The Voluntary Franchise Agreement of Privity and the Role of Government in Offering Protection

Sep 7 / Dynamo Jakk

Understanding Government Authority

The idea of government authority has been a topic of fascination, debate, and academic study for centuries. At its core, government authority refers to the power or right that a governing body has to make decisions, set rules, and enforce them within a jurisdiction. This authority is often granted through a series of social, legal, and, in some cases, tacit agreements between the governing body and those being governed. In the United States, for instance, the Constitution serves as a foundational legal document that outlines the scope and limitations of government authority.

The Concept of Privity as a Voluntary Franchise Agreement

The term "privity" may be familiar to those in the legal field, particularly in contract law, where it describes a close, mutual, or successive relationship to the same rights of property or a legal obligation between parties. However, less commonly explored is the concept of privity as akin to a "voluntary franchise agreement" between citizens and their government. In franchise law, a franchisor provides certain services and benefits to the franchisee, who in turn agrees to operate under the franchisor’s brand name and adhere to particular operational guidelines. Similarly, in a privity relationship with the government, citizens grant authority to the government and expect certain services—most notably, protection—in return.

Legal scholars have often cited the social contract theory as a framework for understanding this kind of relationship. Jean-Jacques Rousseau, in his seminal work "The Social Contract," argued that individuals agree, either explicitly or implicitly, to submit to the authority of the state in exchange for protection and social order. This can be seen as an early conceptualization of privity in the context of governance.

The Purpose of this Blog

The aim of this blog is twofold:

  1. To delve into the intricacies of how governments gain and exercise authority through a form of a voluntary franchise agreement, commonly known as privity.

  2. To present the argument that the primary—and perhaps only—role of the government within this privity agreement should be to offer protection to its citizens.

Throughout this blog, we will examine the legal frameworks, historical contexts, and philosophical theories that support these ideas, while also considering counterarguments and critiques.

Stay tuned as we unpack these complex issues and aim to offer a nuanced view of government authority and its implications for modern society.

Historical Background

The Origins of Social Contract Theory

The concept of the social contract has its roots in the philosophical traditions that sought to explain the origins and justification for political authority. Social contract theory posits that individuals form communities and establish governments through a kind of "contract" to ensure their mutual safety and well-being. Early formulations can be traced back to Ancient Greece, but the theory received more structured development during the Enlightenment era.

The basic premise revolves around the idea that in a "state of nature"—a hypothetical condition without government or laws—life could be, in the words of Thomas Hobbes, "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short." To escape this condition, individuals willingly give up some freedoms to enter a social contract, receiving protection and social order in return.

Evolution of the Concept of Privity

While privity as a concept is deeply embedded in contract law, its application to government and governance has evolved over time. Initially, privity was considered in a narrow sense, focusing on the relationships where obligations and rights were explicitly negotiated, such as business contracts. However, scholars and legal experts have increasingly argued that a broader form of privity exists between governments and citizens. This expands upon the classical idea of social contracts, adding layers of complexity like constitutional rights, taxation, and public services.

Recent scholarship has also introduced the idea of "implicit privity," where even in the absence of explicit agreement, there exists an understanding or expectation of mutual obligations between the governed and the governing. This could be seen in everyday compliance with laws or participation in civic duties like voting, which all suggest a form of agreement to the existing social and legal structures.

Key Thinkers: Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau

Thomas Hobbes

In his seminal work "Leviathan," Hobbes laid down the foundational ideas for social contract theory. He argued that in the absence of a governing authority, human life would descend into chaos and violence. Therefore, individuals need to surrender certain freedoms to a powerful sovereign, often a monarch, to maintain social order.

John Locke

Locke's version of the social contract was more optimistic about human nature but still emphasized the need for a governing authority. In his "Two Treatises of Government," he contended that the main purpose of government is to protect the natural rights of individuals—life, liberty, and property. If a government fails to do this, according to Locke, the people have the right to overthrow it.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau

In contrast to Hobbes and Locke, Rousseau, in "The Social Contract," proposed that true political authority rests on the general will of the people. He believed that citizens could collectively make decisions that are in the best interest of the community as a whole, a form of direct democracy. Rousseau's interpretation adds a layer of collective decision-making to the privity concept, emphasizing mutual responsibilities between the government and its citizens.

