The ability to organize, pulling structure from nothing, is the most important tool we have against stagnation and death. Recent experiments with democracy have created large efficient machines for reducing rent-seeking from political elite – free markets, an idea that’s more of an aspiration than a reality, have proven to be potent for encouraging innovation. With the industrial revolution, Malthusian concerns were cast aside and the stranglehold of geography relaxed, freeing time to be invested elsewhere. The new era of artificial intelligence promises current restraints will fall away – those of a need for basic necessities, land, and protection. While large democracies were stable in the past, new microstates will be advantaged and advantageous for society.
I make no guess about timeline. For AI doubters I welcome you to think ‘1000s of years’, I’m more optimistic, and think within the life of generation Z. The core assumptions I make are threefold: the cost of basic necessities (food + shelter), of land reclamation, and of protection (law enforcement and national defense) fall to 0 with AI and robotics.
States exist, primarily, because humans love groups and those groups who create bureaucracies are more likely to survive, flourish, and assert themselves over other groups. Once created, the state must keep those with power comforted from fear, starvation, and lawless uprising, otherwise it risks demise at the hands of its citizens. Resource redistribution, taxes, generally serve this purpose. Investment in public goods and services promotes economic growth, sating the elite and keeping the masses happy and productive. Strike the wrong balance, invest too little or tax too much, and you start the down the path of demise for the state.
Factions represent the largest threat to a healthy state. We’re all apart of thousands of factions – simply a group of people sharing a common goal – most benign and wrapped up into larger factions (e.g. Democratic/Republican). But more insidious ones exist, those who would see progress blunted or rights stripped away. It’s these factions that James Madison passionately argues in Federalist No. 10 will never be able to achieve political influence due to the size of the republic - how can one wayward group possibly conspire against geography to influence the people?
It’s a shame he didn’t foresee the internet.
With the ability to reach anyone in the world, and a reduced barrier to create land and a suitable living standard should one really expect to see new states emerge? Yes. As a faction pushes the narrative that its goal is evermore important, in an environment never before so hospitable to new states, it becomes clear that they will be incentivized to do so. Where there was once bloodshed over land, now stands robots dredging sand for soil.
An explosion of countries promises market forces. The more desirable ones will see an influx of residents and boom, whereas shit states will die on the vine. An optimist will say we’ll eventually reach a global maximum - a perfect state; a realist may counter with the history of the human race. Only time will tell.