Bronze-level article

Libertarian paradise

From RationalWiki
(Redirected from Silk Road)
Jump to navigation Jump to search
How the sausage is made
Icon politics.svg
As usual
Country sections
United States politics British politics Canadian politics Chinese politics French politics Indian politics Israeli politics Japanese politics South Korean politics

Libertarian paradise or Libertarian utopia is sometimes used as a form of loaded language when it is used to refer to a political entity that libertarians themselves have not embraced. At other times, it is used accurately to refer sarcastically to libertarian experiments in reality that have failed.

Loaded language[edit]

"annieli", writing for the Daily Kos, claimed that Somalia is a libertarian paradise. The evidence presented was that Somalia is a minimal state, citing the Cato Institute ("Libertarianism is the view that each person has the right to live his life in any way he chooses so long as he respects the equal rights of others."). The negative effects presented were civil war and widespread violent conflict resolution.[1]

Actually, Somalia is basically a failed state, not a minimal state. J. Andrew Zalucky has written that Somalia-as-libertarian-paradise is "not even a straw man argument".[2] Zalucky notes the rather un-libertarian aspects of Somalia: enforcement of a state religion and the centralized authoritarianism that preceded the civil war.[2]

Failed experiments with libertarianism[edit]

Colorado Springs[edit]

Mayor Steve Bach,Wikipedia who largely ran the experiment in Colorado Springs

The Libertarian Party was founded in Colorado Springs, Colorado; it is also the home of Focus on the Family and is notoriously anti-tax.[3] Though not explicitly libertarian in nature, Colorado Springs' response to an economic downturn of the Great Recession, and concomitant reduction in sales tax, was to vehemently oppose any increase in property taxes. In response, the city drastically reduced government expenditures. The city turned off ⅓ of its streetlights, locked public restrooms, slashed public bus services, and cut funding to police, the fire department, trash pickup, and city parks, including closure of swimming pools.[3] The city then began charging $125 to have a streetlight turned back on.[3] The city privatized a lot of services, but it was never determined whether privatization saved any money.[3]

[A lot of the people in Colorado Springs] don't care if privatizing actually saves the government money, so long as the government is doing less. City councilwoman Jan Martin says she hears this all the time. That it's become a matter of faith in the city that private is better.
—Robert Smith[3]

According to a city council member at the time, a lot of citizens didn't care what privatization cost; they just wanted less government.[3] This was to the point that people would rather pay $300 to turn on streetlights in their own neighborhood than collectively restore all government services for everyone for $200.[3] This is hatred of government bordering on class war.

Eventually, the recession ended, sales tax revenue increased, and city services resumed.[4]

Lessons learned:

  • There's a cost to saving money. Turning off streetlights saved $1.25 million, but copper thieves stole $5 million worth of wire (no electrocution worries, fewer police).[4]
  • Perpetual chaos is exhausting; most people involved with the privatization experiment are glad that it's over. During the experiment, a dysfunctional city government was voted in and led by Steve Bach, a self-described Trump-like businessman.[4]
  • Open bidding is a good thing; one of the benefits to come out of the experiment was an open bidding for the city's hospital, which netted the city a lot of money.[4]
  • Roads were not privatized, but public transport was slashed, showing just how hypocritical people can be.

Galt's Gulch[edit]

Who needs water rights?
See the main article on this topic: Galt's Gulch Chile

Galt's Gulch, Chile, was created on 11,000 acres of arid land in Chile by three libertarians. It was named after the fictional locale in Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged. Subdivisions were marketed and sold to fellow libertarians in 2013-2014. It was later found that the subdivisions did not include water rights, which is an enormous problem for arid lands. Compounding the water problem, houses had not been finished and contractors' bills had not been paid and they refused to perform further work. And in a final stroke of genius, the ownership of the gulch was accidentally transferred to someone who was not a founder. The mess has resulted in multiple lawsuits, which is particularly ironic because libertarians are usually loath to use governmental court systems.


Edwin Lyngar, a former libertarian, and Mike LaSusa have claimed that post-2009 Honduras (and specifically the city of San Pedro Sula) is a libertarian paradise.[5][6] The evidence presented was: no speed limit signs on their cross-country trip, unnecessary vehicle license plates, illegal traffic stops replaced by military checkpoints, privatization of road repair by ad hoc work crews, and "charter cities" (Zonas de Empleo y Desarrollo Económico, a.k.a. ZEDE or tax-free zones).[5] San Pedro Sula is one of these tax-free zones.[7] The negative effects presented were: heavy militarization (both government and private), protected enclaves for the middle class and rich, extreme income inequality, and very high levels of violence.[5][6] In 2013, San Pedro Sula was considered the most violent city in the world.[8] The continued violence in San Pedro Sula has resulted in the city being an epicenter of refugee migration to the US.[9][10]

Robert P. Murphy of the Fraser Institute, writing for the Ludwig von Mises Institute, wrote that he had never heard of a "libertarian claiming that Honduras [was] a paradise, or an experiment in the philosophy."[11] Murphy is essentially claiming loaded language on the part of Lyngar and LaSusa; however, Murphy is being duplicitous because libertarians were involved in the 2009 coup d'état against Honduran pro-socialist president Manuel Zelaya.[12]:44-47[13] Porfirio Lobo, who succeeded Zelaya, was responsible for implementing ZEDEs in Honduras.[12] The ZEDEs were designed after the libertarian concept of "free cities", tax-free zones with special legal systems that are largely independent from the rest of the country.[12]:48-50[14] For example, Jeff Berwick,Wikipedia a libertarian and one of the three Galt's Gulch founders, tried and failed to set up a free trade zone in Honduras in 2014.[15]

