Seasteading Case Studies: Learning from the Failed Attempts of the Past

By Liberty Under Attack

Author’s Note: The following is an article I wrote for Ocean Living Magazine, the publication for The Marinea Project, where I am currently serving as their communications specialist. Click here for the full list of archives for The Marinea Podcast. Please enjoy!


Seasteading Case Studies: Learning from the Failed Attempts of the Past
By: Shane Radliff

For thousands of years, land has provided human beings the optimal headquarters for living. Resources were aplenty, large amounts of “real estate” were available for homesteading, and individuals could develop it as they saw fit.

That is, until two important things happened. One, being the advent of urbanization, or the corralling of large amounts of people into small areas and, two, being the various governments’ jurisdictional claims to 99.9% of all land in the world, including the most obscure, uninhabited islands.

A large number of folks’ subjective preferences lead them to remain in the cities, but there are those seeking a “return to the land” in the form of off-grid homesteading—they just want to be left alone with nature. But, governments, tending to be the control freaks that they are, have a nasty habit of fining and evicting private property owners via nuisance abatement (i.e. local codes and ordinances).

As Tom Marshall (Rayo), a freedom pioneer in the 1960s and 70s said, “Apply your free market principles by setting sail for sunnier waters.”

And he was right—the “homesteading” of the sea (seasteading) will play (and is playing) an inevitable role in the future of human freedom and survival.

Marinea is but one such project looking to found a village at sea; the other one with any notoriety would be The Seasteading Institute. Little known, there were also a few attempts at founding new libertarian countries in the open ocean in the mid-20th century.

For purposes of historical relevance, as well as potential lessons for current and future seasteaders, let’s take a look at their failed efforts to see where they went wrong.

(Author’s Note: Due to the scarcity of resources at the time this article goes to press, specific years may not always be provided. The resources referenced are: The Nation Builders’ Struggle, Brian Doherty’s Radicals for Capitalism, Rayo’s Vonu: The Search for Personal Freedom, Roy Halliday’s Operation Atlantis, Erwin Strauss’ How to Start Your Own Country, and some updates on the projects from Wikipedia.)

The Free Isles Project

The Free Isles Project was a venture that spawned out of the Preform-Inform movement and the Innovator libertarian zine in the 1960s. The goal was to conduct research on the efficacy of setting up a new libertarian nation, solutions to potential obstacles, and the seemingly endless possibilities if it were to come into fruition.

This project continued for a handful of years, but it never got past the talking stage. Eventually, the movement subsided after disagreements arose regarding the size and scope of government, the lack of individuals willing to become involved, and the potential ramifications from existing nation states.

Nonetheless, the Free Isles Project seems to be the origin of these ventures and influenced at least one, if not all, of the projects below.

Operation Atlantis

From the outset, the Free Isles Project was just a research effort. The first actual attempt at bringing a new libertarian nation into fruition was Werner Stiefel’s Operation Atlantis.

The plan was laid out in three stages: “(1) gather libertarians in a single location, (2) acquire an ocean vessel and declare it to be an independent nation while in international waters, and (3) create ‘an artificial island as close to the shores of the U.S. as international law will permit and Uncle Sam will tolerate.’”

Furthermore, according to Brian Doherty in his book, Radicals for Capitalism, their goal was to “eventually obtain sovereignty over some island…and turn it into a fresh new country.” From there they would have their base of operations and would start to build artificial platforms which would hopefully coalesce into the actual objective—a floating nation on the water.

The location he chose for recruiting libertarians was a hotel he had purchased in Saugerites, New York, which is right on the Hudson River, giving them water access to the Atlantic Ocean.

From scratch, they constructed a boat out of rebar and cement and set sail, only to have their vessel tip over and catch fire in the Hudson River. Persevering, they were able to navigate the vessel to the Silver Shoals area (near the Bahamas) when their ship sank.

Luckily, Steifel had already negotiated a 220-year lease for some land on the Haitian island, Tortuga, with the agreed-upon reason being for a small commercial chemical-mixing plant. But, once the Haitians learned of their plan to start a floating nation (from their own publication), President Jean-Claude Duvalier drove them out of the area, as it had already been slated for other purposes.

