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Island Paradise
August 25, 2011 12:08 PM   Subscribe

"My dear guests, I am Mr. Thiel, your host. Welcome to Libertarian Island."
posted by griphus (246 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite

 
An island full of rich assholes with guns? Sign me the heck up!
posted by p3on at 12:10 PM on August 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


Da plane! Da plane!
posted by oneswellfoop at 12:10 PM on August 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure which is more clear: That it won't work, or that if it did it would be a hellish disaster.
posted by Tomorrowful at 12:12 PM on August 25, 2011


You don't get to be a billionaire by being good with money.
posted by Stagger Lee at 12:13 PM on August 25, 2011 [9 favorites]


Where "ze Plane" crashes due to lack of regulation of aviation.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:13 PM on August 25, 2011 [10 favorites]


It's a vivid, wild-eyed dream—think Burning Man as reimagined by Ayn Rand's John Galt and steered out to sea by Captain Nemo

Or Rapture by Irrational Games.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 12:13 PM on August 25, 2011 [14 favorites]


An island full of rich assholes with guns? Sign me the heck up!

Just make sure you are:

A. Rich
B. Armed
C. An asshole

Or keep a copy of "The Most Dangerous Game" in your back pocket.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:17 PM on August 25, 2011 [4 favorites]


All of you naysayers are fools! This is the greatest idea ever, and guaranteed to succeed! I call upon all libertarians to support this project and move to this island immediately!
posted by Faint of Butt at 12:17 PM on August 25, 2011 [95 favorites]


Is a man not entitled to the herp of his derp?
posted by WinnipegDragon at 12:18 PM on August 25, 2011 [102 favorites]


For a similar environmental impact, he could drive a gigantic fleet of Hummers across the country for the rest of his life.

I guess if he has to do one of those two things, the startup-country thing is slightly more worthwhile.
posted by gurple at 12:19 PM on August 25, 2011


At least all the books will be neatly organized.... Wait, oh never mind.
posted by humboldt32 at 12:20 PM on August 25, 2011 [7 favorites]


Is it just me, or is being worth billions of dollars and then setting yourself up someplace specifically outside of the reach of law a really, really unsafe thing to do?
posted by darksasami at 12:21 PM on August 25, 2011 [18 favorites]


Don't let the door, etc...

"knack for anticipating the next big thing"...and luck. Libertarian types believe, somehow, that they sprang fully formed from their parents skulls, never relying on society ("Socialism!) for a damn thing; that everything they got is due to their own virtue. Never that it's all a fuckin' crapshoot, they just hit the bullseye (or at least the outer ring) on the first shot by *skill*.

Speaking of virtue, you ever notice that the people who believe in that Randian paradise, which relies on the notion of perfectly virtuous ubermenschen, are very often the same ones decrying just how sick and depraved everyone is? Howzat work, then?
posted by notsnot at 12:21 PM on August 25, 2011 [15 favorites]


I don't see why this gets such knee jerk hate. Plenty of utopias have had their run before in fact major american cities were planned in terms of layout out of socialist utopian ideals. let him do this thing.
posted by the mad poster! at 12:23 PM on August 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


CTRL-F BioShock
posted by The Card Cheat at 12:24 PM on August 25, 2011 [20 favorites]


outside of the reach of law

Not outside of the law, just bound and protected by the laws of the new country. I don't think these guys are planning on having a completely lawless country, because that ain't a country - that's Somalia.

They're libertarians, not anarchists.
posted by Mister_A at 12:24 PM on August 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


What do you call 270 lawyers libertarians lost at sea?
posted by octothorpe at 12:25 PM on August 25, 2011 [7 favorites]



I don't see why this gets such knee jerk hate.


It's not entirely knee-jerk.
He's positioning this as a grand social experiment: a city without laws or regulations, without authority or rule, where everything will run perfectly and everyone will be happy.

Aside from the technical difficulties, it could work. But only because it's a private club for billionaires. We didn't build social programs and safety standards to protect billionaires. Although... laws and police, well, maybe those exist to protect billionaires, I'm not sure what they plan to do about Somali pirates and their ilk.
posted by Stagger Lee at 12:26 PM on August 25, 2011 [4 favorites]


Anyway, didn't Miéville pretty thoroughly skewer this plan or something so similar as to be nearly identical to it? Someone link to that essay, it was funny!
posted by Mister_A at 12:26 PM on August 25, 2011


What do you call 270 lawyers libertarians lost at sea?

Missing persons! right?
posted by pwally at 12:27 PM on August 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Speaking of virtue, you ever notice that the people who believe in that Randian paradise, which relies on the notion of perfectly virtuous ubermenschen, are very often the same ones decrying just how sick and depraved everyone is? Howzat work, then?

There's a similar flaw in a bunch of Rand's work... both Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead have scenes where the Objectivist hero gets put on trial by the sick, degenerate societies they live in, gives a passionate speech about their Objectivist principles, and then somehow get let off because the jury composed of members of the degenerate society agree strongly with the Objectivist speech they heard that they decide they're up for some jury nullification.

That little paradox was actually my first clue that Rand was full of shit.
posted by COBRA! at 12:27 PM on August 25, 2011 [21 favorites]


Libertarian Island sounds like a terrible idea for a society, but a great idea for a reality show.
posted by The Card Cheat at 12:28 PM on August 25, 2011 [25 favorites]


What do you call 270 libertarians lost at sea?

A post on Metafilter.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:28 PM on August 25, 2011 [4 favorites]


I'm not sure what they plan to do about Somali pirates and their ilk.

Screw Somali pirates - they may have experience in siezing assets, but these guys have the wealth they've bilked from our country... I'm not sure what they intend to do about the mass of Americans that would have the numbers, still have the guns, and the means to get to them. All they public needs is the organization.
posted by Nanukthedog at 12:30 PM on August 25, 2011


If I am Ice-T I am staying the fuck away from that island.
posted by nathancaswell at 12:31 PM on August 25, 2011 [6 favorites]


I can't see how this will ever go wrong.
posted by Theta States at 12:32 PM on August 25, 2011


The same thing stops you robbing them as any other ship. Guess the sheer amount at stake from a good ransom might make it worthwhile for some.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 12:33 PM on August 25, 2011


Gawker Media's Silicon Valley satellite, Valleywag, outed him in 2007 with a post titled "Peter Thiel Is Totally Gay, People," Thiel bided his time then struck back, calling Valleywag the "Silicon Valley equivalent of Al Qaeda,"

OH SNAP
posted by LogicalDash at 12:34 PM on August 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


This reminds me of the Simpsons where Homer steals a boat and travels to international waters so he can buy beer from Moe on a Sunday morning.

"That's where they held the Tyson-Secretariat fight."
posted by brain_drain at 12:34 PM on August 25, 2011 [11 favorites]


Is a man not entitled to the herp of his derp?

"No!" says Paypal, "It belongs to the derp fee!"
posted by dirigibleman at 12:35 PM on August 25, 2011 [11 favorites]


I feel like when the utopian answer to poverty is to isolate oneself in a community of the filthy rich (and, only the employed servants, naturally), it's rather like saying the answer to racism is to move to a place where there's only white people, or the answer to sexism is to have a society of only men.

Which is not much of a cure at all.
posted by yeloson at 12:35 PM on August 25, 2011 [14 favorites]


I thought I was long past finding Simpsons references everywhere but apparently I am not
posted by brain_drain at 12:35 PM on August 25, 2011


Floating Utopias: The degraded imagination of the libertarian seasteaders (China Mieville, 2007)
posted by waterunderground at 12:35 PM on August 25, 2011 [36 favorites]


Hopefully this will fail spectacularly so we can bury Libertarianism, in the same way the failure of the USSR doomed Communism as a viable ideology.
posted by stbalbach at 12:35 PM on August 25, 2011 [7 favorites]


"The ultimate goal," Friedman says, "is to open a frontier for experimenting with new ideas for government." This translates into the founding of ideologically oriented micro-states on the high seas, a kind of floating petri dish for implementing policies that libertarians, stymied by indifference at the voting booths, have been unable to advance: no welfare, looser building codes, no minimum wage, and few restrictions on weapons.

Umm, I'm pretty sure we already did this: it was called the vast majority of human history. If you want to see how it turned out, he could try reading a book, instead of launching an insane experiment. But I suppose that would spoil the ending.
posted by mek at 12:35 PM on August 25, 2011 [32 favorites]


I don't see why this gets such knee jerk hate.

I dunno about anyone else, but I think the guy sounds like a douchebag. Trapped on an oil platform-size "country" with people like him? My idea of hell.
posted by rtha at 12:36 PM on August 25, 2011 [6 favorites]


Theil shows himself to be a pretty smart man in this sentence from the second link: "If the seasteading movement goes forward as planned, Thiel won't be one of its early citizens."
posted by bswinburn at 12:37 PM on August 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


"The future happens over a very long period of time."
Wow, deep thinking, there. I am reminded of a certain President and his staff.

Why would a bunch of American billionaires imagine, particularly at this point in American history, that founding a new country is the most effective way to get a favorable set of laws? Isn't there a conveniently-located nation with a history of re-writing its laws in their favor already?
posted by Western Infidels at 12:38 PM on August 25, 2011 [11 favorites]


so the problem is the inhabitants are wealthy?

should the government subsidize this project instead to put people of all socieconomic backgrounds into it?

just relax and let it play out.
posted by the mad poster! at 12:38 PM on August 25, 2011


"...are very often the same ones decrying just how sick and depraved everyone is?"

As the token former libertarian Objectivist in this thread, I'll just pop-in to say this is (or at least was for me) about believing that individuals make better choices alone than in groups.

(I still believe this, but have now tempered it with the knowledge that groups can gang up on individuals, so some appeasement is necessary... thus my swing to Democrat.)
posted by straw at 12:38 PM on August 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


Ahem
posted by The Whelk at 12:39 PM on August 25, 2011


And this made me sneer-laugh, if that's a thing:

"When you start a company, true freedom is at the beginning of things," he says and slides the thought over to the topic of nations. "The United States Constitution had things you could do at the beginning that you couldn't do later. So the question is, can you go back to the beginning of things? How do you start over?"

