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Similar to this question, but on the galactic scale:

What would life be like for the common people on a libertarian planet?

My specific questions:

- How could a libertarian-minded galactic government be structured? *

- What would be the extent of the government's influence between worlds? **

- How would citizens exercise voting rights under this government? ***

In this Quora answer, which imagines what an Objectivist utopia might be like, https://www.quora.com/Objectivism/If-everyone-were-an-Objectivist-what-would-society-look-like-and-how-would-it-function, we get some extrapolations:

  • Government would be restricted to police, military, and courts
  • No entitlements, or regulatory agencies of any kind
  • No Fed and no inflation
  • Paper notes backed by hard money would be issued by private banks

Finally, here is a brief, worldbuilding scenario to set the stage:

I imagine a capital world, with a world government similar to a representative democracy, that decides to begin interstellar colonization, once relatively cheap interstellar travel is made possible. A variety of corporate charters are arranged between the government and private industries to assist in carrying out these expeditions to settle colony worlds. Eventually, these corporate charters are successful through a combination of support from the capital world and bootstrapping. Ultimately, however, the charters reject the legislative authority of the capital world, and they band together to supplant its ruling body. As a result, the capital world's government is reduced to a purely administrative role that best suits a libertarian ideology of governance. The worlds once under the control of the capital world's government become the property of the corporate charters, and a new ruling body is established to mediate economic(?) relationships between owners.

* Suppose there are 500 systems, most of which are owned by a variety of publicly-owned and privately-owned corporations, wealthy families, or extremely wealthy individuals. In general I am assuming that it's necessary for worlds to interact/trade with each other, and that the cost of moving resources between them is not any more tremendous than the cost to move resources between countries today.

** Let's assume that FTL travel is possible along a heretofore undiscovered absolute frame of reference, and time travel isn't possible by using it. You can get from the edge of the galaxy to the galactic center in a few months, but the more expensive your ship the faster you can go. Pure information can travel with this technology 10x faster than the fastest ship. Individuals own spaceships that have the capacity to travel within a star system in much the same way people own cars today, but traveling between star systems requires more expensive spaceships that only corporations or really wealthy individuals might own (comparable to the availability of private airplanes to individuals today).

*** There are no sentient aliens, only humans in this scenario.

Also relevant:

How could a galactic empire work?

Plutocracy 101 - Business Governance for Dummies?

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  • $\begingroup$ In that Quora answer that formulated those extrapolations, it specifically said there are police, a military, and courts to enforce the rule of law. Just no regulatory agencies like the EPA or the FCC, and so on. [This was in response to a comment that was deleted.] $\endgroup$ – alkah3st Feb 29 '16 at 3:53
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    $\begingroup$ On the point of No Fed and no inflation, this is completely false. Inflation is a natural phenomena. It happens when an economy/society experiences financial growth - which used to be extremely rare before the industrial revolution. The first time inflation was documented to happen - the Price Revolution - happened because the Spaniards brought back gold from the Americas - causing gold to be more common/plentiful than before - causing the value of gold to drop. Since back then gold = money, it basically caused the value of money to drop which is reflected by the prices of everything to rise $\endgroup$ – slebetman Feb 29 '16 at 4:16
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    $\begingroup$ @slebetman What the OP means is that there will be no federal inflation, since currency will be tied to physical materials with actual value, instead of just constant money printing, causing inflation that way. At least, that's what I'm extrapolating. $\endgroup$ – Xandar The Zenon Feb 29 '16 at 4:19
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    $\begingroup$ @XandarTheZenon: My point is tying money to physical materials makes inflation much more unpredictable and uncontrollable. When inflation do happen (someone discovers a big mine) it becomes really bad and nobody except the person who owns that mine can control it. You just need to look at the commodities market (including gold) to see how unstable it is. $\endgroup$ – slebetman Feb 29 '16 at 4:21
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    $\begingroup$ The government of James Schmitz's Hub stories was interstellar and rather libertarian. $\endgroup$ – Brythan Feb 29 '16 at 6:05
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How would a Libertarian Galaxy differ from a Libertarian Planet?

