2022 Update

Wow, two years since the last update! Here’s what’s up.

My plans to pump out a revised version of CCL, given the failure of a “purist” libertarian/anarcho-capitalist version, has been delayed indefinitely because I am busily writing a book that contains a chapter of related content, and my views continue to evolve. I won’t mention what the book is about, but this chapter will include what a governance structure without a traditional state could look like—one that based on direct super-majority democracy (not representative democracy), and is specifically designed to achieve desirable outcomes as opposed to being ruled plutocratically (purely by markets, which gives the most “vote” power to those with the most voting instruments…dollars).

Generally speaking, it would involve a central legal document (or documents) with polycentric legal modules, and a structure oriented around 21 worker councils, each from one of the 21 divisions of the economy according to ISIC 4 (here). The worker councils largely replace the role of both unions and federal regulatory agencies. A general assembly or council of one member from each worker council  operates as essentially a 21-member executive board. To what end? To operate on behalf of the whole as necessary. Policies or decisions/actions that affect the entire citizenry/population must be passed by direct 2/3 vote of citizenry with 1/3 quorum. All decisions made by any official are subject to veto power by the citizenry.

All firms (even defense contractors) are “privately owned”; however, they cannot be majority owned by anyone other than workers or clients. To use the same example (defense contractors), this would obviously mitigate much or most of the horrifying effects of the military-industrial complex, since there is no board responsible for increasing shareholder value, nor is increasing shareholder value necessarily the point; it’s all up to the workers and their clients (perhaps, soldiers? Perhaps all citizens? Wouldn’t it make sense if “public” companies that serve everyone in a society be co-owned by each member of that society? How many wars would occur if soldiers, and not profit-seeking capitalists, owned the defense corporations of their workplace?)

Anarcho-capitalists and neoconservatives don’t like the word “democracy” or what it is (recall Hoppe’s work, countless other neofascist publications, and centuries of fascist activity that terminates in social oppression). This is also true for a division of “individualist anarchists,” which contrast with “community” or “democratic anarchists,” but I’m getting ahead of myself…

A Few Things

The last two years have been radical in terms of learning about economic history and theories of social organization. I couldn’t possibly catch up curious readers (whoever strange people you are) of all of that. But I will try to provide a few thoughts.

The last post from two years ago summarized the collapse of the original CCL plan. A legal system for a stateless society based purely on property rights and markets could actually “work”—its just that the results would be as bad, or even more oppressive, than that under, say, a relatively boring social democracy nation-state. This is not so much a theory as something we can observe presently (compare and contrast child poverty, literacy, suicide, average median wealth, employment rates, health, happiness, freedom, etc. between the most capitalist countries and social democracies) and throughout history (compare what life was like under anarcho-capitalist cities, like early New York under the Dutch West India Company, or vast tracts of land larger than much of Europe, in Canada under Hudson Bay’s Company, etc. These are examples your David Friedmans, Thomas Woods’, and others will generally ignore).

As I mentioned in earlier posts, the problem is concentrations of power—economic as much as political. This is why anarcho-capitalism is the flip side of statism, and both terminate in war, social oppression, the loss of individual freedoms, etc. etc. If you don’t think I’m right, we might reexamine the failures of both Bitcoin (where .01% of owners possess 27% of total supply; where the lightning network is the Fed-like middle-man Bitcoin was supposed to remove, controlled by the private company Blockstream, and is no longer even called a currency in competition with fiat) and SeaSteading (which has predictably gotten  nowhere, and like the yacht industry, has never been designed for the ordinary person seeking refuge from state oppression).

Perhaps the most significant division within anarchism, then, is between the individualists and the “democrats.” That is, between (A) those who assert that each individual has inviolable rights and absolutely no duty towards anyone else (and therefore all forms of democracy and organized, collective action are wrong, since it imposes on the individual or at least must ignore what some individuals want), and (B) those who assert that (A) is impossible and undesirable so long as people are social creatures and only exist in society, and that collective action is, in fact, the only way to avoid collective oppression from above; a few resistors in the street is nothing against a tyrant with government machinery, but millions in the street, and subverting from within the state (or whatever) and subverting within the economy, cannot be ignored.

