archipelago.liberty.me evokes Chandran Kukathas’s book The Liberal Archipelago, and this book well summarizes the libertarian ideal that I accept. A friend at Bleeding Heart Libertarians referred me to Kukathas a while back as I discussed the ideal there. I discussed it then without understanding Kukathas’ formulation. I associated my ideal with free association and intentional community, rather than a right to exit, but as soon as I read Kukathas, I realized that he had grasped the ideal’s most essential element, and I’ve described my libertarianism in his terms since. Originality is overrated anyway.

While I recommend The Liberal Archipelago and feel obliged to credit Chandran Kukathas with the title of this site, he doesn’t know me from Adam, and I certainly do not speak for him. I appropriate terms of his systematic treatment of liberty and freely associate myself with it, but his book is not my sacred scripture, so he doesn’t speak for me generally either. Enough said about that.

This site will distinguish libertarian ideals that I accept from other formulations of liberty, not to pick fights with my libertarian friends but to clarify the ideals we share by emphasizing boundaries that seem to divide us. Specifically, I will distinguish my libertarianism from more proprietarian formulations of liberty. A “proprietarian” system presumes particular norms, particularly norms governing an individual’s exclusive use of resources, that free people need not accept.

I am not a Rothbardian for example. Rothbardian property rights, narrowly defined, are consistent with liberty but are not necessary for it. Free people may respect other standards of propriety instead. Rothbardians may have their island in the liberal archipelago, but islands governed otherwise are also free. Rothbardians may not impose their standards outside of their island, where everyone respects the standards freely.

Respect for particular property rights is not the decisive criteria distinguishing freedom from involuntary servitude. A practically unlimited, individual right to leave the service of one community and join another, at will, is the decisive criteria. Property rights are community standards reflecting the subjective preference of members of the community. Any community, respecting practically any standard, is free as long as membership in the community is voluntary.

When then is membership in a community “voluntary”? The answer to this question may seem obvious, but a thorough answer requires some caveats. This site will explore the caveats. The site considers an archipelago in which islanders respect many norms, but every islander is nonetheless free. Respecting the norms of a particular island may not seem like “freedom” to other islanders, but islands are small and diverse, and moving from one island to another is easy. An individual’s respect for the standards of a particular island is obligatory only while s/he remains on the island, and an individual is always free to leave any island. Islanders generally accept new arrivals willing to respect their norms, or a sufficient number of islanders may always find an island governed by the standards of their choice.

Is this diverse archipelago liberty? Is it libertobia? At this site, in the virtual archipelago of liberty.me, it is, and you are welcome here.