Daily Balajisms – parallel establishment
Parallel societies, parallel services, and counter-elites.
Peter Turchin has the concept of counter-elites that fight with the old establishment over the hearts and minds of masses. Balaji with his concept of a parallel establishment presents an orthogonal approach that goes beyond politics – often you need to exit the old domain first, found something new and 10x better, to later reform the old entrenched system.
Balaji sees the parallel establishment comprised of founders, funders and fans of new parallel societies, parallel services and parallel institutions. At The Network State Conference in Amsterdam, we heard talks from people who started Replit, Synthesis and Thiel Fellowship as examples of parallel education.
The basic idea is that you cannot reform the taxi medallion – but you can start Uber or Lyft. You cannot reform, nor end the Fed. But you can exit it with bitcoin. Balaji thinks it is easier to start a new country than to reform the FDA. To make breakthroughs in the area of longevity, we might need just that.
Behind the Iron Curtain, Vaclav Benda, a Czech dissident came up with the concept of Parallel Polis – building upon tradition of parallel societies within Middle Eastern and Chinese diasporas. People would meet secretly in flats and organize lectures about Western values for their kids.
Today you can visit Parallel Polis for example in Prague, a space that builds upon this libertarian tradition and also serves as a bitcoin embassy.
Balaji Srinivasan wrote a book The Network State that asks if we have built tech startups and cryptocurrencies with internet can we build also cloud countries – “cloud first, land last, but not land never”. Balaji takes a bottom-up approach – anyone with a moral innovation and a laptop can be a founder of a startup society. If they manage to create a highly-aligned community capable of collective action, they have reached a second stage – a network union.
If they manage crowdfund real estate all around the world, they reached a network archipelago stage – instead of waters these islands of conviviality are connected by on-chain (up)voting and internet. People don’t just organize regular meetups and collective actions; they also end up living together. Some network archipelagos will eventually succeed in getting some kind of diplomatic recognition from a sovereign – be it a small country or an important sanctuary city.
All these steps towards the network state – from startup society via network union to network archipelago are examples of parallel societies.
By building the parallel establishment of people with Internet First values we escape the doom scenario of American Anarchy vs Chinese Control. This is not just about saving the West, it is going beyond the West vs Rest dichotomy.
Internet is to the US, what America was to Europe – a new frontier. And internet values of free communication, free commerce, and free compute, are more global and equal values, than just Western values.
Therefore, we need founders who will build parallel services and strive for decentralized AI, Crypto and Social.