Society of Sovereigns
Plenarchy (plĕn-ər-kē) is a model of free state – a “society of sovereigns” – meaning that the citizens are sovereign over their person, their property, and not each other. The word plenarchy is a combination of Latin plenus meaning “full of” and Greek arkhos for “rulers.” Plenarchy can be described simply as “rule yourself and no one else.“
Understanding that most suffering is a result of the political model is crucial to making the world a better place for humanity. Governments across the globe produce gross injustice, concentrate political power, foment social conflict and war, create economic chaos, promote cronyism and social tribalism, despoil the natural environment, and constantly work to strip away personal liberty. Does government actually serve the people or do the people exist only to serve those in government? The most common form of government, representative government, is malevolent oligarchy and not at all democratic as people have been taught – the democracy delusion. The only path to a better world is for people to adopt a political model that will promote one. Plenarchy could be such a model.
Rule of Law – Not Rule by Men
“… he who bids the law rule may be deemed to bid God and Reason alone rule, but he who bids man rule adds an element of the beast; for desire is a wild beast, and passion perverts the minds of rulers, even when they are the best of men. The law is reason unaffected by desire.”
- from Politics by Aristotle
“We are all servants of the laws in order that we may be free.”
Plenarchy is a form of isonomy. In Greek, iso- means equal and -nom is law, thus an isonomy is a society where the People have equality by and of law. A free isonomy then is a place where the laws are based on the principles of liberty. It follows then that isonomy requires the law to be constant – to be immutable. This must be so or else the law is subject to arbitrariness and only to be used as a blunt tool by a few to bludgeon the rest.
A moral society in a political context is a free society. This statement follows from the principle that initiation of force is immoral – the principle of non-aggression. Thus deviation from freedom would by definition require the use of violence to achieve some presumed desirable social outcome. And for a society to be free, it must chisel in law those principles which give substance to the idea of individual liberty that in addition to non-aggression includes self-ownership and private property. Thus a free society must assure that every citizen be equal with respect to the law, that those laws be based on the principle of maximized equal freedom, and that these principles be maintained through the equal sharing of political power. From this starting point, we can begin to consider what the model of such a society must be based upon to be attainable, viable, and sustainable.
Social Spencerism and Better Societies
“Every man has freedom to do all that he wills, provided he infringes not the equal freedom of any other man.”
Plenarchy puts into practice Spencer’s theory of social evolution which he proposed to be that society progresses over time through the process of cultural Lamarckian use-inheritance by individuals (published 17 years before Darwin’s “Origin of Species”). The result is cumulative intergenerational betterment from self-regulated individual experiences and learning within the framework of a just and civil society.
This is social Spencerism and not what is often confused as “social Darwinism” or more appropriately we can call “social primalism.” Thus in the social context, Spencerism can be described as “nurture over nature” and primalism as “nature over nurture.”
Spencerism promotes what Spencer called the “Moral Sense” of Man – cooperation for mutual benefit – while social primalism is to make Man’s base primal instincts of cruelty, amorality, conquest, and criminality dominant over our Moral Sense.
All contemporary societies are based on primal “rule or be ruled” political systems. By using violence or threat of violence to preemptively intervene in society (such as compulsory education, eminent domain takings, central banking, minimum wage laws, ad nauseam), government must be regarded as institutionalized social primalism.
Spencer believed that in the absence of all forms of aggression, humanity would experience its greatest progress. He wrote in Social Statics, “… when each possesses an active instinct of freedom, together with an active sympathy—then will all the still existing limitations to individuality, be they governmental restraints, or be they the aggressions of men on one another, cease. … Then, for the first time in the history of the world, will there exist beings whose individualities can be expanded to the full in all directions. And thus, as before said, in the ultimate man perfect morality, perfect individuation, and perfect life will be simultaneously realized.”