Organized resistance to oppression and injustice requires organization. That means collective decision making. That means elections—or (far worse) forced unanimity. Those workers who have already developed non-extractive, collective organizations (e.g., worker cooperatives) have already tested various mechanisms for such collective action, and supermajority direct democracy is one of if not the most simple and effective. Simple majorities are faux and dysfunctional, as the decision could be determined by the difference of 1 vote, or, determined by the margin of error itself. Unanimous consent is likewise dysfunctional, fake and unrealistic; they mask differences, which ironically, is part of what makes us individuals. Supermajorities, however, such as 2/3, 3/4, or even 3/5 generally avoid the hazards and problems of these boundaries. They provide a high standard for change that motivates cooperation without incentivizing absolute conformity, and also provides more cohesion to the group.

Fascists, anarcho-capitalists, and individual anarchists (…and others) object to direct democratic organization at home, at work, in society, in the economy, and in governance, for two major reasons: (1) it’s wrong in principle because it violates the sovereignty of the individual. It requires compliance of all participating members. That is, it requires that all members agree to submit to the will of the group whether or not they are in favor of it. This means individual rights could be violated, if asserted and contradicted; (2) the results of direct democracy could be wrong; just because most people approve something doesn’t mean it’s right.

These are not altogether illegitimate concerns, but they remain fundamentally naïve. Survival, simply existing as a species, requires a baseline degree of deference to others and to the group. There is no person, ancient or otherwise, who could survive if they simply did what they wanted regardless of what another thought or did. Tribes and countless children would have starved and disappeared (for ruining the hunt of Buffalo, or getting run over by a truck in the street for not listening to Mom). Individual rights exist and some of them are sacred, but all of them are not absolute. Property rights, for example, are always contingent on those who define, enforce, or ignore them. One day black people are “absolutely property,” the next day, they “absolutely aren’t.” Katharina Pistor’s work is absolutely essential for anyone reading this.

This leads to a second problem. If the majority of people don’t define the rights that will be recognized and enforced, then a powerful minority will. How is that better? Hayek said “I want plans by the many, not by the few.” OK, so how does leaving all policy, legal, and economic decisions to a small group of representatives, or landowners/capitalists, or wealthy family, achieve that goal? It doesn’t. How does allowing one or two CEOs determine the price of insulin for millions of diabetics achieve that goal? It doesn’t. How does leaving all the choices as to what to produce, how to produce it, when and where to produce something to a single CEO or board (whose members may not have even worked at the company) achieve that goal? It doesn’t. What if most people actually controlled governance structures? What if medical patients and workers controlled the medical industry? What if workers controlled their own businesses? A radical idea, evidently!

Ruth Kinna in her excellent, seminal work The Government of No One: The Theory and Practice of Anarchism goes into far more detail into this discussion that I have here, and without arguing for any particular conclusion. Her work is essential reading for the anarchist, philosophy, economic, and political community simply because of its deep and wide knowledge of all its varieties and twists and turns—something I wish I knew about before walking through the muddy pot hole of Rothbardian anarcho-capitalism.

Once again, this isn’t just a theory. Switzerland, for example, exhibits direct democracy and it works far better than leaving decisions up to power and profit-hungry politicians. (Is that surprising?) In our own work at private businesses, we have voting apps on our phones to organize meetings or sometimes (if we’re lucky) to even set policies that affect us and others. Why should the rights of transgender kids or black people or women or immigrants be determined by a small group of old wealthy white guys in Washington DC? Why not put that power in the hands of you and I, on our phones, and control the governing apparatus ourself, so that it actually is “our government”? Wouldn’t that largely eliminate the lack of consent that characterizes and taints the state to begin with?

