“I cannot play on any stringed instrument, but I can tell you how to make of a little village a great and glorious city.” – Themistocles
Welcome to the beginning of this series where I shall endeavour to imagine a new nation: The city state of Geoland. At the death of the Enlightenment, I shall strive to build a new nation on Enlightenment values. Values more immune from corruption and degradation.
Before I begin, I shall state that this is not a utopia. It’s not even my utopia (which would involve a pre-industrial island, wild game, a temple, a large library, thatched huts, fresh, raw goat’s milk, tropical fruits, surfable waves, many beautiful women…pardon me, my imagination gets too enthusiastic on occasion). Again I say this is not a utopia. If someone tells you they are building a utopia with human beings, you should run as far as possible in the other direction. That person does not understand human nature. If you desire to see a communist utopia, a place with no inequality, no injustice, no jealousy: visit a graveyard. That is what utopias soon become.
However, I do believe a country can be built that is more just, more prosperous, and more liveable for all its citizens than any society today running at large scale. I feel, deep in my marrow, that civilisation once more has a yearning, a great lust, to visit a terrible destruction upon itself within the next decade. And only a better system can prevent such chaos (though I concede (and hope) that better technology may somewhat delay the reckoning and allow for better systems to develop).
This new nation will largely be based on the principles developed by Henry George (from Thomas Paine and even further back), and to a lesser extent on FA Hayek’s economic principles, and also Aristotle’s concept of a “mixed polity” (also known as a system of checks and balances).
This nation will, I hope, be a place where all citizens and guests can expect just treatment, a place more kind towards its environment, a place where free market freedoms and conservationist concerns are united in one system that recognises the rights of all citizens to the natural resources and natural bounties of a nation, and yet does not plunder what citizens have built and earned with their labour, their knowledge, and their risk. Future series will delve into the systems of government, of monetary policy, of taxation, and of justice, that can make all this possible.
A nation cannot choose its ecology or geography to a large extent, but since Geoland only exists, for now, in my head, I can build it (and I don’t mean to dismiss ecology as unimportant, it may be a defining feature for how civilisations grow and for the character of the people a nation, but one must work with what is available).
Imagine an island, about the size of Manhattan, in the Southern Mediterranean, lodged somewhere between the Balaeric islands and Sardinia. On one end is a tall mountain. A fresh water river runs down from the top of this mountain and cuts the whole island in half, the rest of which is just above sea level. I’m not sure if such ecology is even possible, but I like to imagine so.
As a man of largely Mediterranean stock, this island reflects my soul: the location in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, and the river cutting through it reminds me of the river that cuts through London, the city that raised me. Geoland sees British enlightenment values transposed onto a Mediterranean body.
In essence, the island is me.
I’ve heard it said that whenever someone offers a “third position”, it is invariably some branch of right wing thought. I don’t think you will find that the case here. Henry George referred to himself as a socialist, though that was before the term was so entwined with the idiotic theories and brutal realities of Marxist dogma. Hayek is considered a right wing or libertarian thinker, yet, by the standards of his Austrian school of economic thought, he’s definitely to the left or at least centre. Aristotle’s view of natural slavery is long outdated, and only extreme far right thinkers still adhere to that belief, but it will not be accepted in Geoland, only his idea of a mixed polity.