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Create Legal Framework First

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This topic contains 12 replies, has 9 voices, and was last updated by Profile photo of Matt Matt 4 years, 11 months ago.

Viewing 13 posts - 1 through 13 (of 13 total)
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    Profile photo of Pauli

    I believe that the first step in realistically creating a viable seastead should be to lobby a “host” nation to create some laws friendly to the physical embodiment of a seastead. I understand that the ultimate goal of most people interested in seasteading is to create an independent nation-state, but for a long time, perhaps decades or even centuries, any efforts will have to be undertaken under the protection of an existing country, whether it is under a flag of convenience or by permission of the nearest country or countries.

    The problem I see is that a seastead does not fit clearly into the existing framework of ships and ocean platforms. Without explicit rules recognizing something resembling a seastead, it will be up to the people enforcing the status quo, i.e. the police, the coast guard and the navy of the nearest country, to decide what to do with the seastead. Human nature being what it is, I believe the first reaction of a police person, bureaucrat, or military official when faced with an unfamiliar scenario will be to “make it go away” — i.e. capture everyone and seize/confiscate the structure if there are any questions as to its legitimacy.

    The use of force by the individuals trying to avoid capture and seizure of their property will only make matters worse, escalating the situation to call in the military and so forth, and in the end will be used to justify the actions of the police and/or officials involved.

    It may be that a seastead could “fly under the radar” for quite some time and be ignored, but at some point there will be a conflict with an existing nation, justified or not, and I think that the reaction will be to capture/occupy/seize and ask questions later. If drug use is occurring on the seastead, I would bet that this will be used as suspicion of trafficking. The U.S. fourth amendment or similar laws will be sure *NOT* to apply, as the action is in international waters, but in all other respects the “aggressor nation’s” laws will apply whenever convenient for the officials involved.

    You do not want to be in a situation where the rules are open to interpretation, as they will be interpreted to the aggressor’s benefit with no available recourse. It is easy to argue that a seastead is not a ship and therefore any protections a ship receives will not be available. Who is going to argue anyway, other than the occupants of the seastead? It is not like the seizure of a seastead will have much effect on international shipping. The only way that the “flag of convenience” country will help is if it has a serious stake in the seastead, either in terms of its citizens or its finances.

    Instead I think it is important to get protective rules in place *before* a seastead actually exists, and maybe before one is ever tested/demonstrated. First, I think that a legislator is much more likely to be open and positive to the concept of seasteading than any bureaucrat or military official will ever be. And second, I think that everyone involved is likely to be the most positive and receptive when everything is “on paper” and there are no actual conflicts or problems taking place. If a legislator gets to make a law supporting something that never actually happens, all the better from the legislator’s point of view.

    There are two approaches I can see to getting legislative protection. One is to approach a “flag of convenience” nation and have them declare that anything resembling a seastead is a ship in their eyes and will be subject to all the protections of a ship. You will want to be sure that the government of this nation is friendly to seasteading and will raise a ruckus if any of “their ships” are treated poorly by some other country.

    The other approach, which may actually be more reasonable, is to approach the nearest neighboring country and get them to recognize a seastead as a legitimate undertaking. If the country were the US, one might be able to get rules passed allowing the seastead to be subject only to federal laws but not state laws/taxes. Such a proposal might be more palatable if the seastead were engaged in something that might ultimately benefit the neighboring country, such as environmental or alternative energy research (wave power?). Heck, you might even be able to get federal money to support the seastead.

    Maybe such laws already exist, but they should be clear and unequivocally apply to the seastead.

    Only in the long term, if and when seasteads have existed and operated for some time should they consider trying to throw off the shackles of their “mother country” and declare independence. Colonists of the new world were not immediately free of the rules of their home country. It took some time to become established before the question of independence could even be realistically asked.

    Profile photo of vincecate

    Tourist pay a lot of money per night to stay at nice hotels in Anguilla. Seems there would be a profitable market for people who wanted to stay on a seastead prototype. Could be in a harbor or even just in the lee of an island. Could have a water-taxi service to take customers to shore and back. This would let you try out some seastead designs and make money. These first seasteads would not have to survive 25 foot waves. If one island gave you trouble (raised taxes too much) you could just relocate to another island. This is sort of an evolutionary path to blue water seasteading that might have an easier starting point (smaller waves).

    Profile photo of

    Vince’s path to a tourist stead makes sense to me.

    Regarding Pauli’s hypothesis of needing a legal agreement in place with a host nation, it has some merit yet at the same time may not be as useful as it seems. If you could get an agreement in place it may hold for a while, but eventually the people with the bigger guns end up making the rules. If the host nation decides it doesn’t like you they can just destroy the stead and all the people on it and falsely claim they were making illegal WMD, drugs, pornography, whatever. It’s unlikely anyone external would be able to prove otherwise or care enough to try. Even if someone could later prove it was plain old murder, nothing much would result especially if it were “just some weirdo freedomistas” who died. The U.S. government burned dozens of children to death at Waco, Texas a few years, ago and it seems none the worse for the trouble.

    The first impulse of existing nations to independence plays is often destroy first and maybe ask questions later. Probably they would not even bother with the asking questions part. States and bullies don’t like competition. The history of prior new nation ventures has always ended with existing states destroying them like white blood cells devouring germs.

    Flying a flag of the host nation seems workable if one doesn’t want sovereignty or the benefits that come with it. Doing so, would simply make the stead an extension of the host country which is perhaps a less interesting proposition, if viable for the short term.

    I would suggest that it’s not feasible to declare sovereignty until it’s possible to physically defend that claim. See Erwin Strauss for one answer.

    I suppose the question boils down to: how can we get the existing states to leave us alone?

