Re: The Sovereign State and Its Competitors

Robin Hanson (
Mon, 31 Mar 1997 12:36:03 -0800 (PST)

anonymous writes:
>Remote outposts like Iceland were able to hold out for several
>more centuries. I judge this to be due to the public goods nature
>of defense technologies and strategies, favoring centralization more
>on the Continent where there is greater exposure to invasion,
>and more dependence on fixed agriculture.

This implies that centralization in fact does do better at providing
public goods such as defense. So future hope would have to be based
on changing this somehow by inventing better decentralized
institutions, or on less need for public goods in the future.

>Our modern U.S. tax code stresses dependence on locale, especially
>in the form of mortgage deductions. This serves to keep subjects
>vulnerably fixed, dependent on geographical jurisdictions to solve
>their defense problems. With our transportation and communications
>technologies, our mode of production of itself no longer stands in
>the way of returnining to non-state law; indeed in the case of the
>Internet the application of geographical law is increasingly seen
>as ludicrous. The fixed vulnerability of industrial plant and rail is
>giving way to mobile capital, with political institutions adapting at
>their typical excruciatingly slow pace.

Huh? New high tech includes lots of relatively fixed capital. If
silicon valley were invaded today, do you think all the workers there
could carry away most of the local capital on their backs, and start
up anew somewhere else together without suffering much harm?

Robin D. Hanson