This site seeks to distinguish the liberal archipelago from other formulations of liberty, particularly more individualistic, proprietarian or “right libertarian” formulations. How does a strict individualist interact with other persons freely associating in communities?

The liberal archipelago, as I imagine it, is a federation of intentional communities. Practically all constraints on individual behavior are community standards, determined by a consensus of community members. No authority outside of a community imposes any standard on a community other than individual rights to life and liberty, the right to liberty being a right to exit any community at will to join another community. Community standards also govern resources, other than community members, and these resources, principally natural resources like the land, constitute the community’s property.

“Community’s property” does not suggest that resources within a community are owned communally, only that the resources are governed by the community’s standards and not by standards imposed by an authority outside of the community. A community’s standards could respect individual ownership of all of its resources or some its resources or none of its resources. The standards could recognize hereditary title and permit community members to govern use of a community resource even while residing outside of the community or belonging simultaneously to another community permitting dual membership. The federation forbids a community only to kill members or to hold them against their will.

How then does this archipelago differ from anarcho-capitalism? Since communities govern resources exclusively by their own standards and may not impose these standards upon neighboring communities, can an individual not declare himself a community of one and enjoy individual property rights without the consent of other individuals?

An individual might be a community of one, but his rights then are not equivalent to conventional property rights, because no forcible standards govern his interaction with other communities. He may reach an agreement with a member of another community, but the agreement is only as secure as the willingness of the parties to abide by its terms. The other party’s community could respect rights of non-members and incorporate these rights into the community’s standards, which members are obliged to respect to enjoy other benefits of membership, but a community has no similar authority over non-members.

Communities reach agreements with other communities, but the only force binding a community to its agreement is the force binding its members to the community, and this force is entirely internal, the force of attraction between members, like the force holding a marriage together when spouses may divorce at will. All force, other than the enforcement of individual rights to life and liberty, exists within communities and is itself constrained by the freedom of members to withdraw from a community at will.

Community standards are mutable, but communities consistently respecting agreements with other communities, subject to each community’s standards, are nonetheless stable, because agreements are valuable to a community’s members. Most members of a community check a few members momentarily inclined to disrespect agreements. When contracting with a community of one, no social pressure lowers a counterparty’s risk.