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News Link • Philosophy: Libertarianism

Contractual Community


It is often offered that agreement by contract would be sufficient to form a libertarian community: the terms of admission would be spelled out and agreed to voluntarily; the rights and responsibilities are covered; mechanisms for dispute resolution are spelled out.  I would like to raise a few concerns with this idea.

I was prompted to this post via a discussion with Victor July 6, 2018 at 3:37 PM.  The relevant discussion:

Victor: Yeah bionic some sort of private club model could play the behavioral / disciplinary role now played crudely and ineptly by the state. Hoppe's private and privately supervised residential neighborhoods come to mind. If you have a bad reputation you are denied admittance. If you behave badly you get thrown out. Private club based society really encourages developing a good reputation and makes it very costly and inconvenient not to.

bionic mosquito: Victor, I believe for such a "private club model" to remain "libertarian" requires something transcendent, something beyond the values of the living members.

Think about organizational transition; think about all of the think tanks that have lost their way after the founder or first generation has passed on.

The examples are countless and demonstrate clearly, it seems to me, that absent something transcendent – something guiding the leadership beyond the goodwill of the existing members – such "private clubs for liberty" will not last long.

Sure, they all had Articles of Incorporation, By-Laws, etc. – in other words, the exact requirements for a "contractual private law society" envisioned by many libertarians: "oh, just sign a contract."

Yet these "contracts" failed to protect the Mission beyond one lifetime.

The issue: how to stay true to the mission through various transitions, etc.  An example might be helpful:

Ford Foundation: Today [8 November 2015] I'm excited to announce that the Ford Foundation's two-year transition is over… Back in June, I shared the news that we would focus on combating inequality and that we had landed on a set of thematic areas aimed at addressing what we have identified globally as the five key drivers of inequality.

The initial purpose of the foundation?

The foundation was established January 15, 1936, in Michigan by Edsel Ford (president of the Ford Motor Company) and two other executives "to receive and administer funds for scientific, educational and charitable purposes, all for the public welfare."

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