Alex Massie Alex Massie

The Freedom of the High Seas

I’m a sucker for Seasteading. That is, I can’t resist articles about what’s called “homesteading on the high seas” – tiny floating communities based in international waters and thus, happily free from government interference. This is not just a kind of hippyish utopia, there are serious public policy issues at play too! Wired has a fun piece – “Live Free or Drown” – on Patri Friedman’s (grandson of Milton) vision for the future:

Anyone can build a game-changing social-network platform or a virtual community or a set of open APIs. But the people here want to start a nonmetaphorical revolution by creating their own independent nations. In the middle of the ocean. On prefab floating platforms…. Friedman launches into what he calls “my standard rant”—a spiel about government’s shortcomings and why they’re so hard to repair. In his eyes, government is a sclerotic monopoly that can count on high customer lock-in thanks to inertia and the lack of alternatives. “Government is an inefficient industry because it has an insane barrier to entry,” he says. “To compete with governments on existing land, you have to win a war, an election, or a revolution.” He points to the democracy that emerged from the American Revolution as the last successful rollout and attributes the subsequent dry spell to the lack of uncolonized space on the map. “We’ve run out of frontier,” he says. But there’s still one virgin realm left, and it covers 70 percent of the earth’s surface. The purpose of the Seasteading Institute—and of this gathering—is to figure out how to make aquatic homesteads a reality. But Friedman doesn’t just want to create huge floating platforms that people can live on. He’s also hoping to create a platform in the sense that Linux is a platform: a base upon which people can build their own innovative forms of governance.

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