Why do the nations rage?
I don’t know. Maybe because they’re out of ammo culturally. As Joe Quirk, president of The Seasteading Institute calls them, “the 193 monopolies on government that control 7.6 billion people right now” could benefit from some peace-loving competition. More importantly, the existence of his planned seasteads, floating platform-based ocean communities, could benefit the ostensible customers of monopoly governments by modeling nonviolent, voluntary community making.
I interviewed Quirk because I am interested in the cause of liberty and nonviolence from an anthropological perspective. I am curious about why humans group together and assent to monopolies of violence called states. I want to know how humans came to morally condone and even consecrate the violence such entities employ against nonviolent people for disagreeing with majoritarian might-makes-right rules.
Watch the interview here:
In the news today we are hearing reports that an elderly pundit Dr. Jerome Corsi is likely facing prison time for getting tripped up in a perjury trap during psychologically abusing grillings by grand inquisitor Robert Mueller. Corsi’s actions, whatever the specifics, did not produce a victim. (Robert Mueller did when he helped mislead the nation into the Iraq War, as tens of thousands of wounded or killed soldiers prove.)
Regardless of what you think of his politics, Corsi is facing the prospect of being locked in a cage merely for the impotently cathartic game of DC blood sport. Seemingly near half the country seems to be foaming at the mouth at the sight of a political writer being caged in his last years just because he favored their rivals’ presidential pick. Who wants to live in a society where its law and liberty is decided by these violent bouts of scapegoat ping pong?
Centralized monopolies that demand the right to initiate violence against any nonviolent misfit are devolving into anarchic schisms of mad groupthink. Where do we get off this ride?
To exit the vehicle safely, we must know how we got in it and why it is breaking down and making us sick on its way out of commission.
The enigmatic Jewish prophet Habakkuk once wrote, “Woe to him who builds a city with bloodshed and establishes a town by injustice!”
He wrote it at a time in which evidence suggests the world was filled with societies founded and mediated by controlled acts of bloodshed. Today, we call it ritual human sacrifice and tribal war campaigns for glory. As sophisticated moderns, we are embarrassed to address the seeming fluke of sacrifice so ubiquitous to human history so we awkwardly shuffle it off to the corners of our museums. At best, the fashionable answer is that sacrifice was a quirk of religion or agriculture or proto-patriarchy or some other such cultural institution that soiled our primal nobility.
In reality, sacrifice was a safety valve ancient communities used to channel pent up resentment, fear, and conflict into misfit human vessels of destruction. These scapegoats were marked out from the masses by some arbitrary difference that made them unbearably peculiar to suspicious crowds looking to avert famine, disease, or other harbingers of social in-fighting and disorder. Eventually, the governing authorities streamlined the process of sacrifice to include foreign-captured slaves who first received orgies and feasts to make them tainted enough with the local spirit of the community in tension.
We think we educated ourselves out of human sacrifice but this is a convenient myth we tell ourselves to justify its continual residue in our daily lives. Every culture that sends state agents to lock up a woman selling unlicensed tamales or a political dissident or an addict or an Amish herbal salve seller is still very much enthralled by the one-for-all logic underlying our generative sacrificial origins.
Today, we hide our consent for coercion against misfits by telling ourselves it is for the protection of victims and children. As if, for example, another Amish farmer thrown into a violent prison cage would cause the nation to perish if he was left alone to sell his raw milk.
Beyond domestic sacrificial violence in the name of victims, it is difficult to find a single country in existence today that did not have its founding determined by self-justifying war. As another remnant of sacred ritual, war has been a socially binding agent for societies: a means of uniting restless neighbors in righteous self-sacrifice of life and wealth for the defeat of a less-than-human foreign foe. Yet recent years have shown that as the public is more frequently exposed to the images of constant intervention in countries like Iraq, Yemen, Libya, and Syria, whatever unifying high war has long held is rapidly dissipating.
Our increasing sensitivity to the plight of the other, be it the drug war-ravaged family or drone strike victims abroad, make the governance models built on the initiation of physical violence against nonviolent people increasingly ineffective. No wonder criminal justice reform and ending wars are now the few areas of overwhelming political unity. Yet political systems, always in a lag from cultural trajectories because of structural incentives to maintain the status quo, are dramatically slow to decisively satisfy such popular demands.
A command-and-control economy where medical innovation and scientific reform are bugs to be blocked by bureaucracies simply has too much inertia built on the foundation of sacrificial wars and regulations to change its ways any time soon.
That’s why Joe Quirk and the Seasteading project are such a fascinating case to consider. As sacrificial forms of governance continue to leave their citizens in disunity and internal resentment over who gets what spoils in a supposedly zero-sum economy, we have a real chance to see the first sovereign societies develop free from bloodshed.
An ocean-platform community voluntarily funded and organized, if successful, is a monumental event in human anthropology.
Just having a place where problem solvers and innovators can develop potential breakthroughs in science, medicine, and innovation, free from deeply captured regulatory apparatuses could be a tremendous leap forward for mankind. And if these societies can maintain a thriving, non-monopoly state-managed existence, the rest of the world’s governments will be on notice to wean off of sacrificial violence or perish through increased social unrest and decline.
Competition may be a sin to John D. Rockefeller. But when it comes to bloated bureaucracies buoyed by outdated ways of treating human beings, it looks like a big beautiful blue ocean to me.