It is reported by Erwin Strauss, author of How to Start Your Own Country, and visitor to the hotel, that “Mr. Stiefel was approaching the enterprise as a Sunday afternoon diversion,” while focusing most of his time and effort on his pharmaceutical company. Strauss attributes that as one of the many reasons the dream of Atlantis died.

Michael Oliver’s, “The Capitalist Country”

Michael Oliver was a Lithuanian-born concentration camp survivor who set out to found “The Capitalist Country” in 1968.

He investigated many areas for his new nation and attempted to solidify purchases of land from countries with little or no government, but it was to no avail until Minerva was founded in 1972. Oliver and his crew laid claim to “two small coral atolls in the South Pacific, 400 miles south of Fiji,” and 260 miles northeast of the Kingdom of Tonga. Notices were sent to nations and they began dredging, capping out at 15 acres before running out of investment capital—far below their goal of 2,500 acres.

Doherty reports that the “project was breaking apart over personal squabbling” and that “…Oliver was washing his hands of the whole thing.”

Surrounding island countries caught wind of the venture and understood the negative ramifications if it were allowed to succeed. Then, on February 23, 1972, a box of supplies was dropped, labeled, “supplied and maintained by the government of Tonga.” The actions by the Tongan government were supported by many surrounding island countries. And, in the blink of an eye and with one gun boat, Minerva was conquered by the king of Tonga.

After that, Oliver pursued other strategies in founding his nation until he finally returned to the original goal—building artificial ocean cities. In the early 1990s, he set out to found the country of Oceania and penned the venture as the already known and nostalgic Atlantis Project.

In less than a couple of years it ended and at oceania.org, it still reads,

“The Atlantis Project, which proposed the creation of a floating sea city named Oceania, began in February 1993, receiving nationwide publicity from The Art Bell Show, Details Magazine, The Miami Herald, Boating Magazine, and worldwide publicity in Canada, New Zealand, Hong Kong, England, and Belgium. The project ended in April of 1994.”

Sea City “Taluga”

In 1969, the Cortez Development Corporation set out to found Sea City Taluga, a project focused primarily on tourism and recreation, rather than libertarian ideals like the previous case studies. Nonetheless, they still planned on setting up an autonomous government, albeit structured more like a corporation’s board of trustees than a traditional one.

The location chosen was Cortez Bank, an area allegedly claimed by no government 100 miles west of Mexico. In the most complete article written on the subject of new libertarian nations, John L. Snare claims that, “The bank rises from the deep ocean floor and is not on the continental shelf by any accepted geological or legal definition.”

Phase 1 was estimated to cost $350 million (keep in mind the year) and the entire project a substantial $2 billion—it was a MAJOR undertaking.

But, unfortunately, sometime after 1972, the U.S. government declared that the bank, as part of the continental shelf, was U.S. territory. The plan died and all capital investment in the project was wasted.

What Can We Learn?

Let’s first revisit why these projects failed or came to an end:

  • The Free Isles Project: It was purely a research venture and the participants deemed it to be an inefficacious pursuit.
  • Operation Atlantis: It seems they weren’t completely honest in their contractual agreement with Duvalier, and therefore, he drove them out of the area when they started work on the floating nation.
  • Operation Minerva: Their fate was sealed by infighting, a lack of funding, and an embarrassing lack of defense; it only took one Tongan gunboat to force them out.
    • Oceania/Operation Atlantis II: It was simply a lack of funding and interest.
  • Sea City Taluga: The U.S. caught wind of the project and declared the continental shelf U.S. territory.

Two terms need to be defined to make sense of this (from Wikipedia):

  • Contiguous Zone (CZ): “A band of water extending from the outer edge of the territorial sea up to 24 nautical miles (27.6 miles) from the baseline, within which a state can exert limited control for the purpose of preventing or punishing ‘infringement of its customs, fiscal, immigration or sanitary laws and regulations…’”
  • Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ): “Extends from the outer limit of the territorial sea to a maximum of 200 nautical miles (230.2 miles) from the territorial sea baseline…A coastal nation has control of all economic resources within its exclusive economic zone…However, it cannot prohibit passage or loitering above, on, or under the surface of the sea…”

The demise of Operation Atlantis can easily be attributed to the fact that they were within the CZ of Haiti and that their contractual agreement, as far as we know, did not include their plans for starting a nation at sea.

