Wednesday, May 30, 2012
The International Society for Individual Liberty published James Elwood's book review of the amazing and prescient The Sovereign Individual: Mastering the Transition to the Information Age.
Here is a brief excerpt from the full review:
It is the computer revolution that provides the promise of a real-world Galt's Gulch. Still in its infancy, the cybereconomy will allow the successful practitioners of computer technology to escape the regular economy and the predations of governments. Widely available strong encryption tools like Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) are already allowing ordinary users to make it impossible for government to monitor their communications or decipher the contents of their hard drives or storage disks.
The Information Revolution will also bring us the death of politics as we know it. Participants in the cyber-economy will operate in the anarchic environment of the Internet, choosing who they will deal with, how and when. The authors think that the morality of the marketplace will dominate the Internet, and that private clubs with their own security procedures will arise to prevent theft by cybercriminals. Politicians will become increasingly irrelevant, as people bypass them and form new voluntary local institutions and virtual communities on the Internet.
The death blow to the nation-state will be digital cash, which has just become available. E-cash or even e-metal, using encrypted verifiable signals will allow individuals to make their transactions in secret on the Internet, and will destroy the ability of governments to exact wealth through the hidden tax of monetary inflation. Using financial institutions domiciled in tax havens, and using anonymous remailers, cybernauts will be able to largely avoid taxes and inflation, and thus amass wealth at a vastly accelerated rate.
Governments will starve. Their ability to exact large sums from the rich for transfer payments will disappear. If they are to survive, they will be forced to radically downsize, and treat their citizens like customers instead of livestock. And since their ability to police large territories will also decline due to weapons technology, there will be enormous pressures to break up nations into much smaller jurisdictions. The provision of protection will become a business service, and much more personalized, especially for the rich cyber-entrepreuners.
For further reading:
"The Sovereign Individual Book Review", Peter Macfarlane, October 31, 2008
"Will Computer Technology Liberate Individuals from the Nation-State?", Greg Kaza, The Freeman, February 1, 1998