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Livin' the minarchist dream: Rethinking X-Men's Krakoa as libertarian haven

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Livin’ the minarchist dream: Rethinking X-Men’s Krakoa as libertarian haven

A new way of considering the mutant’s grand new paradise.

When the mutant paradise of Krakoa was founded, the new Quiet Council—Krakoa’s ruling body, composed of mutant heroes and former villains alike —triumphantly proclaimed that there were just three laws. “Make More Mutants,” “Murder No Man,” and “Protect This Sacred Land.”

Krakoa, as it began, was a minarchist’s dream—a state that was only interested in preventing harm, and even then in the smallest, most restricted terms, because of the unique nature of the Krakoan state. Krakoa does not have a military at least in the traditional sense – if anything, every citizen is armed, through their own mutant abilities. Krakoa does not have economic policy. Krakoa does not have a regulatory policy. Krakoa does not have labor policy. Krakoa doesn’t even taxes, let alone tax policy. Krakoa, essentially, exists to defend its citizens—from demons, aliens, and racists alike—and run the absolute minimum of public infrastructure. 

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In short, Krakoa is a libertarian dream. It’s a state that epitomizes a Hayekian sense of spontaneous order—the idea that a peaceful productive society will occur when people are left alone to make their own choices.

As we read on in the early issues of the Dawn of X, we found that there are many edge cases here. The Resurrection Protocols, X-Factor, and the Hellfire Trading Company nudge against the line, for instance, and X-Force, unquestionably, is a lapse. A security state on modern lines is not something that I’d like to see the mutants emulate, and the narrative doesn’t approve of that, either. But as a whole, the three great laws of Krakoa – the constitution of the state, in a small-c sense – are indicative of a nation that believes that, to borrow a phrase, the government that governs best, governs least.

Livin' the minarchist dream: Rethinking X-Men's Krakoa as libertarian haven

Courtesy of Marvel.

The first law, perhaps appropriately proposed by Kurt Wagner, is the simplest: “Make More Mutants.” It’s functionally simple pro-natalist policy, something that dozens of countries have in the real world. More broadly, it’s just a signifier by the writing team of the mutants’ positioning of victims of mass horrors. After genocides in the real world, the victims of genocide want to have kids – it’s no coincidence that after the Holocaust, a million more Jews were born in less than 15 years, and we haven’t added another million since.

But “Make More Mutants” doesn’t have a policy connection to it. The rule does not mean that every woman on Krakoa needs to have a child, and it does not mean that Sinister needs to be cranking out mutant clones. It doesn’t even mean tax credits for new parents – not that Krakoa has taxes, of course. It’s just a cultural signifier; the Quiet Council is saying they would like people to do, not what people must do. The state may want people to do things, but ultimately Krakoa still recognizes the fundamental truth that the person best qualified to make decisions about their lives is that own person.

Krakoa’s second law is even more narrowly construed: “Murder No Man.” Of course, as all laws are, this comes with its own exception, allowing killing in the cause of national defense – the “X-Force Exception,” essentially. Which is not great, at the least. But Krakoa, by centering this law, centers the founding principle of the state as protection of life, liberty, and property – and that’s it.

A Krakoan does not have to worry about the loss of life, because Krakoans can’t die, so there is no need to make it a crime. But life is not a value that stops at state lines, and as such, Krakoan law protects the only people whose lives can still be lost. Killing is only accepted when it is in the service of defending the lives of others. (Although the fact that aliens and robots do not count as “man” has already been exploited by the island’s residents.)

Livin' the minarchist dream: Rethinking X-Men's Krakoa as libertarian haven

Courtesy of Marvel.

Finally, Krakoan law mandates that the residents must “Protect This Sacred Land.” This one is perhaps the most interesting for our purposes. After Sebastian Shaw brings up “property rights. Wealth. Currency. A few of the things that man clearly got right,” Doug Ramsey interrupts, on behalf of the living island itself. “Krakoa is alive. Not a place, or a biome – a person. Fauna, not flora. So I’d be careful how hard you want to lean into the whole property rights thing.”

