Justin’s note: Yesterday, Doug Casey and I talked about the decline of nation states. Today, we continue our discussion… and look at what could ultimately replace them…
Justin: Will politicians allow this to happen? Or will they use the next crisis as an opportunity to seize more power and wealth from everyday people?
Doug: There’s no question about that. The prime directive of every living entity—including governments—is to survive. They’ll try to do so at any cost. They’re like giant dinosaurs in their death throes, thrashing around wildly. They’re very dangerous. You’re going to have to be a very smart little mammal that hides in a hole to not get crushed by them.
The best template for how this is probably going to evolve was laid out in Neal Stephenson’s book, The Diamond Age. In that book, which is a work of genius, Stephenson explains how the world is likely to reorient itself. He expects most nation states will dry up and blow away.
Sure, some will still exist, but most will be replaced by what he calls “phyles.” These are support groups based on whatever you value most. These phyles will provide services like defense and insurance. So, they’ll offer all the benefits that nation states offer today but they’ll necessarily do a much better job, because they’re private, voluntary, and cohesive.
More and more people will discover who their real countrymen are. You’ll find out who you really want to associate and ally yourself with. And it won’t be people who just so happened to have been born in the same area as them, many of whom you have nothing in common with except proximity or government ID. Some may even be enemies or parasites…
Justin: And he thinks these phyles will replace governments completely?
Doug: There will still be governments that control certain geographical areas. After all, governments have lots of force. And most people are like chimpanzees; they crave, or at least accept, leadership by the biggest and most aggressive monkey. But I expect many will eventually be replaced by phyles. This will be technology driven.
And with migration unfolding the way it is, Africa is going to have hundreds of millions of Han Chinese changing the situation on that continent. They’re basically going to take over that continent. At the same time, scores of millions of African migrants will take over Europe.
Those are two big trends that I feel certain about. Who knows what other side shows will happen? But the nation state in its present form is a dead duck. And good riddance to it.
Justin: I find the concept of phyles fascinating. But can you help me better understand how they’d work? How big would they be? Would they span across countries and continents?
Doug: Well, again, people naturally fall into groups of the like-minded, joined by the things that are most important to them. They could be their philosophy, their religion, or their occupation. In prisons, for instance, it’s race. Inmates self-segregate. The concept is a perversion of the phyle concept, in a way. But to many people race is the most important thing in their lives.
Every individual has several, or a dozen, or perhaps a score of things that are important to them. In my case, my friends are people who share my worldview. They believe in maximum social and economic freedom. Those are good qualifiers. I also prefer—I’m quite exclusionary, actually, no “diversity”—people who are honest and competent. And I tend to associate with people of the same economic status because I frankly find that poor people mostly don’t usually bring much to the party.
Justin: Why do you say that?
Doug: Poor people are usually poor for a reason. They have bad habits. I know all the excuses and sob stories, and some of them are even true. But I don’t want to associate with people who have bad habits, whether they’re rich or poor.
I can probably put my finger on about 25 or 30 people in the world that I’d want standing next to me when it’s time to fix bayonets. But that doesn’t, incidentally, include the average guy that lives in Aspen, Colorado, which is where I spend the northern summer. For that matter, it doesn’t apply to the average guy anywhere. In today’s world, “average” doesn’t cut it.
In most cases people maintain an acceptable social veneer. But they’re not reliable or trustworthy enough to be part of a phyle that I’d join.
There will end up being thousands of phyles, everything from the Hell’s Angels to the Rotary Club. And that’s a good thing. It’s much better than just dealing with the people who happen to live in your area.
Justin: How long could it be before nation states start going up in smoke? It seems like this is already happening in Europe where many countries appear eager to break off from the European Union (EU).
Doug: No question about that. The EU is a complete dog’s breakfast, and has become totally counterproductive. One thing that you can plan your life around is that the EU will break up, dry up, and blow away. It’s completely dysfunctional. It makes absolutely no sense to have 50,000 bureaucrats, useless mouths, in Brussels making everybody’s life miserable.
