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Start Your Own Country!

• https://reason.com

How seasteading advances human liberty.

When political arguments aren't getting you anywhere, what can you do?

Start your own country!

Unfortunately, most of the world's land is controlled by rapacious governments unwilling to let others experiment.

But fortunately, that still leaves oceans.

If people move 12 miles offshore (or 24 miles in the case of the U.S.), they can, in theory, live free from existing governments' suffocating rules. People then could try new things—find better forms of government.

The idea is called seasteading. My latest video shows what offshore countries might look like.

The idea already makes some governments nervous.

This year, Chad Elwartowski and Nadia Summergirl set up a small seastead 13 miles off the coast of Thailand.

"We're looking forward to freedom-loving people to come join us out in the open ocean," says Chad.

Unfortunately, the Thai government wasn't happy about it. More on what happened to Chad and Nadia's seastead, below.

"We need a new place to experiment with new rules appropriate for modern technologies," says Joe Quirk, who runs the Seasteading Institute. "As long as people create seasteads voluntarily and people can quit them voluntarily, you'll have a market of competing governance providers."

The seasteading approach avoids people trying to agree on a single set of laws.

"Seasteaders don't have a problem with regulations per se," says Quirk. "Humans need rules to interact. We have a problem with the monopoly over the provision and enforcement of regulations. We don't need politicians. They're not smart enough to make decisions for us."

I pushed back when I interviewed him, saying some people might use lawless seasteads to do things like abuse heroin—or kids.

"We have that in our country right now," said Quirk. "But if I move 12 miles offshore, I'm going to be so incentivized to set a better example because the world's eyes are on me. I've got to convince investors to invest…convince people to move there…. (I)n such an environment, it's going to be much more difficult to create evil islands of heroin-shooting than to create positive innovations that improve people's lives."

Quirk argues that the world already likes a form of seastead: cruise ships.

"Most cruise ships fly the flag of, say, Panama or Liberia, and they're de facto self-governing. Liberia has no capacity to enforce rules on the 3,000 ships that fly its flag. So a captain is a de facto dictator. Why doesn't he become a tyrant? Because people can choose another cruise line."


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