Around the world, people are dissatisfied with their governments. Most governments are difficult (and slow) to change, in part due to their size. Our idea is simple: don't argue about it, build the alternative.
While the term "startup society" is new, the concept is not. American colonies began as startup societies to escape religious persecution in Europe. While every society in history began as a startup, there are plenty of modern examples. Cities such as Hong Kong, Shenzhen and Singapore have lifted millions of people out of poverty and have the same economic output as many nation states. Currently, there are more than 3000 startup societies across the globe.
Here are five reasons why small, experimental governments are better than large, standard ones:
1. Fewer special interests impeding change
The world needs innovation and experimentation in governance to meet the challenges of the 21st century. Unfortunately, entrenched special interests inhibit change — bureaucracies and lobbying corporations don't want competition. Startup societies will have fewer special interests to contend with, and as a consequence, can more freely enact new policies.
2. Easy to leave
The larger the geographical area of a state, the harder and more expensive it is to leave. Because startup societies are small, they're easy to leave. As a result, startup societies will provide better benefits than nearby territories; if they don’t serve their citizens, startup societies will lose them.
(See our Principle of Exit for additional information.)
3. More data
Proper science requires a large sample size, meaning many examples to draw from. With large, stagnant, centralized states, there is less precedent to make policy predictions. Since startup societies are small and decentralized, they create more (and diverse) policy examples, so policy makers can implement new policies based on richer data sets. Startup societies put the science in social science.
4. Local government
A large government cannot easily meet the individualized needs of its citizens, especially if they live far away from the capital, speak different languages or have different cultural backgrounds. Due to proximity, a local government is aware of its citizens' values, language and economy — and can make better decisions for its population. Because of the size of startup societies, local governance is the norm.
5. Efficient use of technology
Startup societies are not restricted to old infrastructure and can benefit from technological advancements with greater ease and efficiency than older, larger states. Since startup societies are small and easier to leave, they must take every precaution to remain competitive and retain citizens — thus, they often turn to tech. Examples: Shenzhen, the “Silicon Valley of Hardware,” and Singapore, often called a future city.