The Sovereign Individual Explained Simply

The Sovereign Individual (Book Summary)

In this post, we’ll use the book The Sovereign Individual written by authors James Dale Davidson and Lord William Reed-Mogg to explore the history of mankind through the lens of violence and how we can use this information of the past to create a map of the future.

The Evolution Of Human Societies

Since the dawn of human history, there have been three major societies; hunter-gather societies, agricultural societies and industrial societies. According to James Dale Davidson and Lord William Reed-Mogg, the next stage of social organisation (which we are in the mist of now) is information societies.

The Beginning Of The State’s Monopoly On Violence

The genesis of centralized governments arose simply as a natural monopoly on violence.

During the age of hunter-gatherer societies, mankind lived a very basic life. Tribes roamed around in bands of 100 or so people living pretty much hand-to-mouth.

However, the eventual move to a settled agricultural societies resulted in the emergence of private property ― since no-one would be content growing crops only for someone else to come along and harvest what they had produced ― and surplus ― the ability to make excess produce.

Private property and surplus introduced the ability to steal which made investments in weaponry profitable. The result was theft ― much of it highly organised. This created the need for protection which in turn created the need for a protector. As a result, specific actors emerged as a protection service and ultimately attained a monopoly on violence.

Violence can be defined as coercion ― the ability to influence human behaviour using force of threat. For example, we pay taxes so we don’t go to jail. However, history shows that monopolies on violence tend to abuse their monopolistic privileges on society.

To this day, this process continues to play out on different scales as a result of different technologies. In the words of Mark Twain: “History doesn’t repeat itself, it rhymes.” In modern society, the supreme specialist in violence over a given territory is what we know to be government.

The history of mankind is the history of using violence to accumulate property.

The End Of The State’s Monopoly On Violence

Technology is creating a revolution in the exercise of power. The same way the printing press destroyed the Church’s monopoly on information, technology is destroying the government’s monopoly on violence.

For the first time in history, information technology is allowing for the creation and protection of assets that lie entirely outside the realm of any individual government’s territorial monopoly on violence. In other words, our information society is increasing the power of individuals and decreasing the power of government.

One of the major developments that is contributing dramatically to the rise of sovereignty is the cyber economy ― an economy based on electronic goods and services ― which completely transcends physical borders. As borders disappear, the concept of taxation, which is the foundation of governments, becomes increasingly fragile. The rise of the cyber economy will create The Sovereign Individual.

With the invention of the internet, individuals have the ability to work anywhere at anytime. As a result, the future will see citizens have the power to chose districts that most align with their own personal values, wants and needs. More simply, geographical location becomes increasingly less relevant in relation to earning income.

Furthermore, encryption technology creates impenetrable defense and allows individuals to secure property that is immune to confiscation or coercion at near-zero cost. Cryptocurrencies are allowing people to opt out of unfair tax regimes and overly inflationary regimes by enabling them to save and trade in alternative currencies, such as Bitcoin.

As a consequence, the future will see governments forced to compete for citizens and their income by setting policies that appeal to them and charging no more than they are worth. Governments that charge too much ― via taxes ― will drive away their best citizens.

Competition between jurisdictions in providing public services will result in a similar outcome to that observed in other sectors of life ― improved “customer satisfaction.” In short, governments will be forced to give customers what they want.

Citizens who thrive in the global society will identify themselves globally. They will make political, social and economic decisions based not on national identity. Instead, they will make them based on how those choices relate to themselves directly.

Summary (TL;DR)

Agricultural society completely transformed the direction of humanity. Private property and surplus introduced the element of crime. Crime created the need for protection. Protection created the need for a protector which ultimately gave rise to specialisation in violence.

Violence is a useful strategy for achieving desired outcomes ― specifically in influencing human behaviour. The logic of violence is determined by technology ― the cost of attack versus the cost of defense.

However, modern technology is creating a revolution in the exercise of power that will destroy the government’s monopoly on violence. The balance of powers will transition from government to citizens, setting the path for The Sovereign Individual.


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