Exploring Le Grand E Day’s Theory of Multigovernment – Part 1


“It is not a matter of emigration. A man does not carry his native land on the soles of his shoes. Moreover, such colossal expatriation is and always will be impracticable. The expense involved could not be met by all the wealth in the world. I have no intention of resettling the population according to its convictions, relegating Catholics to the Flemish Provinces, for example, or marking the liberalist frontier from Mons to Liège. I hope we can all go on living together wherever we are, or elsewhere, if one likes, but without discord, like brothers, each freely holding his opinions and submitting only to a power personally chosen and accepted.”

In 1860, French botanist and economist Paul-Emile de Puydt published his article titled Panarchism, in which he suggested a revolutionary change to the status quo.  De Puydt proposed that the idea of free competition should not only be applied to commerce, but to governance as well.  In de Puydt’s own words: “Is the great law of political economy, the law of free competition, laissez-faire, laissez-passer, applicable only to regulate industrial and commercial affairs or, more scientifically, only to the production and exchange of wealth?”  What de Puydt essentially suggested is that individuals should be free to choose to which form of government they subscribe to without actually having to leave their current locale; the antithesis of the status quo.

Panarchism would basically work like this: wherever you live, you would apply for membership to a “Bureau of Political Membership”.  Such a bureau is, simply put, a civil registry office. After you are accepted to whichever form of government you wish to be part of, you would essentially live in your own individual political community, regardless of the political affiliations of your neighbors.  De Puydt is essentially in favor of any form of government that has adherents and is entered into voluntarily.

“One of the many incomparable advantages of my system is to render uncomplicated, natural, and completely legal, those differences of opinion which in our time have brought some upright citizens into disrepute, and which have been cruelly condemned under the name of political apostasies. Such impatience for change, which has been considered criminal in honest people, which has caused both old and new nations to be accused of wantonness and ingratitude, what is it but the will to progress?”

In a system of panarchism, governments’ jurisdiction would be determined not by their own arbitrary borders, but by the boundaries of the private properties of those who voluntarily adhere to their authority.  There would simply be free competition in the business of government. The moment that forms of government are subject to experimentation and free competition, they are bound to progress and perfect themselves since, according to de Puydt, that is the law of nature. Different forms of government would have to compete for adherents, just like companies have to compete for consumers in the market.  To bring about liberty, in de Puydt’s eyes, should not require the surrendering of national traditions or family ties, nor the learning of new languages and the crossing of borders. To bring about liberty, in De Puydt’s own words, must simply be “a matter of declaration before one’s political commission…without even the necessity of removing one’s dressing gown or slippers.”

De Puydt despises the present conditions of government, which he says only exists by the exclusion of others and the smashing of opponents by the most popular political party.

Of course, any sensible person would immediately see that de Puydt’s vision is mere philosophical conjecture.  It does not provide a substantive framework for how such a system would work in the real world. This is where Le Grand E. Day and his theory of multigovernment comes into play.

The Theory of Multigovernment

In his work titled The Theory of Multigovernment, Le Grand E. Day extrapolates on De Puydt’s vision.  Advocates of multigovernment hold that the only legitimate purpose of a compulsory government is to provide adequate protection (fire and police) and fair and enforceable judgments. multigovernment advocates believe that every individual should have the opportunity to have as much freedom as he or she desires, without impairing the freedom of others. The theory of multigovernment suggests that society should cater to individuals’ differences by allowing the creation of multiple governments, and not to subdue individuals to one government expecting it cater the vast array of people’s needs.

There are six principles on which Day’s theory rests:

  1. Each man’s needs and desires for government are different.
  2. The individual should decide for himself the government he wants to serve him.
  3. Where man lives (geographical boundaries) should not be the determining factor of which government he belongs to.
  4. Various governments can, and ought to, coexist in the same location.
  5. Governments compete for membership with services, economies, or ideologies.
  6. Man may belong to no government at all.

But before we delve into Day’s principles, we must first examine the structural side of the theory of multigovernment.

Structural side of the Theory of Multigovernment

Geographical Democracy

The first echelon of multigovernment is Geographical Democracy.  Geographical Democracy is the only compulsory government for each land area that should be divided by population density and the will of the people.  According to Day, city-states should be created in metropolitan areas, and they will replace city, county, state and, eventually, the federal government. Territorial governments will also grow in rural areas and will eventually also replace the abovementioned overlapping governments.

Judicial Republic

The compulsory echelon above the Geographical Democracy is the Judicial Republic.  It is, in fact, not a government as it does not govern. It consists out of a pyramid of courts, the bottom level of the pyramid consisting out of local and regional courts and judges connected with the local geographical governments.  The next level in the pyramid consists of the appellate court, followed by the level containing the supreme court, and finally the level containing the upper supreme court. Day proposes that judges be selected according to policy as well as the division of work.

Choice Government

The next echelon in Day’s theory of multigovernment is Choice Governments.  This concept is the backbone of Day’s theory. The two abovementioned echelons are compulsory and should therefore only perform governmental functions that are absolutely necessary.  Choice Governments, on the other hand, serve the purpose of filling the vacuum of functions not performed by the compulsory echelons. No individual would be forced to join a Choice Government, and those who choose not to do so would be called free agents.  Choice Governments are subject to competition so that each individual would be free to find their government of choice. In Day’s own words, “True Freedom cannot exist unless the individual can choose the exact form and amount of government he [or she] wants.  Government structure must be created for that end and not to justify its own existence.”

Choice Governments will fall into four categories:

  1. Private Institutions that are designed under a free enterprise system to meet the needs of people
  2. Special Districts that are set up for a special service for which the individual only is taxed.
  3. Collective Governments that are designed to give complete services, protection, and security for its members.
  4. Limited Governments that exists to meet the particular needs of individuals.

According to Day, true liberty can only exist when only protective functions are compulsory, there is fair and equitable judgment, government functions of human welfare are voluntary, and necessary government functions that must be performed and cannot be handled on a profit or volunteer basis are handled with utmost efficiency.

Necessary government functions not covered by Geographical Democracy, Judicial Republic, or Choice Government are divided into three categories: schools, districts, and special temporary districts.  The theory of multigovernment believes in a voucher schooling system and that children should not be placed in schools by geographical assignment. Districts would provide ongoing functions that aren’t possible to be performed on a volunteer basis. Districts are created by the judicial republic or the geographical democracy. Special temporary districts are set up on a temporary basis to handle temporary problems and, when the problem(s) cease to exist, so does the district.

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Jacques Jonker

Jacques Jonker is a scholar of economics. He holds a Baccalaureus Commercii in Law. Jacques is a strong proponent of the principles of voluntarism and ethical altruism. He aspires to become a philanthropist. Disclaimer: Views expressed are his own.


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