Starting Over

On My Dream of Founding a New Nation State


I consider myself a perfectionist—a characteristic I find often tiresome, but invaluable as a designer. Great designers are never satisfied, because in the design world, there is never one solution to a problem. Fortunately, deadlines prevent us from redesigning and tweaking ourselves to death.

Anything we learn along the way can be applied in the next project. When new technologies become available, we go back to the drawing board and redesign our products from the ground up to take advantage of them.

As someone from Generation Z, I have grown up in a world of infinite possibilities. The digital world gives any individual the power to create something out of nothing, and change lives as a result.

If you follow me on Twitter, you may know that I’m a pretty vocal guy. When I feel that something is missing or can be improved, I take action. I try to do what I can to make the digital world a better place. But I want to do more than that. I can’t stand the fact that it’s so hard to make a change in the real world. I want to make the real world a better place.


Out of Control

I started writing this piece out of desperation. I am just really fed up with the way things are. When I read the news, my brain just can’t comprehend the things that still happen today. I feel like an alien observing Earth, and I'm not the only one — just look at all the public protests around the world happening every day. Hate, war, greed, racism, sexism, sexualism, ageism…

What the fuck is wrong with people?

The world is spinning out of control. Governments want to regulate and monitor every aspect of people's lives. There is an infinite pursuit of economic growth and profit, no matter the cost. Society ridicules people that look, act, love, dream and behave differently, because in most parts of the world education and parenting are a joke. People still let their religion make their decisions for them, without any rational thought.

Globalization has connected the whole of humanity, yet we're still sticking to complicated, outdated systems and ideologies. New technologies have become available, but we haven’t gone back to the drawing board and redesigned our world from the ground up to take advantage of them.

People in positions of power are doing so many things wrong. They need to realize that we live in a new world; a global village. This opens up completely new possibilities and ways to make life better for everyone —including them—but they don’t seem to have a clue or care.

I believe that my own and later generations will create a better world. The internet has shaped us as global citizens. We have access to unprecedented knowledge and technology. We're way more open-minded. I’m not saying we’ll have all the answers, but we can certainly do a lot better. We might just be a turning point in the history of human civilization.


Reality Check

Clear your mind, forget everything you know about the world for a second. Let's go back to basics. What are the main purposes in life? What's really important? In my opinion life has two main purposes, and I sincerely hope that any human will be able to agree with me:

  1. Find happiness
  2. Leave the world a better place than you found it

Sounds about right? The big problem is that our current world isn’t designed to help people achieve these purposes. To most people they are just a dream — potential byproducts of the life we are supposed to live.

That is: spend most of your early life to get the same outdated education that everyone else gets, find a job that you probably hate, work hard to make money that you'll need to save up for your livelihood and retirement, all within the constraints that society, your government and perhaps your religion put on you.

When you grow up you tend to get told that the world is the way it is and that you should just live your life inside the world. Try not to bash into the walls too much.

Your only purpose is to keep the machine running, but improving or enjoying the machine is a privilege. This is not how life should be, and not how it has to be.

Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact: everything around you that you call life, was made up by people that were no smarter than you. And you can change it, you can influence it, you can build your own things that other people can use. You can change life.

So, imagine a life where you don't have to worry about money. A world that is designed to let you do the things you love, lets you feed your inner curiosity without limitations and lets you do the work that you’re naturally passionate about. A world where people don’t judge you based on what you have, but on who you are and what you do.

That's just a bunch of impossible, utopian hippie bullshit, right? No. I sincerely belief that this world is achievable today. Perhaps not (yet) on a big scale, but certainly on a small scale. And I want to live in this world.

That's why I dream of starting a new nation state (hereinafter “country”).


Wait, what?

If you scoff at the idea and think that the world can’t be changed, then you’re part of the problem. You have lost hope, curiosity, a sense of wonder—your inner child has passed away. I refuse to let go of mine.

You might say “if you want to change things, become a politician”, but this is not an option for two reasons: I don't want to change an existing country, and I don't believe that the current “democracy” works. More on that later.

I'm talking about building a new country from scratch, using the knowledge and technology we possess today. I want to redesign every aspect of daily life and public infrastructure. To try out profound new educational, economical and political systems. To undertake active ethnogenesis; forming a new ethnicity and culture with people that have the same ideals and values.

It's currently impossible to achieve this in an existing country. Change can't be force-fed; this is something that will have to be tried out in a new place by a large group of like-minded people. You can think of this new country as a startup in a lot of ways.

