Re: The Sovereign State and Its Competitors

anonymous (
Tue, 1 Apr 1997 16:03:21 -0800 (PST)

Robin Hanson:

> 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).

This is a good, important point, and it is probably the main part of the
secular trend that is bringing about the end of the nation-state. In most
industries geographic proximity is becoming less important, slowly but
substantially over the long term.

For example, steel mills can now operate on scrap and electricity,
they no longer need to be located near coal sources and alongside
railroads to raw ore mines.

Telecommuting is growing far more slowly than enthusiasts would like,
but it is nevertheless a substantial long-term secular trend that will likely
account for two-thirds of earned income (that it does not involve the majority
of workers is irrelevant) by the middle of the next century. A "phase transition"
in telecommuting comes when the benefits of worldwide teams based on
specialty instead of proximity come to outweigh the remaining lower-touch
nature of team interaction. The "touchiness" available from teleconferencing
is increased, and more social/institutional workarounds to lack of touchiness
are discovered, and these trends meet the growing realization of the value
of worldwide-deployable teams.

Commuting by airplane, worldwide, is also substantial long-term secular growth
trend – it is a commonplace for a growing band of executives, salesmen,
and technological hyperspecialists. By 2050 most
of the world’s high earners will consider the planet their workplace, not
a particular geographical subset of it. As this occurs, geographical
proximity becomes more particulate (e.g., being next to an airport, any
airport, leads to more high-touch interaction than being in the same province)
and less important (the telecommuting phase change). Geographical
boundaries, quite useful for extorting from peasants tied to land or industrial
plants tied to railheads, become ludicrous for extorting from global information

The the same conferencing and commuting technologies, communities are
slowly becoming worldwide communities of interest, with geographical
communities slowly diminishing into quaint backwaters.

>Also, individuals would lose houses and
> personal possessions, communities would lose roads, shopping centers,
Ø etc.

The threat of major media exposure, combined with lack of substantial
benefit from undertaking the effort to capture this mass (which will be dead
mass, having been stripped of its information capital value), will be
a sufficient deterant in nearly all cases.