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Review of's "How to Start a New Country"

Balaji proposes seven models for establishing a new state. I contribute two further models that provide useful comparisons for what is trying to achieve: 8) Big Tech as independent states and 9) Religious Organisations as independent states.

In particular I address the question of how a Cloud State could eventually become independent from the nation states in which discontiguous enclaves of that Cloud State would likely be situated.

Note that is article is a review of Balaji’s “How to Start a New Country” – accessible here and recommended as pre-reading.

8. Big Tech as a Framework for New States

Balaji lays out an initial framework for a “Cloud Country” that would start with remote citizens, and then migrate towards discontiguous land enclaves meshed in the cloud.

To a large degree, this is the growth cycle of a Big Tech company. Indeed Google or Apple or Facebook all display attributes of a state:

  1. Identity cards (like passports) for employees and identity numbers for each person who browses their web sites (for more see Byrne Hobart’s theory that “Big Tech Sees Like a State”),

  2. Discontiguous parcels of land in different countries that are meshed in the cloud.

Note also that while these Big Tech companies have their own internal rules, they largely play by local government rules in each enclave (international office) that they occupy. While they are independent states on some dimensions (Amazon controls “taxes” and access on its marketplace), they are dependent on other dimensions (Google follows Irish employment law in Ireland).

I believe that a Cloud State would largely follow the growth trajectory of Big Tech Corporates, with the important difference that information would be managed in a decentralised rather than a centralised manner.

9. Religious Organisations as a Framework for a New State

Balaji calls out the “reverse diaspora” as a mental model of the Cloud State. This model brings to mind the building of international religious communities. Here are some notable examples – with emphasis on similar attributes to a Cloud State:

  1. Discontiguous parcels of land (e.g. churches in Catholicism) in nation states worldwide.

  2. An autonomous parcel of land – The Vatican City OR Israel.

  3. Guidance in Abrahamic religions around the payment of a proportion of one’s income to the religious organisation or charities, i.e. taxes.

Notably, religious organisations have carved out an interesting agreement with nation states whereby, in certain cases, charitable donations are exempt from nation state taxes. Perhaps this is as close as one can get to having a new state that is financially autonomous while its members occupy parcels of land within a nation state.

This raises the question of whether a Cloud State might adopt the approach of seeking charitable organisation status, much as religious organisations have done.

Co-existence versus Complete Independence

Both Big Tech and religious organisations largely co-exist with nation states. To some degree, certain religious organisations are more geographically independent as they have their own autonomous states. Conversely, Big Tech is perhaps more informationally independent as they have greater control over data and communications than nation states.

This gives rise to a question around the long term vision of a Cloud State. Is the ultimate goal of this cloud state to achieve complete independence OR is it instead desirable to see Cloud State members as dual citizens, much as one can be both Irish and Catholic?

To a large degree, this choice is constrained by the monopoly of nation states over the land on earth and geography as a basis for both citizenship and taxation. This leaves two options for complete independence:

  1. To convince a nation state to relinquish governance over a parcel of land – as is the case with certain native populations.

  2. To wait until such a time as technology presents new geographies for the establishment of an autonomous region (either in uninhabitable portions of earth, or, in outer space). By the time a reverse diaspora has been established, the number of options on this front will be larger than is the case today.

Where should the initial focus of the cloud state lie?

It seems important to me that a Cloud State should be clear in identifying where it is distinguished from all other forms of new states, lest it take on too similar a trajectory to a Big Tech company with an international footprint.

The clearest point of distinction is in a decentralised ledger as the basis for information storage and exchange.

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