泰国政府最近对一群“海上家园”运动人士失去了耐心，这些人在被泰国视为领海的水域“安家”。查德•埃尔瓦托夫斯基(Chad Elwartowski)通过比特币投资赚了一大笔财富（这并非巧合）。对于泰国当局来说，埃尔瓦托夫斯基的“海上家园”——由吕迪格•科吉(Rüdiger Koch)设计的漂浮平台上的价值25万美元的玻璃纤维舱，在泰国度假胜地普吉岛附近“落户”——构成了一个国家安全威胁。不久之后，“海上家园”运动人士对强制性权威的恐惧得到了证实。在泰国，侵犯国家主权可能被判处死刑。面对这种威胁，他们退却了。
原文：The libertarian start-ups of the seasteaders are adrift from reality
The poet John Donne wrote that no man is an island. He meant that human beings do not do well when isolated, but rather get the best out of life by being part of co-operative societies.
Seasteaders, a fringe section of the anarcho-libertarian movement, disagree. They say today’s co-operative societies have transmuted into monopolistic and coercive political systems, which stifle creative freedoms and innovation with excessive regulation, taxation and threats of violence. That is why they aim to create their own start-up equivalents where all tax is voluntary.
Their biggest challenge is that all existing landmass is already claimed by established states. So they have turned to the sea. By engineering tiny floating countries, they seek to recreate the pioneering spirit of the original homesteading movements that they say defend individual sovereignty.
The problem, from everyone else’s point of view, is that seasteaders’ motivations don’t look very sincere. They seem to have a lot in common with pirates or megalomaniac James Bond villains, whose main objective is to squirrel away unfairly extracted wealth from more co-operative societies without paying a fair share of tax.
The Thai government recently lost patience with a group of seasteaders who deployed a sea-home in waters it considered to be Thai territory. Chad Elwartowski had (no coincidence) made a bucketload of wealth through his bitcoin investments. To the Thai authorities, Mr Elwartowski’s seastead — a $250,000 fibreglass pod on a floating platform engineered by Rüdiger Koch near the Thai beach resort of Phuket — posed a national security threat. It wasn’t long before the seasteaders’ fears of coercive authority were confirmed. In Thailand, violating national sovereignty carries the death penalty. Faced with that threat, they scarpered.
Mr Koch – the sea home’s legal owner – apologised to Thai authorities for not having properly communicated the seasteaders’ intentions. He said he had no idea that a sea home built for research and tourism could be perceived as a security threat. That claim is either inconceivably naive or disingenuous. The movement’s Seasteading Institute openly seeks independent sovereign status for its facilities so that they cannot be taxed or influenced by other nations. That stance is tantamount to a security risk for established states. Seasteaders are dreaming if they think otherwise.
In today’s globally connected world, even the UK, a nuclear power, is struggling to pull out of the EU and establish its own tax and regulatory regime without huge disruption to the international order. Given that, what are the chances a seastead with no discernible independent resources can pull it off?
In practice, there are only two ways a group of ideologically motivated individuals can opt out of the international consensus on tax, regulation and law. They can seek the protection of an established state that shares their values. Or deploy superior force to annex and maintain sovereign territory.
The first option is regularly deployed by those who trot off to live in low-tax jurisdictions to avoid taxes. But there is a trade-off: their ability to re-enter the zones they are consciously depriving of taxes is usually restricted. These days, the capacity of states to offer tax refuge is diminishing because of multilateral pressure. As for the more violent strategy, Isis attempted to establish an independent caliphate but the security threat this posed was eventually dealt with by a much greater international allied force.
Seasteaders might argue their objectives are peaceful. But the central problem remains. As long as they remain dependent on the resources of other land-based sovereign states, they will be considered hostile unless they agree to toe the established regulatory line.