As regional think tank, LIRNEasia sees its allegiance as being to the poor in the whole region, rather than a particular country. I’ve lived in three countries other than the one I was born in and have always been skeptical about excessive attachments to particular places. Albert Hirschman’s discussion of the nation state as a monopoly supplier of services with limited options of exit made more sense to me than most. I wrote about citizenship becoming more a matter of choice back in 2006.
As the writer says, there are significant similarities between the new conception of the state and the way we use cloud services:
As more countries become aggressive about attracting the digitally enabled, and build out more digital services of their own, the idea of nation-as-a-service comes into sharper focus. A country defined as a platform of digital services, social and cultural values, and economic rules, looks more like the cloud-based services many of us rely on every day — Dropbox, Spotify, Gmail and so on — than the nation state as defined in the 17th century. While national identity is still a more complex notion, how that identity moves across borders is becoming more fluid.
A thought experiment: Could a country offer you a range of citizenship subscription options, and bill your taxes based on “membership” and services used? If countries like Germany, Italy and Estonia are willing to reconsider what constitutes citizenship just to keep up with broader global pressures of economic competitiveness and migration, what package of benefits and protections might a forward-thinking country offer economic migrants, or extend to refugees seeking assistance while residing in another country? What if tapping the benefits of a third country wasn’t only the privilege of the wealthy, but something as easy as signing up for Netflix?