Carly Jackson: Hello, Seasteaders! Today, I’m happy to introduce two founders of Atlas Island, Mason Leschyna and Ryota Sekine. Atlas island was founded in 2021 with a goal to make seasteading a reality within 10 years. They have a detailed five stage plan for incremental seasteading, beginning with an online community of board members, advisors, and many members who firmly believe in individual Liberty. Welcome Ryota and Mason.
Mason Leschyna: Thank you, Carly. Nice to be here.
Ryota Sekine: Thank you.
Carly Jackson: All right, so we’ll start. I wanna get a little bit of information about your background before you created Atlas Island. So, tell us a bit of your work background and then how you learned about seasteading.
Mason Leschyna: My background is in engineering. I did an undergrad in that, and I honestly can’t remember exactly how I came across seasteading. I’ve always been interested in liberty and freedom. And I came across, I think around 2010 or 2011. And it really just caught my attention because it combined the technology and the ability to live freely with the politics that I’ve always been supportive of and avoiding the need to actually convince others.
So, I’ve followed along for quite some time. I’ve been an ambassador. I ended up pursuing a career in medicine. I now work as an emergency physician and since then I’ve really just grown my interest in seasteading and become more and more disenchanted with the political system
Carly Jackson: And Ryota?
Ryota Sekine: So, I’m Ryota Sekine. I’m usually based in Chicago in the United States. Back in college, I co-founded a healthcare startup; exited that business last year. I have a Japanese heritage but grew up in Singapore. Been in the United States for over 10 years. First got to know about the Seasteading Institute, just when the Occupy Wall Street movement was becoming a national issue during President Obama’s administration. And that had inspired me to do a little more research into alternative economic theories, alternative currencies, assets. And eventually I found myself reading about seasteading on the Seasteading Institute website. And in 2018, I became an ambassador.
Carly Jackson: That’s great. And we love having our ambassadors and you guys our model ambassadors for coordinating together to create Atlas Island. And am I correct in thinking that’s how you met through the ambassador program?
Mason Leschyna: Yeah. That’s, I think that’s where our group first started coalescing. There was a message that went out to different ambassadors and a few of us replied and that’s how we gradually came together. But I think it was more than that. It was that eventually we found people that we clicked with, and that shared similar philosophy and similar vision and those were the people that ended up sticking around and being the board for island.
Carly Jackson: And so, tell me a bit more about that decision to commit to creating this project.
Mason Leschyna: So least for me I looked at seasteading and like I said, I’ve been following it for over 10 years now. And I was really inspired by the vision, but I wondered why is it taking so long for this to happen? What’s the delay? And I came to the conclusion that it was really that people were almost biting off too much to chew on the first go at it. They would, try to have the grand visions for a massive floating city that is completely autonomous from the start. And there was just so many variables at play there that it made it very difficult to enact that in reality. And having my background in engineering I realize that we really need a stepwise approach to making this happen. And that’s really what Atlas Island is. It’s not a company per se. It’s not a specific technology. It’s a philosophy of what we’re trying to achieve and then it’s a stepwise approach as to how we can get there and a logical and clear manner.
So that’s what made me commit to it because I saw that there was a need for a pragmatic and logical approach to seasteading, rather than just grand visions that haven’t panned out.
Ryota Sekine: So, I joined slightly later in the process. Mason, William and Jan, all seasteading ambassadors. They’ve already formed the organization. And at one-point last year, I think it was William who sent out an email to our seasteading list host. I saw that. Read what the project was about and just really got interested in the simple three stage five stage process.
Initially joined as an informal advisor in the startup operations and marketing arena, but, after having met virtually with the team, I decided to join the board as well. And I concur with what Mason already mentioned. The approach is a lot more realistic. Breaking down, what would take decade or two making that into, baby step processes so that it’s a lot more chewable and approachable.
The project is very much focused on the human elements. A lot of our contemporaries focus on engineering, and it costs a lot of resources, moneywise, deck a million-dollar projects to build a floating seastead out there in the ocean.
And usually it’s really hard to get those projects going. It’s a chicken and egg problem. You build a deck, a million-dollar seastead, but if there aren’t people who would back it or purchase it or fund. Typically, these projects don’t go far. But I think Atlas Island is taking a much more realistic approach in, and that we’re building that demand side first. So, addressing that chicken and egg problem in the seasteading equation. So that’s what I got attracted to this project.
Carly Jackson: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. I did want to talk a little bit about the foundational beliefs, because as you said, you’re building the demand side. And so, your community, your supporters, your members are joining a community for ideological reasons.