Operation Minerva (“The Capitalist Country”) provides us with a more sinister outcome. They were well outside the EEZ of Fiji, and were about 30 miles outside of the EEZ of Tonga, yet, the Tongan government still brought forth aggressive action to evict Oliver and his associates, much to the satisfaction of the surrounding island nations.

Erwin Strauss attributes their downfall to their lack of ability to defend their land, yet he postulates that Tonga could have easily obtained military support from the larger nations, if it was necessary. To paraphrase Psalms, put not your trust in princes, nor should you place faith in governments to actually follow their own laws.

Moreover, Sea City Taluga provides us with an example of what not to do—utilize any continental shelf, lagoon, atoll, etc. that is within the EEZ of the United States. Even though Snare claimed that there is no legal or geological justification for “ownership,” the U.S. still swooped in and crashed the party. It’s not wise to put that much investment capital at risk when the government can change terms and definitions willy-nilly.

How Marinea Plans to Avoid These Issues

The Cay Sal Bank is well outside any nation or country’s CZ, and Marinea will not be “infringing” upon any nation or country’s EEZ, since it will be a floating village at sea. Also, the success of Marinea will not depend or rely upon some contractual agreement with the government of the Bahamas, nor of any other country. There will be neighborly cooperation, if applicable, but that’s about it.

Furthermore, the three phase plan is realistic and doesn’t require hundreds of millions of dollars of investing to get off the ground. The first phase of the project specifically will be a ship under flag of convenience, by way of a modified shipping barge. The efficacy of this strategy has been proven time and time again.

Summarily, one of the issues that continually came up with the aforementioned case studies, as well as other “new nation” projects, is the lack of or running out of funding. Marinea has an answer to this problem. Once phase one is achieved, there will be extensive money-making possibilities, which will reduce (if not eliminate) the need for outside investing.

Conclusion

As George Santayana is attributed to have said, “Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” Current and future seasteaders would be wise to learn from the mistakes of their predecessors and correct them to increase their chances of success.

In the long view of human history, this is still a brand new strategy and I envision many more unforeseen obstacles before the inevitable success. Seasteaders are the pioneers of the modern era—rather than utilizing the failed political means, they are the folks seeking to shift the entire paradigm and open the world up to a whole new slew of possible solutions to problems that humans face going into the future.

We here at The Marinea Project are setting sail for sunnier waters. Are you?


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Ethical Land Use? with Kyle Rearden (LUA Podcast #47)

By Liberty Under Attack

Two episodes ago, I was joined by Kyle Rearden to discuss the fact that there is no such thing as “private property” in land ownership here in the USSA–nor was there ever. That said, I have been digitizing VONULIFE, March 1973 and Rayo has an article in there titled, “Ethical Land Use.”

Kyle and I thought this would be a great follow-up to our last discussion and may shed some more light on Rayo’s views regarding private property. Please check out the article in its entirety (see below) and refrain from judgement until listening to the episode in full.

Show Notes:
Ethical Land Use by Rayo
Kyle’s Blog


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Hardware Hacking with Jamin Biconik (LUA Podcast #46)

By Liberty Under Attack

Technology is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, governments utilize it to facilitate the most nefarious invasions of privacy and security; on the other, open source technologies provide a great way to fight back against Leviathan.

On this episode of Liberty Under Attack Radio, I’m joined by Jamin Biconik, a “hardware hacker,” permaculture farmer, and agorist.

Jamin is the developer of the Ghostpad privacy-oriented machines, Neuron, his custom Linux-based operating system, and a number of other projects. Herein, he tells us all about the invasions of privacy and security by States and their corporate cohorts, how he makes and designs his custom machines, why you need to get one, and much more.

