Pelatarchy: When the Customer Reigns Supreme

The world doesn’t really need any new labels, but I’m coining one anyway: pelatarchy.

I like political labels, even when they inevitably get twisted into new, antithetical meanings. I joyfully wear many political labels, including: voluntaryist, anarchist, classical liberal, autarchist, libertarian, legal polycentrist, agorist, and decentralist.

I can explain each one and why it fits the principles that I hold. My principles are primary, the labels just serve as a shorthand identification, and sometimes as conversation starters or plots of common ground. My principles set my preferences (values), and my preferences determine my behavior (purposeful action). This seems true for everybody.

What is also true for everybody is that all relations are forms of trade. Something is always exchanged in any given purposeful voluntary human interaction. Exchanged contents include money, goods, services, information, feelgoods, and more. Depending on one’s perspective, there is a customer and a vendor in every exchange.

Ultimately, customers decide what and when contents get exchanged in the context of voluntary human relations. This means that customers are the decision-makers of last resort, and supreme ruler over their engagements.

This is pelatarchy. (pay-luh-tar-key, Greek pelátis/customer/client + arkhon/ruler/commander)

You may have heard the term “consumer sovereignty”. This is also pelatarchy. Under pelatarchy, customers, who are one half of every purposeful voluntary human interaction (both halves, actually), reign supreme.

Pelatarchy is unavoidable so long as human relations are voluntary. It’s really no different than anarchy or the voluntary society, et cetera, but it puts emphasis on the fact that customers, not vendors, are in charge. I like that.

Will it catch on? I doubt it. It’s difficult to say and clunky. I don’t really care either, but it was fun to explore.

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Founder and editor of and, Skyler is a husband and unschooling father of three beautiful children. His writings include the column series “One Voluntaryist’s Perspective” and “One Improved Unit,” and blog series “Two Cents“. Skyler also wrote the books No Hitting! and Toward a Free Society, and edited the books Everything Voluntary and Unschooling Dads. You can hear Skyler chatting away on his podcasts, Everything Voluntary and Thinking & Doing.