The EU started out as a free trade zone for iron and coal. Good, but unnecessary. And then it metastasized. The idea of a political group managing free trade is a contradiction, idiotic actually. You only need each individual government to drop its barriers, duties, and quotas—unilaterally. The US, and any other country, should have zero of these things, for its own benefit. Otherwise it’s like putting yourself under embargo.
Free trade is wonderful and natural. But having the EU or NAFTA facilitate trade is ridiculous and counter functional. The same goes for the United Nations, which is nothing but a corrupt club for bureaucrats. It serves no purpose, and should be abolished. It’s just a drain on the world economy, the EU on steroids.
One of the nice things about the Greater Depression, which we entered upon in 2007, is that these governments will become unaffordable. The United States will soon find out that its giant military/industrial/security complex is not only bankrupting the country, but putting it in serious danger. It doesn’t “defend” the US, but draws attacks and creates enemies. And it certainly doesn’t defend freedom, rather the opposite.
All their domestic welfare programs are not only unaffordable but—even if they were free—are actively destructive. They’ll fall apart during the coming time of economic stress. And that’s a good thing, although the period of change will certainly be inconvenient and unpleasant for many people.
What scares me is that people will act like chimpanzees during this chaos. They’ll be afraid. And they’ll want somebody to protect them. But that, of course, is asking for real trouble.
Leaders that promise the most freebies, and the most safety, usually end up being someone like Stalin, Hitler, or Mao. That will happen in the States, too. We’re no longer the country we once were not so long ago.
I mean, a lot of people hate Trump. I don’t have any particular animosity toward him. Sure, he’s done some pretty stupid things; his foreign policy of late borders on the criminally insane. But at least the Deep State—which really exists, should any naïfs have any doubt—hates him. And that shows he’s doing a few things right…
But what really scares me is the next president, because that person will be elected in the middle of a gigantic crisis. And I’m afraid that Americans will pick someone very, very dangerous.
Justin: What will happen to public services when nation states get wiped out? Will phyles provide things like defense and education? Who will be responsible for public infrastructure like roads and bridges?
Doug: Well, there’s absolutely nothing that the government does that entrepreneurs couldn’t do better and cheaper.
The only justification for the State is its pure coercive power. People seem to think it’s necessary to have an organization with massive coercive power on top of society. That’s the essence of the state. It’s supposed to protect you from force initiated by other people. The army is there to protect you from people outside your geographical area. The police are there to protect you from criminals within your geographical area. And a court system that allows you to adjudicate disputes without resorting to force.
That’s what governments are supposed to do, at least in theory. I could live with a government that did that, and only that. But many governments, including the U.S. government, do these jobs incompetently, and at inordinate cost. Worse, they try to do absolutely everything else.
In fact, I don’t believe the State should do anything. It’s innately dangerous, incompetent, and always draws the worst kind of people.
It certainly shouldn’t be in charge of education. That’s the responsibility of parents. Education is the last thing that should be handed over to the State, if only because the public schools always tend to indoctrinate kids rather than educate them. Public schools also take responsibility away from parents. That makes them irresponsible, which is disastrous.
What else? Welfare? Before the Roosevelt regime, Americans used to provide charity on a one-to-one basis. You found somebody who was worthy of help and you helped them. Or you joined something like the Rotary, Optimists, Lions, Knights of Columbus, or what-have-you. There used to be 1,000 organizations like that. Their business was to help people who deserved help.
But all these organizations have been minimized because of the huge amounts of capital the State draws out of society. The State has replaced them. In the process the State has cemented the proles to the bottom of the barrel with their institutionalized programs.
And this is true of absolutely everything and everywhere the government sticks its tentacles.
Justin: Thanks for speaking with me today, Doug.
Doug: You’re welcome.