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Swaraj is rooted in the collectivist General Will of Rousseau, not natural rights of John Locke

This is my third comment on Arvind Kejriwal's Swaraj, based on thoughts sparked by reviewing Prakash's comment, below.

Prakash's comment.

As a person who is in favour of markets, I believe that the next step really has to be political markets. We need a hayekian discovery of the law structure that is most appropriate for India.

I have not read the swaraj proposal, but I am extrapolating this from Shailesh’s comment.

I agree with the decentralized law proposal as long as a right to exit is guaranteed to all citizens who are not criminals in the commonly agreed criminal law of the union.

As long as a right to exit is guaranteed to every citizen, for a person seeking to drink alcohol, it is relatively easy to go to the next jurisdiction that allows the same. And if the frequent movement is an issue, one can permanently move to other jurisdictions.

Obviously this will imply things like hanging for marrying within gotra cannot be decided by gram sabhas. There will have to be a common criminal code. There might also need to be goods movement laws that are relatively more central. For eg. if cows for slaughter have to move from one muslim dominated district (where slaughter is legal) to another, via a hindu dominated district where it is illegal, there may need to be passing provisions in the central law. Similar such laws may be needed for alcohol and such similar issues.

I can easily envisage an India where a thousand independent district jurisdictions eagerly publish the benefits of living in their district to every person who passes out from 12th standard. rich jurisidictions can proclaim their cosmopolitan self and high standard of life. Poor jurisidictions can promise a much higher rate of growth for investments. Dharmic jurisidictions can proclaim their adherence to their codes of life, while liberal jurisdictions can promise the ability to drink, snort, inject, smoke, gamble and fornicate.

We are all not the same and there is no reason that there has to be one law ruling all. Where the liberal policy structure does come in is in providing the agreement framework within these many possibilities.

My response

Prakash you are offering a very severe mis-reading of Hayek.

Hayek was a NATURAL RIGHTS advocate. He wanted firmly bounded constitutions at all levels of government. He would never tolerate, even in any "market" based political model, ANY diminution of liberty for the sake of some experiments on people.

What you are saying is that it is quite OK for me to be driven OUT of my place of birth because someone imposes their ideas on me and I refuse to accept them. So you are committing two major fallacies:

a) You are accepting the reduction of my liberties. But I live not to be governed by others. I live to be free. I deny anyone ANY right to impose their will on me.

b) You are advocating Rousseau's collectivist idea of "general will" by which a particular village can have the right to form a "general" collectivist view about what can or cannot be done in that village.

Both are based on the same foundational flaw – that a MAJORITY has a right to encroach on ANYONE'S liberty.

Majorities DO NOT HAVE RIGHTS. We humans have individual natural rights.

All of us have the right to life and liberty.

So, as you can clearly see, Shailesh, you and Arvind come from the same COLLECTIVIST mould of Rousseau. You are willing to tolerate the destruction of liberty by majorities.

That, by the way, was the reason why Socrates OPPOSED democracy, for he knew that there are some who elevate democracy ("general will") to a status greater than the individual.

I deny ALL such rubbish. I refute ANY attempt or any possibility that a village assembly can have ANY right to limit ANYONE'S liberties.

That is, by the way, exactly what Hayek would say, but in far more suave and sophisticated language.

Sanjeev Sabhlok

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38 thoughts on “Swaraj is rooted in the collectivist General Will of Rousseau, not natural rights of John Locke
  1. Prakash

    Hi Sanjeev,

    I was thinking Nozickian, and typed Hayekian. I am very sorry for that.

    What I was thinking is that, whether through genuine thought or general stumbling around, Arvind’s idea approaches Robert Nozick’s Utopia of Utopias idea, where each community is a fully voluntary association. But Nozick has imagined these happening within the overall framework of a night watchman state.

    My comment might have sounded a lot more cavalier than what I actually feel about the issue. I don’t consider the dimunition of liberties lightly. All I was talking about is voluntary migration to better jurisdictions, something which you have already done, after being severely frustrated. But you had to leave your country itself. What if someone could just leave their city and go to another which is better governed?

    Shailesh’s point was that it is easier to persuade 10000 people of a district rather than 70 crore voters of India. I’m making the same point.

