Over the past 12 years, we’ve established monetary sovereignty — Yet we are all still subject to nation state citizenship. Citadels and private cities are argued to be the answer, but could fall victim to the exact same power structures we are trying to escape. A thought experiment
If history has shown anything, it’s that power tends to centralize. While we have managed to decentralize power in monetary governance over the past twelve years with bitcoin, we are all still subjected to holding citizenships of nation states. Our monetary sovereignty can therefore only take us so far.
Nation states hold a monopoly of power over its assigned citizens. People are subject to arbitrary regulations, as not being allowed to honk your horn near a sandwich shop after 9pm in Arkansas, or worse, subject to changes in constitutions, as recently seen in the nation of El Salvador. Modern citizenship embodies the exact opposite of self-sovereignty, as it requires people to obey defined laws and restrictions based on their place of birth, which lies outside the scope of any individuals choosing.
To escape modern citizenship, individuals must have access to substantial economic backing, as most countries offer the option of citizenship by investment. For example, to become a citizen of Germany, one must invest 250.000€, e.g. through the purchase of real estate. But even then, the citizenship purchased is only registered as second citizenship. This concept is known as nomadic citizenship, in which individuals are enabled to hold additional citizenships next to their first. Dropping this first citizenship is, in most countries, a pretty complicated process, involving multiple interviews with state officers, thorough examination of taxation records and often the payment of tax premiums, if possible at all. This causes a disincentive for nation states to act in their citizens best interest — Why bother if the majority of people is incapable to leave?
When dreaming of a better future, bitcoiners tend to idolize the idea of citadels or private cities. Most discussions herein evolve around existing political philosophy. Should cities lean left- or right-libertarian to achieve a maximum of self-sovereignty? How would the management of these new state concepts look? Will there be indirect or direct democracy, or no democracy at all? Could they be governed by a DAO? Most discussions herein end in one side screaming “the left is bad!” or “the right is bad!” at the other, which most probably won’t get us anywhere — Because no matter the governance system, it is likely that legislation will be passed that is not in the best interest of everyone. To avoid such legislation to outweigh and only benefit the ruling class, it is important to prioritize the first anarchic principle: having the freedom to choose for yourself — Not just to choose within the state in which one is holding citizenship, but to be able to vote oneself out and into another citizenship contract, with minimum entry and exit barriers.
“I am large, I contain multitudes”
- Walt Whitman, Song of Myself, 1855
Humans are inherently faulty creatures; We often change our minds. Sometimes we make decisions that we won’t agree with a few months down the road. The problem is, when it comes to voting on governance, we’ll be stuck with the decisions we have made for at least another four years, if not longer. In the case of a majority democracy, we may even end up subjected to a system which we did not vote for at all. Unfortunately, due to the structuring of modern citizenship, we cannot efficiently exist these given systems, even when we are at discontent with them. When it comes to citizenship, we can’t just change our minds. Modern citizenship ergo furthers a societal monism, in which parts of a many are forced into constructed unity.
The key idea in building a new society based on private cities and citadels should therefore be diversity. Just as today, there can be no one-fits-all. People hence need to be enabled to leave the state concept with which they disagree, and enter a different state concept governed more to their liking with minimum exit and entry barriers — creating free market competition. By introducing the threat of people leaving, and taking their economic contributions elsewhere, states will be incentivized to offer best possible solutions based on the interest of their citizens.
Unfortunately, many citadel and private city concepts today do not appear to build on bitcoin’s anarchic principles, but rather aim to establish even higher entry barriers to its guarding walls. The problem is that a city built on the shoulders of elites will cause the exact same power structures to emerge that we are trying to escape. Anyone rich enough to live inside of citadels and private cities will reap the benefits of a tax-free life. Labor will in turn be outsourced to the less fortunate, who will live life in the ghettos, still paying maximum tax. To see the development of such citadels and private cities one only needs to look to Dubai: a haven for tourists, investors, the rich and the powerful; But a few miles outside of its city lines forced labor, decapitations and other human rights abuses are the norm. Illegalities for the ordinary person turn to legalities for the elite, as one class rules over the other. Only when anyone is able to join a citadel or private city can such developments be avoided.
The right to leave as well as the right to enter at minimum entry and exit barriers should therefore be preliminary articles in the founding of any new state concept; And could pave the way for a society based on actual self-sovereignty.