This brings me to another complaint: libertarians and anarcho-capitalists will rarely, if ever, confess to overestimating the evil of the state. After the 20th century and the 50+ million deaths under governments, how could anyone? Well, you actually could, simply by observing how the other 100+ governments around the world never did anything even remotely like Moa’s China and Stalin’s paranoid repression. There are countless countries that never erected gulags and labor camps. Dozens of governments never (and perhaps will never) bomb brown people to profit oil companies. If all states are the same and will ultimately terminate in the same results, as we are repeatedly told…why don’t they?

Imagine if we applied the same logic to capitalism: the horrors of the British East India Company, Dutch East India Company, the wars produced by the military industrial complex and oil companies around the globe, and then said, “this is how all private businesses will terminate. They’re all fundamentally the same.” I don’t think that argument would be accepted.

I’m not making a case for the state. It’s a plea for realism. Canada doesn’t have gulags, no matter what Jordan Peterson, Candace Owens, and the Freedom Truckers say—Canadians probably never will have gulags. That shouldn’t surprise us.

That’s all I have to say for now, other than, well, “libertarians completely lost their mind about COVID and I’m glad I’ve completely disassociated.” About economic history, I have too much to say but have some thoughts on it here. If you want to get lost in high-quality, ground-level economic history, I highly recommend these books. I promise they’ll be interesting and challenge you, if not blow your mind (as they did mine):


The End of CCL 1.0, the Beginning of CCL 2.0

This post updates those interested in stateless legal systems and CCL in particular. A dramatic and unexpected revision is occurring for various reasons detailed below.

Tracing Our Steps: How CCL Began

It’s first necessary to cover some brief history.

I began CCL several years ago to prove that theory could become practice. More specifically, I wanted to show that there is a feasible model of “private governance” and “stateless governance” based on libertarian principles of (a) contract law, (b) property rights, and (c) non-aggression. I never saw myself as perfectly qualified—especially not being a lawyer. But it helped being a professor in the humanities who became a professor of economics, an organizational admin in higher ed, and also a business owner and entrepreneur.

Creating a new governance system is nothing new. Legal systems and governance structures, real and theoretical, are as old as the Egyptians and as recent as Rojava’s democratic confederalism in Northern Syria. There are an endless list of models and proposals that have emerged. In consultation with legal experts and others, I simply proposed not a perfect model, but something workable within the theoretical goals of stateless libertarianism—better known as “anarcho-capitalism.” Naively, I also did not imagine that there would be better forms of stateless governance outside such libertarian theory. (But I knew that major shifts of thought might occur in authoring a project like this, so it’s not all to surprising…)

How CCL v. 1.0 Failed

In my framework at the time, anarcho-capitalism was the only desirable and logical outcome of a stateless society (and because of being stateless, free from needless oppression). However, after two years of research, publishing, and drafting CCL Core, it became clear that the society CCL would create, insofar as being “anarcho-capitalist,” would either (a) terminate into the equivalent of the state, and statism, and/or (b) result in a society that wasn’t just, and thus not really “free.” Let me explain in a rough sketch of points and observations, many overlapping and some repetitive, but it’s as best as I can do:

First of all, a competition of private, corporate armies is more or less synonymous with a war between two states. We can theorize about how it wouldn’t be as bad, or wouldn’t happen, or is funded differently, but given the profit-motive and desire to achieve monopoly status, it is not reasonable to expect a consistently good outcome over time of marketizing such sectors, at least in this crude way (“…the market will figure it out.”)

Second of all, the goal of any capitalist is monopolizing a particular sector of society—or all sectors of society.  This is baked into the capitalist system—and as the father of anarchism (Proudhon) wrote many years ago, competition eats itself, because if you win, you’ve created a monopoly (which is anti-competition). A monopoly of rights-protection agencies, court systems and legal protection, etc., is functionally and economically equivalent to the state. “Move to another country” in the statist’s words is similar to “move to another jurisdiction” in the anarcho-capitalist’s words.

Third of all, private concentrations of economic power can be just as dangerous as public concentrations of political power. Simply because a corporation operates within a market system does not prevent forms of exploitation or even social oppression. The lack of a state is a necessary, but not a sufficient condition for a free and prosperous society. This particular theme becomes evident throughout the remaining points below.