So if you will, on your website, it talks a little bit that the name Atlas Island was inspired by the book Atlas Shrugged. So, I’d like to hear a bit about how Atlas Shrugged, the book inspired you and any other political thinkers, philosophers, writers, how they inspired you to develop this ideology.
Mason Leschyna: Yeah, absolutely. Thank you for that question, Carly. And I was the one that kind of came up with that name so I can speak to the thought process about it initially. I’m sure many of the listeners here have read the book, Atlas Shrugged and I came to it a little bit later in life.
I had been quite involved in politics. I’d even considered running and making a political career. But I really just became disenchanted from it, realizing that why is it that I have to convince 99% of the other people to agree with my view, to be able to live the life that I wanna live. And reading the book Atlas Shrugged, it really just inspired me that, instead of arguing with people instead of trying to debate and spend 20 years making a very minor change to the political system, if you are successful whatsoever, that why not just go in and start doing it yourself and just allow the people who want to live a free life to do so together and allow the people who want to have government control of their lives and dictate how they live the lives to continue doing that.
We don’t need to argue with them. We don’t need to debate them. We don’t need to fight them. We just need to go out and do it and make our lives happen, how we want ’em to happen. So that was the idea of Atlas Island. Being inspired by Atlas Shrugged is basically, those people who work hard and who really essentially are supporting societies, but are not respected by, or even, valued by those societies, in fact, who are demonized by those societies for their success. Those people should, instead of arguing and trying to keep what’s theirs and fight for it, they should just say, look, if you guys don’t respect us, if you wanna tax us 75%, if you wanna regulate our lives, if you wanna tell us how to live, that’s fine.
You guys can do that among your. But we’re not gonna play your game anymore. We’re gonna leave, and you can have a great socialist society without the people who are actually holding it up because we’re not gonna be, your cows for milking anymore. And that was really the philosophy behind Atlas Island.
I know there’s people in seasteading who come to it for various reasons; environmental, political. It’s great. The great thing about seasteading is any group can come and do what they want with it. And we’re very aware of that and we believe that there’s an important point there that you can have a variety of views and a variety of opinions.
Our project specifically is really focused on what I would call the hardcore libertarians, classic liberals, and what I myself would identify as an anarcho-capitalist. We really are just focused on as much individual liberty as possible, and as minimal government and governmental control is possible. And if you agree with that philosophy, we want you involved in our group. We want you to help build it.
If you think that government’s a great thing and a social welfare system is fantastic, then you know, our project’s not for you, but I’d encourage you to keep building your own seastead project. We don’t have to argue, we don’t have to debate, but we stand for what we stand for and we’re not gonna compromise on that because that is the reason we’re doing this project.
Carly Jackson: Ryota, how did you come to this ideology?
Ryota Sekine: I’ve also been a libertarian for the last 10 years.
Carly Jackson: I think I came to these ideas through the context of American history being, having lived and grown up in America and educated in the United States.
So, I’ve always wanna know from people who have experienced living in other countries, what’s the context that brought you to these libertarian ideas. So, Singapore specifically, how do people think about libertarianism and the individual’s relationship to the government?Are you finding a lot of like-minded folks or do you find yourself with a difference of opinion there?
Ryota Sekine: I wanna start off by mentioning, Singapore is from a technical engineering perspective. It’s a model nation for what a seastead could become or what a seasteading nation could become.
It’s a pretty young nation, 50 years old. From a philosophical perspective I think there is still, a bit of a challenge, in terms of libertarianism taking root in the nation. It is a very state led nation where the government very much gets involved in many of the citizens daily lives.
And in Singapore, specifically, that model had worked. It’s a very small nation. Comprising of, what, a little over 4 million people. And in that regards it works. As long as residents of Singapore subscribe to that ideology of state led governance that’s a good model. It worked fine in, in the context of Singapore. However, that’s not something that people in other nations would perhaps subscribe to. And I feel like that’s where our project Atlas Island becomes very important because it gives a lot more alternatives to what governance could be possible around the world. Instead of subscribing to the governance model that we’re all born into, we can later on in our lives switch to other, I guess societies.
Carly Jackson: I love that. I think that’s something that we don’t express very often in the seasteading community that, that, oh, that’s a great concept. That just the very idea that you don’t have to live your whole life under the same societal organization. That we can pick and choose what will work for us. I love that. That’s a great idea.
Ryota Sekine: That’s the central tenet of the seasteading concept is that, yeah, we can freely decide where to live. As you can see, the world is not static. It’s always changing. Circumstances change. America was built on the foundation of liberty a couple hundred years ago, however, right now it’s starting to change.
And, however, born in America, it’s hard to just get out and go elsewhere for various reasons. One, the switching cost is really high. Moving from America to other nations is not an easy process and right now there aren’t many options out there. So what seasteading, I think addresses, is really creating this marketplace where people anywhere around the world could just pick and choose where they wanna live in.
