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The Big Day
Announcing the winners of the Constitution of Consent Contest. $25,000 in prizes to be awarded.
Announcing the winners of the $25,000 Constitution of Consent contest!
But before we do, I want to thank our judges, Niklas, Eric, Cody, and Muwaffaq.
I would also like to thank everyone who worked hard on their entries. In the end, we received 42 submissions by the deadline, which meant we read anywhere from 150,000 to 200,000 words. That’s no easy task, especially given all the thought submitters put into the entries. (A handful either came in after the deadline, exceeded the word limit, or violated the rules, so they were disqualified.)
Now, if you’re champing at the bit, you can navigate through the following to see the winners straight away:
Third Place $2,000
Second Place $3,000
First Place (Shared) $10,000 and $10,000
Given that the contributions run 4000-5000 words, we’ll publish choice passages rather than the entire submission—especially for Creative Contributors and Honorable Mentions.
Note on Blind Judging. We placed all entries into a separate document for judging, so no single judge knew who submitted what. Even I, who ran the Survey Monkey, was tempted to look but did not yield to temptation.
Note on Regurgitation. We made the Guidelines available so submitters could gain inspiration. Unfortunately, some took the Guidelines and either regurgitated them using different words or fed them into ChatGTP—which we could smell.
Note on Disputes. These decisions are final and were arrived at to the best of our ability. This process was arduous and difficult, so I hope you will respect the great care we took in selecting the winners.
We wanted first to acknowledge some of the wackier, weirder, more literary, and more sci-fi contributions, which stood out due to their creativity.
Gavriel Shaw and Sterlin Lujan
A couple of the judges were drawn to the work of Shaw and Lujan, who were already thinking about how to architect laws in service of Srinivasan’s ‘network state’ concept:
There is no ‘central authority’. There is mutual agreement between people who know what they agree to and accept. Thus, contract law will help ensure agreement adherence between parties — in physical and digital spaces. People’s reputations will form the basis for a network state of consent.
Though this entry didn’t prevail, the submitters incorporated several innovative elements. For example, they anticipated that a self-governing polity might have to anticipate life in both the digital and the physical realms and, therefore, accommodate both modes of existence.
Smith’s contribution appeals to the idea of embedding the cultivation of virtue in law, which—if agreed to under a multilateral contract (“oath”)—is an interesting way of building in aspects of healthy traditions that modern societies have lost:
Several distinguished classes shall exist in the republic, with special purposes, rights, duties, and virtues to be expected or cultivated. The distinguished classes are:
Each distinguished class will have criteria for entry; distinctive oaths taken; a guild to oversee its work, refine its professionalism, and capture and socialize its knowledge; and peculiar rights and duties.
Smith’s entry took us back to when cultivated virtues were a central feature of life. Smith asks us to consider a future in which such virtues might be incorporated. It so happens his entry is published in full here.
Some entries were positively Sci-Fi. Andrew Kuess imagines city-states all over the universe, even on starships, which will take on many forms, requiring different forms of competitive governance.
We, the citizens of the Star Captains Shipyard Arcology, do hereby ordain and establish this STAR CAPTAIN’S SHIPYARD ARCOLOGY CONSTITUTION as the highest law of governance of the Shipyard Arcology city-state, and the highest law of all Star Captain Arcology city-states that shall be constructed and launched by the Shipyard.
Andrew Kuess’s submission, while wild and wacky, managed to incorporate important elements we suggested in the Guidelines. Kuess says he’s eager to learn from other submitters and is open to contact from anyone interested in competitive governance and legal innovation.
While interesting and creative, some entries strayed too far from the Guidelines and/or too far into techno-centric Web3 considerations, away from meat-space governance. Yet we will still be happy to mine good ideas from these as the world pushes headlong into the future.
Douglas Findlay created a “crew network” that resembles the upward delegation of cellular democracy. Findlay’s honorable mention could also have been honored under Creative Contributors above, as he evokes colorful sci-fi systems of organization that include features of both natural hierarchies and networks:
The network itself doesn't invent, administer, or enforce laws. Politics is a divide-and-conquer process, and it has no place within a crew network. It isn't a belief system. It's a man-to-man network, and not a faith or ideology. It uses patterns of science, forces of nature, and lessons of history to give competent men [and women] greater autonomy. It isn't technology. It's natural human interaction, again man-to-man. […] It isn't for everyone. It's a path for better men to follow towards a better society. The network doesn't use coercion or deception to get power, and it doesn't need authority or obedience to keep it.
Findlay also sets out a concept of “interdependence” that dispels an unnecessary dichotomy between rugged individualism and brutal collectivism, each of which fails to incorporate human beings’ natures and limits to organization.
While US-centric in its nomenclature and outlook, T.L. Hulsey’s creative contribution can be applied more universally. Hulsey’s emphasis on small jurisdictions evokes the idea that smaller is more manageable and that management improves with competition.
The County is the sovereign unit of government, and the constituent element, of The American Federation, having permanent residents numbering no more than 250,000. It is administered by one body, the County Commission, composed of five County Commissioners, of which one is Head. As the agent of the community’s standard of excellence, or those public virtues defined uniquely by that community alone, this Commission holds power limited principally by its citizens’ recall and referendum, and by their threat of abandonment.
Hulsey also creatively applies sortition to ensure no authorities become entrenched, making them harder to corrupt.
