Gianni Catalfamo, April 2021
In 1931 Aldous Huxley published a short story entitled “Brave New World” in which he describes a dystopian society based on technological progress.
Ninety years have passed (a bit early to judge since BNW is set in 2540) but it seems to me that Huxley got it all wrong: I don’t see traces of the division into classes based on skills and abilities and I don’t see the slightest trace of City-State within a single world nation. Indeed, it seems to me that we are moving quite rapidly in the opposite direction.
However, technology is altering the characteristics of the Society as we know it, in many ways, some more subtle and others more evident.
Traditionally, society has given itself an identity/organization based on the territory: all the people who live together in a certain territory and who recognize themselves as “similar” form a Nation which also assumes a political value, giving itself governance and customs accepted as normal .
Unfortunately, the concept of Territory and Nation hardly ever coincide perfectly, creating the basis for territorial and / or cultural conflicts that are resolved by sport, war or politics: history tells us that the relative weight of the three means of conflict resolution is changed, but if perhaps we managed to avoid the next war Olympics in the minor leagues the sword is still much more popular than the word or the football.
In the last thirty years, however, a different plan of existence, distinct from the real one, has emerged: one where relationships are woven, transactions are carried out and reputations are created or destroyed: the Internet.
The companies which manage the means for accessing and using this new plan of existence (Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, Google, Amazon) have developed an extraordinary power, such as has never been seen in any other sector of the economy. These are private companies which now develop global turnovers higher than almost all countries in the world, except for a handful, but above all they continue to grow at a rate of 50% per year, while economies around the world eke out – in a good year – 2-3% per year.
Continuing at this rate, Apple will be bigger than the entire US economy in less than 10 years.
Fuelling the growth
What is the fuel of this dizzying and unstoppable growth? It is not technology, nor the Internet: many other successful companies are engaged in these same sectors (IBM, Oracle, Cisco, HP, Samsung) without giving the impression of having the same potential.
I think that the rocket propellant of the aforementioned companies is in the extraordinary capacity that they have demnstrated to reach huge masses of consumers with the products and services they desire, pushing billions of people to voluntarily and knowingly enter their ecosystem, paying for access with a currency that disdains money in lieu of their personal data which these companies package and resell.
But what does a state do?
- It offers some shared collective services:
- health care
- public order
- Getting paid by means of general taxation
- Determining the strategic directions on the basis of governance mechanisms which – with various nuances and many exceptions – can be traced back to the representative democracy invented in Greece in the 5th century BC.
Changing (but only slightly) terminology, we can say that these companies are growing so quickly because they are able to bring so many citizens into their ecosystem.
In light of the above definition, let’s try to see if any of these companies could constitute a State or a “CorpoNation”:
- Shared collective services
- infrastructure – only partially; certainly all the infrastructures inherent to the use of the services and products of the Corps are made available, but not the infrastructures necessary for the basic functioning of society such as roads. These could be the subject of a service contract offered by a territorial company to which the Corps pays a fee proportional to the number of “citizens” physically present in that territory
- education – all the big companies mentioned are be able to organize and support forms of distance learning, as the pandemic has shown us; this could become a “premium” service offered for a fee to those who need it. Businesses would also be much more effective than states in developing skills certification protocols recognized by one CN to another
- health – not directly and not in the universal and free form that we have in Europe. In other continents, however, health is guaranteed by less inclusive and universal forms of insurance; in the final analysis it is a question of size and a CorpNation with two or three billion “citizens” could negotiate very advantageous conditions on the insurance market …
- currency – absolutely yes; even several of these companies are already thinking of developing cryptocurrencies which could be used for transactions within the domain
- public order – in part it is already done, using as a penalty what was once called confinement, that is, expulsion from the National Body: President Trump was excluded in a few hours from any form of public dialogue on the basis of a decision unilateral by the Social Network police who, without worrying about following the hyper-guarantee process that modern justice has developed to protect the individual citizen, has effectively isolated him from the world. For someone like Trump, locking him in jail would have hurt him less.
- defense – if by “defense” we mean men and technical resources to protect the borders from external aggressors, this has been happening for some time in each of those companies. Obviously these are digital attacks, and instead of planes, tanks and submarines we have server farms and sophisticated cyber-defense software
- identity – If the identity takes the form of an attestation recognized by others, the login credentials of Google or Facebook are already worth more than any passport today!
- By getting paid by means – not of taxation, but of the access fee
- Determining the strategic guidelines – through the rules that govern the functioning of any Shareholders’ Meeting
Overall, the Nation Corps could be much more efficient than the traditional state and, since there would be no more physical borders to defend, probably less conflictual. Furthermore, each citizen could belong to more than one Corps, further improving the level of services received and reducing costs.
Since this discussion was born together with a group of other people, I will stop here. Perhaps there will be someone who will want to add their own considerations and then you will find them below, attributed to each Author.
If you wish to contribute, write to this address.