Yeah, goddamn those amendments giving non-white non-male non-property-owning people the vote! There was true freedom before all that stuff!
posted by rtha at 12:39 PM on August 25, 2011 [10 favorites]


Zookeeper! Zookeeper! Those monkeys are killing each other!
posted by Theta States at 12:39 PM on August 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Given current trends, expect more gated communities... even those gated by surrounding oceans.
posted by darth_tedious at 12:39 PM on August 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Personally, I am in favor of any idea that puts a large number of people I don't like in one place very far away from me (its why I am such a huge fan of congress and hollywood).
posted by Another Fine Product From The Nonsense Factory at 12:40 PM on August 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Looser building codes on a rig out in the middle of the ocean.
posted by dirigibleman at 12:40 PM on August 25, 2011 [20 favorites]


I'm calling mine "Fuckyouigotmineistan"
posted by kaseijin at 12:40 PM on August 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


CRYPTONOMICON REFERENCE

jonestown reference
posted by Potomac Avenue at 12:41 PM on August 25, 2011 [6 favorites]


I'd join him, but I had a really bad experience on Fuck Mountain.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 12:42 PM on August 25, 2011 [11 favorites]


Is there some way I can donate to this project? Because oh god do I want them to do this.
posted by Legomancer at 12:42 PM on August 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


Just think of all the freedom you could have, only tempered by the fact that you're out in the middle of the ocean on a Floating Aquaworld.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 12:42 PM on August 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


Although... laws and police, well, maybe those exist to protect billionaires, I'm not sure what they plan to do about Somali pirates and their ilk.

Hackworth discovers this in The Diamond Age.
Having never done anything illegal in his life, he was startled to understand, all of a sudden, that a ruthless constabulary was a crucial resource to more imaginative sorts of criminals, such as himself.
posted by Babblesort at 12:42 PM on August 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


A legal and libertatrian analysis of Sealand and Havenco.
posted by bonehead at 12:43 PM on August 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


That Mieville article is scathing. He's pretty much already said anything we're going to say here, but better.
posted by Stagger Lee at 12:44 PM on August 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


One nice thing about these dudes getting their own Plutocristan is that we can invade the motherfucker and repatriate the wealth to proper American billionaires.
posted by Mister_A at 12:44 PM on August 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


So how are they going to handle the problem of (real) labor? People to do repairs, keep the place running and tidy, etc.

It sounds like they'll need a permanent underclass of non-citizens to do all the hard work. And without any regulations, oversight, etc . . . yikes.
posted by treepour at 12:45 PM on August 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Just think of all the freedom you could have, only tempered by the fact that you're out in the middle of the ocean on a Floating Aquaworld.

They'll going to grow gills, dude. Gills.
This'll be awesome.

(I bet they have jet-skis with missile launchers.)
posted by Theta States at 12:45 PM on August 25, 2011


It's very rare that I wish the worst for people.
posted by bonobothegreat at 12:46 PM on August 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


Libertarianism, by contrast, is a theory of those who find it hard to avoid their taxes, who are too small, incompetent or insufficiently connected to win Iraq-reconstruction contracts, or otherwise chow at the state trough. In its maundering about a mythical ideal-type capitalism, libertarianism betrays its fear of actually existing capitalism, at which it cannot quite succeed. It is a philosophy of capitalist inadequacy.
posted by The Whelk at 12:50 PM on August 25, 2011 [50 favorites]


Of course, the longing for a "new frontier" typically comes from people who are quite comfortable as the result of participation in complex, technological societies. In frontiers of the past, a few people were able to become very successful, through hard work, but also typically through luck and the relatively unchallenged exploitation of existing resources and people.

For the most part, people's existence on a frontier at a given point in history (let's say the American West, the Russian East, or the Yukon) was usually some combination of poverty, hunger, hardship, violence, disease, substance abuse, madness, filth, and body lice.

On the other hand, I've just had word from the shark and giant squid lobbies expressing their unqualified support for this venture.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 12:50 PM on August 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


And this made me sneer-laugh, if that's a thing:

If sneer-laugh isn't a thing, then a large part of my lulz from browsing online are not genuine.

This whole thing doesn't get a sneer. But it goes get a laugh. And I may have sprained my eyes rolling.

I did have that same concern about the permanent underclass treepour mentions above -- though not concerned enough to not first imagine them rising up in violent revolution. I know there's people in the world I should dislike more than smug bastards like this, but when faced with them, it is very, very hard to remember that.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 12:50 PM on August 25, 2011


This will seem like a great idea until the first big storm.
posted by dortmunder at 12:50 PM on August 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Why the knee-jerk hate? Because Libertarianism is pure mid-20th C ideology akin to all the other ideologies from that period. Libertarianism depends on everyone having the same systematic view, and places the system ahead of the individual. As Communism showed, it doesn't work, human nature: greed, fear etc.. are more powerful than intellectual adherence to a system of thought. Libertarians are naive if they think Rand's great idea is all it takes. Honestly they come across as just selfish and building a fortress around their own greed and aristocratic pretensions.
posted by stbalbach at 12:50 PM on August 25, 2011 [8 favorites]


Umm, I'm pretty sure we already did this: it was called the vast majority of human history. If you want to see how it turned out, he could try reading a book, instead of launching an insane experiment. But I suppose that would spoil the ending.

Oh, he's already got a plan for that. prev
posted by MikeKD at 12:51 PM on August 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


So how are they going to handle the problem of (real) labor?

Our noble racist sexist petrocrat brethren the Kuwaitians have all that shit figured out. Especially the no-minimum wage bit. And the beatings. And the sexual assaults.
posted by Mister_A at 12:52 PM on August 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


The future happens over a very long period of time.

Reminds me of that newspaper headline, "Princess Di Was Alive Before She Died".
posted by Brocktoon at 12:52 PM on August 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Other observers have mocked it outright, such as Slate's Jacob Weisberg, who deemed it perhaps "the most elaborate effort ever devised by a group of computer nerds to get invited to an orgy."
posted by Theta States at 12:52 PM on August 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


So, it's a big gay gated floating island? Why is that so awful?
posted by Ideefixe at 12:52 PM on August 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


And this made me sneer-laugh,

Scoff?
posted by Shepherd at 12:53 PM on August 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


But does it have a vapor lounge?
posted by clavdivs at 12:53 PM on August 25, 2011


So how are they going to handle the problem of (real) labor?

Pretty well covered in this discussion.
posted by emjaybee at 12:54 PM on August 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hopefully this will fail spectacularly so we can bury Libertarianism, in the same way the failure of the USSR doomed Communism as a viable ideology.

It buried Leninism, Stalinism, but hardly Communism.
posted by elektrotechnicus at 12:55 PM on August 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


Wait, does this mean that all the libertarians aren't going to move to NH for the FREE STATE PROJECT?

... okay!
posted by rmd1023 at 12:55 PM on August 25, 2011


Ultimately, my objection to libertarianism is moral. Arguing across moral gulfs is usually ineffective; but we should at least be clear about what our moral differences are.

First, the worship of the already successful and the disdain for the powerless is essentially the morality of a thug. Money and property should not be privileged above everything else-- love, humanity, justice.

(And let's not forget that lurid fascination with firepower-- seen in ESR, Ron Paul, Heinlein and Van Vogt, Advocates for Self-Government's president Sharon Harris, the Cato Institute, Lew Rockwell's site, and the Mises Institute.)

I wish I could convince libertarians that the extremely wealthy don't need them as their unpaid advocates. Power and wealth don't need a cheering section; they are-- by definition-- not an oppressed class which needs our help. Power and wealth can take care of themselves. It's the poor and the defenseless who need aid and advocates.

posted by The Whelk at 12:57 PM on August 25, 2011 [41 favorites]


"The great task for libertarians is to find an escape from politics in all its forms,"
he keeps saying that word...
posted by LogicalDash at 1:00 PM on August 25, 2011


Ugh. Fantastically rich people mistaking their lives for Life.
posted by Mental Wimp at 1:03 PM on August 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


Friedman and Thiel, aware of the long and tragicomic history of failed libertarian utopias, believe that entrepreneurial zeal sets this scheme apart. One potential model is something Friedman calls Appletopia: A corporation, such as Apple, "starts a country as a business. The more desirable the country, the more valuable the real estate," Friedman says.

If the entire society is modeled on a corporation, whatever the fuck that really means, how will they resolve disputes, or deal with any of the other problems that government handles? We obviously don't have an ideal government in the US, but businesses and corporations are designed to create wealth, they are not designed or suited to order human life in general. Obviously. For fuck's sake.
posted by clockzero at 1:04 PM on August 25, 2011 [4 favorites]


brain_drain - I was also reminded of the "Do What You Feel" episode. I think many investment disasters could be avoided if VC would just brush up on their Simpsons canon.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 1:05 PM on August 25, 2011


Appletopia, or any seasteading colony, would entail a more benevolent variety of dictatorship, similar to your cell-phone contract: You don't like it, you leave.


I always marvelled how easy it was to get out of my cell phone contract.
posted by ian1977 at 1:06 PM on August 25, 2011 [24 favorites]


stbalbach, being succinct and accurate: Libertarianism depends on everyone having the same systematic view, and places the system ahead of the individual.

Not that I haven't thought of it that way before, but that is really a rather elegant formulation -- and guaranteed to piss off libertarians, to boot.
posted by lodurr at 1:07 PM on August 25, 2011 [7 favorites]


Libertarians are simple the tea-baggers of the middle class.
posted by Poet_Lariat at 1:07 PM on August 25, 2011


Libertarian Island sounds like a terrible idea for a society, but a great idea for a reality show.

Every week, the Invisible Hand flicks someone off the island.
posted by Apropos of Something at 1:10 PM on August 25, 2011 [13 favorites]


Remember Michael Moore's stunt where he put a gate outside a gated community? (Do you have permission to enter Chicago?) Let em go, seize their passports so they have no re-entry rights.
posted by ahimsakid at 1:10 PM on August 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


There's no way anything could possibly go wrong!
posted by louche mustachio at 1:11 PM on August 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


That's Patri Friedman, a former Google engineer, the grandson of the Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman, and, as of 2008, when Thiel seeded him with the same initial investment sum he'd given Mark Zuckerberg four years earlier, the world's most prominent micro-nation entrepreneur.

So this defect is heritable?
posted by Mental Wimp at 1:12 PM on August 25, 2011 [2 favorites]



Libertarians are simple the tea-baggers of the middle class.

