Free Cities

HK00

The Free Cities Initiative: Let A Thousand Cities Bloom (here). In every way an excellent thing to be happening, and crucially aligned with the deep planetary current.

This is the idea:

What is new about free cities is not the policies they will likely implement, but the manner in which those policies are implemented. The traditional model is that the nation state creates a legal baseline. Cities and towns can add to that baseline, increasing taxes or regulatory requirements for example, but not opt out of it. A special economic zone is an institutional arrangement which allows territories to opt out of aspects of the institutional baseline. […] A free city is an institutional arrangement which allows a territory to opt out of most aspects of the institutional baseline. In recent history, this is a radical change. However, it is a radical change necessary to import good institutions; rule of law, property rights, and economic freedom. We already know what works. Free cities offer a path to get there.

And this is the trend:

… free cities are by and large inevitable. … Two trends, which are not yet common knowledge, point to the emergence of free cities. Those trends are the creation of special economic zones (SEZs) and new cities. … SEZs are forerunners to free cities, they are pockets of autonomy where certain national laws and regulations do not apply. Of course, they differ in several important aspects. First, SEZs are typically small, rarely encompassing a city. Second, the autonomy for most SEZs is relatively minor. Such autonomy might encompass lower taxes or expedited customs, but does not represent a new legal system, merely slight alterations to the existing one. […] Nevertheless, SEZs represent something of a challenge to the traditional notion of a nation state, an area where a sovereign body sets the baseline legal standard. As such, it is reasonable to suggest that the number and trend of SEZs is roughly correlated with the likelihood of building a free city. A world where minor autonomy is acceptable is more likely to accept major autonomy than a world where no autonomy is acceptable. […] The trends of SEZs suggest that autonomy is becoming increasingly acceptable. …

June 16, 2016admin 34 Comments »
FILED UNDER :Political economy

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34 Responses to this entry

  • Brett Stevens Says:

    I would like to live in an SEZ that reduced taxes to the bare minimum required for defense and abolished all other functions of government. It could fund its own roads, police and fire perhaps.

    But I know how this would play out, because we in Texas have lived it. The SEZ would succeed; many people would move there, and companies which were thriving and growing would want to hire them, which would then cause them to need more people. But these people coming in would do what groups always do, which is demand more government and bennies and rules and regulations. That’s what they have done in Texas, specifically the Californians and Canadians.

    For this reason, my fascination with economic free zones is limited to one of my four pillars of what is required, but cannot stand alone. I remember some time ago that there was a plan to make a Libertarian paradise out of an island between Detroit and Canada. Seemed like a good idea at the time, especially if it had high rate of fire weaponry.

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    I agree that taken in isolation it suffers from a range of libertarian problems (based primarily on Real Politik deficiency), including those you note.

    [Reply]

    Brett Stevens Reply:

    Real Politik is a beast.

    The part of it I struggle with: the team with the most people (often) wins.

    This drives countries to overpopulate and self-destruct.

    [Reply]

    Xoth Reply:

    Alas, the author seems to accept the issues as framed by his opponents, stodgy leftist bureaucrats with zero interest in anything like it. It seems for the same reasons (bureaucratic stranglehold) quite unlikely that this would be implemented anywhere in the West in the current climate.

    The first problem is that the newcomers are permitted to vote, right? NRx territory. Solve it by having the area owned by a private consortium with the right to sell leaseholds, rent out land, etc. At commencement, set up a (carefully written) basic judicial charter for all that can be handled locally as well as ways to revise this locally, and punt any remaining issues to the host country.

    The second issue is external meddling. Hong Kong could avoid this for a long time by being small and far away. Perhaps it can be solved for a SEZ by the host country signing a lease of 499 years (or whatever), pledging not to intervene in the meantime. In order to make it workable, perhaps you have to use a more complex setup a la Hong Kong, such that country A leases from B then sells the lease to the consortium … etc. Nearly everything judicial should by ironclad agreement be handled by the SEZ. Democratic issues can be mostly avoided by considering if there is any need to have a native population at all. Let them vote in their home countries if they want to.

    I’d recommend trialing this a few times to get the details right.

    [Reply]

    Orthodox Reply:

    If your goal is to make money then why be surprised when you lose sovereignty? If your goal is to preserve sovereignty you should implement policies designed to do so, even if it depresses wealth formation. Or rather focus on intergenerational wealth formation, low time preference behaviors, to screen out the rabbits.

