Doug Casey on Phyles
Doug Casey on Phyles by Doug Casey – International Man
The concept of phyles originated with the sci-fi writer Neal Stephenson, in his seminal book The Diamond Age. I’ve always been a big fan of quality science fiction. I’m not sure why it’s true, but there’s no question sci-fi has been a vastly better predictor of both social and technological trends than absolutely anything else.
The book, set mostly in China in the near-term future, posits that while states still exist, they’ve been overwhelmed in importance by the formation of phyles. Phyles are groups of people that get together with others, bound by whatever is important to them. Maybe it will be their race, religion, or culture. Maybe their occupation or hobby. Maybe their world view or what they want to accomplish in life. Maybe it’s a fairly short-term objective. There are thousands—millions—of possibilities.
The key is that a phyle might provide much more than a fraternal or beneficial organization (like Rotary or Lions) does. I take the concept quite seriously in my daily life. It’s one reason I don’t believe in organized charity. Phyles might provide insurance services very effectively, since a like-minded group—held together by peer pressure and social approbation—eliminates a lot of moral risk. It might very well offer protection services; a criminal might readily take out a citizen “protected” by a state, but they’ll think twice before attacking members of the Mafia.
People are social. They’ll inevitably organize themselves into groups for all the reasons you can imagine. In the past, technology only allowed people to organize themselves by geography—they had to be in the same area. That’s been changing, especially over the last century, with the emergence of the train, the car, and especially the airplane. The same with communication. The telephone and television were huge leaps, but the Internet is the catalytic breakthrough. It’s now possible for people to reach out all over the world to find others that are their actual countrymen, not just some moron that shares a piece of government ID with them.
As things develop, people will find out—or create places—where their loyalties lie. The nation-state has mostly been an inefficient, counterproductive, and expensive nuisance; it’s rapidly becoming completely insufferable. And dangerous; the people living off the state (which is to say acting as parasites upon their “fellow citizens”) are going to resist having their rice bowls broken. Undoubtedly they’ll use the coercive powers of the state to try to maintain the status quo. The military and the police (whose loyalties are first to their coworkers, then to their employer, and only then to those whom they’re supposed to “serve and protect”) will be out in force wearing riot gear.