    There are many issues with trying to persuade a large number of people. Economic ideas are tough to explain and make the explainers sound very callous sometimes. Most people literally need a shining example in front of their eyes to be persuaded of the efficacy of liberal policy.

    You can show them Australia as an example of successful liberal jurisdiction and they can easily, so very easily come up with a racial or some such stupid counter argument.

    You try to tell them, no, look at mauritius, it has indian people and it has a relatively high per capita income. They can come with other arguments like – it is too small to be an example.

    When the city RIGHT NEXT TO YOU is prosperous and the only difference between them and you are the rules, the other cities run out of excuses. They either change their policies or lose all the good people.

    Libertarians , as a political party in the US , have been trying to push their message for more than, what, 40 years? and have not been successful.

    Paraphrasing Patri Friedman, “how many essays of political economy to add up to just 2 words ‘Hong Kong’ “.

    District level liberal policies will act as an example and will spread. That is the idea here.

  2. Sanjeev Sabhlok

    Dear Prakash

    In BFN I have made EXACTLY the same point. Pl. read my local government section in chapter 6. But classical liberals always want strong local government. The key is not such a government but liberty.

    Nozkick’s voluntary association primarily applies to individuals and develops on individual rights. Nozik was one of the greatest natural rights proponents. He misunderstood Locke (and in any event I disagree with Locke’s proviso), but he is NOT even remotely a collectivist like Arvind. His key point is constitutional guarantees for liberty. That’s pretty much Hayekian, as well.

    I don’t see Arvind as having understood the TOTAL collectivism involved in his ideas which do not derive from individual liberty but from the right of the majority to impose its will. He has “stumbled” onto to collectivism, not libertarianism.

    Let’s call a spade a spade, please!


  3. Shailesh

    @Prakash: the US Libertarian party will probably never succeed because the US follows a dictatorial/’duopolistic’ FPTP system for electing both the legislature and executive.

    FPTP system is also the reason why India’s moderate constitutional protections of liberty got easily diluted to such an extent. Even if god miraculously re-strengthens the Indian constitution (as some people hope), FPTP will bring us back to this situation.

    So, we need decentralization and Proportional representation (in other words: democracy) to achieve and maintain liberty (either via strong national/state constitutions or otherwise).

    Unless that happens, be prepared to be ruled alternately by Vadra’s and Bhagwat’s grandchildren.

    Would appreciate your frank feedback on my post selling PR

  4. Sanjeev Sabhlok

    Shailesh, Democracy is not a goal. Liberty is. By glorifying the majority you undermine and destroy liberty, making the government itself irrelevant and a candidate for being destroyed. Hitler’s Germany was a democracy. Socrates was killed by democracy.

    I’ll let Prakash comment on your other idea.

  5. Shailesh

    I never said democracy is the goal…i clearly mention in my comment that democracy is the means to achieve and maintain liberty…..can you show me any other pathway to liberty?

    even the FTI adopted route seeks to use whatever little democracy we have. I am just saying that if we have more democracy, achieving liberty will be that much easier.

    (if you respond to my question in this comment, pls do so in simple practical terms without teaching me history. Don’t get me wrong..i just can’t discuss global history in writing)

  6. Sanjeev Sabhlok

    I refer you to the MASSIVE literature on the debates regarding democracy and liberty. In particular, pl. do read Hayek whose Constitution of Liberty is perhaps the clearest discussion of the rule of law.

    No. I DEFINITELY oppose democracy that is not underpinned by VERY STRONG constitutional limitations on what a government can do.

    Mindless worship of democracy is the surest way to destroy liberty.

    Hiter’s is a classic recent case, but Nehru, Indira Gandhi, Obama, the list is endless. Each of these had massive mandates but ended up destroying liberty.

    Arvind doesn’t get it (and I suspect you don’t either).

    There should be NO discussion of democracy without first setting out its purpose and limitations. Let Arvind specify the constitutional limitations that apply to Swaraj. Else he is worshipping the collective, and the collective is nothing but a mob.


  7. Sanjeev Sabhlok

    Therefore democracy is NOT the way to liberty. It is through constitutional restraint and laws that protect liberty. Doesn’t matter what form of government.