To achieve change on a large scale, a mental revolution is absolutely necessary. Mind that this would be a very long-term project. People need to see that change is in fact possible, and how. What better way than to beta test a new kind of society in a small new model country?

“You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”
―Richard Buckminster Fuller

The biggest challenge is obviously the matter of sovereignty. Sovereignty over a small part of territory will have to be reached through cession. That might sound extremely unlikely, but it has been done before and could actually turn out to be beneficial to the host nation.

Why shouldn't we be able to form new countries? Why do we have this idea of a permanently fixed world map? If we could have a bunch of startup countries that can lead to less conflict, more happiness and improvements for the whole world, why not at least give it a shot? It makes no sense to forever stick to borders that were defined by conquerors centuries ago.

Don't tell me you're not at least intrigued by the idea. I never pictured myself as an activist kind of guy (in the stereotypical sense), but after a lot of self-education, becoming more and more open-minded, and plain rational thinking you just have to draw your conclusions. In this day and age there are better ways, new ways, but we just haven't tried them yet.

I'd like to share what I have in mind so far. I'm not revealing details like the name or ideal location I have in mind yet, but it should give you a sense of what my ideal country and society would be like.

Prepare for some unpopular and unconventional opinions and ideas, but try to process them rationally and unbiasedly. I'm not claiming that everything is possible exactly as I imagine it; I'm just thinking out loud here. I've tried to categorize all sections as best as possible, but most sections kind of complement each other. Enjoy!


Money

Today, we simply accept the current monetary system as a given — an immutable fact of life. Our lives are so revolved around money, it’s easy to forget that it is just a human invention.

Earth is more than rich enough in resources to provide quality housing and food to everyone on the planet. Yet our current economic system pits people against each other in a race for money. This is strange because unlike actual resources, money is something we can endlessly produce, and yet we always seem to have too little of it.

To understand why, you have to educate yourself a bit about how money is created. It's a complicated topic, but it basically comes down to this trick: about 97% of our money is digital and created by private banks, out of nothing, when they issue loans. When you go to a bank to take out a loan, the bank does not lend its own money or that of its depositors—banks extend credit by creating money.

As banks create the amount borrowed, but not the interest to be paid on that loan, there is now more debt in the world than money. To pay off this debt (plus interest), there must be an increasing amount of lending resulting in even more debt. It's an infinite loop. To maintain the amount of money in circulation, economic activity must continually increase. No wonder that 2% of the world’s population controls about half the world’s wealth.

This infinite pursuit of money and economic growth comes at the cost of quality of life and technological advancement. It is completely obvious that our current economy no longer satisfies our present day needs.

That's why in my country, we'll have no money in the domestic economy.

Think about the profound changes that will be the result of this for a moment. Eliminating money automatically eliminates all of the following: poverty, inflation, taxes, debt, saving for retirement and education, paying for healthcare and insurance, money-related crimes, depression related to money and work, materialism, intellectual property rights, corruption, and so much more.

Everything will be free according to need. All the necessities and common luxuries will be available on a help yourself basis at the local store. As a citizen you will have state-of-the-art housing, food, water, electricity, internet, health care and education—all for free. If you own something you don't need, give it away. If you need something that can't be shared, get it.

I think that the demise of money is inevitable, and that in time other countries will follow our lead. We’re already moving towards a global society of sharing. Corporations are trying to fight piracy of digital content, but are failing miserably. It will only be a matter of time before 3D printers become ubiquitous and physical goods can be pirated as well. Instead of fighting it, let’s embrace this brave new world.


Work

But in this new country, who will pay for all that free stuff? And if everyone gets everything for free, why would anyone work? It saddens me that in our current society, we associate work with something bad, something we have to do. Work should be something you want to do. How can you possibly sit still and not want to follow your passions?

Without money we will have a different sense of value, since wealth will no longer be a status symbol. You will be judged by your contributions to society, ideas, inventions, achievements, artistic endeavours or athletic prowess; not by the size of your wallet.

You know why people fear automation? Because it is phasing out jobs at an alarming rate. Without jobs, people won't make money, and without money people won't be able to afford the products the machines are so ironically assembling for us. Again, do you see why the monetary system is hopelessly outdated?

In my country, we will fully embrace automation wherever possible. There is no sane reason why anyone should be forced to do the boring and monotonous work that can be done by machines. How many potentially genius minds have been wasted doing inhumane jobs already? We won't use money in the daily life, but we will need it to trade with other countries. Automation will provide a reliable source of income—in addition to tourism—that can be used to import foreign goods.

