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Debate Round Up (so far…)

February 24, 2010

Max Marty:

Let me rephrase Mike’s question as follows:

“Should individuals, groups, or businesses, seek jurisdictions with an eye towards minimizing the future cost of exiting from those jurisdictions?”

From the comments, Adam Knott:

Bottom line, in asking other people for a right of exit, we are not only asking for permission to embark on a peaceful society—thus demonstrating how little we value it—we are asking others essentially to change their religious beliefs, something none of us are willing to do. I think we are making a huge mistake.

From Puetzz:

The idea that a nation can survive solely on contracts, as elegant a solution as contracts are, is lacking in several respects, the two main being fecundity and martial capability. These are two necessary aspects of continued existence for a nation that secular ideologues don’t like to address, but are of the utmost importance for the continued existence of a nation. It would take immense technological improvements for this not to hold.

Max Borders:

Entrepreneurship, social or otherwise, is starting to languish. The resources we use to play king of the mountain don’t get used on positive social change. As a result, we’re increasingly disillusioned, polarized and angry. I say enough already. And there is a way to end it.

  1. kurt9 permalink
    February 25, 2010 5:38 pm

    “I wonder how we will make economic allies while we are engaged in internationally illicit research?”

    This is a good point that I can give a partial response to. The arguments offered for the restriction of various technologies is because the society is not ready to handle it. This is where the city-state comes in. The city-state is a lot like Shanghai during most of its history or Nagasaki during the Edo-jidai. It is a sort of experimental society that is tolerated and encouraged by the rest of the world because it provide a method for testing the social effects of new technologies without allowing them to contaminate the rest of society. It also allows for a social “escape valve” for the more capable mal-contents of the world to go someplace new where they will no longer be disruptive in their home societies.

    There is historical precedence for this kind of arrangement, mostly in East Asia. The Chinese took in the “white” Russians and later Jewish refugees during the early 20th century. The decedents of these people still live in and around Shanghai today. They were actually left alone during all of the ugly history that occurred to Shanghai during the mid 20th century (Japanese invasion, communist revolution of 1949, the great leap into nowhere, and cultural devolution). As long as they did not try to interfere in the activities of the Chinese people themselves, they were largely left alone during all of this tumultuous period. Indeed, the history of China is littered with examples of them allowing enclaves of foreigners to live their own lives in the middle kingdom. Japan has similar example. The Edojidai started when Tokogawa expelled all of the foreigners. However, the Dutch were allowed to maintain a trading colony on an island in Nagasaki Bay. The reason the Japanese allowed this is that this colony provided them with a “window on the world” that allowed them to observe and study the behaviors and actions of foreigners. This mentality was also why Mao left Hong Kong alone following the revolution of 1949. They wanted to keep it as a “window to the rest of the world”.

    I believe an analogous role is appropriate to the city-state, especially with the ascendancy of China and the rest of Asia. The city-state will be social laboratory where various flavors of transhumanism can play themselves out while the Chinese and other Asians watch and decide which of those flavors they choose to adopt for the homeland culture. I think the Europeans can be convinced of this argument as well. Since the most likely location for the city-state will be an equatorial location in international waters near East and South-east Asia, I consider this a credible argument.

    BTW, a city-state is not possible without investors. My thoughts have always been that it would be the Kakkyo (S.E. Asian overseas Chinese) who would be interesting and living in the city-state. The reason is that they really do not have a real home, as we saw in the anti-Chinese pogroms in Indonesia in 1998. They tend to invest and live in multiple residences around the world for diversification purposes (much of those highrise condos in Vancouver B.C. are now owned by the overseas Chinese). Such a city-state would be analogous to Singapore. It would be libertarian in the sense that it would be economically free-market and social freedoms (being gay, parting all night, etc.) would be open as well. The only thing that would be non-libertarian about an overseas Chinese dominated city-state would be laws against illicit drug use, much like Singapore. For historical reasons, the Chinese are really intolerant of illicit drug use, especially opiates.

  2. February 25, 2010 2:46 am


    Thanks, for the feedback. Great point about making economic allies. I hope SENS arrives soon or we will all have a lot to whine about. Technology has been very liberating from our commitments and obligations both taken and assigned. Hopefully technology will continue to mitigate the power of brute force. At any level of technology a country will continue to require a certain amount commitment or self imposed obligations from it citizens. Love your optimism, I hope this happens.

    I wonder how we will make economic allies while we are engaged in internationally illicit research?

    Max Borders

    Your scheme assumes progressives are nice people who want to get along with other people and we all just misunderstand each other. They are a congenial lot, when not flying airplanes into office buildings, sneering at you for throwing the recyclable into the trash, or voting for someone who will make your life hell. I think they love the power of the state for any ends and would be loath to give it up for any reason.

    • Max permalink
      February 25, 2010 1:38 pm

      You may be right Puetzz. I worry about that. The question is, then, what do we do about it?

  3. kurt9 permalink
    February 24, 2010 5:55 pm

    I would like to comment on Puetzz’s remarks about fecundity. First, fecundity. I have a three word response to this that I give to all discussions about demographics and particularly the demographic implosion that the social conservatives whine on about. These three words are: “radical” “life” “extension”. More specifically, SENS and bionanotechnology. Indeed, one of the reasons for seasteading in the first place is for people who want radical life extension to get out of countries that may try to ban it. That takes care of the fecundity issue.

    Defense is a valid issue, since we live in a nasty, hostile world. Machiavelli wrote that city-states and states that do not provide for their own defense are effeminate and therefor contemptible. I believe there are ways to provide for defense in a cost-effective manner that will not bankrupt our city-state. One of the envisioned industries for our city-state is as a equatorial space launch location. One proposed low-cost method of space transportation of hardware, but not people, is a space cannon. During peace time, a space cannon fires payloads into space for paying customers (satellites, robots, etc.). During conflict, the same space cannon can fire projectiles to target any location on the surface of the Earth with great accuracy. Robotics is another one. Robotics, especially micro- and nano-robotics will likely become a big industry. We will probably have some of this industry as well in our city-state. Any factory that can make industrial micro and nano robots can certainly make military ones as well. Then, there is biotechnology. One of the purposes of our city-state is for biotech and nanotech industry that may be excessively regulated or prohibited in other countries. We can certainly benefit from these bans as our city-state can serve as a haven for these various technologies. Certainly medical, industrial, and agricultural biotech can be used for military applications as well.

    Another way to defend the city-state is to attract lots of foreign investment. Since our city-state will likely be some variant of free-market/libertarian, or at least something like Singapore, it will be definition be an attractive place to do business and will therefor attract foreign investment. The presence of lots of foreign investors will put pressure on the home governments of those foreign investors to ensure that the physical security of the city-state is never violated.

    If our city-state attracts the best brains on the planet, I think it likely that those brains will come to identify with the city-state such that they would have an interest in ensuring its survival.

    This, I believe, is one of the biggest mistakes that Israel made for many years. They did not create an open Hong kong like economy to attract lots of foreign investment. Thus, the rest of the world felt that they had little interest in ensuring the survival of Israel. If Israel had pursued the Hong Kong model of economic development right from its beginning, it would not only have far more countries interested in defending it, it would be a far wealthier country as well.

    I believe that Hong Kong and Singapore serve as useful models to emulate in the development of our city-state.

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