Ahoy, Seasteader! Liberty’s on the High Seas

Where could be liberty’s “next frontier”? Unfortunately, it won’t be in Honduras’ Special Development Regions, areas the Honduran Congress designated as largely autonomous to promote innovative government and free enterprise. The Honduran Supreme Court recently declared these regions unconstitutional because they would “privatise the Honduran state and make it disappear…”

Liberty’s “next frontier” may be on the high seas. According to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, a nation’s jurisdiction over its adjacent sea(s) extends up to 200 nautical miles from the nation’s continental shelf or other “baselin[e] from which the breadth of the territorial sea is measured.”  However, the rest of the high seas, shown in the following map’s shades of turquoise, are international waters and free from any one nation’s control:

Source: Sea Around Us Project

Seasteads, dwellings at sea, could establish new societies on the high seas. Unlike temporary oil rigs or large naval vessels that can resemble “floating cities,” seasteads are permanent, autonomous ocean communities. There are no sovereign seastead nations. However, the Principality of Sealand, founded in 1967 on a former World War II fort seven miles offshore of England, has declared itself a sovereign government. According to its founders, this principality is a constitutional monarchy and has a currency.

Today, Patri Friedman, grandson of Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman, and philanthropist Peter Thiel, are heading a new and dynamic seasteading initiative. Friedman and Thiel founded The Seasteading Institute, a non-profit think tank with the mission of furthering “the long-term growth of the seasteading movement.” With seasteads, Friedman and Thiel hope to make laboratories for experimenting with innovative forms of government. In a recent issue of Discover Magazine, Friedman said, “It’s not about one person’s vision of utopia, because most people’s visions won’t work in practice…The concept is to open a new frontier so that a bunch of people can go out and try a bunch of ideas.” Thus, there could be seasteads with libertarian, communist, or even no governments.

The Seasteading Institute’s Poseidon Award for the first independent seasteading community, which the institute hopes to bestow by 2015, will be a monument to the seasteading pioneers. The winning seastead must fulfill the following requirements:

  • Have at least 50 full-time residents and de-facto political autonomy
  • Be financially self-sufficient
  • Offer seastead real-estate on the open market

Seasteaders-at-heart: In what type of seastead would you live? I’d live in a libertarian seastead integrating concepts of individual liberty, limited government, and the rule of law. In a future article, I’ll describe my ideal seastead.

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Tony Escobar About Tony Escobar

Tony Escobar is publisher of LibertyBlog.org and owner of the digital media company AMTG Solutions. He's also a decorated combat infantry veteran of the U.S. Army. If you liked this post, you can follow him on Twitter at @EscoTony.

Brad J
Brad J

I would go for a libertarian seastead with absolutely no tax, and competing currencies.

Tony Escobar
Tony Escobar moderator

@TheStatelessMan You're right! Although the concept of experimenting with innovative forms of government is exciting, it only makes sense that the first successful seastead be a commercial enterprise.

We're officially one year away from Blueseed's planned launch. Very exciting times.

Tony Escobar
Tony Escobar moderator

@Brad J And here I thought you'd dig one with high taxes and a monster central bank ;)

If successful, these seastead initiatives may finally open the floodgates to that free market for governments you mentioned in today's episode of Food Riot Radio. There's definitely room for innovation of aquaculture and seafood freedom on the open sea.