  8. Shailesh

    Sanjeev – let me ask you again

    you say: “It is through constitutional restraint and laws that we protect liberty”

    how does India go from where it is today to a country with a strong constitution – without using democracy? how does any country that already has a government – democratic or dictatorial – achieve a strong constitution without using democracy?

    in simple terms please…

  9. Sanjeev Sabhlok


    Indeed, we are fortunate in India that the opportunity to use democracy exists, although the gates of entry have been locked out for the honest.

    Had this opportunity not been present, I’d have suggested armed revolt. That always remains an option should the thugs ruling India refuse to budge, and continue their skullduggery. I’ve listed these theoretical (and practical) options in DOF.

    But note the route to change is through the parliament, not through Gram Sabha.

    A very significant number of laws need to be changed, including a few constitutional amendments. Indeed, in BFN I’ve suggested we need a totally fresh constitution – much tighter, shorter and focused on liberty.

    So of course we must use democracy, but the focus should be to:
    a) make it easier for good people to enter parliament
    b) show Indians the benefits of liberty so they are willing to give good people a mandate to run the country at least once for five years

    FTI has launched an electoral reforms project (published on its website under “policies”) which is focused on (a).

    In addition, we need an educational campaign re: (b).

    It won’t do if we ensure (a) but people like Arvind/Prashant enter parliament only to start nationalising everything in sight, and regulating prices of whatever they think is “essential”.

    We need to teach good people first, then the country. So tasks (a) and (b) are what I’m focused on.

    I’m all for greater village and local government powers, but in such a way that no one’s liberty can be trampled by a majority.


  10. Vishal Kumar Singh

    I am not sure whether people are serious when they talk of market based approach of liberty – voluntary associations where people get kicked out because they do not fit into the scheme of things of majority.
    If people are given the signal of majoritism at the cost of liberty then hobbesian world will become a instant reality.

  11. Prakash


    Telling people the benefits of liberty is different from showing people the benefits of liberty. Creating even a few liberal districts strictly run by our idea of liberalism under the rule of law will have a dramatic demonstration effect. And this is possible under a decentralized regime, which may take far too long in a centralized regime.

    @Shailesh, Decentralization is a bigger deal for me than PR. I have read about many voting and electoral systems and the system you favour, a multiple winner party list PR, is a pretty decent one. Atleast for minority views like liberalism, this can bring out a voice very early in the game, which I believe is an overall good thing.
    But there might need to be some changes in debate and budget formats to bring more stability to the day to day function of a government since there is a much higher chance of democratic gridlock happening in any PR system. I haven’t thought enough about the nature of those needed changes.

  12. Sanjeev Sabhlok


    You are necessarily forcing me, with such arguments, to remain in Australia. Clearly when even educated Indians don’t understand the basics of a constitutional republic, then best to stay away.


  13. Shailesh

    @Prakash I am impressed with your understanding of things (since you are making the noises that I believe are right :)

    Decentralization, even for me, is a much bigger deal than PR but:

    – I suspect that decentralization will be easier to achieve if we have PR. Under FPTP, the big parties have too much unchecked power and there might never be an incentive for them to meaningfully decentralize i.e. let go of their power. Congress, BJP might resist PR a little less to check the growing influence of dictatorial regional parties
    – Also, PR seems like slightly more neutral to sell since its only an electoral system …not a significant policy change
    – finally, even under decentralization, we’ll need PR (though to a lesser extent) since FPTP is more dictatorial than democratic.

    but yes, I will strongly support any movement towards either of the two.

    I also agree with your point on changes in debate and budget formats. I have very briefly referred to those in my PR post:

    “Further, irrespective of the electoral system, good Lok Sabha functioning needs Parliamentary reforms. eg:

    – MPs should select the most acceptable PM using preferential voting (Condorcet winner method) instead of the top parties competing for the ‘not so non-partisan’ President’s invitation and then trying to convince a majority of MPs
    – To ensure stability of govt. and continuity of parliament, a PM once chosen to stay for 5 years unless >50/55% of MPs agree on another guy
    – Every party to fully control parliament time in proportion to its strength in the houses instead of continuously fighting for what matter to discuss under what rule
    – If we indeed want SPEEDY legislative and/or executive action, then give the PM ~3-5% extra votes in Parliament instead of just 1 vote”

  14. Shailesh

    @Sanjeev – Thanks for finally admitting that democracy is needed to get the changes you want (though you still haven’t clarified if democracy is needed to ‘maintain’ a good constitution, etc….I assume you will admit that as well)

    Next issue is the degree of democracy we need. You have somehow calculated that we have the exactly the right level of democracy for a liberal party (where everyone broadly concurs with your definition of things) to take over parliament and make the necessary constitutional and legal changes.

