Does the idea of building a citadel appeal to you? If so, where do you start? After all, it is far more ambitious than starting a homestead (which itself is not an easy task if you ask homesteaders). So many moving parts that your head spins just thinking about it.
Since I decided to build one myself, these and many other questions must be answered. In this post, I suggest that we start with the basics: what is a citadel?
My previous article titled "In Defense of the Citadel Meme" provides the official definition of the word "citadel" sourced from Wikipedia. In short, it is "the core fortified area of a town or city. It may be a castle, fortress, or fortified center." We, however, are going to modify the definition to adapt it to the emerging reality of the New World.
Exploring the Attributes
When I speak of the New World, what are some of its characteristics?
- The proliferation of bitcoin: the bitcoin standard underlies all economic activity in the New World.
- The weakening of the State apparatus: the State's ability to control the lives of its citizens decreases dramatically.
- The emergence of the sovereign individual: individuals regain control of numerous aspects of their lives.
- Frequent power shifts: competing political and economic factions overtly fight for dominance globally.
- The return of violent socialism: the vast majority is slow to adapt to new realities and, thus, is left behind, both economically and socially, which provides fertile ground for populists to incite violence against "early adopters."
The first three developments can be considered quite positive, while the last two are undesirable yet likely inevitable. The laws of Nature are such that you cannot have the good without the bad. With the establishment of bitcoin as the reserve currency of the world, major societal shifts are bound to happen. While some of these points may sound contradictory, we need to remember that this process may take decades or even centuries to show concrete results. For example, a decreased ability of the State to control its subjects thanks to tools like bitcoin may already be here. Still, this fact does not impede political figures, who rely on lies and deception, from manipulating the masses into the next wave of socialist moods.
As today and as always, the world of tomorrow will be exciting and dangerous at the same time. Despite the desire of some circles to create a borderless and more interconnected world, many individuals will prefer to do the exact opposite. How?
The role of physical security has always been important throughout the ages, and it will be of higher significance in the coming decades. It is unwise to avoid taking measures to protect your loved ones from physical danger, either at war or in peace times.
On a small scale, private security contractors (PSCs) will be able to provide protection services to paying individuals. State police forces, if not obvious yet, serve their governments, not citizens: their official job description is not "citizen protection" but "law enforcement." At some point, clashes between PSCs protecting their clients and State police enforcing the "rule of law" may become a common occurrence.
The scale of a citadel will require a more systematic approach to security. Whether military contractors, a standing army, or a well-trained citizenry is employed will be up to each settlement. Physical barriers, however, such as walls or guarded fences, are unlikely to be dismissed by any. "Sanctuary for all, community for all" does not and cannot work at this stage of human development. In this way, the traditional definition of the term "citadel" stands firm.
Nevertheless, a strong community must be based on something more important than physical protection. The experiment will be lead by wealthy, industrious individuals, likely early bitcoin adopters, who share a common understanding of how the world operates under the sound money standard. What unites them is the quality whose presence or absence either makes or breaks strong communities—idealism.
Idealism is not an innate quality. It must be carefully cultivated by the individual himself in adult life and by his guardians (parents and mentors) in youth. In strong nation-states, idealism is usually reflected in patriotism, pride for local history, shared culture, tradition, religion, language, and a general desire to serve the nation. It follows, then, that to weaken a unified nation-state, you must attack its ideals. A number of bitcoiners, however, in our pursuit of human progress, subscribe to a post-national worldview. Influenced by the Austrian school of economics, we argue that individual liberty and a laissez-faire approach to markets are paramount but do not necessarily result in complete egoism and disregard for other people. Thus, the destruction of the State does not imply the demise of the community.
While specific ideals may vary from citadel to citadel, what are some common values that many bitcoiners share?
- Free markets: Private enterprise and open trade are superior to socialized government services and trade barriers.
- Individual sovereignty: A contractual relationship between the individual and the citadel makes the former a free, consenting party (as opposed to the implied status of property in nation-states).
- Tradition: Customs and rites are an integral part of a healthy community.
- Culture: Arts and sciences are the manifestation of human ingenuity and are, thus, encouraged and nurtured.
- Family: Traditional families are fertile ground for wholesome individual development.
To the list, we could add such qualities as agency, personal and spiritual development, but these refer to the psychological side of things. As you can imagine, a private city built on principles aforementioned looks unlike any other place on Earth you may have visited, even today's city-states.
Creating a segregated community based on physical security and idealism is a beautiful dream. Physical separation, however, does not make one completely disconnected from the rest of the planet. For various reasons, our citadel will need to communicate with the outside world. We may not have enough land to produce food. Or no good source of energy. Or any other basic necessities of life. International relationships, thus, have to be established for the citadel to survive and flourish.
It would be ideal to be able to form only commercial ties with private enterprises across the globe who could fulfill the needs of the citadel. But reality commands that, while nation-states exist (which may continue for a long time), we must deal with them, too. There may not arise a need to demand that all the 195 countries accept our sovereignty and form diplomatic relations with us, but in some areas, diplomacy cannot be avoided. For example:
- If we are an enclave inside an existing country, we will have to maintain a healthy, mutually beneficial relationship with its government.
- Nation-states are still the most powerful war machines on the planet, so open defiance and belligerent behaviors may be unwise.
- Trading with enterprises hosted in countries with tightly-controlled international trade may necessitate being on a good footing with the host.
- Transportation, whether by ground, air, or sea, is usually regulated by countries and international bodies. If we want to be able to get to and from the citadel as well as send and accept shipments of goods, we must be ready to negotiate.
- Bitcoin's rise will turn open-minded governments, likely in smaller states, into holders and promoters of the new economy. Alliance with such nations may furnish further benefits.
If the citadel model, while co-existing with the traditional statist approach, sees success, it will be only a matter of time before more entrepreneurial teams jump on board the idea. States themselves, who already have experience in experimenting with special economic zones (SEZ), are likely to take measures to reproduce the results of such successful undertakings.
Now that we have made a quick overview of what a citadel is, who participates in it, and what the conditions for its creation in the 21st century are, let us update the common dictionary definition of the word to suit our needs.
Citadel, noun [cit·a·del | \ ˈsi-tə-dᵊl , -ˌdel \]
A type of private settlement that has the status of a special administrative zone or a sovereign state, owned and operated by a managing company or cooperative, in which the relationship between such a managing party and the settlement's citizenry is strictly contractual, with the former acting as a service provider and the latter as a customer.
This is a general, technical definition of the term the way I see it. It does not matter whether our citadel has a hundred or a hundred thousand residents—the terms and conditions apply regardless.
In future articles, we will dive deeper into the various aspects of citadel life and the challenges that we face bringing this vision to life. Citadelium is here. Enjoy the trip!