Most of the liberty movement has been directed at changing the way we live, where we live. It’s been focused on changing current governments to conform to inherent natural rights and their protections. It feels like a glacial sort of pace (or maybe less than a glacial pace) of change that can often feel like a standstill. Once governments have power, prying it away from them is very hard work. Once people become reliant on government, shifting their reliance is a nearly insurmountable task (though certainly not impossible).
However, some believe the best way forward for liberty’s sake is to simply start over. There really aren’t any places in the world where land exists that has not already been claimed, and so establishing a new frontier free from governing bodies already in place means getting a little creative. If the land isn’t there, and if new land can create new territorial claims (as China is using with man-made islands), then perhaps floating islands could be an answer as to the where portion of establishing a fresh start.
Many people are looking to the concept of “seasteading” as a new bold adventure into free societies that exist outside the hands of existing governing bodies. Seasteading is as it sounds – making a home on the open seas, sometimes in international waters, where no particular government is in charge, and sometimes by negotiated means in a free economic zone that has been established. It’s like pioneers on the open ocean, staking a claim on nothingness, but where their property moves with them wherever they take it.
The idea behind seasteading is that multiple seasteads can bind themselves together to form societies with their own governments – or a lack of government. If you don’t like the government where you live, then you can cut your property loose and float to another floating island somewhere else. Or, you can simply be your own government, floating along by yourself. It’s a blank slate for experimentation in governance, and for libertarian-minded people, it sounds like an interesting opportunity.
Of course, this idea has been around since humans first figured out how to sail out of reach of their governments, but modern technologies make living in open sea a little more practical and more likely to work without the perils and dangers that once existed. There are still pirates, storms, the need for food and supplies, communications, difficulties in trade, etc. But, technologies come into play that aid those issues. They are still very difficult, but more feasible than before. For those willing to deal with major lifestyle changes, anarchy, and a new opportunity, the type of governance you desire is within your grasp – at perhaps a more rapid pace than convincing everyone around you to vote differently.
A company called Blue Frontiers, in conjunction with the Seasteading Institute have somewhat recently negotiated terms with French Polynesia to establish a floating island in their waters as a free economic zone with the intent of operating as a separate, autonomous governing part of the nation. The goal is to establish an autonomous zone free from governmental regulations and interference for innovative businesses to thrive and prosper. It has established its own cryptocurrency, Varyon, and plans to begin operations by 2022. Many of the details about how to become a citizen of the zone and how to establish your business there are still being worked out, but you can check it out for yourself at https://www.blue-frontiers.com.
These concepts are very fascinating. The idea of a fresh start and a blank slate to create a free society from the ground up is exciting, and I can’t wait to see how it plays out. However, this isn’t the first time there has been such an attempt. The United States made similar attempts at establishing a free state, and even wrote a Constitution that was supposed to guarantee that its government could never change into something that could impose upon those freedoms. But, as people began to decide it was inconvenient to keep such promises, that Constitution began to erode and fall to the wayside.
With my more skeptical attitude, I assume these new seastead adventures will have similar fates. Freedom is hard work, and it must be fervently guarded at all times. Freedom is and always will be under attack by those who desire control. There are always people who think they can figure things out better for everyone else, and there are always people who think they can be better served by such people. Sometimes well-intentioned free societies end in turning over all rule to a dictator, and sometimes, the process of eroding freedoms happens over a long period of time (like 242 years or more).
It’s even harder to obtain freedom once it has been taken or lost. It can feel like the patience required to recapture it is simply not worthwhile. I too am frustrated at the continual march into authoritarianism amongst all free societies. However, I like my land-based home. Are there times when I wish I could be 100 miles away from everyone and everything? Absolutely! Sometimes a hermit’s lifestyle seems very appealing, but I’m not ready to hit the seas just yet. I still like the people around me who usually disagree with my political thinking. We may disagree on some things, but I still want to be around them. I like the conveniences of land-based living. I look very forward to watching seasteaders in these wildly innovative and incredibly noble pursuits. I just want to watch for now and hope all the best for them.