The Role of Government

Limiting Government in Size, Scope and Power

Tyranny and Democide  

History has repeatedly shown the failures of relying on the state to provide for its citizens. The Sikh Panth in particular has suffered greatly under tyrannical regimes, that may be on paper secular and democratic, but in reality are divisive and catered towards their own elitist desires of power and control. By pitting one group against the other, the people are divided and squabble amongst themselves, and in this way the rulers maintain power. However, the counter to this may be that the people simply need to elect a “good” leader, one who will be just and compassionate. And this may seem true initially, and perhaps even obvious. History has had its examples of venerated rulers, from Marcus Aurelius to Maharaja Ranjit Singh. Cyrus the “Great” was so revered by the Jews, that he was even praised in their scripture as a messiah, the only non-Jew to be given the title. From our own Ithiaas, Raja Janak in particular is a famous example. A king who attained enlightenment and conquered desire and attachment. The ideal of “philosopher kings” espoused by Plato has indeed been realised throughout history. But they were rare. An exception not the rule, lasting as only oases in a vast desert of tyranny and oppression. Aurelius was the last of what Niccolo Machiavelli called the “Five Good Emperors”, as after his death the Roman empire fell into times of great hardship and civil war with the infamous “Year of the Five Emperors”. Maharaja Ranjit Singh invested heavily in arts and culture as well as implemented many beneficial reforms. But this also ultimately fell apart due to betrayal from within his court. Dying without a clear successor led to internal strife, which was further exploited by the British to destroy the empire entirely. Even after the death of Cyrus, the Achaemenid Persian Empire, although largely prosperous, eventually led to rulers growing up in luxury and becoming weaker and weaker, until Sikandar from Macedonia steam-rolled them and sent the Emperor Darius into hiding in his own lands¹. The message here being that having a system that so heavily relies on the competency and benevolence of the ruler is inherently flawed. As soon as they go, so does the prosperity that relied upon them, and ultimately it is the people who suffer. To rely on the long term compassion of a government in Kaljug is not only naive, but can often be disastrous.

There is no “right man for the right job” since the job itself is wrong. No one individual, or small group should hold a monopoly on force by centralising power into a select few. Aiming to elect a group that will adequately represent an entire society is not only unrealistic, but dangerous. No exclusive group of people are capable of managing the vast diversity of societies, the complexity of which gives rise to so many different needs and wants. To suggest that a singular entity can successfully manage the trillions of transactions that occur daily in the modern world is not only wrong but ludicrous². Even a ruler with good intentions, seeing the limited resources of which he controls, may try to prioritise by pandering towards one group but in the process excludes another. Ways in which this has been dealt with has often resulted in tragic consequences for a population. In order to maintain supreme control, ruling classes have engaged in heinous acts by first “simplifying” the systems they control. By eradicating diversity and freedom of expression, they aim to establish a population that is homogeneous. Having a population that thinks and acts the same is far easier to manage, and for any tyrant this becomes a more desirable route after realising how complex managing a state really is. They have no shame in manipulating the truth and applying labels such as “enemies of  state” to weed out opposition. Monopolising and nationalising media they control the narrative and make terrorists out of freedom fighters. Using religion as a weapon they turn their genocides into holy wars and praise is given to murderers, rapists and paedophiles. Through this, they destroy any opposition and criticism of their actions believing that they know best, or it is for the “greater good”. Creating a public enemy of an individual or group, they engineer a population to murder themselves. This is not conjecture, it is history. The 1984 genocide followed this formula, by demonising Sikhs and turning those who fought for Dharam into terrorists via a variety of methods³. Even today the narratives around the genocide is rife with misinformation and propaganda. It is a fallacy to think that the Indian state has progressed since then. Hindu Nationalism is once again on the rise. Organisations like the RSS are openly performing a cultural genocide through their assault on linguistic and religious freedom. Not surprisingly, Hitler’s Mein Kampf is a best-seller amongst India’s right wing. It was for the purity and greater good of the German race, Hitler had also justified his actions. He did not think he was the one in the wrong. Censoring alternative opinions, and ostracising opponents becomes a necessity in their mind. By having unchecked power at the top, the leaders determine what is just, and are willing to commit the worst terrors to uphold it.

The Soviet Union is a prime example of authoritarianism gone wrong. Vladimir Lenin, after leading the Bolshevik revolution in Russia, deposed the Tzar and began to nationalise industries.  Rejecting free trade and private property, he and his party enforced a policy which permitted the state to take control of factories and businesses so that they could centrally plan where resources should go. Neither could anyone lease or own land, or hire workers. Instead labour was controlled and people were assigned roles given by the state. Critically, farmers in particular were targeted by having any excess crops above anything needed to feed themselves confiscated and given to the government to determine how it would be rationed. Initially food was sold at reduced fixed prices, with the government being the sole purchaser.

Inevitably, due to these fixed prices being far lower than the ordinary natural price determined by market forces, the incentive to farm diminished as there was no profit motive. The farmers were less driven to produce extra crops, since they knew all the hard work they put in would not be rewarded as it would just be confiscated anyway. As a result crop production plummeted alongside other industrial outputs. Cities and towns in the USSR were brought to the verge of famine. The farmers worked out ways around these restrictive policies and established a so-called “black market”. Peasants known as “bagmen” filled their grain into sacks to travel into the cities and sell directly to the people. When Lenin found out about this, he issued his infamous “Hanging Order”, which ordered them to be publicly hanged to soak fear in the populace.

Unsurprisingly, this further acted as a disincentive for labour in the agricultural sector leading to widespread food shortages, plunging the population into a famine. Millions died as a result of this mismanagement of the economy. Lenin, realising his mistake, then drafted what was now known as the “New Economic Policy” (NEP) in order to free up the economy for private enterprises based on a profit motive to be established at a limited level. However, he made it clear to maintain this under strict state control. This allowed the economy to develop somewhat as a result, which further highlights the importance of the economic freedom of which Azadism is based on. Even the black markets acted as a lifeline for those in the cities. However, due to the state still having so much control over so many aspects of the economy, the USSR naturally fell back into crisis when the next autocrat took charge.

