While spiritually, peace might have positive characteristics and qualities, in the world of human affairs and legal and political systems, peace is more of a definitionally negative concept. Much like darkness is the absence of light, peace is the absence of conflict. When viewed from this perspective, peace is at the very core of what Free CIties try to promote.
Free Cities, regardless of the specifics, create more peace in the world by bringing together communities of like-minded people with similar values. When people who share similar value scales live together, the space for potential conflicts decreases. Less conflict occurs in at least two different ways. First, with an increase in value compatibility, the discrepancy between two sides in a conflict must necessarily be lowered. Secondly, with an increase in shared values, the total number of conflicts that can arise is also reduced. The result is an increase in peace both quantitatively and qualitatively.
In addition to the reduction in potential strife, conflicts are more likely, ceteris paribus, to be resolved quickly without the need for external dispute resolution. With shared values comes the desire to find quick and easy resolutions for minor disputes. While this may seem simple and obvious, it is worth emphasizing. As just one example, it is much easier and more likely that you will find common ground in a dispute with your neighbor than with someone across the country or even across the world. It is much easier to argue and fight from a distance than from next door. Furthermore, your neighbor likely shares your culture and has more values in common with you than someone across the globe. As such, you are likely to come to a closer shared understanding of any dispute and, over time, social norms and ways of solving such small and frequent disputes arise and are employed in the community.
In addition to lowering the number of disputes, lowering the qualitative scope of conflict, and increasing the ability to handle disputes via social mechanisms instead of external enforcement arms, another reason why Free Cities are more peaceful is their voluntary nature. Free Cities must, definitionally, require the explicit consent of the governed.
While the first few paragraphs of this article focused on the ways in which Free Cities reduce or eliminate conflict, the voluntary nature of Free Cities leads to peace between the governance service provider and residents. Although it may not feel like it, the status quo for citizens across the world is to be subjugated citizens of our governments. Depending on the particular jurisdiction in which you live, this is a more or less conflict-filled relationship. If you think this is an inaccurate description, try not paying your taxes or smoking marijuana in front of a police officer in many jurisdictions. No third party is harmed by either of these “crimes” and yet you are not allowed to do either. This is not a peaceful relationship. Free Cities need not deal with any of these contradictions. Instead, they offer the mechanism of peaceful and voluntary opt-in and opt-out of systems as seen fit by both sides of the contract.
While many disputes within a Free City will be avoided and handled via social mechanisms, inevitably some disputes will require a formal dispute resolution system. Fortunately, Free Cities are well-equipped to solve these disputes in as peaceful a manner as possible.
Firstly, disputes, whether between the resident and another resident or between the resident and the City Operator, are resolved by an independent third party not affiliated with either side of the dispute. This automatically leads to a higher degree of confidence in, and peaceful acceptance of, the resolution than the status quo.
Secondly, since Free Cities must attract residents, they must provide high-quality services. Arguably the most important governance service is dispute resolution. As such, Free City Operators will be heavily incentivized to put in place truly independent third-party dispute resolution systems, or risk that people will not come. Putting in place independent dispute resolution systems then opens (or rather expands) the existing market for dispute resolution in which new and better entrepreneurs will enter and compete. More competition will lead to unresting efforts to safeguard any given company’s reputation as a fair and just dispute service provider.
All of this means that, thanks simply to a good incentive structure, Free Cities can lead the world into a more peaceful coexistence among people. Finally, given that these dispute resolution providers must operate for profit and will be incentivized to provide a just outcome, they will be much less interested in punishment for punishment’s sake and more interested in providing a just and stable environment in which all parties know they will have their rights and obligations taken seriously and in accordance which the common understanding of the law. This will lead to more peaceful resolutions and away from punitive judgments.
Finally, Free Cities are extremely well equipped to promote a more peaceful world because they will not be interested in conquest but rather in providing a stable and profitable living situation for resident customers. War, particularly in its aggressive manifestations, is deeply unprofitable, which is why governments generally go into debt to fight wars and often abandon hard money standards in order to finance these destructive activities. Free Cities cannot engage in venture warfare because it is simply too expensive and not in the interest of the Free City Operator. As more people move to Free Cities which must compete for residents, resources will be drained from the traditional states, leading to less ability to go abroad in search of enemies.
As we have seen, when interpreting peace to mean the absence of conflict, Free Cities are a powerful tool in the quest to achieve a more peaceful and prosperous world.
This blog post is an amended version of an article originally published in Escape Artist Insiders Magazine in December 2022. Visit their website for more articles, information and advice on becoming an expat or digital nomad.