A country in the clouds?

Well....not exactly, but rather in ‘The Cloud’.

Have you ever thought about what makes a country? Is it possible to start one yourself? If yes, what would be the best way to do it?

In this blog, I’ll go through and review Balaji’s postHow to start a new country’ for 1729, a newsletter that pays you with Bitcoin for tasks and tutorials.

What is a country and how to make one?

A country comprises of four primary things:

  • a permanent population
  • a defined territory
  • a government
  • the capacity to enter relations with other states.

While starting a new country is not something we think about often, it is rather intriguing. Balaji goes through a total of six known ways for creating a country, but before skimming through them, let's look over why one would want to create a new country.

It is often said while programming that it is easier to write new code than to fix broken code, and through personal experience, I can say it's pretty much on point. Similarly, when it comes to creating a country, starting something with a clean slate and 'without historical constraint' is much easier and better than fixing something broken.

Well, apart from this, he also went into the 'Financial demand' and the 'societal value' of a clean slate, which you should have a look at in his post, and both of which I agree with.

But, I believe, there's another reason why one would want to create a new country: to surround themselves with more like-minded people, be it the technologically progressive kind, or the "Oh mah gawd, I just loveee cats" kind (The latter might be a bit of an exaggeration, but you get the point). Humans often tend to group with others similar to them, much like subreddits of topics that interest us or being friends with people who also watch football. I read something interesting related to this, give it a look if you have some time. Currently, we live around people we have no commonality with and go online to spend time talking to people we do. What if, we lived in geographical proximation to those people, form a society, or perhaps a country?

As I mentioned, Balaji explains six known methods of how to create a new country, and when you go through them, you will realize none of those is quite realistic, so he proposes a new method that's much more feasible.

The ideal way to start a new country?

Nowadays, you often hear people saying things like 'I work in cloud computing' or 'Why didn't you save all your data on the cloud', but what if you could also make countries on the cloud, or as Balaji calls it, 'the cloud country'. He mentions in a tweet from mid-2020, 7 steps to start a new city, and much like that, starting a new country would pretty much follow the same timeline. It'll go from a cloud community with an internalized economy that functions remotely, to enforcing laws on its community with smart contracts. Then begin with simulating its architecture in virtual reality, and lastly, crowdfunding to bring it to land.

While all this seems easy to grasp and relatively straightforward at first, there are a lot of grey areas that are yet to be discussed. For example, what kind of laws would the cloud country impose? How will it take into account the laws of the countries the members reside inside? What values or ideals would the country be built on? Perhaps these are questions we don't need answers to right now, or perhaps something we'll figure out along the way.

What is a Network state?

In the words of Balaji, on the Tim Ferris podcast, a network state is:

A social network with an integrated cryptocurrency and a sense of social consciences, that eventually crowdfunds territory.

The territory doesn’t have to be in one place, it can consist of multiple apartments, buildings and living spaces spread all across the globe.

Over time, community members migrate between these enclaves and crowdfund territory nearby, with every individual dwelling and group house presenting an independent opportunity for expansion.

And in this way, a network state is formed. While all this might seem far-fetched for now, according to me, it is plausible over time. I believe, as time goes by, more 'network states' would start emerging. Much like how crypto has made its way up over the years, and now, more and more people are starting to believe in decentralized currencies. Sooner or later, not only currencies but also all mainstream social media, and other social networks will be decentralized.

Post Network State

Say, we have a network state, an online community with a working economy based on cryptocurrencies and smart contracts, but what happens after this? How do we go from being an online community of people to being recognized as a nation, and fulfil the necessities required to become a country? For that, the first and foremost thing we'll need would be to gather trust. Trust in the system, trust in the community and trust in the country itself.

Much like bitcoin, the initial trust in the network state would not be very high, as humans tend to be rather unwilling to get involved in things they do not fully understand. But as bitcoin started gaining popularity, and people started understanding what it was and how it worked, over time, the whole world of cryptocurrencies went through a shocking transformation, where people started actively buying the said "internet money", so much so that the market cap of cryptocurrencies hit 2 trillion dollars recently.

Similarly, the network state would need to build such trust based on the numbers. The number of people that are a part of it, their combined assets, and the overall valuation of the network state itself. As mentioned by Balaji in the blog, such figures "demands recognition", and I agree.

From Network State to a Country, and everything in between

This brings us to the final phase, making it a real country.

This in turn leads us to the societal definition: a new country is a new member of the United Nations, one that is internationally recognized by other countries as a legitimate polity capable of self-determination.

While we know, most of the countries are not very heavily populated, in comparison to the userbase of many social networks, the members of many subreddits and Facebook groups, and followers of celebrities on Instagram, so gathering enough people who are technologically progressive and believe in decentralization of currency seems like an achievable goal. Personally speaking, I would be glad to be a part of such a country.

I see the future as a place where different network states, each with their own cryptocurrencies, set of rules, and different ideals driving them forward. Be it rewarding people who put their health first and work towards prolonging life, or ones focused on saving nature and wildlife. Ideally, it would include all these to form an ideal network state, that promotes: health; conserving nature; and the advancement of humanity in general.

All in all, this might very well be just the beginning that changes everything, and I, for one, can't wait to see how it unfolds.