Phoenix Foundation[edit]

The Phoenix Foundation is the serial offender of libertarian paradises. The Phoenix Foundation was so named in 1975, but variously named incarnations have existed since 1968.[16] The Phoenix Foundation was formed by three gold bug libertarians: Nevada-based real estate millionaire Michael J. Oliver (born Moses Olitsky),[17]:108 his friend James Murt KcKeever, and investment advisor Harry D. Schultz.Wikipedia[16] Oliver is a Jewish Holocaust survivor from Lithuania who wrote a nation-building manifesto in 1968.[18][17]:108-109 With the publication of his book, Oliver launched the New Country Project in 1968 and began searching for places to create a libertarian utopia.[17]:109 By 1970, Oliver had investigated the Turks and Caicos Islands, the Bahamas, Curaçao, Suriname, French Guiana, Honduras, Costa Rica, and New Caledonia.[17]:110 In the cases of the Bahamas and Vanuatu (below), the Foundation's actions had a distinct air of colonialism, since the actions took place at around the time of independence and since anti-independence colonists were involved.[16]

In September 1971, Oliver and his supporters (called the Ocean Life Research Foundation or Caribbean-Pacific Enterprises) invested in a joint venture to purchase land for subdivision on Santa Maria and Gaua Islands in the New Hebrides (now Vanuatu), but by November, the British-French Condominium, which was the colonial overseer of New Hebrides, virtually prohibited subdivision and made residency by foreigners more difficult.[17]:110-111

Republic of Minerva[edit]

Satellite view of the Minerva reefs

Also in 1971, a representative of Oliver's attempted to have an audience with the King of Tonga regarding Oliver's intention to appropriate submerged reefs located south of Tonga and Fiji, known as the Minerva reefs.[19] After the setback in the New Hebrides, Oliver and his supporters proclaimed the "Republic of Minerva" over the submerged Minerva reefs on January 19, 1972.[17]:111 It was also claimed that Oliver's group had dumped one or more barges of sand from Australia on the reef, so as to create an island from the sea.[19] The declaration drew the attention of Tonga, and later Fiji. On June 15, 1972, the King of Tonga declared sovereignty over the Minerva reefs.[19] A delegation from Tonga shortly thereafter visited Minerva to enforce the Tongan sovereignty.[19] Tonga's sovereignty was recognized in September 1972 by the South Pacific Forum, which includes all Pacific Island nations as either members or observers. In 2005, Fiji had declared that they did not recognize Tonga's claim to Minerva, but by that time Oliver's group had long since given up on claiming it.


Bahamas in cream color with the North Abaco in red

In June 1971, the Prime Minister of the Bahamas announced an agenda for independence from Britain.[20] Many people from the Abaco islands objected to independence and formed a committee to oppose it.[20] In 1972, the pro-independence party won a decisive 60% of the vote overall, but in North Abaco, the vote was razor-thin, and in South Abaco, the anti-independence party won by a wide margin.[20] The British government, however, had indicated that independence for the Bahamas was an all-or-nothing deal.[20] The Bahamas declared independence on July 10, 1973. In August 1973, two residents of Abaco, Chuck Hall and Bert Williams, formed the Abaco Independence Movement (AIM); shortly before independence, they had contacted Oliver, who had agreed to finance AIM.[21] Besides independence, the goals of AIM included elimination of Crown (government) lands, creating an "Abaco World Trade Zone", and basically setting up an independent libertarian nation.[21] Though AIM's campaign was stated to be "self-determination through legal and peaceful political action",[21] there were some sinister non-Bahamian characters associated with AIM, including the arms merchant/mercenary Mitchell WerBell.Wikipedia[16][21] By 1975, AIM had changed its name to the Abaco Home Rule Movement (AHRM).[16] The 1977 elections were a disappointment for AHRM; the movement eventually died.[16]

Prior to independence, the libertarian magazine Reason was touting Oliver's plan for Abaco in part by the perceived social structure. Abaco was racially about 50% white and 50% black, due in part to British Loyalists fleeing there after the American Revolution,[22] and Abaco was seemingly self-segregated socially but not economically:[22]

Nor does anyone, black or white, appear to want residential integration—both races appear concerned about preventing interracial marriage as well as trying to avoid having either racial group become politically or economically dominant over the other. This system appears to work well; there is no segregation in stores, hotels, schools, restaurants, etc. and black Abaconians have for the most part been unresponsive to the racist rhetoric of Prime Minister Lyndon Pindling.

This was clearly a nod to libertarian Southerners who were angry at US desegregation ("Libertaryans").

