Hello Freedomphiles! You know, if the system of federalism under which our country was founded had been held onto, America would be an amazing hotbed of competing communities, each trying different things – just like a market – to attract new residents. They would learn from the successes and mistakes of other states, and all would be better off for it.
But what we have, thanks to Alexander Hamilton's intellectual heirs – like Henry Clay, Abraham Lincoln, and Franklin Roosevelt – is a system of saying “One size fits all!” while trying to shove a marshmallow into a parking meter.
There have been some ideas that crop up now and again within the libertarian community, always with the goal of carving out a little section of land and living the minarchist lifestyle, proving to the rest of the country and the world how well that can work.
One such project – one of the most successful, actually – is called the Free State Project:
The Free State Project is an agreement among 20,000 pro-liberty activists to move to New Hampshire, where they will exert the fullest practical effort toward the creation of a society in which the maximum role of government is the protection of life, liberty, and property. The success of the Project would likely entail reductions in taxation and regulation, reforms at all levels of government, to expand individual rights and free markets, and a restoration of constitutional federalism, demonstrating the benefits of liberty to the rest of the nation and the world.
An interesting idea, to be sure. I spoke in the blog just the other day, though, about how the federal government, when it has no Constitutional authority to make a State behave the way it wants, will instead make an end run around the document and just tie “incentives” to the money they send back to the state.
It's a fleecing – extortion at its most base, and I've always wondered what would happen if a free state simply said “No thanks,” to all of it, cutting every string. Would the federal government press back, try to exert its control, or would it simply shrug its shoulders and move on?
Another example was Sealand, which divorced itself from the problem of a pushy federal government by being located in international waters:
The history of Sealand is a story of a struggle for liberty. Sealand was founded on the principle that any group of people dissatisfied with the oppressive laws and restrictions of existing nation states may declare independence in any place not claimed to be under the jurisdiction of another sovereign entity. The location chosen was Roughs Tower, an island fortress created in World War II by Britain and subsequently abandoned to the jurisdiction of the High Seas. The independence of Sealand was upheld in a 1968 British court decision where the judge held that Roughs Tower stood in international waters and did not fall under the legal jurisdiction of the United Kingdom. This gave birth to Sealand's national motto of E Mare Libertas, or “From the Sea, Freedom”.
The official language of Sealand is English and the Sealand Dollar has a fixed exchange rate of one U.S. dollar. Passports and stamps have been in circulation since 1969 and the latter decade of the 20th century saw an impressive expansion in its activity both socially and industrially as it began to develop a growing economic base which underscored its long-standing membership of the international community of States.
Unfortunately, Sealand was all but destroyed by a 2006 fire. It was also an interesting idea, but hampered by the fact that it was hideous and in the middle of the ocean. Give em credit, though, because it was kinda working for almost 40 years.
Another visionary has tried to adapt that idea to a more workable scenario. Peter Thiel (right), founder of Facebook, is trying his hand at an offshore utopia, as well. Katherine Mangu-Ward reports:
And last week, Thiel announced a $500,000 investment the same amount he put into Facebook in June 2004 in the Seasteading Institute. Seasteading, or “homesteading on the high seas,” is an idea that has long attracted libertarians and others who would like to see a little more competition between forms of government. The idea is to get out into international waters and set up a floating outpost (or 12, or 1,200) from which people can come and go, experimenting with different types of legal, social, and contractual arrangements…
…Learning a valuable lesson from his predecessors, Friedman is an incrementalist. “I want to talk about what to do this year, not how to colonize the galaxy.” One way to start small, he says, is to hold a kind of floating Burning Man, called Ephemerisle, an idea inspired by childhood pilgrimages with his father to Pennsic, a Society for Creative Anachronism medieval reenactment held outside Pittsburgh, and college stints at Burning Man.
“There aren't that many people who are wiling to drop their lives and move to the ocean.” Instead, he says, “it could start as a one week vacation, but then unlike Burning Man it could grow and eventually become permanent.” Friedman hopes to hold the first Ephemerisle next summer, inviting many types of floating vessels to join him in international waters. Even an ordinary cruise ship might be enough to get started, since the cruise industry has proven that “providing power, water, food, and internet on the ocean is not only possible but can be profitable.” But some of Thiel's grant is going toward figuring out the best way to throw up some small, cheap seasteads to provide a little non-state infrastructure and get things rolling (or floating, as the case may be).
Now, these are all interesting libertarian experiments, and since the rEVOLution is on the free-thinking, creative rocketship to innovation, of course there is a Paulista version of these attempts.
Just as one might expect, it incorporates the big visions of the Free State Project and Sealand, with the incremental mission of the Seasteading Institute. It is decidedly landlocked. The name? Paulville:
The goal of Paulville.org it to establish gated communities containing 100% Ron Paul supporters and or people that live by the ideals of freedom and liberty.
The process is forming a co-op of people buying shares in the community and these people would be granted land use at a minimum of 1 acre per share, for as long as they homesteaded the land. The community would be privately held by the co-op to establish private property for the general community thus preserving the community is 100% freedom and liberty lovers. The community votes on all community efforts, such as utilities etc. However no one is forced to consume these utilities and or pay for them, AKA people can be off grid on their share of land. This is in line with the ideals that you're free to live your life the way you want and not be forced to do or pay for other people's life styles you may not agree with.
Now, the first Paulville community is in Texas, and I think they missed a great opportunity with that. If they'd located in New Hampshire, they could have pulled some of the Free Stater's, too.
Still, its an interesting experiment, and I wonder how much contract law they can use to divorce themselves from taxes and regulations within the community. Really, I wonder how much difference it will make without the use of the State apparatus to cut ties.
The Paulville plan is being met with either a yawn or mocking, it seems. For example, Wonkette has dubbed the development “Paultard City.” I suppose just not having to live surrounded by Statists like that would be a pretty strong benefit, in and of itself, no?Tweet
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