The Network State for Really Busy People

The Network State, by Balaji Srinivasan, is mind-blowing! It points to the possibility of rebuilding a free and innovative World.  The book is chalk full of supporting material and historical context.  In an effort to clarify my own understanding of the material, I dug in and  identified what I believe to be the main ideas (listed below). Most of what  follows comes directly from The Network State, as I understand it.  I additionally drew from “The Sovereign Individual”, as well as incorporated a few ideas of my own.   I hope this short summary inspires you to read The Network State.

Part I – Definition, Introduction and Frontiers

A network state is a highly aligned online community with a capacity for collective action that crowdfunds territory around the world and eventually gains diplomatic recognition from pre-existing states.” (The Network State)

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The Network State argues that startup societies will harness an internet technology stack to navigate around state erected roadblocks to experiment with governance models. Building governance structures from a blank slate will allow startup societies to unbundle citizens of current nation states and re-sort them into coherent online communities with a shared consciousness. These new communities will eventually engage in collective action and foster innovation in politics and the physical world (health science, fusion etc.).  Ultimately, The Network State outlines a path towards building a 100x better World.   


By the late 15th century, the Ottomans were blocking trade passing through the Eastern Mediterranean to Western Europe.  Indeed, Columbus’ trip in 1492 sought to circumvent the Ottomans’ trade barriers and re-establish commerce with India by finding a western trade route.  Rather than finding India, however, Columbus discovered something arguably even better: a new frontier!     

Columbus’ discovery of North America ushered in a period of significant growth and greatness for Europe and America.  The closing of the frontier in 1890, on the other hand,  unleashed  a necessarily zero-sum period and age of total war.  Ambitious individuals could no longer become “founders” on their own plot of land.  Instead, they gravitated towards roles such as union organizers and revolutionaries.  An argument could be made that the communist revolutions and the hell they unleashed on the World in the 20th century are connected to the closing of the frontier.

Open frontiers provide individuals with options, while placing checks on exploitation by corporations and trade unions.  Dissatisfied workers can vote with their feet and escape oppressive work and social environments.  Frontiers additionally provide blank slates for social experimentation.  During the 18th and 19th centuries, North American settlements and colonies brought innovation and shaped what it meant to be on the “cutting edge” of governance.

The Network State argues that web3 and Bitcoin will be leveraged to secure the internet as a new frontier.  Similar to the frontier Columbus discovered, this new digital frontier will foster extraordinary social and economic growth and usher in a potential golden age. Eventually,  startup societies will translate their success on the network into new physical frontiers via network archipelagos and states.