    So much so that you are confident that more democracy will be harmful and go out of your way to lambast guys like Arvind who ask for more democracy.

    I wonder which theory or practical example you get this confidence from!

  15. Sanjeev Sabhlok


    It is increasingly evident that this discussion won’t go anywhere far. You come from a very statist “democracy-first” perspective. That is ENTIRELY opposite to the classical liberal view of “liberty-first”. Yours is the Rousseau tradition in which majorities can do anything they like. Mine is the Lockean tradition in which all governments are very tightly constrained; democracy merely being a way to administer the justice system with greater consistency and legitimacy.

    We can’t ever meet, I’m afraid. You and most Indians worship democracy. That’s a fatal error of thinking that is RUINING India.

    Think of democracy as a TOOL for liberty, then it makes sense. Else it is nothing but mobocracy, as the case of India vividly illustrates.

    A shocking mess, India, saved from total anarchy only because of Ambedkar the classical liberal.

    Had Ambedkar been a mindless worshipper of democracy, India would have split into 5000 nations by now. And all very poor.

    I do not wish to discuss further since you are entirely at loggerheads with the very meaning and purpose of democracy. That’s why you promote PR – but to me PR is anathema for it is not the best wqy to defend liberty.

    Let’s leave this alone. Pointless discussion and repetition won’t help either of us. Let me save my breath for those who want liberty. Those whose sole aim in life is to be GOVERNED, and preferably by a whimsical mob (majorities) – I let them live in India. Pl. enjoy the India of your dreams.


  16. Sanjeev Sabhlok

    Let us part company. That will be best.

    You are clearly a socialist and believe in the primacy of the collective (society) over that of the individual. At each stage you push for greater and greater powers to society. I dismiss the idea of society and ONLY acknowledge the individual. Everything must therefore be done to defend the liberty of the individual.

    I’m quoting from an article I was just reading. “Gandhi could not believe in the moral priority of any collective agency over the individual.” [Raghaven N. lyer, The Moral and Political Thought of Mahatma Gandhi, Oxford Univ. Press, 1973, p.121].

    In your model (or those of pseudo-Gandhians like Anna Hazare), the individual is a mere TOOL of society. He must obey the majority.

    That’s precisely what I oppose.

    So Shailesh, the reason you and I can’t agree is because you are anti-liberty and I’m anti-society. Totally different worldviews.


  17. vijay

    Sanjeev, just broadly, at what point in your life/career , or based on what, did you come to your current convictions and stances regarding liberty and all that? what convinced you that this IS the right approach or philosophy?Just curious.Because, in a highly debatable, contentious area like this)as seen ain above exchanges) how can you be so sure that yours is the only right approach? Could it be that there is no one right approach or philosophy but it is only in the implementation or in the people who implement those, that things can go wrong?

    Iam not asking all this to criticize or question you but Iam genuinely curious and interested to know. I’ll get to read your book one of these days but in the meantime a short answer would suffice

  18. Sanjeev Sabhlok

    BFN explains this in great length. Pl. do read it.

    In many ways humans behave just like chemical atoms. Once you know the properties of humans, you can say exactly what they are going to do. Give me the incentives of the “system” in which humans operate and I can tell you EXACTLY what that they will do.

    These analyses – which are unerringly accurate – were discovered by Chanakya 2200 years ago, by Adam Smith in 18th century and by many others later.

    The simplest is S. Korea vs. N.Korea or E. Germany vs. W. Germany. But even within the West, you can CLEARLY distinguish the results of different policies.

    Uniquely, the ideas of liberty lead to all kinds of good outcomes (not just morality but prosperity).

    Why would I recommend a bad system after CLEARLY determining what works? 10000s of proofs.


