Southampton University Libertarian Society

Nationbuilding for Fun and Profit I by sconzey
August 15, 2009, 12:38 am
Filed under: Philosophy, Views | Tags: , , , ,

So, you’re fabulously wealthy and want to change the world? Well the world is a very very big thing; history has a lot of intertia. You must either be like Hari Seldon in Isaac Asimov’s seminal work “Foundation” and pick the precise time and place to push, or you must be like Genghis Khan and push really really hard.

Under the Montevideo convention a nation state requires four things: a territory, a government, a capacity to enter into relations with other states, and a people. This guide aims to show you how to ethically, easily and most of all profitably assemble those three things and found a minarchist nation state.

Part 1: Land

The first objective for an investor is to find some suitable territory. This has tripped up many a previous investor; the Minerva project was an attempt to make an artificial island; investors built up the Minerva reefs in the Pacific ocean only to have them siezed by a nearby island (the reefs were within that extant power’s 200nm Exclusive Economic Zone). “Operation Atlantis” was a similar project — first a concrete boat, and then an offshore platform, both of which sank. Clearly a different approach is needed.


Land is in plentiful supply however, available for purchase for often modest sums, the difficulty is in the politics — administering the land as a separate jurisdiction to the country it is in. The solution is then not to buy the land and then seek seccession from the administrating power, but to approach the administrating power first, being upfront and honest, explaining that you wish to buy land to administer as a free-trade zone.

Point to the success of the JAFZ, Hong Kong, Shenzen, and how lucrative they are to their respective parent countries. Make out a contract for a certain period of time, say ten or twenty-five years, and agree to be taxed at a flat low rate on your corporate profits on the condition that you are the sole administrating power in that region. When the contract expires you should have enough economic inertia to successfully seceed.

Purchase of a Country

It isn’t entirely outside the realms of possibility that a small, poor country (a half a dozen island nations spring to mind) could be bought in it’s entirety. The most ethical route is to establish a contract of governance with the citizens, whereby you agree to wholely take over the running of the country for a certain period of time.

A less ethical route is to bribe the extant government into appointing sympathetic officials and implementing sympathetic policies.

As the country is already recognised, your purchase will likely be considered a “bloodless revolution.”


Patri Friedmen and Peter Thiel advocate “Seasteading” as the best way to form new countries. A seastead is some form of semi-mobile habitat on the high seas with a number of permanent residents and a degree of sovereignty.

The Seasteading Institute is currently developing plans for a variety of Seasteads on different scales, but cruise ships or offshore platforms can be purchased reasonably cheaply and would satisfy many of the requirements.

Ships on the open ocean are officially under the control of the country who’s flag they fly, however so-called “flags of convenience” offer a great deal of de facto independence. Most importantly, the precedents for this are well established in international law.

For a nascent seastead, it would be important to establish lines of supply and communication to the outside world. It’d help if you have a business of your own that you can move to the Seastead and start running it in the black from day one.

Corporate Secession

If a company is large enough, and owns enough strategic property, it is entirely possible that the company would alone possess the economic weight to seceed. The company would issue a Unilateral Declaration of Independence, declaring that it’s territories are the privately owned land on which the headquarters and manufacturing facilities were based.

With enough economic weight and an impotent, apathetic or sympathetic host nation the corporation would quickly be able to negotiate treaties allowing right of passage for the employees, goods, etc.

With a hostile host nation this isn’t reccomended, however it could be workable if — as is the case with many Japanese companies — that the workers live in Company-owned apartments.

With workers on-site and a coastal location, it is concievable that the nascent nation could survive despite a hostile host nation.

In the next part we’ll look at what form the government should take, and what services will need to be provided to kickstart your nascent nation.

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