Fourth, in an anarcho-capitalist society—which is extension of neoliberalism’s “commodification of everything”—anything can be bought. And if anything can be bought and sold to the highest bidder (that’s the goal: privatizing and marketizing everything hoping that the magic of the market will make everything better wherever it is applied), there is nothing preventing a market power from simply buying everyone out and maintaining total economic control—especially when profitability is the basis underneath the whole economic system (people respond to financial incentives the most). This has already happened with central banks—privately owned entities that print money and buy everyone’s houses and equity with it. The Bank of Japan already owns 70% of private EFTs. Soon enough, the Federal Reserve (again, privately-owned) may own most of U.S. mortgages. It is irrelevant that the state limits currencies by law, for there are other ways of controlling currency privately without any state enforcement. Hell, Bitcoin itself is controlled by Blockstream (a private company) for its development team, and 40% of all Bitcoin is owned by only 1000 people. Not even the anarcho-capitalists can control their own greed! But of course, they can’t, because they’re not supposed to; the goal is not decentralization, but centralization/monopoly of simply a different kind. 

In short, decentralized power is anti-capitalist. Decentralized power is only a goal for those who want justice, not a goal for those who want market power and more money. It makes no sense pretending otherwise.

Fifth, it became clear to me that “capitalism” as I understood it was “capitalism” as capitalist apologists defined it, with its own history and mythology that privileged its own class and legitimized its own power. Supposedly, the state is the opposite industrial capitalism—even though history shows crony-capitalism existed ever since the serfs got kicked off the manor. Industrial capitalism and the nation-state evolved hand-in-hand during the same 400-year period for a really good reason: they are complementary, not opposites.

“[Social institutions] do not arise arbitrarily, but are called into being by special social needs to serve definite purposes. In this way the modern state was evolved after monopoly economy, and the class divisions associated with it, had begun to make themselves more and more conspicuous in the framework of the old social order. The newly arisen possessing class had need of a political instrument of power to maintain their economic and social privileges over the masses of their own people, and to impose them from without on other groups of human beings. Thus arose the appropriate social conditions for the evolution of the modern state, as the organ of political power of privileged castes and classes for the forcible subjugation and oppression of the non-possessing classes.” Rudolph Rocker, Anarcho-Syndicalism: Theory and Practice, foreword by Noam Chomsky (Oakland: AK Press, 2004, orig. 1934), 14:

“…this brief summary of the Reagan and Thatcher policies points to a central paradox of the times: that even ‘laisser-faire’  has now become statist, that in practice ‘free market’ policies have been the work of strong, militaristic, socially authoritarian, and debt-financed regimes. Conservative governments are, in short, unwitting but dirigiste agents of an antisocial socialization, not the obedient servants of the law of supply and demand. And the choice for the future is not between an Adam Smith idyll or government intervention, but between top-down and bottom up socialization.” Michael Harrington, Socialism: Past and Future (New York: Arcade Publishing, 1989, 2011), 144.

“Capital…in the political field is analogous to government…The economic idea of capitalism, the politics of government or of authority, and the theological idea of the Church are three identical ideas, linked in various ways. To attack one of them is equivalent to attack all of them…What capital does to labour, and the State to Liberty, the Church does to the spirit.” (Proudhon, Property, 4)

The U.S. colonies (like most colonies) were created partly as a real-estate venture complete with slave-owning (the British were going to outlaw slavery), genocide, and whatever else increased profits. It means little to say “this was an abuse of capitalism,” because this is historically what “capitalism” has been, and the mechanisms of economic exploitation have always been the same: a hierarchy between one group of people with capital/economic power over those who are subordinate; slave/master (slavery); lord/serf (feudalism); king/subject (monarch); employer/employee (capitalism).  In other words, power differentials. And the arguments for one is often the same for the other (cf. the table comparing arguments for slavery and the state in Higgs, Delusions of Power).

There is nothing eternal or neutral about employer-employee relationships, or industrial capitalism’s conversion to wage-labor as the primary source of people’s economic well-being. And both theory and history attest to the monopolistic tendencies of societies based entirely on markets.

