The Constitution of Consent (Contest) $25,000
~ THE CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED ~
Craft a Constitution of Consent that balances freedom and community self-organization. Contest entrants — individuals or teams — will develop a constitution that is chosen, not imposed—a real social contract. The winner(s) get $25,000.
For thousands of years, humans have organized as civilizations. They built those civilizations on implicit or explicit rules. Up to this point, rulers have made and enforced such rules. But over time, the rulers seize control over vast territories.
If an individual or group holds a monopoly on violence for too long, they will eventually find ways to enrich themselves and act with impunity. Concentrations of power take many forms but usually involve a few with taxing authority who control the purse, impose burdens, and abuse police powers. A lengthy tenure confers more power over time as the powerful transfer more resources to themselves and their cronies. The people suffer.
But power corrupts.
Instead, we want the people of the world to flourish. We think human flourishing originates from five important pillars:
Peace. People generally want to live together in harmony, despite their differences. They seek security in their persons, property, and legal rights.
Freedom. People ought to be allowed to experiment freely with various ways of living. They should enjoy robust protections from central authorities.
Justice. People want justice, transparency, and accountability. Consent and competition can serve justice while checking outsized political power.
Pluralism. People have different ideas about what constitutes a good society. Local experimentation and community competition make for human progress.
Prosperity. People willing to serve others, mixing cooperation and competition, generate prosperity through creativity, production, and trade.
Our goal is to develop a Constitution of Consent that instantiates these pillars.
We’re offering $25,000 to the team with the most promising entry.
Our functional vision is of a constitution that balances freedom and community self-organization. Why? Some people will want to opt into less free local communities, perhaps for moral or religious reasons. But no group should be able to impose their ideal forms onto everyone else nor violate any enumerated rights.
The Constitution of Consent should also enable people to spawn new jurisdictions. Operationalizing this means that some will build their associations on territories. Others can build “in the cloud.” This distinction introduces an important legal innovation, panarchy, which allows people to choose subsidiary governance associations without leaving their gardens.
Such creates a competitive governance market.
In what follows, you can go far in helping us to form a new kind of society whose scattered peoples might someday live according to this constitution. As we invite the world to participate in developing this great charter, we offer a set of Guidelines. We hope these clarify our intentions and provide an informed start.
Please pay attention to the following Guidelines, as they will assist you. Your entry should address the Problems. Our Suggestions can inform your work. We offer Further Readings and Enumerated Rights to those wanting to go deeper.
The following Problems infect our republics to varying degrees:
Power accrues to those who control centralized federal authorities.
Power accrues to those able to coerce citizens to live under its rules.
Power accrues to the few who control standing armies. Such war powers create imperial incentives.
Power accrues to those few who control monopoly police powers.
Power accrues to those who pass bloated, complicated, permanent laws.
Power accrues to those who find rights and freedoms undefined and undefended.
Power accrues to those who claim control over unowned or common property without legal processes.
Power accrues to those who give supremacy to statutes over customary law, such as common law.
Power accrues to those who make laws that privilege persons, groups, or interests.
Power accrues to those able to easily legislate by amendment and to those shielded from amendment processes.
Power accrues to those with a monopoly on currency and coinage, including legal tender laws and control over the price of credit.
Power accrues to those who can prevent citizens from separating into new jurisdictions.
Power accrues to those who can make capricious accusations and mistreat the accused.
Power accrues to those who can use taxpayer largess to buy alliances and/or engage in legislative horse-trading.
Power accrues to authorities who accept gifts or engage in quid pro quo arrangements.
Power accrues to monopoly providers of welfare transfers, creating dependent voters and burdened taxpayers.
Power accrues to those with authority to introduce sanctions, embargos, tariffs, or subsidies in international trade.
Power accrues to those who claim authority for the ‘general welfare’ or ‘common good,’ because such language is inherently vague.
Power accrues to those who can restrict people or jurisdictions from exiting peacefully.
Power accrues to those who can use unlimited debt spending.
Power accrues to demagogues who exploit the dynamics of majoritarian rule.
Power accrues to authorities who enjoy sovereign immunity.
Power accrues to those who hold office for too long. Incumbency is corruptive.
Power accrues to those who enjoy monopoly authority.
Power accrues to those capable of working in secrecy or acting with impunity.
Problems and Suggestions are paired by number, respectively (e.g. 1-to-1, 2-to-2…)
The following Suggestions are designed to match 1-to-1 with the Problems above:
Find ways to create competition, even at the highest levels of government. Decentralize power; include subsidiarity.
Innovate ways to make access to a jurisdiction’s law consensual, i.e. a real social contract, instead of one that is hypothetical or imaginary.
Introduce ways to enact polycentric defense. Devolve and/or decentralize war powers to the greatest feasible extent.
Introduce mechanisms for competitive policing and/or police accountability.
Provide for terminal laws, whether via sunset clauses or simplicity requirements. Prune obsolete regs.
Make it impossible for authorities to curtail enumerated rights unless one agrees to such curtailment.
Make private property fundamental, but allow for the limited creation of, local community-controlled commons.
Ensure judicial supremacy and privilege customary law (common law) without undermining the principles enshrined in the constitution.
Prescribe Rule of Law, such that laws apply equally or proportionally to all.
Craft an amendment process that respects the Presumption of Liberty but makes amendment feasible.
Enable and allow for competition in money, banking, and credit systems. Replace central banking.
Provide citizens means to separate from any jurisdiction so as to create a new one; Enable jurisdiction spawning.
Protect the accused, perhaps with due process, habeas corpus, humane treatment, and speedy trials.