Aren't tea-baggers also the tea-bagges of the middle class?
posted by Stagger Lee at 1:13 PM on August 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


Thiel needs to find a country to run to escape angry investors because Clarium Capital has been a complete dog of a fund:

Clarium was down 4.5% in 2008,[8] down 25% in 2009,[9] and down 23% in 2010.[3] For the first half of 2008, the fund had a YTD return of 57.9%.[10] At the start of 2008, the fund had $4 billion in assets under management,[6] raised to $7.8 billion in June 2008, then dropped to $1.5 billion in July 2009, after investors withdrew money from the fund.[11] The fund lost most of its value in 2008 due to large bets against the US dollar, in the hopes that it would drop in value. The fund subsequently lost 13% in August 2008 and it lost 18% in October 2008. Although the fund eventually recovered, with losses of only 4.5% for 2008 compared to the average of 20% for other hedge funds, most investors had already pulled out their investments. Subsequent down years have reduced the fund's assets under management to $681M as of December 2010.[3] Clarium Capital Management was reported to have had big losses in 2010.[12] The firm has continued to struggle with bets that it made on inflation and the US dollar.[6]
posted by PenDevil at 1:14 PM on August 25, 2011 [7 favorites]


Hopefully this will fail spectacularly so we can bury Libertarianism, in the same way the failure of the USSR doomed Communism as a viable ideology.

Unfortunately, as long as there are fourteen year olds, there will be libertarians.
 
posted by Herodios at 1:15 PM on August 25, 2011 [18 favorites]


If a new, small and extremely wealthy sovereignty comes into existence, and has no real government (and so, no international treaties, armies, missiles etc.), I expect it to be soon made into a colony by an adventurous nation.
posted by vidur at 1:15 PM on August 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Go, go cyberpunk dystopia!
posted by klangklangston at 1:20 PM on August 25, 2011


I expect it to be soon made into a colony by an adventurous nation.

China already have the experience here with Hong Kong/Macau.
posted by PenDevil at 1:21 PM on August 25, 2011


I predict this will go as well as the ship-country of Libertania in Grant Morrison's The Filth.
posted by Saxon Kane at 1:22 PM on August 25, 2011 [4 favorites]


They better be able to pay for everything in bitcoin. You know, the anarchist cryptocurrency that is going to topple the world governments —unless a site is hacked and in that case they run screaming for the government-run FBI.

At least they'll be free of the tyrrany of building codes, so their floating structure is guaranteed safe. Anybody who drowns will just serve as a warning not to use that contractor in the future, the free market wins again.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 1:23 PM on August 25, 2011 [5 favorites]


One word: "Waterworld"
posted by eggtooth at 1:25 PM on August 25, 2011


You could have just gone ahead and called it "fantasy island."
posted by Gelatin at 1:31 PM on August 25, 2011


"The ultimate goal," Friedman says, "is to open a frontier for experimenting with new ideas for government."

Hmmm...Libertarians...experimenting with government? On a boat out at sea? Two words...Marie Celeste.
posted by Thorzdad at 1:32 PM on August 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Is a man not entitled to the herp of his derp?

The derp of his herp, surely?
posted by straight at 1:32 PM on August 25, 2011


"The ultimate goal," Friedman says, "is to open a frontier for experimenting with new ideas for government."

I am so looking forward to the inevitable breakdown leading to people passing around a conch shell to see who gets to speak.

It gets worse from there. Sharpened-sticks-and-fire worse.
posted by quin at 1:35 PM on August 25, 2011 [5 favorites]


My friend Chicken John helped with Ephemerisle, a sorta trial run of the floating island. Mostly because he has a libertarian bent, likes boats and gets paid to help these completely useless shits actually build something.

At one point he came into the cabin to see Patri Friedman struggling to ignite a camping stove, Chicken grabs the lighter, starts the flame and then derides, "How do you eat pussy?"
posted by MiltonRandKalman at 1:37 PM on August 25, 2011 [5 favorites]


....like rats leaving a sinking civilization.
posted by eggtooth at 1:37 PM on August 25, 2011


About page two, the thought popped into my head, unbidden:

"If you're so rich, why ain't you smart?"
posted by lekvar at 1:38 PM on August 25, 2011 [4 favorites]


First thread I clicked on in their forums:

"in the U.S. all you have to do is be born on our soil and you automatically enjoy full citizenship. this CANNOT be allowed in a completely closed system - not the way it is now. there is no way they can let everyone have sex of their own free will and make as many babies as they want."

Libertarianism, huh?
posted by Infinite Jest at 1:39 PM on August 25, 2011 [19 favorites]


Can we just stipulate the Fantasy Island, Lord of the Flies, and Waterworld references? Particularly since they are already included in the linked texts. Yes, we've got a bleedin' video and someone already made the 'stiffy' joke. Thanks.

Meanwhile, I'm really enjoying the Mieville article, especially the banner ad for "Best Deals on Luxury Sailing Voyages" at the top.
 
posted by Herodios at 1:41 PM on August 25, 2011


In 2004, he co-founded Palantir Technologies, which offers platforms for finance companies and intelligence, defense, and law enforcement communities to integrate, visualize, and analyze the world’s information.


Heh. Isn't Palantir that company that got owned by Anonymous for prepping a ridiculous powerpoint for Bank of America at the request of the DoD concerning how to fight WikiLeaks?
posted by lazaruslong at 1:43 PM on August 25, 2011 [10 favorites]


I don't even think they'd even get to the pointed sticks stage, honestly. One quality of these online-libertarian type is a complete basement of utter and total terror about other people.The first wrong sneeze and everyone splits.
posted by The Whelk at 1:43 PM on August 25, 2011


Libertarianism, huh?

Scratch any anti-government libertarian and you'll find an autocratic narcissist.
posted by lodurr at 1:44 PM on August 25, 2011 [9 favorites]


The results of this will make an AWESOME summer movie come 2020.
posted by Theta States at 1:45 PM on August 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


But that's the problem -- they won't let anybody scratch them!
posted by MCMikeNamara at 1:45 PM on August 25, 2011


But that's the problem -- they won't let anybody scratch them!

Maybe we should pass a bill forcing them to be scratched...
posted by Theta States at 1:47 PM on August 25, 2011


I think the closest this'll come to actuality is the Libertarian Summer Camp on Planet Money where come off as the dullest LARPers ever.
posted by The Whelk at 1:47 PM on August 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hahaha! Look at the silly libertarians who have silly ideals of freedom and liberty!

Much better to wait it out here in the safe US, trusting our government to handle things. That's going so swell.

Look, I get that everyone here hates the Tea Party. They suck. But the technotopian libertarianism that Thiel and other groups like the EFF push bears little resemblance to the Tea Party's push to return to some non-existent 1950s ideal of a perfect America. Plus, they've got that that whole racism thing going.

I just don't understand how we can spend hours in a thread trashing the TSA, torture, illegal surveillance, etc., and then make fun of some idealistic geeks who want a country that you are FREE to join and leave at your own will.
posted by formless at 1:48 PM on August 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Because it's never going to happen and would never work ever.
posted by The Whelk at 1:49 PM on August 25, 2011 [11 favorites]


Well it would work. Until they hit a major storm and the Navy will be forced to fish them out the water. For a nominal fee of course.
posted by PenDevil at 1:51 PM on August 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


They'll all fall out within no time in a series of amazingly trivial incidents that turn into monstrous grudges, and spend all their time off on their own, circling the island in their private amphibious blimps, sulking, and trying to bump into one another.
posted by reynir at 1:53 PM on August 25, 2011 [5 favorites]


who want a country that you are FREE to join and leave at your own will.

Nothing stopping you from freely leaving your country.
posted by rtha at 1:54 PM on August 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


As far as why we can bash these guys and also bash the current state of much of American society -- just because the society is in some ways broken doesn't mean we (and by we, I guess I mean "I and I assume people on here with whom I tend to often agree politically") think the way to fix it is to follow the impulses of a fairly well-off and incredibly selfish few.

And, at least in my case, I'm not fully making fun of them isn't for their naive liberalism and them wanting to start their own country but because of how they choose to exercise those opinions -- and support dangerous ideas and causes -- right here in the USA before the door hits them on the way out.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 1:55 PM on August 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


Hahaha! Look at the silly libertarians who have silly ideals of freedom and liberty!

Yes, they do have silly ideas about freedom and liberty. Lots of people value freedom and liberty. Libertarians like them too, they just don't understand them.
posted by clockzero at 1:56 PM on August 25, 2011 [13 favorites]


From the Mieville piece:

Libertarianism is by no means a unified movement. As many of its advocates proudly stress, it comprises a taxonomy of bickering branches—minarchists, objectivists, paleo- and neolibertarians, agorists, et various al.—just like a real social theory.

"Just like a real social theory." Love that. That's it right there.
posted by feckless at 1:58 PM on August 25, 2011 [5 favorites]


I just don't understand how we can spend hours in a thread trashing the TSA, torture, illegal surveillance, etc., and then make fun of some idealistic geeks who want a country that you are FREE to join and leave at your own will.

What's to stop one part of the island from freely separating from another--until every man is a nation unto himself and there is no government at all?
posted by Ironmouth at 2:06 PM on August 25, 2011


But the technotopian libertarianism that Thiel and other groups like the EFF push bears little resemblance to the Tea Party's push to return to some non-existent 1950s ideal of a perfect America. Plus, they've got that that whole racism thing going.

I assume by "that whole racism thing" you're referring to the TP. Thiel et al. get by with just "that whole (pretty radical) sexism and classism thing".

The problem most folks here seem to see -- I know it's the problem I see -- is that these guys are just really not very serious. Oh, sure, they've got enough money to make things happen (and note that we're talking about a couple of dotcom 'entrepreneurs', here, which is to offer the caveat that they might not actually know anything about what it takes to actually, you know, make something happen), but they don't really have a social theory, they've got wish-fulfillment fantasies.

If they were really trying to experiment with social organization, I'd wish them luck. But they're not really doing that -- they're just pushing the same tired narcissistic technofetishist agenda of pretending that technology can make uninteresting people unnecessary. It's the same problem you see with 99% of science fiction and 99% of right-wing political thought: it ignores the fact that the people who are privileged to make the rules are an extremely small and extremely lucky minority, born on third base but convinced they hit a triple (molly i. r.i.p.).
posted by lodurr at 2:07 PM on August 25, 2011 [8 favorites]


Here's some more hate fuel for everybody, from Mieville's Floating Utopia's article, linked upthread:

Women on Waves, a ship that operates in international waters, providing needed abortions to women in jurisdictions where it's illegal.

