Daily Balajisms - The One Commandment
Exit is good
Balaji Srinivasan in his book The Network State introduced a concept of The One Commandment. It lets startup societies focus on one and only one moral innovation (“sugar bad” for the Keto Kosher society). This prevents mission drift and reduces complexity.
The One Commandment makes it easier to compare startup societies focused on the same moral innovation. Tech startups are laser-focused on one tech innovation - their product or service. Startup societies should be laser-focused on just one moral innovation and build a community around it.
Anyone with a laptop can create a startup society. They will be the new SaaS – Society as a Service. They can be evaluated by same metrics as the traditional SaaS companies. Startup societies are communities built around one cause - moral innovation that distinguishes them sufficiently from the mainstream. This is similar to companies using product differentiation.
Startup societies are the first stage of a gradualist and bottom-up process to build the network state. The next stage is to build a network union - a truly aligned online community through daily calls to action.
Many network unions don’t need to progress to the next stage, and can remain just purely online – for example a guild of graphic designers that collaborate, observe agreed rules, promote each other, and protect members from cancelation.
The next stage is to build a network archipelago – crowdfund communally owned real estate around the world, connected through internet.
Eventually some network archipelagos will achieve some levels of diplomatic recognition - from sub-national, national or supra-national sovereigns. The interface between crypto-countries and fiat-countries is important in the same way, as the bitcoin/dollar interface and trading was important to scale bitcoin and web3 to its current levels.
But at the very beginning of the journey from a startup society to the network union/archipelago/state is a moral innovation of The One Commandment like – “longevity good”, “saving good”, “sugar bad”, “formal clothing good” and “digital sabbath good”.
Balaji talks about a need for a moral stack as the layer0. Web3 founders, as well as startup society founders, need to constantly stress the moral argument for their existence – this gives them a license to operate.
The ability to exit is very important for Balaji’s thinking (See Exit, Voice and Loyalty). Exit is getting easier, thanks to bitcoin and web3, and will be much easier in the near future.
Balaji is predicting that, what he calls, the DeFi matrix will be to this decade, what the social graph was to the last one. In the DeFi matrix, all assets are tradable against each other – making exit much easier, and thus increasing the price of loyalty.
Balaji measures alignment of communities by percentage of members engaged in daily actions. It’s like daily active users – but for focused work on building a community, not just entropic infotainment of social media.
I think, the ethics of communities like startup societies could be measured by the ease of exit.
And if there could be a kind of meta-one-commandment for all startup societies and network unions/archipelagos/states, it should be in my opinion, (the ease of) “exit is good”.