Mason Leschyna: And, Carly, I wanna build on that. I’m also not from America, I’m from Canada. Hadn’t mentioned that earlier, but I really want to, emphasize that this philosophy of liberty is not an American invention. It goes back to the British, even the Roman and the Greek traditions and other traditions around the world.
It’s a shared heritage of our entire civilization and you have lots of thinkers like John Locke and Murray Rothbard, as well as other Austrian school economists who share this philosophy. And building on what Ryota was saying, about the country that you were born in. Not only is it a question of your liberties that some people might take for granted, but the most important factor determining someone’s economic success in their lifetime is what country they were born in. And I think that’s just, that’s so wrong. As an anarcho-capitalist, a lot of people will paint us as people who are just rich trying to escape the system.
But it’s not about that. It’s about allowing everyone the freedom and the potential to achieve what they want to achieve in their life. And, I think Atlas Island is great in that sense, because we’re not restricting ourselves to people who were born in America. Just because you weren’t born in America or Canada doesn’t mean that you don’t have great potential and you can’t achieve great things.
So, I think the ability to have that economic freedom and to offer that to people of more authoritarian and dictatorial countries, things like North Korea or Cuba. The people who are there are hardworking people. They wanna escape and they wanna build a life for themselves. And if we can offer them an opportunity on Atlas Island, they have that opportunity that they may not get because of restrictive immigration systems of countries like America and Canada and other countries where they have that freedom. So, it’s really not just about us escaping those systems, but it’s also about providing an opportunity for all those other individuals who were born in countries that didn’t have the opportunities that we had when we were born, where we were born.
So, I think you really, you have to take that into perspective and that’s another really big driving force of our organization is providing the opportunity for any hardworking individual around the world, no matter where they started to be able to build what they want in their life and not be restricted by the system, into which they were.
Carly Jackson: Very well said. I like that a lot. Yeah, let’s talk specifically about your five-stage process for Atlas Island. So, stage one is your online community, and that’s the stage that you’re in now. So, tell us a bit about your goals for stage one and how it’s going right now.
Mason Leschyna: So Ryota, I don’t know if you want to tackle that one. I think this is kind of part of your area of expertise.
Ryota Sekine: Right now, stage one we’re building an online community of liberty lovers across the world. And so far we’ve been recruiting people through our website. We do have a telegram page where we’ve got little over a hundred people who are actively participating in the creation of Atlas Island.
Carly Jackson: And I’ve seen the telegram, you’ve had some really great discussions there and really working through what people want to see in the next stages. But what makes a member is joining the telegram channel do you consider that being a member or is there another step involved?
Ryota Sekine: Right now, becoming a member, it’s signing up on our website. However, the rules regarding what constitutes a member, that’s pretty fluid at this point. As long as you’re in our telegram page, getting involved with the conversation that happens, I feel that automatically constitutes membership right at this point.
Carly Jackson: All right. And then stage two is building a marina community. Let me clarify that. So, stage two is marina community, stage three is harbor community, and stage four is coastal community. So, can you explain to me a bit, what are the differences there? Marina, harbor, coastal.
Mason Leschyna: Yeah, absolutely Carly. Originally, we started off with a three-stage process, but through the telegram channel, we had some great suggestions. Three stages is not enough. We need to be a little bit more granular in how that happens. So, this has actually been a relatively recent refinement of the plan and, just demonstrates that we are an organization that’s not directed from the top down. It’s an organization of grassroots members and we can’t do this without our membership because they’re the ones who are actually shaping the vision for how we move forward and making a realistic plan. Now to speak more specifically about those three stages, two to four, stage two of the marina community.
Basically the idea is here that you’ve already committed in stage one to our philosophy. You agree with what we’re doing. Now the next step is really for you to get on a boat. Ideally, we’d like everyone to get on a boat in a similar area. But the first step is to get a boat and start living on it, or a vessel of some kind, whether that’s a boat, a sea pod, or a floating house, or something. Get on some kind of property that is on the water that you can live in full time.
And this is almost like the free state project in that sense in that we’re looking for people all around the world to, either buy themselves a floating property, or rent one, or sell their existing land based property and buy a floating property and just get used to living on the water.
And we say start off in a marina because that’s really the lowest barrier to entry. If you’re in a marina where you’re in a ship, you have all the amenities of land. All you have to do is basically walk down the dock and you can get to a car. You can get to a grocery store, whatever you need. It’s really just getting used to actually living on the vessel itself.
