Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Meat on the Neocameralist Bones


I've been working on this for long enough.  Busy as I am with the new baby, this as good as it's going to get, at least in the short term.
As a longtime reader of Mencius Moldbug (I used to post there as Curve of Freedom), I found his posts on neocameralism and the patchwork to be very thought-provoking and useful.  The patchwork is an innovative, nondemocratic form of government and neocameralism is the philosophy underpinning it.  In addition to being a neocameralist, Moldbug is also a royalist.

Back when I had more time on my hands, I decided to flesh out Moldbug's proposal a little.  It is not my favored system of government but it is intriguing and it is much simpler than my own (the "Commonwealth" proposal from last year).  I hope he will comment and see if I have gotten the flavor of his idea right.  Note that it is I, not he, who has combined royalism (my strong Rex) and corporate governance (my Governing Companies, which he calls sovcorps).   I may eventually post something on a scenario for the future describing how we could conceivably achieve the neocameralist state.  Without further ado.
Overview
This  former United States is governed as a monarchy along anarcho-capitalist and neo-cameralist lines.  The country is partitioned into a patchwork of highly autonomous city-states called Freeholds with ownership-based taxation powers and powerful land forces; governance of each Freehold is by a common stock corporation with Royal charters.
The Monarchy
The crown is hereditary.  The Rex is commander-in-chief of the Royal Air Force, the Royal Navy, all nuclear weapons, and ground forces totaling approximately 10% of the country's army.  Royal ground forces include guards for airbases, naval bases, and Royal residences, border patrol, and highway patrol.
The Rex pays for all Royal expenses out of pocket, and pockets what he does not spend.  He has the right to collect Tribute from all Freeholds, a self-assessed property tax with the percentage rate set by the Rex and the Assembly.  Though he has no power to abrogate property rights, he has the right to partition each Freehold into the parcels Governing Companies assess and pay tribute upon.  This is to prevent enclaves, i.e., he uses his power to make sure each parcel borders either the ocean, a foreign country, or land belonging to another Freehold.
The Royal Courts are chosen as follows.  Judges of District Courts are chosen by competitive examination.  The examination is created by a council appointed by the higher courts.  Judges of Appellate Courts are chosen from among District Judges by all members of the Assembly except those whose jurisdiction overlaps with that of the Appellate Court with the vacancy to be filled.  Justices of the Supreme Court are chosen by the Rex from among all Appellate Judges.  They are chiefly courts of equity dealing with jurisdictional disputes and pollution, though military cases can be referred to higher Royal Courts.  No judge or justice can be removed except by conviction of a felony or several misdemeanors.
The Rex has sole power to appoint diplomats to foreign nations and to make all bilateral treaties.
Major freeways are Royal Highways and are owned and maintained by the Rex out of pocket.  No Governing Company is permitted to interfere with their usage.  Furthermore, travel in the air, on the oceans, and on major rivers is a Royal matter not to be interfered with by any Governing Company.  In addition to Tribute, the Rex may also collect revenue through tariffs, highway, and port user fees, at rates proposed by the Rex and agreed to by the Assembly.
The tribute is intermediate between a rent and a tax.  There is a uniform percentage rate, countrywide, that each Freehold owes on the assessed value of each of their parcels.  Each Freehold assesses the value of each of their parcels, and each assessment is a binding sales contract to any Royally-chartered corporation.
The Assembly
The Assembly consists of a representative of each Governing Company.  It has the power to approve or block changes in the percentage rate on which Tribute is applied, as well as the rates for Royal user fees and tariffs.  Sole power to recommend changes in these rates lies with the Rex.  It has the power to determine the penalties for failure to pay the Royal Tribute and for violating the constitution.  It has the power to ratify or block all multilateral treaties.  It has the power to approve or block appointments of all diplomats to multilateral organizations.  Voting in the Assembly (on all matters save the election of Judges of Appellate Courts) is weighted.  Each Governing Company controls a number of votes equal to the square root of the most recent Royal Tribute paid by that Freehold (provided it was paid in full and on time).  Freeholds in arrears on their tribute have a voice but no vote.  
