The way to win is not to play
I was reading a post about one of my favorite punching bags, democracy, and saw a reference to this Bryan Caplan post, which I somehow failed to argue with because it was written back in 2007 before I became a full-time seasteading evangelist. Bryan says (responding to someone who maintains a faith in democracy even after reading his book):
What more would I have to do to shake your faith? Do I need a stronger factual argument? Do I need to go after democratic values, as in Nozick's Tale of the Slave? Do I need to build a new social network to compensate for the one I'm undermining, as Larry Iannaccone might argue?
In short, to use a classic salesman's question: "What would it take to get you to abandon democratic fundamentalism today?" Make me an offer, I'm all ears.
Now, I'm going to assume that Bryan's ultimate goal is increased freedom - he is asking this question because he believes that he needs to convince many more people of his thesis to increase freedom, not because fame or book sales are his ultimate goal. If this is the case, then I think he is falling into a very similar trap - another type of democratic fundamentalism. He is so steeped in the democratic worldview that he automatically assumes that in order to win, you have to convince lots of people of the merits of his idea (win an election of sorts).
Life for libertarians would be much more depressing if this were the case. But it isn't. One of the big selling points of seasteading is that we don't have to win any elections. We only need a small committed group, who can then go off and do things their own way. Instead of drawing from the tradition of democracy to structure itself, we draw from the startup tradition. As Paul Graham says in Startups in 13 Sentences:
5. Better to make a few users love you than a lot ambivalent.
Ideally you want to make large numbers of users love you, but you can't expect to hit that right away. Initially you have to choose between satisfying all the needs of a subset of potential users, or satisfying a subset of the needs of all potential users. Take the first. It's easier to expand userwise than satisfactionwise. And perhaps more importantly, it's harder to lie to yourself. If you think you're 85% of the way to a great product, how do you know it's not 70%? Or 10%? Whereas it's easy to know how many users you have.
(I'd throw in a quote about small groups of committed people changing the world, but I hate quoting charlatans)
Now, I'm not trying to deny that it's a good thing to convince more people of the problems of democracy. And I certainly don't begrudge fame and book sales to Mr. Caplan. I'm just saying, if the goal is to change the world, perhaps talking to the people who are already convinced by your arguments about how to construct a better alternative could be more effective than trying to get more votes in the idea election.
Democracy is a crappy incentive scheme - so how about we stop trying to convince the majority and start thinking about how the existing committed minority can act on their own. The Free State Project, while imperfect, is a great example of this kind of modern libertarian thinking that is rising from the ashes of decades of failure of the Libertarian Party. So, of course, is seasteading. I'd love to see more such ideas in the portfolio.