Sneer-worthy, that one.

Thiel proposes a concept of a sort of darwinism of governments in that article, where there may be multiple "countries" operating independently, and the "best" surviving. Women on Waves is a great example of that, a small organization operating to serve a specific need.

Yeah, it has problems, but it obviously also has real social benefit.
posted by formless at 2:08 PM on August 25, 2011


When I first saw the FPP, I though it said "I'm Mr. Thief, your host" and I thought to myself "Yep, sounds about right for the leader of Randtopia"
posted by KingEdRa at 2:10 PM on August 25, 2011


"We're at this pretty important point in society," he says during a brisk walk toward the Golden Gate Bridge, "where we can either find a way to rediscover a frontier, or we're going to be forced to change in a way that's really tough."

God forbid we do the hard work.
posted by nickmark at 2:11 PM on August 25, 2011 [4 favorites]


Thiel proposes a concept of a sort of darwinism of governments in that article, where there may be multiple "countries" operating independently, and the "best" surviving.

Which, as I mentioned upthread, is pretty much exactly how we ended up with the governments we have now. Of course historically speaking, it turned out that sitting on a pile of resources was much more important than ideology; but, given that Thiel's utopian dream is driven by the desire to hold onto giant sacks of money, plus ça change.
posted by mek at 2:13 PM on August 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Thiel proposes a concept of a sort of darwinism of governments in that article, where there may be multiple "countries" operating independently, and the "best" surviving.

So does the rest of the planet.
posted by griphus at 2:13 PM on August 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Thiel proposes a concept of a sort of darwinism of governments in that article, where there may be multiple "countries" operating independently, and the "best" surviving.

Yeah, can you explain how this is different from what we have on planet Earth right now?
posted by rtha at 2:15 PM on August 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


"stbalbach, being succinct and accurate: Libertarianism depends on everyone having the same systematic view, and places the system ahead of the individual."

Indeed. It's almost as if they envision that in a society made up of people who rise by climbing over other people, their clambering will all cancel out and they will all climb together and spontaneously rise from the earth and take flight. Just as in Galt's Gulch, Midas Mulligan would never dream of buying out Rearden Steel. And even if he did, it would just be Rearden's fault for not forcing him out of business first. Wait...
posted by Eideteker at 2:17 PM on August 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


Yeah, can you explain how this is different from what we have on planet Earth right now?

Earth has poor people?
posted by goethean at 2:18 PM on August 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


During Thiel's final year of law school, in what was characterized as a free-speech exercise, one of the Review's editors, Keith Rabois, shouted, "Faggot! Hope you die of aids!" outside the residence of a dorm supervisor, resulting in a firestorm that prompted Rabois to leave Stanford. Thiel, who was outed as gay in 2007, devoted several pages to the incident in The Diversity Myth, a 1995 book he coauthored, writing that "Keith did not deserve months of public condemnation and ostracism." Thiel later brought Rabois to PayPal as an executive vice president.
Self-made made men, pulling themselves up by their own assholes...
posted by ennui.bz at 2:19 PM on August 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


I wonder if they'll use (government-run) GPS navigation and (government-run) weather forecasting, or if they'll also be launching their own satellites. I don't think I'd want to do this sort of thing using old mariners' rhymes, a sextant and a compass.
posted by klanawa at 2:20 PM on August 25, 2011 [4 favorites]


I doubt if golf will be their national sport.
posted by eggtooth at 2:22 PM on August 25, 2011


I'm fine with the concept of libertarianism in the frontier, wherever there is such a thing. Basically, when you go there, you know what you are signing up for -- however ruthless or utopian it happens to be at the time.

But as soon as you start having people there through no fault of their own (like the children of those 'steaders), you start running into problems.

Imagine the Seasteaders a couple generations down the road. Some of those original billionaires may have fallen on hard times. There will be native-born seafolk some of whom will not have the means to make their way in that environment or to leave it. Either there will be a culling of unsuitable residents either through deportation to some country with which the deportee may hope to claim citizenship or perhaps just dumping them in the ocean (or turning them into foodstuffs or fuel). Classes will appear and certain ones with more wealth (and therefore guns) will start to control the fate of individual platforms, then groups of platforms... class warfare, revolts, some brutally suppressed, some successful. Eventually, one platform with superior organization and weaponry will bring most of the other platforms into line until their success breeds complacency. Rogue platforms taking advantage and stripping the wealth of the former ... what do you call it? -- umm, EMPIRE? Certain enlightened individuals, based on principles derived from the long history of moral philosophy decide that everyone should have a say in how their platform conducts itself and a new system of government is born, let's call it DEMOCRACY (or at least REPUBLICANISM). Some platform comes to be ruled by a guy with a funny mustache who finds conditions ripe to start invading neighboring platforms and that enlightened platform finds itself positioned to defeat this black swan and take its rightful place as the head of the free platforms until it too starts to struggle under its own weight...
posted by rocketpup at 2:22 PM on August 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'd sure love to know what it is in the mind of a typical tech nerd that makes them lean libertarian. Some mix of smart, white, male, and never having been knocked down as an adult, perhaps salted with memories of being picked on for being a nerd when they were a kid?
posted by maxwelton at 2:22 PM on August 25, 2011 [4 favorites]


formless: "Plus, they've got that that whole racism thing going."

Techno-utopian libertarians are generally pretty racist too. Just look at ESR's crazy ramblings, or Ron Paul, if you want general libertarian racism.

American libertarians seem to just be authoritarian hard-right conservatives with a thin candy coating of "individual rights". They're racist, homophobic, sexist, and pretty much just hillbillies.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 2:22 PM on August 25, 2011 [5 favorites]


Are any of these dot-com billionaire libertarians aware of how the internet and the world wide web came into existence, and how those systems and the broadband networks they run on were funded?
posted by rocket88 at 2:23 PM on August 25, 2011 [4 favorites]


I suspect the factors that make some smart white male nerds become libertarians are similar to the ones that make some of them become spree killers.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 2:24 PM on August 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


Here's some more hate fuel for everybody, from Mieville's Floating Utopia's article, linked upthread:

Women on Waves, a ship that operates in international waters, providing needed abortions to women in jurisdictions where it's illegal.


You think it's the fact that they're floating on the water that makes people disdain them?
posted by benito.strauss at 2:29 PM on August 25, 2011 [5 favorites]


I'm fine with the concept of libertarianism in the frontier, wherever there is such a thing. Basically, when you go there, you know what you are signing up for -- however ruthless or utopian it happens to be at the time.

Not only that, but in a frontier situation where there are few constraints keeping you from interacting directly with the ecology for your sustenance (little pre-existing ownership and competition for resources), you really do, to a large extent, have the ability to make choices without human compulsion. If nobody offers you a deal that's to your satisfaction, you always have that as an alternative.

In a post-frontier situation where ownership of land has largely been negotiated and natural resources are spoken for, that out disappears. And suddenly when you're making a deal, you may find yourself with alternatives that may not even compare favorably to direct interaction with nature, and the subject of consequent economic compulsion that is every bit as coercive as staring down the barrel of a gun.
posted by weston at 2:34 PM on August 25, 2011 [5 favorites]


This guy has too much money and not enough sense. We should tax him before he gives it all away to grifters.
posted by humanfont at 2:38 PM on August 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm not sure what they plan to do about Somali pirates and their ilk.

There's always Blackwater Xe Services.
posted by ymgve at 2:38 PM on August 25, 2011


Women on Waves, a ship that operates in international waters, providing needed abortions to women in jurisdictions where it's illegal.

You think it's the fact that they're floating on the water that makes people disdain them?


I don't know what makes people disdain them. Is it their distrust of government? Their idealism? The resources they have and ability to get up and leave?

I think a lot of the problem is the damn Tea Party, and corporate republicans who have tainted some of the good ideas in civil libertarianism. Privacy, cognitive freedom, distributed currencies, etc.

Coming from a different perspective, the concept of a laboratory of governments is fascinating. What if we haven't reached the ideal government structure? Our system is great, but doesn't anyone have the slightest doubt whether it's not the ideal system? So why not a robust competition of differing governments? Thousands of different systems competing on merits. With our current world and immigration and citizenship laws, we have an artificial monopoly situation. That's what makes this different from the rest of the planet.
posted by formless at 2:41 PM on August 25, 2011


Thiel proposes a concept of a sort of darwinism of governments in that article, where there may be multiple "countries" operating independently, and the "best" surviving.

Ancient Greece had elements of this, with independent city states organized according to different principles. The experimental governments of that time lived or died on their own strength, with their ideas tested in that struggle.

Nearly 2,500 years later Athenian democracy still occupies our dreams, despite its flaws. We don't need to go back to first principles to know that there's some real political truth there.
posted by Jehan at 2:41 PM on August 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


"In a libertarian society the individual is free to do as they please."

"Great! I think I'll get together with my friends and form a club - let's call it a 'government' - and start making rules about what people can and can't do. I'm free to do that, right?"

"No - you can't do that. It's...against the rules."

"Who's rules?"

"..."
posted by jet_manifesto at 2:43 PM on August 25, 2011 [21 favorites]


I don't know what makes people disdain them. Is it their distrust of government?

You mean the govenrment that created and helps maintain the Internet that many of these dweebs made their fortune from? The one that created the transportation infrastructure that supports their lives and fortunes? The government whose rules allow limited liability corporations in the first place, and helps prevent anyone who felt like it from just taking these dweebs' property -- intellectual or otherwise -- or dumping toxic waste in their water supply? The one that helps ensure that the airliner these dweebs fly to their Libertopia doesnt' fall apart in mid-air? That government?

Their idealism?

The idealism that leads them to advocate abandoning the country where they made their fortunes for a half-assed gated community on the sea?

The resources they have and ability to get up and leave?

I notice that they're still here...

No, I have no idea why anyone would distain these dweebs.
posted by Gelatin at 2:52 PM on August 25, 2011 [24 favorites]


I just don't understand how we can spend hours in a thread trashing the TSA, torture, illegal surveillance, etc., and then make fun of some idealistic geeks who want a country that you are FREE to join and leave at your own will.

