Asgardia is the world’s first society to be located entirely off-world: despite the impressive concept art that one encounters on the recently created (2016) startup society’s website, its properties in low-earth orbit currently consist of a single breadbox-sized satellite – ASGARDIA-1.
This is by no means to detract from the success that is launching a civilian satellite, and successfully having it communicate as a data storage provider with the surface. Yes, Asgardian citizens can in fact upload their data to ASGARDIA-1. Currently present on the drive are Asgardia’s founding principles, constitution, anthem and similar basic information. Asgardian citizens have between 100 and 200 kilobytes of real estate on the low-orbit data center.
The plan is to have subsequent modules receive ASGARDIA-1 and dock with it, and expand the infrastructure of the spacebound startup society. Asgardia currently boasts just over 250,000 citizens, and more than 3 times that in followers on social media. There is certainly an interest in expanding humanity beyond the blue marble.
Currently, Asgardia has no permanent population in space, which is an element necessary for sovereignty, which they plan to claim. To learn more about this, we’ll have to turn to…
As the startup societies movement has matured a few core tenets have emerged to explain the value of creating startup societies to the broader world. The concept of competitive governance is one of those tenets. In a nutshell, the theory of competitive governance advocates for a world where governments compete for citizens in a similar fashion that companies compete for customers.
This governance-as-a-service market would then incentivized governments to innovate more solutions to their citizens’ problems. In 2011, Patri Friedman explained that “…a startup sector for government means more competition, more new ideas, [which] means things will eventually improve in the current large providers (existing countries).”
Describing government as a dated industry ripe for disruption is useful for catalyzing ideas for innovative alternatives. However, framing startup societies as rivals to existing countries does not direct the next iteration of experiments to the most pragmatic path forward and can alienate the industries most important allies: existing countries.
Surveying the industry as a whole indicates that a market of collaborative startup societies will be the main driver of growth. Framing opportunities this way opens up new possibilities to develop solutions to difficult problems around the world. While there are many examples that demonstrate this point, the Rawabi project is a particularly inspiring case to explore.
In 1860, the Belgian economist and botanist Paul Emile de Puydt published the essay Panarchy, originally in French¹, in the periodical Revue Trimestrielle, in which he outlined a political system in which everyone would have the right to choose under which form of government they wanted to live. In other words, Puydt applied the concept of freedom of choice, laissez-faire, laissez-passer, to the system of government (or non-government).
“My panacea, if you will allow this term, is simply free competition in the business of government. Everyone has the right to look after his own welfare as he sees it and to obtain security under his own conditions. On the other hand, this means progress through contest between governments forced to compete for followers. True worldwide liberty is that which is not forced upon anyone, being to each just what he wants of it; it neither suppresses nor deceives, and is always subject to a right of appeal. […] In a nutshell: Freedom of choice, competition. “Laissez faire, laissez passer!” This marvellous motto, inscribed on the banner of economic science, will one day be the principle of the political world too. The expression “political economy” gives some foretaste of it and, interestingly, some people have already tried to change this name, for instance, into “social economy”. The intuitive good sense of the people has disallowed this concession. The science of economics is and always will be the political science par excellence. Was it not the former which created the modern principle of non-intervention and its slogan “laissez faire, laissez passer”?”
Michael S. Rozeff, in the article Why I Am a Panarchist², expresses in other words the concept of Puydt:
“I personally do not want to live under such a power and such impositions, which is why I am anarchist. But I also recognize that others of you might wish to do so, which is one reason why I am panarchist. I do not want to abolish your government that you may want for yourselves, but I want to have my own means of governance for myself. This too is why I am panarchist”.
Joe McKinney, founder and CEO of the Startup Societies Foundation, discusses the array of models and possibilities for “startup societies,” whereby new or existing communities establish arrangements in which the hand of the state is felt more lightly.
If the objective of pan-anarchism/anarcho-pluralism is the replacement of states with societies organized on the basis of decentralized, voluntary associations, then a question that arises involves the issue of what kinds criteria individual communities would have to meet of qualify as legitimate voluntary associations of these kinds. The Startup Societies Foundation offers a pretty good set of standards, all of which are rooted in the “exit principle,” i.e the right to leave if you don’t like what people around you are doing.
No arbitrary laws.
No impossible cost to exit.
No surveillance for blackmail.
No psychological control without freedom of speech.
An interesting conference on startup societies is coming up next month at Georgetown University. Get the details here. Startup societies may be a way to develop the infrastructure that is needed for a broader pan-secessionist action against central governments and the global corporatocracy. Anarchist and other radical organizations develop into intentional communities, which then develop into startup societies, which then develop into regional secession movements, with infrastructure, political organizations, media, militias, etc. of their own.
Startup Societies Foundation does not endorse any ideology or ideal society. We believe that there must be a multiplicity of options to test, from private cities and SEZs to collectivized communes. Their success depends on empirical evidence. In order to apply the scientific method to societies, we must have a large sample size
What is a startup society? Here are some examples.