John Robb: Libertarians Give Up Sea, Focus on Honduras

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John Robb

Libertarian seasteaders give up on the sea, focus on autonomous regions starting with Honduras.

Former “Seasteaders” Come Ashore To Start Libertarian Utopias In Honduran Jungle

Forgoing the plan to build independent floating cities away from chafing laws, some libertarians—led by Milton Friedman’s grandson, no less—have found something better: desperate countries willing to allow the founding of autonomous libertarian cities within their borders.

The seasteader-in-chief is headed ashore. Patri Friedman (that’s Milton Friedman‘s grandson to you), who stepped down as the chief executive of the Peter Thiel-backed Seasteading Institute in August, has resurfaced as the CEO of a new for-profit enterprise named Future Cities Development Inc., which aims to create new cities from scratch (on land this time) governed by “cutting-edge legal systems.” The startup may have found its first taker in Honduras, whose government amended its constitution in January to permit the creation of special autonomous zones exempt from local and federal laws. Future Cities has signed a non-binding memorandum of understanding to build a city in one such zone starting next year.

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The brainchild of New York University economist Paul Romer (read his thoughts on FCI here), a charter city combines a host nation’s vacant land (in this case, Honduras) with the legal system and institutions of another (e.g. Canada) and residents drawn from anywhere. Romer’s central insight is that good governance is transplantable—rather than wait for a basket case nation to come around begging, a charter city could help show it the way, as Hong Kong did for Deng Xiaoping.

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Phi Beta Iota:  The focus on eradicating corruption from day one is most interesting.  While  the group does not appear to have fully thought through their role as a magnet for criminals, there are regions of Africa, Latin America, and even the now warming Arctic North that could permit this kind of innovation to test its premises.