Once you’ve been doing for that for some time, the idea then is to build a harbor community, and we differentiate this stage because once enough people are living on boats and kind of co-locate to the same area, then the question becomes, how do we make that community more coherent and to some degree, more independent?
So, the next stage, there is a harbor community. And in that stage, what we’d be looking at is having those boats move out from the marina per se, into still shelters watered. So, we call it a harbor, but it could be anything, it could be a bay, it could be a lake. Somewhere where you’re not exposed to the full run to the oceans, but you’re still no longer connected to land.
And in this stage you can also start building some floating infrastructure. So, if you can imagine, I guess we haven’t really talked about the overall plan, but each person owns a boat. That’s theirs. They live on it. They own it privately. But to actually have a community and a functioning society, you need to have a way for those individuals to interact.
And in stage three with the harbor community, the idea is to build that floating infrastructure. So that could be something as simple as a barge with some docks connected to it. So, let’s see you have a barge, that’s got some space on it, a couple thousand square feet or a thousand square feet of space where you can have this as a public marketplace.
You can put different businesses there. And then all around that you’ve got these docks connected to it, and each person can rent a slip at that floating harbor and then they can start interacting and primarily working with each other.
After that, once you’ve got a large enough floating community in the harbor, the idea then would be to start moving out to a, a near coastal area. So not out in the middle of the ocean where you’re so isolated that you take a couple days to get back to land, but somewhere far enough that not only are you interacting with each other, but that’s now your primary interaction.
And, you know, it could be as simple as, 5 or 10 knots offshore, somewhere where you can get to land in a couple hours if you really need to. But for the most part, you’re demonstrating that you’re essentially becoming an autonomous community with very limited interactions with the shore aside from regular trade and matters such as that.
So, it’s really, again, just an incremental process. Started online. And then you move to a boat where you’re living technically on the water, but you’re really interacting primarily on land. And then you move that boat out into a protected harbor where you’re living on the water and interacting about half and half, probably with your other residents on the water and residents on land.
And then eventually you move that out to the coastal area where it’s still, again, not completely isolated, but it’s far enough out that you are primarily interacting within that floating community. So, you can see the vision there of slowly developing. Not only people’s comfort living on the water, but also the independence of the community and the circular economy there.
And, within that circular economy, not only do we encourage you to interact with other members, but we would also encourage you to embrace elements of agorism and technology. One of the other inspirations that I hadn’t really mentioned is books like The Sovereign Individual where it talks about how modern technology is really allowing individuals to assert their own sovereignty and escape government control, even without political reform. So, I think our process can really tie into those technologies and those methods such as cryptocurrencies and decentralized finance, decentralized contracts, decentralized autonomous organizations. All these technologies that are allowing us to circumvent government regulations and restrictions can really be embraced even before we are officially living on a seastead outside of territorial waters.
Carly Jackson: And then step five is going out into the international waters, right?
Mason Leschyna: Yeah, exactly, yeah. So, once you’ve got that coastal community and it’s independent then really the question becomes, when are we ready to actually move out into international waters and fully declare that we’re flying a flag of community to another country and we can now truly be independent from whatever the host country is that we started out in.
Carly Jackson: Wonderful. We can definitely refer back to the five stages. I just wanted to have that sort of overview for people to be introduced to it. So, I think there’s a challenge, you know, I’ve been a libertarian activist in my past career. And I find it fascinating, the transition of converting your ideology into a community with real people and real participants.
Even though an anarcho-capitalism is a very specific ideology, just because you have two anarcho-capitalists doesn’t mean that living together is gonna be smooth sailing, forgive the expression. And I think, I’ve witnessed some of that on a telegram, but I’d like to hear about your experience, if there was any surprises or, how you’re ready for that any of those speed bumps along the way to converting an ideological community into flesh and blood face to face.
Mason Leschyna: Yeah, I agree. You’ll probably have two libertarians and you’ll have three opinions amongst some of how to run a society. So, there’s definitely hurdles there, but I think it also speaks to the strength of our concept and of our philosophy. The idea that we’re pursuing, of essentially attaining liberty, is by moving out to sea and by embracing a minimal set of rules.
The discussions you’re talking about, and the difficulties, would be much more pronounced if we were trying to do something, I guess you could say, more ambitious or more comprehensive. If we, as a group were trying to create an entire legal system from the ground up, that would be a massive undertaking.
And as you can see on the telegram group, even by small discussions about small little agreements it would almost be paralyzing if you had to create a whole constitution and a legal code for a society from the ground up among people who are so passionate about it because every single person has their own vision.
But the advantage of our process is that we’re not claiming to do that. All we’re saying is start living on a boat. On the boat, you make your own rules. Obviously, you follow the rules of the country, no murder, things like that, but you choose how you interact with other people on your own vessel when it comes to the platform, that again, ties into our philosophy.
