The United States of the World
The frequently polarizing (and often brilliant) venture capitalist, Peter Thiel, has an interesting interview question that goes like this: “What is something you believe that no one around you believes?”
It’s an interesting thought exercise to see if you only keep beliefs kept by those around you (or if you have any original beliefs of your own).
My friend, Martin, and I were talking about this around 2014 — and my answer to the question three years ago was that I did not think we would have 50 “United” States over the next 25 years, and that states and regions of the country would begin breaking off from the US within that time period. But my reason for believing this is not because of the reasons you might think.
I think this outcome will come about because of increased cooperation, trust, and harmony — not because of conflict, discord, or media-manufactured hate. Like a child growing up and moving out of the house, in a move of maturity, I think the continued trend of actually understanding our interdependence (while recognizing the decreasing need to officially band together) will breed a world of increased efficiency, increased cooperation, and decreased nationalism — to the point of not needing large, empirical imaginary lines that keep us in lock-step together.
I realize the media-fueled national discourse is anything but a positive backdrop to this post, but mainstream media has a century-long history of missing key trends as they’re happening and focusing on the negative.
So why will the US split over time?
Well, power in numbers sounds good in theory, especially when everyone wants the same thing, but it ends up being more like a potato-sack race when you have multiple populations and communities wanting slightly different things.
I don’t know what the culturally and financially interdependent collective will look like, nor do I know the exact technology that will speed this up (though I have a feeling the increased connectedness that makes leaving home easier for the new college student won’t be that dissimilar for the newly annexed states of the US) — but I do believe this idea, and a peaceful plan for it, will go from “crazy” to “polarizing” to “conceivable” to “understandable” to “rationale” in a relatively short period of time (25 years isn’t very long). Especially when we understand that the lines that bind us together are made up, and the bonds between us have so much more to them than fictional lines on a map.
And in a world where basic human needs are increasingly met each day through cross-global relationships that have nothing to do with national borders, and a world where prosperity is increasingly understood to be maximized through cooperation (rather than attempts at domination), it’s conceivable that we will wake up in 15, 20, or 25 years and realize that you can get to the finish line together much faster running next to each other rather than tying two feet together.