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I'm thinking about a world where states are managed by companies and whoever can decide to switch state, staying between the conditions described by the contract each person have to sign when they join a state.

They should work just like the nowadays internet companies work. If you don't like the company for whatever reason you can change it. But you may have binding contracts that keep you with a specific company for a minimum amount of years.

The tricky part is that I'd like to make this idea work without the constraint of having each state own a territory, because I'd like to make the switch as effortless as possible.

Could this model work and how could it work without requiring people to move to different countries when they want to change?

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    $\begingroup$ You might want to check the TV series Incorporated. It uses a similar idea. And the outcome is exactly as predicted by Amadeus in his answer. $\endgroup$ – Olga Sep 17 '17 at 13:07
  • $\begingroup$ might want to read a book called SNow Crash because that is exactly what happens, you can live on your countries territory but you don't have to. However if you don't you miss out on many things like protection. $\endgroup$ – John Sep 17 '17 at 13:48
  • $\begingroup$ How do you envision your system applying to children? They can't sign a contract because they are minors. When they turn 16 or 18 do they get automatically signed up to the state their parent/guardian is in? Or do they get to choose? Alternatively, 16 year old may be clueless know-nothings to the company bean-counters (e.g. the company is an an engineering firm and the kid studied ballet and fine arts at school): why would a state want or need them? $\endgroup$ – DrBob Sep 17 '17 at 13:50
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    $\begingroup$ "If you don't like the company for whatever reason you can change it": Maybe for the first 5 minutes of company rule; afterwards the rules will be unilaterally altered, in the interest of the serfs, of course, to provide life-long stability. In the absence of a state (or in general in the absence of a ruler with power over both parties) there is no such thing as a contract, because there is nobody to enforce it. That's why in our admittedly fallen world citizens don't have contracts with their countries; they are unconditionally subjected to the judicial decisions of their countries. $\endgroup$ – AlexP Sep 17 '17 at 14:06
  • $\begingroup$ An interesting point here is what counts as a company, currently that is regulated in laws by the states where the companies are based. Could I unilaterally declare that I'm a company/state and legalize murder for my citizens? What prevents this? $\endgroup$ – lijat Sep 17 '17 at 15:20
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It would be difficult to devise this political scenario.

You can't make "contracts" work without some sort of collective, one that is more powerful than either Party in the contract, to enforce the terms of the contract, and typically to restrict the terms allowed in contracts.

Without such an entity, the more powerful Party in the contract can violate it at will; without punishment. For a contract to be any more than an empty promise, the weakest Party in a society must have some Court system they can use to force any other Party in a contract, even the most rich and powerful, to comply with the terms of the Contract. At least a credible threat to do that.

You also have the problem that Rights are enforced by the State, and these indirectly (by various court decisions) restrict what we can even make Contracts to do: In the USA, you cannot have a contract that requires somebody to break a law, or allows an employer to break a law.

For an example of the latter, a USA employer cannot have their employment contract say the employee waives their right to sue for sexual harassment (Heck, if we allowed that, I'd bet money some employment contracts would require sexual favors as part of the job.)

A private (meaning non-governmental) employment contract cannot force employees to accept violations of workplace safety, they cannot require employees to risk their lives (or sacrifice them). (Such requirements can be part of military service, but are treated differently, and other restrictions still apply: On the front lines a commander can order a female soldier into lethal combat, but cannot order her to have sex with him.)

Contracts are useless and meaningless to people that have zero chance to appeal to power to get them enforced. They are empty promises to the 99% if the only people that can enforce them are the rich and already powerful.

Without enforceable restrictions on what terms are allowed in the contract, the rich and powerful have you trapped and can collude so there IS no alternative: For example, every State contract (by agreement of the Rulers of States) demands 90% of your income. None of the States dare allow anything else even if they wanted to: The rest of the States have agreed to shut down all Trade with any member that does that.

By collusion among States with greedy and power hungry leaders, I think your system will quickly develop into a lot of oppression and slavery with no escape for the citizens. Sure, they're free to switch from one slave owner to another: But their contract says to do so, they must pay a fee equivalent to five years of their salary; and every State's contract says the same thing.

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  • $\begingroup$ You're right. Companies as states with contracted citizens (in name only) is a recipe for slavery, The Rights you mention under US Law would soon be waived under contract. To improve working conditions, increase opportunity, & other managerial claptrap. If not slavery, then certainly indentured labour. Uncomfortably dystopian. $\endgroup$ – a4android Sep 17 '17 at 12:56
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    $\begingroup$ @a4android yes, the whole premise of "competition" is that it drives down profits for all competitors. So it follows, logically, that if the law does not force you to compete, you will make more profits by colluding; and that includes stealing whatever value is created by the labor, creativity and innovation of your citizens, and giving them just enough of rewards and punishments to coerce them into continuing to produce that value. Whatever it may be in crops, mining, services, etc. $\endgroup$ – Amadeus-Reinstate-Monica Sep 17 '17 at 13:54
  • $\begingroup$ And thus we have religion and serfdom. Religion as an appeal to higher powers against the state, serfdom as obstacles in changing your overlords. It's all been done before. $\endgroup$ – nzaman Sep 17 '17 at 14:33
  • $\begingroup$ @nzaman I don't think religion is against the state, historically most religions have striven to be the state. Kings and Emperors have nearly always, and famously, had to include the religion in their calculations and seek its endorsement, the Supreme Leader of the Religion in the state is the one that crowns the King. Serfdom is just another name for slavery; serfs were considered property tied to the land. Until the last few centuries, the Word Of God superseded all others, including Kings. That's what "King of Kings" means. And no King can overrule The Prophet in Islamic faith. $\endgroup$ – Amadeus-Reinstate-Monica Sep 17 '17 at 15:26
  • $\begingroup$ @Amadeus: Yes, that's how they ended. They all started as an alternative source of authority to the state. Eventually they become popular and the state starts paying them attention; the next thing you know, the people in charge dump their, for want of a better word, constituents' wellbeing, and work to benefit themselves. Call it church, union, tribe, nation, parliament, it's all the same. Do also recall that the state has not been helpless or subservient; both the Holy Roman Emperor and Henry VIII ignored the Pope; Napoleon allegedly crowned himself before the Pope. contd... $\endgroup$ – nzaman Sep 17 '17 at 16:32
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What you're effectively talking about, if I understand you correctly, is a telecommuting citizenship, if there was a way to actually enforce the ability of the populous to change their State/Corporation at a whim it could work but, and it's a big but, only if the states were equipped to deal with the ebb and flow of human resources this would cause. Most companies, which is the base model here also the actual active model, can't, not won't but can't, absorb an influx of labour and most can't survive a walkout so a bad day at the office could destroy two or more countries at a stroke. I see the global set up as evolving in one of two directions neither particularly nice for the average civilian.

  1. corporations will compete for labour until they consolidate effective territorial blocks at which point they basically own everyone in their zone of influence.

  2. corporations will refuse to compete, at all, over anything, at which point everyone becomes a wage slave of one rank or another.

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