Canada is a territorial state with a democratic constitutional monarchy and a federal system of parliamentary government, with a sovereign as head of state and a prime minister as head of government. The state, embodied in the sovereign and often referred to simply as “the Crown”, claims ownership of all the territory within its boundaries and claims sovereignty over the population within its territory.
Within the borders of the state there are various groups, associations, organizations, federations, communities and clubs with diverse religious, cultural, educational, recreational, social, economic and political interests. These exist together in the same area, even in the same town or neighbourhood, often intermingling and with overlapping membership. Individual members of various groups may reside in different places, without any group being the sole occupant of a specific territory or attempting to have complete control over an entire geographic region.
Larger organized communities, including self-identified nations, do not necessarily need to be defined by restrictive geopolitical boundaries with contiguous properties, and do not need to have exclusive territorial sovereignty and jurisdiction. Groups with dispersed membership can still presumably make their own decisions about leadership, representation, legislation, enforcement, adjudication and negotiations, based on the preferences of the participants and with their voluntary consent.
Larger groups and organized communities can coexist without mandatory membership and without imposing their decisions on any people living in the same area who may choose to be members of different groups. Communities and individuals would benefit if everyone could associate with the groups that matched their interests, without being obliged to join any particular group just because they happen to live in a specific area, and without being forced to move if they choose to belong to a different group. Any group could also choose to limit, exclude or revoke membership, although that doesn’t necessarily mean that any person would have to relocate.
Organized groups and self-governing communities could also provide a variety of services without having exclusive territorial control, just as various communities and similar businesses can coexist in an area without restrictive or coercive territorial monopolies. Any businesses or groups could choose to compete or cooperate with each other to attract new customers or members on the basis of the quality and price of the products or services that they are willing and able to provide. This could conceivably include health care, instruction, protection, security, investigation, apprehension, collection, dispute resolution, telecommunications, utilities, roads, and different exchange systems.
Individual consumers would then have more choices available to them from various producers and providers. Presumably we would not purchase from any business that offers poor quality goods and services, and we would not want to pay for anything that we don’t want and don’t use. Any business could also refrain from selling or exchanging their goods and services. Contracts could outline the terms, conditions, obligations, responsibilities, prices, and payment schedules for any agreements to join a group or trade goods and services.
Nor does the exchange of products and services in any territory inevitably require a monetary monopoly, especially a systemically scarce currency that is created as interest-bearing debt. Alternative methods and media of exchange can already be used, including barter, local trading systems, community currencies, commodity money, cryptocurrencies, and mutual credit clearing. Presumably, it would be preferable to control the allocation of our own credit and be able to accept or refuse any form of payment.
Money is a human invention, and we are an inventive species. There are benefits to be obtained from trading with one another, and we can design new ways to facilitate the trade of our goods and services. Different exchange systems or currencies can operate concurrently. We can also create new products and services, and various producers and providers can do business in any locality.
We are also a social species, because it is generally advantageous to be part of a group. Numerous groups can live side by side in any geographical area without insisting on exclusive use and control of entire territories, and without aggressively obtaining and maintaining dominion over whole regions.
Moreover, we are a fairly adaptable species. We are capable of learning new patterns of thought and new behaviours. Territoriality might be a learned strategy or habit rather than an instinct, and we could decide to use an intergroup strategy that does not insist upon territorial monopolies or restrictive territorial control, especially if the costs of exclusive territoriality outweigh the benefits.
Decisions about group affiliation and the exchange or distribution of goods and services can be made without imposing one’s preferences on anyone else, without forcing anyone to move or preventing anyone from moving to another location, and without any coercive monopolies, compulsory production, mandatory membership, or imposed political and monetary systems. Larger groups and organized communities, including nations, do not inevitably need to claim exclusive territorial sovereignty and jurisdiction, and our political and economic choices do not necessarily require consensus or majority rule. Restrictive geopolitical borders do not exist with everyone’s consent, and exclusive territorial control is not necessarily a mutually beneficial strategy.
The way we organize into groups and the way we produce and exchange goods and services has changed over time and will most likely continue to change. The direction of this transformation will presumably be determined by the way we think and the choices we make, choices which are based on some measure of costs and benefits. Numerous producers of goods and providers of services can operate concurrently, using various exchange systems or currencies, without any coercive territorial monopolies. Diverse communities can also coexist in any geographic area for the mutual benefit of all voluntary participants at their own risk and expense, without claiming exclusive territorial control.
* James Clayton is interested in non-aggressive strategies for self-government, personal sovereignty, and non-territorial secession. He resides in Canada.