Because the "idealism" of libertarians is actually just ego in disguise: "I am superior to these peons around me, so I should be unfettered to do what I think is right!" Read Ayn Rand's explanation of why we shouldn't help out poor people: they're poor because they're inferior, and if you help them succeed, you're poisoning the whole society. All libertarians believe that they're one of the superior ones, but "the state" is getting in their way.
posted by WorkingMyWayHome at 2:53 PM on August 25, 2011 [6 favorites]


I don't know what makes people disdain them. Is it their distrust of government? Their idealism? The resources they have and ability to get up and leave?.

Because the best ideas don't get stronger by isolating and building walls around them. Ideas grow and mature by being applied in as many situations as possible, and that's where they get changed, broken, and continually rebuilt. This is particularly true for ideas dealing with human beings and their relationships with each other and their institutions.

This whole idea of creating a purely libertarian society is basically like some sort of "civic philosophy protection tariff." It's worse than an echo chamber, it's an echo sphere. I mean are they actually going to reject people from going there if, for example, they say they're Monarchists, or Confucianists, or Christianists, or Communitarians?
posted by FJT at 2:57 PM on August 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Is it just me, or is being worth billions of dollars and then setting yourself up someplace specifically outside of the reach of law a really, really unsafe thing to do?

Looks like another homosexual party boat. They always have such nice things.
posted by ignignokt at 2:57 PM on August 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Nearly 2,500 years later Athenian democracy still occupies our dreams, despite its flaws."

Athenian democracy was pretty crummy, and anyone who suggested running a city like that now would be laughed out of town.

Further, almost all of the other city states were even worse.
posted by klangklangston at 3:16 PM on August 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


They're racist, homophobic, sexist, and pretty much just hillbillies.

It takes a lot of sang-froid to accuse someone of racism while you are calling them a hillbilly.
posted by layceepee at 3:18 PM on August 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


This is all going to end with someone dying while saying "The horror, the horror," isn't it?
posted by lesbiassparrow at 3:46 PM on August 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


I once wrote a treatise on how this can be made to work. I will gladly flesh out the details of the necessary synthetic religion, change my name to Daedalus, and lead their expedition if they will promise to faithfully execute all the nifty nudity and S&M-laden rituals I design and then worship my memory for tens of thousands of years. Or at least until it all falls apart. Which hopefully won't be until I am safely dead.
posted by localroger at 3:49 PM on August 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Athenian democracy was pretty crummy, and anyone who suggested running a city like that now would be laughed out of town.

Especially the bits where they denied women any rights and had slaves. People always like to skip over that element in Athens' radical democracy.

(And Athens got the living daylights beaten out of it by Sparta, managing to stay a major power for, what, 50 years? In terms of a Darwinism that's not exactly a success story.)
posted by lesbiassparrow at 3:55 PM on August 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


then make fun of some idealistic geeks who want a country that you are FREE to join and leave at your own will.

I have a hard time believing the idealism of folks who complain about abuses of property rights, day in and day out, and remain completely silent on how the land in the US was acquired, through violent conquest and broken treaty, or the forced labor, in the form of slaves, unpaid, for generation.

In fact, what will guarantee anyone the right to leave at any time? If someone decides to "hire" a bunch of people, lock them in a room for labor and sexual abuse, who's going to step in to protect their freedom and rights? (see: the Kuwait comment above. Because that's basically what happens.)

In most other countries, this is where we get things like constitutions, bills of rights, and police forces. Or, rather, government. To be sure, governments can also be the source of oppression and rights violations, but the answer to that is to have better government, not no government at all.
posted by yeloson at 4:00 PM on August 25, 2011 [8 favorites]


generation = generations.
posted by yeloson at 4:01 PM on August 25, 2011


"Who's rules?"

Whose.

Grammar knows no boundaries.
posted by Eideteker at 4:01 PM on August 25, 2011


Athenian democracy was pretty crummy, and anyone who suggested running a city like that now would be laughed out of town.

I... very slightly disagree with that. I mean, Athenian democracy denied the franchise to resident aliens, slaves, women and people under 30, which would never play now and should not play now. Also, slaves, which really is not the basis of a good society. And the assignation by lot of public service roles in the boule probably doesn't work unless you have a voting population that is at least to some extent literate and interested in public service. And the class limits on various roles, although they were progressively lowered through the history of the democracy, would not play, even though in practical terms the bar to becoming a senator in the US is hugely higher than the bar to becoming a member of the prytaneis in 5th century Athens.

However, the core structure - a direct system where any enfranchised person interested enough to vote could vote on any motion, but the motions tabled and the execution of the resolutions were handled by a rotating civil service - is not totally unredeemable.

On preview - lesbiassparrow: another way of looking at that is that Athens successfully fended off the preeminent military power in mainland Greece for 27 years of war, while creating some of the greatest art of the age. It really is a matter of perspective.
posted by running order squabble fest at 4:01 PM on August 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


a kind of floating petri dish for implementing policies that libertarians, stymied by indifference at the voting booths, have been unable to advance: no welfare, looser building codes, no minimum wage, and few restrictions on weapons.
Looser building codes, huh? I predict that will be a resounding success with absolutely no unintended catastrophic consequences on a small platform in the ocean.
posted by Flunkie at 4:10 PM on August 25, 2011 [5 favorites]


Is it just me, or is being worth billions of dollars and then setting yourself up someplace specifically outside of the reach of law a really, really unsafe thing to do?
He personally doesn't intend to live there.
posted by Flunkie at 4:17 PM on August 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't know what makes people disdain them. Is it their distrust of government? Their idealism? The resources they have and ability to get up and leave?

Their blind ignorance of the entirety of human history and lack of understanding of how groups of humans actually work? Their self-satisfied preening backed up by no evidence of skills or knowledge?

So many choices....

But as has been said; nobody's stopping these guys. If they want to prove us wrong by building a sustainable libertariantopia, well then they should just stop yakking and do it, and Show Us All.
posted by emjaybee at 4:40 PM on August 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


Coming from a different perspective, the concept of a laboratory of governments is fascinating. What if we haven't reached the ideal government structure? Our system is great, but doesn't anyone have the slightest doubt whether it's not the ideal system? So why not a robust competition of differing governments? Thousands of different systems competing on merits.

I'm not sure where you're getting the idea anyone thinks we have the ideal government structure. Or that such a thing exists and/or can be attained.
posted by Hoopo at 4:43 PM on August 25, 2011


Libertarianism depends on everyone having the same systematic view, and places the system ahead of the individual.
To this point, Thiel is quoted in the article as having said "I no longer believe that freedom and democracy are compatible."

Democracy has the drawback that people might disagree with you, I guess.
posted by Flunkie at 4:47 PM on August 25, 2011 [4 favorites]


Looser building codes, huh? I predict that will be a resounding success with absolutely no unintended catastrophic consequences on a small platform in the ocean.

Well, it's your responsibility to check the soundness of the building before you move in. If you don't have the technical expertise, time, or money to do that, well, you deserve what you get. The building company that kills enough customers will be punished by the market (after they make a ton of money by cutting corners, anyway).

The invisible hand at work!
posted by WorkingMyWayHome at 4:51 PM on August 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


"I... very slightly disagree with that. I mean, Athenian democracy denied the franchise to resident aliens, slaves, women and people under 30, which would never play now and should not play now. Also, slaves, which really is not the basis of a good society. And the assignation by lot of public service roles in the boule probably doesn't work unless you have a voting population that is at least to some extent literate and interested in public service. And the class limits on various roles, although they were progressively lowered through the history of the democracy, would not play, even though in practical terms the bar to becoming a senator in the US is hugely higher than the bar to becoming a member of the prytaneis in 5th century Athens.

However, the core structure - a direct system where any enfranchised person interested enough to vote could vote on any motion, but the motions tabled and the execution of the resolutions were handled by a rotating civil service - is not totally unredeemable.
"

Add to the appraisal that Athens was relatively tiny (scaling problems), fell into dictatorship multiple times, that the state was seen as more important than the people, that elections were often based on demagoguery and bribes, and killed Socrates… 

Athenian democracy was a decent first start, but it's not an accident that there have been critiques pretty much from the very moment the first voting started. I think they got some things right, but I still think that a conception of rights is crucial to a livable democracy, and Athens lacked that in a major way.
posted by klangklangston at 4:57 PM on August 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


Onion infographic: "PayPal Founder To Create Island"
posted by epersonae at 5:01 PM on August 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


then make fun of some idealistic geeks who want a country that you are FREE to join and leave at your own will.
In fact, what will guarantee anyone the right to leave at any time? If someone decides to "hire" a bunch of people, lock them in a room for labor and sexual abuse, who's going to step in to protect their freedom and rights? (see: the Kuwait comment above. Because that's basically what happens.)
And it's not necessarily only the slaves that won't have the right to leave. Several generations down the road (I mean, presuming this scheme somehow lasts generations), the free population may in some theoretical sense have the right to leave, but they won't necessarily have the right to arrive anywhere after having left.
posted by Flunkie at 5:05 PM on August 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


"Who's rules?"

Whose

Grammar knows no boundaries.

There are no rules on Libertarian Island. Not even grammer and speling rules.
posted by vidur at 5:06 PM on August 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


If the entire society is modeled on a corporation, whatever the fuck that really means

Who was able to rule centuries ago? Whoever had the most money. If you had the money, you could buy land and armies to defend this land with. How you got this money - inheritance, piracy, war - it didn't matter. Your wealth gave your rule legitimacy.

This is the problem I have with libertarianism. We already tried that. It failed. It's like going back to bloodletting or phrenology as viable medical options.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 5:07 PM on August 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


If sneer-laugh isn't a thing, then a large part of my lulz from browsing online are not genuine.
cringe cringe cringe
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 5:23 PM on August 25, 2011


This is dumb, but like the other Rapture thing there's already been a least a week of 'LOL BIOSHOCK' stories about it on every blog and news site.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 5:25 PM on August 25, 2011


So, basically, they want to create a sort of floating Mahagonny?
posted by Joey Michaels at 5:29 PM on August 25, 2011


We already tried that. It failed

It didn't *fail* exactly. It's still going strong in many places, and arguably underlies Western democracy too.
posted by Hoopo at 5:33 PM on August 25, 2011


It didn't *fail* exactly. It's still going strong in many places, and arguably underlies Western democracy too.

