Most people that read The Sovereign Individual find it to be an eye-opening experience.
Initial thoughts can range from “wow, this is so accurate!” to disgust at the major libertarian worldview. Regardless of their beliefs, many readers ask themselves, “how could the authors have so accurately predicted the future?”
The book definitely makes you feel something.
Once finished, readers usually move on to googling the topic. Searching for what else is there to know about this book and its thesis.
During this search, they come across many notes and summary writeups. But there’s not much information about what has happened since the book was written. Analysis on what’s come true, what hasn’t come true, or information on the transitional period in between now and the book’s other slow-burning predictions. It’s through this process that readers find a gap and disconnect between the book published in 1997 and today.
That search for answers and that gap/disconnect is probably why you clicked on this article in the first place.
This article explains what I’ve learned covering current events as they relate to creation of The Sovereign Individual. With a focus on what I’ve learned about The Sovereign Individual Community as it relates to society’s changing narrative and the types of community these people seek out after reading the important book.
This is an explainer of the “average” reader’s journey down the rabbit hole and the growing number of community options that they have to choose from.
Heading Down The Sovereign Individual Rabbit Hole
My own experience is not too dissimilar.
Prior to reading The Sovereign Individual, I spent a lot of my time thinking about how technology changes the world. Writing about what many would refer to as the digital transformation. But I found my writings were very siloed. I’d bounce from one technology topic to another, exploring how each individual technology would advance society and change a specific way of life. My work lacked macro-level context to bind them together in a cohesive narrative.
Then I read The Sovereign Individual and had my own “aha moment”. The digital transformation and The Sovereign Individual are topics that interconnect in meaningful ways. They are two parts of the same macro-level narrative. The book opened my eyes and helped me to contextualize society’s changes into a narrative that made sense.
And yet, when I went to learn more about the topic, I couldn’t find material that focused on the time immediately after the book leading up to the present. There were no insights and analysis tracking and making sense of society’s changes in real-time. But unlike many readers, I decided to do my own analysis to make sense of the societal transformations since the book was first published.
A Weekly Newsletter on How Current Events Lead to The Sovereign Individual
So, I started The Sovereign Individual Weekly, a newsletter designed to track the digital transformation and make sense of The Sovereign Individual narrative in real-time.
I’ve been working on this material for a year and a half now. And I’ve uncovered some interesting insights on the reader’s journey and the communities of people that read the book and “want more”.
I’ll outline these insights below.
Most People Don’t Desire Total Self Sovereignty
The truth is that the majority of The Sovereign Individual Community buy into the overarching Sovereign Individual thesis, but they don’t necessarily want to be the early pioneers of the maximalist vision of self-sovereignty. At least not as defined in the book.
Most readers immediately want more surface-level information. Fact-verifying research. Answering whether this stuff is really true. Exploring what else is there to know. Seeking the real-time examples of these predictions unfolding in society.
They want to gain an understanding of the opportunities that life provides now and in the near future that support more degrees of individual freedom. The majority of people don’t want to dive directly into the personal sovereignty deep end. They want more of an a la carte menu that they can pick and choose different tools to create a unique self-sovereign lifestyle.
And many people that buy into the book’s thesis simply are not interested in becoming Sovereign Individuals. They just want strategies and tactics to improve their lives today.
An extension of this important point is that the majority of people interested in The Sovereign Individual don’t want anarchy in society. They want law and order.
Instead, they want to leverage new technology to embrace more personal responsibility and more freedom-based lifestyles. Many of these tools and lifestyle perks are mentioned in the original book and readers are searching for how to incorporate these tools into their lives.
They want to learn how to hedge against a future where nation-states decline. They read the book, have the aha moment, and seek to incorporate lifestyle adjustments that could help them weather future hardships without necessarily upending their entire lives.
We Desire Freedom as Optionality and Security In A Changing World
People that read the book and buy into the overarching thesis are diverse and have a wide range of lifestyle preferences. They don’t always have the same takeaways from the book. This took me a while to understand (probably longer than it should have).
I now think of all the book readers at the top of an archetype filter.
These are people that are searching for answers on how the world is changing and where it’s heading next. But once they’ve read the book, they begin to break out into categories with different wants, needs, and belief systems. ie: archetypes. And these archetypes indicate the divergent types of materials, content, and lifestyle journeys these people will pursue after reading the book.
This matters for a few reasons.
Each of these archetypes seeks a community of like-minded people. Other people on similar journeys of discovery. A community of people trying to fit together where their place fits within a society that’s rapidly evolving. Most of these people don’t have local peer groups interested in any aspect of the Sovereign Individual lifestyle. Because most people still view personal sovereignty as a dystopian ideal. So, for the people that buy into the thesis, they want to find like-minded people to interact with and form a community online.
But it has become clear that they aren’t interested in one overarching Sovereign Individual community. They want to break out into many different communities that exist at various depths down the personal sovereignty rabbit hole.
Let me break down the archetypes as I see them so that you understand what this means.
Surface Level Archetypes of People Reading The Sovereign Individual
Many people read the book and care more about degrees over freedom vs freedom maximalism.
Digital Nomad – this group doesn’t need much context setting. They’ve traveled the world and understand the opportunities available to them. Digital nomads that engage with The Sovereign Individual content are interested in learning about how new technology creates new communities, new policies, and new tools that support their lifestyle.
Remote Workers (location independent income earners) – Covid thrust many people into a brave new world. They’re interested in learning how their lives will change now that they can work from anywhere. What’s important for them to know about location independent work? What should they pay attention to? How can they find balance between the life they had while also maximizing the value of this new level of freedom? They’re interested in low stakes experimentation. Extended workations, new types of jobs that better align with new freedoms, moving to new places, splitting time living between 2 to 3 locations, and so on.
