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The end of a world of naon‐states may be upon us | Aeon Essays

and too lumbering to nker with local problems. Voters were quick to spot all this and stopped
bothering to vote, making maers worse. In 1995, two books both tled The End of the Naon State
one by the former FRENCH diplomat Jean‐Marie Guhenno, the other by the Japanese organisaonal
theorist Kenichi Ohmae prophesised that power would head up to mulnaonal bodies such as the
European Union or the United Naons, or down to regions. and cies. Reports of its death were greatly
exaggerated, and the end‐of‐the‐naon‐state theory itself died at the turn of the millennium. This is
why, as the American libertarian acvist Patri Friedman told me recently when we met in Silicon Valley,
the next new cies wont be built on land at all. They will be floang in internaonal waters, beyond the
reach of the naon‐state and its armies. In 2008, Patri founded the SEASTEADING Instute, armed with
half a million dollars donated by Peter Thiel, the libertarian billionaire who co‐founded PayPal, and a
plan to build island cies at sea in an experiment with how to live. [SEASTEADING] is the market for
countries, he told me. You can only get so far patching and hacking the old system. And in a flourish
worthy of his grandfather Milton, he told me that: When you dont have a start‐up sector, exisng
countries suck they give you crappy services and no change. Google Seastead and youll find fantascal
designs of floang metropolises, fantasy worlds designed on laptops. Its a pipe‐dream. Even the
SEASTEADING Instutes modest target of 150 seasteaders by 2015 was missed. And yet. This year, Patri
together with his instutes communicaons director Joe Quirk released an exhausve book on
SEASTEADING, and signed a memorandum of understanding with FRENCH POLYNESIA to create the first
semi‐autonomous seazone in shallow waters off their coast for the first prototype city at sea. Patri told
me that theyre starng to build very soon, and within a couple of years expect to have a few hundred
people living on this floang metropolis just off the coast of Tahi. I asked him if that was a realisc
prospect.

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