After World War One, the region of Ukraine was split up into various territories of which the majority was ceded to Bolshevik Russia. Lenin was succeeded by Joseph Stalin who put an end to the NEP and began to institute new reforms to bolster industrialisation¹⁰. To achieve this, Stalin introduced the first of a series of “Five-Year Plans”, which became common amongst later nations  aiming to emulate the Soviet central planning models¹¹. Unfortunately, despite its initial boost in employment and industrial output, this too inevitably failed. The peasants became increasingly oppressed, in particular a class known as the ”Kulaks” who were allegedly wealthier. The state began by raising tax rates and setting more demanding performance quotas for the production of crops. Eventually, they expropriated property just as Lenin did, and deported thousands of families to other areas of the USSR. Stalin then adopted a model of collectivising the farms to further reduce the power of the farmers and peasant classes. This was a step further than Lenin had originally implemented by confiscating produce, as it meant that individuals were no longer permitted to even owning their own farms and land. Instead they were forced to join large collective farms owned by the state but managed by multiple families¹². The state would then pay them a salary depending on how best they met quotas. Naturally, unwilling to part with their private property and generational homes and lands, the peasantry revolted by killing their cattle and destroying necessary machinery. Stalin cracked down harshly in return and sent millions of them to Gulags. With much of the labour supply diminished alongside equipment and livestock, output dropped. However, Stalin still forcibly requisitioned what remained and exported much of it abroad, simultaneously starving the population. Despite Ukrainian exports for wheat rising to its highest rates ever at the time, Ukraine itself and other areas of the USSR had entered another famine. The Soviet state security forces and secret police used to go house to house to collected the dead. Peasants caught “stealing” food were executed on the spot, and as the death toll rose countless were thrown into mass graves. One story tells of a situation in which they even took people alive but too weak to resist, so to save time on having to collect their bodies later. They too were thrown into the mass graves and buried alive. The sheer brutality of these events got to such a level and people were in such a desperate state that cannibalism emerged as parents began to eat their own children¹³.

The Soviet Union was an extreme example of totalitarian regimes, however not an exception. Their particular brand of ideology and methods were imitated by Mao in China, resulting in the deaths of tens of millions of people¹⁴. Cambodia under Pol Pot was also inspired by them, killing between 13-30% of the entire population¹⁵. Even today in North Korea, the Korean people suffer from central planning, living under strict state control. Brutal punishments are handed out to anyone who resists, one particularly gruelling example is the yeon-jwa-je - “Guilt by association”. This includes punishing entire families, even imprisoning three generations worth of members in prison camps. Under hellish conditions, adults, elderly and children alike are forced to work from 5:30AM to midnight. They are often starved, beaten and tortured to death¹⁶. This is not history, this is happening right now.

Countless are the examples of state exerting its power in this way throughout history. Our own Ithiaas is full of them. From Guru Arjan Dev Ji, attaining Shaheedi under the Mughal emperor Jahangir to the genocide of 1984 at the hands of the Indian state, the Panth is no stranger to tyranny. During Auranga’s reign, the authoritarian Mughal state also degraded religious freedoms, imposing discriminatory tax rates based of religion in the form of the Jizya. Hindu merchants were forced to pay higher tax rates than Muslim merchants. Prominent Hindu temples were destroyed, such as the Kesava Deo (believed to be the birthplace of Krishna) which was demolished and a Mosque reconstructed on top. Due to the increasing oppression, several revolts had arisen and were suppressed by the Emperor's forces. A religious sect known as the Satnamis also rebelled against this tyranny however the state forces completely eradicated their entire order¹⁷. All unorthodox Muslims including Shiites and Sufis were also persecuted for their alternative interpretations of Islam. Kashmiri Pandits also feeling the wrath pleaded to Guru Tegh Bahadur to help them avoid the state mandate to convert to Islam or die. By confronting Auranga and challenging the Emperor to convert him to Islam instead, the Guru was tortured for weeks before finally attaining martyrdom themselves, alongside his companions Bhai Dayal Das, Bhai Mati Das and Bhai Sati Das. Never giving in to the forced conversion, they secured the religious freedoms of the oppressed.

This all culminated into the formation of the Khalsa under Guru Gobind Singh, expanding on the militaristic institution of the Akal Sena established by his grandfather, Guru Hargobind Sahib. The Guru, seeing the overarching oppression by the state, aimed to liberate the people by giving them sovereignty over their own lives, away from state coercion. Seeing the timidity of the common man, and building upon the work of his predecessors, he transformed them into saint-soldiers. Weapons became the articles of faith, and using them to wage war against tyranny became the new religion.

Jai Bhagouti

As eluded to throughout this manifesto, the role of an Azadist government is reduced to only a few critical areas initially to begin with, from which power is then dissolved further. These are:

  1. National Defence
  2. Policing
  3. Justice system
  4. Tax Administration

This takes the economic power out of a select group of people and into the hands of the ordinary population participating in private, mutually agreed transactions. The government has no say in how individuals negotiate their own contracts. As seen earlier, this may take the form of getting rid of any minimum wage laws, that violate the freedom of negotiations between employee and employers, or another example is removing any restrictions on the types of goods and services sold (as long as it does not violate the NAP). A desirable consequence of the latter example is the purchase of weapons. This is encouraged to ensure the ability of the population to defend themselves against tyrannical governments, either domestic or foreign. A well-armed populous, with weaponry sufficiently permeated throughout society, sets up a fail-safe or a last line of defence from the tyranny previously discussed. Guru Gobind Singh also makes this ideology abundantly clear through numerous examples throughout their Gurbani and Ithiaas¹⁸:

Maharaj makes it absolutely clear the state of those who are without any means of defending themselves. Those who are unarmed are susceptible to any sort of oppression and tyranny. They can be so easily herded like sheep, and consequently butchered like cattle also. Kesh is another symbol representative of freedom, since in those times long unshorn hair was a symbol of sovereignty in both temporal and spiritual terms, as well as belonging to the Kshatriya class. Similarly, around the world intact hair was a common motif for freedom and expression of one's traditions and culture; so much so that often the first thing slavers and conquerors would do is cut off the hair of the enslaved. Long hair, being associated with many other warrior cultures throughout history, the Guru is also emphasising the importance to remain free and defiant in the face of tyrants, by implanting warrior/royal ethos into the hearts and minds of the average man. A popular reasoning as to why the Khalsa adopted the Dastar is also to represent an open defiance to the state mandates at the time that only royalty or select classes were permitted to wear a turban. Not only did the Singhs defy this, but wore tall turbans, using two cloths hence Du(two) Mala(cloth). Kshatriyas have always historically been the caste of kings in India, and so when the Guru establishes the order of the Khalsa, he gave the opportunity for the ordinary man to become a king, regardless of their social status, wealth and other arbitrary conditions.

As private, non-state actors, the Gurus themselves established and maintained their own sovereignty. Erecting the Akal Bunga (Takht), Guru Hargobind Sahib challenged the state's authority by building its platform higher than permitted by a royal edict decreeing that only the Emperor could sit on a raised platform of over three feet. The Guru wearing two swords, a Kalgi and other insignia of royalty, regularly sat on this raised platform and mirrored the duties of a king as a private individual in an act of open defiance to state authority¹⁹. Later, his predecessor Guru Gobind Singh would complete this transition of taking away state power, by blessing all Sikhs with the status of Kings with the birth of the Khalsa. The Khalsa Panth became the next successor to the Guru alongside the Shri Guru Granth Sahib.