    [Reply]

    Posted on June 16th, 2016 at 3:13 pm Reply | Quote
  • RxFerret Says:

    https://www.amazon.com/Oath-Fealty-Larry-Niven-ebook/dp/B004LRPQQ6

    [Reply]

    Posted on June 16th, 2016 at 3:26 pm Reply | Quote
  • michael Says:

    Ive been saying we should get Putin to give us Kalingrad for such a purpose its perfect win win

    [Reply]

    sobl Reply:

    Agree so much I wrote about it in January

    http://www.socialmatter.net/2016/01/03/amerikanskiy-zones/

    [Reply]

    michael Reply:

    Yes thats about what i have been thinking Putin get high IQ wealthy to start hong kong like economic zone it can tax and beefit from it gets citizens that will again have the dignity and security whites require for family formation,Both sides get huge PR propaganda against cathedral and of course we get a nuclear weapons system and a soverign legitimacy that cant be cathedralled away. Kalingrad russia alsmost passed on so its a geographically isolated area to the but closer to northern western europe and of course Prussian history.Mainly I just think its orders of magnitude more possible than AI robots being anointed the new holy roman emperor

    [Reply]

    Chris B Reply:

    Moldbug covered this shit with seasteading. Social matter aka hestia took up patri friedman’s position. So what is Neoreaction? Patri Friedman derived thinking. That needs to be addressed.

    [Reply]

    Aeroguy Reply:

    An SEZ with a “peaceful nuclear power program”.

    [Reply]

    SOBL Reply:

    Oh hi your excellency the Pope of Moldbuggians. What doth thou sayeth to the rest of us plebians?

    The Putin Amerikanskiy Zone idea is different from Seasteading. If you werent in such a rush to just disagree with people and mentally masturbate via argument, you’d see that.

    Lighten up Francis.

    [Reply]

    Chris B Reply:

    @Sobl there is the gate keeping, and it sure as hell isn’t gatekeeping anything of value except republicanism and watered down alt-rightism. Citing moldbug is a cause for ridicule. So Moldbug and rejection of imperium in imperio are not neoreaction.

    [Reply]

    sobl Reply:

    So wise, knew I could count on you, which is why you get to wear the big, fancy hat. Please reread Moldbug, divine his wisdom as the one true disciple of the Gospel and get back to us.

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    Pope of Moldbug, or Savonarola (preaching against the Old Whig abominations desecrating Peter’s Throne)?

    Chris B Reply:

    @sobl moldbug aka imperium in imperio is the claim that the structure of governance is not neutral, but in fact decisive in the direction of culture and ideas. Imperium in imperio equates to mindless equality production regardless of coherence. From this you can deduce the actions of different factions in an imperium in imperio system, and the general bulshit of the political theory in such a system (I am researching pol theory history and it is being confirmed.)The anglo-US elite augmented by diversity run the whole world from Havard. Anything that smells of opposition gets NATO stuck up its ass.
    @admin sure, I am renouncing despotic rule. ok.

    [Reply]

    Posted on June 16th, 2016 at 7:15 pm Reply | Quote
  • Ahote Says:

    One Irradiated Watson did a three-part post on Gurgaon, India’s free city that luckily came about (thanks to efficient corruption system in one of India’s provinces): Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3.

    One guy made a good comment on the Gurgaon:
    I can think of a bunch of reasons why a large and centralized coal-fired power station is not the cheapest and most efficient supplier of power over a multitude of diesel generators.

    The primary reason that comes to mind is that when the city is at a rapid expansion phase, tenancy will be low at first, the coal fired station requires building something much bigger than the immediate capacity, in order to handle future full tenancy. Cost of money is about 10% in India, and you can only borrow up to 50% of the value of the property you are securing against. A big capital expense that doesn’t get fully utilized will end up costing you far more in interest payments than the fuel efficiency you are saving.

    Diesel is flexible, you can buy a little or a lot. I’m sure there’s an excellent second hand machinery market in India where diesel generators change hands often, but no such fluid market in large power stations. What’s more diesel generators can start and stop at short notice, so if main grid power is provided by government in an unreliable way, you can use your diesel on an occasional basis to fill in the gaps, but with a big station you must keep it running (and consuming fuel).

    Also with maintenance, more people can maintain diesel, because it’s simply a more common technology, you will require dedicated specialists to operate and maintain your power station. Buying from a smaller pool of specialists increases labor costs.

    People get hung up on fuel costs, but the total cost of everything (including going into debt to buy capital) is what matters.

