Seasteading is Defenseless
The term seasteading is the analog of homesteading for the oceans: the idea that houses can be built in the open seas. The only “game in town,” it seems, is the Seasteading Institute which aims to create the tools to form new countries on the ocean. Along with innovative technological solutions to make a living in the middle of an ocean, this think tank advertises a philosophy: a country should be like a business startup which experiments to arrive at the best possible political system. This sounds like the infamous proclamation that “we have to pass a law to find out what’s in it.”
A multitude of mini-countries floating in the ocean, each vying for citizens to vote with their feet, is the libertarian dream of anarchism. Having many little governments is like having no government. Only now it has been transported from the land to the ocean.
Anarchism is a flawed system on the land. Why would it be a good one on the ocean? Anarchism necessarily deteriorates to mafia rule: the man with the biggest gun dictates his laws to everyone else. Only now it will be the pirate with the biggest gun.
There was recently an attempt by a man to live in a seastead on the coast of Thailand. After a considerable expense to realize this dream, he lost it all when Thailand’s soldiers gave him the boot. The man (correctly) decided not to sue Thailand, because there is no “due process” in that third world country.
Thai navy tows floating home of fugitive U.S. 'seasteader'
BANGKOK (Reuters) - Thailand's navy on Monday began towing to shore the floating cabin of a fugitive U.S. citizen and…
Among the many videos on the Institute’s website, there is little attention to the issue of defense. Is the assumption that defense is not necessary? The right approach to seasteading is to ask the question: can a seastead be defended?
Take the history of the failed Republic of Minerva of 1972 as the case in point. The libertarians built the infrastructure but forgot to defend it. The libertarians, with their slogans of “live and let live,” do not want to think of defense. Yet, defense is the real challenge, and that is where one should start. It cannot be an afterthought. If the issue cannot be solved, then the plan of a floating country must be abandoned, and seasteading would be reserved only for land extensions to existing countries’ coastlines.
The Seasteading institute does not have an answer to how to defend a seastead from a submarine torpedo, or from a bomb dispatched miles away causing a manmade tsunami. Instead, it takes the hopeful view that there will be no attacks. Joe Quirk, the president of the Seasteading Institute, writes in his book “Seasteading,”
“Mauritus has not had an army since it gained independence from England in 1968. It’s gotten rich since. Why don’t the mighty nations of the world attack this defenseless island?”
“Venezuela, ranked as one of the most corrupt countries in the world, with repeat military coups and drug trafficking, has not invaded the island nation of Trinidad and Tobago, which is the wealthiest nations in the Caribbean, and it’s only 6.8 miles offshore.”
According to Quirk, reason for this is that mounting a military attack is expensive and there are no resources to control on the island. Therefore, he says, there is no interest to attack. Incorrect. The correct answer is that countries, with powerful military, are protecting these islands. In exchange exchange, these islands are not really independent states. They cower against the demands from other bigger countries. For instance, if they would be asked to curtail free speech, they would have to comply. They are left alone so long as they solve some bureaucratic legal function for the protecting countries.
But try to create a country that is truly independent and bold, a country in which a journalist is not afraid to call a spade a spade, and you are inviting a Xerces to declare war on your Athens.
The Institute’s intellectuals make another philosophical error in claiming that experiment is necessary to reach the right political system. In fact, the ideal political structure has already been discovered, but remains unknown to intellectuals in general. This ideal system is pure, unrestrained, laissez-faire Capitalism. (But to have that vision libertarians would have to abandon Rothbard and Hayek, and read Ayn Rand instead.) Sure, there is variability in how Capitalism is implemented. But the differences are too insignificant to warrant creation of multiple countries instead of one country, as large as possible, as strong as possible.