Orion Digest №32 — The Federation and the Farmer
On the topic of a stateless society, let us work through a thought experiment about an important aspect of world federation — those that simply refuse to join in. Imagine, if you will, that we have formed an eco-socialist federation, and we are busy taking a census of all our citizens. We come across a small homestead, a farm maintained by one person, who is not a federation citizen. Despite any offers to incorporate within the community, the farmer does not wish to join the federation, pay taxes, or accept any benefits — they want to remain separate, with their land and resources belonging solely to them. The question is, how do we address this situation?
The mindset is understandable — as we mentioned last issue, there are many who feel that the mechanics of society can be coercive, and would rather live freely without any sort of requirement or allegiance to a higher power. The farmer wouldn’t have chosen to be born into a federation, and while farming and being self-sufficient may require more work, they may find that a satisfying and acceptable lifestyle. From that point of view, being compelled to join the federation would feel like an intrusion upon their own little world, especially when they were hardly bothering us. Morally, it’s hard to argue the case against it.
On the other hand, from the federation’s point of view, excluding citizens and leaving land open for anyone to move out and take sets an example that could be followed by many more people, and if the federation just allows anyone to leave, imagine the swathes of territory and population that would be lost. If our goal is to come together and unite as a world, should we prioritize the unity or the freedom of citizens to do as they please? Divergent factions within a world federation could emerge with no legal requirement to stay, and we could split apart into separate nations once more. Granted, none of this is guaranteed, and so long as a federation proves beneficial for its members, there will be little reason to leave. However, especially in a federation’s early years, there will be struggles and compromises that test the resolve of member nations, difficult but altogether necessary.
The obvious option, at first, is to try negotiation. Offer the option of citizenship and trade with the farmer, including citizen’s welfare and healthcare benefits, as well as transportation options out to the country area, and ecologically friendly resources for farming and energy usage. If the farmer has children, we could provide schooling and job opportunities for them. We could also insist on the ability of the farmer to become a global citizen, being able to vote and run in regional, national, and global elections in order to help contribute to making the world a better place.
Still, they might refuse even offered these opportunities, being perfectly content with where they are, and unwilling to budge. The farmer tells us that they don’t need to be a member of our federation, and that the land belongs to them, because they live there. If we tax them or claim possession of their land, it will be theft, and the only way they will budge is if we move in and force them to. Morally and logistically, it’s not worth it to send in law enforcement to take a farmer’s home from them for just living there, peacefully. Even with further attempts to negotiate and make offers, the farmer in this scenario will not accept anything to convince them to integrate into the federation.
This scenario can be stretched farther into entire nations. If we create a federation with a strict requirement (economically, politically, and morally), there will likely be nations that refuse to join, and unfortunately, we may deal with some nations that will not be budged with diplomacy. We may reach an impasse just like we have with the farmer where, while our neighbors hold no ill will against us, and will not take action, they will also not budge, no matter what we offer them in exchange to join us. It would take military action to get them to join, and if we do that, all we will add to our federation is bitter resentment from war-ravaged people.
Whether with one farmer or several nations, the problem stands — if we have a goal of operating as one system throughout the entire world, how do we stick to our standards when facing those that will not be convinced? The military option, while logically on the table, is not one we should consider just because they will not join. They have good reason to remain independent, and if possible, we should make diplomatic efforts to convince them why membership would be best for them, instead of using force, which undermines our character and argument. But, per the terms of this scenario, these attempts will be fruitless. So what do we do?
In the end, the only thing we can do is wait. If we do not stick to our morals, then we break the fundamental promise of our federation by becoming an imperialist superpower rather than a democratic collection of allied states. While revolution involves the consent of the people, if the citizens of a nation don’t outright wish to join, then all we can do is ask and remain open for them and future generations. Same with the farmer — even if it sets an example for others, if the farmer had the land first, and absolutely does not want to become a citizen, we will simply wait and keep the option open, and ask once again with their children.
Surely, we can make strides by expanding into the land around the farm, or teaching future generations in the neighboring nations about the federation, but these investments still require consent from parties involved. We would not take land occupied by others, nor would any action happen unless future generations decided to move for change and entry into the federation. In the end, while we would keep pushing, if every successive generation that lived on the farm told us ‘no’, it would be our duty as a federation to respect those wishes. Our goal is to become a federation that represents all the world, but we must also be one that respects all the world as well.
- DKTC FL