Is it really going strong, though? It's an incredibly volatile, unstable and violent political system that doesn't really provide any degree of stability or sustainability for its people. Just because new people keep having a go at it doesn't make it a success or anything.

Democracy may also be rife with violence and disparity, but it has a slightly better track record than libertarian monarchism.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 5:42 PM on August 25, 2011


Libertarian monarchism, eh? Perhaps A Song of Ice and Fire is intended as a libertarian fantasy. Commence beanplating...
posted by mek at 5:47 PM on August 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


I love reading about libertarian monarchism. My first encounter was in a Vanity Fair article, where the author just casually tossed in, "Personally, I'm a libertarian monarchist, and I think ..." and it gave me whiplash. But these people do exist, and write some frankly fascinating stuff (thanks to acb for the second link). It's weird, not really viable, but I like that people are trying to somehow mash together disparate schools of political thought into whole new theoretical creatures.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 5:52 PM on August 25, 2011 [4 favorites]


The libertarians would better put their efforts into building a time machine. Let them fuck off back into past eras with expanding frontiers.
posted by bad grammar at 6:24 PM on August 25, 2011


Of course, they'd immediately whimper and whine about how you can't get any cell signal in Wyoming in 1890.
posted by bad grammar at 6:24 PM on August 25, 2011


I don't know what makes people disdain them. Is it their distrust of government? Their idealism? The resources they have and ability to get up and leave?

I tend to think it's because libertarianism tends to expose the fault lines in their most ardent critics. Not that libertarianism isn't without problems, but you certainly aren't going hear a discussion about metafilter's favorite whipping boy, Rand Paul, attempt to get the Patriot Act annulled. The utter silence from the panopticonist on the need for more government while being impotent to curb the worst abuses of government now is most telling.

I mean, we are only ten years into war, with future wars in sight, and the only prominent anti-war candidate isn't from the yucks yucks libertarians yucks crowd. I heard it all before last election.

Maybe it's just an unease with the likely outcome of the eat the rich crowd staring them back in the face ("you mean the rich folks can just leave if they are over taxed?").

Instead we get trite discussions about roads, and Somalia, selfishness.

We won't even touch the inability to get meaningful reform.
posted by quintessencesluglord at 6:34 PM on August 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


Of course, they'd immediately whimper and whine about how you can't get any cell signal in Wyoming in 1890.

Of course numbnuts, you have to get closer to the alien spaceship. Helps if you hook up with the other alien disguised as the hot female human.
posted by localroger at 6:38 PM on August 25, 2011


Libertarians are insane. I mean literally. They are actually delusional. Their self described rational worldview continues to persist in their minds long after reality has demolished the hypothesis.
posted by humanfont at 6:42 PM on August 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


You're going to have to spell it out a bit more, quintessencesluglord, because the examples you're citing are making it hard to tell if you're mocking libertarianism or attempting to make a case for it and failing.
posted by Hoopo at 7:04 PM on August 25, 2011


("you mean the rich folks can just leave if they are over taxed?").

Just like the liberals can leave if we elect a Republican.
posted by dirigibleman at 7:31 PM on August 25, 2011


Not that libertarianism isn't without problems, but you certainly aren't going hear a discussion about metafilter's favorite whipping boy, Rand Paul

We had that discussion plenty of times, back when his name was Ron Paul. If I recall correctly, we couldn't get past his history of racist screeds. Rand Paul was unfortunately a non-starter here at Metafilter, for similar reasons, but also partially because of his previous career as a fake doctor. I suppose fake doctors are free to practice medicine on one of these floating island paradises, though!
posted by mek at 7:33 PM on August 25, 2011


Paging Andrew Ryan. Mr. Ryan, please answer the white courtesy phone.
posted by Fister Roboto at 8:16 PM on August 25, 2011


Just to pick at the article a bit:

"When you start a company, true freedom is at the beginning of things," he says and slides the thought over to the topic of nations. "The United States Constitution had things you could do at the beginning that you couldn't do later. So the question is, can you go back to the beginning of things? How do you start over?"

No Bill of Rights. No 14th Amendment. The only thing you could then that you can't do now was own slaves.

Thiel won't be one of its early citizens. For one thing, he's not overly fond of boats,

Lol

Because there are no truly free places left in our world

Says the man who holds over the top parties featuring people in assless chaps. Apparent this isn't free enough.
posted by humanfont at 8:18 PM on August 25, 2011


I don't see why this gets such knee jerk hate.
Really? I thought we'd just covered that.
posted by roystgnr at 8:43 PM on August 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


let him do this thing.

i agree - i haven't read all the article or comments, but there's only one way to really see if an idea or philosophy is workable - by actually trying to do it

so, yeah, go for it - prove it to us - and i'm especially curious to see how it works for the people who end up having to provide the services and resources necessary to keep things running - let's see if they're contented with their lot in life in the great big libertarian paradise

quit talking, show us
posted by pyramid termite at 9:23 PM on August 25, 2011


Today he is known as the mentor of the PayPal mafia of entrepreneurs...

It says "mafia." Am I missing something?
posted by fartknocker at 9:28 PM on August 25, 2011


Who has the number for the Somali pirates? I have an investment tip for them.
posted by Abehammerb Lincoln at 9:35 PM on August 25, 2011


If this happens, it'll play out like Battle Royale, except with paunchy white guys instead of cute Japanese teenagers.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 9:42 PM on August 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


It says "mafia." Am I missing something?

Many of the core group of PayPal founders have gone on to form a bunch of other successful companies. They were just nicknamed the PayPal Mafia, I don't think it's indicative of any specific business dealings.

That Wikipedia page actually offers some insight into Thiel's personality and what a government under him might look like:

Other aspects of PayPal's pre-eBay corporate culture were also unique. Company decisions were made according to reasoned arguments rather than executive experience. It was allowed and even encouraged for low level employees to criticize executive decisions and lobby for their own positions. All employees, not just managers, were made aware in detail of company finances and performance.

It goes on to talk about some of the qualities they looked for in hires: often graduate school dropouts with anti-establishment leanings, and avoided hiring MBAs, consultants, or people they considered "frat boys" or "jocks".

This sounds much more in line with the cypherpunk style of libertarianism, and not the big-business Republican style.

I realize I'm one of the few MeFites who leans libertarian, but I wanted to re-iterate again that it's a different libertarian than what most people think. Just like the words liberal and progressive have been twisted by conservatives, the same goes with libertarian. You can be passionate about privacy and freedom and still care about the poor, as I hope my posting history shows.

I'd sure love to know what it is in the mind of a typical tech nerd that makes them lean libertarian.

I can't answer for everyone, but I can answer for myself. I grew up in the 80s and early 90s, on a diet of cyberpunk scifi, during the time the cypherpunks were pushing for the right for people to use crypto.

A lot of people probably don't remember this, but there was a time when the US government actively outlawed publication of cryptography source code and algorithms, making it effectively impossible for private citizens to engage in private electronic communication. It was the cypherpunk libertarians who were fighting against this, and they eventually won the right to publish on free speech grounds.

Now we take it for granted in many ways, and you actually see some branches of the government like the State Department pushing for disruptive democratic technologies in restrictive regimes.

In the same way, the cypherpunks were fighting again things like the Clipper chip, which would have mandated that the government get a copy of your private key for every electronic communication device.

All of these fights were going on, and for someone who grew up passionate about technology at the time, it really struck home that the government didn't really care about the 4th amendment. The rhetoric from the cypherpunks was passionate and really argued for humanitarian and especially public access to these amazing technologies. It wasn't exclusive or racist, it was a true belief in the transformative power the Internet and talk about technologies like WikiLeaks, bitcoin and tor helping those in authoritarian regimes long before they were written.

Finally, I'd like to tackle some of the side-swipe slurs against nerds, paunchy white guys and dweebs. I'm a nerd and damn proud of it, and I hope some of my software contributions have made the world a better place, and I think they have. A lot of these paunchy libertarian nerd dweebs have given citizens in authoritarian regimes around the world the power to browse the open web and discover knowledge for themselves.
posted by formless at 10:56 PM on August 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


I used to call myself 'libertarian' because I was against drug laws and prostitution laws. I also went through a 'an it harm none, do as thou wilt/enlightened self-interest' phase. I didn't realize the economic aspects, and reading MeFi has made me change my mind. Ironically, in Aus I think I'm classified as a 'free speech libertarian' for holding American values, but I'm not 100% sure.

Basically, I was your stereotypical angry nerd. I'm still as motivated by selfishness as I was in my libertarian phase but I realize that its more in my interest to have the government take care of me and mine.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 11:01 PM on August 25, 2011


All of these fights were going on, and for someone who grew up passionate about technology at the time, it really struck home that the government didn't really care about the 4th amendment.

Yeah, but, a government created that amendment, as well. To oppose the current government for its seemingly endless multitude of rights violations does not automatically make you a libertarian... far from it.
posted by mek at 11:17 PM on August 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


I don't see why this gets such knee jerk hate.

For me at least, it's in part that people like Thiel appear to radiate a self-satisfied smugness and self-belief which appears to derive from the notion that being very successful in what is really a small niche of human endeavour (usually Doing Something On The Internet) makes you some kind of renaissance man, uber-mensch and visionary leader.
posted by reynir at 12:09 AM on August 26, 2011 [4 favorites]


Thanks for the info, formless.

I'm conflicted: on the one hand I want to sympathize with those who would avoid frat-boys, jocks, and MBAs. On the other hand, I want to avoid people who identify themselves with any sort of mafia. Plus, Paypal just told me that I can't spend the money they're holding for me until I give them my bank account info. Hmm... mafia guys are refusing to let me spend my money until I give them what they want. How does that fit into the Libertarian playbook, exactly? Yeah, fuck them. Also, Facebook. Looks like these guys are a cancer on society.
posted by fartknocker at 12:14 AM on August 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm a paunchy nerd.

I'm a paunchy nerd who sees that labels on food that tells me whats in it is NOT TOTALITARIANISM. I'm a paunchy nerd who sees that building codes that prevent someone from wiring their house without a circuit breaker is NOT TOTALITARIANISM.

