11 Responses to Float Time

  1. Anon73 March 16, 2009 at 2:11 pm #

    My biggest worry about seasteading is that existing governments will claim a monopoly of force over the entire planet and simply declare all seasteads as “pirate outlaws”, to be bombed or invaded on sight. For example, say Madoff fled to a seastead that had no extradition treaties. Why wouldn’t the US just bomb the seastead into Davy Jones’ Locker?

    • Joshua Lyle March 16, 2009 at 3:07 pm #

      One possible counter is the flag of convenience; even non-anarchistic seasteading greatly increases ones power to vote with one’s feet, while sinking vessels peacefully sailing under another nation’s flag is not well regarded.

  2. Anon73 March 16, 2009 at 7:23 pm #

    That’s a good idea Joshua, I wasn’t aware that existed. It’s obviously not a permanent solution but might be good enough for the present. I wonder what Kevin Carson would think of the project, since he always refers to Galt’s Gulch with a sneer and a chuckle. 🙂

    Now that I think about it, there are actually 3 other big ways the project could go wrong.

    1) The greenpeace guy in the article is right, and the seasteads simply will not be sustainable or affordable.

    2) The project could be affordable, but people might simply decide they like tyranny enough to stay put.

    3) It will be affordable and people will go there, but it will just be a few people like the super rich, mobsters, or plastic surgeons giving unscrupulous face lifts or whatever. (I didn’t really get that part of the article, are there forbidden types of plastic surgery in Hollywood?)

    • Joshua Lyle March 17, 2009 at 9:48 am #

      1. Greenpeace has some… interesting notions about what is sustainable. I think Patri has a point with the costs per square foot thing. People do an awful lot on the sea right now in an industrial capacity and I’ve met people that have lived-aboard their boats for twenty years, so it’s already viable for some things.

      2. I think most will, but there are lots of people already effectively live on boats with freedom to relocate on a whim, drifting about the Keys and Caribbean. That community definitely has it’s radically independent streak. I’m sure you could scratch up a few hundred here and there who are interested in leasing seastead apartments for a few years at a time, and the shipping industry is mostly staffed by people willing to ditch their home country for embarrassingly (to the first world) little money.

      3. It takes less super-rich levels of income and more being willing to put up with the living conditions; some people deal with only having a couple of hours of electrical power a day and bathing in salt water to live on the sea on the cheap now in a boat that cost less than the median price of a house in the U.S. The interesting thing about the seasteading initiative is not so much the residential or industrial applications (which are precedented) but the commercial ones. Personally, I think you could clear some serious bank just opening a posh hash bar with an ocean view 12 miles from LA. Come to think of it, someone probably has, the question is whether the bribes they pay are more or less than about 200 USD / sq.ft.

      In any case, I’d probably be a lot more skeptical if I hadn’t had some of the first-hand experiences I’ve been blessed with, but I think Patri’s ideas have legs, even if this particular project ends up underwhelming expectations.

    • Michael Wiebe March 17, 2009 at 1:45 pm #

      I don’t get why sustainability is a problem. Haven’t they heard of free trade?

  3. Dain March 16, 2009 at 9:12 pm #

    I’m reminded of the book Free Schools, Free People, by Ron Miller. He talks all about how in the 60s there was this gulf between radical social democrats who wanted to create entirely new environments for people to express their true individuality, and their more down-to-earth, egalitarian opponents who felt this “utopian” project was basically selfish. Most people think like the latter. (Jeesh, I sound Galtish – but it’s true.)

    • Joel Schlosberg March 29, 2009 at 11:41 am #

      I’m glad to see a mention of FSFP. It’s quite a good book, and Ron Miller is a good guy who’s doing a lot to preserve education history, and the free school movement is an important one that is often overlooked, and that will be key to any effort to truly fix what’s wrong with education). It’s also important to me personally, I read it back in 2003, when I was just getting into the world of education reform (and after reading “Making It Up As We Go Along by Chris Mercogliano”, which has a blurb by Miller saying that the book is the best one since those of the 1960s education critics), and it was very useful in getting my bearings in the world of what’s going on in education.

