02 October 2011

Article: Seasteading: Striking at the Root of Bad Government

Article: Seasteading: Striking at the Root of Bad Government

The academic reception of seasteading and experimental "competitive government" has been hampered by the lack of publications that meet the high standards of scholarly citability. While someone interested in these concepts will easily enough find relevant information online, most of it comes in the form of blog posts, newsletters, unpublished theses, and research papers that are not clearly marked as either citable or drafts/work in progress. The promised seasteading book remains elusive.

While looking at such sources I have come across one recent publication, though, that meets academic criteria: Patri Friedman and Brad Taylor (both Seasteading Institute), "Seasteading: Striking at the Root of Bad Government" ("The Freeman: Ideas on Liberty", 61 [2], March 2011: pp. 33-7).

Excerpt: "Libertarians have done a wonderful job of pointing out the inefficiency and cruelty of government and identifying some of the causes. We know that current policies are bad; we know that such policies are the inevitable outcome of unrestrained democracy ... Developing the technology to create permanent, autonomous communities on the ocean seems like a strange way to solve the problem of bad governance, but we're convinced it's the best chance we have for liberty in our lifetimes. ... The ocean is a vast frontier unclaimed by States. While they claim some jurisdiction over resources in large areas of ocean, there is much space for political experimentation within these zones and plenty of space outside any State's practical reach. Starting your own country on the ocean will be difficult and expensive, but at least it's possible."

The link at the bottom of this post is to a full-text copy of the journal.

For two earlier posts on seasteading see: http://anti-democracy-agenda.blogspot.com/search/label/seasteading

From the above article as well as from a contribution by Michael Keenan, the new President of the California-based Seasteading Institute, to the Institute's October 2011 newsletter I get the impression that their argumentative focus is shifting more and more in the direction of experimental and competitive government. Here is what Keenan writes, under the title, "Seasteading, a Common Cause for Many Ideologies":

"I used to know the best kind of government. I told my friends, argued with my opponents, and voted for my favorite political party so that the kind of government I wanted was the one that everyone would have. I didn't claim to know the single best car for everyone, or the best flavor of ice cream, or the right size of shoe that everyone should wear. But when it came to the most difficult question a citizen faces, a decision encompassing economics, history, military strategy, sociology, and many other fields, then I wanted to answer that question for you. We don't all want the same car, ice cream, or shoes. And we don't all want the same government. When seasteading becomes a reality, we won't have to have the same government.

"If you're dissatisfied with the few monolithic options on land, you'll be able to join or build a new society on the sea. I no longer think I know what government is best for you. I'd like you to choose from a diverse range of options - liberal, conservative, libertarian, socialist, futarchical, neocameralist, polycentric, whatever you want. If you don't find something you like, then I hope you start your own government. I'm no longer even sure what government is best for me, and I'm excited to see what options are available when smart, creative, entrepreneurial people are free to implement their ideas.

"The Seasteading Institute doesn't want to tell you what politics you should have. There is, however, one rule we believe all societies, land and sea, should abide by: freedom of exit. When people are free to build new societies and freedom of exit is respected, we will have the ability to choose whatever freedoms, rights, entitlements or responsibilities are valuable to us. Without freedom of exit, citizens are nearly slaves, unable to escape whatever rules or abuses their government imposes upon them.

"Soon, you won't have to just imagine your favorite society - you will join it or build it yourself. Seasteading is the common cause of many ideologies. You and I might have drastically different political ideals, but by working toward a seasteading world we can all have the societies we want."

Excellent, and surely worth quoting in full. If only the source wasn't a mere newsletter ...

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