Following Hurricane Dorian in 2019, the destruction on Abaco revealed to the world its racial and social inequality, with wealthy absentee owners owning luxury properties there and relying upon undocumented Haitians (who lived in an unregulated shantytown called Mudd) to build and maintain the properties.[23] One property owner said, "There’s a lot of people who don’t let their workers use their bathrooms. I get criticized for being too nice to my workers, but you’ve got to treat a human like a human, or you don’t get good quality work."[23] While the wrath of the hurricane destroyed luxury properties as well as Mudd, the luxury property owners were able to flee before the hurricane's arrival but the Mudd dwellers had to either hope for shelter in their employers' better-built estates or weather it out in the shantytown.[23] While the idea of an independent Abaco failed, Abaco has become libertarianesque because the infrastructure was largely privately built, because wealth is highly determinative there,[23] and because the Bahamas is a tax haven.[24]


Proposed flag of the Republic of Vemerana

Following The Phoenix Foundation's failure in the Bahamas, they investigated purchasing one of the Line Islands in 1975 from the British colonial government of the Gilbert and Ellis Islands (now part of Kiribati) via a British Lord as a proxy, but was swiftly rejected after it was discovered who the real purchaser was.[25]:151 Following that failure, The Phoenix Foundation then turned to influencing the Nagrimel movement in the New Hebrides starting in 1975.[25]:151

The Phoenix Foundation refocused on the New Hebrides archipelago in March 1979, since independence from the UK-France colonial condominium was imminent.[16] Oliver sought out potential allies within the New Hebrides, even considering the Jon Frum cargo cult of Tanna Island as a likely ally with a "libertarian bent",[26] even though the movement was primarily a religious/separatist organization with little to no knowledge of libertarianism.

Eventually, the Foundation formed an agreement with Jimmy Stevens (a.k.a., Jimmy Steven), the leader of the Nagriamel Movement, who was from Espiritu Santo Island (a.k.a. Santo).[16] The Foundation had the aim of having Santo become separate from New Hebrides as a libertarian paradise with Stevens as its leader.[16] The Nagriamel Movement badly lost the 1979 elections to the national unity Vanua'aku Pati. Stevens declared the Republic of Vemerana in June 1980, and New Hebrides became the independent nation of Vanuatu on July 30, 1980.[16]

Apparently, the Foundation had either forgotten about a little clause in their old proposed Abaco constitution about the government's limited powers ("Prohibiting import or export of … arms for criminal groups"),[22] or they "learned" from their failure and decided to rely on WerBell's mercenary expertise. The Foundation had spent more than US$250,000 in weapons, transport and radio equipment for Steven's secessionist Nagriamel movement.[16] Nagriamel supporters kidnapped the district commissioner of Santo, forced 2000 government supporters to leave the island, and ransacked businesses and houses.[16] The colonial troops that were stationed there did not act to quell the violence, and eventually Walter Lini, the first prime minister, requested troops from Papua New Guinea to suppress the rebellion.[16][27] The rebellion was dubbed "The Coconut War" and resulted in a few casualties and the death of one of Stevens' sons.[27]

Before he became a US Representative, Dana Rohrabacher visited Vanuatu during the rebellion and was likely connected to the Phoenix Foundation in some way.[28]

Silk Road[edit]

Silk Road payment system
Dread Pirate Roberts before he was keelhauled
I have been scammed more than twice now by assholes who say they’re legit when I say I want to purchase stolen credit cards. I want to do tons of business but I DO NOT want to be scammed. I wish there were people who were honest crooks. If anyone could help me out that would be awesome! I just want to buy one at first so I know the seller is legit and honest.
—An anonymous darknet user[29]

Silk Road was an online darknet black market that was best known for illegal drug commerce, but also other legal and illegal goods and activities. Silk Road was launched in 2011 by "Dread Pirate Roberts", who was later revealed by the FBI to be the libertarian Ross William UlbrichtWikipedia when he was arrested in 2013 and later sentenced to life in prison in 2015 on charges of drug trafficking, money laundering and conspiracy.[30] Silk Road was based on Bitcoin currency and TorWikipedia to anonymize both currency transactions and communications.[31] The anonymity brought a problem insofar as it became difficult to tell whom to trust, and that's where Ulbricht came in as an intermediary who could generally establish trust between seller and buyer.[29] The rules of Silk Road required that sellers immediately erase the mailing address of the buyer after a sale was completed; however, there was not and could not be any mechanism to enforce this.[29] This was a key structural flaw in Silk Road, which forced Ulbricht to betray his own ideals:

Now, my goals have shifted. I want to use economic theory as a means to abolish the use of coercion and aggression amongst mankind. Just as slavery has been abolished most everywhere, I believe violence, coercion and all forms of force by one person over another can come to an end.
—Ross Ulbricht[30]

Since sellers could, and did, in fact, keep the addresses of their buyers, they could and did use this information to blackmail Ulbricht. Ulbricht paid two blackmailers to murder two people who tried to blackmail him, though it is not known if this resulted in murders and he was not convicted on charges of murder.[29] Ulbricht also had to pay bribes to halt denial-of-service attacks.[29] The fate of Silk Road seemed to answer in the negative a fundamental libertarian question of whether free markets can exist without the threat of force.[29]

Von Ormy[edit]

The sign of the two-headed city government

In 2006, residents of Von Ormy, Texas (population of about 1000) feared that they would be annexed by the nearby and rapidly expanding city of San Antonio.[32] There was opposition to incorporating as a town because a lot of people in rural Texas hate government.[32] As a compromise, Martinez de Vara, a libertarian and a local law student, proposed instead incorporation as a "liberty city", a low-tax, minimal government form of incorporation in Texas that is popular among the Tea Party.[32] The town incorporated in 2008 with the motto "The Freest Little City in Texas".[32]