  • A planet has a finite surface area. Many libertarian models tacitly assume that there is infinite land out West, where nobody lives except for injuns who don't count (because they don't claim land the libertarian way). The galaxy might not have infinite space for expansion, but it comes close enough that you can see infinity on a clear day.
  • A planet can have near-instant global data exchange. You can set up things like public key verification of contracts, reputation networks/checking, debate on political issues. In your galaxy, it can take weeks or months to get an answer back.
  • A planet has a single ecosphere. If John Doe starts a steel furnace, or to farm with pesticides, or to use "reserve" antibiotics liberally on his poultry, everybody is affected. In the galaxy, John Doe risks only one planet if there are decent quarantine measures.

So what might happen?

  • The legislative has planets elect/select representatives for a sector parliament, and the sector parliament elect/select representatives for the galactic parliament. Possibly with a few levels in between. I wrote "elect/select" because it might be something like the US Senators prior to the 17th amendment. (There is a classic science fiction RPG where that notion shows up.)
  • Entire systems could become "black hole" company towns. The only starships calling at the company port belong to the company, the only FTL communications systems belong to the company, and no information or workers get in or out, ever. On a planet, that would require fences and guards, and someone might ask questions. In the galaxy, it merely requires space traffic control rules. Or do the Galactic Government police show up to check? On what basis?
  • Can individuals claim an entire planet as their homestead if they arrived there first? If so, those who staked their claims early in the expansion phase, near the densely settled sectors, will be incredibly rich today.

Addition:

  • A logical purpose for the central government would be to organize the common defense. Details depend on the threats. The question specified no aliens, but are there other human nations? If not, the military would only be needed for coast guard or police style operations. Better leave that to a police.
  • Many courts and police will operate on the planetary level, but there needs to be information interchange between cops. Will it be FBI or Interpol? Investigating agents or just information interchange? That is connected to the question what galactic courts do. Is there any galactic law for the galactic Feds to enforce, or is it just planetary law?
  • What law applies to interstellar trade and contracts? Would the contracting parties select one of the involved planets, or is there galactic law? And what if the choice of one planet is missing? What happens if John Doe works and dies on World A, and then Jane Doe claims to be the heir according to the family law on World B while Jim Doe claims to be the heir according to the family law on World C?
  • Does the galactic government recognize and enforce human and civil rights? Which agencies do that?
  • Would even a minimum-regulation galactic government set standards for telecommunications and information interchange protocols? Are there galactic IP adress numbers? Identity papers with unique personal IDs?
  • Even if the galactic government does very little, it needs funding to do that. Does it control the collection of these taxes or is it dependent on planetary contributions? Either way, it would have to define accounting standards for the purpose of galactic taxation only. Such standards have a way of becoming de-facto standards for other purposes.
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  • $\begingroup$ @om Thanks for your answer, what would you say would be the function of elected representatives once they converge at the galactic senate? What matters would they primarily vote on? To answer your question - sure, I imagine in this scenario individuals could try to claim a planet as their homestead if they arrive there first. In this particular scenario the initial exploration was accomplished by corporate charters set up by the fallen central government, so I imagine these charters would be wildly rich after the fact. $\endgroup$ – alkah3st Feb 29 '16 at 21:12
  • $\begingroup$ II don't think you understand what libertarianism is. You seem to state it from a person with a narcissistic view of politics. (And quite possibly a slanted view of history.) Besides, pesticides that kill malaria carrying mosquitos and have never been concretely proven to harm people or the environment should probably be legal. $\endgroup$ – Xandar The Zenon Mar 1 '16 at 4:21
  • $\begingroup$ Especially when the exact opposite has often been found, especially in wiping out deadly diseases. And I think we both know what I'm talking about. $\endgroup$ – Xandar The Zenon Mar 1 '16 at 4:29
  • $\begingroup$ @XandarTheZenon, many political systems look compelling in theory and reveal their true flaws in practice. I'm certainly starting with my own set of experiences and views. I would call myself a pro-regulation, pro-state person, not because state intervention is good but because otherwise a few sociopaths will wreck it for everybody. Tragedy of the commons and all that. $\endgroup$ – o.m. Mar 1 '16 at 6:10
  • $\begingroup$ I think Thomas Paine summarizes my opinion of government. "Government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state, an intolerable one." - Thomas Paine. Governments are unfortunately necessary, but their power should be limited to the utmost extent, where it can still effectively fulfill its duties of protecting the citizen's rights. $\endgroup$ – Xandar The Zenon Mar 1 '16 at 6:23
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This type of government that you are suggesting in a sense reminds me of the Galactic Republic of the period stretching from 25,053 BBY all the way until the end of it by its demise by economic decline coupled with a rise in the presence of the military junta that Palpatine helped to support and ferment the foundation of his Galactic Empire. However, the key difference is that the Galactic Republic wasn't even a democracy at all as the chancellor was appointed by the senate and as the senators themselves were appointed to their positions of power by the kings, queens, dukes, and emperors and or empresses that supported their appointment to the senate. Additionally, I strongly believe that the Galactic Republic should not be compared to the United States both culturally as well as economically but rather to that of the Holy Roman Empire but without the religion as such. More so than ever, the Galactic Republic was a type of feudal confederacy that happened to be technologically advanced but socially backwards.