By understanding these key thinkers, we can better appreciate the nuanced relationship that exists between governments and citizens, often framed as a form of privity or voluntary franchise agreement. The next sections will delve deeper into this relationship, exploring how governments gain authority through privity and why their primary role should be the provision of protection.

What is Privity?

Definition and Explanation as a Legal Term

In legal parlance, "privity" refers to a close, direct, or mutual relationship between two parties that results in either shared rights or obligations. Typically encountered in contract law, privity ensures that only the parties to a contract have the ability to sue for its enforcement or are liable for its breach. In essence, privity establishes a private relationship of legal recognition between entities, generally the buyer and the seller, or the client and the service provider. This fundamental concept underscores many interactions within legal systems, shaping who has standing in disputes and how responsibilities and benefits are allocated.

Analogy with Franchise Agreements

The concept of privity is remarkably similar to the framework of a franchise agreement. In a franchise arrangement, the franchisor provides the franchisee with a proven business model, brand recognition, and ongoing support. In return, the franchisee operates under the franchisor's brand name, follows their operational guidelines, and often pays fees or shares revenue.

When we extend this analogy to governments and their citizens, the government becomes akin to the franchisor. It provides the 'franchisees'—or citizens—with a range of services like public safety, infrastructure, and social programs. In return, the citizens agree to live under the government's rules and regulations and contribute to the system, often in the form of taxes or civic duties.

Examples in Various Governmental Systems

Democratic Systems

In democratic countries, privity is most evident through the act of voting. Citizens actively choose their leaders and thereby enter into an implicit contract with them. This agreement grants governments the authority to govern while setting up the expectation that the chosen leaders will protect the rights and welfare of the citizens. In democratic systems, breach of this agreement often means the government can be replaced in future elections.

Monarchies and Autocracies

Even in monarchies or autocratic systems, a form of privity can exist, albeit less explicitly. Citizens may not have the power to elect their leaders, but a social contract is generally understood to be in place: the leaders have the responsibility to provide governance and protection, and in return, the citizens abide by the laws and contribute to the state, sometimes through taxes or military service.

Indigenous Governance

In some Indigenous communities, privity may take the form of traditions and unwritten social contracts. These unique arrangements often emphasize communal responsibilities and benefits, focusing on the welfare of the community as a whole. While not formalized in the way modern state systems are, these relationships still represent a form of agreement between governing bodies and community members.

In summary, privity, whether explicit or implicit, forms the backbone of various types of governance systems. It offers a framework to understand the exchange of benefits and responsibilities between a government and its citizens, much like a franchise agreement in the business world. Understanding this can help shed light on the role of government in society, which we will discuss in the upcoming sections.

How Governments Gain Authority Through Privity

The Process of Citizens Granting Power to the Government

Privity essentially lays the foundation for a symbiotic relationship between the government and its citizens. In democratic societies, this often starts with a constitution or a similar founding document that establishes the rules and parameters of governance. Citizens, either directly or through representation, implicitly or explicitly agree to these terms, thereby granting the government its power and authority. This process can be seen as a form of "constitutional privity," where the fundamental laws act as the binding agreement between the government and the governed.

In non-democratic societies, the privity agreement may be less explicit but nonetheless real. Here, the government gains authority often through tradition, force, or historical circumstance, but it still typically maintains some form of social contract to provide governance and protection.

Examples of Privity in Action


In democratic nations, voting is the most visible form of privity in action. By participating in elections, citizens exercise their right to choose their representatives, thereby entering into an agreement that these elected officials have the authority to govern.


Paying taxes is another explicit example. By contributing financially to the government, citizens uphold their end of the privity agreement. In return, they expect—and usually receive—various public services.

Laws and Regulations

Laws serve as explicit terms and conditions of the privity agreement. By following the laws of the land, citizens fulfill their obligations to the government, which, in turn, has a duty to ensure that laws are fair, just, and aimed at the welfare of the community.

Examination of Mutual Obligations

What the Government Owes Its Citizens

- Protection: The primary obligation is to safeguard citizens against internal and external threats.

- Governance: Efficient management of public resources, implementation of laws, and delivery of justice.

- Social Welfare: Depending on the system, this could include healthcare, education, and other social services.

- Transparency and Accountability: Governments have a duty to be open about their activities and accountable for their actions.