Vara became mayor in 2008, promising to bring in new businesses and progressively lower property taxes every year.[32] A major problem was that Von Ormy lacked a sewage system and businesses were reluctant to come there without one. The San Antonio Water System told them a sewer connection would cost between $4-5 million, but the town only had $500,000 it could spare.[32] The city administrator recommended floating a bond, but liberty cities are not supposed to take on debt.[32] An oil boom in Texas increased sales tax revenue from existing businesses, and the property tax revenue was decreased from 2009 through 2014.[32] In 2014 the oil boom began to end and sales taxes began to dry up. At that point 3 of the 5 city council members decided that decreasing the property tax every year was foolish, and they formed a shadow city government, but were eventually arrested for allegedly violating the Texas Open Meetings Act.[32] Von Ormy was descending into chaos and Vara stepped down as mayor, replaced by councilor Trina Reyes. In 2015, Von Ormy was spending $20,000-$30,000/month on legal fees due to the arrests.[32]

Vara suggested that Von Ormy change from a Type A to a Type C municipality in order to eliminate the chaos.[32] Voters narrowly supported the change, but it didn't eliminate the chaos.[32] By 2016, the police department was forced to shut down after the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement pulled its accreditation due to its inability to meet basic standards from a combination of lack of funds and an unqualified police chief.[32][33] The volunteer fire department also collapsed due to lack of funds.[32] When a volunteer fire department fails for lack of funds, you know you've got problems.

Lessons that could be learned:

  • There's a cost to saving money.
  • Constant chaos is exhausting.

Free Town Project[edit]

A group of libertarian activists attempted to take over the tiny town of Grafton, New Hampshire and transform it into a monument for libertarian ideals. The founders of what would become the Free Town Project drove around the New England countryside in a van “fortified by alcohol, tobacco and firearms" while searching for their paradise.[34] In addition to attracting a fair number of cranks and kooks, civic institutions were gutted, and the town was overrun by aggressive black bears feeding off unsecured food and improperly-discarded garbage.[35] Because not even the most basic common public services were supported (to the point that the town's single police officer didn't have the money to repair his patrol car), the residents of Grafton were literally left on their own to deal with the bear problem individually.[36] The town also enjoyed a sudden influx of sex offenders, a budget shortfall compounded by numerous lawsuits filed by libertarians, and the first homicide in living memory.[37] What a paradise!

While the Free Town Project was unfolding in 2016, a similar but more grandiose project was being planned for the whole state of New Hampshire by other libertarians, the Free State Project.[38]:218 The Free State Project did not eventuate.

Other realities[edit]

Why are there no libertarian countries? If libertarians are correct in claiming that they understand how best to organize a modern society, how is it that not a single country in the world in the early twenty-first century is organized along libertarian lines?
—Michael Lind[39]

There have been countries based around many different systems of social and economic organization: capitalism, communism, socialism, democracy, autocracy, theocracy, autarky and monarchy, but not on libertarianism. Libertarianism as a concept has been around since the early 20th century, but its roots date back much earlier, going back to at least John Locke[note 1]in the 1600s. Libertarians like some aspects of some governments, but they seem to be hard-pressed to point to a country with high levels of economic liberty and social liberty that they could even call an approximation. The best that has been done are rankings on economic freedom only by The Fraser Institute and the Heritage Foundation.

  • The Fraser Institute ranked countries on economic freedom-only scale of 10. The top 5 countries in 2016 were: Hong Kong (9.03), Singapore (8.71), New Zealand (8.35), Switzerland (8.25), Canada (7.98).[41] The median score is about 7.0, and most economically-developed countries are ranked not that different from Canada.[41]:8-9
  • The Heritage Foundation, though not libertarian, ranked the top countries similarly on an economic freedom-only scale. The top 5 countries in 2017 were: Hong Kong (89.8%), Singapore (88.6%), New Zealand (83.7%), Switzerland (81.5%), Australia (81.0%), a near match.[42]

A problem with these rankings is that the countries that appear on the top tend to be exceptional more because of geopolitics than because of policy. Some of the countries are able to maintain small-ish governments because of special circumstances: Hong Kong as a demilitarised gateway for investment to and operations in China, Singapore as a state capitalist regional entrepôt, Switzerland's historical neutrality, and mostly small populations.[39] Notably, the rankings did not consider some anti-libertarian aspects:

  • Hong Kong is ultimately controlled by a one-party state with poor scores on democracy and corruption. Hong Kong was ranked number 1 for "crony capitalism" in 2014.[43] In recent years, the CCP has cracked down on its freedoms and implemented a national security lawWikipedia that severely restricts its freedoms.[note 2]
  • Singapore is a "benevolent" state capitalist dictatorship in which 85% of housing is supplied by the government and state-owned enterprises (SOEs) produce 22% of GNP (international average 10% GNP). It deliberately portrays itself as a free-trade paradise so its SOEs, such as Singapore Airlines, won't be avoided by Chicago school-educated foreign investors who would assume that they were inefficient or corrupt if they knew who owned them.[44] Singapore was ranked number 5 in the world for crony capitalism.[43] Singapore does not have press freedom (ranked 151 of 180 countries in 2017).[45] Singapore enforces a death penalty for drug traffickers.[46]
  • Canada and New Zealand have publicly-funded near-universal healthcare.
  • Australia, Switzerland, Hong Kong, and Singapore have publicly-funded universal healthcare.