Where the hawks represent the tyrannical rulers of the time, the corrupt authoritarian state²⁰. Seeing the oppression levied upon the people of India, and the atrocities committed by the Mughal government, the Guru crafted a militia of his own from the ordinary people to combat this. Maharaj embedded the warrior ethos of the Kshatriya into the saintly nature of the Sikhs crafted over nine lifetimes of the preceding Gurus. Through this, the ordinary people were uplifted and turned into the status of warriors and kings. Again, all in the effort to maintain freedom and individual liberty against the state.

Tyrants, in the examples of the previous subsection, recognised the danger of an armed population and so acted swiftly to ban them. The Soviets confiscated guns and enacted strict gun control laws after taking power, which was similarly replicated by other parties with similar tendencies for central planning and overarching state control. A particularly egregious example being the Nazi party of Germany under Hitler, who after removing most of his opposition, only then relaxed restrictions (especially for fellow Nazis), except for the Jews who were strictly repressed from gun ownership and thrown into concentration camps²¹. Ironically the US National Rifle Association (NRA) used a similar tactic in 1967 when they supported a bill to restrict open carry of firearms in California despite their heavy pro-gun stance. This was an effort to restrict the Black Panther party at the time from their activism and highlighted the double standard the NRA held when black people sought to express the same rights to guns²².

During the British Raj in India, restrictions on weapons were also strictly enforced. Slowly in the Panth itself, Shastar began to lose its once highly respected position as post-colonial distortions of Sikhi seeped into their minds. Where before Sarups of Guru Granth Sahib were rarer and less accessible, Shastar Prakash was common in Gurudwaras and memorials to Shaheeds instead, acting as the point to prostrate towards and do Parikrama around²³. One of the few groups left that preserved these martial ideals were the Nihang Singhs. However, many of these warriors attained martyrdom fighting the British alongside their Jathedar, Akali Baba Hanuman Singh. The few survivors retreated south to Hazur Sahib, away from much of the British influence and hence why even today they maintain many of the original Kshatriya traditions of our Gurus and the Singhs, such as Jhatka and Shikaar²⁴. After this period, a “shoot-on-sight” policy was enacted, that wherever a Nihang Singh was seen, they were to be killed on site and shot twice in the head since they were known to carry on fighting even after the first shot to the head²⁵. This extermination did much to suppress the warrior ethos of the Sikh Panth as a whole. Even the Kirpan wasn’t spared as the size gradually decreased, eventually forcing a Hukamnama to be issued by the head Granthi at Hazur Sahib at the time, Akali Hazura Singh, decreeing that a Kirpan to be worn with a Kamarkassa should be no less than one foot in length. Giani Sher Singh, a prominent scholar and Granthi²⁶, explained the tragic consequences of the disarmament attitudes of the Panth. During the 1984 genocide, those families who kept the Guru’s Shastardhari Maryada alive were the ones who survived and those who didn’t were brutally murdered with their children being burnt alive on the streets, and mothers and daughters having their honour taken from them.

This is the importance of keeping armed, and being unrestricted in doing so. It is to protect oneself and others when the state follows the footsteps of the tyranny before them, thus continuing the age-old tradition of democide. The population themselves must recognise and accept responsibility for their own sovereignty and to keep the freedom that an Azadist state is built upon. Democide is not an exception, it is an inevitability of authoritarianism. It is only ever a matter of when not if. For these reasons, Azadism does away with any sort of gun-control, confiscation or selective rights to weapons, by granting the right to own weapons unrestricted to all citizens.

The Founding Fathers of the United States, similarly recognising these factors in their own constitution codified a similar sentiment through the Second Amendment, ensuring the right for its citizens to bear arms:

“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

A well-armed populace acts as a fail-safe against oppression. Therefore, it is of the utmost importance that the trade of weapons is not restricted. People themselves need to take responsibility for maintaining their own freedoms, and constantly check that the government does not increase power and influence. The use of weapons against those taking away freedom is morally legitimate even if state laws declare it illegal²⁷. If the state or anyone attempts to relinquish the right to arms then the private individual should give a response equal to what King Leonidas of Sparta gave to the Persians when asked to surrender weapons. Freedom can equally be seen as a natural state, instead of something that is acquired necessarily. To achieve freedom is to remove barriers that inhibit it. Shastar being one of the most crucial components in order to do so. It becomes abundantly clear why the Guru worships weapons, seeing that they are the vehicle to freedom²⁸.

The horrors of what happens when the state becomes the sole monopoly on force is why Azadism despises forced authoritarianism in all its forms. It completely rejects ideologies and actions that aim to give greater power to the state, economically or politically, since it recognises the vast suffering that ensues when it goes wrong. It is not blinded by naivete to simply expect that by electing someone new that somehow this time “it will be different”. The Mughals replaced the Lodis, Lenin was brought to power after deposing the Tzar and Hitler too inherited the status of Führer via democratic means. Simply replacing one centrally planned state with another, one authoritarian regime with the next, is not the solution. The problem is the state itself. Too much power concentrated in too few people.

When the Guru makes reference to securing Raaj, is he referring to just another state, or political party or regime? Or is he referring to the people themselves, private individuals taking the right to rule their own lives in their own hands. Azadism interprets this as the latter. Real Khalsa Raaj is wherever a Singh plants his foot.

Satguru had conferred sovereignty on the Khalsa Panth, As well as on each individual Singh of that fraternity. Wherever a Singh sets his foot and settles on earth, He establishes his own self-reliant/autonomous sovereignty.

— Rattan Singh Bhangu, Prachin Panth Prakash

True Raaj is not the ability to coerce and command others to do your bidding. It is the power to take sovereignty over your own mind, body and spirit as well as allowing others to be free to do so too.

Whenever the state oversteps its role, it must be the people who take back this power into their own hands; weapons in all their forms are the tools to do this. To be Shastardhari is not merely opening an old sword museum in your house full of rusty blades, it is the constant striving to do battle, and the preparedness that comes with training - to be Tyaar bar Tyaar. Weapons are not just limited to the medieval equipment of the old times, even the Gurus advanced their arsenals through adopting firearms and even inventing their own cannons²⁹. Furthermore, to fight battles was not just limited to the physical fight either, just as the Guru killed Aurunga through the Zafarnamah, similarly the freedom must be upheld for the people to criticize their government without censorship. They can also write and inspire policy change through non-physical violence. Whatever means of doing battle is chosen, the battle must be fought constantly to limit the power of the state so to avoid tyranny and oppression.

