This post was written by Research Associate Brad Taylor for our May Newsletter
Seasteading is a bold proposal based on original, subtle, and often misunderstood political-economic ideas. These ideas need to be continually refined, and engaging the academic community is therefore a crucial aspect of The Seasteading Institute’s work. We’ve now reached a big milestone with the publication of Patri Friedman and Brad Taylor’s article “Seasteading: Competitive Governments on the Ocean” in the leading economics journal Kyklos.
The paper makes the general case for seasteading, focusing on its advantages over other proposals for competitive government. Patri and Brad point out that most proposals require that existing governments decentralize power. While opportunities to create new jurisdictions on land do sometimes arise and should be vigorously pursued, such situations are too rare to lead to a genuine Cambrian explosion in government. The central insight of competitive government is that the only reliable means for improving policy is competition, yet land-based proposals put the cart before the horse, by requiring radical reform at the outset in order to trigger competition. Seasteading avoids this catch-22 by intervening at the foundation of society.
Kyklos is known for papers that challenge the academic orthodoxy and innovatively use economics to shed light on real-world problems. The journal has published work by Nobel laureates such as James Buchanan and Gary Becker, as well as some very important papers by younger economists. We think this is the ideal venue for the idea of seasteading to reach an academic audience. The paper has already been assigned as reading for two student seminars that we are aware of, and we hope the paper will generate much more interest over the coming months and years.
An early version of the paper can be found on our website in our law and policy research section. If you would like a copy of the published Kyklos version of the paper, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.