Seasteading Institute

Act’s libertarian rump can go live in Honduras

Perhaps the 1595 Libertarianz and the 50 odd “classical liberals” of the Act party could all emigrate…to Honduras:

Now, for the first time, libertarians have a real chance to implement their ideas. In addition to a big special development region, the Honduran government intends to approve two smaller zones. And two libertarian-leaning start-ups have already signed a preliminary memorandum of understanding with the Honduran government to develop them.

One firm goes by the name of Future Cities Development Corporation. It was co-founded by Patri Friedman, a grandson of Milton Friedman, a Nobel laureate in economics, and until recently executive director of the Seasteading Institute, a group producing research on how to build ocean-based communes. The other is called Grupo Ciudades Libres(Free Cities Group) and is the brainchild of Michael Strong and Kevin Lyons, two entrepreneurs and libertarian activists.

Both share a purpose: to build “free cities”. Last April all three spoke at a conference organised by Universidad Francisco MarroquĂ­n, a libertarian outfit in Guatemala. In September they and Giancarlo IbĂĄrgĂŒen, the university’s president, launched the Free Cities Institute, a think-tank, to foster the cause.

As so often with enthusiasts, divisions within the cause run deep. The two firms hail from different parts of the libertarian spectrum. Mr Friedman is an outspoken critic of democracy. It is “ill-suited for a libertarian state”, he wrote in an essay in 2009—because it is “rigged against libertarians” (they would always lose) and inefficient. Rather than giving its citizens a voice, he argues, they should be free to exit; cities should compete for them by offering the best services.

The second firm’s backers appear to be less radical. A founder of several charter schools, Mr Strong is now the force behind FLOW, a movement that claims to combine libertarian thinking “with love, compassion, social and environmental consciousness”, says its website. He too prefers exit over voice (meaning that he thinks that leaving and joining are better constraints on executive power than the ballot box). But he also believes that democratic consent is needed in certain areas, such as criminal justice. His goal in Honduras is less to implement libertarian ideals than to reduce poverty and to speed up economic development.