  19. Shailesh

    You seem to specialize in branding everyone a socialist and anti-liberty. Please satisfy yourself by misrepresenting my ideas and calling me any no. of names you want.

    I am clear what I believe in: minimal/no govt. To the extent we have government, I believe in high degree of democracy (which includes decentralization).

  20. Sanjeev Sabhlok


    Let’s take some time out to recap.

    a) My understanding is that you are defending Arvind’s ENTIRELY unqualified focus on local government very strongly, and insisting that more democracy is better than less democracy. And I am happy to agree to that WITHIN the tight bounds of limitations on what such government can do. But Arvind DOES NOT believe in such bounds. His is a boundless system where democracy is be all and end all.

    b) Now you come out with a completely opposite position – which is precisely what I’ve been arguing for a very long time now: “minimal/no govt. To the extent we have government, I believe in high degree of democracy (which includes decentralization)”.

    I couldn’t have said it better.

    So my point is why are you defending Arvind’s Swaraj? Your model is ENTIRELY opposite of his, being highly qualified – like mine. His is UNLIMITED.

    Arvind’s position comes from the glorification of society. Mine comes from the unviolable sanctity of individuals and their liberty. These are radically opposing world views. The first of these is called socialism, the other capitalism (or, rather liberalism).

    When you defend Arvind, I object and must necessarily suggest that you are socialist. When you display this far more refined understanding of local government and decentralisation (which I VERY STRONGLY support), then why would I call you anti-liberty? [I really suggest you should read BFN in which I’ve said the same thing. Why do I need to say the same thing again and again? I suffer severe RSI. Pl. try to spare me unnecessary typing.]

    The day Arvind refines his Swaraj and qualifies that ALL levels of government will be cut down to the bare minimum, AND decentralisation will be enforced, then he, I and you will be exactly on the same page.

    Someone has to ask Arvind to make the individual the CENTRE of his plans. Then he and I can work very closely together. Till then I have no choice but to call a spade a spade.

    Today Arvind has made society the center of his plans. And Bhushan is clearly articulating that vision of centralised control over everyone. That I can’t agree with.


  21. Shailesh

    Thanks for your response Sanjeev but my apologies, I don’t wish to discuss this further with you. I don’t enjoy the arguments with you since we have such a hard time even understanding each other’s positions, forget reconciling them. (I am not sure you even read my comments carefully before responding. Hence, you are surprised by my position on liberty and democracy)

    I must admit though – Prashant’s (and other socialists’) influence
    on Arvind (who doesn’t seem to have thought clearly about socialism vs liberalism) is very worrying. Somebody needs to spend considerable time with Arvind and respectfully make him understand the idea of liberty….and the curse of socialism.

  22. Sanjeev Sabhlok


    Let’s just say that this is not going to get India very far. You are worried that I didn’t understand you. But what were you debating about? You haven’t read my book, you haven’t read my blog post, but you debate despite basically saying EXACTLY what I’m saying.

    I just don’t get it. What was your point? What is the point you are making that differs from my widely articulated position?


  23. Sanjeev Sabhlok

    Maybe you and I should talk. I’m on leave today and will be at home in the morning. Let me know and we’ll talk. I just don’t get your point!

  24. Prakash


    I am a supporter of liberty. I am a supporter of FTI’s essay competition.
    I don’t support Swaraj’s socialism. But decentralization is something that we all can get behind because it can help to provide good examples of governance, that might take too long in a centralized system.

    I don’t know why this is such a difficult point to understand.

  25. Sanjeev Sabhlok


    Just like freedom WITHOUT ACCOUNTABILITY is license, and becomes the enemy of liberty, so also decentralisation without FIRST clarifying how liberty will be defended, becomes an enemy of liberty.

    So first show me what your arrangements are to defend liberty and to prevent centralisation (e.g. nationalisation), fixing prices, and a host of other socialist interventions before you come to the subject of decentralsiation.

    Without FIRST forcing the government into a nigh watchman role, other things are merely license for every powerful thug to impose his will on the people. Decentralisation must be TIGHTLY CONSTRAINED. Show me the constraints first then let’s talk further.


