• On the microstate endeavor

    by  • May 31, 2008 • The Global Picture • 1 Comment


    I’ll tell you why. There isn’t a government in the world I’d trust with the future.

    These pre-communications era ways of dividing up responsibility and power are inane. They’re retarded, and they’re dangerous. Imagine if we ran hospitals or businesses in a manner essentially unchanged from the 4th millennium BC. What we have is, at best, a system of elected despots, and for all the cry of Constitutional Government and Individual Rights, show me in practice these civil rights applied when the government has other interests…

    Every country is occupied by the invading army of the State.

    For some time, perhaps a decade, I believed that the American Constitutional model was Good Enough, but no longer. I think that the tendency for power to centralize once it is given a foothold is inexorable, and the unwillingness of the American population to burn the white house down every few decades as foreseen by the Founding Fathers themselves has allowed two centuries of centralization of power to result in a state which is converging rapidly on the Soviet equilibrium of massive state-owned industries, gulags, and a no-questions-asked media.

    We have to refactor government, at least, around modern communications technology. I feel we might need the foundations to be built on biometrics, to enable an accurate one-person-one-vote tally. But beyond this, we must question our willingness to allow a monopoly of force in the hands of an elected body.

    While the government has an army, and the people do not, we have a problem. In theory, yes, the army of the government is the army of the people. But, in practice, the 50% of the population that opposed the war in Iraq were hardly heard, and it is not their army, any more than the people who beat up protesters and torture them with pepper spray are their police.

    How can you organize a state without these features?

    I don’t think you can. I think you can have people who live together in peace, and who, if attacked, fight like barracuda, but I don’t think you can make anything that looks like a State, and not wind up with an army which does not serve the best interests of the people who it claims to represent.

    What more profound injustice is there, than to be taxed at gunpoint to pay for a war which you do not support? It is a draft that cannot get you killed, but a draft none the less.

    So within this context, what to do?

    I believe – and this, also, is a recent realization – that the modern nation states are doomed. Change accelerates faster and faster, and governments are unable to intelligently respond to these changes fast enough to take appropriate action. Sooner or later, hopefully sooner, alternative mechanisms of organization will take hold which do generate appropriate action quickly. Whatever these dynamic governance structures are, once they have been discovered, odds-are that they will rapidly displace conventional governments in the hearts of the people, and eventually subsume their legal functions.

    The fundamental question in any political system is “who has the right to kill and not be punished?”

    This is the fundamental question. It is at the heart of sovereignty. We have to understand that no group which is not willing to take life-or-death responsibility is really a political power. Most groups lobby the existing powers which take and hold that responsibility in the same way that small children approach their parents asking for a change of TV channel.

    So the threshold for any novel governance structure is life-and-death decision making. Who can kill, and fear no punishment? All else is just talk.

    When we start talking about direct democracy, this is the threshold: can you build a system that you would allow control of a uniformed death squad which has the right to kill anybody that the ruleset encoded in the new social structure orders them to?

    With that eye, re-read the Constitution. Just barely enough.

    This is the bar: control the right to kill by new means. All novel political institutions must be at least capable to be worthy successors to our current systems of government.

    The time is short, and the need is urgent. I hope that as we continue to research and think on these issues, we bear in mind how grave the responsibility is, to muzzle lethal force, put it on a leash, and walk it around under the name sovereignty.

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    Vinay Gupta is a consultant on disaster relief and risk management.


    One Response to On the microstate endeavor

    1. Kári
      May 31, 2008 at 9:38 pm

      Yay microstate! Microstate ftw! 😀

      I’ve got a lot to learn… you are of course way ahead of me in terms of education, knowledge, theory & experience… (well, you *are* quite a bit older than me!)

      This is the kind of stuff that has finally inspired me to enroll at the University. Not the prospect of landing a “nice and secure future job”. Making a difference.

      “Lead by example” will be my motto.

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