And I think we’re really leaning towards privately run platforms operating essentially in the manner of a free private city. So, imagine you’ve got this platform, like I said before. You’ve got it. You can dock your boat there. When you choose to come up to that platform and you dock, there’s not a constitution, there’s not a democracy.
What there is there’s a company that’s running that platform as a business, and it’s in a similar manner to a cruise ship. You get up there you say, I want a dock here. They say, great. Here’s your resident contract. You get a docking, you get a dock. This is your dock that will assign you. It’s gonna be this many dollars.
And in exchange for that, you get these services provided. You get security, you get protection from the waves. You get fuel, you get X, Y, and Z. These are the things that are laid out very clearly in contract form. And, if you like it, you can agree to dock there. If you don’t like it, you don’t. You find another platform that offers you the different mix of services that you like.
And really the advantage of this is regardless of the mix of services, in advance, what you’re consenting to and what you’re agreeing to. We’re not asking you to come together as a group of a hundred and agree on what the perfect set of rules for this platform is. What we’re saying is, hey, we’ve got Company X, Y, Z is gonna offer a platform. And these are the rules that they’re gonna offer. This is the price that they’re gonna offer. And really the choice is not, is this perfect? Can we tweak it in some way? Of course, it’s not gonna be perfect. The choice is, do you wanna live here or do you wanna live in your existing society?
And if our option is better than your existing society, then you move there. And that avoids the whole argument, the whole discussion, and the whole debate about what’s perfect and just becomes a question of what’s better. And then the long-term vision is when you have 5, 10, 15 of these platforms all floating in a similar area and I guess an archipelago of islands in Atlas Island. Then these islands will be competing against each other for your business as a resident, as a customer. And they will incrementally improve their services, reduce their costs, and it will allow them to further achieve a vision of liberty and offer more and more for less and less in terms of cost. And that competition and that choice is what will allow us to get to the perfect, or at least close to perfect system, rather than from the start trying to debate it and agree upon it. It’ll just be essentially market forces allowing the development and the evolution of these societies. And that will guide it towards what the community as a whole likes and particularly the community who votes with their wallets and their boats.
Because, as you’ll see on online communities there are certain individuals who go there and will talk a big story, but unless they actually decide to move there, what’s the point in debating with people, just let people buy the boat. And if they wanna support something with their money, fantastic, they can support and enough, enough people support it it’ll happen.
Carly Jackson: Do you wanna add anything to that Ryota?
Ryota Sekine: Sure, sure. So, Mason discussed the really long-term vision, and I think it would start materializing in the 8-year, 10-year, maybe 15-year span. I think in the short-term, stage number two is where we’re going to start testing some of these aspects. The marina community itself could also have like a resident contract that lists out all these services. And we’ll be working with private contractors who’d be managing the marina on the project’s behalf. And yes, residents will be allowed, or they’re encouraged to look at the contract and decide if they wanna be there or not. And what we’re hoping to do is just around the United States in itself, have a couple of different marina communities.
We could have something in California, Florida, Texas. Different services, outlines, and residents can choose where they wanna locate their vessels. Like at this next stage within 5 years we’ll be able to test out what we’re going to do in the next 10 years, 15 years.
Mason Leschyna: To build on that further just, when you’re in stage two and stage three and even stage four, I guess you could call it an advantage is that we don’t have the liberty to create our own legal system. I mean, we can offer the service in the governmental mix that we want, but we’re not debating the laws, right?
When you’re in a harbor in the United States or in a marina in the United States, you’re following the U.S. constitution. So that will eliminate a lot of that discussion as to what exact laws should there be and what rules should there be because there’s no debate. You have to follow the laws of the land while you’re in this stage. And really what it is, is a question of governance and service provider.
Carly Jackson: I’ve seen, because I am an advisor to Atlas Island, you’ve shared some draft documents to me, with me, of articles of incorporation and a resident contract draft. But I’m curious about the incorporation cuz, so, Atlas Island members can be anywhere in the world.
They stage two, they just live on a boat wherever they can. Now I know that there’s been some discussion about where to formalize the organization of Atlas Island. Can you share a little bit about that experience and sort of the pros and cons that you’re considering when you’re considering different locations?
Mason Leschyna: Yes. I guess I can talk a little bit first, take a step back about the vision there and those articles of incorporation. What we’re looking at now is potentially a model is rather than being a monolithic organization, worldwide that dictates top down how to run things. What we view the overall organization being is almost an association of groups around the world that share a common vision and a mission.
