The Good Country is a novel enterprise: the first nation without territory, without a government, without politics.
By Simon Anholt and Madeline Hung, Co-Founders – The Good Country
Since the Good Country opened its doors to welcome its first citizens two months ago, thousands of people from over 150 countries have enrolled.
These people are joining a totally new kind of country: one without territory, without borders, and without a government. The purpose of the Good Country is to bring together the estimated 760 million people worldwide who see themselves as citizens of the world as much as citizens of their own nation, and want to be part of an ambitious new project to “make the world work better”. The Good Country will do this by encouraging traditional nations, institutions, corporations and individuals to collaborate on solving the grand challenges of our age instead of continually competing against each other.
Since the Good Country is funded exclusively by the tax revenues of its citizens, it is truly ‘their’ country. Each citizen pays USD $5 to support the operations of the Good Country, if they can afford it: if not, tax waivers are available thanks to other citizens voluntarily buying additional $5 “bonds”.
Having limited funds to reach out to the potential citizens of the Good Country means no conventional marketing: instead, we are building a unique global network of volunteer Ambassadors who spend some of their spare time reaching out to friends, family, school and university connections, work colleagues, journalists, compatible organizations and potential future Ambassadors. They’re all busy spreading the word and infecting others with their enthusiasm.
A network which was originally conceived as a simple, cost-free system for connecting those 760 million people around the world has now become the most enjoyable part of the project. Meeting face-to-face with some of the people who want to help build the Good Country continues to be a remarkable and rewarding experience for us. There’s almost no demographic pattern here: it’s men and women in more or less equal proportions; the ages range from early teens to late seventies; there are teachers and technicians, students and secretaries, musicians and metalworkers, and plenty of people still deciding what to do next with their lives.
What they all have in common is a sense that the global challenges are urgent and that it’s the duty of all humanity to try and do something to tackle them; often some frustration that their national politicians focus too much on domestic issues (often the issues that are most likely to win or lose them votes at the next election) whilst the shared challenges like climate change, migration, conflict, poverty and inequality are neglected; and a sense that many NGOs and campaigning organizations are very good at making a noise but not so good at making a difference.
We Good Country citizens are all so different in so many ways, and yet our underlying common purpose creates a real sense of connection. And it’s fascinating to see the shades of belonging we feel: some are intensely patriotic, locally active people who also happen to feel responsibility towards the global challenges; others are born and bred “digital nomads” who’ve lived, studied and worked in a dozen countries and feel no particular attachment to anywhere but the planet.
All of them say that what they get from their citizenship of the Good Country is a sense of agency: they are helping to make and implement the policies that we hope will make the world work better; a sense of community, because they love to do this alongside so many different but like-minded people; and education because they learn so much about how the world works, and how to be a global citizen in a globalized age.
No matter how good your geography, you couldn’t point to the Good Country on a map. And yet when you meet its citizens, the sense of coming from the same place – and heading in the same direction – is so strong. It’s really starting to feel like a family.
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