What's In a Nation?

The dream of freedom and a fresh start extends to several attempts at starting new countries, in different ways. I stumbled upon this post today, which talks about a few different methods and proposes the creation of a cloud-first country:

How to Start a New Country

Arguably, while this idea has some novelty, variants of this are already being implemented elsewhere. Notable among these is the "nation" Asgardia, which fields its own currency and even passports:

Asgardia - The Space Nation

To me these attempts fail completely at even having a realistic plan to meet the needs of a nation state. They appear to be defined by what they don't want rather than what really makes up the foundation of a nation. They tout transparent government, fair democracy, their own currencies, a modern or futuristic mindset, and individual freedom. It strikes me that maybe the most alluring idea about them is that "something", whatever that "something" may be, is wrong with society today, and by releasing us from the shackles of existing bureaucracy and political leaders we disagree with we'll end up somewhere better.

But a nation state must provide so much more for its citizens to be viable. Its own currency is not enough.

Monopoly of Violence

How are these distributed nations equipped to prevent or investigate crimes against their citizens? Or ensure that their citizens are protected from unlawful exercise of power from other state actors? Can you even imagine how that would be organized? Even if a "cloud first" nation was somehow recognized and given territorial powers on a thousand tiny enclaves around the world, what would it have to offer in terms of protection when another nation state decides that whatever patch of land it has within that larger state's borders will be incorporated in the larger state once more? What possibility does it have to negotiate trade terms which require customs and border protection?

What is the jurisdiction of these micro nations? In the current situation and future plans of many of these their citizens will ostensibly live within their micro nation of choice, but most likely work and seek daycare, healthcare, and pension in the surrounding nation states. Each patch of territory would essentially be an embassy, except you'll need to deal with issues like domestic violence, child abuse, drug manufacturing, and other criminal activities that aren't likely to take place on embassy grounds.

Social Safety Network and Healthcare

Speaking of social services; how do you provide daycare, healthcare, pension, education, and other necessities to your citizens?

International Recognition

Let's be clear about this: whenever a country is internationally recognized as an actual country there are winners and losers. The Chinese state does not recognize Taiwan as an independent country, because they consider it their territory. If the political, military, and economical cost would be worth it I have no doubts that they would invade Taiwan at a moments notice. Despite several attempts Quebec has not become independent, and I don't imagine that the Canadian government would recognize it unless the international community threatened with unbearable sanctions otherwise. The same goes with Catalonia and the Basque areas in Spain. The idea of breaking off the north of Sweden into its own nation will never even gain traction, and part of the reason is probably the knowledge that the Swedish government would never a quarter of its citizen to take control of half its geographical territory containing almost its entire forest and mining industry. It's just not gonna happen.

If the international community can't even force any one country to stop persecuting or spying on its own citizens, then why would any country even recognize the independence of hundreds or thousands of tiny patches of land within their territory? What would they possibly gain from relinquishing control over these? Those areas would most likely become lawless pockets similar to the Kowloon Walled City in Hong Kong.

So, Why?

Besides an illusive dream of something different and brighter, cryptocurrency schemes, and non-valid passports... What can these nations possibly offer? How can they provide the basic needs of their citizens?

-- CC0 Björn Wärmedal