A Libertarian utopia was actually tried – and it failed miserably

By RockedBuzz 3 Min Read

A Libertarian utopia was actually tried – and it failed miserably
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A Libertarian utopia was actually tried – and it failed miserably

Libertarians have a dream. It is to create a floating colony, either using ships or artificial islands, located in international waters. Residents of these communities would be out of reach of sovereign countries, so they would not be bound by government rules and best of all, they would pay no taxes. It is called seasteading, which is being promoted by the Seasteading Institute.

You have to go back to the 1970s for the first serious attempt at seasteading, which was based on the idea that unclaimed island in the Pacific Ocean could be colonized by libertarians.

A Nevada-based real estate developer and coin dealer, Michael Oliver, had a dream. A libertarian, he wanted to escape the overbearing clutches of governments. The only way to do so, he decided, was to create his own country, where there would be few or no rules. In 1968, he published A New Constitution for a New Country, a practical guide on how to construct a new nation in which “people will be free to do as they damn well please. Nothing will be illegal so long it does not infringe on the rights of others. If a citizen wishes to open a tavern, set up gambling or make pornographic films, the government will not interfere.” Income would be generated from fees from grateful banks wishing to establish offshore services—no questions asked—and offer transnational corporations a place to establish their headquarters without bothersome rules or taxation. It would even issue its own currency.

Pulling together around 2,000 investors, Oliver established the Ocean Life Research Foundation. With funds raised, Oliver’s first idea was to find a country that would be willing to sell his foundation one of its islands, over which the Foundation would declare sovereignty. When he couldn’t find any takers, Oliver looked around for an unclaimed island that could become his libertarian paradise.

The best Oliver could do was Minerva Reef, in the middle of the Pacific, 500 km (260 miles) southeast of Tonga. It had never been claimed, despite being discovered as far back as 1854. There were, however, serious problems establishing a settlement on the reef, not the least being that the reef lies some three feet above water at low tide and about four feet under water at high tide.

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