Kowloon Walled City[edit]

View of one edge of the Walled City from a playground in 1993

Kowloon Walled City (KWC), a.k.a. The City of Darkness, has been called a libertarian experiment or anarchy,[47][48] but rarely paradise. Anonymous posters placed within the city shortly before its destruction did however proclaim that it "was built with 'blood and sweat', and while to outsiders it might be a cancer', to those living there it was 'heaven'."[49]:209 It stands, though, as a good caution for the need for planning, but planning in itself doesn't make a paradise (see above).[50]

KWC had an inauspicious start in 1277 CE as a minor imperial fort of the Song Dynasty, existing with little notice until Britain colonized Hong Kong Island in 1841.[50] By 1847, China installed walls around the fort for the first time as a counter to British expansion. The walls were ineffective in that regard, as the British eventually expanded throughout the Kowloon Peninsula with the exception of the fort.[50] Initially, KWC had direct access to the sea, but eventually. land reclamation made KWC a landlocked exclave.[50] The Chinese and the British signed an 1898 treaty regarding the British occupation of the New Territories, but the Chinese did not want to give up KWC under any circumstances, and the treaty had ambiguous language with regard to KWC. KWC was known as a place for vices (initially gambling from 1890 until near the time of its demise).[50] During World War II, Japan removed the walls to expand the nearby Kai Tak Airport.[50] After the war, neither the returning British colonial government nor the new communist government of China wished to change the status quo for KWC, with neither power exercising much influence over it.[50] On the few occasions when the Hong Kong government attempted to exercise control over KWC, the threat of raising the issue to diplomatic incident was often enough for Hong Kong to back down.[50] What resulted from this situation was a largely ungoverned microstate within Hong Kong.

An alleyway in the City of Darkness: 'heaven' to some?

Some of the characteristics of KWC as it existed after the war until the 1984 treaty on relinquishment of Hong Kong to ChinaWikipedia did indeed resemble either libertarianism or anarchy. KWC was noted for no taxes, no government regulation, and minimal government intervention. It was also known for gambling, illicit drugs (opium and heroin), prostitution, organized crime (triads), no zoning or building regulations (with widespread use of asbestos[49]:199,211), no electricity in the earlier years, no organized waste or sewage disposal, difficulty accessing clean water (municipal water was only piped as far as the edge of the KWC), and unregulated industries (including food production, dentistry, and medicine with only rudimentary hygiene).[49][note 3] Filth, rats and cockroaches were widespread in KWC, but despite this, KWC was a major supplier for some food items to Hong Kong (fish ballsWikipedia especially, which were regarded as being the tastiest).[49] Building heights eventually reached about 14 stories and were only limited by the proximity to airplanes arriving and departing at the nearby airport.[49] A mutual aid organization (Kaifong associationWikipedia) developed, which also recorded property transactions and assured the terms of the contracts.[49] Hong Kong-supplied electricity was only installed after a major fire occurred from jury-rigged electric wiring that was illegally tapped into municipal power. Despite all this, people thrived in KWC, had a sense of community, and even considered it safer than other parts of Hong Kong.[49] The Hong Kong police had made occasional incursions into KWC, and the Supreme Court had asserted its jurisdiction based on a 1959 murder case, but full jurisdiction only began after the 1984 treaty.[50]



If Bitcoin was a country — Bitcoinistan? — it would be like Somalia.
—Jim Edwards[51]

About 44% of cryptocurrency users self-identify as libertarian or anarcho-capitalist.[52] Jim Edwards pondered what a libertarian paradise would be like based on the realities of bitcoin and determined that it would be "characterized by radical instability, chaos, the rise of a boss-class of criminals who assassinate people they don't like, and a mass handover of wealth to a minority even smaller than the 1% that currently lauds it in the United States."[51] Specifically:

  • There is little if any reason for ordinary people to use the currency, but very compelling reasons for criminals to use it.[53]
  • Despite one of Bitcoin's main claims to intrinsic value being security, there is quite a lot of theft of Bitcoins, including a $100+ million theft of Bitcoins from "Sheep Marketplace", an illegal online drug sales website.[54] There have also been some notable accidental losses of Bitcoins, including one man who lost $6.5 million in a landfill.[55]
  • The owner of Silk Road was accused of trying to hire hitmen with Bitcoins to kill people who stole from him.[56]
  • Bitcoin is a notoriously unstable currency.[51]
  • As of 2013, 47 individuals owned one-third of all Bitcoins, and 927 people owned one-half of all Bitcoins.[57]

In early 2022, two projects to purchase an island and turn it into "crypto-paradise", Satoshi Island and Cryptoland, caught media attention. Both projects had scant concrete details on how they would actually accomplish this task, but of course, both projects were already selling non-fungible tokens.[58] The "Cryptoland" project in particular (founded by a pair of YouTube personalities) received widespread mockery for its shitpost-style promotional video, idiotic and baseless legal threats against critics, stolen intellectual property within said shitpost video, references to an infamous Bitcoin Ponzi scheme called BitConnect,Wikipedia and a cringe tweet that stated that on this island, the age of consent would be "mental maturity".[59][60][note 4] The sheer slapdash nature of the Cryptoland project led one reporter to the conclusion that this would either be a scam, or a disaster on the scale of the infamous Fyre Festival.Wikipedia[62] The projects seem to be oblivious to the fact that owning an island within the territory of a sovereign nation (Fiji and Vanuatu in these cases) does not free one from the laws of said nation.