And then in each locality, whether that’s in Florida, or it could be in somewhere in Europe, like Malta. Each of these places where we have a clustering of people who are looking to build a community. They could then form a local association or a club, like an Atlas Island club.
And I would almost envision these clubs being run in a similar manner to a yacht club. They may own a marina. They have a list of members. And what they do is they help organize those members and bring them together and come to agreements as to how they’ll operate, how they interact on a local level.
And then find service providers that offer the services at that club needs. So, each of those clubs could be incorporated or run as a private association, however, their members choose in their specific locale. And we would really allow them the freedom, or, I don’t even wanna use the word allow because it’s not our decision. We are just there to support them. We would encourage them to develop in a certain manner, but as long as they’re supporting our vision and building a list of members and actually getting people on the water and building that community. Then each individual club can be run however their membership teams fit.
We’ll offer some recommendations on how to do that. We can help them share best practices between clubs, but I don’t view the organization, myself, Ryota, and the other board members as providing a dictatorial top-down approach as to how to we do this. And maybe, the European club comes up with a new way to do things and it works fantastically.
And then they give that feedback to some of us who are gonna be in Florida and we change our ways. So, it’s really just allowing that, as Joe Quirk likes to say, let a thousand seasteads bloom and then learn from each other. So that’s really the model that we wanna take. Even from the beginning amongst different local organizations and local associations.
And I think Ryota, we can talk to a little bit about the future plans and some of the technologies like DAOs potentials for that and some jurisdictional questions.
Ryota Sekine: Sure. I don’t have too much to add here. We’re still in the works of, what legal structure works around the world, and we’ve considered nonprofit status towards the beginning of our research.
Haven’t really decided on that yet. It could be a potentially, from a fundraising perspective, for example, it could be beneficial to have a nonprofit status. However, we’re still debating as to, adding too much structure would kill the philosophy. So, there are other, I guess structures, we’re still exploring around the world. Trying to be as nimble and light as possible. So as Mason had alluded to, creating a very light association structure, that’s where we’re currently leaning towards. However, we are looking at potentially exploring, newer concepts such as a decentralized autonomous organization.
So, we’ve been advised by people in the cryptocurrency space of, one of our advisors, Chris. Yeah, we’ve been talking to him learning about how this would potentially materialize. However, haven’t made a decision yet. It’s still in the works.
Carly Jackson: So, you are both board members. So as board members, you are working to create templates for maybe these organizations, these a ssociations to work with.
Mason Leschyna: Yeah, absolutely. That’s how I would view us. I don’t personally, I don’t view myself than other board members as being leaders, per se. What I view us as being is the point that people that can corral this group of a hundred plus individuals into some coherent direction and take all the input from all those people and collate it.
And then, again, it comes to us, we put it together and then we also give it back out. And essentially, we’re just acting as that that organizing force behind this crowd so that everyone doesn’t go off and do their individual thing. And we find the best of all the inputs that are available and offer it back to the people and see what they like and what they don’t like and they can test out each individual option. So that’s what I’m viewing us as board members. And like you said, and providing those resources to those individual clubs, but not dictating how they do it.
Ryota Sekine: That being said, we will get involved in I guess the practical execution side of things with perhaps the first club where we’re working on setting up a club in Florida. That’s where we advertised on the Seasteading Institute newsletter. So, chances are all of us board members will be hands on, a hands-on deck, focusing on Florida to begin with, then see what kind of insights would come out of it.
And hopefully package all of these into a toolbox, a manual, where other clubs of the future could reference, but nothing’s set in stone. Various clubs around the world can customize based on the needs and requirements of their membership locally.
Carly Jackson: That sounds great. You have to put your money where your mouth is and actually do the work and rather than just tell people what they should be doing. So, there was a question that came up in our pre-podcast conversation. And the question is how do you plan to achieve independence? So, I’m curious, what does independence mean in this context and how are you going to achieve it?
Mason Leschyna: Yeah, thanks Carly. So, I that’s an excellent question and it speaks to our philosophy and our approach. As I’ve alluded to, we’re not aiming to be, like, a full micro nation. We’re not aiming to declare sovereignty anytime soon. That’d be a great thing, but there’s just so many hurdles associated with that.
