One of these things is not like the others

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Dan Amira, a writer for New York Magazine, apparently picked up on the Washington Times angle to seasteading, featuring our mission alongside plans for four other so-called conservative utopias. While the label of conservative can be fairly applied to a concept like “The Citadel,” which explicitly discourages liberals from applying to their walled-compound-with-mandatory-militia-training, we wish to reiterate what differentiates seasteading from conservative or even avowedly libertarian efforts that populate the rest of Amira’s list.

Most importantly, while other movements exposit a single ideology or set of rules for improving society, our stance is that the ideal form of governance in a rapidly changing world cannot be known a priori. However, we know that current systems are not delivering sufficient solutions to major issues such as financial stability, regulation of advanced medical technologies, and environmental sustainability. To find something better, we have to try many new ideas, and observe what works, i.e., what attracts the most citizens through innovative political and social systems.

Amira comes closer to the truth than many authors in recognizing that we seek to enable experimentation with a wide variety of political ideas, but still can’t resist applying labels that mischaracterize the seasteading movement. Finally, even though we see serious problems with the state of governance on land, our vision is not rooted in escapism, but instead in finding solutions that will improve government’s functionality on land and at sea, through the demonstration of best-practices and innovations.

We’re curious to know what our community thinks – is seasteading libertarian? And what does it mean to be inspired by libertarian ideals? Leave a comment on this post, or on Amira’s article.

7 comments

  1. Profile photo of Ken Sims
    Ken Sims 8:47 pm

    I think that relations between different seasteads need to be libertarian. No seastead should be imposing its will on other seasteads. It should all be by mutual consent.

    However any given seastead need not be libertarian. I happen to be a small-l libertarian and want to live on a seastead run on libertarian principles.

    But one of motivations for the seasteading movement is to try different forms of government. So even though I am personally opposed to socialism, I also don’t think it has ever gotten a fair trial on land.

    I would very interested in seeing what would happen with a seastead that has a significant population and has a socialist government where all of the adults are committed to socialism.

    Would it work? Would it last? What would happen as children grow up and form their own political opinions? Would they want to leave? If they do, would they be allowed to leave?

  2. Profile photo of OCEANOPOLIS
    OCEANOPOLIS 11:45 pm

    Is seasteading libertarian? To a certain extent, yes (and I am apolitical). Would a seastead based mostly on libertarian ideals work, in the real world? I’m not quite sure about that.

    One reason for that is because there are many “branches” of libertarianism and it seems that there is no general consensus of “which one is the right way”. But while this obstacle is minor and can be eventually overcomed, the biggest problem lays in the true nature of seasteading which is being a permanent aquatic lifestyle existence. Why?

    The first decent size seastead that can be built in, lets say, 20 years from now, will likely have a population around 5,000.00 and will cost around US$2 billions. (based on world’s largest cruiseship Oasis of the Seas, max. passangers capacity of 6300 and US$1.2 billion construction price tag)
    Assuming that whoever put up that big chunck of cash (corporate or private) will try to operate based on libertarian principles, the socioeconomic reality on such seastead will be dictated by what works now in the marine industry, which is that most of the major “industries” onboard (electricity production, running clean water, waste disposal, healthcare, food supply, etc) will be highly “socialized”, actually borderline “monopolized”, because it makes economic sense on the high seas. All that, will be far from the idealistic land based socioeconomic libertarian principles, in my oppinion. On the other hand, with only 5000 aboard, I can envision libertarian politics and governance in place, like very small government and more individual freedom.

    Seasteading will be a hybrid of a lot of concepts in the beginning, followed in time by the natural selection of the best ones in order to make it happen.

    A socialist seastead? Hmmm, let me revisit my adolescence in socialist Romania,….

    Would it work? NO. Would it last? FOR A LITTLE WHILE. What would happen as children grow up and form their own political opinions? THEY WILL EVOLVE. Would they want to leave? A.S.A.P. If they do, would they be allowed to leave? NO. THEY WILL HAVE TO DEFECT LIKE I DID.

  3. Profile photo of Ken Sims
    Ken Sims 6:50 am

    Oceanoplis, re: socialist Romania … That’s my point. Not all of the adults in Romania were committed to socialism, so it wasn’t a fair test.

    That’s why I think a socialist seastead where all of the adults are committed to socialism would be an interesting experiment.

    As for the different branches of libertarianism … any seastead of significant size with any political system is going to need to have some kind of constitution to cover the specific details of how it is being implemented there.

  4. SnowDog 5:28 pm

    This approach should be universally appealing. Why not decentralize governance, and allow people to contract for the governance of their choice. Entire cities can be created based upon an agreed set of rules.

    http://www.freemanch.com/the-woodlands-a-city-without-government/

  5. Otium_novum 12:01 am

    Of course seasteads wouldn’t have to be libertarian… the idea is ‘sink or swim’ for various simultaneous political/economic structures, no?

    I think an explicit social contract (agreed to by adults in the seastead) would be a useful or effective model. Exile (temporary or permanent) could be a punishment for violating that particular manifestation of a legal code — this technique was used in Rome and in some of the Greek city-states (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ostraka ).

    Another idea I think would be fascinating is that of taxes being optional or delegated to specific projects (i.e., if noone funds roads or parks then there would simply be no political budget for those projects that year… charity/philanthropy or private services would have to pick up the slack). This model where people only pay the taxes that they wish would doubtlessly lead to a very small gov’mint footprint. (I’ve seen this idea being attributed to Lysander Spooner… so I’m just giving credit where it is due.)

  6. Profile photo of OCEANOPOLIS
    OCEANOPOLIS 11:42 pm

    “Taxes” (for a lack of a better word) cannot be optional, I think.

    The seastead HAS to be manned, defended, maintained, supplied, powered up, etc. by the seasteaders. There has to be some sort of “maintenance fee” imposed upon the seasteaders in order to cover for such expenses.

    You play, you pay…

  7. Jim R. 10:01 pm

    I have a couple of brief thoughts.

    According to what I’ve read, the kibbutzim in Israel, which were established as socialist agricultural collectives, were not able to live up to their ideological foundations. The original inhabitants were dedicated, but over time they discovered that socialism simply doesn’t work. The settlements ended up being subsidized by the government or going capitalist.

    There is an organization in the Netherlands called Mars One. They plan to start sending colonists to Mars in 2023, four people at a time. Their goal is to establish a permanent colony. As far as politics and economics are concerned, they seem to be taking the approach that the colonists will make it up as they go.

    Seasteaders will have plenty of historical examples to look at to see what works and what doesn’t.

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