Royal Charters and the Governing Companies
Any publicly-traded corporation registered in the country can apply for a Royal Charter.  There are several restrictions on Governing Companies.  They must be organized on common-stock basis, not as coöperatives or worker-managed collectives.  No Governing Company may own stock in any other Governing Company, either directly or via corporate intermediaries.  Residents of a Freehold cannot own stock in the corporation that governs it.  All Assembly representatives must be either appointed by the board of directors or chosen on the same basis as the board of directors is chosen; they cannot be chosen by the corporation's employees or customers.
No Governing Company can be a information provider, i.e. a school, broadcaster, publisher, or internet service provider.  That is, no security corporation can publish a general news periodical or anything in broadsheet or tabloid format, broadcast television or AM/FM radio signals, or provide education or internet service to general consumers.  To do so is a violation of their royal charter.  No Governing Company can own stock in, lend money to, or contract major security duties to an information provider.  (Major security services include the power to make arrests or operate armed vehicles.)  No information provider can own stock in a Governing Company (they must divest within one month of a corporation's receipt of a Royal Charter).
(Security corporations can use 2-way radios, publish irregular news releases on government topics, train adults they intend to hire, and own routers and cables for their own use.  Corporations extending beyond this into gray areas do so at the peril of incurring royal wrath.)
If a corporation meets the criteria above, it is granted a Royal Charter, and can purchase one or more tax parcels.  The corporation becomes a Governing Company when it buys land, and territory thus purchased becomes the Governing Company's Freehold.
The Freeholds
All the adjacent tax parcels owned by a Governing Company are called a Freehold.  If this Freehold includes any territory within the city limits of one of the 50 largest cities in the United States circa 2010, the Freehold is called a Free City.  (For these purposes, the "largest cities" are determined looking strictly at population within city limits.)  A Free City is limited in size to 1200 square miles (equivalent to the smallest state, Rhode Island).
If the Freehold does not include any big-city territory as defined above, it is called a Province and is limited in population to 500,000 (equivalent to least populous states, circa 2000). 
The right to govern is secured by the payment to the Rex of an annual tribute.  The government of a Freehold has extensive powers of governance therein.  There are rules and guidelines on the behavior of Governing Companies in the country's Constitution:
A Governing Company should not exile criminals to other Freeholds without compensation.
A Governing Company is forbidden to take any action to prevent the emigration of anyone it has not imprisoned.
A Governing Company is forbidden to tax goods being transported across (rather than into or out of) its Freeholds.  A Governing Company is forbidden to collect taxes from travelers on Royal Highways.
A Governing Company is forbidden to restrict spoken or written communication or religious worship.  A Governing Company should not allow political parties.
A Governing Company is forbidden to operate any warships or warplanes.  A Governing Company should not seek to develop or maintain an army larger than that of the Rex, but should have an effective and reliable force of moderate size for military, police, and civil defense duties.  (Warship: Armed watercraft with overnight accommodations for crew members, or turbine engines.  Warplane: Armed fixed-wing aircraft.  Armed spacecraft are also forbidden to Governing Companies.)
A Governing Company is forbidden to own any weapons of mass destruction.
A GC's headquarters must not be in any of the Freeholds it governs, and its board meetings may likewise not take place in any of its Freeholds.  When a corporation buys a tax parcel, all stockholders with a residence there have six months to divest or sell their homes.
No GC can own more than three Freeholds, whether they be any combination of Provinces or Free Cities.  No two of a GC's Freeholds can be adjacent.
Governing Companies can devolve powers, at their leisure, to local councils.  Any local council with a jurisdiction of 1000 or fewer families can be constituted on any basis the GC desires; any local council with a larger jurisdiction must be elected by a weighted franchise based on fees paid to the GC.

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