Besides the Galactic Republic

It should be noted that your model of a libertarian multi planetary interstellar corporatocracy would lead to a lot of problems. Though the idea of this is quite interesting as something like this is most likely going to happen in the next century or two as part of the expansion of our domain.

The first problem is the fact that any large structure of corporate power without regulation from the government can lead to abuse by those who work at the lower end of the scale in this system as they would be more vulnerable to exploitation. Without a doubt, it is the dream of those who want to create a world with an abundance of resources and no taxes that such an idea would come to fruition. Now, in spite of all of this and the possible socialist rhetoric, I have to say the idea of a small government in terms of its military hegemony would be a good thing that would stay out of matters concerning the smaller aspects to the colonies that they administer. But as with matters in correspondence to economic matters of justice, there should definitely be the government to administer such a thing.

We must not forget that when the government is in control of the corporation, it follows down the path of two roads as taken from the wisdom of history. The first is that the people as well as small businesses and or enterprises hugely benefit off of this to the point were the monopolies are broken and that everyone is able to live a decent life for themselves.

However, we should be weary of the fascistic form of government control over the corporation, which is the second as well as the more totalitarian path that only adds to the war machine of that particular ideology on a monstrous Orwellian scale without precedent.

In summation don't be like Mussolini, Hitler, Stalin, Togo, or even the Sith Empire when it comes to matters concerning economics. But don't take the advice of corporate power either.

Lastly, I'm open to criticism of the constructive type.

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  • $\begingroup$ Corporations are themselves a government construct... Given a strong enough tort system and no personal liability shield as is the way of things in the US, it becomes far less likely that any "corporation" as such could rise to a level of exerting undue influence. It then falls to the judiciary to be incorruptible to make such a society function $\endgroup$ – JRaymond Mar 1 '16 at 20:00
  • $\begingroup$ @JRaymond "It then falls to the judiciary to be incorruptible..." LOL. You could have just straight out said that it is fundamentally impossible. And the issue of partial treatment would extend to all interactions, not just improper ones in judiciary. Bigger customers do get better deals and more successful entrepreneurs get better offers. So wealth would still concentrate into large entities. The changes you propose would change the form though. Maybe something more similar to old trade companies or even hansa? Might be interesting concept to develop further. $\endgroup$ – Ville Niemi Mar 1 '16 at 21:20
  • $\begingroup$ @VilleNiemi wealth would concentrate to some extent, but when people's livelihoods are just as subject to seizure under common law liability, they tend to be more careful $\endgroup$ – JRaymond Mar 1 '16 at 21:37
  • $\begingroup$ @JRaymond Yes, like I said it would be interesting in its effects on how people would organize their businesses. It might even be a worthy idea to push in the real world. But it wouldn't change the fundamental economics. $\endgroup$ – Ville Niemi Mar 1 '16 at 21:48
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Let's say for a second that you don't have FTL.

You still have time dilation. What does it matter if it takes a million years to cross the galaxy if you only experience two (for the whole galaxy)?

What would happen is that instead of living on planets, people would either live in orbit around black holes (there are the only things basically that you can orbit near the speed of light) or in ships. People only occasionally visit planets. Basically no time passes (relative the ships) whilst there.