Make sure to check out his website for all of his products.
http://neuron.semisynthetic.net/


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Fee Simple vs. Allodial Title: The State is Your Landlord (LUA Podcast #45)

By Liberty Under Attack

On this episode of Liberty Under Attack, we welcome back our LUA creative consultant, Kyle Rearden, in an attempt to answer this question: is there such a thing as “private” land ownership in Amerika?

We provide you with a brief historical overview of the development of private property ethics in the West, define and explain the significance of fee simple and allodial title, examine the ramifications that stem from the answer to the above question, and much more.

“Don’t try to substitute ‘legal’ ownership for physical invulnerability. Land you ‘own’ is not truly yours. The State will try to tell you what you can or can’t do with it, and will tax you for the privilege. Depending on local regulations, you may not be able to legally build a shack, put in a septic tank, plant trees, cut trees, shoot game, or grow crops without special permission from various bludg agencies. ‘Your’ land may be ‘condemned’ and taken away from you for a freeway, a dam site, or a ‘wilderness area.’ ‘Ownership’ does not even constitute a bonafide lease from the State since the State can unilaterally change its terms at any time.”-Rayo, 1971 [Emphasis added]

Show Notes:
Kyle’s blog


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“Sovereign Citizens” Are Infiltrating Anarchist Circles (LUA Podcast #44)

By Liberty Under Attack

It would behoove me to first say that the identifier “sovereign citizen” is an oxymoron, a contradiction in terms, if you will. A “sovereign” is above all else; a “citizen” is “a legally recognized subject of a state,” thereby subordinate to a larger body. Although, we will use that identifier throughout this episode, simply due to its notoriety and for purposes of clarity, because the tactics pursued by folks with ‘different’ labels (i.e. American State National, Freemen-on-the-land, etc.) are almost identical.

That said, in the past few months, I’ve witnessed a growing number of anarchists adopting and promoting falsehoods such as the CORPORATE UNITED STATES MYTH (all caps intentional), legal remedies within the Uniform Commercial Code, courts being under admiralty law, approved for value, and customizing “private,” non-commercial license plates, among other things.

In this episode of Liberty Under Attack, you will hear a discussion between myself and Kyle Rearden from May 2016. We cover cursory overviews of the aforementioned alleged “strategies,” and inform you on a then-current event, when “sovereign citizens” were infiltrating Patriot groups. It appears they’re onto anarchists now.

SHOW NOTES

1) 160507 – Screenshots of Facebook Thread (ZIP) | Original Facebook Thread
2) United States v. Marsh, 98 C.D.O.S. 3974 (1998)
3) Larry Myers: An Ignored Political Prisoner (Fleshes out US v. Marsh)
4) Chilling Dissent: How Government Demonizes Americans
5) The Origins of The Harney County Committee of Safety
6) Only On Paper: The Pathetic Story of Commerical Redemption, Freemen-on-the-Land, Sovereign Citizens, Lawful Rebellion, & Community Immunity
7) Disingenuous Activists! Why Leaderless Resistance is Preferable to Formal Organizations
8) Fake Judges: How & Why Sovereign Citizens are Undermining Patriot Groups
9) C4CF Political Prisoners Archive
10) Southern Poverty Law Center Exposed Page
11) Unjust Profiling Archive
12) Cancel Your Voter Registration!


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VONULIFE, March 1973: An Overview and a Sneak Peek (LUA Podcast #43)

By Liberty Under Attack

This past week, I obtained a copy of VONULIFE, March 1973. It is chockful of new articles by Rayo as well as additional, highly valuable vonu content. I begin by telling you a bit about the publication and then leave you with a spoken discourse (i.e. audio version) of one of Rayo’s NEW (to “us”) articles titled, 16 “Ways to Live Freer,” A Critical Evaluation. Please keep a lookout for the full digitized publication, which will be available soon in audiobook and PDF format.

Show Notes:
Read the aforementioned article


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16 “Ways to Live Freer,” A Critical Evaluation by Rayo (VONULIFE, March 1973)

By Liberty Under Attack

This past week, I received an original copy of VONULIFE, March 1973. It is an 80,000+ word issue of the publication and is full of new articles by Rayo. It also provides “us” with an actual idea of the discussions that were had in it. I’ve been hyping this for over a week, so I figured I’d leave ya’ll with a teaser of what to expect. Any errors in the transcription are solely those of your humble transcriptionist. The digitization process should be completed soon.


