Meta-nationals, revisited

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Posted by: stak
Posted on: 2012-03-12 23:25:53

One of my first posts on this blog was about the idea of a meta-national, or a company that encompasses a country. I specifically cited IBM as an example of a company getting so large it might become one. Interestingly, IBM now has a high school in New York, so it hasn't let me down on that front.

But more interesting is what NASA says. I hadn't really thought about the implications of this before, but it hit me that if space exploration and colonization is going to be done by companies rather than governments, they're likely to want to establish their own laws rather than abide by existing governmental legal structures. In fact, I could see companies becoming the new "countries" as we expand out from Earth, and meta-national companies expanding to meta-planetary companies.

Thoughts on what the next millenium holds with respect to clustering of people? Will we still have countries, or companies, or anything else?

Posted by Fai at 2012-03-23 01:52:43
There's a book called "The unincorporated man" that is basically along these lines, though they go further and assert that companies will own shares in people and you pay with shares of yourself to get things you want.
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Posted by stak at 2012-03-23 08:23:05
Ooh, interesting. What can the companies do if they own a share in somebody? Do they basically get some of their time to do whatever they want?
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Posted by Fai at 2012-03-25 05:13:51
Yes they own their time and can give them tasks to do. As above large corporations own entire cities and colonies on planets/asteroids.
Also humans become a publicly traded stock, and the value of the stock can go up or down depending on perception of how well they are doing. If they are doing better, they can demand more, sell stock at a higher price. But it also means they need more money to buy a majority in themselves.
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Posted by s5 at 2012-04-19 14:49:41
Hasn't this already happened in a sense? The British East India Company probably being the most infamous example.
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Posted by stak at 2012-04-19 21:11:03
I'm not sure that's the same thing. Members of the EIC were still subject to national laws, right?
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Posted by Varun at 2012-04-21 09:35:13
Not really, it depended on where they were and whom the other party, if any, was. Under company rule, the ultimate power to say whether someone was in breech of a law was the head of the company (and later the governor-general).

But now that s5 got me thinking - a better example might be the Shanghai International Settlement, which was nominally under Chinese law, but effectively run as its own legal system.
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Posted by varun at 2012-04-21 09:35:49
breach, not breech. Stupid Android.
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