Indeed, the state is the coercive arm of capitalist interest. The state has never existed separately as such. As often as they exhibit friction (both the state and the capitalist class want to consume all industry and call the shots), they need each other to maintain power and keep the working class in subordination.

Another myth is more fundamental: that of “free and voluntary exchange” that underlies all market interactions. This individualistic, utilitarian, and neoliberal dogma, repeated ad nauseum by anarcho-capitalist and neoconservative apologists, was perceptively challenged by William Thompson nearly two centuries ago when he observed that people without capital (e.g., tools and materials to produce)—like former serfs who were evicted from the manor during the enclosure movement—have no choice but to sell themselves. “The selling of their labor power was not a free exchange, but was coerced. The threat of starvation was as coercive as a threat by violent means” (E. K. Hunt and Mark Lautzenheiser, A History of Economic Thought, 158).

In theory, the resulting wage [in the labor market] was the outcome of a bargain between equals, each of which was ‘free’ to deal with the other. In reality, this was a deal between unequals: between a wealthy buyer and a precarious seller trying to keep body and soul together. The content of market agreement was, therefore, determined not by markets per se but by the social conditions which the markets operated.[3]

Trillions of everyday exchanges tilt in a direction that favors those with more economic power (e.g., capital), accumulating in greater power differentials on the aggregate. No market favors everyone equally, and no market is ideologically or ethically neutral—as clearly seen in the legal redefinition of “property,” “assault,” “family,” “marriage,” etc. throughout history—all of which undergird and determine the socio-economic “rules of the game.” Capitalism simply is not “economic freedom,” nor is “market economies” (which have existed since Old Greece) synonymous with “capitalism” (a recent system of employer/employee and wage labor).

Sixth, contemporary libertarianism is a shill for the capitalist class, which maintains concentrations of economic power and partake in government redistribution of wealth. It is only partially oriented towards liberty.

“Sadly, it is necessary to explain what we mean by ‘libertarian’ as this term has been appropriated by the free-market capitalist right. Socialist use of libertarian dates from 1858 when it was first used by communist-anarchist Joseph Dejacque as a synonym for anarchist for his paper La Libertaire, Journal du Mouvement Social. This usage became more commonplace in the 1880s and 1895 saw leading anarchists Sabastien Faure and Louise Michel publish La Libertaire in France (Max Nettlau, A Short History of Anarchism…By the end of the 19th century libertarian was used as an alternative for anarchist internationally. The right-wing appropriation of the term dates from the 1950s and, in wider society, from the 1970s. Given that property is at its root and, significantly, property always trumps liberty in that ideology, anarchists suggest a far more accurate term would be “propertarian” (McKay, Property is Theft!: A Joseph-Pierre Proudhon Reader, 1-2).

“Libertarian” meant “anti-state socialism” for over a century in all languages and countries until being co-opted for property-rights right-wing pro-capitalism around WWII. This curious use of a term highlights the (abominable for some) similarities between early socialists and anarcho-capitalists: they were both anti-state. The literature and evidence of this is vast, so there’s no need to elaborate. But it again highlights a fundamental difference in philosophy:

  1. Classic socialists, communitarians, mutualists, and anarchists affirm that concentrations of power, whether public or private, are a danger to civilization and opposed to freedom. (It was obvious to almost everyone in the 1800s that the masters didn’t just disappear. “Monarchy and autocracy were not banished completely in the modern era but rather relocated inside workplaces, where democracy was proscribed. These autocratic spaces then provided their owner-monarchs with the means to agitate against democracy in the political sphere. Before the end of political monarchy, conservatives worried that civilization could not survive without the sovereign leadership of the king and his court. Now…conservatives worry that the economy, and thus civilization itself, cannot survive without the leadership of a boss and executives inside workplaces” (Wolff, Understanding Socialism, 121)
  2. Libertarians only affirm half of the above, believing that the commodification of everything (applying market forces to all aspects of society) will lead to greater freedom. Capitalism, whose goal is centralized economic power, will somehow magically terminate in as much decentralized power as possible.