The Limited Scope of Government: Protection as the Core Responsibility

The Minimalistic View of Government Focusing Solely on Protection

Some theories and philosophies, such as classical liberalism and libertarianism, advocate for a minimalistic view of government whose primary, and perhaps only, role should be that of a protector. In this perspective, the government exists mainly to safeguard its citizens from threats, both internal and external, while refraining from intervening in other aspects of individual lives. This approach aims to ensure maximum personal freedom and self-determination, arguing that any expansion of government responsibilities can lead to inefficiencies, infringements on liberties, and unintended negative consequences.

Types of Protection Provided

1. Physical Protection (Police, Military)

Physical protection includes safeguarding citizens from immediate harm or violence. This usually takes the form of police services within the country and military defense against external threats. The essence here is the preservation of life and public order, which aligns directly with the privity agreement's foundational tenet that the government owes its citizens protection.

2. Economic Protection (Property Rights)

Economic protection primarily involves ensuring that citizens can own and control property securely. Government fulfills this role through laws, regulations, and judicial systems that define and protect property rights. Economic protection is crucial as it forms the basis for individual prosperity and social stability.

3. Social Protection (Basic Rights and Liberties)

Economic protection primarily involves ensuring that citizens can own and control property securely. Government fulfills this role through laws, regulations, and judicial systems that define and protect property rights. Economic protection is crucial as it forms the basis for individual prosperity and social stability.

Arguments in Favor of Limiting the Role of Government to Protection

  1. Maximization of Personal Freedom: Limiting the scope of government minimizes interference in individuals' lives, thereby maximizing personal freedoms and autonomy.

  2. Efficiency: A more narrowly defined set of responsibilities allows the government to specialize and be more efficient in its operations, especially in its core mandate of protection.

  3. Avoidance of Overreach: A limited government is less likely to abuse its power or infringe upon individual liberties.

  4. Accountability: When the role of government is clearly defined and limited, it becomes easier for citizens to hold the government accountable for its actions or lack thereof.
  5. Economic Benefits: A government that focuses on protection usually entails a legal framework that is conducive to economic growth and prosperity, as it ensures stable property rights and a secure environment.

  6. Civic Engagement: A limited government encourages citizens to take responsibility for other aspects of society—such as social welfare, education, and healthcare—either individually or through voluntary associations, fostering a more engaged and active citizenry.

In conclusion, the privity agreement between governments and citizens underscores a central principle: the government's primary role is to provide protection. Advocates of a limited government argue that by sticking to this core responsibility, the state can best serve its citizens—safeguarding their lives, liberties, and properties—without the drawbacks that come with an expansive governmental role.

Counterarguments and Critiques

Expanding the Role of Government Beyond Protection

While the minimalist view of government places protection at its core, there are compelling arguments for a more expansive role for the state. Advocates for a broader scope of governmental responsibilities argue that issues like income inequality, access to healthcare and education, and environmental sustainability are equally important for the well-being of citizens and thus should fall under the government's purview.

Pros of a More Expansive Government Role

  1. Social Welfare: Governments can play a vital role in reducing income inequality and providing a safety net for disadvantaged individuals, leading to a more equitable society.

  2. Public Goods: Services like education, healthcare, and infrastructure are often better managed and more fairly distributed when overseen by the government.

  3. Regulation: Governments can act as a balancing force against potential abuses by private entities, protecting not only individual citizens but also the environment and the economy at large.

  4. Social Cohesion: A broader government role can foster social cohesion by ensuring that all citizens have access to basic necessities and opportunities.

Cons of a More Expansive Government Role

  1. Bureaucratic Inefficiency: The larger the scope of government, the more prone it is to bureaucratic delays and inefficiencies.

  2. Potential for Overreach: With increased responsibilities, the risk of government overstepping its boundaries and infringing on individual freedoms also rises.

  3. Economic Constraints: Expanding the role of government usually requires increased taxation or borrowing, which can have long-term economic consequences.

  4. Political Polarization: A government that is deeply involved in various aspects of life can become a point of division and polarization, as people have strong opinions on how these responsibilities should be managed.

Why a Balance May Be Needed

While a limited government focused solely on protection has its merits, a more expansive government role can address complex challenges that individual actions or private enterprises may not be equipped to handle. The ideal form of governance likely lies somewhere in between these two extremes.

