Really insightful post, thanks for writing it. The concept of a “Network State” has been difficult for me to grasp, but this piece helps me get closer. For example here you mention that territory is a way of defining ownership of resources, which is partially true, but seems to sidestep other important aspects of a nation state’s territory: the ability of the nation state to use force within territory to enforce laws, the ability of the nation state to restrict who can enter or leave territory, etc. If instead we limit “territory” to only mean resource ownership, then we are back to the other counter argument quoted in your post: what makes a network state different than a country club?

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Honestly I think it starts out weak and non-threatening and looks exactly like a global country club in the beginning.

But like a prestigious country club, the members have a level of trust and values alignment with each other and coordinate to effectively influence politics.

But in the next step, The Network State takes the country club to the next level. Instead of being a rather powerless neutral ground, it actually becomes the Schelling point of organizing influence and directing resources. In this stage it looks a bit more like a Political Action Group.

Once the group gathers influence and begins to demand concessions from the local government that align with their values (change laws, special privileges).

At this point the local polity will begin to see a potential threat, and will look to absorb or neutralize.

By then the Network State must have established 1) enough digital and influence resources to be worth keeping around and 2) a large enough global organization such that the threat of members exiting with digital resources is a credible threat.

Importantly, while the network state may own physical land, the land itself is not the valuable resource which the state wishes to reclaim. It is the citizens and their digital resources which are valuable, and therefore highly portable. This makes the option to exit feasible and diplomacy the preferred route for the existing state.

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