By Insula Qui
The most important discovery as it relates to libertarianism and statecraft is Dunbar’s number, this is the number of social relationships a person can sustain. This number has been estimated to be between 100 and 250, with a median estimate of 150. And seemingly, this provides us with a solution to how many people a libertarian government can govern. This is because social trust can only function within the limits of Dunbar’s number, so the size of a polity seems unable to exceed 250. But this would only be true for purely decentralized relations.
Within a libertarian monarchy, the relevant metric is how many people the monarch can retain sustainable relationships with. And as the monarch must be well adapted to creating and sustaining relationships, we can estimate a monarch to have a capacity to sustain around 250 relationships. This means that a monarch can have reciprocal trust with 250 people, but a monarch governing 250 people will be extremely inefficient and as such, we need to accept degrees of alienation.
The most generous assumption would be that everyone the monarch has a relationship with is an aristocrat. This is unrealistic, but we can accept this in our extremely generous estimate. We can now generously estimate that each aristocrat has a relationship with 250 members of his own polity, all polities being distinct and separate, with no overlap. If this is true and if the acceptable degree of alienation is a single aristocracy, the amount of people a monarch can govern is 62,500.
We can now give the same generous estimates, however, we now can say that we can accept two degrees of alienation, this would give us a number of over 15 million, which is much closer to the current size of countries. But this is not realistically sustainable as the first aristocracy would then be unable to actually connect to the polity. The polity will be functionally unrepresented, and the monarch will have no connection to the interest of the polity. We can fundamentally only accept a single degree of alienation as there can be no trust between the two degrees alienated aristocracy and the people.
And now we have to also produce a more realistic estimate and factor in real conditions. Firstly, all people need to feel represented but do not actually need to be represented. Functionally, this means that every family must have one person actually represented who has connections to an aristocrat. If we estimate a median size of the family unit as 4, which is reasonable considering that the variations in familial structures can reach from extended families to solitary individuals, we produce that an aristocrat could functionally represent around a thousand people.
And this only works with the family because every other social unit will produce exclusion due to lacking a similar degree of interconnectedness, each family must have at least one person who is represented. But it is also unlikely that only one person from each family would be represented. We can now say that the aristocrat would usually represent two people from an average four-person family. This means that the aristocrat would represent around five hundred people in 125 families.
And we cannot estimate that polities will not be interconnected as they all fall under the same system of governance, realistically, we can suppose that the polity of each aristocrat will have around a 50% overlap with the polities of other aristocrats. Furthermore, this means that each aristocrat will also have social relations outside his own polity. We can safely estimate that every supposed polity would now have around 100 families and 400 people.
But of the 100 families in that polity, the aristocrat would only have an exclusive representation of half and a split representation of the rest. This means that the aristocrat would functionally only represent 75 families and 300 people. By introducing external factors, we have still arrived at a larger number of represented people than previously, however, we still have one factor we have not accounted for, we still have a really generous estimate for Dunbar’s number, by reducing that estimate to a more realistic degree, we can safely say that an aristocrat could represent around 50 families and 200 people.
The king has no alleviating factor of the family. The king must be in contact with every aristocrat and have reciprocal trust with those aristocrats. This means that the king will only experience a reduced power of representation. First, we can still estimate the number of relationships a king can sustain at 250, this is because the king must be extremely socially capable in order to sustain a kingdom.
But a king must also sustain relationships outside the aristocrats, we can safely say that a king might have around 150 personal friends, contacts in the police and military, and interkingdom connections. This means that the king could realistically only sustain 150 aristocrats, this is because the aristocrats have a statistically higher likelihood than the general population to be personal friends or in the police and military, thus fitting two categories. This means that the realistic size of each kingdom would be around 30,000.
This also means that every form of libertarian governance should be around the estimate of 30,000 people if it is to be a monarchic-aristocratic form of governance. However, functional systems may theoretically vary from 1 person to 62,500 people. And realistically, when the governed entity is a town, small city, or village, the amount of people governed would more closely be 500-10,000. This means that the estimate of 30,000 is only relevant in cities with populations that equal or exceed 30,000.
But would it not be useful to combine villages and towns into a larger polity? A kingdom could encompass multiple of these entities. So we must account for this possibility also. If the average small settlement is around 2000 people, the king might govern up to 15 of these settlements. But we have to account for an increased degree of complexity as each settlement is a more insular and a less homogenous entity. It is harder to govern different villages than a large amount of people who are otherwise similar. The problems and concerns of each small settlement will differ to the extent that it is hard to reconcile all interests.
This means that the capacity of the king to govern must be reduced, we can here just use our previous estimates, but also estimate the number of relationships the king can sustain to be around 150, more close to the average dunbar’s number as the relationships become increasingly complicated. This means that there could only be 100 or so aristocrats. This is because the size of the polity being reduced by a lesser amount of aristocrats would reduce military and police contacts alongside international connections. Furthermore, the king is unlikely to give up on personal friends while remaining well-adjusted.
This means that a kingdom consisting of small villages could only number around 20,000 people, so realistic estimates for a kingdom would be around 20,000 to 30,000, depending on whether the kingdom is in an urban or rural environment. But here we are also faced with a problem. Urban environments have similar increased complexity, however, this only happens when they are too large to be easily divided between multiple kings. Furthermore, in urban environments below 60,000 people, kings must see a reduction in the size of their polity.
From this we can deduce that the more kings there are in an urban settlement, the harder the governance of that settlement becomes. Furthermore, since each king would have to sustain relations with each other king, the size of kingdoms would rapidly deteriorate. This means that urban environments will either see a breakdown of rational rule and a rise of tyranny. Or that urban environments will cease being governed altogether and function in a form of ungoverned and individualistic anarcho-capitalism.
This leads us to the inevitable conclusion that the size of monarchy in a libertarian system could realistically only be a king ruling 20,000 people in a rural area or a settlement no larger than 30,000. Beyond this, we see an increasing breakdown of the rational monarchic order and a return to despotism and ungoverned anarchy. This also leads us to the logical conclusion that large cities will simply be outcompeted under a functioning libertarian system of governance and that there will inevitably be a peaceful abolition of the city for economic reasons. The city will be reduced to a giant market, an ungoverned hub of trade and not a livable environment.
We can still theoretically conceptualize a system of governance in a city that is not necessarily tyrannical. This is republicanism without externalities. We can imagine certain “political candidates” going door to door to provide their managerial services. Thus, the size of the polity would become the degree of connections the political candidates can mechanically sustain. This varies largely with the size of the firm and the capacity of those “candidates” to perform secretarial duties.