Following the devastation of Hurricane Maria in 2017 in Puerto Rico and the failed disaster response under Trump,[63] crypto enthusiasts have sought to build a 'crypto paradise' on there.[64] Crypto enthusiasts have been accused of "Vendepatria" (selling out the homeland), and failing to help the island's residents.[64] Due to a 2012 law (Act 22), newcomers to Puerto Rico have been able to avoid Federal taxes if they live on the island 183 or more days per year, something that is particularly attractive to crypto speculators who wish to cash-out and dodge taxes on the profits.[64] Consequently, there have been calls for repeal of Act 22, and accusations that it is a form of racism in favoring interlopers over native-born Puerto Ricans.[64]

If this weren't all bad enough, the authoritarian-leaning president of El Salvador, Nayib Bukele, foisted Bitcoin as an official currency upon the country, with 71% of polled Salvadorans saying that they did not see any benefit from Bitcoin.[65]


The green section would be Liberland. Other disputed territories are marked in yellow, and are claimed by one or both of Serbia and Croatia.

Liberland is a micronation along the disputed border region between Croatia and Serbia. Curiously a sub-region of about 7 km2 named Gornja Siga was claimed by neither Croatia nor Serbia. A Czech Rothbardian[66] libertarian named Vít Jedlička decided to try to claim the land and create a micronation in 2015.[67] There are currently no residents of Liberland and no international recognition. Croatia has a policy of preventing anyone from entering Gornja Siga, and both Croatia and Serbia are staunchly against Liberland's existence.[68] Legal experts in both Serbia and Croatia reject Jedlička's claim.[69] Egypt has reported scams relating to emigration into Liberland.[70] Since Gornja Siga is low-lying land adjacent to the Danube River, it is on the floodplain and Liberland could get wiped out without proper planning.

Liberland is hardly the first attempt of non-state actors to seize control of unoccupied or unclaimed land (i.e., terra nulliusWikipedia).[71] The fundamental problem with doing this is that under international law, only states can assert sovereignty over land, the state must do so by occupying the space over a period of at least several years, and it must be recognized by neighboring countries.[72]


Sealand: paradise on stilts
See the main article on this topic: Seasteading

Several attempts have been made by libertarians to create micronations on artificial islands: Sealand (a former WWII anti-aircraft platform in the North Sea), Republic of Minerva (an artificial island constructed on top of a submerged reef in the South Pacific), Rose Island (a platform in the Mediterranean), and Operation Atlantis (a ship anchored off of the Bahamas). None of them were successful, but libertarians are still pushing the idea.[73][74]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. Locke's writings have also been used in support of "philosophical anarchism".[40]
  2. Tankies (of all people) claim that the law somehow restores freedom to Hong Kong; but when they get into arguments about free markets, they claim that Hong Kong isn't free. Nice cognitive dissonance.
  3. An outbreak of a plant-based virus in humans was traced to a KWC doctor who had performed knee injections using an unsterilized needle onto which a potted plant had dripped.[49]:193
  4. For a more in-depth look, the sheer insanity of the Cryptoland video is documented in detail by software engineer and Wikipedia editor Molly White in a long Twitter thread.[61]