The Khalsa especially should realise this responsibility as it has done so throughout its history. Pandering towards pro-state ideas and granting greater powers to government is not only antithetical to Azadism, but Khalsa Mat in general. This manifesto is just one effort to combat the growing sentiment in the Panth of supporting nationalisation and other anti-private policy. The vast majority of this comes from ignorance of what policies actually do in terms of freedom. The mark of a society that is declining into totalitarianism is the relinquishing of power from the people and into the hands of a few. This may be done in many ways, as shown throughout this manifesto. Censorship, nationalisation of industry, increased regulations and licences, but perhaps most importantly, gun control. So that, when these authoritarian systems eventually fall into barbarity, the people have nowhere to turn to, and no means of resistance. Don’t expect the world to step in. Who stepped in when people of the Soviet Union was starving or thrown into Gulags? Who gave aid to the Native Americans when they were invaded and enslaved? What about when the Jews were persecuted under Hitler? Where was the world in the countless massacres and genocides throughout history? Any action that was taken was too late. These are not just restricted to history. Who is stepping in now to save the Uyghurs, Rohingya and North Koreans? Or the Palestinians and Israeli people who are caught in the middle of two governments warring with each other? These things can only exist when the people themselves hand over their collective power to a small group of “representatives”, forgetting that a government, a king, an emperor, a dictator was meant to be a servant to the people and not the other way around.


To avoid these tyrannical situations from arising in the first place, it is imperative that the government is structured in such a way as to mitigate this risk. Most of this risk has already been alleviated through the nature of an Azadist government being one of minimal intervention and restricted to the roles mentioned previously. This should be formalised into a constitution of sorts, and held in the highest regard by the people themselves. The rules in that constitution should be held almost as sacred as religious articles to ensure its adherence. As well as this, the armed population should be always ready to defend this constitution less they risk suffering the consequences of authoritarianism. It is therefore the peoples own responsibility to maintain this first and foremost. Any changes are likely to be insidious, but once this document is established, it should not be changed in any way to add further power to the government. The current stance of Azadism already allows for the maximum participation possible. A society can only be classed as Azadist if, at most, the state is responsible for military, police, courts and taxes. Anything that privatises this even more is just more Azaad, until you get to full privatisation, a.k.a Azaadi. Ways in which this could materialise is adapting the tax collection and redistribution system to be managed by blockchain technologies, AI or other ways to reduce the bureaucracy involved.

Another recommendation for the well functioning of an Azadist nation is to do away with a democracy in the form of simply giving everyone a vote. However, firstly, it is unlikely that there will be many issues to vote on anyway since the market itself is responsible for its own economic decisions such as trade deals, minimum wages, welfare or any other policy decision a politician would usually make for them. The Athenians were one of the earliest civilisations who actively worked against the establishment of an authoritarian system. They had learned the lessons of giving too much power to a ruling elite and knew full well the consequences of having freedoms eroded³⁰. Through the establishment of democracy, they aimed to disseminate power amongst the population. Although, an improvement, there were still some serious weaknesses present in the Athenian experiment. What inevitably arose was a system in which those vying for power would use any manner of misleading speech to simply appear better than opponents, rather than having any actual rational policies. The voting populace, who were not educated in the nuance of certain matters, would simply pick the candidate who had the more convincing argument, but not necessarily the rational one. The word given to such people was “demagogues”, who were masters of rhetoric rather than reason³¹. Plato describes an argument  presented by his teacher Socrates in his work ‘Gorgias’ on this matter, where he gave an example of a court trial that had indicted a doctor. The accuser being a cook that baked meats and treats, and the jury being a group of young boys. The cook would be able to easily sway the jury’s opinion by highlighting the scary-looking instruments of the doctor, bitter-tasting potions and other practices, claiming that he on the other hand offers sweets. Amongst a population who do not know any better, it is unlikely the doctor could make any substantial counter argument³². Socrates further expands on this in Plato’s “The Republic”, using his famous allegory of the “Ship of Fools”. You wouldn’t let just anyone manage the sailing of a ship and all the other roles involved. Instead, you would want those skilled and educated in these matters to be responsible. The same logic is then extrapolated onto voting and deciding how a nation should be managed. Seeing the inherent flaws of democracy, Socrates advocated that voting should be equally recognised as a skill that requires time and effort to hone. It is not simply a birthright³³.

There have been proposed improvements for this system. However, as I will explain shortly, these proposals do not address the fundamental issue. Nonetheless, it may still be worth mentioning. One suggestion is that voting rights should be reserved only to those who have a proven ability to think rationally about the arguments presented and have shown that they have indeed thought about their vote. Just like a driving test is required before obtaining a license, similarly, a test could be set up ahead of a vote that those wishing to participate must pass. If the citizens recognise the importance of being educated enough to vote, then they may demand this education in the market. Those that decide not to or are unable to put in the time and effort required to pass this test will simply be barred from voting. The test should be careful to avoid bias and mainly stick to questions ascertaining whether people simply know what certain terminology even means. Those creating these tests should obviously not be allowed to vote. This is all to reduce the effect of demagoguery, whereby politicians manipulate voters by gaining sympathy through rhetorical arguments, where they push policies that are counter-productive but sound nice in order to gain power. The reality is that many people are not educated enough to be able to make an informed decision, and so the rest of the population shouldn’t suffer as a result. But what happens if a single class of people are actively restricted from this education? Who decides what questions to put in this test in the first place? Does having more minds truly solve the complexity of certain decisions? There are many stupid-clever people. And there are many who are truly intelligent but still make the wrong decisions³⁴. By introducing barriers to entry for political representation, do we really reduce the risk of demagoguery, or do we give demagogues a smaller group to influence?

Azadism sees democracy as a form of mob rule. It is the majority deciding on the behalf of all. Minorities will inevitably have their interest sidelined for the benefit of the majority. This goes completely against the principles of freedom and the NAP on which Azadism stands. The only area in which it may be acceptable is privately. Private democracies can exist if each individual agrees to have their personal will triumphed over by the majority vote. There is nothing wrong with this, and it already exists in social groups everywhere for situations as mundane as deciding where to go hiking with friends. Similarly, private autocrats can exist too as long as adherence to their laws are voluntary to participate in. This is what most businesses are like, which also have autocratic structures and company policy. They are almost states within a state, with a king at the top (CEO) and all his ministers (managers) and subjects (employees of various roles) underneath. However, the difference here is that each member can voluntarily choose to leave at any time. If people do not want to seek employment in that structure, then nothing is stopping them from trying different ways of organisational management such as worker co-ops, provided that they are all still free to leave and join at will. It just so happens that human beings seem to tend towards hierarchical structures, and autocratic systems seem to get things done quicker as there is less deliberation, for better or worse³⁵. As long as this all occurs privately there is no problem with voluntary authoritarianism. In fact, this is what we Sikhs see the Guru as - a private “monarch”, transcending the royalty of the state. Each Sikh is a subject to this authority voluntarily and abides by this monarch's dictates completely of their own volition³⁶.  No matter how much in majority, a non-voluntary democracy on a state level in which one group decides on the behalf of another, is always unjust in principle if the other group is forced to comply according to Azadism.  

