It's a movement to the frontier, not a retreat

There was a lot that Murray Rothbard and Milton Friedman disagreed about, but one thing they both agreed on was the pointlessness of libertarian "retreatism". Kevin has a good post at Polycentric Order explaining what is wrong with this viewpoint (emphasis mine):

I recently read an article by Murray Rothbard in which he expressed great contempt for groups of libertarians (and, presumably, anarchocapitalists since his version of libertarianism strongly espoused anarchy) who would go off to form a separate community.
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Retreating, in the long term, accomplishes nothing for the philosophy and movement of anarchy. It does free one individual, to the extent that they can pull it off. But they then become invisible.
That ain't my style.

Forming a separate community under anarchic principles at sea is an entirely different sort of approach. It's based on an old axiom: Nothing sells like success.

Think about it. A seastead that was successful, autonomous, and connected to the world via internet and trade is newsworthy.
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It would show people, rather than merely telling them, what motivated individuals can accomplish in the absence of government. I suspect that this would cause two complementary outcomes. First, especially early in the experiment, it would attract like minded people to try the same thing. As with any new frontier, some would make it, some would fail. But the frontier would again exist, and humans historically make the most advances when there is a frontier.

As part of revising the book draft, I've been working on the "Why?" section lately, and adding a lot more about the importance of the frontier. Here's an excerpt from the new section:

We cannot call merely dreamers or whiners those who see problems in society, have specific proposals for how to build a better society, and who would (if given the opportunity) join a group of like-minded people to create such a society.

These visionaries deserve better, for they are the pioneers of social innovation, who band together to start new communities with new rules. They are much like business entrepreneurs, but launching new social systems rather than companies, which makes them a key part of the evolution of human society. They still exist in the modern world, and they still have plenty of ideas about what ails society and how it might be cured. But there's a problem.

What we lack is a place for them to experiment. The original intention of the founders of the United States was for the states to serve as such experiments. But the idea of federalism is long dead, since nowadays most of government is implemented at the federal level, and even the states are far too large for easy experimentation. The main alternative, frontierism, is suffering from the lack of any modern frontier - every bit of land on the globe has been claimed by an existing government.

So society's valuable pioneers are left expressing their ideas uselessly in bars, blogs, and books, proposing better systems that will never be. Many turn their talents to business or academia, where good ideas are (sometimes) rewarded. A few become successful activists, and have some tiny positive impact on our fundamentally broken political systems. Most get frustrated and burn out, and then learn to focus on their own lives, where they can make a real difference. But deep within them still lurks the urge to blaze a new path, their pioneering spirit dimmed but not forgotten.

Them's our peeps, and they've had it rough. But we got their back.


(sorry if I seem a bit seasteading-obsessed in my posting lately. It's been taking up a big chunk of my life and mental space. Which is a good thing, even if it does make me a bit repetitive.)

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I find transient obsessions

I find transient obsessions are the best motivators in, at least, my life.

crazy obsession just the ticket ;)

The tough part of developing seasteading is the property rights... if people had had solid property rights at sea for a hundred years, there would already be a lot more sea-based industry. Sea-farming alone would have been very important... most of the ocean is unproductive desert, and right now any effort to fertilize or stock it can't be captured by the investor (it would go to the nearest fishing fleet).

The upside of this is that there are probably some 'easy' sea-industry developments that could be made by some crazy guy who ignores the little detail that sea property rights don't exist, and just develops the technology anyway.

You could say the same thing of asteroid-moving technologies, maybe Antarctic-living tech (but good luck with the PR on those penguin farms!)