Introduce limitations on the mode and manner of taxing and disbursing resources to subsidiary jurisdictions. Consider strict spending limits at the federal level.
Restrict quid pro quo arrangements between authorities and private interests.
Enable systems of charity, mutual aid, and locally-managed welfare systems, restricting federal-level welfare programs.
Guarantee free trade with only emergency exceptions. Define emergency narrowly w/ clear endpoints.
Avoid collectivist wording and eliminate vague legal terms that offer the powerful means to exploit the law.
Provide exit rights from any jurisdiction, and allow peaceful secession (so long as all commitments are honored).
Enact reasonable limits on public debt spending.
Upgrade democratic processes so as to discourage demagoguery and majoritarian tyranny.
Make all authorities fully accountable for unconstitutional acts (No sovereign immunity. Punish officials who violate.)
Limit terms and/or consider rotating citizen legislatures, sortition, direct democracy elements, and expiring appointments for high-level bureaucrats.
Create systems of overlapping jurisdictions and competitive governance; resolve jurisdictional disputes in court.
Create transparency and accountability measures; Protect whistleblowers and punish offenders.
Self-sovereignty. Bodily autonomy and self-ownership.
Property. Private property protections, extending to assets, items, or real estate.
Expression and Press. Right to express oneself, publish, or speak freely.
Religion and Conscience. Right to worship or practice one’s conscience.
Association. Right to associate or disassociate.
Self-Defense. Right to protect oneself, one’s family, and one’s property.
Privacy. Right to keep aspects of life and property from unwarranted scrutiny.
Searches and Seizures. Right to protect assets, property, papers, and effects from unreasonable searches and seizures.
Rights of Accused. Fair, speedy trial and/or pre-agreed courts and arbiters.
Compensatory and Restorative Justice. Rights of both victims and convicted; centering on prevention, rehabilitation, and making victims whole.
Equal Protection. Equality before the law and equal treatment.
Due Process. Principled legal proceedings ad rights protections.
Right of Exit I. Individuals have a basic right to leave a jurisdiction, having honored any agreements.
Right of Exit II. Affinity groups have a right to separate from a jurisdiction.
Self-Determination. Affinity groups have a right to establish a new jurisdiction.
Thomas Jefferson, et al. “The Declaration of Independence”
Robert Yates. Brutus I
Paul Emile du Puydt. “Panarchy”
Douglass C. North. “Nobel Prize Lecture: Economic Performance Through Time”
John Hasnas. “Hayek, the Common Law, and Fluid Drive”
John Hasnas. “The Depoliticization of Law”
Nick Szabo. “Juristopia”
Brad Taylor and Patri Friedman. “Barriers to Entry and Institutional Evolution”
Balaji Srinivasan. “The Network State”
Max Borders. “Subversive Innovation: A Strategic Reading of Nozick’s Framework for Utopia”
Aviezer Tucker. “The Best States: Beyond the Territorial Fallacy”
Michael P. Gibson. “The Nakamoto Consensus: How We End Bad Governance”
Subscribe for Contest Notifications and great content. Launches July 15, 2023.
All contest submissions should:
Be submitted by 11:59 pm GMT on October 15, 2023.
Be written in English.
Be entered only once per team and/or per team member.
Include a list of every team member—otherwise, denote a single entrant.
Include mailing addresses and country of origin for each team member.
List each team member’s primary and secondary email addresses.
List each team member’s phone number (including country code).
Demonstrate agreement that the content may be used by the host organization and its affiliates, in part or whole, in perpetuity as an open-source product.
Correspond with a team member. (No multiple submissions per person.)
Include a strong, well-written:
Introduction (80 words max), which should explain your approach or theory,
Preamble (80 words max), which should inspire readers, and
40005000 words max), which should detail the core of the law.
All should demonstrate respect for the Guidelines set out here.
Criteria. Winning entries will adhere to the following Criteria:
Clarity. Communicate clear meaning and leave little room for interpretation.
Concision. Set out constitution within the word limit (up to 5000).
Coherence. Ensure legal provisions work together well without contradiction.
Comprehensiveness. Cover the Preamble and needed Articles and Sections.
Compliance. Endeavor to incorporate our Guidelines.
Creativity. Show evidence of legal innovation.
Terms & Conditions. Entrants must consent to the following:
Hosts. A consortium led by Social Evolution (non-profit) hosts the Contest.
Judges. Five judges will be empaneled to select a winner.
Judging. The panel will use their best judgment based on the above Criteria and Pillars. Judges’ decisions are final.
Award. Winning entrant(s) will receive $20,000. Second and third places will receive $3,000 and $2,000 respectively.
Announcement. Winner(s) will be announced on 11/15/2023 on this site.
Notification. Winner(s) will be notified by their email or phone contacts.
Eligibility. The contest is open to anyone, anywhere in the world.
Launch. The contest launches on July 15, 2023 and closes at 12:00 GMT on October 15, 2023. (7/15/2023 through 10/15/2023)
Rights. Contest hosts reserve the right to alter or extend or cancel any aspect of the contest for any reason. Contest hosts reserve the right to use, alter, or augment any submission, or part of any submission, as the contest founders see fit. We reserve the right to publish the results, or any recombination of the results, under the Creative Commons license.
Judging Process. Judges will:
Conduct preliminary sorting from 7/15/23 - 10/15/23.
Convene two winnowing rounds to determine finalists 10/15/23 - 11/15/2023.
Choose finalists by ranking entries and averaging those rankings.
Disbursement. All awards will be paid in USD, which winners may be responsible for converting to their home currencies.
Subscription. Entrants will automatically be subscribed to this publication but may unsubscribe at any time.