And so many challenges that can come up. Look, for example, Chad and Nadia, they didn’t even declare sovereignty. They just took a vessel and they floated it off the coast of Thailand. And what do they get? They get the Thai Navy coming after them. That the stakes are pretty large here, when you start doing things that are outside the box. I think in addition to our philosophy of maximal liberty, we also have a philosophy of pragmatism and seeing how we can achieve the most possible benefit for the least possible cost. You need to really optimize that decision there. So, I think the philosophy and the approach that we’re looking at right now is really what’s advocated, I believe, by the Seasteading Institute, which is flying a flag of convenience. And once you get on onto international waters, you really have two options. You can go out there and you can just say, look, we’re independent, we’re doing what we want. And you can’t tell us what to do. And if you do that, you risk any Navy in the world, any country in the world, any ship in the world declaring you a pirate vessel or an outlaw vessel, not under international maritime law, boarding you, seizing you, attacking you, whatever they choose to do because under international maritime law, if you just declare that you’re independent and you’re not flying the flag of a recognized sovereign nation, you’re essentially fair game for whoever comes along.
And, it’s great this philosophy, oh I wanna declare independence and do exactly what I wanna do, but I just don’t think it’s practical. As we saw by Chad and Nadia, there’s just, there’s too many risks associated with that. And all this effort that we’re putting in, I wouldn’t wanna waste it just on the pure ideology of the matter, what I want to do is achieve a practical independence that is doable and feasible under international law. So, what that looks like for us is that you pick your boat, your vessel, and you flagged under a flag of convenience. That could be The Bahamas. It could be Liberia. It could be Panama. Any of these countries. And to talk to the listeners a little bit about this, who may not understand the concept, a flag of convenience is a flag of a recognized sovereign nation, but it’s offered to you for a fee. You probably don’t even live in that country. So, you pay, five hundred or a thousand dollars to fly the flag of Liberia say, and in exchange, Liberia says, yes, we will declare that you’re technically a vessel of our fleet and that under international law, no other country has the right to board you or attack you, so long as you’re not doing anything violent.
And in exchange for that, like I said, you pay the money, they provide the protection, and they also provide very minimal regulations. And even the ones that they do are very rarely enforced. And this allows you to achieve, 95 to 98% of the liberty that you would, if you’re a sovereign while still remaining within the balance of international law.
And this is how cruise ships and other large international shipping companies achieve their freedom, achieve their excellent services at such a low price because they fly flags of convenience. When you board a Royal Caribbean Cruise ship from Florida, the ship is docked in Florida, it’s flagging The Bahamas, and their crew is from all around the world and they use this regulational arbitrage to achieve as much independence as possible while still staying within the bounds of international law. And that’s what we intend to do. If we fly the flag of The Bahamas, but we’re actually floating in the south Pacific somewhere, The Bahamas is not gonna come there and enforce their laws. If we did something crazy, like we, we started having, gladiator competitions where there’s murder for a fee, like, that’s just unreasonable. But if you’re being reasonable libertarians where you respect the non-aggression principle and you have voluntary associations so long as you’re not bothering someone else, again, I said, you, can you fly the flag of a country? Like The Bahamas. They’re not gonna come and interfere with how you live your life and doing so it sacrifices, maybe the pride of calling yourself independent, but it really gives you that practicality of being able to achieve what you want to achieve in practice without the threat of being boarded or seized or being declared by pirate vessel. So that’s really the approach that we are intending to take when it comes to independence.
Now, 20 years from now, after we’ve been out in international waters for 10 years flying the flag of The Bahamas and everyone realizes what we’re doing and they say, yeah, this is a great organization. It’s a great group of people. The city’s working well. There’s no murder. There’s no-it’s not human trafficking. And then like none of these bad things that people worry about are happening. And we’ve been doing this for 10 years and they realize you’re not really actually under the authority of The Bahamas.
Maybe at that point, there can be a discussion about, hey, why can’t we actually become a sovereign nation at this time and make our own laws. But that’s way down the line. That’s after we’ve achieved the process after we’ve been living on the ocean, we’ve demonstrated the success of our approach. We don’t wanna put the cart before the horse. We really wanna just show that what we’re doing works within the bounds of law before we start trying to change those laws per se.
Carly Jackson: Yes, and I think all of that was very well said and Joe Quirk likes to say that with the flagging registries, they’re managed by companies. They look like a marketplace, so you have a marketplace of flags. And so, if one flag or nation changes things up and it no longer works for you, you can apply to flag your vessel under a different nation. And there’s a resemblance of a market competition there.
Mason Leschyna: Yeah. And not only if they change things up, but if you have a big society of, a thousand boats floating out in the ocean and each people are paying $500 to flag, that’s a good chunk of money, right?
So if Bahamas offers one set of rules, you could say next year say, well actually, Liberia offered us this, which is less restrictive and costs less than Bahamas may come back and offer a lower price. So, you really are just gonna bid the countries against each other for more freedom and less cost.
And that really speaks to in practicality how you can effectuate the vision mentioned in the book The Sovereign Individual of, instead of being a subject of government, becomes a service provider and the flag and country becomes a service provider. You bid them against each other, and you act as a sovereign group of individuals in the sense that you say we’re gonna compete these countries against each other and find the best deal for us and allow governments to work for us instead of us to work for governments.