  1. Somalia may continue to embrace libertarian principles by anneli (2015/02/21 · 13:05) Daily Kos.
  2. 2.0 2.1 No, Somalia is not a "Libertarian Paradise" by J. Andrew Zalucky (February 17, 2014) For the Sake of Argument.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 459: What Kind of Country. Act Three. Do You Want a Wake Up Call? by Robert Smith (2012) This American Life (NPR).
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 The Short, Unhappy Life of a Libertarian Paradise: The residents of Colorado Springs undertook a radical experiment in government. Here’s what they got. by Caleb Hannan (July/August 2017) Politico Magazine.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 My libertarian vacation nightmare: How Ayn Rand, Ron Paul & their groupies were all debunked: My family and I traveled last month to a Honduras city known for its libertarian ideals. Here's what happened next by Edwin Lyngar (Mar 2, 2015 05:30 PM PST) Salon.
  6. 6.0 6.1 The Nightmare Libertarian Project to Turn This Central American Country Into Ayn Rand's Paradise: And naturally, the US is pushing the efforts along by Mike LaSusa (January 27, 2015, 12:52 PM GMT) Alternet.
  8. Inside San Pedro Sula – the most violent city in the world: City in Honduras has a murder rate of 173 per 100,000 residents, reportedly the highest in the world outside a war zone by Sibylla Brodzinsky (15 May 2013 10.05 EDT) The Guardian.
  9. The migrants who fled violence for the US only to be sent back to their deaths: Every year thousands of Hondurans come to the US in search of a better life and safety – yet for a growing number of young men, the return home makes them prime targets for gang retaliations as murder rate surges by Sibylla Brodzinsky (12 Oct 2015 08.34 EDT) The Guardian.
  10. Here's The Truth About The Caravan Of Migrants Trump Keeps Going On About: "If I could offer something to my kids in Honduras, don't you think I would be there?" one migrant said. by Maya Averbuch & Sarah Kinosian (04/18/2018 03:44 pm ET Updated Apr 18, 2018) Huffington Post.
  11. Since When Is Honduras a Libertarian Paradise?! by Robert P. Murphy (March 6, 2015) Ludwig von Mises Institute Canada.
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 The Making of a Free City: The Foundation of Laissez-faire Capitalist Free Cities in Honduras in The Juncture of Globalisation by Luis Guillermo Pineda Rodas (2013) Roskilde Universitet, Magister Scientiae.
  13. The Truth Comes Out in Honduras: A commission established by the Organization of American States shows that Manuel Zelaya precipitated the crisis that led to his ouster. by Mary Anastasia O'Grady (July 25, 2011) Wall Street Journal.
  14. A New Place to Think About "Free Cities": Can special economic zones and private cities morph to arenas for widespread, unprecedented market and regulatory liberty? by Brian Doherty (Jun. 9, 2016 8:15 pm)
  15. The Fierce Battle for the Soul of Bitcoin by Robert McMillan (03.26.14 06:30 am) Wired.
  16. 16.00 16.01 16.02 16.03 16.04 16.05 16.06 16.07 16.08 16.09 16.10 16.11 16.12 Ashes To Ashes by Mike Parsons (Jul 01, 1981) New Internationalist.
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 17.3 17.4 17.5 Tax Havens and Sovereignty in the Pacific Islands by Anthony Van Fossen (2013) University of Queensland Press. ISBN 1921902213.
  18. A New Constitution for a New Country by Michael Oliver (1968) Fine Arts Press.
  19. 19.0 19.1 19.2 19.3 A true record of the Minerva Reef saga of 1972 and the part played by the Tongan Shipping Company Vessel Olovaha by Doug Jenkins]
  20. 20.0 20.1 20.2 20.3 Forgotten Dreams: A People's desire to chart their own course in Abaco, Bahamas. Part One by Rick Lowe, edited by Larry Smith (2010) The Nassau Institute.
  21. 21.0 21.1 21.2 21.3 Forgotten Dreams: A People's desire to chart their own course in Abaco, Bahamas. Part Two by Rick Lowe, edited by Larry Smith (2010) The Nassau Institute.
  22. 22.0 22.1 22.2 Abaco: Birth of a new country? by Lynn Kinsky and Robert Poole (October 1974) Reason (archived from September 14, 2019).
  23. 23.0 23.1 23.2 23.3 When Hurricane Dorian blew through the Bahamas, it exposed one of the world’s great faultlines of inequality by Kevin Sieff (September 12, 2019 at 7:43 a.m. PDT) The Washington Post.
  24. Why Is the Bahamas Considered a Tax Haven? by Brian Beers (Updated Mar 6, 2019) Investopedia.
  25. 25.0 25.1 The Politics of Land in Vanuatu: From Colony to Independence by Howard van Trease (1987) Institute of Pacific Studies of the University of the South Pacific. ISBN 9820200040.
  26. Wun Niu Fela Kuntri: A different kind of liberation movement emerges in the New Hebrides by Patrick Cox (September 1980) Reason.
  27. 27.0 27.1 The Coconut War: The Crisis on Espiritu Santo by Richard Shears (1980) Cassells Australia. ISBN 0726978663.
  28. Melanesian Politics: Stael Blong Vanuatu by Howard Van Trease (1995) Macmillan Brown Centre for Pacific Studies. ISBN 9820201195. p. 420.
  29. 29.0 29.1 29.2 29.3 29.4 29.5 Dark Leviathan: The Silk Road might have started as a libertarian experiment, but it was doomed to end as a fiefdom run by pirate kings by Henry Farrell (20 February, 2015) Aeon.
  30. 30.0 30.1 Ross Ulbricht NNDB
  31. Drugs bought with virtual cash by Justin Norrie & Asher Moses (June 12 2011) The Sydney Morning Herald.
  32. 32.00 32.01 32.02 32.03 32.04 32.05 32.06 32.07 32.08 32.09 32.10 32.11 32.12 32.13 The Rise and Fall of the "Freest Little City in Texas": How a libertarian experiment in city government fell apart over taxes, debt and some very angry people. by James McCandless (Jul 31, 2017 at 9:46 am CST) Texas Observer.
  33. State agency pulls plug on Von Ormy Police Department: Bexar County Sheriff's Office will watch over area by Stephanie Serna (Sep 20, 2016 at 10:47 pm CST) ABC 12 KSAT.
