A week ago, the first floating house or ‘Sea Pod’ was presented by Ocean Builders. This company is affiliated with the Seasteading Institute, a libertarian organization originally founded by Patri Friedman (grandson of Milton). What would have been a milestone in an ambitious project to achieve ‘liberty within our lifetime’ went horribly wrong. The ‘Seapod’ began to tilt right after the presentation. Without trying to be mean, the irony cannot be ignored: libertarians are notoriously bad at developing libertarian projects.
Many successful (self-made) businessmen are attracted to libertarian philosophy because they recognize the superiority of the free market to best allocate scarce goods, increase wealth for all and eradicate poverty. The free market is the absence of a man-made system: it’s the voluntary, natural interactions of free individuals.
How come, if libertarian entrepreneurs are good at developing products and generating wealth, do we fail at developing communities? For one thing, we lack religion. People are bound as a group by culture, history and religion. Libertarians arguably have a common culture, but no other binding factors . While religion can inspire people to embark on a difficult venture with their fellow man, the ‘cold’ rational case for free markets and individual freedom lacks the power of myths.
But before we criticize ideological shortcomings of libertarianism, we should first look at more pragmatic challenges in the formation of a community: what is wrong with the product we sell? As a rule in marketing, you can never blame the consumer for not buying your product. Freedom loving folks have reasons for not jumping at the opportunity presented.
Unlike any other consumer item, to attain more freedom you will have to move to another place. First, people need to be emotionally prepared to make a move away from friends, family and a certain level of stability, and secondly, they have to be able to afford it. Estimates for floating homes start at $375k and up. And since you will be floating somewhere at sea, you’ll need a boat, helicopter and/or airplane to get anywhere. Consequently, the target audience is limited to the very rich who already have the means to maximize their freedom. As with private cities on beautiful but remote Caribbean islands: These kind of projects risk becoming nothing more than Epstein Islands for rich libertarians, minus the child abuse.
That is why for the establishment of our Free Commune, we follow a more, forgive me the word, egalitarian approach. For not every libertarian is rich or wants to even be rich. We just want to be left alone. Be free to develop our own endeavors, raise children and interact with one another without government interference.
At first glance Spain does not seem the most obvious choice. A high tax nation with a tradition of big government bureaucracy. However, to enforce laws, you also need an army of bureaucrats. This is easy to do in big cities, but very hard in the sparsely populated countryside. Millions have migrated and those that remain have grown to old age. The district where we are located had 8000 inhabitants a century ago. Nowadays there are only 1600 left. Every week there are one or two funerals. The population density is 10 per square kilometer, slightly more than Russia. There’s a huge school building that now only houses 37 students: kindergarten, primary and secondary school!
The police station of the feared ‘Guardia Civil’, was closed twenty years ago. The building, a Franco era military style barracks with turrets on two sides, is slowly decaying. You can buy it for a 100 grant and turn it into a fascism themed brothel (for example). Nowadays at the bar across the street people are peacefully smoking joints.
The aging population trend is not likely to change any time soon. Government policy of stimulating women to work instead of having children was surely a good strategy to increase the number of tax payers on the short term. But now the aging childless population is putting a huge strain on budgets. Not only financially but also in practical terms. There is a shortage of people doing basic tasks. Fortunately many Latino’s come to Spain to work as caretakers, nurses, construction workers and farm hands. In this village there people from Cuba, Colombia, Nicaragua, Dominican Republic, Venezuela.
It doesn’t help much that many people who migrate to Galicia are retiring here. To make matters worse, women in this region are now having less than one child on average. Native population numbers will half in another 40 years.
With so many people dying, there is an abundance of houses, ruins and fertile land. Prices are so low that anyone can participate. Sure, you have to rebuild a house or cabin that has all the basics and is warm in winter. Below zero temperatures are normal in the mountains. But beyond that, there are no additional costs. No boats or helicopters needed to get here. Just a two days’ drive from Europe’s main population centers.
We have selected an abandoned village which has water, electricity and good internet. We identified and made contact with all the owners. The village is located on a south facing slope, with plenty of fertile though overgrown land. It can be reached using an ordinary car.
To my knowledge, this is the most accessible libertarian project to date. If you are tired of another winter of lock-downs, high cost of living, being surrounded by obedient normies? Join our project, buy yourself a plan-B, and start working on an optimistic alternative!