Similarly, the founding fathers of the US realised these issues too, and instead established a constitutional republic in which the rule of law would always take precedence³⁷. In fact, the word democracy was never used in the constitution or the declaration of independence. They feared the same thing that Socrates had in the sense that a direct democracy will eventually end up in tyranny, as the people will inevitably elect in a dictator after some time. This is exactly what happened in Germany with the rise of Hitler who was also elected democratically. Although a republic is also technically democratic, it introduces a series of measures to ensure the constitution is held in the highest regard, and that a series of representatives are elected to make decisions on the behalf of those they represent. The problem with the early American system, however, was the barring of groups such as women and black people from engaging with any of this. The founding fathers themselves followed along with the thousands of years old tradition of slavery, despite its monstrous social implications as well as economic drawbacks³⁸. But even today, the way in which representation is determined has become completely broken due to a practice known as “gerrymandering”. Elected groups are able to redraw the boundaries in which representatives are chosen so that certain parties are favoured over others, even if they had less votes overall³⁹.  Combine this with the shear number of things that the government is responsible for, you get a system arguably as bad as the very direct democracy they were hoping to avoid.

The comprehensive outline of how exactly an Azadist system would function politically goes outside of the scope of this particular manifesto, and may be expanded upon in later publications. However, for now, these are some of the things to consider when thinking about this topic. Choosing between monarchy, direct democracy, republic or any other form of government may be the wrong approach entirely. What has been proposed throughout this manifesto, is a system in which decisions are made by the people that only affect themselves and those who freely consent to be affected by them. Instead of pushing for any system that aims to decide on the behalf of others, Azadism inherently takes away this ability and places importance on maintaining freedom whilst actively protecting against those behaviours that breach the freedom of others. In other words, only that system of governance is truly acceptable that upholds the NAP. Any government that adopts Azadism as an economic policy is by default condemning itself to become gradually more limited, more privatised and more decentralised. But how would a nation starting from scratch do this? How could an existing government restructure itself to abide by the tenets of Azadism? The next section will explore one hypothetical form of government that is based on many of the principles advocated so far.

Raaj Karega Khalsa

To reiterate, the role of a government in an Azadist society would be solely for defence and protection against entities aiming to destroy personal freedom and property. It aims to ensure the free functioning of the markets and mutual transactions that occur within its nation's borders. The enemies of an Azadist state are ones who disregard the NAP and it is the government's only duty to protect against them. However, you may be wondering that if government as an entity is so incompetent and destructive, why then give some of the most crucial functions required for the well-being of a society to them also? Why have a government at all? The reason is that people have Stockholm syndrome. After so many thousands of years of being ruled and abused in various forms of authoritarianism, it has seeped into our collective consciousness that we need a government. We have learned to love our abuser. The idea of free-markets is relatively new and is still widely misunderstood or not even in common awareness⁴⁰. To get to a stage where a society becomes open to these ideas, a gradual step-by-step process must be undertaken in order to successfully transition safely. The roadmap laid out in the section about taxes is a good place to start. With this, you can begin to see real-world implementations of limiting government power. This section will now outline a hypothetical framework in which this could exist.

To start, we will begin with the nature of those individuals in government. Firstly they should adhere to a philosophy of non-duality. Seeing all things as simply an expression of what is fundamentally unified, their definition for God should be the very quality of existence itself. God, and existence, should become synonymous in understanding. Through this, all humanity is considered equal and as a result worthy of the same love, protection and respect they expect for themselves. No one is higher and no one is lower. Nothing is to be feared nor hated since all of it is a manifestation of themselves. This should not just be believed, but felt and internalised through daily remembrance of these facts. Through meditation and singing of the praises of existence, these are acceptable methods of remembrance. On top of these things, they must adhere to a strict discipline of abandoning the vices of lust, anger, greed, attachment, and pride. This is measured by the level of their involvement in charitable acts of kindness and devotion to the methods of remembrance. Additionally, their efforts in studying existence and time spent teaching others is also worthy of consideration. They must actively seek to understand the nature of the self as illusory, merely a story we tell ourselves⁴¹. It is a heuristic that is only necessary for playing along with this play of energy and matter. Understanding that objective reality acts as a base layer for which a subjective layer of beliefs, systems of thought, religions etc. are placed on top of it in order to help understand it, or at least navigate it. The only way of observing objectivity is to remove the “you” from the equation⁴². Until that happens, these individuals need only to show an active striving for that state of being. This way, the opinions, lifestyles and beliefs of others are respected as just different subjective mappings of existence. This is the spiritual philosophy necessary for the functioning of a limited government, that strives to uphold human freedom.

Secondly, the means by which they interact in this world is to protect against those who desire to destroy freedom. Therefore, it is essential that those individuals should be skilled in violence but also restrained in when to use it. They should be immersed in both combat and spirituality, so that even when they use violence it is only ever in the interest of protecting freedoms and the lives of the innocent. Fighting out of hatred is not only shunned but illogical. How can you hate when you realise that all are simply a bundle of atoms travelling in this universe at different trajectories than your own bundle? If all is you, and you are everything, what is there left to hate? Compassion, righteousness and duty, willpower and determination should be paramount virtues for members of this government if they want to remain in power. Balancing both spiritual and temporal aspects, they should be saint-soldiers. However critically, they should be saints first and then soldiers, always valuing the spiritual above the temporal. In order to help ensure these things, personal sacrifices should be made by these individuals to radically change their appearances to constantly act as an outward reminder of the responsibilities they hold. They should keep their hair long, to represent the long hair of warrior-kings and spiritual masters of the past, such as Yogis, Sadhus and Sidhs. They should then care for this hair and uphold a level of hygiene of both thought and action, symbolised by a wooden comb. Another reminder of this should be an iron bangle worn on the wrists. Cotton drawers with a knot to secure it should also be worn to ensure a message of purity and reluctance to delving into uncontrollable desires and vices.  Lastly, a weapon must become another limb of their body, never parting with it as to be always armed and ready to fight against injustice and tyranny.  What a coincidence, something like this already exists! Thankfully, none of this needs to be set up from scratch as the Guru has already provided an organisation of this nature. Azadism thus suggests placing the Khalsa as the “government” of an Azadist nation.

