Panarchy: The State 2.0

The dominant “Westphalian” model of the state, based on sovereignty over territory with borders and monopoly of violence over the people who happen to live in the territory, is obsolete. It fits seventeenth-century technology and pre-global societies when geographical distances could not be traversed easily and information took months to travel the globe. Instead, states may be founded on social contracts rather than sovereignty, service to citizens instead of monopoly over the use of violence in a territory. Panarchy, a political theory of non-territorial states founded on social contracts, introduced in 1860 by Belgian botanist and economist Paul Émile de Puydt, offers an alternative. It proposes that citizens may literally sign a social contract, a constitution, with a state, and may change their states without moving, just as customers can change their insurance policies. Explicit and voluntary social contracts have several advantages over standard social contract theories: They are neither mythical nor hypothetical, but explicit and actual, voluntary and reversible.

The Westphalian State epitomized in the famous book cover of Thomas Hobbes‘ “Leviathan”

Panarchy allows political agents to make reversible political mistakes and then exit and join another state. In Panarchy, the incentive for political innovation and improvement comes from competition between states over citizens-customers. Politics would then develop its own version of creative destruction, when failed states disappear and are replaced by better managed ones, generating a general progressive trend. „Panarchy: The State 2.0“ weiterlesen