Citizens will be free (and encouraged) to follow their passions. They will do their jobs for self-satisfaction, the gratifying responses of others for their goods and services, and for the privilege of living happily in this new country. Work will become a way to help people, to meet people or to be part of something meaningful.

Instead of companies as commercial businesses, we will have associations in the literal sense: groups of individuals who voluntarily enter into an agreement to accomplish a purpose. Because profit is not the goal, intellectual property rights — including patents — will be a thing of the past, and everything will be open-source.

You will be free to take any product or idea and improve it in your own way. There will be no need to sacrifice quality and safety in our products for the sake of profit. Cooperation will avoid duplication of effort and waste of resources. Competition will still be around; individuals will still compete with their co-workers in ideas, achievements, leadership and getting promotions.

Why do you think children want to become athletes, firefighters, doctors, astronauts or musicians? Because of the paycheck? No. We have natural passions and interests. Children are curious about everything, and if nurtured they could have an even greater range of interests and abilities.

That's why education will be one of the most important aspects of life in this new society.


Education & Culture

School

In our current society, children hate school almost as much as adults hate work. Can you blame them? The current one-size-fits-all education systems aim to shape children for a world that existed years ago by rewarding the ability to memorize facts. It's absurd.

Why don't we teach children what really is important in life? Why don't we encourage following dreams and passions? In this country, we will.

Children will be able to shape their own life. We’ll teach them how to think, not what to think; how to make their own decisions instead of deciding everything for them. They’ll even get to decide whether they want to keep the name that they’ve been given (they have to live with it the rest of their lives, after all). We will not force children into our boxes.

“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”
Albert Einstein

Primary education will focus on teaching fundamentals: love, empathy, emotions, science, rational thinking, self-education, perspective, relativity, mindfulness, helpfulness, altruism—of course in addition to basic skills including literacy and numeracy.

A large and alternating variety of subjects will be part of the curriculum for a short period of time, in which the basics of each subject are taught. From a young age, children will be able to choose which subjects they want to drop and which subjects and areas they want to expand upon. Permanent compulsory subjects will be kept to a minimum, and gender roles will be abolished. Anyone can follow any amount of subjects, homework will be optional and class progression will be based on learning progress and maturity instead of age.

Adult Education & Parenting

In addition to primary, secondary, and higher education, adult (lifelong, continuing) education will play an important part in life. While not compulsory, I think it's important that you should never want to stop learning and be curious about the latest developments in your areas of interest. It's also a good way to keep meeting new people, and to keep discovering new interests.

Parenting and education go hand in hand, so it's important that parents do it right. In my opinion, soon-to-be parents must pass a parenting exam before they're allowed to raise a child. Anyone can have children, but there's no reason to assume that anyone can parent—it's a huge responsibility. Like with other subjects, secondary education will teach the basics of parenting and this will continue during adult education.

Taboos

In our culture there will be no such thing as taboos. Most people find it hard — ranging from unpleasant to impossible — to talk about a lot of topics; most related to sex (sexual orientation, pornography, masturbation, incest, paraphilias, polygamy) and death (abortion, suicide).

As soon as a taboo comes up in a discussion, people lose all rationality and emotion takes over. I find this extremely dangerous. Taboos and constraints potentially lead to frustration and undesirable behaviour. Every topic should be open to discussion.

Every time a child asks you a question, you are given the opportunity to shape a better world. You may in turn even learn from the child and its unclouded judgement.

Religion

Another thing that I find extremely dangerous is religious indoctrination. There is value in teaching children about religion and the role it has played in history and literature, but teaching a religion as absolute truth is unethical and should be considered child abuse. I could write a whole separate piece explaining why religion is deplorable, but countless writers better than me have done so already.

Religions will not have any form of special treatment, privilege or protection in this country. A personal belief can not be taught as truth without evidence. Fortunately, our new culture and education systems will be incompatible with most religions anyway.

Maturity vs. Age

In our new society, we should stop discriminating and making assumptions based on age. Maturity comes with experience, not age. While the body grows older linearly, the mind may experience periods of exponential growth or periods of complete standstill. I know lots of teens that are just as or even more mature than people in their twenties.

If a 14-year-old wants to join or form a company (association) and wants to work, follow higher level education, or participate in politics, they will be free to do so. If they feel mature enough to experiment with drugs (including alcohol) or sex, they can.

