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20230226 – The Network State



The author possesses highly developed communication skills, so he provides multiple definitions of the book’s central concepts in such a way that each definition expands on the previous from one sentence to the essay. For example, here is the second level of complexity definition:” A network state is a social network with a moral innovation, a sense of national consciousness, a recognized founder, a capacity for collective action, an in-person level of civility, an integrated cryptocurrency, a consensual government limited by a social smart contract, an archipelago of crowdfunded physical territories, a virtual capital, and an on-chain census that proves a large enough population, income, and real-estate footprint to attain a measure of diplomatic recognition”.

The author then proceeds to look in detail at this concept from all conceivable angles.


I think that all this is a nice exercise in the philosophy of the nation and state. Still, by its very definition, the network state could not possibly exist because it is distributed in space with nodes (individuals) of its network connected via communication channels. The state, whether small or big, requires the concentration of its members in close proximity because the state is always about violence and force. It could exist only on two conditions:

  1. There are people who are ready to kill and die for it
  2. These people are so close to each other that they are strong enough to suppress or eliminate all and any groups of individuals who for one reason or another do not want to accept the existence of the such state. 

The world is divided between states, and history demonstrated that these states were created only by one of two processes: dissolution of bigger states due to the internal contradiction between groups of approximately equal power or as a result of merging smaller groups, usually when one conquers others. So the idea that any ruling hierarchy of any state would tolerate any individual living on their territory who profess loyalty to some distributed network state seems to me contradicts the whole history of humanity from it being divided into small bands with a few hundred members controlling a few square miles of territory to contemporary superstates with billions of people. So this nice dream is just a dream and nothing more than that.


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