The Competitive Governance Universe

The Competitive Governance Universe

Patri Friedman
Show Date
September 25, 2022
Charter CitiesCompetitionSeasteading

Let’s engage in a thought experiment. Picture Earth in 100 years. Let’s imagine there are two possible futures:

In the first, there is just one government: the Global United Nations (GUN) controls and tightly manages a shrinking population to ensure “sustainability” amid dwindling natural resources.

In the second scenario, there are a thousand smaller autonomous political units, ranging in size from a few dozen people to tens of millions. In some cases, the citizens of a particular jurisdiction do not even share a particular piece of territory, but rather have devised a patchwork of contractual agreements with multiple governing entities. Legal services are provided via the Blockchain with trusted technologies and third parties to verify transactions – and a population of tens of billions of people peacefully coexist. The governing entities that enable people to utilize scarce resources most productively grow and expand, while inefficient governments lose their citizens and quickly go under.

Whether we have one country or one thousand may be the most important political question that almost no one is discussing.

Although the Nobel-prize winning economist Paul Romer helped to popularize the relatively modest idea of “charter cities,” the more radical idea of startup cities – or even startup countries – is the domain of a still small group of Silicon Valley visionaries, investors, and entrepreneurs.

At the center of the so-called competitive governance movement is Patri Friedman – the co-founder and Director of the Seasteading Institute, who more recently founded Pronomos Capital, a venture capital firm devoted to transforming the “governance industry” by promoting the idea of startup countries.

Seasteading and related land-based projects represent the next frontier for radical libertarianism, following in the footsteps of Patri’s father – the anarcho-capitalist thinker David Friedman – and his grandfather, Milton. The late Milton Friedman showed how free trade areas like Hong Kong could supercharge growth and lead millions out of poverty. Patri’s ambition is to enable the establishment of a thousand Hong Kongs – floating or otherwise – to pull humanity into the more optimistic scenario for the future.

Patri was one of my first guests when I started broadcasting in 2009. Much has changed since he first launched the Seasteading Institute. Tune in to find out what’s happening in the universe of competitive governance.

I think Patri Friedman was onto something with @seasteading. In fact, he still is, having recently founded Pronomos Capital – seeking to use the lessons which he's learned during his stint in Silicon Valley to create a new model for urban development, where the city is the product.