Contemporary advocates of capitalism reject “socialism” as if command economies and the collectivism of Stalin are accurate representations—all while benefiting from the redistribution of the state towards themselves. Private corporations generally favor legislation that provides them funds—as witnessed in March 2020-October 2020, the largest wealth transfer in human history:

Seventh, capitalism’s origins are violent violent just like the state’s origins.

“How do you think the landowners managed to get rid of the serfs so efficiently? The answer is: with the help of the state. The king and his government lent the landowners a hand, sending their soldiers in to put down any rebellion by the peasants. And how do you think the new order, underpinning market society was maintained? How were the majority living under conditions of abject dehumanization in the slums of Manchester, Birmingham, and London kept under control when a few streets a way the minority lived in the lap of luxury? To put it simply, private wealth was built and the maintained on the back of state-sponsored violence.” Varoufakis, Talking to My Daughter About the Economy, 84

Industrial capitalism’s labor market is also maintained through violence as necessary—as seen in the histories of the Belgium General Strike of 1902, Lena Massacre (1912), Novocherkassk Massacre (1962), Mold Riot (1869), The Spanish Restoration (1888 and 1901), UGT Strike (1932), Represión franquista, Day of the Galician Working Class, Vitoria massacre, Adalen shootings (1931), Rosvall and Voutilainen (1929), Río Blanco strike, Patagonia Uprising (1920-1922), Catavi Massacre (1942), COB protests (1979), Santa Maria School massacre (1907), Banana massacre (1929), Salvadoran Civil War (1979-1983), Rand Rebellion (1922), Marikana Massacre (2012), Rothbury Riot (1929), etc. (See also Immanuel Ness, New Forms of Worker Organization: The Syndicalist and Autonomist Restoration of Class-Struggle Unionism (Oakland: PM Press, 2014).) This is to say nothing of everyday intimidate, threats, sexual harassment, etc.

In short, colonialism and violence against workers is proof that, even in a “market” with “property rights” and “voluntary exchange,” people are still treated as property so long as it achieves positive economic outcomes for the exploitative class. Indeed, ideologies of “freedom” and “voluntarism” is a cover for power grabs in the same way that “liberty” and “change” are covers for political power-grabs in each election cycle.

Eighth, anarcho-capitalism opposes key forms of social justice—including general representation in the courts. It is bad enough today that one cannot uphold their own human rights without having to pay an expensive lawyer. In an anarcho-capitalist society, this problem is amplified, since all things—rights protection, courts and legal protection—are marketized, meaning people get what they pay for. If they have nothing, they get nothing. The wealthy will therefore have infinitely more protections (physically, legally, and socially) than the poor, and have no incentive to provide for the lower classes since they benefit from this hierarchy. Back to the Future II puts it best when Marty McFly tells Biff that the cops will arrest him if he kills Marty:

In a “free” society of anarcho-capitalism, this only means that one group is “free” to essentially enslave another through market power directly, instead of through market power via the state.

It summary, it was impossible to create a legal system for stateless societies based on absolute property rights, with no capital distribution mechanisms, and no goal of any kind of justice.  It amounted to colonialism 2.0, a true “free for all” that empowered those with power and protected no one who had none.

This is still what many people want. They are free to pursue those violent and hopeless ends, and I wish them few fans. Goodbye!


Despite halting at on the eve of Version 1.0. CCL is far from a lost cause, precisely because there are countless ways of devising governance and legal systems that are stateless. It was actually quite clear how it needed to be remodeled, and is currently being revised to reflect new values that are far more sustainable, realistic, and functional. Central to this change is the abolishment of the employer-employee relationship and institution of firms that are majority-owned by workers (cooperatives/mutuals/workers-self-directed enterprises). Autonomy and decentralized power at the level of the firm is essential for any kind of aggregate/macro level of decentralized power.  While the most radical, this is just the beginning of revisions.

So instead of Creative Common Law 1.0: Anarcho-Capitalism, we are moving now towards Creative Common Law 2.0: Anarcho-Socialism/Syndicalism (though no label quite quite does it justice). I didn’t ever think would take this type of turn (or at least label!), but no genuine scholar and curious researcher can be in control of the outcome. The end result should prove far more useful and realistic and desirable anyway.