It is now even more important that the initiation into the Khalsa via Khande di Pahul is re-formalised into a serious, professional event. Just as it was during Guru’s time, and throughout the Khalsa’s history. The Khalsa government needs to ensure that this is now a formal introduction into the Khalsa army and not just some ritual with no commitment. This doesn’t mean that every Amritdhari Sikh has to become a battlefield soldier, but instead by partaking in Khande di Pahul, it  initiates a Khalsa into a government job - a servant of the people. A Khalsa Singh or Kaur would have the option to do Seva as a soldier, police, court official or tax administrator. By keeping Rehit it guarantees at least some level of commitment to upholding the ideals of an Azadist government of which the principles are similarly derived. By abandoning previous names, castes, and other social commitments, they must take on a new identity as part of the Khalsa.

The specifics on how the Khalsa may be structured goes beyond the scope of this particular publication since it is mainly focused on the economics. Nevertheless, some principles of Azadist economics can be applied here too in order to let us begin to think about the ideal way to manage the risk of giving one organisation a monopoly on force. One of these principles that has been the bedrock of Azadism is competition and decentralisation. Applying this in this setting, the Khalsa could be arranged once again as Misls, as they were before the time of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. Each Misl would have their own leader, elected in their own way with a set of Rehit Maryade specific to each regiment. A Khalsa who is recently initiated can then assess which Misl they would like to join and apply (each may have their own requirements or tests), or alternatively, the Misls themselves could administer Khande di Pahul and recruit that way. The Misls who stray too far from Khalsa principles would naturally get less Khalsa joining them, and if they become anti-Khalsa, the other Misls are then free to disband and destroy that unit through negotiation or battle⁴³. This ensures that the wider Khalsa Panth always has supreme power as a collective, which corresponds with the mandate from the Guru to give the Khalsa sovereignty.

The Guru then handed over his double-edged dagger to the Banda Singh, Which he accepted and wore around his person as an armour. Feeling enraged at the loss of their legitimate right of being Guru’s heirs, The Khalsa Singhs stripped Banda Singh of Guru’s armour. (11)
Chaupai : As (the) stripped Banda Singh complained to the Guru (about the Singh’s act), The Guru went into peels of laughter with immense joy. The Guru remarked that with Singh’s forcible possession of their legitimate right, His mission of empowering the Khalsa Panth has been fulfilled. (12)

— Rattan Singh Bhangu, Prachin Panth Prakash,

If the entire “Khalsa” Misls become corrupted over time then the people themselves, who were free to hold Shastar also, now have the duty to overthrow the government and re-establish constitutional law and a new set of Khalsa Misls. Any Khalsa is free to join, leave and even set up their own Misl just like private businesses in an economy. Their success is determined by how well they perform their role in protecting the population. If a Misl is failing at their role, another one is free to come in to replace them. All the people need to do is transfer their Dasvandh to another Misl⁴⁴. This is where Azadism’s conception of the Misl system differs from the historic one. Instead of imposing a “Rakhi”, or protection tax on the people, they instead offer their services more like a business. Each Misl then competes for “customers” the same way businesses do in a free-market. In fact, in the same area, multiple Misls could co-exist for different groups of customers within the same locality, the same way how multiple supermarkets exist to meet the needs of different consumers. Some Misls could specialise in courts, others in policing for example.  This competitive aspect allows for a system of checks and balances, so that there is a constant struggle and incentive to maintain the Azadist principles. Eventually, these Misls would be more akin to private security/military contractors as society becomes more Azaad.

Reasonable concern may be raised in regards to Misls fighting each other, just as they did when this was tried previously in our history. However, the following few things should be considered. The Khalsa is by nature violent. Violence itself is not a moral issue, only when and how to use violence is. If the incentives are managed in a way where the protection of the citizenry is put first, then any sort of violence on behalf of Misls will largely be restricted to fighting each other as a means to out-compete one another to achieve this goal. This is especially the case when taxes are removed in place for an optional Dasvandh, where the competition is now to appease the needs of the people in return for payment to the Misl. The same way businesses have to compete to win over customers by offering better products and services, the Misls needs to provide the best possible assurance in its ability to protect and serve. Otherwise, the people can just withdraw funding and pick another Misl. The “infighting” also avoids the issue of tyrannical oppression, as has been seen with so many dictatorships of the past, since now the government is too preoccupied with itself. If each Misl is too busy fighting each other (and even this fighting is over the favour of the people), then the risk of democide is drastically reduced⁴⁵. The Misls would therefore keep each other in check and leave the people alone. Additionally, war is a highly resource intensive and destructive activity. It’s often a huge waste of time, effort and life that could have been used far more productively elsewhere. In a system of Misls who are all competing with each other to provide the best service possible, it is illogical to engage in such behaviour as it leaves all parties involved worse off. There are less funds, less strength, and above all, less trust. The people, or customers of these services, can look at the state of these entities and come to a conclusion that they are no longer fit for purpose and choose a Misl that did not get involved with any of this. Alternatively, it is also possible that the victorious Misl could have proven its ability as a stronger, more able service provider than the one that lost. This is completely fine too, it's up to the people to decide what they want for themselves.

If a Misl decides to extort the populace instead, then two counter-balances exist with this system. The first is other Misls. Either the people themselves could call for aid, or other Misls could see and act directly as they would be their constitutional duty to prevent a violation of the NAP. These Misls would have an incentive to liberate the oppressed due to the fact that this would be seen as their Khalsa Dharam, and also because it would reflect positively on their Misl and grant them a better reputation. This is then extremely useful for future employment. The second component is the people themselves. If the population successfully heeded the messages of the previous section regarding staying Shastardhari, then they would be well equipped to secure their own freedom if the need arises. Through the very fact that everyone is armed, every house becomes a fortress and each family is an army⁴⁶. This acts as a huge deterrent to anyone seeking to take your private property and your liberty. If a society rejects Shastar, then what else do they expect? They will be led by the ear like sheep to the slaughterhouses, becoming just another story in the history of democide. Even if outnumbered and all odds are against you, is it not better to die fighting with weapons in hand?

Nonetheless, these are the extremes of possibility. In actuality, it is highly unlikely this would be commonplace due to the economic infeasibility alone. The market would filter out the undesirable traits as Misls compete to appease the will of the people. Two markets run simultaneously, one being the Khalsa collective joining and leaving Misls depending on the adherence to Sikh principles, and the other being the people themselves voluntarily devoting funds to those Misls that best meets their needs. This ensures that the government remain as Sevaks, not predators.

