Center for a Stateless Society
A Left Market Anarchist Think Tank & Media Center
“Dibs!”: Lebensraum and Social Contracts

Imagine there is a city in the middle of a large mostly uninhabited continent. This city came into existence through homesteading: Sovereign individuals peacefully mixed their labor with finite pieces of unused land and made them productive in order to sustain and improve their lives.

Realizing that they would all individually benefit from trusting each other, trading with each other, and not killing each other, the city dwellers committed to a formal, voluntary, and explicit social contract with one another. This contract spelled out the rules which would govern their interactions and the methods of arbitration they would use to solve disputes as they arose.

During this time, the land outside of their homesteads remained unowned and available to first improvers. The city dwellers, unable to productively utilize all of the land surrounding their homesteads, became greedy and began to peek outside of their legitimate property. As a result of their peeking, they decided to claim that their social contract continued for five miles in every direction in order to give their town “just a little room to breathe,” apart from the other societies and social contracts which would surely be created. Any settlers within that radius would have to agree to the continental city’s social contract or the city dwellers would react with force.

Since the continental city’s five mile claim for lebensraum was completely arbitrary, the city dwellers soon claimed it extended two hundred miles in every direction, and then one thousand miles. In fact, the continent itself proved no logical barrier, because the criteria required for lebensraum, “dibs,” was easily met.

Soon, dibsters would apply this principle to colonies on the ocean, and no one could live on the ocean without being an unwilling member of the continental city’s social contract. “Dibs!” would clearly apply once space colonization occurred, ad absurdum.

The only thing limiting and governing the “dibs!” land policy is the amount of military power each dibster can muster. Once land can be claimed through “dibs,” like it is the front seat of a sedan, legitimate peaceful homesteaders who cannot win the intellectual battle against lebensraum will face the aggression of the dibsters head-on.

A social contract where one cannot secede on one’s homesteaded property coupled with the hegemonic exercise of social contracts on unowned land means that one can never be free. A secret homestead in the jungle is sovereign only as long as it remains undetected or is not worth the state’s effort for a shakedown.

Virtually all land has been claimed by the dibsters, and thus a sovereign individual’s only choice is “who should I pay taxes to?” Difficulty of changing citizenship aside, one is only free to choose whether to pay a Tongan, a Frenchman, a Brazilian, or a Korean for services one doesn’t want, doesn’t agree with morally, and/or never asked for.

There is never the option to secede, nor can there ever be so long as the existing power structure and the land monopoly remains. If individuals could feasibly choose to not pay for any/all of the endless parades of government spending, most people wouldn’t, which would fundamentally threaten and endanger the interests of the political elite and their bedfellows.

Let us return to our city. Ten years of peace and harmony after they declared themselves a continent’s worth of lebensraum, the majority of the city dwellers decided to take what the minority had justly acquired from their farms’ produce. Rather than the oppressed minority seceding from that social contract and forming a new contract with each other, they were effectively trapped to the will of their neighbors and had to submit to their unjust rule.

If one rejects the right to secede from social contracts, and respects the “right” of the city (which is really only multiple individuals) to claim lebensraum, then peaceful individuals the world over will constantly be at the mercy of the majority and the rulers who will learn to exploit them against their own interests in peace and freedom.

Homesteading is governed by respect for one another’s labor. “Dibs!” relies solely upon might makes right. If liberty-lovers can destroy the argument for the land monopoly resulting from the “dibs!” method of lebensraum, statism as it currently exists will implode upon its gargantuan silliness.

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