Social Question

elbanditoroso's avatar

Would you choose to live your life on a self-sustaining floating island, so you could live in a libertarian society?

Asked by elbanditoroso (33198points) October 15th, 2013
21 responses
“Great Question” (4points)

I can’t decide if these folks are serious or simply crazy. Their goal is to build off-shore islands/platforms that are self-sustaining economically. OK, that’s idealism.

But the kicker is – they want to live a wholly libertarian lifestyle – essentially play with government to match their visions of what “small government” should be.

http://www.seasteading.org/about/visionstrategy/

To me, this is nutty for a whole slew of reasons. Not the least of which is – to run a floating island, you need lots of technical support and lower-wage, lower level workers. While the libertarians are playing in their idealistic castles, who is going to take out the garbage? Where will the workers live?

Does this have a chance? I see this the way I see socialism – a tantalizing idea that is utterly impractical in real life.

Can this initiative succeed?

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Answers

thorninmud's avatar

Spoiler alert: If the only way you can make your vision work is to seal it off from the rest of the world, your vision’s fucked up.

tom_g's avatar

@elbanditoroso: “To me, this is nutty for a whole slew of reasons. Not the least of which is – to run a floating island, you need lots of technical support and lower-wage, lower level workers.”

They are clearly going to train the seaguls to do most of the work.

@elbanditoroso: “Can this initiative succeed?”

If you can dream it, and illustrate that dream in MS Paint, then anything is possible. Or not.

Are we sure this isn’t just a Waterworld fan club?

ragingloli's avatar

They tried that in Bioshock. We all know how that went.

ragingloli's avatar

As for the lower worker thing:
They will for all practical purposes enslave the initial worker population.
There will be no workers’ rights or any sort of legal protection for workers. The result is that they will receive a sorry excuse of a wage, which will be so low that they can not afford to pay for the food which will they will only be able to buy in employer owned shops, so they will have to go deeper and deeper into debt to island based banks. And they can not leave either, because they will not be able to afford ferry tickets off the island.
Not that they could leave even if they had the money, because no doubt their “employment contracts” would prohibit them from leaving the island until their debts are paid.

elbanditoroso's avatar

@ragingloli – I think you have identified one of the flaws of this whole idea. This approach appears to be based on the idea of a permanently classed society. Haves and Have nots. Sort of the embodiment of the Tea Party mentality.

CWOTUS's avatar

Aside from the formidable technical issues involved, since no one has ever made the type of self-sustaining “permanently at-sea” structure that is envisioned, it seems that no one who has responded yet really understands what is at issue here.

It’s not that the community has to be “sealed off from the rest of the world”; this community – if it gets off the ground (so to speak) – would be in touch with anyone and everyone who wants to communicate and trade with it. That, after all, is the essence of libertarianism: freedom for all. For that reason it would (could / should) be the most open society in human history. It may not happen, but that would be the goal.

Second, I see no trouble or conflict with “low skill” work that would have to be done. That type of work always has to be done on marine structures and ships: the rust needs to be chipped and painted here, same as always. The trash needs to be taken out, same as always. The plumbing needs to be maintained, same as always. There’s no indication that those who do this work would need to be “citizens” or permanent residents of the community if they chose not to be; those services could easily be contracted – from anywhere in the world.

In fact, for this reason, I would expect that workers from all over the world would be eager to participate in such a venture – in the same way that it’s easy to get workers even to parts of the world that are very un-free, such as the Middle East – as long as they are well paid, and especially because they should not be taxed by any other entity than their home countries.

That’s the beauty of the system, if y’all had a clue about what libertarianism really meant. Too much to expect here, I guess.

Pachy's avatar

Radical new ideas that challenge conventional wisdom have always been viewed with skepticism, but as we all know, new ideas often become new conventional wisdom. My gut tells me this idea would produce only chaos (isn’t this sort of what the Tea Party is doing?), but hey, what do I know?

ragingloli's avatar

@CWOTUS “those services could easily be contracted – from anywhere in the world.”
But it will not. It is a lot cheaper to have your own sub-minimum wage, right-less workers do it.
The same reason why china does not offshore production to the US.