I'm a paunchy nerd who sees that OSHA and the FDA and the EPA and Medicare and unions and the Civil Rights Act, and the Americans for Disabilities Act have resulted in a net gain for those of us who are not fucking billionaires and especially for those of us who were born with conditions that would otherwise not be able to participate in society except as fodder for freak shows. I'm a paunchy nerd who sees that all of this came about and resulted in the most prosperous society humanity has ever seen.

I'm a paunchy nerd who sees what happened with Massey Energy, who allowed 29 coal miners to die because we elected people who decided that government could do nothing right, then hired people who ensured that government could do nothing right, thus didn't enforce safety regulations because that would get in the way of billionaires' profits. I see this and I also see that life was even worse for coal miners before these sorts of regulations and unions and other "socialist", "communist", "totalitarianist" regulations were put in place, and -- you know, I'm just a paunchy nerd -- I have to wonder what fucking disdain the modern libertarian has for his fellow man, when his fellow man (or child) has to work in places like coal mines for a living.

This paunchy nerd has to wonder why some other paunchy nerds think that a society that existed before unions, before worker safety regulations, before child labor laws and universal public schooling, before laws regarding food and drug safety, before environmental regulation -- when companies could just dump whatever shit they had in the water with no repercussions -- and I have to wonder why those other paunchy nerds think such a society is superior to the one we have now, warts and all.
posted by dirigibleman at 12:45 AM on August 26, 2011 [27 favorites]


Hahaha! Look at the silly libertarians who have silly ideals of freedom and liberty!

Yeah. They're as risible as Maxists, and for much the same reasons. Laughing at them isn't just a good idea, it's practically a duty. Or as surely as the Marxists gave birth to the mass-murder of Lenin, Mao, and Year Zero, we'll get the same out of the libertarians.

I love reading about libertarian monarchism.

I love it when people discover Moon is a Harsh Mistress anew.
posted by rodgerd at 12:59 AM on August 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


Isn't this mostly what Dubai is?
posted by delmoi at 1:33 AM on August 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


make fun of some idealistic geeks who want a country that you are FREE to join and leave at your own will.

The free movement of labour is indeed a necessary counterpart to the free movement of capital, and our global society will remain screwed until it is achieved. If this is what libertarians want, there are plenty of ways for them to use their resources in campaigning for it and making it possible. Fight for free trade, invest in infrastructure in the developing world, help illegal immigrants regularise their status. In other words, campaign for actual, rather than notional, liberty. Setting up some dumb oil-rig won't do squat to achieve anything.
posted by howfar at 5:41 AM on August 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


So... they're basically the Ferengi?
posted by eoden at 6:06 AM on August 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


Company decisions were made according to reasoned arguments rather than executive experience.

Everyone who comes to the CEO with a new thing they can put a fee on gets a raise.
posted by griphus at 6:37 AM on August 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


So... they're basically the Ferengi?
Pretty much.
Though, I suspect they would probably be more apt to self-identify with the crew of Serenity. That whole "cowboy entrepreneurs doing what it takes and raising a middle finger to authority" image, y'know.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:22 AM on August 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


He owns all of Paypal. And also the Paypal in Cleveland. Of course, we’re probably gonna lose all that if his ridiculous idea for Sea Paypal goes through.
posted by speicus at 7:28 AM on August 26, 2011


technically, no, he doesn't own PayPal anymore. though he may still have a large share, PayPal is now an eBay company. Which may not actually invalidate your comment...
posted by lodurr at 8:47 AM on August 26, 2011


I think a lot of the problem is the damn Tea Party, and corporate republicans who have tainted some of the good ideas in civil libertarianism. Privacy, cognitive freedom, distributed currencies, etc.

Civil libertarianism is already a tenet of liberalism. What isn't a tenet of liberalism is not paying any taxes. This is what attracts the overwhelmingly vast majority of people to libertarianism --- pure, unadulterated greed (as well as a desire to stick it to the poor and ethnic minorities who are protected by liberal government).
posted by goethean at 9:02 AM on August 26, 2011 [7 favorites]


To oppose the current government for its seemingly endless multitude of rights violations does not automatically make you a libertarian

That's a good point. Some of the arguments defending libertarianism here are picking examples from non-libertarian contexts and using them as evidence to support the ideology. The fact is the principles underlying American society in fact support some of the same goals the libertarians in this thread are advocating, and so do most people who don't identify as libertarians (because they're not). I know of very few people here that would be against repealing the Patriot Act or in favor of allowing the government to read anyone's online communication. Libertarians in this thread appear to be trying to attribute any gains in terms of personal liberty and privacy to "libertarianism" the ideology, and any losses of liberty and privacy to "the other guys". Libertarianism is not the exclusive domain of the concepts of liberty and privacy.
posted by Hoopo at 9:11 AM on August 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


Or what goethean said in his first, short sentence. I need writing practice.
posted by Hoopo at 9:12 AM on August 26, 2011


formless, it's good to hear a reasoned defense of libertarianism. So I'm honestly curious. Do you mind paying any taxes at all? (Everybody would like to pay less). And do you think that absent government intervention societies naturally tend towards free markets? Because those are two of the things I hear from Libertarians that I just can't get my head around.
posted by benito.strauss at 9:50 AM on August 26, 2011


(Everybody would like to pay less)

I politely disagree. I would have no problem paying more taxes as long as those taxes went to, say, social services.
posted by griphus at 9:57 AM on August 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


I politely disagree. I would have no problem paying more taxes as long as those taxes went to, say, social services.

On slight variation of that theme, I want to point out a subtle difference often ignored by the anti-taxarians and the inept media who interview them. The "lower taxes" rejoinder to those who would like to raise taxes is that the tax advocates are perfectly free to pay more money to the government. But there is more than a semantic difference between "I'd like to pay the government more money" and "I would like to see tax rates raised." As someone (I forget who, but good on him or her) said in a thread, taxes are a team sport. For me to contribute whatever pittance I and other volunteers have to offer would make government just another underfunded charity. The power of government derives from compulsory contributions that, though small in individual cases, becomes an ocean of economic empowerment.
posted by Mental Wimp at 10:14 AM on August 26, 2011 [4 favorites]


I don't know what makes people disdain them. Is it their distrust of government? Their idealism? The resources they have and ability to get up and leave?

Hardcore libertarians have their heads up their asses, in much the same way hardcore communists do.

But you're also on Metafilter. Metafilter hates libertarians. It's part of its creed and allows everybody to vent collectively against a common enemy.
posted by The ____ of Justice at 10:45 AM on August 26, 2011


Well, the problem for me is that I'm still waiting for a decent defense of libertarian ideas; I mean, how do you solve the problem of the strong taking advantage of the weak without a government? What's the motivation to spend extra money and decrease profits by building structures that are safe and durable if there are no consequences for not doing so? Are we to assume that builders are just wonderful, altruistic people and they'll do it out of the goodness of their hearts? Or are lots of people supposed to get killed by their houses falling down until the word gets around that a particular builder does a lousy job? I guess what I'm saying is that libertarianism has a certain emotional appeal, but it just doesn't seem to be a well-developed philosophy.
posted by WorkingMyWayHome at 11:33 AM on August 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


But you're also on Metafilter. Metafilter hates libertarians.

Seriously, this is a bit of a cop-out. What Metafilter hates, in my relatively low-numbered experience, is un-self-aware ideologies that cause harm to others. For example, Metafilter also hates Scientology, religious fundamentalism, climate denialism, corporatism, and a shitload of other things.
posted by lodurr at 11:48 AM on August 26, 2011 [9 favorites]


For me, the big problem that Libertarianism has never solved is that anyone can be conned. Including by themselves.
posted by lodurr at 11:49 AM on August 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


Some are drawn to libertarianism because it promises an end to forced taxation. Others like it for its anti-prohibition stance, particularly for recreational drugs. A few are die-hard freemen and embrace the entire philosophy. In all cases the proponents fail to realize what the realities of a regulation-free, law-free, government-free society would actually be like. They can't see beyond the "freedom to be me" surface to the dirty details lying beneath.
posted by rocket88 at 11:57 AM on August 26, 2011


But you're also on Metafilter. Metafilter hates libertarians. It's part of its creed and allows everybody to vent collectively against a common enemy.
posted by The ____ of Justice at 1:45 PM on August 26 [+] [!]


We also hate anti-vaccination people because we didn't like Jenny McCarthy on "Singled Out" back in the day.

No wait, that's complete bullshit too!
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 12:37 PM on August 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


A lot of people probably don't remember this, but there was a time when the US government actively outlawed publication of cryptography source code and algorithms...

It just aint so. ITAR did not outlaw the publication of cryptography, or the use of strong cryptography inside the US; it only restricted the export of cryptographic machinery. This means that printed source code of cryptosystems could be exported, but not an executable that implemented strong cryptography.

Even Dorothy Denning -- longtime water-carrier for state oversight of cryptography (key escrow and all that bullshit) and supporter of the ITAR restrictions -- published a book in 1982 with crypto source code.
posted by phliar at 12:53 PM on August 26, 2011


So I'm honestly curious. Do you mind paying any taxes at all?

I linked to a comment from two days ago in my post where I not only expressed not minding not paying for taxes / unemployment benefits, but I also exclaimed that I'm happy to do so.

I wish more people could rise to the level I have, and I'm more than willing to offer a hand to raise them up. And a lot of the cypherpunk actions and philosophies outlined in their discussions point to this same desire for equalizing the playing field.

And do you think that absent government intervention societies naturally tend towards free markets?

I think absent regulation that markets tend towards monopolies. We need robust regulation to counter that.

But I also think in a similar way that governments when left unchecked tend towards fascism / totalitarianism, and that's what a lot of the cypherpunk ideals are trying to counter.

Civil libertarianism is already a tenet of liberalism.

But it's not a tenet of the current Democratic or Republican parties, which control this country. That's where the problem is. And the core ideas of privacy and free speech that are part of the libertarian ideal but not Democratic / Republican ideals are I think core to a functioning egalitarian system.
posted by formless at 12:54 PM on August 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


On a certain level, this appeals to me. Not the libertarianism, but the idea of starting a country from well designed first principles (like the way the United States began), instead of working within a system that has evolved over generations of compromise.

