Age of Exit

Mark Lutter’s forecast for the general landscape of 21st century politics leaves plenty to argue with, from all sides, and even vociferously, but the basic trend-line he projects is persuasive (at least to this blog):

… the costs of exit are going down. Increased mobility and smaller political units will allow people increasingly to vote with their feet. The old political questions of which ideological empire controls which territory will give way to a choose-your-own-governance meta system. […] Thus, to be successful, political units will have to attract residents—that is, to providing better services at lower cost. Increased competition among smaller political units will spur innovation, leading to new forms of governance. Many will fail. But the successful will be replicated, outcompeting more stagnant forms. Singapore, Dubai, Hong Kong, Switzerland, and Lichtenstein show the beginnings of such success. […] Not all the governments will be libertarian. In fact, most probably will not be. Some will experiment with higher levels of redistribution; others with petty tyrannies, zealous zoning and even social exclusion. However, competition will eliminate unsuccessful models. Ultimately, the meta-rules that are emerging are decidedly libertarian in flavor, as choice will govern the survival of political units.

The left won’t like this, for obvious reasons. It is dissolidarity incarnate, with an egalitarian-democratic promise that is minimal, at best. I’m not sure whether the criticism has developed beyond indignant scoffing to calmly-formulated theoretical antagonism yet, but it surely will.

The right’s objections are likely to be more diverse. Most pointedly, from the perspective here, there is room for deep skepticism about the harshness of the selection mechanisms Lutter is counting upon. Driving a state into insolvency, and liquidation, is no easy thing. For those, especially, who would be delighted to see effective inter-state Darwinism cropping micro-states for adaptive excellence, cold realism concerning the capabilities of states to forestall such outcomes is essential. If widespread conflict-free high-functionality futures sound too good to be true, they probably are.

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