    Getting to the question of why private estates don’t link to each other, copper theft is quite high in India. Yes you can put security onto it and guard your copper, but that’s a cost. I’m not sure what their contract law is like, but given some of the famous cases where they are having difficulty getting rape convictions under circumstances that I would have thought was a no brainer, there may be reasons why the only guarantee of supply is owning your own generators.

    On more point that often comes up in engineering is the tech factor. Suppose we have reached the point of high tenancy, guaranteed strong future demand for electricity, we have somehow buried the copper and secured it, and have all the right contracts in place. But next year, the same large coal fired power station will be cheaper to buy because technology has improved. Control systems are improving, metallurgy is improving, building techniques are improving and so it goes. If you build next year, the machine will not only be cheaper, but it will work better!

    Of course, this applies every year.

    There’s a big danger in spending a lot of effort to over-engineer your design at an early stage, in the hope of a long term payback that never comes. Your competitor gets by on the very minimum shoestring investment, stays lean, keeps the debt levels down, and down the track buys better gear than you have, for less money… sweeps the table.

    [Reply]

    Alrenous Reply:

    +1, aside from the tech factor.

    It’s not hard to price the factor in. The only problem is judging exactly how long a payback period to aim for. However, the standard is two years, and that seems about right to me. With the upfront costs dropping, the payback period will drop with them. The right time to build a plant is before your competitor builds a plant, but after the 2-year cutoff. So, at the 2-year cutoff, basically.

    Though…does India do competition in coal plants? If not, then economics will play at best a tertiary role in the decision regardless.

    [Reply]

    michael Reply:

    Doesnt india have mountains I run my place on hydro electric

    [Reply]

    SVErshov Reply:

    mostly small hyrdo plants, only serve local needs. burocratic bariers enormouse few years of planing and aprovals.

    [Reply]

    SVErshov Reply:

    how many KW do you have? if you some unused power, why not mine bitcoins, I can help with technicalities.

    [Reply]

    SVErshov Reply:

    Ahote, Gurgoan and Noida with New Delhi – hell on earth. Gurgaon has no water, only one small channel with Yamuna’s poluted water. over 1000 chemical industries discharge untreated water to Yamuna. it is not advisable even to touch this watet prior to RO purification. ground water not reachable in 100m deep wells and also heavy poluted with arsenic and pesticides. traffic is nightmare.

    usually industrial countries are not good for living.

    [Reply]

    Ahote Reply:

    People conveniently seem to ignore things like reality, imagine a perfect utopia is possible everywhere (where in truth it’s impossible anywhere). The thing is, industrial hell is the best India can do right now, considering the quality of India’s government, I mean, it beats mass famine.

    [Reply]

    Posted on June 16th, 2016 at 11:28 pm Reply | Quote
  • Dividualist Says:

    It’s not clear to me what is the Cathedral’s / local political class’s incentive in allowing this. I get it, for a lower % of tax revenue they are getting a higher tax base. But their goal is status, not money per se. Why would they tolerate corps that run far, far efficient bureucracioes than them and thus shame / low-status them?

    [Reply]

    michael Reply:

    They wont allow it violates prog rule that libertarian level playing fields are racist.Dont you know cities are make work factories for the talented half of niggers without them all niggers would be on welfare while on crime sprees and i dont mean just the black ones. Its not simply the civil service that would be lost but cities enforce affirmative action in a host of ways from out right quotas to running the whites out, without cities all minorities would be obviously useless and a big problem for the cathedral.

    [Reply]

    Posted on June 17th, 2016 at 11:32 am Reply | Quote
  • T. Kekkonen Says:

    Mangonels in 3… 2…

    [Reply]

    Posted on June 17th, 2016 at 3:01 pm Reply | Quote
  • TheDividualist Says:

    Offtopic, but: currently reading a million debates about wether to fork / not fork Ethereum in order to get money back from the hacker and “bail out” DAO investors, and I would like to ask a question here because I noticed something interesting. Is there something in the mindset of autistic people, geeks, or libertarians (as the three group overlap) that makes them insensitive to scope, to quantity? I mean, they tend to think roughly like this: if I treat 1 unit of something a certain way, by a certain rule then I will also treat a billion units of something the same way. So it seems to me that at some level in the geek mind the rule how to treat X depends purely on what X is and not HOW MUCH there is of X. So in the geek mind principles are always followed, no such thing as too big to fail – which is at some level a direct rejection of utilitarianism. The neurotypical mind is less principled because more sensitive to quantity, the neurotypical does not treat a billion X the same way as one X because the neurotypical mind is at some level utilitarian.