    Profile photo of vincecate

    In Anguilla there are moderate fees for registering a boat. I think I could register a “tension circle”, though there might be some problems with the inspection. I just left a message for the boat inspector in Anguilla to see how hard this would be.

    Having 12 such things floating offshore a mile would probably work under existing laws. If you got more than that you would probably want to go further offshore. Between 10 and 20 miles out you would stop being visable from shore, so homeowners on land would not complain. On the North side of Anguilla the water is less than about 200 feet deep out like 30 miles. So you could have some protection from really large waves and yet be far enough offshore to be “out of sight and out of mind”. At 10 miles out or more it would be enough trouble to go to/from shore that you might want to plan on people spending most of their days on or near the structure. Could have snorkeling, kayaking, sailing, scuba diving, jet-ski type things. A floating bar, restaurant, etc.

    Anyway, I think some floating places for tourists to stay could be done in Anguilla (and most islands) without needing any new laws. Will let you know after I talk with the boat inspector.

    – Vince

    Profile photo of vincecate

    Imagine we had 20 floating villas and a resaurant 10 miles off of Anguilla. Along with business and boat licences (which are not too much money) the taxes you would have to pay are:

    1) Visitor tax – 10% of room rate

    2) Resaurants add 10% service charge to the bill which goes to the staff (sort of built in tip here).

    There is no income tax or sales tax. So if we charge $500/night for a floating villa, the government gets $50/night.

    Profile photo of

    Building a seastead resort is one of the top business models being investigated. Note that The Seasteading Institute is a non-profit and a resort should definitely be structured as a for profit enterprise.

    My thought would be to plant such a resort somewhere between Bermuda and the northern Caribbean islands. The concept would be that cruise ships could stop by the resort on a cruise leg between Burmuda and other destinations. I have not done much research on this option.

    Profile photo of vincecate

    Most people vacationing in the Caribbean seem to be here for 1 week. Some retired people stay longer.

    If you have to get from the US to someplace far away, vacation, and get home within 1 week you need to use an airplane for travel. Even with airplanes you use a day for travel in each direction. If we could make at least a partial wavebreak, to calm the water down some in an area, then a seaplane like antillesseaplanes.com might work. But this is yet another costly new thing, so it seems best to not count on that if we can avoid it. Paying 10% to the Anguilla government while starting (not forever) is lower risk and probably easier. So starting out it might be best to locate near an island with a big runway.

    Profile photo of Thorizan

    As referenced in another thread, if various occupants of a seastead remainded members of another nation, there would be little incentive to do them harm. If we had a dozen each of Chinese, Americans, French, and Russians, whether born or became later, none of those countries would seek to do us harm, and we would have insurance against many, many other nations even thinking about that possibility. The Seastead government may even be willing to compensate a bit of their wages if the country in question wanted a certain amount in taxes, call it an insurance premium, if you will. Far more cost effective than getting a score of anti-ship missles or building an air force of your own.

    My two cents, at least.

    Profile photo of DrMandible

    I agree that the legal issues need to be addressed first. Absolutely.

    However, sailing under a flag of convenience still leave the colonies under the power of an existing government which can levy taxes, institute a draft, and impose all manner of laws. That is contrary to the core philosophy of self governance.

    Similarly, applying for U.S. federal money is even more contradictory to the philosophy of self governance because the colony would not only be under U.S. law but would also be reliant on its funding. We might as well apply for statehood at that point.

    The only practicable solution is to have a seastead become recognized as a state unto itself by the international community. Unfortunately, I do not see a path to that under existing law.

    Profile photo of

    Why is a legal system necessary?

    Profile photo of DrMandible

    Within any particular seastead, a legal system isn’t necessary per se. But it’s necessary to address the legal issues within the international community as they pertain to seasteading. As it stands, no person or state may claim any territory on international waters. So if anyone tries to settle out there, they will probably be boarded and have everything confiscated. So TSI needs to figure out how these colonies can be recognized by the international community and be granted the same rights as any other nation.


    …i would just focus on making seasteading happen – expect to create a legal sistem for something that does not yet exist – is a strange unrealistic idea at best.

    I would also not waste a lot of time on studying what current laws say or how they could possibly influence seasteading – real life happens the other way round – first new developments happens than the lawyers and politics create the rules –

    Just look at internet we still do not have a complete set of laws nor a legal sistem to regulate it – and of course almost nobody is missing them either – apply press ruling and publishing laws to internet ? – probably and in part but at the end many things happen in internet that would never be possible in newspapers.

    So will it be with seasteading – rules made for ships will apply in part – but at the end many things “unthinkable” for ships will just happen on seasteads and people will accept it as part of a new development. –

    The best way to go, is doing it like internet pioneers don`t give a dime about the “existing law frame” nor look how to fit into “law frames” at all – just do it – if internet pioneers had debated questions like “is a hyperlink legally a written publication” for years we still would be without internet having laywers talking around and making it overcomplicated.

    “Legal frames” come in 1-2 decades after seasteading on large scale is implemented and regulation of the wild frontier is needed.


    Profile photo of Matt

    But the edges of that Wild Frontier are taken, and determine the fate of the whole frontier. Even potential seasteaders are probably all right now, not in international waters.

    I agree to an extent with the logic of Ellmer’s argument, but that’s not how it happened in past history: settlers were most often than not sponsored by the group they were about to break apart from. But a stronger argument for creating some rudimentary legal tools, would be that 1) the first commercially successful “seasteads” might occur in one of the dozens of coastal countries and territories in existence; and 2) that one or maybe more than one of those coastal countries will want to do it themselves, with their own special laws but within their sovereign territory.

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