Posted by: John Vandivier | August 24, 2013

5 Routes to Anarchy

In a recent post I discussed problems with seasteading as a route to anarchy. One problem I mentioned was opportunity cost. I argued that alternative routes exist to implement anarchy. In this post I will very introduce 5 routes to anarchy including a brief list of some of the positive and negative aspects of each.

1) Seasteading. As mentioned in the other article seasteading is currently a costly way to practice anarchy, but that cost will go down over time. Another negative is that seasteading can never be a pure anarchy as it doesn’t do away with the principle of territorial sovereignty, it simply dramatically reduces the scope of that sovereignty and in turn greatly increases the bounds on the resulting monopolistic effects. A further problem is the fact that traditional nations may impede seasteading. On the bright side, seasteading is a route we can begin to take immediately.

English: Anarchy symbol - Basic traditional ci...

English: Anarchy symbol – Basic traditional circumscribed “A” anarchy symbol based on Image:Anarchy symbol neat.png Replaced by User Arcy with a public domain image. Español: Emblema de la anarquía (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

2) Seasteading by docking. This method works like seasteading, but rather than floating out at seas in waters not claimed by a sovereign nation, in this version the seasteaders dock in national waters. They pay taxes and cooperate with the nation, but the nation knows that one false move and the seasteaders can readily up and leave. The effect of seasteading by docking is simply to increase national incentives to create policy which benefits the seasteaders by increasing the power of foot-voting to leverage international governance competition beyond current levels of power found in less transient land dwelling.

3) Cryptoanarchy. By leveraging cryptography anarchists can engage in an unofficial dual-citizenship where they may live in a traditional society but have all the benefits of anarchy online. This is positive because first of all it is extremely difficult for traditional governments to impede cryptographic exchange, not only in the way of transaction but also in terms of information exchange. This method is also beneficial because even if the digital anarchy is compromised, correct use of cryptography will prevent identification in the offline world of the anarchists. This implies that if everything fails online, the anarchist can simply return to the traditional society with very little cost of failure relative to other kinds of anarchy. Barrier to entry of this kind of anarchy are also very low. A government may be drained of tax money and/or have enforcement of law made difficult or impossible in this model and eventually the old government would simply fade away. This model may be negative in that is might require the use of deception or illegal activity at times.

4) Space Anarchy. Space travel may be possible in the future. If such a situation occurred then it would be possible to colonize outer space and/or other planets and set up a space anarchy. Space anarchy might involve the access to unprecedented natural resources. It would be difficult for traditional governments to interfere with space anarchy if things were done the right way, and space anarchy might not suffer from some of the problems found in cryptoanarchy, seasteading and elsewhere. Finally, space anarchy might be the most moral form of anarchy. On the downside, space anarchy is likely the most costly, difficult and time-consuming method of anarchy at this point in time.

5) Subversive Anarchy

Subversive anarchy involves simply ignoring the sovereignty of other nations and proceeding to establish an anarchy. In some areas such on small islands, far away from larger cities, or in rough terrain like the mountains law enforcement may be difficult for traditional governments. If the government is unable to enforce its own law then a subversive anarchy may simply claim its own sovereignty. Subversive anarchists can even contribute to the inability of traditional governments to enforce law in differing shades of subversion. On the lighter side subversive anarchists may engage in simple protest such as holding hands around a courthouse to prevent legal action. On the other hand they may get as extreme and dirty as traditional revolution. Benefits to subversive anarchy include the fact that its methods are well historically documented and that it may be begun immediately, sometimes without cost. On the downside it is without question the least moral form of anarchy, it is absolutely dangerous, and failure costs are extreme.



  1. […] third and final point is relevant to DIYL and subversive anarchy. While subversive anarchy is usually reckless, dangerous, illegal and immoral, I have mentioned […]

  2. […] CryptoAnarchy is the implementation of anarchism through cryptographic technology. Toshiba has recently invented a consumer-grade quantum cryptography network which even the NSA can’t hack. […]

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