The central planet (or black hole) can't control anything, since messages and ships travel basically the same speed. Additionally, its hard to operate a military in space. You basically have a confederacy.

People can also just go by themselves on ships, sort of like a micronation. As long as you stay out of shipping lanes, you're unlikely to contact anyone.

It's hard to have a strong central government under these conditions. Ships are their own entities, and most importantly, space is big. You can't stop free trade or regulate moral behavior. You would have to have a huge population explosion if you want enough police to police an entire galaxy (not to mention maneuverability, since you can only really change direction by slingshotting around a black hole).

So, a libertarian country is natural, sort of like the wild west.

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    $\begingroup$ This is an interesting concept. In this kind of scenario where time dilation has to be factored into trading, you end up having economic consequences such as in Paul Krugman's Theory of Interstellar Trade princeton.edu/~pkrugman/interstellar.pdf. I don't see however how this necessitates a libertarian outcome. These little black hole islands of civilization could just as easily adopt any other form of government. It also becomes very difficult to tell stories following specific characters across multiple settings, unless they each live for a very, very long time. $\endgroup$ – alkah3st Feb 29 '16 at 21:43
  • $\begingroup$ @alkah3st I'm saying it could be like the wild west or the open ocean. Black holes would be like ports, you couldn't stay long. $\endgroup$ – PyRulez Feb 29 '16 at 21:45
  • $\begingroup$ Yes. They would also be very dangerous to visit, since staying for too long could mean great gulfs of time have passed relative to outside observers. $\endgroup$ – alkah3st Feb 29 '16 at 21:50
  • $\begingroup$ If your characters are traveling at high STL speeds, then time dilation will allow your characters to live very long lives. Add in some plausible life extension therapies and hibernation sleep between stars and from a ground pounder's perspective, they might live millennia. $\endgroup$ – Jim2B Mar 1 '16 at 3:22
  • $\begingroup$ @Jim2B relative to the nature people, everyone lives millennia (except themselves, of course). $\endgroup$ – PyRulez Mar 1 '16 at 3:26
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That depends on what sort of libertarian governance we're talking here. Are we looking at more of a Nozick type 'Minarchist' state? Or are you thinking something more like a Rothbardian anarcho-capitalist society?

Minarchy

Governance is limited to those set of functions making sure that individual rights (Life, Liberty, Pursuit of Property) are maintained and all transactions are voluntary. In an interstellar context, I find it unlikely that such provisions are enforce-able on intra-planetary entities (invasion is improbable, atmospheric bombardment to indiscriminate to be remotely ethical). So these governance provisions would be restricted to relationships between worlds: preventing and punishing military actions between member states, defending member states from outside attacks, and making sure that trade agreements between worlds were entered into on a voluntary basis. Worlds would be free to leave this charter at any time, and non-payment to the confederation would void their membership and protections

Ancap

Much like Nozick, but without a formal government. Instead, you would have multiple, private rights protection and arbitration entities formally engaging in and enforcing contracts. Trade agreements are entered into and registered with an arbitrator decided by both parties with the contractual obligations (and enforcement mechanisms, and funding for said mechanisms) built in to the agreements. Again, unless this state evolved organically on the loosely associated planets, it's not a system that can be imposed on the actual populations of the worlds in question. Anarcho-capitalism is an organic system of spontaneous order, and while it might exist on the member worlds, its non-existence in the member states would be unrelated to how the worlds themselves interact, other than that an ancap planet would likely have multiple entities represented in the interstellar environment, as opposed to one world trade/negotiation setup

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My guess would be like a giant, hopefully slightly better version of the United States, a little bit more leaning towards libertarianism and conservative values.

The governments in general

I'm going to say you will have a very very large representative republic with different levels of government, and probably a federation on the level of solar systems. Also, so many confusing electorates.

Levels of government

Like in the United States, you would have your state government. Below that, you might have county or city governments. Above the state you would have what is comparable to our national government, then a continental government, then a planetary government, then a solar system government. I would then think that you would have a federation, or confederation of solar systems.

Elections

Now you have to deal with elections, so people ar represented as they wish to be. This is kind of confusing, I'm not sure exactly how it would work. The people would probably vote in every election. A candidate would win a state by popular vote, then a country, then a continent, then a planet, then a solar system. These governments would also choose their representatives, and these two groups would reconcile each other to make decisions. The federation of star systems would simply choose representatives, to help interact with other members of the federation.

