Re: The Sovereign State and Its Competitors

Robin Hanson (
Tue, 1 Apr 1997 11:06:14 -0800 (PST)

Michael Lorrey writes:
>Robin Hanson wrote:
>> 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.
>> >... With our transportation and communications
>> >technologies, our mode of production of itself no longer stands in
>> >the way of returnining to non-state law;
>> 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?
>Seeing an invasion even a few hours away would enable Silicon Valley
>businesses to dump their mainframes onto systems at remote locations,
>and provided that their employees for the most part make it out with
>their brains intact, can rebuild their company with only minimal
>losses, possibly as little as a 30-50% loss in value. ...
>High tech industries can operate defensively in a scorched earth
>retreat strategy.

Maybe I'm misunderstanding you two. What I hear is "We no longer need
centralized military coordination because we can just run away when
attacked." But this seems crazy to me. Even if a single firm loses
30-50% of their value in such a move, groups of firms could lose much
more if they failed to coordinate to all move to the same place in
such a way as to preserve their business relations (based in part on
geographic proximity). Also, individuals would lose houses and
personal possessions, communities would lose roads, shopping centers,
etc. It seems to me we are far from the point where the losses from
moving are less than the losses from defending via central military

Robin D. Hanson