Venture Capitalists – They are worldbuilders that use capital allocation to identify trends and shape the path of progress. Equal parts information curators, philosophers, social scientists, and capital allocators, they understand the world is changing. They’re willing to hunt within niche communities (especially TSI communities) for entrepreneurs catering to this space and the future it could be. ie: if you buy the thesis, then many Sovereign Individuals will emerge in the not-too-distant future. That means services, products and other businesses will emerge to cater to this demographic. And VC’s want to fund these early trends.
Governments & Politicians
It’s a mistake to leave out governments and politicians from the conversation. As the digital transformation reshapes society, government officials will look for ways to retain and grow their tax bases. That means some will have a willingness to engage with The Sovereign Indiviual communities.
Government Officials – forward-looking government officials understand the world is changing, reinforcing an environment of competitive governance. They want context and an understanding of the new types of people born of remote work. They want to design policies and frameworks to attract this emergent demographic. Do they really buy into the entire Sovereign Individual thesis? Mostly no. But they do seek to align policy with the interest of location independent workers. And they’ll be willing to enter new communities for input on policy choices.
Archetypes That Go Deeper Down The Rabbit Hole
High Net Worth Individuals (Nomad Capitalists)- are in many respects, the original archetype of the Sovereign Individual. These people have the funds to hire consultants to assess their individual wants and needs, and then create lifestyle plans to maximize the legal loopholes developing throughout the world. These individuals want to legally minimize tax liabilities, hedge against geopolitical risk with multiple residencies and citizenships, and live in exotic and enjoyable places.
Personal Sovereignty Maximalists – A growing group of people that have deep libertarian belief systems. They embrace the totality of The Sovereign Individual thesis. In many ways, they look to leverage digital tools to accumulate power and influence outside of nation state control.
Doomsday Preppers – there is also a segment of people that think the world is rapidly decaying towards chaos. That corruption and failing institutions are moving the world towards a state of anarchy where only the people that are awake to reality can survive and thrive. They see TSI lifestyle as a method of navigating the tumultuous times we live in.
Others – And as the world continues to navigate the digital transformation, there will be many more archetypes that form. Groups that pursue aspects of personal sovereignty in new and interesting ways.
What They All Have In Common: Seeking Context
Most of The Sovereign Individual readers seek context. A way to help them understand how the events that happen today in real-time highlight the digital transformation and bring The Sovereign Individual thesis closer to reality.
Why is context important?
Because it can feel like the accelerating technological change taking place in society is spinning out of control. Creating Future Shock. Context provides answers to “how did we get here” and “where we are likely to go from here”. And these answers have calming effects. They also support a strong foundation to plan for the future. Even if the context setting is not totally accurate, people want a sense of the world as it is today, not as its projected to be from standardized media and government tied to the late industrial age.
Maybe most importantly, people want to have answers to why the changes happening in society aren’t bad. Because the default state of most people is that “change is bad”. And so, the people that buy into The Sovereign Individual thesis are looking for intellectual arguments and rationales as to why the world is changing, what it means for the individual and community, and why it’s actually a net positive.
The Importance of A Modern Day Narrative
The need for context emphasizes the importance of narrative construction and flows. This is especially true as it relates to The Sovereign Individual thesis about where the world is heading.
Meaning that a lot of modern-day technological innovation is contextually siloed. The coverage and impact of technology has a micro level focus. We miss how one technology influences another when we ignore the macro level analysis.
For example, we talk about remote work in the context of hiring and company policy changes. We often ignore how it impacts government policy (both domestic and international) and how it impacts how families make decisions on where to live and why. And how all these factors change as internet becomes accessible all over the world.
Remote work even impacts school policy by empowering parents to relocate to areas with schools that more closely align with their educational needs.
The point is that the technologies of our times rarely exist in a vacuum. They need contextualization into the broader narrative. And the flow of that narrative is very important. Readers of The Sovereign Individual intuitively understand this. And their primary motivation for seeking out further knowledge is the search for context setting.
This intuitive grasp of reality is exactly why narrative construction and flow matters so much. Explaining what’s happening in the world out of order or without context is a mistake most media publications now make. Readers will reject a story told out of order. Especially when it fails to emphasize the bigger picture.
What Is The Sovereign Individual Weekly?
That leads us to The Sovereign Individual Weekly. TSI Weekly is not a maximalist newsletter.
It’s designed to track the digital transformation and how it leads to the formation of the Sovereign Individual narrative. The purpose is to show what’s happening, why its happening, how it might impact our lives, and is intended to identify the tools an individual can use to reinforce the lifestyles they want to live. Its goal is to fill the gap in the journey for the reader of the Sovereign Individual that wants to know more. To stay up to date. And to be prepared for what might come next.
It’s the context and narrative that’s missing at a high level. And it’s best approached as the primary filter for which Sovereign Individual community a reader may want to engage with. Ie: you get a weekly does of what’s going on, why it matters, and this helps you explore the deeper levels of what’s important to you.
Subscribe to the Sovereign Individual Weekly below to get next week’s article on the next 10 books everyone should read after the Sovereign Individual and why they should read them. It will help you go deeper down the rabbit hole.
I write a weekly newsletter for everyday people, summarizing the most important events that cause the digital transformation. Providing you with information to understand how society is transitioning to the Sovereign Individual class. The unique and dominant social class of the Digital Age.
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