If a state is to exist with the express purposes of not only creating but also sustaining equal personal freedom, it must do so by preventing the formation of a political class – the greatest domestic threat to liberty. Equal freedom cannot be attained or sustained unless all individuals have equal political power. Plenarchy has no political class because there are no elections, no politicians, and no law-making bodies. And to prevent the rise of a political class, plenarchy puts several corrective means into the hands of the citizen.
Plenarchy is not democracy since no one possesses the power to create new laws (there is no legislature or parliament). But plenarchy is democratic in the sense that citizen councils, selected by lot, provide governance over the state authorities – not over society – and citizen court councils, again selected by lot, act as both judge and jury in the courtroom. Another democratic convention of plenarchy is the ability of the citizens to remove by popular vote any undesirable council. Given that people rule themselves in plenarchy and that no one can create new laws, plenarchy is more democratic than classical democracy.
And since the plenarchy is based on the sovereign individual and that citizens are essentially equal partners, citizenship must be voluntary. Each citizen agrees to the arrangement by signing the Compact, a physical contract that contains the immutable public laws governing the state authority called the Services.
Essential Elements of Plenarchy
- Voluntary state - All individuals age 18 and older voluntarily sign the Compact which forms the legal framework for the society. The plenarchy is not based on some ambiguous and illegitimate notion of ”social contract” like a constitution.
- Autonomous individual - The individual acts as he or she chooses to the extent that no act violates any other’s freedom. The Compact contains an Articles of Principle (each principle consists of multiple clauses) that creates the legal framework defining those limits and is the complete set of public laws.
- Constancy - Without great difficulty, the public laws contained in the Articles of Principle cannot be altered, amended, or abridged; they are immutable.
- Functions as a non-intentional state - The plenarchy has no law-making or regulatory authority. Unlike traditional governments, the state authority is reactive; not proactive. Thus the plenarchy is a non-intentional state; a state containing no governing authority that interferes in the lawful activities of the People.
- No political class - Every eligible citizen’s name is placed in a pool and through a process of sortition is randomly selected to serve on one of several councils each with nine members. Council seats are filled on a first-selected-first-choice basis; councils are not assigned. Each citizen councilor serves one term of two years after which their name is removed from the pool. Once having served, the citizen is no longer eligible to serve again for 33 years. The councils serve only to provide governance over the Services and the courts; they have no authority to make laws or create regulations (referred to as the “non-interference clause“ of the Compact).
The Spencer Equilibrium
Plenarchy promotes sociocultural evolution (such as less poverty, improved well-being, conserving resources, and peace) by establishing a Spencerian society based on maximized equal freedom, equal political power, and equal justice.
Spencerism means that individuals are free to take risks and try new life strategies which then “teaches” society from their successes and failures via experience-based knowledge transmitted both across society and inter-generationally.
The political doctrine of the Spencer Equilibrium can be established as follows:
- Immutable principle-based public law (per the Articles of Principle) that promotes equal freedom,
- Citizen councils selected by lottery (sortition) providing governance over the Services to promote equal power sharing, and
- Autonomous citizen court councils selected by lottery to promote equal justice.
Maintaining this balance in steady-state therefore becomes a moral social and political obligation to promote maximized equal freedom for the sake of peaceful progress and a better future for all.
- Citizens rule the authority - Individual councils oversee each branch of the Services in similar fashion to a corporate board of directors. The combined council of the five Service councils is called the Joint Council which possesses the ultimate authority over the Services. The Services contains the military and police and acts as the dispute resolution agency of last resort.
- Citizens have the final say - If any one or all of the Service councils are incompetent, guilty of misconduct, or for any reason whatsoever, a group of citizens (with enough signatures) can call for a “vote of no confidence.” If the vote passes, the targeted councils are replaced by new councils through the sortition process. The replaced councilors are removed from the pool and could face charges in the case of misconduct.
- The state authority has a narrow scope - The Services consists of five branches with divided powers; Defense, Justice, State, Pecunary and Fidelis. The Defense Service mission is to protect the plenarchy from external threats; the Justice Service consists of courts, police, jail, and enforces the Compact; the State Service oversees immigration, customs, diplomacy; the Pecunary Service acts as the accounting office and superintendent of the Services; and the Fidelis Service acts as ombudsman and Services compliance office. The Services is prohibited from appropriating funds for any purpose other than those authorized by the Articles of Principle. See example organization here.