16 “Ways to Live Freer,” A Critical Evaluation
by Rayo
Here are brief critiques of various methods for increasing vonu or liberty, including some approaches often touted as liberating which usually aren’t. Use these to stimulate your own brainstorming and study.

NOT WORTHWHILE

JOIN A MOVEMENT. There are countless political and propaganda organizations – “left,” right,” and bottom center – which claim to be promoting peace, freedom, security, conservation, etc., and solicit donations of money and time. There isn’t space here to thoroly [thoroughly] analyze movementism, but I will point out the most obvious faults.

A political movement seeks to change “society” as a whole rather than help people as individuals. Consequently incentives are weak, except maybe for a few organizers at the top. One will share in the benefits, if any, whether or not e joins. So why join? Relatively few do. Very few remain active for long.

Movements use manipulative or coercive mans – they must if they are to “move the masses” who have little incentive. And it is the means employed, not the intention of the rhetoric of the founders, which determine the ends achieved.

Movements lack constructive feedback. When someone tries to repair a truck (for example) e learns whether or not e did it properly from the truck’s performance or customer’s satisfaction. But in a “crusade” to improve society there is no way of learning the real effects of one’s own efforts – “society” may be getting “better” or “worse” for unrelated reasons. Often there isn’t even an adequate way of learning what is an improvement – what helps some may hurt others. A crusader can only try to empose ER ideas of what is better on others. And the longer-range the movement the poorer the feedback. Someone campaigning to repeal a specific law (for example) can at least count votes in a legislature to gauge effectiveness. Whereas an “educationalist” movement which hopes to “improve” the attitudes of future generations grops blindly.

Movements bring out the worst in people. Eric Hoffer, in his book THE TRUE BELIEVER, hypothesized that movements attract incompetent neurotics who are trying to “escape” from their unwanted selves. More important[ly], I think, movements turn competent people into incompetents by encouraging them to neglect their own affairs. To “compensate” for inadequacies they seek power over others.

Not surprisingly, movements have a dismal record. They are begun by well-meaning dedicated people but usually bring regimentation and destruction. Current U.S. problems – war, taxes, pollution, inflation, unemployment, coercive schooling, drug laws – are largely the fruits of “noble crusades” of past generations. For example, “pure food and drug” laws were enacted to protect consumers from unhealthy food and treatments. Their main effect has been to deny people the options of legally obtaining raw milk, raw sugar, fresh (locally butchered) meat, and medicines not approved by the AMA.

It is the broad, long-range movements which have been the most harmful. Both Bolshevism in Russia and Naziism in Germany begun as social betterment movements. In the U.S., the “liberal” movement, originally for helping the poor, brought withholding taxes, “urban renewal” and the Vietnam War. The “conservative” movement, originally for less government interference, brings no-knock laws, wage and price controls, and S.S. registration of six-year-olds.

To blame such results on bad leaders or imperfections of ideology is to miss seeing the forest for the trees. Politics, whether conducted by outright violence or by symbolic forms of civil war such as elections, lobbying and propaganda, is a contest of coercion and manipulation – the most coercive/manipulative people naturally rise to the top.

As for ideological errors: ALL new creations contain errors. With inventions, works of art and other personal endeavors, there is constructive feedback – flaws are identified and eliminated as development proceeds. With movements, in contrast, errors snowball – authoritarian ideas drive out peaceful ideas – ideology is “reinterpreted” to justify exploitation and regimentation.

Short-range campaigns for repeal of specific laws are less apt to run amok, but even these are doubtful worth. Prohibition of alcohol was repealed only after it became unenforceable. Repeal merely replaced, in part, home-brewing and free enterprise (moonshining) with heavy taxes and regulations. But, assuming that repeal was nevertheless desirable, a crusade is unnecessary. So long as a law is enforceable, repeal is unlikely; when it becomes unenforceable, the bludge themselves will end it – e.g., the draft. The best way to reduce coercion is to develop techniques which render it “unprofitable.”