  34. Reid Forgrave, Review: 'A Libertarian Walks Into a Bear,' by Matthew Hongoltz-Hetling. Star Tribune, 25 September 2020.
  35. Matthew Hongoltz-Hetling, A Libertarian Walks Into a Bear: The Utopian Plot to Liberate an American Town.
  36. The Town That Went Feral. The New Republic, 13 October 2020.
  37. How a New Hampshire libertarian utopia was foiled by bears. Vox 10 December 2020
  38. A Libertarian Walks Into a Bear: The Utopian Plot to Liberate an American Town by Matthew Hongoltz-Hetling (2020) PublicAffairs. ISBN 1541788516.
  39. 39.0 39.1 The question libertarians just can’t answer: If your approach is so great, why hasn’t any country anywhere in the world ever tried it? by Michael Lind (Jun 4, 2013 01:17 PM PDT) Salon.
  40. Locke’s Political Philosophy by Alex Tuckness (First published Wed Nov 9, 2005; substantive revision Mon Jan 11, 2016) Stanford Encylopedia of Philosophy.
  41. 41.0 41.1 :8Economic Freedom of the World: 2016 Annual Report by James Gwartney et al. (2016) Fraser Institute
  42. 2017 Index of Economic Freedom: Country Rankings Heritage Foundation
  43. 43.0 43.1 Planet Plutocrat: The countries where politically connected businessmen are most likely to prosper (Mar 15th 2014) The Economist.
  44. Ha-Joon Chang, Economics: The User's Guide (London, 2014) p.49
  45. 2017 World Press Freedom Index Reporters Without Borders.
  46. Singapore Cornell Center on Death Penalty Worldwide
  47. The Libertarian Experiment, Kowloon Walled City by Robert Platt Bell (January 18, 2015) Living Stingy.
  48. Kowloon Walled City: A place of anarchy by Adolfo Arranz (PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 18 February, 2014, 7:33am; UPDATED : Thursday, 21 August, 2014, 10:48am) South China Morning Post.
  49. 49.0 49.1 49.2 49.3 49.4 49.5 49.6 49.7 City of Darkness: Life in Kowloon Walled City by Greg Girard and Ian Lambot, Watermark Publications. ISBN 1873200137.
  50. 50.0 50.1 50.2 50.3 50.4 50.5 50.6 50.7 50.8 "A Chinese Magistrate's Fort" by Julia Wilkinson (1993) In: City of Darkness: Life in Kowloon Walled City by Greg Girard and Ian Lambot, pp. 60-71. Watermark Publications. ISBN 1873200137.
  51. 51.0 51.1 51.2 Bitcoin Proves The Libertarian Idea Of Paradise Would Be Hell On Earth by Jim Edwards (Dec. 10, 2013, 9:28 PM) Business Insider.
  52. The Demographics of Bitcoin (Part 1 updated) by Lui (2013-03-04) Simulacrum.
  53. CLAIM: Bitcoin Is Basically For Criminals by Jim Edwards (Nov. 27, 2013, 12:30 PM) Business Insider.
  54. Two Guys On Reddit Are Chasing A Thief Who Has $220 Million In Bitcoins by Jim Edwards (Dec. 4, 2013, 3:22 PM) Business Insider.
  55. The Unluckiest Man In The World Has $6.5 Million In Bitcoin Buried In A Landfill by Joe Weisenthal (Nov. 27, 2013, 12:14 PM) Business Insider.
  56. Everything we know about Ross Ulbricht, the outdoorsy libertarian behind Silk Road by Caitlin Dewey (October 3, 2013) The Washington Post.
  57. 927 People Own Half Of All Bitcoins by Rob Wile (Dec. 10, 2013, 12:19 PM) Business Insider.
  58. "Cryptocurrency Investors Try to Turn Private Islands Into Blockchain Utopias" by Edward Onoweso Jr, Vice, 2022 January 7
  59. "Cryptoland: a glimpse into the future we all deserve" by Jemima Kelly, Financial Times, 2022 January 7
  60. "Crypto Private Island Posting Through Widespread Backlash" by Edward Onoweso Jr., Vice, 2022 January 10
  61. "an up-and-coming crypto scam—er, project—has managed to dunk on cryptobros better than any satirist i've seen so far, with one of the most painful-to-watch youtube videos i've seen in a while. join me in hell as we watch this together:" by @molly0xFFF (2022 Jan 4) '"Twitter (archived on 2022 9 Jan).
  62. "Welcome to Cryptoland: The Fyre Festival for crypto fans" by Callum Booth,
  63. New Watchdog Report Reveals Administration’s Failures After Hurricanes in Puerto Rico (Mar 30, 2020) House Committee on Oversight and Reform.
  64. 64.0 64.1 64.2 64.3 ‘Crypto colonizers’ in Puerto Rico try to sell locals on the dream: A new wave of wealthy investors is moving to the island. Locals are greeting them with excitement — and suspicion. by Nitasha Tiku (January 13, 2022) The Washington Post.
  65. El Salvador’s Bitcoin Paradise Is a Mirage by Nelson Rauda Zablah (July 2, 2022) The New York Times.
  66. Welcome to Liberland: Europe's Newest State by Daniel Nolan (April 23, 2015 | 11:45 am) Vice.
  67. Liberland: How one man plans to build a new libertarian paradise in Europe. Exclusive: Vit Jedlicka is the self-proclaimed president of 'the youngest country in the world', a land free from regulation on disputed territory between Croatia and Serbia. He tells The Independent he now has too many backers to be stopped by Adam Withnall (17 April 2016 18:30 BST) The Independent.
  68. Liberland’s leader detained while trying to enter the country he just invented by Michael E. Miller (May 11, 2015) The Washington Post.
  69. Police in the Balkans block inauguration of Europe's new "mini-state" by Dusan Stojanovic (May 9, 2015, at 6:21 a.m.) AP.
  70. Foreign Min. warns Egyptians against emigrating to Liberland (Apr. 19, 2015 17:39) Cairo Post.
  71. This man is the latest in a series of travelers to declare ownership of a bizarre no man’s land in north Africa by Andrea Ma (Nov. 15, 2017, 10:09 AM) Business Insider.
  72. Virginia man’s claim on African land is unlikely to pass test by Ileana Najarro (September 7, 2014) The Washington Post.
  73. Seasteading in Paradise: New promise for floating free communities in a Polynesian lagoon—but is the movement leaving libertarianism behind? by Brian Doherty (June 2017) Reason.
  74. A floating Pacific island is in the works with its own government, cryptocurrency and 300 houses by Camille Bianchi (Published 5:01 AM ET Fri, 18 May 2018 Updated 10:27 PM ET Sun, 20 May 2018) CNBC'.