  26. Prakash

    @ Sanjeev and Vishal

    I guess that commenting positively about this proposal when it came from Arvind’s book, forever conflated in your mind, swaraj and my views, despite me being a supporter of FTI and a paying supporter of FTI’s essay competition.

    My views are laid about below in a very very condensed manner.

    I believe in the right of human beings to exit jurisdictions. I believe in governments competing for taxpayers. I believe that this competition should not go to the extent of war. How that is achieved without bringing the entire world under a single sovereign, I don’t have an immediate answer for.

    I believe in liberty and the right to personal property. I find it a par excellence solution to the problem of social order. I am in sheer awe of what the price mechanism can do. I am also aware that I live in a nation where most people are not of that belief. I happen to live in a centralized democracy. If I want to live in a liberal jurisdiction, my options are to emigrate or to try to persuade a majority of my fellow citizens.

    I am trying to do that by supporting this essay competition. But I am also aware that persuading 70 crore people most of whom don’t even speak your language is a very difficult task. If there are serious proposals raised for decentralizing governance, I will support them because that reduces the scope of my problem from persuading 70 crore people to persuading fully a lakh people or so plus persuading the rest of the 70 crores to just leave this one lakh alone.

    But my support for decentralization does not stem from the fact that it is an easier route. It is also a surer route than majority persuasion. Most people in India or in the world for that matter are not systematic thinkers. They don’t analyse ideas the way the people in this blog do. Demonstrations can help. The success of a liberal jurisdiction in the overall context of a decentralized India can provide a powerful demonstration that people of exactly the same racial makeup as you have created a successful city right in your midst. This means something. I can hope that they can derive the right conclusions, that policies and not persons, matter.

    This post just got away in length. I will add another comment separately.

  27. Sanjeev Sabhlok


    I’m currently very confused. On the one hand you say you want liberty, but on the other hand you are saying that most people don’t want it (“If I want to live in a liberal jurisdiction, my options are to emigrate or to try to persuade a majority of my fellow citizens” – but “I believe in liberty and the right to personal property. I find it a par excellence solution to the problem of social order. I am in sheer awe of what the price mechanism can do. I am also aware that I live in a nation where most people are not of that belief“).

    So you want democracy but people in democracy don’t want liberty. To solve that issue you don’t want constitutional constraints. Instead you want more unrestrained democracy. But democracy per se will NEVER give you liberty. That I can guarantee. Democracy is anti-liberty, and unless it is constitutionally checked, it ALWAYS leads to greater and greater restriction on liberty.

    Gurcharan’s recent book shows that Gurgaon grew fastest because it had no special democracy and definitely no functional government. So within India itself, people are already migrating to such places.

    What we need is to create 100 Gurgaons – places that will develop WITHOUT government (or a minimal government). The way to do that is to TIGHTLY CONSTRAIN the government.

    Anyway, can you pl. show me one example in the world that comes close to your model of decentralisation? That might help make things clearer.


  28. Prakash



    The idea is that we have to figure out a meta-constitution under which liberal and illiberal rule sets can be written, and the life of people living under the present law can be transitioned to the life that they will lead under the new laws.

    I have already pointed out that criminal law cannot vary. This should be a pretty serious constraint. No jurisdiction should be allowed to kill, imprison or torture people that wouldn’t be killed or imprisoned in the present circumstances.

    Every group that seeks to create a body of law will put their bodies of law out. If there are geographical majorities, those jurisdictions will move to those laws. Central gov land that is being kept can be allocated to bodies who have a number, but don’t have geographical majorities, like liberals.

    There should be rules on dealing with the persons and property of persons who are not of your jurisdiction. Some states and district will allow other people to hold freehold property, some may not.

    There needs to be a clear transition period where the present property rights are respected and people exiting an illiberal jurisdiction are allowed to sell their property leisurely and not under duress.

    All districts without access to the sea should have a path to the sea for their goods and people. The intervening jurisdictions will not be allowed to put barriers of any nature in their path. Inter jurisdiction roads will be under state/central law. Similarly, there may need to be transit laws for goods moving from a compatible jurisdiction to another via an incompatible one.

    A liberal basic minimum of rights can be established which is inviolable in any jurisdiction, but it will be very difficult to get a general agreement on.

