Sam Schooler

Cloud Communities


In December 2014, Estonia launched the first digital residency program in the world, e-Residency, which seeks to create a “digital nation for global citizens.” e-Estonia is the world’s most ambitious attempt to create a deterritorialized voluntary platform where individuals govern their lives digitally. Other attempts, private and more radical, are BitNation, Liberland, and Horizon State—all envision an anarchic post-nation-state world of self-sovereign communities that operate in cyberspace. But while Estonia uses blockchain technology to expand its sovereignty—a form of “transnational nationalism”—BitNation is a cyberlibertarianism initiative that dreams of a government-free system to compete with existing institutions and, ultimately, replace the Westphalian system of states. Whatever the motivation, the concept of a voluntary virtual self-sovereign political community is likely to become more central in the years to come.

This project examines the concept of “cloud communities” as a platform in which individuals can create political communities, organize certain functions of their life (e.g., law, governance, welfare services), participate in decision-making (alongside states), and have a political voice that is otherwise not effectively given to them in the nation-state structure. It seeks to establish the justifications of this concept, pinpoint its essential functions, and distinguish between different types of “cloud communities”. It analyzes whether “cloud communities” fulfill the essential conditions for a: a) political; b) community; and c) whose members have some form of “e-citizenship”; explores the differences between cloud communities and social networks, trade unions, and global civil society; and investigates what conceptions of sovereignty can emerge out of it (focusing on territorial sovereignty versus functional sovereignty).