Facebook Funder Buys Stake in Fantastical Ocean Utopia

Hooray! A bunch of eccentric rich people are striking out to create their own sovereign nation in the middle of the ocean! Again! You may remember back in the 60s when a pirate radio broadcaster occupied a sea-bound fort 6 miles off the coast of Great Britain and declared it the Principality of Sealand. (It's for sale, btw.) But while that little adventure in sovereignty was merely for kicks, Wired reports today on a venture much more exciting for its batshit reasoning, impressive backers, and fantastic scope.


Ladies and gentlemen, various Silicon Valley millionaires present, The Seastanding Institue, "an organization dedicated to creating experimental ocean communities 'with diverse social, political, and legal systems.'" In other words, a project funded in part by PayPal founder Peter Thiel to create a libertarian utopia made of "vast clumps" of seafaring homesteads in international waters. And, of course, they've got a 300-page manifesto. They're not nuts, of course! Not like all those other people who want to start Utopian ocean micronations!

The brains behind the project are Google engineer Patri Friedman and former Sun Microsystems programmer Wayne Gamlich. The chairman of their "institute" is with Clarium Capital Management, a multibillion-dollar hedge fund. ("There's a history of a lot of crazy people trying this sort of thing, and the idea is to do it in a way that's not crazy," he says. Good luck!)

They plan to build "scaled-down" oil rigs called "spar platforms," only with houses on top instead of oil stuff. It's basically a big concrete tube with ballasts on the bottom. Once they build many of the spar platforms, with all their private money, they will have a lawless libertarian utopia ruled by enlightened self-interest, and money. They will support themselves with "aquaculture or tourism," which means fishing, probably?

We just need to quote a block of this now because it's too blindly stupid to summarize:

"Government is an industry with a really high barrier to entry," [Friedman] said. "You basically need to win an election or a revolution to try a new one. That's a ridiculous barrier to entry. And it's got enormous customer lock-in. People complain about their cellphone plans that are like two years, but think of the effort that it takes to change your citizenship."

Friedman estimates that it would cost a few hundred million dollars to build a seastead for a few thousand people. With costs that low, Friedman can see constellations of cities springing up, giving people a variety of governmental choices. If misguided policies arose, citizens could simply motor to a new nation.

"You can change your government without having to leave your house," he said.

Long story short, Peter Theil will give you half-a-million dollars for any batshit scheme you come up with. Let's all try it! I am going to build a giant Libertarian cloud city. The king and queen will be clones of Milton Friedman and Ayn Rand I've been working on. Also, it will have lasers, and talking monkey sidekicks for everyone.

Peter Thiel Makes Down Payment on Libertarian Ocean Colonies [Wired]