    Like the christian god allows free will with the possibility of sin, liberals should allow the possibility of illiberal jurisdictions when we don’t have a unanimous majority.

  29. Sanjeev Sabhlok


    Let me just say that you are taking market based approaches to an extreme. Thus, slavery would be admissible under your constitution, so also communism. I disagree on first principles with such an approach.

    There is also no known or plausible example of such constitution, as people have steadily expanded the definition of liberty. Why don’t you show me at least a somewhat comparable example?


  30. Prakash

    @ Sanjeev

    A 100 gurgaons, now we’re talking! That’s what I want. I just think that the probability of that happening is much greater when the power is at the lowest level, rather than at the highest level.

    Slavery – Sorry, not permissible. My post clearly says, the right to exit jurisdictions.

    Communism – If voluntary, no issues. If imposed from above, the people from below move to other jurisdictions that are more compatible with them.

    About constitutions, You’ll find a lot of anarcho capitalist literature where people have imagined all sorts of constitutions. You can go through the archives of the Free Nation Foundation. I am not for anarcho capitalism, because it can mean annihilation in a world with nuclear weapons. But within the framework of a night watchman state, Nozick’s utopia of utopias is possible.

    The closest analogies I have are

    1. The treatment of foreigners in the various constitutions of the world.

    2. The US constitution which leaves inter-state commerce in the hands of the central government. I am just describing a detail of one inter-state commerce law.

    3. Different laws applying to different people is not a new idea. It is one of the oldest ideas in history. There were cities where you had a jewish quarter or a muslim quarter. This may seem to be an illiberal idea, but it is not. Leaving people to live lives as per their wishes is a liberal idea.

    4. The ideas for an orderly movement of people, I have got from imagining a counter-example to the horror that was the Indian partition.

  31. 19 year old registered applicant

    dear prakash ji, sanjeev ji,shailesh ji and all,
    My beliefs,understanding and position apart(not presenting here right now), my response to prakash ji is very mechanical (since i am anonymous currently and am not presenting my beliefs and position).

    prakash ji’s most significant,deepest and foundational(to his proposal) concern; and its solution is clarified in these two sentences.
    “I will support them because that reduces the scope of my problem from persuading 70 crore people to persuading fully a lakh people or so”
    “Most people in India or in the world for that matter are not systematic thinkers. They don’t analyse ideas the way the people in this blog do.”

    but i present prakash ji with the following propsal to consider.
    The task at hand becomes considerably simpler and systematically achievable if it is looked at in this manner.

    There are two phases-“phase 0” and “phase 1”.
    In phase 1 the task at hand for 1 person is persuading 1 lakh people (only). and there will be 5,000 such people.
    5,000 X 1 lakh = 50,00 lakh = 50 crore.(i very badly hope that this mathematics is correct, else the task at hand for me will suddenly become unachievable !)

    But wait,where will these 5,000 people emerge from? from phase 0.

    In phase 0 the task at hand for 1 person is persuading a total of 200 people.
    mathematics: 25 X 200 = 5,000.

    But wait where are these 25 people? we already are more than 25 currently.
    note that in phase 0 persuasion is not supposed to take place 1 to 1. the bigger team (of converted people) you have, the better chances of using your support “team” to find and influence more team members.

    this also solves the second concern since one person is not supposed to convince 70 crore people(not even 1 lakh at current phase). so the task of convincing 200 people in 2 years by making them think systematically seems much more feasible and achievable, right?! strategic, no? if being in a position to convince only 1 lakh people via multiple strategies of mass campaigning is the ultimate target, than isn’t this a good strategy for 2 years for phase 0 and 4 years(via mass campaign ) for phase 1?

    all this mental gymnastics just to keep us away from the mental excuses we build to precondition our mind that the task at hand is huge enough to be impossible.

    and much more meaningful path than having 6 lakh villages with “democratically and via decentralised approach” implicitly harming (indirectly or directly) lives by blocking liberty AND, MOST IMPORTANTLY, vision. if i cant see past india into hong kong, south korea, and japan few hundred kilometers away, what is the assurance that i will be able to see gurgaon, which is few kilometers away from my village, if my vision is blocked? progress and prosperity to see and get motivated from always exists(at any point of time in human history). rationale has to be understood.