    For example, after 9/11 and WOT geeks tended to argue you don’t violate human rights and don’t torture suspects at Gitmo and so on, you stick to principle, no matter how big the terror danger is. While more neurotypical minds which tend to be more utilitarian tended to think the response needs to be tailored to the quality of the problem, civil rights and similar principles are all fine as long as facing only small dangers, but big catastrophic dangers override them.

    Is this a real pattern? People of a more autistic mind like rigid principles, because if you want different rules for small and big they typically ask you who is going to decide what is too big? And I think this dislike for this type of uncertainty comes from either the inability or unwillingness to predict how a community, how a bunch of humans is going to decide. While neurotypicals more easily accept this kind of uncertainty because they can play that social game better, they have a good prediction of what in a given situation too small or too big is going to be. Am I on the right track?

    I personally never liked principles in this sense, principles like never negotiate with terrorists, never torture suspects or never bail out investors. I tend to think more in a utilitarian, expediency-oriented way although accepting principles as heuristics, as rules of thumb but exceptions must be. I think the philosopher’s John Kekes got it right in The Morality Of Pluralism, that values always conflict and there there are no overriding values so only common sense, expediency based i.e. human decisions are possible.

    [Reply]

    ||||| Reply:

    “Is there something in the mindset of autistic people, geeks, or libertarians (as the three group overlap) that makes them insensitive to scope, to quantity?”

    Yes.

    https://www.sciencenews.org/article/bayesian-reasoning-implicated-some-mental-disorders

    “New data, however, caution against a too-simple explanation. In an experiment presented in New York City in April at the annual meeting of the Cognitive Neuroscience Society, 20 adults with and without autism had to quickly hit a certain key on a keyboard when they saw its associated target on a screen. Their job was made easier because the targets came in a certain sequence. All of the participants improved as they learned which keys to expect. But when the sequence changed to a new one, people with autism faltered. This result suggests that they learned prior expectations just fine, but had trouble updating them as conditions changed, said cognitive neuroscientist Owen Parsons of the University of Cambridge.”

    You have to bash their skulls with paradoxes, error management theory and limit constructions over and over and over and over and over and over and over until they get the damn point. Not that tough to achieve once you understand it (they’re no good at arguing if you’re fluent in their dialect) but boy is it tiresome.

    [Reply]

    Posted on June 17th, 2016 at 3:11 pm Reply | Quote
  • Neoreaction is…Patri Friedman? – reactionaryfuture Says:

    […] Free Cities […]

    Posted on June 17th, 2016 at 4:34 pm Reply | Quote
  • SVErshov Says:

    one of the key issue for such cities in demolishing of aging ifrustructure and industries. or even as Forrester proposed, preemptive demolishing. what a reason to wait till mature business stagnate, and become a parasite, demolish it and keep number of new enterpires high. nowadays, 40 years after publication of Forrester’s Urban Dynamics, his concept slowly ‘been recognized as valid around the world (Seetharam and Yuen 2010). ‘

    short introduction:

    URBAN DYNAMICS
    A SYSTEMS THINKING FRAMEWORK FOR ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND PLANNING
    KHALID SAEED

    [Reply]

    Posted on June 18th, 2016 at 1:47 pm Reply | Quote
  • cyborg_nomade Says:

    this is really, truly beautiful.
    I wonder if the military and judiciary equilibrium of power is able to produce more independent SEZs. in Brazil, federated states have a military police, sometimes more effective than the army, but cities are still laughably weak by themselves (Dilma had the municipal guards armed with lethal guns, but that’s still too little). the judiciary seems also more keen to state secession than municipal. but maybe more independent states can produce more independent SEZs. São Paulo could be a good beginning.

    [Reply]

    Posted on June 18th, 2016 at 9:40 pm Reply | Quote
  • cyborg_nomade Says:

    one thing an economist friend reminded me today: institutional sorting is subordinate to comparative land rents. a good city in Tibet is never going to have more people, or be able to completely secede from its mother country, as much as a natural port as New York

    [Reply]

    Posted on June 18th, 2016 at 9:45 pm Reply | Quote
  • This Week in Reaction (2016/06/19) - Social Matter Says:

    […] too at Land’s: Free Cities. Reactionary Future approves (so long as you don’t call them “liberal”). I think […]

    Posted on February 24th, 2017 at 5:17 am Reply | Quote

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