Carly Jackson: And how for an individual, a member wanting to come and join Atlas Island, what do you predict it will cost for them to come join?
Mason Leschyna: It’s an interesting question. It’s hard to give an exact number. What I can say is that there’s two things to consider. The first thing is your floating vessel, right? And the way to look at this is not a cost that you have to pay to join Atlas Island. It’s just an investment in yourself and your own property. Now that can be anything that you want. You could choose to find some driftwood and build a floating raft. If you can make that seaworthy, good for you, you can do it for free.
Or you could go on the opposite of the spectrum, and you could buy a $10 million solar powered catamaran that’s got 20 bedrooms. Whatever you want, whatever vessel you want, you can choose from the spectrum of something free and self-made to something massively expensive.
Or the majority of people pick something in between, like a reasonable sailing vessel can be head for between $50 and $200,000, which is quite reasonable for most developed countries in terms of how it compares to the price of a standard home or condominium or even the cost of renting an apartment.
So that cost is really chosen by the members and you choose what you wanna do. Like if you have more money and you wanna buy something more expensive, fantastic. If you wanna find something as affordable as possible. That’s also fantastic, but really the key point to remember here is that’s not money going to us. That’s not money going to the local clubs. That is money that you are using to buy an asset that you keep and you own. So, no matter what happens to Atlas Island, no matter what happens to the local club, if you just completely change your mind and say, look, I don’t like these guys. I don’t wanna be a part of it anymore.
You still own that. There’s no loss there. It’s completely yours. It’s your private property. And in fact, I would argue that is more your property than a house that you currently own because that vessel again, you still have all the advantages of being on a floating vessel. If you don’t like Atlas Island, you could take that ship. You could go to The Bahamas, and you could just sit in the harbor in The Bahamas and live there. So, it really is your own private property, and it is cost that you have to consider, but it’s not a cost in the traditional sense because it’s not an outlay that you lose out on. It’s an investment in yourself.
Now, the second part is what is it gonna cost in terms of other fees? And we’re talking about here, docking fees and marina fees. Each marina, each platform that’s floating, they’ll charge people a certain fee to dock their vessel there, which would be stipulated in a contract. And we expected that fee for the marina, as well as the floating platform, will be in line with traditional marina, a couple thousand dollars a year, depending on the size of the vessel.
But it really depends. If you come in with a 70-foot boat or you come in with a 20-foot boat, you’re gonna have some different costs because you have different needs. And it also depends on what services you’re expecting. If you’re expecting the platform to provide more comprehensive services like healthcare, then the price is gonna be higher.
If all you really want is a place to dock and marketplace to conduct business and maybe some basic security services, then that cost will be relatively minimal. But I think you can definitely count on that cost being lower than the cost of property taxes or of or similar to what it costs to dock in an existing marina.
So that’s really the way, the two ways to think about the cost, the costs of your investment in yourself and your assets, and then the annual cost of, docking wherever you need to dock. And the bottom line is when you put both of these together, they’re gonna be less than it costs for most people living and developed countries to own a house in their countries.
So, any individual who owns a house or is renting a house, that’s a reasonable size. They can most likely sell that house or stop renting and for a similar or lower price, be able to join our community. So, you don’t need to be rich. It’s very affordable. It’s very approachable and it’s very practical for the average person.
So, you own a $300,000 house. You sell it, you buy a hundred thousand boat. You’ve now got $200,000 to play around with whatever you wanna do.
Carly Jackson: And how can people join Atlas Island?
Ryota Sekine: So, we have a website AtlasIsland.org. You can learn more about the project there. We have a signup form online and enter your information there and join our telegram page.
Mason Leschyna: And the telegram page is t.me/atlasisland.
Carly Jackson: And we’ll definitely share links in our show notes. So, I wanna thank you both for joining and really excited about Atlas Island and the progress you’re making and how organized you appear to be.
So, I just really appreciate the work you’re doing to build this community and create seasteads. So, thank you.
Mason Leschyna: Yeah. Thank you very much for this. Carly’s been a pleasure to speak with you and it’s an honor to be on the podcast. So, looking forward to continuing this conversation moving forward.
And if you have any interest in this, if you believe in liberty, I’d encourage you to join right now as a member, go to our website, AtlasIsland.org. Telegram is t.me/atlasisland. And you don’t even have to contribute anything. We’re not asking for money. We just want you to be there, contribute your ideas and see if it’s a good fit for you.
So, I just encourage everyone to come check it out because we really, the more ideas we have, the more people we have the more quickly we’ll be able to achieve this vision.