My new book “Bitcoin Nation” was published on the 15th anniversary of the Bitcoin Whitepaper, October 31, 2023. You can read it below, one chapter per week. Or buy it here:
Despite my argument that we cannot end up in a worse place than we are today, I know some will object to the vision of nationality independent of territory, for various reasons. Let me address the two most common concerns, I have encountered when presenting this concept so far:
Corporations will abuse this to not obey laws and avoid taxes.
Today, big corporations already have essentially freedom to choose in which jurisdiction they pay taxes and to lobby the laws in any way they want, often barring small competitors from the market. Before I came in contact with the idea that territorial states may not be the only option available, I thus advocated for a world government.
Unfortunately, such a world government would have the enormous downside of being easily corruptible by large corporations and the corruption or totalitarian takeover of the world government would be recoverable only by global civil war, if at all.
The real question is thus not, whether big corporations could influence the law, but whether their influence would be less than today.
I see an excellent chance that this is the case, and that the influence of big business would wane over time in a world of bitcoin nations. The reason for this is simple. If a nation wants to attract citizens, it needs to provide superior state services. These state services would likely depend a lot on the size of the nation and how strong its contractual network with other nations is. This means that the incentive to have contracts between nations in place that exclude or punish businesses who engage in regulatory arbitrage is forceful. Indeed, much stronger than it is in the current system.
No territorial monopoly means anarchy.
The most common objection to transforming states into nations is that of impending anarchy. Firstly, this is a mistake in definitions, since anarchy – i.e., the organization of a society based on voluntary cooperation – is not the same as anomy – lack of moral standards in a society. Furthermore, a world of bitcoin nations would likely start from the exact same legal framework as is in place in our territorial state society, today. This is due to two main reasons:
First, and foremost, bitcoin nations will most likely arise by states offering digital citizenship, not from the ashes of a broken-down society. Secondly, a society that allows its people to switch nationality at any time, will only have citizens if it effectively guarantees the rights of these citizens, including providing them with protection from amoral actors.
This again leads to the conclusion that a decentralized society of nations would likely improve their moral standards over time, thanks to the incentive structure.
Now, many might object that there even is something akin to “improved” moral standards. So to fully resolve this counter-argument, we will need to discuss the fundamentals of ethics.