tell themselves to feel better.  I consider myself a citizen of Amazon Prime, Facebook, Visa, The Institute for Humane Studies, my church, Netflix, Google, Twitter, LFBC, The Hartford Insurance, home school associations, etc. etc. and on and on.  I joined each of these entities to meet specific needs.  Some offer valuable services.  Some offer education.  Some offer security and protection.  Some offer comradery.  Some offer many things at once, while some offer only one.  I have different levels of love and loyalty for each, but all of them render something that terrifies states because they can never offer it: choice.

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