The Network State

This is a review of the “How to Start a New Country” post at 1729.com.

I read this post with great interest as I have been a long-time fan of the seasteading/strartup socieites movement.  I have been frustrated by the lack of progress in those movements but I do understand why they have struggled.  Here is how I understand some of the obstacles to starting a new nation via a seastead or micro-nation:

  • To early joiners it feels a little like joining something in the middle of nowhere and with no history.  In other words, its hard to know what you are going to get.
  • These ideas seem high risk to early joiners.
  • Nearby communities can feel threatened and experience the startup society as a type of colonization (ex. seastead in French Polynesia).

The Network State vaporizes all of these obstacles and makes building a scalable community quite achievable and therefore provides a great path to accelerating innovation in governance.  But perhaps the greatest strength of the Network State idea centers around the highly defensible nature of the forming community.  While traditional startup societies are subject to naval or legal action by adversarial nation states or international institutions, attacking a decentralized network state is kind of like attacking a ghost or Bitcoin.  The decentralized nature of the Network state provides a safe harbor within which communities of like-minded people can meet and grow impervious from attack.

Finally, the Network State should actually be a network of Network States.  We should run 1,000 experiments all with different ideals and ways of operating.  Over time, I think we will gather really valuable insight into what people want and we will be able to see where the values of network states overlap and where they are voluntarily sharing governance processes.

Two final Ideas:

  • I suspect the unique legal status (somewhat untouchable) of a Network State might make it fertile ground for the launching of a highly disruptive application(s).  My sense is the disruptive app is financial in nature and to do with the digitization of almost everything.  I think finding a key problem that a Network State can address will be key to driving rapid growth.
  • This is the kind of environment I want to deploy capital into.  I have lost faith in the traditional and corrupt financial system.  I think people are hungry for this opportunity.

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