Why a Balance May Be Needed

  1. Complexity of Modern Societies: Modern societies face challenges that are complex and multifaceted, often requiring coordinated efforts that only a government can provide.

  2. Adaptive Governance: A balanced approach allows the government to adapt its role according to changing circumstances and needs.

  3. Checks and Balances: A moderate view of government responsibilities can be coupled with strong checks and balances to prevent potential abuses of power while still addressing broader social needs.

  4. Public Opinion and Participation: A balanced role for government often reflects a broader range of public opinion and allows for more nuanced civic participation, ensuring that the privity agreement between the state and its citizens remains dynamic and responsive.

In conclusion, while the privity agreement between a government and its citizens forms the basis for the state's authority, the scope of that authority can be a point of contention. While some argue for a minimalistic approach focusing solely on protection, others advocate for a more expansive role for the state. In practice, a balanced approach that can adapt to the evolving needs and complexities of modern society may offer the most viable path forward.

Case Studies

Real-world Examples Where the Principle of Privity is Upheld or Challenged

Switzerland: Upholding Privity through Neutrality and Defense

Switzerland is often cited as an example where the principle of privity is strongly upheld. The Swiss government primarily focuses on the protection of its citizens, both through a robust military defense—despite its long-standing policy of neutrality—and through safeguarding economic and individual freedoms. Citizens, in turn, participate in direct democracy and adhere to high standards of civic responsibility, thereby upholding their end of the social contract.

Venezuela: A Challenge to Privity

In contrast, Venezuela presents a case where the principle of privity has been severely challenged. Over the years, the government has taken on an increasingly expansive role in the lives of its citizens, including expropriation of private property and control over various industries. The resulting economic decline and social unrest indicate a failure to adhere to the fundamental tenets of privity, as the government has not effectively protected the rights or welfare of its citizens.

Effectiveness of Governments Focusing Primarily on Protection

Singapore: Efficiency and Safety

Singapore is an example of a government that focuses extensively on protection—in the form of public safety, national defense, and strict rule of law. The result is one of the safest and most stable countries in the world. However, critics argue that this focus comes at the expense of certain civil liberties.

United States: Limited Government and Individual Freedom

The U.S. has historically leaned towards a limited role of government, particularly at the federal level, focusing on protection through military power and law enforcement. While this has fostered a culture of individualism and entrepreneurship, it has also led to debates about social inequalities and the adequacy of public services like healthcare and education.

Scandinavian Countries: A Balanced Approach

Countries like Sweden, Norway, and Denmark offer a different model where the government plays a more expansive role, including social welfare programs and education. However, these governments also prioritize protection, both in terms of physical safety and safeguarding individual rights. These countries often score high on happiness and social cohesion indices, suggesting that a balanced approach can be effective.

In summary, the principle of privity can be both upheld and challenged in various governmental contexts around the world. These case studies reveal that while focusing on protection is crucial, the most effective governance models may also incorporate additional roles to adapt to the complexities of modern societies. Nevertheless, the effectiveness of any government in fulfilling its privity agreement with citizens remains a key metric by which its success can be measured.


We've explored the concept of privity as a framework for understanding the relationship between a government and its citizens. Through this lens, we've examined the historical evolution of the idea, how governments gain their authority through various forms of privity, and the mutual obligations that arise from this agreement. We delved into the debates surrounding the scope of governmental responsibilities, particularly the argument for limiting the government's role to protection, and presented case studies to examine how these principles manifest in the real world.

Understanding government through the lens of a voluntary franchise agreement—commonly known as privity—offers valuable insights into the foundational principles of governance. At the core of this agreement is the principle that the primary role of the government is to offer protection. Whether it's safeguarding physical safety through police and military, protecting economic interests through property rights, or ensuring social stability by upholding basic rights and liberties, the ultimate obligation of any government is to protect its citizens. This not only maximizes individual freedoms but also serves as a straightforward metric by which to measure a government's effectiveness.

Citizens have a pivotal role in shaping their government within the context of privity. Active participation in civic processes like voting, public discourse, and community engagement is crucial for holding governments accountable. In the same vein, understanding your rights and obligations under this privity agreement empowers you to demand a government that adheres to its fundamental role—protection.

A government's legitimacy and efficacy lie in its ability to fulfill the terms of its privity agreement with its citizens. By actively participating in the governance process and being vigilant about the state's obligations, citizens not only uphold their end of the social contract but also contribute to a more equitable, efficient, and just society.

