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August 07, 2009

How Independent Could a Seastead or a Colony in the Solar System Be ?

Jamais Cascio, Open the Future, claims that ending politics is a delusion and provides the following example.

In the early days of the dot-com era, this attitude resulted in the absence of digital tech industry voices in Washington, DC, allowing the incumbent telecom and entertainment industries free rein to write laws and buy politicians without opposition. Companies and industries that had considered themselves beyond politics found out just how wrong they were. Stung by that experience, today's advocates of the "escape politics" position usually articulate it as more of a wishful whine, as with Thiel's line quoted above.


This is an example of the Africa-lite problem of North America and Europe. Africa being the poster-continent for massive political corruption and systems that massively under-deliver on the potential of the people and societies.

Jamais Cascio is correct that it takes a lot more to escape corruption or disengage from a political system than running a new technology and trying to ignore the current systems.

What are the historical examples of "escape from [old] politics" or massive reduction in corruption ?

There was the colonization of North America and the American revolution. The new system was not escape from politics but it was new politics and one that escaped from much of the politics of Europe.

This involved being in a physically separate place where the forces of the old system could only project forces able to be delivered across an ocean. Plus France supported the breakaway.

There was the relatively peaceful breakup of the Soviet Union.

Geopolitical groups that had been conquered and had an identity before being conquered were able to breakoff and form (reform) and adopt new economic and political systems. It helped that the old central system had weakened. The US and NATO provided cover and support for the nations that broke away.



New nations have been formed in the 1990s and in the 21st century

The group or place that is breaking away seems to need to have enough critical mass and level of capability and to find a new sustainable position in the world system and often needs support from other established powers and political groups.

How the new group or place is run is less important than how it relates to the existing powers to create a sustainable niche.

Any seastead would have to deal with all of the Ocean going Navies and the political forces that they represent.

In future, any sizeable space colony (millions of people) would mean that there is massive space going capability. This would not be a capability that is exclusive to the space colonists. The space colonists would need to deal with US, Chinese and other nations with space capability.

Breaking away for a new political system and entity is a non-trivial task and there will be a relationship to the major powers of the day. Also, those who want to do it (libertarian or whoever) must be willing to go to substantial lengths to achieve it.

City States and Regional Autonomy
There are also some trends toward more regional and city autonomy. Quebec received a great deal of autonomy from Canada. There are successful city-states like Singapore. Hong Kong has a certain amount of autonomy and has its own business systems and laws.
Dubai is a successful small entity with its own systems and laws.

Future Technology, Space and Sea Colonization
Assuming that there is sea and space colonization, then what would the political systems be and what would be the geopolitics of that situation ? Would the traditional powers be able to maintain control ? Over the course of decades what would happen ?

Canada is about 142 years old. The USA is 233 years old. India (1950) and Pakistan and Israel only formed in the 20th century.

Political change can happen and new entities and relatively indepedent systems can be formed.

How small is a viable entity now ? How small might it be in the future ? What are the non-violent paths where more seasteads, space colonies or regular land regions might become independent ?

If change is desired enough it will probably not be non-violent.

The demographics and votes for Quebec sovereignty do not seem to be there anymore.
However, it seems that if a referendum for Quebec Sovereighty was successful, then Canada and Quebec would likely be able to effect the change without violence. The likely issue would be many lawyers and politicians working out the new arrangement and determining how to split up the national debt. If there were orderly progressions to sovereighty in this or other situations (Texas) in developed countries, there would likely be useful precedent established in the right way to enact new nation forming.

The current best example of an orderly spinning of nations is the Commonwealth of Nations. The Commonwealth of Nations uses the Singapore Declaration.

The Commonwealth of Nations is a voluntary association of independent sovereign states, each responsible for its own policies, consulting and co-operating in the common interests of their peoples and in the promotion of international understanding and world peace.

Commonwealth is compatible with membership of any other international organisation or non-alignment.

The next ten articles in turn detail some of the core political principles of the Commonwealth. These include (in the order in which they are mentioned): world peace and support for the United Nations; individual liberty and egalitarianism; the eradication of poverty, ignorance, disease, and economic inequality; free trade; institutional cooperation; multilateralism; and the rejection of international coercion


The Singapore Declaration seems compatible with a capitalist libertarian system that might be formed by someone like Peter Thiel (who wrote the article to which Jamais Cascio was responding).

Would the USA or other developed nation adopt something like the Commonwealth system if in the future groups of citizens wanted to breakoff ?

FURTHER READING
Rwanda anti-corruption success

20,000 nations above the sea

Billionaire with his own inherited small nation. The Sultan of Brunei

Brunei had about 500,000 people when it became indepedent from the UK i 1984 It stopped being a british protectorate in 1984.

Politics and law as related to seasteads

Cascio, OpentheFuture response: Brian -- you're right. For groups. In which there will be... politics.

Libertarianism as espoused by Thiel would be an escape from old politics. Just as a nation with an official position of atheism in regards to religion would be an escape from all old religions.

A place with libertarianism in the form compatibile with what Thiel is espousing would be a significant break from the political past.

Cascio statement that there would still be politics in a Libertarian state is semantics and does not address the viability of an independent libertarian entity.

Michael Anissimov, Accelerating Future, has a post "Politics is Truly the mind Killer" which is responding to the OpentheFuture post. H/T to michael as his article led me to the Openthefuture post.

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