“Atlas Swam: Freedom, Capital, and Floating Sovereignties in the Seasteading Vision”
Three professors offer a skeptical and negative take on seasteading in the Antipode. From the (preprint) abstract:
Political actors have long drawn on utopian imaginaries of colonizing marine and island spaces as models for idealized libertarian commonwealths. A recent inheritor of this tradition is the seasteading movement, which seeks to “further the establishment and growth of permanent, autonomous ocean communities [by] enabling innovations with new political and social systems” on semi-stationary, ﬂoating platforms. Fueled by a cocktail of ideologies (techno-optimism, libertarian secession theories, and strains of anarcho-capitalism), seasteading is touted as the newest “frontier” in creative, entrepreneurial, and social engineering. Inherent in the project, however, are buried ideals about the nature of ocean space, the limits of sovereignty, and the liberatory role of technology and capitalism in the drive for social change and individual freedom. We explore these notions through an examination of seasteading’s broader philosophical and economic underpinnings, and their deployment through multiple structural, legal, and social frameworks. Although seasteading is a highly speculative, and even fanciful project, it reﬂects attempts to resolve contradictions within capitalism: between, on the one hand, the need for order and planning, and, on the other hand, the desire to foster and lionize individual freedom.