    After all even north korea didn’t looked past the border into south korea for years.

    sanjeev ji,
    if we clearly look at shailesh ji’s comment,
    “I never said democracy is the goal…i clearly mention in my comment that democracy is the means to achieve and maintain liberty.”

    we are immediately reminded of an analogy-
    i am sitting at a place “A” in india. i want to reach delhi and attend conference on governance.
    TARGET-reach delhi and attend conference.
    WAYS TO ACHIEVE TARGET-i can go on foot from my state to delhi. or i can take a flight to delhi if i have money.or i can of course take a bus if i have some time.

    irrespective of WAYS TO ACHIVE TARGET, the TARGET remains same. it does NOT converts to reaching Beijing or Moscow and attend a conference on governance!!

    so i cant understand that by suggesting another pathway and debating on it-(analogically,would airplane be better or bus), how you interpret shailesh ji’s target itself being different?
    i am not able to identify even a SINGLE comment by shailesh ji on your ENTIRE blog which promote ideas of the type–
    “”You are clearly a socialist and believe in the primacy of the collective (society) over that of the individual. At each stage you push for greater and greater powers to society.””
    am i missing shailesh ji’s comment on any blog post in which he demands demolishing the market and handing over all property to the state? or is he demanding that state subsidises my food,fuel,internet and air travel!? or state teaching me which religion is better or how many children i am allowed to have, and whom i can marry? if he had suggested something on such lines, than can you please point me towards that blog post where his such comment rests?
    by far by all i have read written by shailesh ji, i believe his, and your target is EXACTLY same(namely constitutional restraint and laws that protect liberty, and almost all you advocate in bfn in principle), his only difference being of the path which would be better to achieve the same target; which doesnt makes his target to reach Moscow or even to reach US?
    shailesh ji took bus and you took plane but both reach delhi.

    or i have stopped understanding plain English, what else?!

    19 year old registered applicant.

  32. Sanjeev Sabhlok

    “am i missing shailesh ji’s comment on any blog post in which he demands demolishing the market and handing over all property to the state? or is he demanding that state subsidises my food,fuel,internet and air travel!? or state teaching me which religion is better or how many children i am allowed to have, and whom i can marry? if he had suggested something on such lines, than can you please point me towards that blog post where his such comment rests?”

    As I said I’m myself mystified at what Shailesh was trying to argue.

    We are both in vehement agreement that liberty is the goal. Or so it seems.

    Then it becomes IMPOSSIBLE to thin of Swaraj (Arvind Kejriwal’s model) and not ask this first: Where in the model is Arvind defending liberty?

    And he is not. Arvind is unequivocally AGAINST liberty. He wants more centralisation. Nationalisation. Price fixing. He says he is left of centre (and indeed he is WELL left of centre).

    So I’m merely questioning Arvind’s Swaraj as being grossly unsatisfactory as far as I’m concerned.

    What surprises me is that Shailesh can’t see that.

    Then the only implication I can draw (also from his fervent faith in proportional representation) that he is a socialist himself who sees in democracy itself (representation itself) an answer to our problems.

    To me democracy is a tool to select non-tyrannical government . It is NOT a tool for liberty.

    Liberty must be defended right from step 1. Through constitution, through clear limitations on the state/ Gram Sabha.

    I don’t see ANY restraints on Gram Sabha in AK’s model. But Shailesh supports it vigorously.

    Show me restraints on Gram Sabhas BEFORE talking about the glory of Swaraj. Then it will make sense to me.

  33. raj

    For people confused with the concept of “liberty” I suggest you to read about the history of the U.S constitution. It’s probably the best model of limited government in the world. The founders clearly saw the dangers of big government and designed the constitution to prevent tyranny of the majority. In other words, the rights of an individual cannot be infringed by the masses.


    I might even suggest India copy the U.S Constitution except for a part of the 5th amendment in which it states “nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation”. I disagree with the concept of just compensation. The govt cannot put a true price on property because value is subjective.

    The government is only supposed to provide defence and judiciary system to protect private property. The govt has no other business. If you agree here, then I think you want to be free.

    Now the U.S is not the role model anymore…..with Obamacare and his socialistic views are dangerous.


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