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Seasteading Conference 2009: How Many Countries in 2050?

September 30, 2009

It’s been great to meet everyone! Thanks for saying hi. For those of you unable to make it, TSI is working on getting the videos up soon. There were great talks by our team here–Michael Strong, Patri, and Will Chamberlain–and others from TSI and elsewhere in the seasteading universe.  In his talk, Peter Thiel asked a good hypothetical about the future.  How many countries do you think there will be in 2050 and how will that affect prosperity? Thiel noted that in 1945, there were about 50 countries and marginal tax rates in the US were 90 percent. Fast forward to 2009 and there are about 200 countries, with marginal tax rates in the US at 40 percent.

So the thought experiment asks, how many countries will there be in 2050? Greater or less than 250? And what does your answer say about economic growth? Take the poll:

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5 Comments
  1. kurt9 permalink
    October 1, 2009 9:40 pm

    One of my professors (a former marxist who became libertarian) talked about what he called the “1000 state sovereignty mode” while I was in grad school (Thunderbird) in 1991. This model was based on the idea that the rise of global and regional trading blocs would make being a part of a larger nation state unnecessary. This, along with all of the ethnic/tribal stuff, would lead to an unbundling of many of the larger nations into smaller nations and city-states (i.e. Singapore trades with the rest of the world, it does not need to be a part of a larger country). Seasteading and the rise of the ocean city-states is simply the extension of this model.

  2. Jonathan Wilde permalink*
    October 1, 2009 10:16 pm

    Where’s the survey monkey?

    We have 27 votes but only 1 comment. Why don’t the rest of you chime in?

    My own uneducated wild-ass guess is that there will be more than 250. I don’t see a drive for nations combining in spite of the fact that govts seem to be getting larger. Large nations seem unstable and headed for eventual breakup (India, China). Combine that with easier access to nukes and it seems to me that we’re headed for more countries.

  3. Mike Gibson permalink*
    October 1, 2009 10:45 pm

    Survey Monkey!

    I’d like to hear the less than 100 theory. Strong EU and Russia, imperial China? That is not a world I want to live in.

  4. Nicolas1776 permalink
    October 3, 2009 6:25 pm

    Whereas I do agree that there is and will be no drive to combine countries in the foreseeable future, I see several problems with both the question as it is asked and the answer that there will be more than 250 countries in the future.

    1. I find that “country” is a misleading word to some extent. For instance, the European Union has 25 countries part of one supra national entity that has FAR REACHING powers to affect the lives of all of its citizens at once. The United States and similarly other federations were originally thought of as 50 separate nations but seldom feel that way in practice nowadays.
    International treaties and organizations with ill defined, or non existent exit clauses also need to be factored in and are even more complex in that they form an intricate web of overlapping agreements that bind citizens of various nations to follow sets of rules that are obligatorily codified as local laws.

    Whereas there is no tendency to officially merge small countries into larger ones, there is definitely a tendency to blur the lines and achieve a somewhat similarly destructive end (destructive of diversity / experimentation / independence).

    2. Secondly, I believe the rise of the ocean state to be more problematic than the splitting of large countries into regional polities. Whereas the need for formal independence along ethnic, national, religious or cultural lines is well ingrained in the public consciousness, the same cannot be said of ideologies.
    It isn’t clear to me that public opinion in a nation such as the USA would restrain military action against a group of Libertarians as it would against a group of Mormons, especially in a novel ocean environment where said group has no pre-existing claim.
    This could very well be seen by the public as encroaching upon natural habitats where man does not belong in order to achieve questionable goals.

    I believe Seasteading is urgently needed to counter the current, non obvious trends.

  5. October 5, 2009 2:16 pm

    A way to counter the “government strike back” at seasteaders is to make the seasteading groups more open. More people know about the seasteaders less they will accept any faux reason to attack them. Attacking them would compromise the legitimity of the government doing it.

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