Seasteading: Libertarians Set to Launch a (Wet) Dream of 'Freedom' in International Waters
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Ever since the Democrats' November rout, various factions of the conservative movement have demonstrated widely varied but always amusing methods of coping.
The economic conservatives have held tea-bagging summits, where they protested President Barack Obama for raising their taxes, even though he didn't actually raise their taxes.
The neoconservatives have formed a virtual death cult surrounding Dick Cheney and torture advocacy that's eerily reminiscent of the bomb worshipers in Beneath the Planet of the Apes.
Gone largely unnoticed, however, has been a fringe brand of libertarians who have been planning to escape the iron fist of democracy by founding a new country in the middle of the ocean.
Before I continue, I'd like to point out that while I’m not a libertarian, I do value the contributions that they make to our political discourse. Think of libertarians as the short-sellers of state power -- the people in the back of the room who reflexively call "Bullshit!" whenever the government tries to expand its reach. While I think they're often misguided, their role as bipartisan skeptics of government intervention is a necessary and important component of any democracy.
That said, libertarians can get themselves in trouble when they fail to accept that they’re doomed to be a frustrated minority who only score points when the government tries to overreach its authority. The problem with being against any sort of government expansion is that the public often votes for politicians who pledge to proactively make their lives better.
This inevitably involves expanding state power, whether it’s through increased funding for health care and education to wage a war on poverty, or increased funding for the military and law enforcement to wage a war on drugs.
When libertarians get overly upset with their fellow citizens' statist preferences, they can retreat into Randian fantasies of fleeing their unworthy societies to found their own small-government utopias.
One such escape plan currently is being hatched by the Seasteading Institute, a think tank that is encouraging libertarians to build large, floating, concrete platforms in international waters where they can live without the greedy hands of Uncle Sam taking their hard-earned cash.
Seasteading is largely the brainchild of Patri Friedman, a libertarian activist and the grandson of famous right-wing economist Milton Friedman.
In an essay published by the Cato Institute earlier this year, Friedman proclaimed that democracy was "not the answer" for libertarians who wanted to live in true freedom because "libertarians are a minority" and thus "winning electoral victories is a hopeless endeavor."
Friedman said that seasteading was his personal solution to this problem because, "expensive though ocean platforms are, they are still cheap compared to winning a war, an election, or a revolution." Additionally, Friedman pointed out that "the unique nature of the fluid ocean surface means that cities can be built in a modular fashion where entire buildings can be detached and floated away."
In other words, if one seastead platform decides to sell out and implement tax hikes, libertarian True Believers can stick it to The Man by floating their house farther out into the ocean. Suck on that, Obama!
Although Friedman's proposals have a distinct "They called me mad, mad!" quality to them, he insists that seasteading is a very pragmatic endeavor. To prove this, he and his fellow seasteaders have published their own manifesto dedicated to allaying the concerns of skeptics who ask sensible questions about how they'll make money or acquire fuel and food when they're stuck on a platform in the middle of the damn ocean.