But building your own country from scratch is really hard. Really, really hard. Just ask the people of South Sudan, and they at least have some land and oil reserves to begin with. These seasteaders are talking about building self sufficient nations on metal platforms that stick out of the ocean. They'll have zero natural resources to start with, zero water, zero cropland and forest, zero everything. So it will all have to be imported, which means their countries will essentially be parasites, living off of imports and labour from the larger land nations. So they'd never turn a profit, or be anything other than an exotic kind of gated community for people who make their money on the land.

To really do it right you'd need to make some kind of floating island with hundreds of square miles of surface area, and try to get an agricultural economy going. The water situation might make this impossible, but maybe they could turn a profit off of luxury cash crops which could be grown near the equator. Then they'd sail the island right to a port and unload the crop, saving a bundle on shipping.
posted by Kevin Street at 1:26 PM on August 26, 2011


Well heck, formless, you sound like another liberal to me. Especially taken in the Age of Enlightenment sense, not the popular American post-Reagan sense.

And the Democratic Party of Obama (and Bill Clinton) is probably about as corporatist/national security statist as the last few Republican administrations. I kind of knew to expect it when I voted for Obama, but it's been sad it come true.

But I don't know how you can think "... absent regulation that markets tend towards monopolies. We need robust regulation to counter that." and fit in to any Libertarian Party that I've heard of. Maybe you're a small 'l' libertarian?

I'm glad to have libertarians around advocating fiercely for individual rights, but I would hate to see what would happen under a Ron Paul presidency.
posted by benito.strauss at 1:57 PM on August 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


A few days ago Amanda Marcotte posted about this on her blog. Her contention is that free women won't be much attracted to the place. She bases this argument on the idea that taxes and government do a great many things (ie: food safety, etc) and that absent the government providing those services someone in a household will have to take time to do a great deal more boring and non-rewarding work, historically it's been women who wind up doing that sort of scutwork, and she sees no reason to assume it'd be any different on Rand Island.

Which leads to the title of her blog entry: Island of the Mail Order Brides, and her conclusion that if this idea ever gets off the ground it'll basically become a Handmaid's Tale style misogynistic nightmare.

I'm not sure I agree 100% with her conclusion, women can be just as nasty as men and in a setup like Rand Island would be I can easily envision the upper caste simply importing indentured servants thus preventing free women from having to do the scutwork by having actual slaves instead.
posted by sotonohito at 2:10 PM on August 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


As someone (I forget who, but good on him or her) said in a thread, taxes are a team sport.

Ah, found it. It was You Can't Tip a Buick.
posted by Mental Wimp at 2:31 PM on August 26, 2011


I suspect they would probably be more apt to self-identify with the crew of Serenity

They truly would, and they'd be wrong. The position of noble underdog is only reserved for those who have a principle that they wouldn't sell for money. The Firefly writers made it pretty clear what the difference between Mal and Badger was. But they also had a concept of moral nuance which evades most libertarian utopians, which enabled them to paint their heroes as flawed and their villains as redeemable.

When a show about space cowboys is more complex than your political philosophy, it's probably time to give up.
posted by howfar at 5:09 PM on August 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


Seriously, this is a bit of a cop-out.

No, it's true. Mefi is suffocatingly niche in certain respects and the notion of people getting so much hate for going *over there* and just do their *own thing* is comical
posted by the mad poster! at 5:35 PM on August 26, 2011


you can't spend your life mad that Dukakis didn't win or otherwise just be so steeped in calcified argument that you can't let an experiment run. it's honestly not that horrific an idea compared to a lot of shit that US billionaires do
posted by the mad poster! at 5:38 PM on August 26, 2011


Heh. Isn't Palantir that company that got owned by Anonymous for prepping a ridiculous powerpoint for Bank of America at the request of the DoD concerning how to fight WikiLeaks?

Yup, that's them.
posted by homunculus at 5:58 PM on August 26, 2011


Libertarianism is ridiculous though. Why wouldn't I ridicule it. Debate is pointless, because the libertarians are not able to accept reality. Everything is just special pleadings or no true Randian exceptions and qualifiers.
posted by humanfont at 6:01 PM on August 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


the notion of people getting so much hate for going *over there* and just do their *own thing* is comical

It is not hate towards people going somewhere and doing their own thing. It is mocking towards infantalist idealism and disdain towards narcissistic hubris.

It's not "point and laugh because they're different", it's "omg wtf I don't even."
posted by Theta States at 10:21 PM on August 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


But building your own country from scratch is really hard.

Perhaps they'd understand better if they thought about it in the same terms JWZ criticised Netscape's decision to throw out their code base and start again.
posted by rodgerd at 12:01 AM on August 27, 2011


It's more like creating a living organism, made from plastic and steel, electricity, dirt, plants, water, animals and human beings. If the country is successful it will feed and support itself. But if not, it will need a continual stream of imports to stay alive, and that can be ruinously expensive.
posted by Kevin Street at 2:01 PM on August 27, 2011


Is it just me, or is being worth billions of dollars and then setting yourself up someplace specifically outside of the reach of law a really, really unsafe thing to do?

Hey, it worked for Marlon Brando.

Wait ...
posted by krinklyfig at 8:35 PM on August 27, 2011


It sure looks like utopia.
posted by krinklyfig at 8:53 PM on August 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


For the most part, people's existence on a frontier at a given point in history (let's say the American West, the Russian East, or the Yukon) was usually some combination of poverty, hunger, hardship, violence, disease, substance abuse, madness, filth, and body lice.

The first three items on that list sound pretty grim, but the last six are what I like to call Saturday night.
posted by krinklyfig at 10:30 PM on August 27, 2011


humanfont: Libertarianism is ridiculous though.

I wouldn't call it ridiculous. I think it's better termed "utopian". Like anarchy (and to a lesser extent, communism and socialism), it presumes that groups of people, in the absence of most constraints and regulation, will continue to behave in ideal fashions. And while these utopian ideals can work in small groups, once you get into larger groups, it begins to fail once the cost of transgressing the official or unofficial rules gets low enough compared to the possibly pay-off. I think in smaller groups, the social cost among your immediate 'tribe' for breaking these rules is often enough to keep people somewhat in check, which is why it often works for small groups but breaks down as you get larger groups.
posted by rmd1023 at 8:14 AM on August 28, 2011


it presumes that groups of people, in the absence of most constraints and regulation, will continue to behave in ideal fashions.

I think history has shown that in the absence of most constraints and regulation, people implement more constraints and regulations in an attempt to solve the problems that arise from lack of adequate constraints and regulations. I don't see what's so obscure about this to the "Libertarians."
posted by Mental Wimp at 11:02 AM on August 28, 2011


Oddly most everywhere socialism is tried people have a high quality of life and there is a robust middle class. Other than working in the real world it is just like other systems you describe above. Consider Norway vs Texas. Both are oil rich. Who is happier, healthier and better educated.
posted by humanfont at 8:27 PM on August 28, 2011


Consider Norway vs Texas. Both are oil rich. Who is happier, healthier and better educated.

But who feels more free???
posted by Theta States at 6:52 AM on August 29, 2011


I'm ok with these guys going "over there" and doing their "own thing". But they money they made "over here" in this relatively affluent and business-friendly society we created and maintain collectively can't go with them. Deal?
posted by rocket88 at 6:53 AM on August 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


If a Libertarian falls in the woods, does it make a sound?
posted by schmod at 9:50 AM on August 29, 2011


I dunno, what it does it sound like when two hundred pounds of bootstraps hit the ground?
posted by griphus at 10:03 AM on August 29, 2011


I'm ok with these guys going "over there" and doing their "own thing". But they money they made "over here" in this relatively affluent and business-friendly society we created and maintain collectively can't go with them. Deal?

can all their overseas customers get a refund?
posted by the mad poster! at 10:58 AM on August 29, 2011


But who feels more free???

The Norwegians.
posted by humanfont at 6:47 PM on August 29, 2011


sotonohito, on "island of the mail order brides": I'm not sure I agree 100% with her conclusion, women can be just as nasty as men and in a setup like Rand Island would be I can easily envision the upper caste simply importing indentured servants thus preventing free women from having to do the scutwork by having actual slaves instead.

So then we revise the scenario a little bit, and we still end up startlingly close to Handmaid's Tale: Instead of mail order brides, they get mail-order sex-slaves and "wimmen's werk" laborers.

Seriously, though, I think her criticism only applies very much if we're talking about an actual social experiment, which we're not -- we're talking about a gated community. And that means that it's going to be the "island of the poor and mostly non-white slave laborers."

Because, hey, according to Thiel, 'democracy and freedom [to do whatever the fuck he wants] are inconsistent.'
posted by lodurr at 11:45 AM on August 30, 2011


Q: But who feels more free???
A: The Norwegians.


... and by that token, they feel no need to struggle and grasp at "freedom" until it strangles in their fist, as Texans are so wont to do.
posted by lodurr at 11:46 AM on August 30, 2011


the mad poster: you can't spend your life mad that Dukakis didn't win or otherwise just be so steeped in calcified argument that you can't let an experiment run.

Well, if it were an actual experiment, I might agree with you. But it's not. There's nothing about this that can be prove anything other than the obvious (rich people are rich, money can buy guns, wealthy libertarians mostly want the freedom to fuck people over without interference from the unwashed, etc.).
posted by lodurr at 11:48 AM on August 30, 2011


It's worth mentioning, which I don't think it has been, that there have actually been a LOT of "experiments" of the type this claims to be. Mostly anarchist or communist or anarcho-syndicalist, but a few libertarian as well. Some have been laughable, some hellish, some have actually worked out pretty well in their own terms. Arguably the whole Amish/Hutterite settlement in America is just such an experiment. Those experiments have results that Mr. Thiel could look at if he so chose.

He doesn't seem to have done that, because what he's doing here doesn't incorporate any of the knowledge I'd expect someone to gain by looking at those prior experiments.

I say it again: This is not actually an experiment. It's spoiled children playing make-believe and wish-it-were. When they actually try something that doesn't amount to them buying stuff (or people), I'll be interested, but that's all I'm seeing here: Buying stuff and buying people.
posted by lodurr at 11:55 AM on August 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


Apparently, there is a long-term tie between libertarianism and autocracies. This doesn't surprise me, since those most interested in pushing "Libertarianism" tend to be those with all the resources, and they tend to benefit from all those "liberties" under right-wing dictatorships.
posted by Mental Wimp at 12:19 PM on August 30, 2011


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