The Seasteading conference in Tahiti just started this week. After nine years of activism, negotiations with governments, and donations from middle-class enthusiasts and eager investors, the Seasteading Institute, along with its for-profit company Blue Frontiers has found the perfect location to launch the Floating Island Project, in the Pacific island nation of French Polynesia, where both the people and government strongly support the development of the first Special Economic SeaZone. Unlike Liberland, whose “host nation” Croatia lacks the economic insight to understand its (now compromised) libertarian principles, the fundamental principles of Seasteading, are intuitive to the government and people of French Polynesia, courtesy of its ancient seafaring and island-hopping culture. The French Polynesian government itself is mostly ruled by a right-wing party that holds the presidency with a majority in the Assembly, so they have more of an understanding of economics than a left-wing government would.
And to add the cherry on top, the newly elected president of France who supports free market policies, has invited American climate scientists, engineers, and entrepreneurs to come to France to work on climate change. And as referenced by one of the speakers of the conference yesterday, the climate scientists are already in France, in French Polynesia. Although his words could just be rhetoric, and it’s unknown if he could even approve of such a project with a socialist majority in parliament. Details regarding France’s part are yet to be seen. Don’t take this as me regressing back into the statist mindset and endorsing Macron. Unlike a lot of so-called voluntaryists, I will never advocate the initiation of force no matter how appealing consequentialism may be in a precarious situation cough borders cough. I’m just examining the factors at play and piecing together how they’ll influence the outcome of the first seastead. Without further ado, let’s commemorate this historic event by showing how Seasteading is not only world-changing, but also why it’s our best shot at creating truly free societies.
While seasteading may be an unintuitive solution to most people in the freedom movement, compared to agorism or failed attempts at founding free societies like Galt’s Gulch, the Free State Project and Liberland, it has a far better chance of succeeding and deserves all the wasted support from those fruitless endeavours redirected towards it. And I don’t just mean support from libertarians. Classical liberals, monarchists, minarchists, socialists, national socialists, and everyone else who’s involved in politics should drop what they’re doing, and turn their heads towards this revolutionary technology that’ll make politics less stagnant and hateful and more innovative and tolerable. After all, one of the Eight Great Moral Imperatives of seasteading is to stop fighting.
The goal of seasteading is to bring about competition in governance through floating settlements on the ocean called seasteads. Due to the ocean’s fluid nature, seasteads can connect to other seasteads to form floating cities, and detach and sail away to a different floating settlement should they be dissatisfied with their community or provider of governance, thus driving up the need for competition in governance, and ensuring that a high standard of quality is maintained between providers. This may sound strange to us anarchists who reject government as a legitimate and moral entity, but governors in the context of seasteading would be more akin to landlords leasing you their property than rulers extorting you with no rightful claim to yours, as highlighted in the book here:
With this in mind, seasteads by their very nature can never be governments, and are therefore all anarcho-capitalist. Any political adjective added to a seastead is just window dressing, which is why I find it pretty misleading for supporters of seasteading to say they want “experiments in governance” when government is based on violent coercion, whereas seasteading is based on voluntary cooperation. A “socialist seastead,” for example, is an oxymoron. Any socialist seastead would be the equivalent of a landlord redistributing the property of his tenants, but nothing like a socialist republic. In fact, such a business model would be extremely unappealing to most people that the majority of providers of governance would be incentivised to provide rules favorable to free enterprise to stimulate their economies, especially with very little resources to utilize, much like the early governments of Singapore, Hong Kong, and Mauritius (which are also mentioned in the book.)
But how does this translate to accelerating voluntaryism? Physical evidence is the most powerful form of persuasion. Humans are emotional creatures, and thus we think with emotion. There’s no such thing as a rational human being, and that’s the biggest obstacle with tactics such as, “getting the information out there”, and political action. You can argue with statists as long as you want, but no matter how civil you are, or how reasonable your arguments may be, you’re never going to get them on your side if they don’t agree with you emotionally. It’s a problem Seasteading Institute co-founder Patri Friedman describes as folk activism. We subconsciously believe we’re still living in small hunter-gatherer tribes where our voices mattered. We think we’re changing the world by educating people of our position. But in a population of billions of people, folk activism only works on the quark-sized percentage of people who aren’t emotionally attached to any form of authority, whether it be political, religious, or societal. Seasteading solves that problem altogether by showing statists what’s on the other side of the door, rather than just the door.
Imagine taking a bunch of statists to a floating city and having them experience anarcho-capitalism first hand with no room to deny its efficacy, giving them an emotional attachment to true freedom and replacing their previous emotional attachment to the state. At the very least, they’ll reconsider their political positions, but if not, and very few people are unconvinced, at least we will have places to escape to and experience true freedom for ourselves. We could even use seasteads as a contingency plan, as locations to seek flee to when WW3 or the global economic collapse happens. We could live in tranquility and watch while the rest of the world tears itself apart. In the aftermath, we could resettle the lands, bring prosperity with advanced futuristic technology, and establish truly free societies. This might sound a little callous, but if others are unwilling to be saved, the only thing you can really do is save yourself.
All in all, it seems like seasteading is on the road to becoming a game changer in the freedom movement, and although it’ll be many years until the first truly free floating city is established, the cooperation between French Polynesia and the Seasteading Institute is a step in the right direction.