What If the World Were Like Snow Crash?


In the course of imagining a state in which individuals might have a lot of freedom without democracy, Arnold Kling wonders

Suppose that a new non-territorial state is created. Call it Liberista! To become a citizen of Liberista!, you just pay an annual fee. You pay no taxes to the state. As a citizen of Liberista!, you can live anywhere that Liberista!has an embassy compound. Liberista! leases compounds in countries all over the world. Liberista! embassy compounds are as ubiquitous as Hiltons, but many of them have space for large sections of single-family homes, office parks, and so on.


Living in an embassy compound as a citizen of Liberista!, your status with respect to the host country is comparable to that of a diplomat. You can travel freely within the host country, but you are exempt from income and property taxes. However, the government of Liberista will expect you to pay your traffic tickets and to otherwise not abuse your diplomatic status. Services like utilities, water, and trash collection must be purchased from providers in the host country. Perhaps you contract for these as an individual citizen, or perhaps you allow Liberista! to contract on your behalf and collect a fee from you.

Liberista! is managed like a hotel chain. As a citizen, you have no more right to vote than does somebody who patronizes a Holiday Inn. You can, of course, make suggestions and register complaints.

Of course, there may be competing transnational enterprises, each with franchises–er, embassies–all over. Such a world is described in Snow Crash, and I make no claim to originality. 

Kling says that, if such a place existed, and was close by, he'd move there. If the obvious problems of diplomacy and security could be resolved, I think I might too. Like Kling, however, I'm fairly rooted in my current home, so I don't think I'd move very far. Still, no matter where it sprang up, I'd applaud efforts to build such a society, and would encourage those who aren't as tied down to make the move.