Again, taboos and constraints will only lead to frustration and undesirable behaviour. Teens get way too little credit and are very capable of making intelligent decisions, especially with this new country's high standards in education and parenting.

Sexuality

Something else we should approach differently is sexuality. Eliminating taboos will surely help a lot in this regard. The natural goal of sex used to be reproduction, but nowadays it's primarily pleasure. People often tend to forget that—it's fun, don't make such a fuss about it! The same goes for nudity. In Western society, nudity is immediately linked to lust and sex.

Sex is experimentation too. This is where sexual orientation plays an important role. Most people think of sexual orientation as something permanent and binary; the majority is straight and some people are gay. Even I used to think this, because this is just what society makes us assume. But an important wisdom is true here as well: nothing is black and white.

Sexual orientation is in fact more like a spectrum. The Kinsey scale is an attempt to describe this spectrum, even though it's a pretty complex topic. You might be completely straight, completely gay or somewhere in between; bisexual with or without a clear preference. You could also be romantically or emotionally attracted to women, while sexually attracted to men, or any other combination you can come up with.

Sexual experimentation and curiosity are natural parts of self-discovery and should be considered completely normal—encouraged even. As you can see, bisexuality covers most of the ratings on the Kinsey scale, which is why I suggest we might want to view bisexuality as the “default” (or: assumed) sexual orientation in our culture (as opposed to heterosexuality).

While it has yet to be proven whether humans are naturally bisexual, it is the most inclusive term and acceptance-promoting solution. If the assumed starting point of self-discovery of sexual orientation is set in the middle, fear of considering and sharing sexual orientation will be a thing of the past.

I strongly feel that we may only teach theories we have scientific evidence for as truth, so I'm not a 100% sure about this yet. However, evidence gathered from hundreds of other animal species forms a scientific basis, and it may also finally provide us with a definitive answer on human sexual orientation.

Culture

While I come from The Netherlands, I have an affection for certain other countries and cultures. Personally I'm very interested in Eastern culture—specifically the Japanese culture (and etiquette). I have a strong love-hate relationship with the American culture, and I am part of the European culture. I want do draw inspiration from all of these cultures and form a hybrid Western-Eastern culture, obviously with some ideas of my own.

The result will be culture of creativity, luxury, technology and entertainment. A culture of respect and acceptance, where gender, race and sexual orientation are as (ir)relevant as eye color. A culture where you can always feel safe, where your front door doesn't need locks and where you know that everyone you meet is doing their best to contribute in meaningful ways.

Back to a culture with a sense of community. We keep living closer together, but drifting further apart. Cities have become mass machines. The campus life can inspire the daily life in a lot of ways. I think interconnected, smaller-scale communities are much more preferable than huge, impersonal cities.


Infrastructure & Architecture

This country will have to be built an autarky: self-sufficient and able to survive without external assistance if international trade becomes impossible for one reason or another.

The complete primary energy supply will be derived from domestically produced renewable energy sources. Drinking water will be produced by filtering seawater.

We can skip the mass import of gas and oil, as there will be no need to outfit buildings with gas lines. We won't be needing gasoline for vehicles either, because all vehicles will be electric and autonomous. We won't have to waste valuable space on multilane roads, parking lots, gas stations or garages, because vehicles will pick you up wherever you are with the press of a button. No need to own one and have it stand still most of the time.

All buildings will have access to state-of-the-art gigabit internet, and wireless internet will be available everywhere. Homes will be redesigned to be modern and outfitted with the latest technologies, such as wireless power routers to provide wireless electricity; no more wall sockets and power cables. Gardens with fruit trees and kitchens with hydroponic mini farms will provide citizens with local, fresh and organic produce.

Kitchen with a hydroponic mini farm. Futuristic, huh? (Picture by Grove Labs)

Online portals will allow citizens to communicate with the government and public services. Physical passports will still be provided if necessary for travel, but will mostly be replaced by the Digital Passport.

This Digital Passport will be more than just identification; it will be a transparent digital profile of who you are and what you have accomplished. Institutes will for example be able to register your certifications, awards and achievements in your Digital Passport.

Applications will be able to use the Digital Passport API to reliably verify your identity and information (real name, date of birth, date of death, etc.) at your approval. This will open up new possibilities in services, the digital afterlife and interaction with foreign companies and organisations.


