Utopia or the idea of founding a state on artificial islands

Founding colonies in space is too far-fetched, but why not sovereign states on mobile structures beyond territorial waters, where the rules of the social game are reinvented??

Peter Thiel, the founder of Pay Pal, who has since managed a hedge fund and invested in Facebook early on, is betting on the libertarian ideology of the free market and a state that is as small as possible with extensive rights for the citizens (It sounds like a mixture of "liberal" and "pubertar"). That’s why he supported the maverick Republican Ron Paul, who also sympathizes with libertarians, in the last presidential election. Thiel is also a maverick, who studied philosophy as well as law, has little regard for democracy despite his libertarian views, but is a strong believer in the development of new technologies and, for example, calls for Aubrey de Grey, who is researching how to prolong human life. The controversial age researcher is convinced that in principle aging can be switched off.

Most recently, Thiel attracted attention when he founded an initiative and uses his private assets to encourage young people to abandon their studies in order to resolutely realize their business ideas (The somewhat different philanthropist). Thiel’s penchant for the utopian ideas of founding new communities or states, prevalent in libertarian circles, is also well known. Facebook’s success may have encouraged Thiel, but still, despite all the hype, the social network is basically an airline act. For a long time now, he has been calling for the Seasteading Institute, founded in 2008, to which he has now donated another USD 1.25 million to implement the idea of establishing new libertarian countries or communities on artificial islands, which are constructed in a similar way to oil rigs, in the oceans outside the state territories. And if we leave the land and go to the sea, the insular city-states should not be ships directly, but at least they should be mobile and changeable. After all, one does not always want to remain in one and the same place in space, and one does not want a rigid architecture, but a modular one, which can adapt to the experimentally developing communities.

The Institute was founded by Patri Friedman, a grandson of economist Milton Friedman and a former Google employee, to implement the vision of new island states on Earth (city-states in the sea) that has been floating around in the heads of some libertarians for a long time. The libertarian projects that have been thought about so far and have been looking for investors have failed, like Freedom Ship or the island city-state New Utopia (The Social Utopia of Neoliberalism). The idea does not seem to be really attractive, especially since the people who have a lot of money are also able to exploit the competing existing states in their favor. And the cherished anti-socialist utopia or business idea of providing only an open space, so that a community of interested and solvent pioneers can start politically from scratch with new laws and institutions, which of course are to exist libertarian only in a very condensed way, is attractive for a simulation and perhaps for some social tinkerers, but probably not for people who have to invest a lot of money and a lot of time for an experiment with an open outcome. In addition, it would be best if numerous "sovereign nations with start-up governments" The new judicial representatives will emerge and compete with each other to find the best models of society, which also means that failure is inevitable.

Friedman is naturally of the opinion that his project is more realistic. Even if he, well libertar, only wants to pretend a construction kit. Off the coast of California, he claims to have found an area where the waves are relatively low. For 120 million USD, he envisions the construction of an artificial island for 200 inhabitants.

In the meantime, he seems to be pursuing the idea of building an office island in order to advance his project, which, like the other libertarian island or state founding projects, is just stumbling along. Perhaps the business idea here is simply to create a new tax haven. The artificial island, if recognized as a sovereign state, as Friedman would like it to be, would be more like a letterbox island. But this would be too mundane for a project that harks back to the American pioneer era and dreams of the repopulation of a virgin territory where entrepreneurial and moral freedom reigns, but not fraternity, solidarity and justice.

The imagined new society, whose purpose is as open as its economic basis, is a class society from the outset. There are the rich and flexible who can buy in and earn their money through telecommuting, for example, or who live here only temporarily or as visitors, and there are the personnel necessary to run the artificial island. And although the rules of the social game are to be created together, there is no equality of opportunity, so that for this reason, too, either only people from certain socio-economic strata will come together, who will then pay their servants or employees, but will not participate democratically, or similar inequalities will form and become stronger, as they also characterize the states in the non-libertarian world. But this is also intentional and probably only attractive for rich libertarians who don’t care about their fellow human beings, after all everyone has to take care for himself how he comes to his happiness. The others are just unlucky, they are mainly losers – and they should stay in the old world.

But Thiel and Friedman will probably also become losers, at least with this project. It is hard to imagine that someone would voluntarily go to a tiny drifting island if it were not chic for the rich, prestigious and promising as an investment. For some time, the gigantic construction projects in Dubai, for example, have realized this, but without any political component.

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