This article analyzes the origins of state and nation, and proposes the emergence of the Network State as an inevitable phenomenon, elaborating on some of the concepts expressed in Balaji Srinivasan’s book, The Network State. Like Bitcoin, the Network State is destined to bring about profound social revisions in the power balance between citizens and governments. For the first time, people will be able to peacefully experiment with new forms of social organization and even create new countries. In addition to the importance of the Network State as a model for peaceful experimentation of startup societies, several central issues on the topic are brought to light– for instance, the difference between DAOs and the Network State, and the state’s endowment of executable citizen’s rights through transparency and access. Finally, the article proposes a direction for the evolution of The Network State book.

Actionable Insights

  • States, nations, and sovereignty are recent concepts. Contrary to popular belief, nations, states, and sovereignty are not monolithic and imperishable; modern states are about two hundred years old– often less. Social organization should be no different from other sectors of human activity. Experimentation and innovation bring better results. 
  • Technology informs societal organization. The concept of state and nation were born in an era when territory informed culture and birthplace determined cultural identity. It was not until after the printing press, during 1600-1800, that a sense of belonging and a conscience “collective” dimension developed. This basis created the conditions for the emergence of modern states.
  • Web3 makes the role of the state as controller less necessary. The Internet has already created preconditions for a new form of coexistence beyond borders, which Web3 exacerbated, leading one to question the effectiveness and efficiency of state constructs. Network States may be successors to current states wherein the network is sovereign.
  • Network States are not DAOs.  The Network State revolution is different from the crypto movement: founded on coordinated action for a moral causes – an ethos – rather than currency. Currency is issued later and an internal economy is created. 
  • Competition among organizational models as an innovation driver. Studying different societal models generates learnings that facilitate improvements over the current state of societies. Societies will iterate towards “society-market-fit” in a disruptive process of performance-based competition with measurable on-chain criteria.
  • A new kind of functional sovereignty will succeed as a monolithic concept. Sovereignty is necessary to ensure peace. In the 1800s, God was believed to be the supreme authority. Progressively the state became supreme authority. In the 2000s, the network has already become a de facto authority. What’s next?
  • The Network State is a methodology. The Network State is a “problem solving toolkit” for peaceful validation and scalability of social organizations. This is the real revolution, and it is not something that has a beginning and an end— it’s a repeatable model for data-driven, societal innovation!
  • The territorial component is the element of differentiation. Without the “onerous” societal element of territory, any online community could be thought of as a “country.”
  • Five proposals for Network State v2. i) broadened discourse on American socio-politics, ii) expanded reflections on associations and cooperatives as social constructs, iii) elaboration on services offered, iv) the use of Web3 by nation states, v) a case study of special economic zones.
  • The Network State opens new economic frontiers. New economic frontiers will emerge for entrepreneurs, users, investors, and citizens. New industries for “society market fit,” “government market fit,” and other verticals will create a transformative evolution.

Read the full article here.