Law & Politics

Much like with school and work, it's such a shame that the word government immediately sparks negative feelings. No wonder; every aspect of life is getting regulated, the internet is getting censored and monitored in the name of terrorism and child abuse, the dumbest laws get introduced, and the most outdated laws are still in effect, unable to keep up with the changing world and technology.

People are never satisfied with politics and government, yet they keep drinking the democracy Kool-Aid. We live in delayed, indirect democracies. Occasionally we get to vote and get some sense of control, but compromises made by representatives lead to everyone being unhappy. Politicians get support because of charisma and empty promises. As soon as they have power they forget that they work for the people, and they act out of self-interest.

Direct democracies would be no better. The majority of people is only averagely intelligent, so what the majority wants is not always the best for everyone. For example: while on the decline, more than half of the world's population is still religious. Does that mean that laws and rights should follow religious principles? No. Everyone pays yet hates taxes, does that mean it's a good idea to vote them away? No, in a monetary system this would result in collapse.

I want to move to a society where the word government gives people a positive feeling instead of raising suspicion. The government should not feel like an entity of people separate from the rest of the country, spying on you and deciding what you can't do behind closed doors.

I believe the best system of governance possible right now is a technocracy. The concept of a technocracy remains mostly hypothetical, so this will be my personal interpretation of the term.

Just as there's no reason to assume that anyone can parent, there's no reason to assume that voters and politicians have knowledge about every field that the government decides over. I assure you that most people don't read party manifestos and just vote for the most charismatic or confident politicians and their respective parties. In turn, representatives that get voted into government decide over laws based on their personal interests or opinions, not based on knowledge or expertise. What kind of idiotic system is that?

In our technocracy, we'll start from scratch. This will be the most free country on the planet. No mass government spying. No censoring the internet. No ridiculous amount of ridiculous laws. Our constitution will be based on the following principle: everyone is free to do whatever they desire unless it harms the environment or other lives. Laws will be kept to an absolute minimum—they are mere attempts to deal with occurring problems and not knowing how to solve them. Fighting symptoms, not the cause.

In some ways this technocracy will be more democratic and inclusive than current democracies, in other ways it will be less. The right to vote will not be guaranteed; it will have to be earned. Politics will primarily take place online, where citizens can transparently follow and participate in political discussions and vote using their Digital Passport.

When decisions have to be made that require a certain kind of expertise, only relevant experts will have a final say in the solution. As academic certifications and achievements will be registered in the Digital Passport, this will be used to determine the level of one's expertise.

Everything I’ve described so far makes this system possible. Since education is free and available to all citizens, anyone will ultimately be able to participate in politics given the right amount of effort. Corruption will be non-existent as there are no personal gains for politicians; money won't have power as we have no need for it.


You've now read over 4500 words that describe my dream, my vision of a better world. See how everything fits together? I'm not expecting you to agree with all of it—that was never the goal.

There is power in writing. I hope it has inspired you and provided you with new perspectives. For now this is only just one of my dreams, and only by putting it out there it could become more than that. Realizing it could take years, decades or a lifetime—perhaps you'll even have a part in it. Every step I take from this point on is with this end goal in mind. This piece is only the first step.

I just think it’s time for a wake-up call. People need to realize what's important and what purposes and goals we essentially have. Our ultimate collective goal is survival, so instead of waging wars and racing for money, how about we start focusing on space exploration and improving quality of life? Our progress, inventions, economies, societies, and everything we’ve ever accomplished won’t matter if we destroy our planet and go extinct.

Once we become a multi-planetary species, we will have the luxury of destroying each other and our planets over stupid differences. Let's make sure we don't human ourselves into extinction before that time. Let's try to find better ways to live with each other, and faster ways to progress as a collective. Can we start at least one new human colony here on Earth before we put one on Mars?

As long as we believe that things will never change, they won’t. I believe that my vision is possible. You can agree with me, or disagree with me and call me crazy, but sometimes all the world needs to change is a little crazy.

“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”

Author’s note:
This is probably the longest, most ambitious and most personal piece I’ve ever written, so I hope that you'll read all of it. You might see it as some sort of written TEDx-talk; I'm not really great at public speaking and I can express myself better by writing anyway. It took about 6 months and a lot of rewriting to put everything that's on my mind into a cohesive story. All across the piece I'm linking to, quoting, and paraphrasing other interesting people and writings, check them out!

If you enjoyed reading, please hit 💚 Recommend so that others may enjoy it as well. Also feel free to hit me up on Twitter!

The beautiful header photo was taken by Jacqueline Basham.