So there’s been a bit of discussion about libertarians who want to establish a bunch of off-shore countries on floating oil-rig type platforms that would be lil’ loonitarian paradises:
Thiel has been a big backer of the Seasteading Institute, which seeks to build sovereign nations on oil rig-like platforms to occupy waters beyond the reach of law-of-the-sea treaties. The idea is for these countries to start from scratch–free from the laws, regulations, and moral codes of any existing place. Details says the experiment would be “a kind of floating petri dish for implementing policies that libertarians, stymied by indifference at the voting booths, have been unable to advance: no welfare, looser building codes, no minimum wage, and few restrictions on weapons.”
“There are quite a lot of people who think it’s not possible,” Thiel said at a Seasteading Institute Conference in 2009, according to Details. (His first donation was in 2008, for $500,000.) “That’s a good thing. We don’t need to really worry about those people very much, because since they don’t think it’s possible they won’t take us very seriously. And they will not actually try to stop us until it’s too late.”
The Seasteading Institute’s Patri Friedman says the group plans to launch an office park off the San Francisco coast next year, with the first full-time settlements following seven years later.
My first thought was “If a bunch of pompous rich libertarians want to go Galt and leave the U.S., well, don’t let the door hit your ass on the way out.” And I’m sure there’s some entrepreneurial Somalian pirate who sees a glorious opportunity here. I think Atrios‘ take on the whole undertaking is exactly right:
In practice, of course, even libertarian paradises would have laws. And means for changing and enforcing those laws. And an evolving concept of just what the community wants. Ultimately I suppose some hybrid of Lord of the Flies and Gated Community in Irvine, CA, would emerge and then, you know, collapse. Maybe it’s what happened to the “lost colony” of Roanoke.
Consider this conception of what one of the
communities collectives paradises might look like:
First, they live in apartment buildings. Like it or not, they’ll need housing codes. For instance, can you smoke in the building? Smoke in apartment buildings, even nice ones, tends to enter other apartments. What constitutes a disturbance? One person’s annoying racket is someone else’s late night beautiful tuba serenade. Keep in mind, this will be a self-selected community of people who hate being told what to do. Then look at the park in the front left corner. Will dogs be allowed in it? Will owners have to clean up after the dogs? Will dogs be kept on leashes? What if people damage the grass? And let’s think about the swimming pool. Will people be allowed to listen to radios while sitting next to it? Kinda annoying for the people who live surrounding the pool. Will late night cannonballs be allowed?
Look at that freighter. When will it be allowed to dock? What if the business owners want early morning deliveries, but the residents don’t like being woken up at 5am? (a problem familiar to any urban dweller).
While this might be nitpicky, this is exactly the kind of stuff that needs to be resolved. How will it be resolved? If there’s a list of rules imposed by the founder/owner, what happens if the rules need to be changed (or added to) as will inevitably happen? Will these rules be adopted democratically?
The real question is what happens to rule breakers, or, even those who simply are on the ‘losing side’ of a decision. You will need some kind of enforcement mechanism to expel
lawbreakers anti-Galtian personalities.
This all sounds kinda like gummint. AAAIIIEEE!!!
Frankly, I think they’re just trying to avoid taxes.