      Although I don’t want to overstate my quibbles with the book, I have a few; it’s a bit dry, and I do agree with Herb Snitzer’s review (http://www.educationrevolution.org/issue36.html) that the book focuses too much on the books of the movement (which are not hard to find) rather than on oral history from the people who ran the schools. And I think that (partly due to the academic focus) he overstates the divisions within the movement, such as the one between freedom and equality that you describe; most people agreed that freedom in education, to be truly meaningful, has to be conceived in terms that do not take privilege for granted, that allow the poor and minority kids to participate, and are not isolated from the problems of society.

      And frankly, it’s often overlooked just how anti-statist the education reform movement was; there was a small portion of people that were explicitly anarchist, like Paul Goodman, they despised the controls and indoctrination of the public school system (Jonathan Kozol once mocked the public school as “that old haunted house that flies the U.S. flag”), and many agreed with Ivan Illich’s proposal, directly modeled on separation of church and state, to disestablish state involvement in schools.

      And did you know that Miller was once a Randian? He actually credits that with being what started his interest in the entire field of alternative education, due to Rand’s endorsement of Montessori. If you’re interested, he talks about this in some detail in his review of “Montessori, Dewey and Capitalism” by Jerry Kirkpatrick in Education Revolution magazine #53, a book which tries to combine the three things listed in the title from a Randian/Misesian libertarian perspective (and yes, there are libertarians that don’t hate Dewey). Although this review also makes it clear that he’s moved on from his Randian period, and he engages some rather cliched critiques of libertarianism, such as that it would lead to inequality in access to education and that it’s “a worldview that turns everything into a commodity for sale”.

  4. Anon73 March 17, 2009 at 2:17 pm #

    Michael: The greenpeace guy is coming from a leftist/peak oil/global warming mindset, meaning they think the civilization we have now is not sustainable and will soon collapse when fossil fuels run out or global warming kills us. As far as I know most boat societies would have to use fossil fuels to run the boats.

    Did Patri address how the boats will survive in terms of other resources? Will they eat fish all the time?

    • Roderick March 29, 2009 at 12:37 pm #

      A new Libertarian Fish will evolve that will leap fully cooked out of the water and onto people’s plates.

  5. Joel Schlosberg March 29, 2009 at 11:02 am #

    There’s been a flurry of attention to this project in recent times (the fact that Peter Thiel is investing big money in the project is obviously a major reason why), and in fact, right before you posted this, I saw an article about the project in Wired magazine (which is also about twice as long as the Times Online one), I was going to email this to you since I was reminded of your association with FNF/LNF (even though you don’t talk about micronations too much these days, at least on your blog):

    It’s quite an interesting project, for many reasons. Patri clearly takes after his father and famous grandfather, both in being extremely smart and being libertarian (although I see that most articles on the project don’t mention that Patri is an anarchist like his father — and it’s funny that I’ve not seen Patri or the other seasteading people mention Karl Hess’s stint on a houseboat community). Awhile back, I passed through a period where I was obsessed with the book The Millennial Project by Marshall Savage, which proposes building communities on the sea as the first step in colonizing space (both for “practice” and to get the wealth needed). Also, I find it fascinating that Patri is giving his attention to a strategy for promoting liberty via indirect means; David Friedman had a blog post partly about that:

    And while it’s true that similar ideas have a flaky and failure-filled history (such as the famous “Republic of Minerva being immediately invaded by Tonga” debacle), from what I’ve seen of the website of the seasteading project, I’m quite impressed by how they’re carefully studying what went wrong with previous attempts, and are putting a lot of thought into how to avoid repeating their mistakes; this page in particular analyzes several previous ones in detail (including The Millennial Project):

    And for all the potshots about “spoiled, privileged, greedy libertarians” that many people make when hearing about the project, Patri is clearly OK with ideological diversity among seasteaders; in response to a sneering article that was written by a socialist, he replied, “I think that the fact that seasteading would enable socialists to make more socialist societies is a good thing.”


  1. Float Time, Part 2 | Austro-Athenian Empire - March 29, 2009

    […] on the general subject of Patri and seasteading, see Joel Scholsberg’s recent comment as […]

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