Beyond the nation state

Before nation states, empires ruled the world.

The dominion of Rome stretched across much of civilization for more than a thousand years.

The United States of America? Not even 250 years. Russia in its current incarnation? Not even 30 years.

Nation states are modern conceits. There’s no reason to presume they’ll last forever.

Innovation forces societal restructuring. Society’s transition from divine rulers to more (or less) democratic nations was driven by the printing press, the printed word and the printed thought. Newer technologies like the internet and blockchain will cause similar societal disruption and reorganization.

Currencies like Bitcoin, Ethereum, Terra, and even Dogecoin are internet-native monies. They resemble an economy of transitory bits and pixels endemic to the digital realm. Decentralized digital currencies flourish in a decentralized world.

Decentralized countries may well supersede nations. The most influential civilization-scale entities will exist entirely online, a consequence of digital lives evolving to become more valuable than physical ones. Decentralized countries will coordinate and govern the virtual world.

Your sense of identity will be altered by these changes. Today, you have a mostly monogamous relationship to a nation — try and profess allegiance to more than one and things get complicated. In a future where borders will be blown to bits, you’ll move freely between digital states depending on circumstance. Nationalism will become extinct.

The internet forces the reappraisal of time and (more importantly) space. This network of networks allows all of us to communicate, collaborate, transact, play and pay irrespective of physical location.

The internet occupies multiple territories at once. Like an imaginary god, you can be in two or more places at once. Such fantastical freedom is one of the reasons why digital life is more exciting and increasingly more valuable than corporeal life. You are, quite literally, extra-dimensional.

Currencies - one of the defining characteristics of value in nation states - are giving way to decentralized cryptocurrencies. Currently, there are 180 currencies recognized as legal tender in United Nation member states. But there are almost 8,000 cryptocurrencies in the digital realm.

The old markers of national value are tied to physical manifestations. The new digital markers force context collapse in which meaning is lost or subverted as it reaches an unintended audience. The gold standard will give way to the meme standard.

It will take time for old structures to fall but may arrive faster than you think. Lenin reminds us there are decades where nothing happens and there are weeks where decades happen.

Leveraging the internet’s power and scale, the decentralized virtual country of the future will thrive by embracing the vernacular, both linguistically and economically.

It will undermine existing governance structures and sit beyond them. It will further change our concept of time and space and identity.

By defintion nations cannot last forever.

It’s time to consider what comes next.

Free short story every week. No spam, ever.