Opinion: A New Nation Is Born, And It’s Looking For Citizens

Would you join a nation without a territory, government, or politics? Meet The Good Country, a virtual nation that wants a better future for everyone.

The Good Country is the first nation of its kind in human history: a nation without territory, without a government, without politics. Our plan is to become the third-largest nation by population after India and China, and our purpose is, quite simply, to make the world work better.

The basic principle behind the Good Country is that the grand challenges such as climate change, narcotrafficking, migration, terrorism, slavery, pollution, pandemics, conflict, corruption, poverty and inequality could all be tackled more effectively if countries worked together systematically, supported by a strong mandate from their own citizens. Such behaviour, we believe, is not a matter of national self-sacrifice or altruism but of simple self-interest: if done correctly, it can produce national as well as international benefits both in the immediate and longer terms.

The story of the Good Country began in 2014 when Simon launched the annual Good Country Index with a TED talk that has now been viewed more than 5 million times, and is ranked in the top ten ‘most inspiring’ by TED viewers. Following this talk, more than 20,000 people from 178 countries have written to tell us that they too see the world in the same way.

This overwhelmingly positive response started us thinking, so together with our colleague Dr Robert Govers, we conducted research to find out how many people shared the same values: a sense of belonging to the human race first, and to one’s nation of birth second; a belief that it’s wiser and more effective to combine collaboration, co-operation and competition rather than focus solely on competition; a feeling that politicians too often prioritize domestic issues over more pressing international issues; and a conviction that globalization could, and should, ultimately produce more benefits than problems.

Using polling data representing 83% of the world’s population, our study showed that at least 13% of the world’s adult population – more than 700 million people – share these values and aspirations. We call them the ‘natural cosmopolitans’, and they can be found in all countries, all income groups, and at all levels of education. Eleven million of them live in Mexico, and more than 80 million in the United States. They will be among the first citizens of the Good Country.

Photo: Rian Adi

A nation with nearly three-quarters of a billion citizens, each paying around $5 per year in taxes, will be able to exercise a profound influence in the international community. That influence can take many forms: for example, the Good Country will design and create new structures for international governance; it will collaborate in new and imaginative ways with traditional states, cities, corporations, international agencies and other actors; it will carry out policies that prove the benefits of paying attention to both domestic and international interests; occasionally, it will use its economic hard power to encourage other actors to ‘do the right thing’; and it will educate leaders and citizens in the benefits of more enlightened forms of international relations.

Our citizens will of course play an active part in selecting, shaping and implementing policy, becoming agents of the change they want to see. In contrast to many NGOs and activist groups, this isn’t about making a noise: it’s about making a difference. Thanks to the artificial intelligence-enabled discussion platform developed by our technology partner, Remesh, Good Country citizens can debate complex and nuanced issues in natural language without resorting to binary voting. This system is important because, for the first time in history, it effectively removes the need for a conventional government bureaucracy or ‘leaders’, making the Good Country a largely self-organizing system.

Photo: Helena Lopez

Instead, we will have a small civil service to administer the country’s affairs, and a diplomatic corps for the execution of policies. Formal diplomatic relations with traditional states, cities and U.N. agencies are already under discussion.

You don’t need to pass any kind of formal examination to become a citizen of the Good Country. You just have to be over 14, and of course you can come from any country on earth. Nationalization is a simple web-based process designed to find out if our values and our world-view are compatible: it’s more like a dating app than an examination.

And anyone who would like to become a citizen but is unable to pay the $5 annual tax can apply for a tax waiver, thanks to a fund supported by other citizens who voluntarily pay multiples of their own tax contribution.

Applications will remain open until the end of this year and will be limited to 200,000 citizens. This ‘first nation’ will then select and contribute to the development of the Good Country’s first three policy interventions which are scheduled to take place during 2019. In September 2019, if all our systems are working as planned, citizen enrollment will re-open permanently, and we will start reaching out to the remainder of the 700 million.

It’s not every day that a new nation is created – and there never has been a nation that’s defined by its values rather than by its borders. But then, there never has been a time like the present, when truly extraordinary things happen on an almost daily basis.

The passion and enthusiasm generated by the idea of the Good Country amongst everybody we meet never fails to astonish us, and day after day it reminds us that these are the right people, this is the right idea, and this is the right moment to really start changing the world.

By Simon Anholt and Madeline Hung, Co-Founders – The Good Country

Cover photo: Duy Pham


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