As Sikhs, we shouldn’t be too adverse to the idea of the Khalsa fighting each other either. It is the Khalsa’s nature to do battle, both physically and mentally. If anything its healthy and keeps all the Misls in line and self-regulating, as well as disciplined and focused. This doesn’t necessarily mean that they have to aimlessly kill one another all the time, but instead there are many ways to do battle. Level headed Misldhars looking to emulate the examples of the Guru could similarly engage in duels as was once done against Mughal commanders, thus avoiding needless bloodshed of each others forces. Alternatively, no physical engagement is required when Misls can join together in a regular Sarbat Khalsa to discuss matters and engage in debate. The Sarbat Khalsa gatherings could also provide a platform to present new ideas and innovations, and help facilitate the Azadist transitions to higher degrees of economic Azaadi. If desired, competitions and contests could also be held here to settle disputes or just to display specific “unique selling points” of each Misl. Loh Mushti and Guru Angad Dev Ji inspired wrestling matches could be just some of these ways⁴⁷.

A decentralised force like this, with a armed population, only adds to the security of the nation as a whole. It becomes almost impossible for foreign invaders to take over. Consider the recent defeat of the US in Afghanistan. Although there was foreign support, the Taliban had followed the same model to defeat the Soviets⁴⁸. The reason for their success lies in the fact that the Taliban are not a centralised force. It is a collection of thousands of tribes united against a common enemy. By employing guerilla warfare tactics they mastered the art of war in this way⁴⁹. To fight them is to fight a thousand nations in one. A similar situation existed in Ancient Greece, made up of multiple city states, each running their own experiments in statecraft. However, when faced with an external threat, they then unified to defeat the Persians whilst remaining as individual, independent entities. The original Khalsa Misls were similar. Made up of twelve Misls, they successfully worked together to dispel both the Mughals and the Afghans from the region of Punjab. Only when the Misl system was abandoned for a monarchy under Maharaja Ranjit Singh did Punjab then collapse to foreign enemies.

As Sikhs, we have a romanticised view of Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s empire, and despite all the positives that came out of it, it was still a fundamentally flawed system doomed to fail at some point. The high state investment into arts, education and religion only existed due to the benevolence of the ruler, and therefore all this flourishing relied on him. Once the Maharaja died, so did his empire. Even without the betrayals, there was no guarantee that his successors would match his reputation, and history is littered with examples of the failures of the progeny of great kings. This shows the unpredictability of having a single ruling class in terms of their attitudes towards their people. Which was also seen during the Guru’s time as some Mughal rulers befriended the Guru’s, whereas others showed hostility. And this bipolar nature isn’t even restricted to one descendant to the next. Some of the same Emperors who earlier in their lives went on hunting expeditions with the Guru, later betrayed them. Increasing, or centralising, the power and influence of a government only maximises the severity of the destruction they can commit. Why would it seem reasonable to gamble lives on whether a ruler turns out benevolent or tyrannical? A sure way to mitigate this risk is to take the power away from the government in the first place. A government that is for the people and by the people should be considered a servant of the people. To prevent a servant from stabbing the master, take away their knife. In the same way, if we don’t want our governments to oppress us, we should take away their capacity to do so. This involves reducing the size of government so it’s only responsible for a few limited things.

Even during the time of the Sikh empire, the Khalsa under Akali Phoola Singh were the counter-weight to Ranjit Singh, and they could even be argued to hold more influence than the Maharaja himself. Even the Singhs in the Khalsa armies would completely disregard any status of Ranjit Singh, and actively made sure he would know this. All this shows that the Khalsa has always been opposed to the state, even if the ruler was a Sikh. From the inception of Sikhi, authoritarianism has been opposed, whether this was against Brahmanism, Mughals, Afghanis, British, or even in modern India. Although, worthy of some exploration is the claim that despite its flaws, monarchy can still be more desirable than a bureaucratic democracy. Hans-Hermann Hoppe is a political theorist and economist who makes the argument that a king and his family have more of an incentive to comply to the peoples will lest they risk political instability and ultimately an overthrowing of their entire dynasty. Therefore, it was often the king’s own family who would kill and/or replace him, in order to secure the dynasty. This is perhaps why the particular monarchy under Ranjit Singh worked well for its time, since Akali Phula Singh as a representative of the Khalsa was able to keep the Raja in check. Compare this with a democracy, it is far more difficult to kill off who is responsible, since who exactly is responsible?  Even the death of a prime-minister or president is very unlikely to destabilise the entire system to the point of collapse. However, it must be stated that both are still seen as deficient methods of governance by Hoppe, and the sole purpose of his exploration was to show the lesser of two evils⁵⁰.

In describing the state of Kaljug, Guru Nanak in Raag Malhar⁵¹ sings of the oppression applied by the kings and their accomplices. If any sort of Khalsa Raj was to be established, it must bear in mind these facts. It should actively work towards maintaining freedom in society and stray away from any form of non-voluntary authoritarianism.

Further to this, Azadism does not seek to emulate the past but instead learn from it. Simply trying to recreate medieval Indian feudalism because of nostalgia is irresponsible. Instead, Azadism seeks to use the lessons from history and the present to establish a system that is based on Sikh principles as well as the latest developments in the study of statecraft. This approach is inspired by Guru Gobind Singh themselves, who not only studied the best available literature on the subject for his time but also ordered his Khalsa to similarly study governance and politics⁵². Realising the corruption that has arisen within his own Sikh institutions (set up by previous Gurus) he abolished the Manji system and punished the Masands. The sovereignty given to the Khalsa also gives it the ability to change and adapt according to the time. The Khalsa, being the representation of the Guru alongside the Guru Granth Sahib, also later changed the structure of the army under Nawab Kapur Singh, and the subsequent adoption of guerilla tactics. By placing the Khalsa as the caretakers of an Azadist system, the role of the Khalsa is best realised as the protectors of human freedom and flourishing.

Goal of Government and Enforcing Ethics

What is the overall purpose or direction for the people? Is there a combined national purpose at all? Azadism leaves people to pursue their own interests. It’s not ethical to enforce our “Sikh values” on others. People should be free to make their own decisions and suffer the consequences of them, as long as it does not impede the right for others to do the same. This is essentially the only ethic that a Khalsa government needs to enforce. This naturally covers things like: lying, stealing, cheating, murdering, assaulting etc⁵³.

Sikhs as private citizens can educate and promote Sikhi but just like all other philosophies in an Azadist state, they cannot legally use force to do so. It is only the veracity of their argument that should be considered, and this has to compete in the free market of ideas. A similar environment allowed for Sikhi to arise in the first place, and if we are confident in our Guru’s teachings, what is there to worry about? The Gurus themselves were comfortable doing this. Guru Tegh Bahadur was touring India doing Parchar at the time of his sons birth (Guru Gobind Singh). And even more recently, take the example of Basics of Sikhi. Bhai Jagraj Singh used to say:

“Sikhi doesn’t need selling, it needs telling”

As a result, they have introduced countless into Sikhi through their efforts, including the author of this manifesto⁵⁴. If we as Sikhs want people to live in a certain way we should first live that way ourselves. Kavi Santokh Singh mentions 3 ways in which people can persuade each other⁵⁵:

Through physical force (this is the worst way)

Historically we can look at Islamic conquests, Christian crusades or other acts by groups throughout history to enforce their ideals on others through force. However, this is an obvious violation of the NAP.

