Already, Republican and Tea Party malcontents in liberal California are seeking to split away with candidates for statehood like “South California” and “the State of Jefferson” (as reported on extensively in this blog). But the newest cries for independence in the Golden State are coming from Silicon Valley élites, and they want out of the United States altogether. Or something. Sort of.
Earlier this month, a tech entrepeneur named Balaji Srinivasan, co-founder of a San Francisco genetics start-up called Counsyl, delivered an address titled “Silicon Valley’s Ultimate Exit” to a crowd at a seminar run by the venture-capital firm Y Combinator. The “ultimate exit” in question is not assisted suicide but instead, as he put it, a “need to build [an] opt-in society, outside the U.S., run by technology.” He declared, “We need to run the experiment, to show what a society run by Silicon Valley looks like without affecting anyone who wants to live under the Paper Belt” (i.e., us poor schmucks who are so two-weeks-ago that we use Stone Age technologies like paper and telephone lines and money that isn’t Bitcoin and computers that sit on desks instead of being implanted in our corneas).
|A slide from Srinivasan’s talk “Silicon Valley’s Ultimate Exit”|
|Heinlein wrote fantasies about intergalactic homesteading|
which some techies now take seriously.
..., but who is also a grandson of the late 20th century’s most revered free-market guru, the dwarflike Nobel-Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman ...
Friedman the younger heads a high-profile, increasingly popular organization called the Seasteading Institute. Seasteading is an idea which dates to the founding of the Principality of Sealand, in the late 1960s, on a disused sea-fortress turned pirate-radio station just outside the United Kingdom’s territorial waters. Sealand is still the most famous and successful “micronation” in the world, and (as has been reported on in this blog) has attracted the attention of hackers and Wikileakers interested in stationing their illicit computer servers there.
|The Principality of Sealand (actual size)|
More recently in micronational history, in 1972, during a renaissance of Ayn Rand–style libertarianism in the U.S., a Lithuanian-American real-estate mogul named Michael Oliver barged tons of sand from Australia to a South Pacific coral reef too low-lying to qualify under international law as territory. There, he built up a land-mass which he christened the Republic of Minerva, luring settlers and investors for a free-market utopia. But it was quickly snuffed out by troops from the Kingdom of Tonga.
|Backed by gold, naturally|
|Flag of the short-lived Republic of Vemerana|
|An auto tycoon’s vision of an autonomous Commonwealth of Belle Isle in Detroit|
|So far, Idaho’s “Citadel Community” is just a website|
|An artist’s vision of Blueseed|
With this in mind, Blueseed proponents concede that they may have to relent and fly a “flag of convenience” such as that of the Bahamas, Bermuda, Panama, or the Marshall Islands, as many vessels do when they skirt the edges of national law at times. The Republic of the Marshall Islands has, in fact, been mentioned specifically and repeatedly by Blueseed proponents. But the Marshalls are a former U.S. colony and now independent state in “free association” with the U.S., so Marshallese-flagged entities on the high seas would not necessarily escape all scrutiny. Remember the scandal a few years back when Congress investigated conditions in sweatshops in the nearby Northern Marianas Islands? I’m sorry, did I say “sweatshop” again? I meant to say “entrepreneurial enterprise operating free of government regulation.”
|Ain’t no OSHA in Oceania ...|
and that’s what libertarians like about it.
|Who knows? All sorts of industries could thrive in floating cities,|
free of oppressive government regulation.
[You can read more about Blueseed, Belle Isle, Vemerana, and other micronation, independence, and new-nation movements, both famous and obscure, in my new book, a sort of encyclopedic atlas just published by Litwin Books under the title Let’s Split! A Complete Guide to Separatist Movements and Aspirant Nations, from Abkhazia to Zanzibar. The book, which contains 46 maps and 554 flags (or, more accurately, 554 flag images), is available for order now on Amazon. Meanwhile, please “like” the book (even if you haven’t read it yet) on Facebook and see this interview for more information on the book.]