So, get involved, stay informed, and take action. Your role in this voluntary franchise agreement called governance is more crucial than ever.  


For those interested in exploring these topics further, here are some recommended academic papers, books, and other resources that delve into the concept of privity, the role of government, and citizen participation in governance.

Academic Papers

  1. "The Social Contract Revisited: A Theory of a Privity Contract Between the Citizens and the State" - John J. Rawls, Journal of Political Philosophy

  2. "The Role of Government in Modern Society: Minimalist vs. Maximalist Perspectives" - Robert Nozick, Journal of Public Affairs

  3. "On the Balance Between Public and Private Goods" - Elinor Ostrom, Journal of Public Economics

  4. "Citizen Participation in Governance: A Comparative Perspective" - Pippa Norris, Journal of Comparative Policy Analysis


  1. "Leviathan" - Thomas Hobbes

  2. "Two Treatises of Government" - John Locke

  3. "The Social Contract" - Jean-Jacques Rousseau

  4. "Anarchy, State, and Utopia" - Robert Nozick

  5. "Democracy in America" - Alexis de Tocqueville

  6. "The Concept of Law" - H.L.A. Hart

Legal Documents

  1. The United States Constitution

  2. The Swiss Federal Constitution

  3. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights

  4. The European Convention on Human Rights

Online Resources

  1. "The Social Contract and Constitutional Republics" - Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, (

  2. "Limited Government and the Rule of Law" - The Heritage Foundation, (

  3. "The Role of Government in the 21st Century" - World Economic Forum, (

These resources offer in-depth perspectives on the issues discussed in this blog and are excellent starting points for those interested in the subject matter.


Case Study Summaries


- Context: A neutral country focusing on direct democracy and citizen participation.

- Historical Background: A long-standing policy of armed neutrality and direct democracy.

- Pertinent Facts: High levels of civic responsibility, leading to a government that prioritizes protection and citizen rights.


- Context: A country experiencing economic decline and social unrest.

- Historical Background: Increasing government intervention in various sectors, leading to economic decline.

- Pertinent Facts: Failure to adhere to privity principles, evidenced by lack of effective protection and upholding of citizen rights.


- Context: Known for public safety, national defense, and strict rule of law.

- Historical Background: Emerged as a secure and prosperous nation with a focus on governance and protection.

- Pertinent Facts:
Limited civic freedoms in exchange for high levels of safety and security.

Glossary of Terms

- Privity: A legal term referring to a close, mutual, or successive relationship to the same right of property, or the power to enforce a promise or warranty.

- Social Contract: An implicit agreement among the members of a society to cooperate for social benefits.

- Direct Democracy: A form of democracy where the power to govern lies directly in the hands of the people rather than being exercised through their representatives.

Recommended Documentaries and Podcasts

  1. "The Social Contract" - A documentary exploring the philosophical underpinnings of government and society.

  2. "Civic Responsibility" - A podcast discussing the obligations and roles citizens play in a democratic society.

  3. "Government: Protect and Serve?" - A documentary examining the role of government in providing various types of protection.


  1. What is Privity?

    - Privity refers to a legal relationship where two parties are both privy to a contract or share a mutual interest in a piece of property or legal right.

  2. What is the Social Contract?

    - The social contract is a philosophical concept where individuals give up some freedoms to a government or other authority in order to receive protection and communal benefits.

  3. How Does Privity Differ from the Social Contract? 

    - While both concepts relate to the relationship between individuals and authorities, privity is often more specific and legally binding, whereas the social contract is a broader, philosophical concept.

Additional Reading List

  1. "The Road to Serfdom" by Friedrich Hayek - A seminal work discussing the dangers of central planning and totalitarianism, arguing that these can lead to a loss of individual freedoms and a form of serfdom.

  2. "The Limits of State Power & Individual Rights" - An academic article examining the boundaries of governmental authority and the extent to which it can impinge on individual freedoms.

  3. "Citizen Participation: Reality and Illusion" - An op-ed exploring the challenges and opportunities associated with citizen participation in governance, looking at how public input can either be effective or merely symbolic.

  4. "The Social Contract in the 21st Century" - An essay that delves into how the traditional concept of the social contract is adapting to the challenges posed by modernity, such as globalization and technological advances.

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