Third Place: $2,000
Christopher Cook presented a bold case that emphasized self-ownership and individual rights. But what struck the judges as particularly interesting was how seriously he took the idea of this being a real social contract, or what Cook terms a “membership compact,” which, for example, delineates modes of association.
I. The Right to Establish. To create, own, and maintain—in any unowned or privately owned physical or virtual space—any consensual system of social or political organization (polity); to administer said polity according to any chosen set of rules or principles; and to solicit, offer, and encourage, or to reject and refuse, voluntary participation or membership therein.
II. The Right to Join. To choose voluntarily to become a member of a polity by mutual consent and agreement with the representatives of such polity.
III. The Right to Exit. To discontinue any association or membership with any polity (provided that all previous voluntary contractual obligations are satisfied); and to depart, unhindered, from the territory or control of any polity or government.
IV. The Right to Secede. To discontinue, unilaterally and without hindrance, any association with, allegiance to, or subjection by any government, and to establish, unhindered, any new polity on any private or unowned land; or to remove one’s property from the ambit of any polity, provided that previous voluntary contractual obligations are met.
V. The Right to Remain. To remain unmolested on one’s own property without being subjected to any government or required to join any polity; and to make private, voluntary arrangements for security, justice, or any other desirable services.
Congratulations, Chris Cook.
Second Place: $3,000
Luis Rayas presented a Georgist city-state model. It also identified the need for self-defense, decentralized protective association, and independent arbitration.
All persons have the inherent and natural right to adequately defend themselves from transgressions, or enlist an agent to so on their behalf, and to seek appropriate remunerative or punitive damages for those which are committed.
Rayes was careful in making individual rights primary but did not stray too far into philosophical meanderings. He focused more on pragmatically operationalizing community and city-state level protocols, preserving a pluralistic legal tapestry, which put the city-state at the highest level of authority.
At a time when there is a greater focus on smaller jurisdictions and special economic zones (SEZs), Rayas’s contribution is a welcome step towards sovereignty.
Congratulations, Luis Rayas.
First Place (Shared) $10,000/$10,000
The judges deliberated with great intensity over who between the two should be the winner. After hearing all sides of this debate, the judges decided that a more decentralized Solomon-like approach would work—i. e. that we would ‘split the baby’ and thus the top prize.
Indeed, the Constitution of Consent 1.0 working group will likely begin by mining the best features of these two submissions.
The winners are Vibhu Vikramaditya and Alexander Voss.
Vibhu Vikramaditya’s submission was comprehensive, detailed, and operational. He seemed to anticipate the widest range of eventualities that ought to fit into a charter document while explaining clearly what any stewards of the order—authorities—were not to do.
Councils, within the bounds of the Constitution, possess the liberty to govern in a manner that reflects their members' aspirations, cultures, and preferences. The Republic's role is not to govern but to ensure that the principles of individual rights, mutual respect, and voluntary cooperation are upheld across all associations.
What if associations were to come into conflict?
In instances of disputes among associations, the Republic provides a framework for neutral arbitration and conflict resolution, emphasizing restorative justice and community healing over punitive measures. This system prioritizes the preservation of relationships, autonomy, and the peaceful coexistence of all associations.
That framework of neutral arbitration acknowledges a supreme guardian of the Constitution (Court) but introduces rotation, an innovation to prevent corruption or power concentrations in the body while conferring finality.
The Supreme Court is composed of Constitutional Custodians selected on a rotational basis from the Judicial Review Panels, with nominations facilitated by the assemblies of associations. This rotational principle ensures a fresh influx of perspectives, while the process of selection from a pool of experienced jurists maintains a high standard of legal acumen and constitutional scholarship.
Congratulations, Vibhu Vikramaditya.
Alexander Voss’s entry was clear, comprehensive, and principled. It incorporated tested legal principles found in the common law and more visionary elements. For example, Voss builds a fiscal check on any federal authority, to accompany his property-based order.
[A]ll funding for the Federal Government must come from its subsidiary governments.
Such is another way of ensuring that subsidiary governments are firmly in control, which realizes competitive governance and secession.
Voss also gives a firm primacy to property rights:
No Rights exist outside of the framework of property rights. As such, all Rights are property rights and property rights are the rule of the land.
Thus, communists who wish to live under Voss’s constitution must first accept property rights and acquire property. Only then can they abolish them—and only within their subsidiary jurisdiction.
Voss privileges common law but leaves room for local statutes that work. If they don’t, they can easily be sunsetted or repealed.
Any creation of new laws requires 3/5 majority to pass. All laws can be repealed with 2/5 support at any time.
Congratulations, Alexander Voss!
Both of the winning entries had the benefit of being clear and fairly comprehensive. Whereas Vikramaditya’s was slightly more comprehensive, especially regarding the operation and enforcement of the principles, Voss’s was slightly stronger regarding legal innovations. So, the judges went back and forth. Indeed, we wish we could have recorded some of these debates, which were interesting in their own right—like, I suspect, some of the deliberations at the Philadelphia convention of 1988-89.
We are currently in talks with donors to take the Constitution of Consent to the next level: to assemble a working group of legal innovators. These professionals will take the best of the contest ideas to ensure our open-source Constitution of Consent 1.0 has the best chance of seeing future implementation.
Once we have a Constitution of Consent 1.0, we will make it available to anyone, especially those working in the Network State / Special Jurisdictions space. Subsequent versions and forks will be recorded. Then, we aspire to form a team dedicated to extensive research on establishing a sovereign jurisdiction where the Constitution of Consent can serve as the primary social operating system.