Solution 262—∞: Greece Archipelago
by Ingo Niermann
Northern Europe doesn’t care about Greece’s mainland. It’s all about the sunny beaches. Solution 262—∞: Greece Archipelago, the imaginary 10th volume of the Solution Series (edited by Ingo Niermann, designed by Zak Group, and published by Sternberg Press) proposes to drastically increase Greece’s coastline by cutting it into hundreds of autonomous islands that are specialised around all sorts of needs and themes. One Greece is simply not enough. Let’s multiply the dragon by cutting it into two, four, eight…
The US already has new cities that specialise in retirees or adherents of a particular religion. These are small spheres of deceleration and undifferentiation. People settle down for good; the separation between the spheres of work and residential life is abolished. In Greece Archipelago, by contrast, many come to the island of their choice for no more than an extended vacation. Others design their house or apartment as the museum of or stage for an obsession, while having another, inconspicuous life elsewhere. Greece Archipelago witnesses the materialisation of ingenuous social networks that otherwise takes place on the internet.
Every island decides for itself how open it is to visitors and how great the concessions it expects of them are. The island must provide for what are otherwise usually functions of the state, such as education and healthcare, and levy fees and membership dues from its visitors and residents, or sell shares. In order to avoid unleashing a price war among themselves, the islands must prove their uniqueness in ever new ways.
This uniqueness may also consist in their form of organisation: commercial enterprise, foundation, association, or cooperative. People can decide whether they prefer to be governed by a grass-roots democracy, an oligarchy, or a despot. Should the residents themselves provide all necessary services, or do they wish to have a professional administration? Do they want lots of community activities or the greatest possible degree of anonymity? Should the island introduce its own currency in order to emphasise, like a casino, a playful aspect, or should communitarian measures largely obviate the need for a monetised economy? Which form of association is the cheapest for its members? Which is best able to safeguard their interests? What are the benefits or costs of freedom of opinion or censorship? Centralism or self-government? Capitalism or communism? And how much are they worth to members?
While democracy leaves its citizens the choice between different parties within one form of government, Greece Archipelago allows them to choose between different forms of government. Some 2,500 years after democracy began taking shape in Athens, Greece Archipelago is introducing the next level of freedom, an open competition between the systems.
The people of former Greece who decide not to become citizens of one of the new islands gather on a remainder of the mainland to live off the public revenue raised by general services provided for Greece Archipelago. Police and military services are billed either per inhabitant or per deployment. To prevent arbitrary changes in prices and expenses, such services are paid for through an insurance scheme.
The new communities offered by Greece Archipelago are not only reserved for the rich. If the rich isolate themselves from the poor, why should the poor not isolate themselves from the rich and their real-estate speculation, their department store monopolies, their drugs? Islands for the poor might help them avoid isolation from each other, assist one another, and initiate a new social movement. Leftist parties and charitable organisations might support the foundation of such initiatives.
Spatial separation has lost some of its unconditional power due to technical innovation in telecommunication, transportation, positioning, and military explosives. Yet technologies such as greenhouses, regenerative energies and 3-D copiers have also made it easier to live in relative self-reliance without loss of comfort. The more densely populated the world becomes and the more the different regions grow dependent on one another’s supplies of raw materials, merchandise and capital, the greater the luxury of isolation.
A list of possible islands that starts somewhere and ends nowhere:
IQ 120+ Island
IQ 130+ Island
IQ 140+ Island
IQ 90- Island
Steam Punk Island
Great Pyramid Island
Last Year Island
Last Day Island
Crystal Meth Island
Heavy Methal Island
Straight Edge Island
Black Jack Island
Stone Age Island