Kropotkin's avatar

I guess they need new off-shore tax havens for the growing number of billionaires.

mazingerz88's avatar

No. I don’t understand libertarianism. I’m still confused with what the US have now.~

KNOWITALL's avatar

I think it looks pretty cool, and very interesting. To better the world or try via experiment, I think a lot of us would volunteer or work a lower paying job. Do they have wifi? lol

mazingerz88's avatar

Is this something similar to Denmark taxing citizens 60 percent so they get decent free healthcare-?

Kardamom's avatar

No, they wouldn’t have access to Yosemite, or Palm Springs or London, or Paris, or the Grand Canyon. And I’m sure they wouldn’t have cheese.

Cupcake's avatar

Why not just join a commune? I’m sure there are libertarian communes.

Kropotkin's avatar

@Cupcake Yes, but they’re not luxury tax-havens for billionaires. In a commune, everyone has relatively equal social power, and everyone contributes to the maintenance of the commune.

In this pseudo-libertarian experiment, rich people drop a few million into obtaining their sea-based property, while poor and desperate peasants from nearby countries get boated over to do the dirty and dangerous job of building and maintaining it all. In pseudo-libertarian babble-speak, this is called a mutually beneficial exchange between the desperate peasants and the billionaire property owners who are rational actors and are negotiating voluntarily, free from coercion.

Sunny2's avatar

“I’ve got an island, in the Pacific,
And everything about it is terrific!”
Remember that old song?
If every one had his own individual island. it might work.

flutherother's avatar

It sounds like the United States. Slaves did the work, and then Mexicans and then it began to sink.

JLeslie's avatar

I am fine with the idea of small “towns” basically having a libertarian lifestyle, whether the town is on a floating thing in the water, in an actual island, or in a remote area not governed by an established government. I think it can work for small numbers of people. The problem is once the population gets very large it needs to be more controlled through laws. I would guess in this floating island if someone started raping and pillaging they would be dealth with. Possibly mafia style. If the person was lucky they would simply be deported to back where they came from.

The idea of it in theory sounds fine. Maybe like a kibbutz where everyone has a role and helps each other, and strong community ties. But, I think it is likely it doesn’t work out as idealic as we would hope.

Previously, I asked a question if we picked one state in the US as a test of no government would people want to move there. The people living there would not be charged taxes, but also would get no money from the government. In the US I would never choose to live in a state like that.

elbanditoroso's avatar

@JLeslie – one comment – if you have followed the history of the Kibbutz movement, you would see that many Kibbutzim have closed or converted to some variant of private ownership. The old socialist idea that created Kibbutzim has ‘matured’ in the sense that people are less willing to give to the community.

As I wrote earlier, socialism is a great theoretical idea, but it fails because people have different levels of ability and they expect compensation for that.

JLeslie's avatar

@elbanditoroso I’m aware the kibbutz’s have mostly closed down. But, I don’t mind you mentioning it. Funny that it is socialist and libertarian. Not really both, but I can’t see libertarians living as loners, know what I mean? The community would still need to work together and help each other. No government would mean we get what we need as a society from each ther. What I really believe is none of the government systems taken to the extreme work well. The most successful and prosperous countries have somewhat of a combination.

ETpro's avatar

They’re planning to take John Galt along. Remember, Ayn Rand assured us that while an entire government couldn’t make the trains run on time, John Galt could. He was all the engineers, conductors, porters, ticket vendors, freight agents, warehousemen, linemen, switch-men, brakemen, repair crews, janitors, guys who empty the chemical toilets… You get the drift.

And if the Goddess Ayn Rand said it, you know it’s true. What’s that? Like me, you didn’t know that the government ran the trains. Silly us. Union Pacific, Norfolk & Western et al must be in some other line of work. Ayn Rand said it, so it’s gospel.

I’m on board with libertarianism when it means the other person’s right to swing their fist stops at my nose. When it’s extended to mean Exxon Mobil is a “Creator” and therefore has the right to send their stinky, toxic smells right up my nose, that isn’t my idea of providing for the “General Welfare” as described in the Preamble and in the Taxing and Spending Clause of the US Constitution.

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