Edit - Above the level of continental, there might be elected voters. For example, politician X has continually made decisions we like, and now he is running for elected voter. Each nation would elect its small group or single voter, and he votes on the global, solar system, and galactic level.

The danger of this is that as you make your governments larger and larger, it becomes harder to connect to the individual people you are striving to protect. The closer the government is to the people, the easier it is for them to interact with it. For example, you go to every city council meeting, and you talk straight to the city about your needs. Then you go and vote for representatives of your state, who you can probably send letters to that rarely recieve answers, and you can attend their meetings and listen to what they have to say. And at every increasing level, you have less to do with the government, because more people are influencing the way the government is going.

Court System

I would think that there would be courts at every level, with appointed judges who are approved by voters, in the manner aforementioned. They interpret the laws and constitution hopefully in the way the people want.

Legislative authority

Despite what you said, a legislative part of your government is a necessity. No matter inclusive your constitution is, there will always be new innovations, loopholes, and practices that will no be covered. When these things come into conflict with your citizen's rights, new legislation will have to be made. Like threatening to fire your dependent workers unless they build a bridge over an active volcano wearing inadequate heat suits and hang form flimsy ropes. That catch on fire. Hopefully your legislative branch will have more restrictions on what it can regulate and how it gains approval. And not outlaw stupid things that make no sense, like almost harmless food dyes, how big your toilets can be, and helpful pesticides that help prevent bug spread diseases and have never been proven to be harmful to birds. Cough hack cough hack.

Edit - To improve your legislative body, they might only be able to create laws regarding certain decisions the courts make. So someone who for some reason or another can only get one job, then sues the company because the volcano bridge building is extraordinarily dangerous. The legislative authority of the planet, let's say, then can outlaw whatever makes the practice so dangerous. (And no, I don't mean they'd outlaw volcanoes.)

Responsibilities of government

Government would have a lot fewer responsibilities than today. A very, very limited regulation on trade, enough to stop the volcano bridge building with flammable ropes. Religion would not play any part in the government, in any way. Although I think it would fall under freedom of speech. The government would also help to facilitate relations between the different branches and areas of the solar systems, on different levels. After all, different areas will have different laws. But their main responsibility, and the one the most focus would be place on would be ptoecting the rights of the citizens and making sure they are following the laws and that the laws are fair.

Constitution

Your constitution is the most important part of your government, and it is the basis on which your entire government is rooted. It needs to be extremely precise, and delegate powers carefully. It would also help to encompass the ideals of th government, what is trying to be accomplished by it, and how to accomplish this. It would also tell what the government should not and can not do.

Communication

Edit - Wit regards to communication delay, to help with this, terms might be a lot longer, or elections might take a longer period of time. Unless you were to invent some kind of FTL communication, as you have done with travel. Or you could have galactic couriers, which head to the different solar systems and project news.

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    $\begingroup$ I don't think that the US brand of federalism would scale well to an interplanetary society... How can laws passed for the purposes of earth like worlds support the needs of the barren colonies? Your government relies too heavily on optimism that a government built with a mind for restraint would stay that way when exposed to the trappings of power ("Won't somebody please think of the children?!?!") $\endgroup$ – JRaymond Mar 1 '16 at 20:09
  • $\begingroup$ Also, this doesn't answer the question. $\endgroup$ – alkah3st Mar 1 '16 at 20:47
  • $\begingroup$ I think you have me confused with a different user. $\endgroup$ – alkah3st Mar 1 '16 at 21:21
  • $\begingroup$ Oh, sorry, that was o.m. $\endgroup$ – Xandar The Zenon Mar 1 '16 at 21:22
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    $\begingroup$ Would direct elections at all levels work with the communications delay which was specified in the question? And your "responsibilities of government" paragraph opens a can of worms when you want to make sure that the citizens are following the law. Does that mean proactive enforcement of the (few?) regulations or only the enforcement of court judgements? If the former, you set a kernel for a growing galactic government, like the interpretation of interstate commerce in the real world. $\endgroup$ – o.m. Mar 4 '16 at 6:09

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