In the meantime, if you’ve followed this project at all this far, it may be good to read works that more accurately reflect this new vision, if you’re knew to the “real libertarianism”:

Spring 2020 Updates

It has been a hideously long time since the last update regarding CCL. This was for various reasons that cannot all be explained here. But here is a series of updates and reflections.

On Rojava

We all continue to grieve over the loss of hundreds of lives, and 300,000 who lost their homes in Rojava this October 2019 because of careless cronyism between Trump and Erdogan. Rojava is perhaps the most successful stateless society project the world has seen. While it isn’t as futuristic as blockchain nations or shiny as Estonia’s governance system, thousands have literally sacrificed their lives to create a peaceful society in the most violent region on earth. (If you have not read Ocalan’s Democratic Confederalismit is worth reading.) It isn’t perfect, and there is huge variety in the anarchism community (from libertarians to socialists to Marxists to feminists), but it should be an inspiration for everyone who desires a better world – a world without the centralized power of the state.

On the Private Governance Space: A Plea for Realism

The private governance space is evolving extremely fast in terms of both theory of platforms. But it is evolving extremely slow in terms of implementation. The same is true, you might notice, for cryptocurrency.

Let’s face the music: Bitcoin was released in 2007. It’s 2020 and no one I know uses bitcoin – or any cryptocurrency – for day to day transactions. (Yes I realize some people do use it for just that elsewhere. But these are the exceptions, not the rule.) The technology is promising and opens many doors. But a revolution in both economics, finance, and governance systems will take more than a public release, hype, and even legality (as we’re quickly learning). 13 years after the Satoshi paper, the Federal Reserve is back to 0% interest, unfazed and with as much power as ever. Nationalism and trust in the state in America, UK, and elsewhere is surging and not subsiding.

How much more this is true for innovative legal systems and stateless social organization: it’s going to take more. More time, more people, more energy – and the rewards cannot simply be viewed as short-term gain. If we can expect as many stateless society projects to be as corrupt and greed-ridden as crypto, then 90% of them will fail and be “uninvestable.” (Do we need to be reminded that EOS’s constitution failed as fast as it was implemented? Of the endless scams and fraud, grab-and-runs, fake Satoshis, internal lawsuits, etc.?) CCL has nothing to do with short-term profits, and everything to do with long-term peace, prosperity, and liberty. That’s why it exists.

A contrast in implementation and vision is vividly captured between Chad Elwartowski and Tom Bell. This story is interesting because it takes place within the same project: sea-steading. Chad flew by the seat of pants and built a seastead off the shore of Thailand. He had freedom for a while. But, it wasn’t a good plan, and the government put a bounty on his head. Bell, on the other hand, is a law professor who facilitates special economic zones and jurisdictions around the world with a monograph out by Cambridge University Press on the subject. The SeaSteading Institute turned their focus from Chad to Bell (for obvious reasons).

But it makes me a little nervous, because while Bell is uniquely qualified for developing special jurisdictions and is specialized in creating special economic zones (SEZs) with approval of nation-states, this is much different than creating an actual alternative to the state. The entire vision of the SeaSteading project was autonomy for all, not special favor bestowed by the local crown. I don’t want to be too judgmental. But something that the Seasteaders need to come to grips with is the same as any group with power and capital: what’s in it for the common person? Is it for everyone, or is it just for the ultra-wealthy? As far as I can tell, SeaSteading as it is currently shaping up appears to be an innovative extension of the private Yacht industry. I hope I’m wrong. But, it continue to amazes me how crypto and private governance projects driven entirely by personal gain and not any sense of public good consistently terminate into powerplays,  efforts to monopolize, and fail – that is, they consistently invoke the spirit of the state once again. We often forget that decentralized power means at some point, some people will have to voluntarily give up power.

