Daily Archives: October 2nd, 2007

Floating Utopias – The degraded imagination of the libertarian seasteaders

From In These Times :

Freedom is late.

Since 2003, a colossal barge called the Freedom Ship, of debatable tax status, should have been chugging with majestic aimlessness from port to port, a leviathan rover with more than 40,000 wealthy full-time residents living, working and playing on deck. That was the aim eight years ago when the project first made headlines, confidently claiming that construction would start in 2000.

A visit to the “news” section of freedomship.com reveals a more sluggish pace. The most recent messages date from more than two years ago, forlornly explaining how “scam operations” are slowing things down but that “[t]hings are happening, and they are moving fast.” Meanwhile, the ship is not yet finished. Indeed, it is not yet started. Despite this, Freedom Ship International Inc. has been startlingly successful in raising publicity for this “floating city.” Much credulous journalistic cooing over “the biggest vessel in history,” with its “hospitals, banks, sports centres, parks, theaters and nightclubs,” not to mention its airport, has ignored the vessel’s stubborn nonexistence.

Freedom Ship’s website claims that the vessel has not been conceived as a locus for tax avoidance, pointing out that as it will sail under a flag of convenience, residents may still be liable for taxes in their home countries. Nonetheless, whatever the ultimate tax status of those whom we will charitably presume might one day set sail, much of the interest in Freedom Ship has revolved precisely around its perceived status as a tax haven.

And despite the apparent corrective on the website, the project’s officials have not been shy in purveying that impression. They have pushed promotional literature that, in the words of one journalist, “paints the picture of a luminous tax haven,” and stressed that the ship will levy “[n]o income tax, no real estate tax, no sales tax, no business duties, no import duties.” Of course, as no cruise ship could ever levy income tax, to trumpet that fact is preposterous, except as a propaganda strategy.

Freedom Ship’s board of directors are canny enough to recognize tax hatred as a defining characteristic of the tradition of fantasies in which it sits. It is one of countless recent dreams of a tax-free life on the ocean wave: advocates of “seasteading” are disproportionately adherents of “libertarianism,” that peculiarly American philosophy of venal petty-bourgeois dissidence.

Libertarianism is by no means a unified movement. As many of its advocates proudly stress, it comprises a taxonomy of bickering branches—minarchists, objectivists, paleo- and neolibertarians, agorists, et various al.—just like a real social theory. Claiming a lineage with post-Enlightenment classical liberalism, as well as in some cases with the resoundingly portentous blatherings of Ayn Rand, all of its variants are characterized, to differing degrees, by fervent, even cultish, faith in what is quaintly termed the “free” market, and extreme antipathy to that vaguely conceived bogeyman, “the state,” with its regulatory and fiscal powers.

Above all, they recast their most banal avarice—the disinclination to pay tax—as a principled blow for political freedom. Not content with existing offshore tax shelters, multimillionaires and property developers have aspired to build their own. For each such rare project that sees (usually brief) life, there are many unfettered by actual existence, such as Laissez-Faire City, a proposed offshore tax haven inspired by a particularly crass and gung-ho libertarianism, that generated press interest in the mid-’90s only to collapse in infighting and bad blood; or New Utopia, an intended sea-based libertarian micro-nation in the Caribbean that degenerated with breathtaking predictability into nonexistence and scandal.

Libertarian dreams of paying no tax go back to the Boston Tea Party and the Whiskey Rebellion in the formative days of the old American Republic. It seemed that most people in that time equated paying taxes to the old European Monarchies and how they taxed their citizens to death funding their wars of “honor and glory.” Hmmm, does this sound familiar?

I have my own wild theory why the Freedom Ship isn’t even leaving the drawing board and it does involve our old nemesis the NWO, but I must research the matter further before I throw out my wild tinfoil theories (yes, I still do that) into the public blogosphere.

I have no problem with private individuals trying to make a living with their own little companies and complaining and bitching about their taxes since they pay the highest rate to the “crown” and the “Fed”. It’s the giant mega-corps who claim to be “personages” (people) who own whole governments scamming out of paying taxes and setting up tax shelters, usually in small island banks and in gold and silver, not fake fiat crap like us serfs have to deal with. And yes, the Freedom Ship would probably be ideal for that purpose.

The author of the article claims that libertarianism is “an imperialism of outsourcing, a very petty fascism played as maritime farce: Pinochet of Penzance.”

But I put to you that Statism is the very fascism and imperialism the author states libertarianism as. True libertarianism harkens back to the old original Democratic Party of Jefferson and Andrew Jackson, who wanted nothing to do with the old European monarchist system of noble and serf, and everything to do with an everyman egalitarism where people are equal under the eyes of the law (yes, it was flawed, i.e. African Americans) and building a life with one’s own hands.

And how can one not say that today’s American Federal Empire isn’t Statist in breadth and scope? Do you think Jefferson and Jackson would recognize the U.S. today? Hell, Jackson would be trying to form up an army to revolt!

The Freedom Ship’s purpose might’ve been an expensive floating island tax shelter for mulimillionaires and property developers, but don’t you worry. The ship will be built and float for the NWO elite someday. And you know how they feel about taxes!

Original Article