脱离现实的“海上家园”

英国《金融时报》 伊莎贝拉•卡敏斯卡
2019.06.10 12:00

诗人约翰•多恩(John Donne)写道,没有人是一座孤岛。他的意思是人类在孤立时表现不佳,而成为合作社会的一份子才能过上最美好的生活。

支持“海上家园”(Seasteaders,该词源自homesteading,意思是在新的、无人居住的地方为自己安家——译者注)的人们不认同这种说法;这是由一个社会边缘的人群发起的无政府主义-自由意志主义运动。他们说,如今的合作社会已经退化变质,变成垄断和胁迫性的政治体制,过度的监管、税收和暴力威胁扼杀了创造自由和创新。这就是为什么他们希望创建自己的自愿纳税的“初创国家”。

他们面临的最大挑战是,所有现有的陆地都已被老牌国家宣示了主权。所以他们转向海洋。通过设计微型的浮动国家,他们寻求重建最初创建家园运动的开拓精神——他们说,这种运动捍卫了个人主权。

在其他所有人看来,问题在于,“海上家园”运动人士的动机看起来并不那么真诚。他们似乎与海盗或者“詹姆斯•邦德”(James Bond)电影中狂妄自大的恶棍有很多共同之处,主要目的是将从更为合作的社会不公平攫取的财富隐藏起来,逃避公平分摊的税收。

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。

这个海洋住所的合法所有者科吉向泰国当局道歉,称自己没有正确传达“海上家园”运动人士的意图。他说他不知道为研究和旅游建造的海洋房屋可能被视为安全威胁。这种说法要么是幼稚得不可思议,要么是不老实的。倡导该运动的海上家园研究所(Seasteading Institute)公开寻求其设施的独立主权地位,以便不会被其他国家征税或者影响。对老牌国家来说,这种立场无异于安全风险。“海上家园”运动人士如果不懂这个道理就是在说梦话了。

在当今全球互联的世界中,就连拥有核武器的英国也难以在不对国际秩序造成巨大扰乱的同时退出欧盟、建立自己的税收和监管体制。有鉴于此,看不出有什么独立资源的“海上家园”有什么机会实现这一目标?

在实践中,受到意识形态驱使的一群人,只有两种方式逃避关于税收、法规和法律的国际共识。他们可以寻求与其共享价值观的老牌国家的保护。或者部署优势部队来吞并然后守住主权领土。

那些为了避税而在低税收管辖区居住的人往往选择第一种选项。但这里有一个取舍:他们重新进入他们有意识避税的区域的能力通常受到限制。如今,由于多边压力,个别国家提供避税的能力正在下降。至于更为暴力的战略,“伊拉克和黎凡特伊斯兰国”(ISIS)曾试图建立一个独立的哈里发,但此举构成的安全威胁最终被更大规模的国际盟军对付。

“海上家园”运动人士可能会说,他们的目标是和平的。但这没有解决核心的问题。只要他们仍然依赖其他陆基主权国家的资源,那么除非他们同意遵守既定的监管界限,否则就会被视为怀有敌意。

译者/裴伴

原文:The libertarian start-ups of the seasteaders are adrift from reality

By Izabella Kaminska

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.

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