- Guard against financial corruption and conflicts of interest - All councilors regardless of council are compensated the same which also sets the maximum compensation for Services employees. So, councilors are to be compensated generously for their time of service. No Joint Council is permitted to set its own pay. While in office, no councilor is permitted to receive any other compensation and all personal investments must be free of conflicts otherwise administered through a blind trust. There is no immunity for councilors or Services personnel.
- Principle-based law - Through the Articles of Principle, the plenarchy adopts a legal doctrine called principle-based law rather than the traditional rule-based system. No rule factories (no legislature or parliament). No case law or binding legal precedent. An autonomous citizen council presides over each court (acting as both judge and jury). The court council interprets the Articles of Principle and issues a judgment based on the particulars of the case. No court council judgment can be overruled except on a successful appeal. A Fidelis action can invalidate a court ruling requiring a retrial by another Justice court.
- Decentralized structure – The plenarchy is by design decentralized and organized into small administrative territories each called a polis (pl. poleis) with a maximum population of around five million people. The purpose is to keep the Services accountable to the local population and maintain the state authority at a human scale (less bureaucratic). The boundaries are not jurisdictional since there is universal law in the plenarchy but each polis would have its own courts, police, jail, and other functions primarily related to justice services. Keeping the state decentralized is important for ensuring accountability. More detailed discussions can be found here and here.
- Provide for a healthy economy - The plenarchy has no central bank and the Services has no authority to issue legal tender. The monetary system is based on digital token exchange called a valumatic monetary system or “true money” in place of currency to be administered by the Pecunary Service. Through true money, a means of collecting Services fees can be implemented on a per transaction basis. This would result in an anonymous non-intrusive tax structure based on a small flat rate per transaction. Actual physical gold and silver specie would be acceptable as currency but not redeemable notes, banknotes, bills of credit or foreign currencies. Use of any currency other than the digital valen (the currency of the plenarchy) would be considered a breach of contract (i.e. a violation of the Compact).
These provisions in combination serve the main purposes of promoting personal freedom, laissez faire capitalism, and to prevent the formation of the political class. To continue reading about plenarchy, click here.
 “In the earliest of them—“Letters on the Proper Sphere of Government”—published in 1842, and republished as a pamphlet in 1843, the only point of community with the general doctrine of evolution is a belief in the modifiability of human nature through adaptation to conditions (which I held as a corollary from the theory of Lamarck) and a consequent belief in human progression.” – Herbert Spencer from An Autobiography 1904
Note that Herbert Spencer began publishing on his theory of social evolution (via use-inheritance) 17 years before Charles Darwin published “Origin of Species” making the claim that Spencer advocated “social Darwinism” or was influenced by Darwin a complete myth likely created as a strawman against Spencerism by collectivists to discredit the theory. But why should Spencer be discredited? Because Spencer logically concluded that the nature of government injures humanity by interfering with natural social evolution. Thus his ideas had to be discredited and “disappeared” by the political class and worshipers of the State (not so different from what religionists would have done with Darwin if they had the power to do so). Spencer’s theory of social evolution truly is the most important idea ever. R. T. Long defends Spencer here and here against intellectual dishonesty and laziness by collectivist apologists. Even Darwin referred to Spencer as “our great philosopher” in “Descent of Man” and in a letter to Spencer wrote, “Every one with eyes to see and ears to hear (the number I fear are not many) ought to bow their knee to you and I for one do.”
 “… that upright conduct in each being necessary to the happiness of all, there exists in us an impulse towards such conduct; or, in other words, that we possess a “Moral Sense,” the duty of which is to dictate rectitude in our transactions with each other; which receives gratification from honest and fair dealing; and which gives birth to the sentiment of justice.” - Herbert Spencer from “Social Statics” 1851