Through speech (better)

Bad ideas should be fought with good ideas. The government’s role here is to maintain an environment that allows for free speech and should never introduce state censorship in any form. Alongside this, no media outlet or ideology should be promoted by the state.

Through example (this is the best)

Under this method, any change someone would like to make in their society starts with themselves. This forces people to be critical of their own suggestions as well as maintain people's individual rights to be free to choose how to live their own lives. Since people are generally acting out of their own self-interest, seeing a certain lifestyle choice as providing greater results than their own should persuade them to change. There should also be a level of acceptance that no one lifestyle fits all. People may take what is best for them and leave what doesn’t work. Having the freedom to do so is of the utmost importance.

For those lifestyle choices that harm a non-consenting third party, the Khalsa’s role is to use force to protect that third party. Those who break this human right for others, they themselves forfeit their own rights to freedom. This alongside mutual contracts are the only exceptions to NAP being legal to be broken.

Contracts and Law

Although the topic of this manifesto centres around economics, as with previous sections on the style of governance, the legal system will again only be briefly touched upon using the same principles on which the economic spheres of an Azadist society stands upon. A future publication may expand upon this either as a follow up to this manifesto or through the Seva of someone else if they so desire.

If substantiated by the courts, two or more consenting parties are free to form a contract giving up their state-protected rights. But this must be backed up by the courts as a third party witness and to determine whether all parties are signing the contract voluntarily and not under duress.

For example, there are many laws and crimes within Islamic law (known as the Sharia), that are not normally legal or illegal in other judicial systems. Therefore, it may be difficult in non-Muslim nations to completely live according to this as it could potentially conflict with existing laws⁵⁶. Since an Azadist society does not punish “victimless crimes”, many laws that may be considered punishable within the Sharia may not be punishable on the state level. What Azadism provides is a system in which Muslims are free to impose their laws, but only on Muslims. By formalising a contract, each Muslim that chooses to adhere to these extra sets of laws may register their conviction to do so. If they break a law in the Sharia, then part of that contract would state that they are liable for the appropriate punishment accordingly. A crime that does not break the NAP but is deemed punishable under Sharia can then be dealt with by dedicated Sharia courts. The only way for a Muslim to get out of this is to leave their faith, which will void their contract and place them under the protection of the Khalsa (unless the law broken under Sharia also broke the NAP). Any law system that exists based on religion or any other affiliation, exists in addition to the wider NAP based legal framework upheld by an Azadist government. As long as there is freedom to join and leave these groups, any contract can be drawn up and agreed upon in this manner.

These sorts of contracts are already in existence. Two cage fighters both break the NAP when they fight, but do so with mutual consent. Since both have voluntarily chosen to engage in this competition with each other, there is no problem here that the state needs to step in for. Another example that was more prevalent in the past is duels. Both parties are more than free to write up a contract in which they relieve their opponent of any legal repercussions when one kills or harms the other. But again, it must be stressed that a contract must be written and overseen by a third party witness to ensure that it is indeed mutual. In the beginning, an Azadist court must take on the role to facilitate this and act as that witness.

Azadism does not recognise Sikhi as a religion per se, but the Khalsa order can fit into this category⁵⁷. Khalsa is one particular “way” of expressing Sikhi. Other traditional ways include the Udasis, Nirmale and Sevapanthis, and more recently perhaps the Namdhari Panth or Taksali denominations. However, Sikhi on its own can be followed by anyone, even as Muslims, Hindus or any other religion (or none at all!). Guidance can be taken from the Sri Guru Granth Sahib and the Guru Khalsa Panth to whatever degree, regardless of any other label. For this reason, it makes little sense for “Sikhi” courts to emerge similar to how the Sharia ones could as above. Rather, independent Panthic courts could be established based on individual Rehit Marayade where each “way” of Sikhi can establish their own. Sikhs can then decide to join a specific path, or even none at all. This system is especially the case for the Khalsa structured in a Misl system. Each Misl can set their own Maryada relevant to their own context. If someone wanted to avoid punishment or responsibility they are free to leave and denounce their status. This all takes inspiration again through the Sakhi of the 40 Mukte. The Guru themselves had allowed for apostasy amongst members of the Khalsa through a written contract of sorts, by making them sign a letter of dismissal (which was later ripped up upon request as they returned and attained martyrdom on the battlefield).  

The freedom of choice should not be infringed upon unless the NAP is broken. NAP is the foundation on which an Azadist law system is built upon. Those who break the NAP, and harm others without mutual consent, must be held at trial to determine guilt and then subsequently punished in whatever way deemed appropriate by the courts. Any other victimless crime is then dealt with by independent justice systems that sit on top of this and are completely voluntary to participate in - as determined by contracts. Since these “crimes” are victimless, there is less onus on the Azadist courts to step in. So, if someone breaks private law that is not breaking a state law, they either take punishment privately, as permitted by the terms of their contract, or similarly apostatise and relinquish any benefits the contract provided.  Consider the case for cannabis. This doesn’t affect anyone but the user. If a Nihang Singh wants to make Shaheedi Degh, then he should be free to grow as much marijuana as he wants. He should also be free to carry any weapon he wants, wear whatever Bana he likes and Jhatka whatever animal he owns. Who is the state to tell him no? The only reason a state would need to step in is if the Singh is a bit too Mast and starts throwing the Nughda at people or private property⁵⁸.

Again, it must be stressed that not all regions, groups or organisations have to set up private law systems. Sikhs in general do not have to do this for example. The only part which may make sense to have a contract is when a specific order is joined. For Sikhs joining the Khalsa, this may be applied when taking Khande di Pahul. Paper-based certificates are already given at Hazur Sahib stating your new name and date, so this could easily be modified to make it contractually binding, where the Hukams given by the Jathedar is clearly expressed in writing.

To conclude this section, the below is a simplified diagram representing how different systems of law co-exist. At the bottom you have the underlying NAP base layer that all living within Azadism must adhere to unless you have agreed to a contract saying otherwise. On top of this base layer is where these contracts exist. These may also from part of a whole additional legal system that each individual can volunteer to take part in if they so desire. For example, a private city-state in the Azadist system may require residents to abide by a set of laws before moving in. However, these laws are constrained only to the jurisdiction of the property owned by the city-states owners.