Anyway, this website contrasts Ulex – a consolidation of extant legal systems generally used for SEZs (as summarized in Bell) – in many ways to draw some of these distinctions for how CCL (amidst others) is different. I won’t copy and paste that material here; just browse around the site and see for yourself.

In the meantime, be sure to check out Algorithmic Governance: Politics and Law in the Post-Human Era if you’re interested in any of these subject. The book has been added to some of our recommended reading.


Current development on CCL has slowed largely because we’re looking at how to publish a book form of v 1.0 and what content to include. It seems that a significant amount of background material and history would be helpful to historically situate the many real possibilities of bigger and better private governance. However, that means extra time for research, writing, etc.

In the meantime, version .97 will soon be released with lots of little changes. We continue to welcome public input through comments, with hopefully more periodic responses in the future.

The project also has not received many voluntary contributions to make everything come together, which is partly expected for something so new and unique, and also for a time where everyone has already put away their cash into crypto or other investments for longer returns. (Everyone is over-leveraged right now!) Nevertheless, this kind of work works better with funds. If you feel led to donate, it would certainly help development; we aren’t promising a 100x return on…anything; we only promise that donations won’t be wasted and are directed directly into the Project’s biggest needs.

Major Updates to CCL

Two major (and exciting) changes are occurring in future versions of CCL.

First, the “CCL Digital Network” – the required single record-keeping system for all transactions, property titles, judicial records, etc. – is being replaced by a set of rules that simply determine whether a digital network is CCL compatible. In other words, it is now up to CCL members for how they store their CCL relevant data; there is no longer a single system of record keeping for CCL. “The” CCL Digital Network is replaced with “a” CCL-ready distributed ledger.

This subject has always been a subject of debate in anarcho-capitalist discussions: the legal system should be polycentric with a common core. Fine. But what about the record-keeping system? At first, I imagined it would be easier to ensure and enforce a single record-keeping system – which was also the digital interface that judges used for arbitration. After all, how can mass fraud be prevented if just anyone is responsible for keeping track of other people’s legal records? Wouldn’t it be more effective to have a single ledger with all CCL data on it? However, after more thought about the possibilities and the need for simplicity, conformity to a single record-keeping system (for transactions, property-titles, court cases, etc.) may actually be less effective than simply requiring, per CCL contracts, that one simply use the distributed ledger of their choice and attach conditions to those. How and why? 

For the same reason people ought to have a choice in who changes the oil in their cars and what computer operating system they want to use on their computer and what language they want to speak. It is always in the interest of the user/member and that person or group’s adjudicator to maintain accurate records – and to use a system that others recognize – for their own legal protection. Systems of data storage that are notorious for unreliability will be (and are) avoided like a plague by anyone who values their own integrity. So instead of erecting an entire digital network and requiring all CCL members to be participants in it (yes, I confess this was bureaucratic!), future versions of CCL will leave it up to individuals’ freedom to use their distributed ledger of their choice. There are only a handful of necessary conditions attached (e.g., that the distributed ledger be accessible to CCL adjudicators for legal purposes, etc.). Thus, members can choose any distributed ledger system they want, it simply has to be “CCL-ready” or “compatible.” 

Second, the CCL Text is maturing into its more formal status as “Core” and “Contracts” (CCL is thus going to feel more like the open model of Tom Bell’s legal systems). “CCL Core” is the underlying theoretical framework as it already exists: property rights, non-aggression, and contract law. It is the terms for the terms of any CCL contract.  How CCL Core applies is governed by the more specific terms of one’s membership contract. (After all, membership is nothing more than simply signing a contract saying that one is a member and agrees to those particular terms). It therefore makes sense that, in terms of documents, the features and requirements of membership comprise an actual, form-contract for each particular level of membership. 

All of this will also make it far more easier to implement in coming years. There is no digital network that has to be up and running for CCL to take off. And people don’t have to understand exactly how the network “works.” People and businesses can simply begin to use and sign CCL contracts, with CCL Core operating in the background, and live their lives freely without interruption from political entities insofar as that is currently possible. 

All of this isn’t a massive change of philosophy or approach, but it is enough to require some revision to the website and to future documents. Patience and support appreciated!