Unbundling the United States

The problem with Trump is not that he is president. The problem with Trump is that he is the president of all of us in the United States.

It’s easy to forget that reality is relative. My reality in NYC is very different than the reality of people living in a small town in the Midwest. Whereas a big city needs to attract the best talents from all around the world, a small town needs to protect the fragile equilibrium of their local community. Is there anything wrong with that? It’s just a different reality and different needs.

The problem comes when we try to impose our reality to others. There is a mismatch. It doesn’t feel right. It creates frustration and suffering.

It doesn’t have to be that way.

We need to free ourselves from the old thinking that there is only one universal reality. We can’t impose on anyone our view of the world. We can’t force people to change.

The only sustainable way to make change happen is to show people another way of doing things and let them chose to embrace it or not, at their own pace.

That’s exactly what we do with Startups. We create new ways of doing things. We don’t force anyone to use our products. Some early adopters give them a try and if they like them they start spreading the word that a new solution exists to solve a particular problem. Then other people freely join at their own pace. If you do not agree –and you think you can come up with a better solution– you are free to bring your own solution to the world. And if people like it better, they will eventually –at their own pace– embrace the new solution.

Our ability as a society to thrive and adapt to an ever changing environment is related to our ability to let people run new experiments and our ability to let people freely join those movements. Whenever we spend time to impose a view, we force an equilibrium that is not natural. It can only last for as long as we can put an artificial pressure to maintain this equilibrium. Not sustainable.

When I look around me, I see a lot of energy spent to fight the reality and to try to convince others.

The problem lies in our institutions. They force us to look at the world from their (old) perspective. They force us to believe that we have to have one president for the United States. And therefore, they force us to enter into an endless fight to try to convince other people who live in a different reality that our reality is better. That our candidate should be the president.

The institution “United States” is not a law of the universe. It has not always been there and it will not always be there. It has been invented to address the needs of a very different world.

We should ask ourselves: Is the United States still the best way to organize our society?

What if we could live in a world where we wouldn’t have to convince others? Where we wouldn’t have to fight Trump’s supporters? Where we could let them vote for him as long as he wouldn’t force decisions on all of us?

What would we do if we had to create the United States today? Would it still have the same values and one President? Would it still have the same borders? If the goal is to unite all the people who believe in the idea of freedom why should it stop at geographic borders? Why couldn’t it include people from other regions?

I lived in Madrid, London, San Francisco, NYC, Brussels and I traveled the world a lot. People underestimate how much alike people are in all those cities. Much more so than between those cities and their country side. But our current operating system –nations– forces us to impose our view of the world to the country side and vice versa. Recipe for disaster.

Existing bundles of cities and small towns based on geographic proximity and language don’t make sense anymore. They did make sense before the Internet because it was the only way we could bundle people together. But today, all cities are connected and speak the same language (English has become de facto the universal language in international cities).

We need new bundles of people based on communities that share the same values and goals. Those communities may or may not be geographically based.

We need to give the freedom to each community to chose how they want to live, how they want to address the challenges that they have to face in their own reality. And only then we can start thinking of new ways to unite them based on common values and on a voluntary basis. People should be free to form the communities that they need and try new ways of doing things as long as they don’t impose on anyone their view of the world.

So this is my invitation. Let’s embrace the reality that there are many realities out there. Let’s use our energy not to convince others but to show them that there is another way to unite people that respects our differences.

We can create a better society that embraces diversity and that gives everyone the opportunity to learn and contribute to the world.

Let’s move beyond the old framework of nation states. We all belong to the United People Of Earth first, then to our respective communities second. Let’s build new institutions –a new operating system– that embrace that reality. That’s the world I want to leave to future generations.

🙏

Xavier Damman

About the author

I'm Xavier Damman. I'm an engineer in computer science and an entrepreneur. I'm passionate about the digital renaissance. I like to think about the future of media (I cofounded Storify), organizations and democracy (I'm now working on Open Collective). In my spare time, I like to hack and talk. You can follow me on Twitter @xdamman.