The Choice Network
What is it?
A Choice Network is an alternative to “government” that uses Choice instead of Force to allow individuals to self-manage conflict and cooperation. It recognizes the following reality about models of social organization:
Most discussions about social organization use the Left-Right spectrum from the French Revolution. However, this is a tightly bounded spectrum based on two opposing views of how to use Force, not the far more relevant question of whether to use Force at all. For centuries, false beliefs about reality and history have built and sustained something like the film “The Matrix” in which life outside of this “politically bounded spectrum” is virtually unknown for most people. However, instead of a dystopian reality, life outside of this matrix is far more philosophically consistent and far more contributory to human Happiness* than reality inside the spectrum.
A Choice Network is a group of individuals who have freely decided to manage their interrelationships through Choice instead of Force. It starts with a charter, signed by each person who joins the network, that outlines a simple set of rules, concerned primarily with prohibitions against coercive behavior.
Below is a sample charter:
CHOICE NETWORK CHARTER
We the network members, as independent and empathetic individuals, hereby establish a charter for interaction which recognizes both the separate nature of human experience and the collaborative benefits of voluntary exchange. To that end we:
Proclaim the natural right of all individuals to their person and property
Proclaim our intent to protect that natural right to self and property
Prohibit all forms of force (aggressive), theft, and fraud
Limit remedy to financial restitution and/or physical network expulsion
In no way hinder exit from the network at any time
Leave all other limits on interaction to voluntary contract
Proclaim this charter non-amendable and subject only to member exit
In support of this charter, we intend to purchase sovereign land and fund the infrastructure necessary to protect life and property for a set period, after which insurance premiums will fund the law and defense firms necessary to uphold the current and future commitments of the insurers.
Details about joining the network and voting procedures are established in the initial configuration of the open-source software that coordinates the network, and these details can be modified through membership vote.
There are no “citizens”, and there are no “leaders” who negotiate with other nations or have the power to compel behavior on the part of network members. Dialogue can only occur directly with individual members.
In a Choice Network, members are not asked to choose a representative who is entrusted to decide among potential alternatives and use Force to ensure compliance. Instead they are simply asked to choose among vendors who compete by showing the results of having implemented potential alternatives, and members have the option of firing those vendors and replacing them at will. Although members benefit from every form of service competition, they benefit the most from competition in Law and Defense services.
A Choice Network is not a theoretical Utopia. It is a preferable alternative to any existing form of social organization and will likely be supplanted by an alternative of even greater Choice at some point in the future (at no point is any form of government or Force preferred to Choice). The question is whether or not individuals are able to choose it as an alternative (and later choose another) or are coerced into staying within the current bounded spectrum.
Most people will never need to understand the layers of accurate beliefs that make the Choice Network possible or the layers of false beliefs that created and support the bounded spectrum. They will only need to see that it works and have the option to choose it as a preferable alternative.
Happiness and Empathy
Every human regardless of culture is naturally driven to pursue certain experiences. In the English language, words like happiness, contentment, joy, fulfillment, and peace are used to approximate facets of this pursuit. To bundle these together into a singular goal, we use the term big "H" Happiness and recognize that it is not a finish line but rather an experience over time.
Humans are also naturally empathetic beings, and empathy is part of every decision humans make. But this natural empathy can be either encouraged or suppressed, and the growth of empathy is most sensitive to a single human action: Force.
Empathy depletes rapidly through any imposition of Force and only grows through the expression of voluntary Choice.
The Happiest people know that engaging others in meaningful relationship (generosity, etc.) is the primary driver of their own Happiness. This is articulated in part in various religions and faiths, but the bounded spectrum actively discourages the recognition of this truth. Beyond all of the other destructive characteristics of Force-based social institutions, this depletion of empathy is the most damaging to human Happiness.
The relationship between Choice and empathy is just one of the reasons that the adoption of a Choice Network results in greater Happiness and reduced suffering for all participants.
Those within the bounded spectrum will naturally argue that the diagram is incorrect, that Choice Networks have been tried before and failed, that Choice Networks represent a fantasy incompatible with human nature, or that their favored approach appears elsewhere on the spectrum. It is therefore important to understand both where historical approaches to social organization have actually appeared on the diagram as well as the pervasive differences between perception and reality.
Although the founding of The United States was unique in history for the intention of Choice as an idea, in implementation it still started within the bounded spectrum and has steadily moved downward over time. Most Americans still celebrate the idea of being free without knowing how far they are from it, in part because every current alternative remains even less free.
The Bounded Spectrum
In the first diagram, the box labeled “Politically Bounded Life” includes topics like “Money & Markets” not because these things only exist within the bounded spectrum but rather because they are so distorted to have little in common with their implementations outside of it. For everyone inside the bounded spectrum, false beliefs about reality and history are constantly reinforced by family, friends, educators, journalists, historians, economists, politicians, philosophers, novelists, film-makers, business executives, military commanders, comedians, … essentially everyone. This makes it very difficult to understand how basic parts of life function under Choice instead of Force.
“Aren’t you just recommending laissez-faire capitalism?”
No, the term laissez-faire capitalism still describes living within a Force-based institution like a state. When individuals freely choose to live under a signed contractual agreement (not an implied social contract) with simple prohibitions against theft, fraud, and aggressive force, the only way to honestly receive valuable goods and services is through the exchange of something that other individuals value. The dislocations that a state introduces with its very existence even within a laissez-faire system are so disruptive that they enable all of things people mistakenly associate with a lack of government involvement: cronyism, anti-social behavior, injustice, environmental damage, etc.
“Wouldn’t big corporations just pollute public lands like rivers in order to meet quarterly earnings to boost their stock price?”
The above sentence doesn’t make sense outside of the bounded spectrum. A “corporation” is a government defined entity, “public lands” are owned by the government, “quarterly earnings” only exist because of government defined reporting requirements, and “stock price” is within a government-regulated exchange denominated in government controlled money. None of these things exist in the same way described in a Choice Network. In addition, because of the relationship between Force and empathy, living within the bounded spectrum actively encourages anti-social behavior. Within a state, people are more likely to consider state rules the appropriate bounds of behavior rather than their own empathetic concern for other people. In a Choice Network contractual agreements may define boundaries, but it is the drive to make other people Happy that sets the bounds on “appropriate” behavior. Whether any group of people tend toward good or evil, a Choice Network always results in better outcomes than any form of government.
To really understand life outside of the bounded spectrum is far beyond a few paragraphs of discussion here, but it necessarily starts with a re-evaluation of everything learned and experienced within the bounded spectrum.
“Without Government, food would be poisonous, products would explode, trash would pile up in the streets, children would work in coal mines, forests would be replaced by McDonalds, and chaos would erupt as everyone tried to kill or steal from everyone else.”
Social organization has always been portrayed as a choice between two options, a) some type of government, or b) total chaos. This is a false choice perpetrated by those driven by specific human vices who want people to stay within the “matrix”. In reality there are many options for social organization outside of these two, and The Choice Network is one proposal for a far better option.
Worthwhile endeavors are never easy to implement, and this is no exception. Centuries of false beliefs cannot be overturned overnight. However, the results of dramatically increased human Happiness and dramatically decreased human suffering make it a moral imperative to never stop trying.
The first individuals to create and protect a Choice Network will leave a legacy of worldwide Happiness that few in history will be able to match.