But “Protect This Sacred Land” is a law that actually relies upon property rights as its basic philosophical underpinnings. If Krakoa was just a biome, just a place, then it would just be a common space, one open to exploitation by the state’s citizens. But as a living creature, then it possesses property rights, and can itself possess things. The trees and fruit and whatnot of Krakoa belong to Krakoa, and just as you can’t come and take my coffee mug without my permission, Cyclops can’t go and take a Krakoan fruit without Krakoa’s permission. “Protect This Sacred Land” is a natural implication of the idea that Krakoa possess property rights of its own. 

And in truth, this libertarian ethos pervades Krakoan society. People are simply allowed to do what they want on living island, as long as they don’t harm anyone. You can just plant your house, without having to deal with the local zoning laws and codes. You can just set up a business, your Green Lagoons and your Whiskey Breweries, without having to apply for permits. Beyond the three laws of Krakoa, the real underlying principle is that on Krakoa, you can do what you want.

Obviously, this isn’t a one-to-one comparison. But Krakoa doesn’t line up well to any sort of real-world society, because, for non-luxury goods, Krakoa is post-scarcity. No Krakoan wants for food, water, housing, clothing, or (if you do a bit of a stretch of the word) healthcare. But it isn’t accurate to call Krakoa socialist, either, because there is neither central planning nor communal ownership. No one tells the living island how much fruit to grow, houses to build, or how to do either – it just does it.

Krakoa

Courtesy of Marvel.

In the real world, the arguments between different economic philosophies are all essentially about the best way to distribute scarce resources. In the real world, there is a finite amount of everything, and it takes effort to grow food, to purify water, to build a house, and so forth. Krakoa does all of that by itself, without an input of resources bar the vague “mutant life force” which is really just a handwave.

On Krakoa, the scarce resources aren’t the staples; they’re luxury goods. And on those luxury goods, the Krakoans gleefully engage in free market commerce and international trade. Charles Xavier’s list of corporate concerns are very, very long, and there is an entire book at the heart of the current line of X-Men comics that is just about how great free trade is. (Kate Pryde is not paying tariffs on her imports of booze for Wolverine, and if Krakoa had their own version of the Jones Act, the Marauder would never have been built.)

There is no Krakoan manufacturing sector for most goods. There isn’t a Krakoan entertainment industry, a Krakoan aerospace sector, a Krakoan higher education system, or any of that – not yet, at least. Beyond individual innovators like Forge, Beast, and their ilk, the only thing that Krakoa creates is pharmaceuticals, and fancy gala clothes. If you want a Star Trek t-shirt, the latest Lizzo song, a doctoral degree, or a drone to take photos with, and you live on Krakoa, you have to engage with the international free market. Krakoans do just that. Captain Kate is out there, buying Wolverine his beer!

Krakoa is a society built around mutant freedom. It’s built around the idea of a maximized sense of individual freedom, with free association, free thought, individualism, and enterprise as the highest ideas. Its laws are few and far between, doing nothing more than protecting life, liberty, and property. Krakoa is a state that believes that mutants are entitled to, as long as no one else is being harmed, basically do whatever they want.

Livin' the minarchist dream: Rethinking X-Men's Krakoa as libertarian haven

Courtesy of Marvel.

I don’t think this is the intended reading from Hickman, Wells, Williams, Percy, Ayala, and the rest. I am well aware that Team Libertarian is very much a political minority in this country. But I think that-hopefully, to me, at least-this is indicative of a greater change, and a greater consensus. We all agree, at the end of the day, that the best society is the freest society; a society where people are allowed to make the choices that they want, and live the life they want. Krakoa can’t be a model, practically, for a real society. We’re not immortal, after all. But I would hope that it can be a model, ideologically.

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