Social evolution follows a very similar path to biological evolution. Cultures give birth to new ones, diverging and branching out, adapting to new circumstances. Old cultures may perish or continue to exist. Today, we still have prehistoric tribes alive and thriving parallel with urban industrial societies.
This social divergence was almost unconstrained in nomadic hunter-gatherer societies untied to land. Non-functional groups could split up and leave each other alone. “Politically” defeated groups would leave the meadow and head for the new frontier. However, back then, this “new frontier” was just across the mountain. With the agricultural revolution and population growth that followed, land ownership become crucial. And it also brought about the first coercive territorial monopolies: kingdoms. This may be good from a survival standpoint in a brutal world, with many other aggressive kings and queens, but was certainly detrimental to social evolution.
New frontiers were becoming increasingly difficult to reach, and the size of unoccupied land shrunk dramatically. Conflicting groups had no choice except to end the conflict with violence, except the politically defeated now had nowhere to go. They were subjugated and forced into compliance. At that time, the only way for change was either revolution or a conquest of someone else’s land. Both of these options are violent, costly and may never bring change. Even when revolutions succeeded, their violent nature pushed further increase of coercion, creating the retaliatory cycle of an uncontrollable rise of oppression with each consecutive regime change. Evolutionary speaking, things get stuck, literally.
Imagine a scenario where the fish that needed to develop lungs had to ask for permission from the rest of their species. Or, a group of apes looking for a license from the local “King Kong” in order to start using tools. If statism was the model for the biological evolution, we would probably still be on a pre-Cambrian level. Even the very name implies things will remain static for a very long time. Under democracy it gets even worse. Groups that are able to evolve and adapt to changes are instead forced – coerced – to adapt to those that cannot adapt. Therefore, instead of spending our energy and resources on devising new political and economic solutions, we waste ourselves on trying to “educate” the “public.”
Historically, one of the things that boosted the rise of the Western civilization were the new geographic discoveries. The colonization of the new world opened a way for people dissatisfied with their status or treatment at home to try to build something different, without having to clash with the inert social and political dogmas of their origin collective. Besides the largely genocidal policy towards the native Americans (there are bullies and psychopaths in every group) the colonists from Europe managed to build the greatest political and economic power in the world within a century and a half. Outpacing the UK, Germany, France, and all of the archaic European monarchies that saw liberty as a threat to their realms.
Even those liberty havens are not meant to last forever. Coercive structures also adapt. They evolve to circumvent the checks, balances and other limitations to political power. People get manipulated, the semantics can be spun, rolled over, turned upside-down, and people will buy it. Generations come and go, each bringing their own visions, often very different than those of their founding fathers. Unfortunately, liberty is exhaustible. It tends to fade away with time. To become diluted amidst the inevitable rise of various coercive ideologies often advertised as “free rainbows for all.”
So, the last earthly frontier had been taken and its liberty has run out. Now, the entire planet is parceled out between a few hundred nation-states in an ongoing race of increasing government power. We see how every sector of society that should be managed by the state fails miserably. We have global political, ecologic, humanitarian, economic, migrant, security, education, healthcare, and transportation crises. On the other hand, the voluntary “non-political” aspects of society are moving forward with enormous speed. So, there are things like blockchain economies, neural networks, incoming hard AI, global connectivity, gene editing, organ printing, new planets, etc. in contrast with our politics, which is still locked in a paradigm three centuries old.
Liberty desperately needs new frontiers to flourish. Now, more than ever.
Seasteading is technologically feasible and could be affordable for upper-middle class people very soon. However, there are insurmountable legal issues with this. Mainly, it’s the assumption that just by residing in “international” waters you somehow become immune from interference. If the old political structures begin to feel “threatened” by the proliferation of seasteaded free cities, they will interfere with force. Oceans aren’t far enough to offer this kind of comfort.
Poking holes between the states also turned out to be a legal fantasy for similar reasons. The small terra nullius between Serbia and Croatia is de jure ungoverned land, but who can stop Croatian border cops from caging the Liberlandians who want to settle there? Even if Liberland succeeds, it would probably be at a great political cost.
What about outer space? Possibly, but not in near future. Although Elon Musk might sound optimistic, we are still pretty far away from space colonization. Commercial flights through space might be available soon, but something like Elysium would have to wait for a few decades. Space, however could be the next frontier for digital expansion. Server hosting in space could prove to be a way to avoid terrestrial laws and government surveillance, enabling a basis for liberty and privacy. To offer an alternative to big government conglomerations. With the advent of affordable space technology and new telecommunication tools, such developments could be possible within a couple of years. Even in this case, we are still politically earthbound.
Today, things change so fast and dramatically that foreseeing the outcome of this evolutionary crisis is next to impossible. Unpredictability and the magnitude of changes means that we are driven by spontaneous order more than ever before in history. This is good news I guess. The next frontier we need to conquer may be something very surprising or even unimaginable from our current perspectives. It might become irrelevant within some new social structuring, who knows. This question will remain open as we are heading into uncharted territories, at full acceleration.
Featured image by Mirko Bojadzijevski
* Mirko Bojadzijevski is a 36 year old artist, social and political analyst, and a loosely-defined libertarian. He believes libertarianism is a very poorly defined label and can mean many different things in different societies. Living in a country struggling with massive corruption and government abuse is a great chance to stress test every conceivable statist idea in its worst form. He has a keen interest in getting into the content-writing business.