(Author: Grace Rachmany, co-founder, Priceless Economics / Voice of Humanity)
One of the fundamentals that Balaji Srinivasan speaks of in his Network State is that the state becomes recognized by other states. We find that ironic, after his excellent and well-researched description of what happens to "recognized" states when they don't toe the line of the existing (US-dominated) order.
As founders who live in Kenya, the Philippines, and the former Yugoslav Republic, we consider international recognition of little comfort when it comes to protecting human rights, human dignity, and the preservation of life, human or otherwise.
Once, when asked if he would be seeking recognition by the EU, the self-declared President of the self-declared micronation of Liberland, Vít Jedlička, said "We don't recognize the European Union," which was met by unanimous laughter. More than thirty years of the EU, and absolutely nobody self-identifies as an EU citizen.
Why would we want recognition? International and national bodies want to put our farmers out of business, even after the invasion of Ukraine, which puts European food supplies at risk. Governments quash commons timebanks through restrictive tax regimes that make it impossible for people to lift one another out of poverty. Neither governments nor international coalitions bat an eye when a nation declares its intention to sell off bioregions critical for the survival of the planet. We could go on, but you can probably think of your own examples.
No, you do not need recognition to be your own nation. Ask the Catalonians, the Kurds, the Tibetans, the Kosovans, the Palestinians, or the Jews. Similarly, you don't need to be a nation to wield as much or more power than a nation. Just ask Google, the Catholic Church, the Gates Foundation, the Coke Brothers, or the Medellin Cartel. Finally, recognition doesn't grant you as much benefit as you might pretend, as the Libyans, Afghans, Kashmirs, and Ukrainians will tell you.
It's a farce to pretend that there is some authority that has the moral, regulatory, or military power to recognizing the legitimacy of, well, anything, as Bitcoin has shown us. Without Bitcoin, there would be no Network State manifesto.
Legitimacy does not depend on an outside force, but upon the internal recognition of the people who declare themselves as a group.
Nationhood has always been a difficult concept to put one's finger on, but the application of borders to geographic regions has given us the delusion that there really are these things called nations. Although these nations may have hundreds of languages and cultures, or two nations may share the same language an culture, this arbitrary line-drawing has led all of us to point at something called "recognition" as a requirement for the nation to exist.
Thanks, but no thanks.
The only thing "recognition" will get you is demands that you fit into the Westphalian order, that you define reality in exclusively tangible terms, that you ascribe to the exploitative model of value, and that you participate in a market economy that has wiped out 90% of the earth's wildlife, culture, and social cohesion.
Again. Thanks, but no thanks.
The best a network state can wish for is to be left alone.
Any project looking to challenge the status quo can be in three possible phases: Too small to be relevant, too big to stop, and in trouble. Bitcoin successfully went from "too small to be relevant" to "too big to stop" without getting in trouble. The blockchain industry is in some trouble now, but too late. It's fundamentally too big to stop, as the Tornado Dusting incident of August 9th demonstrated.
Therefore, Priceless asserts that recognition is no requisite for declaration of a networked state. All that's required is enough autonomy to meet the needs and expectations of the citizens of the state.
The moment your network state requires recognition by the official national systems in place today, you are captured by that dependency and selling out on your ideals is only a whisper away.
We recognize the rights of humans and of groups to self-declare their affiliations, values, and cultures.
Freedom of affiliation. That's Priceless.