Movementism cashes in on guilt – unearned as well as earned. Anyone who contributes to murder and slavery by paying taxes has reason to feel uneasy. The cure is not writing angry letters or joining a demonstration but discovering ways to avoid or reduce taxes. To the degree that one steps out of the oppressive society, does er own things and doesn’t harm others, e has no grounds for guilt. In view of movementism’s records, it is the manipulators who head most political organizations who have the most reason to search their souls.

This is not condemnation of everyone involved with movements. Many show integrity and courage that is commendable. But their energies are misspent. Nor is this a rejection of theory or education. It is a rejection of “theory” which doesn’t relate to practice (which is mysticism) and “education” which doesn’t teach useful arts (which is preaching).

The question to ask about any endeavor is: Does it fill real needs of flesh-and-blood people as individuals? Or is it aimed at unreal groups – “society,” “humanity,” “nation,” or “race”? Someone who solicits donations to “fight” cancer, “fight” pollution, or “fight” taxes turns me off. Someone able to tell me how I can better prevent cancer, clean up my environment, or reduce my taxes gets my attention.

PROBABALY NOT WORTHWHILE

SEE A THERAPIST. If you are unhappy, you will be told by most psychiatrists, ministers, counselors, and relatives that YOU are at fault, and that it is up to you to change – “adjust” to society.

Instead “adjust” society to you by changing your pattern of interactions with it. Some of your supposed faults may prove to be assets once you are in freer surroundings. Others result from continuous exposure to sick culture and will resolve themselves as you reduce your involvement.

Beware of religions, cults and psychotherapy groups which offer “mental freedom” and claim that it is separable from more and more important “physical freedom.” Such “freedom” can be achieved only by numbing oneself – reducing awareness and sensitivity to the outside world – focusing instead on myths, rituals and goals set forth by leaders of the faith.

In a sense almost everyone has a free mind (exceptions being inmates of “mental hospitals” undergoing shock treatments, etc.). It is freedom for my body which I am concerned.

This is not a blanket condemnation of all forms of therapy. Some may be helpful for certain conditions. But therapy is not a substitute for physical security.

PROBABLY NOT WORTHWHILE

BUY A FARM. Commercial agriculture is not a freedom way to earn money. Farmers are harassed by Big Brother as are urban workers. Some have been fined out of business for growing rain on their “own” land to feed their “own” livestock.

Most “back-to-the-land” people don’t expect to earn money farming, only raise some of their own food. But even as a place to live, a farm or small-town is rarely desireable. True, one is more likely to survive a nuclear war that in a big city. But day-to-day coercion is great; there isn’t the anonymity of the city.

For example, many a city-dweller has allower er childen to remain out of coercive schools for months – sometimes for years without being hassled. Whereas in the country word soon reaches the authorities.

One family wrote: “We have owned a beautiful homestead and found that ‘five acres and independence’ is largely a myth under present-day pressures. Our taxes were increased 140% in one year, and, ironic as it is, my husband was put in jail that same year because we wanted to educate our children at home.”

If, nevertheless, you yearn for a farm, I suggest: (1) Try it for at least a year before buying, by care-taking, share-cropping, renting, or hiring out. (See “Situations and Positions” in THE MOTHER EARTH NEWS.) (2) Locate in an area where there are already many people of your sub-culture – freek if you are a freek, conservative if you are a conservative, etc. A large flow of seasonal transients is helpful for anonymity.

Some areas of the Siskiyou region have quite a few alternate-culture residents the year around plus a large Summer Influx. Soil and climate are poor for most commercial farming but adequate for small-scale gardening.

WORTH CONSIDERATION BY A FEW

LIVE OFF THE LAND. This may sound like the ultimate in vonu. Leave behind all the clutter of “civilization” except maybe a jack-knife and trip lightly thru the woods – dining on berries and nuts.

Half-truth: “Over 90% of wild plants are edible.” Elaboration: While relatively few plants are actually poisonous, only a few portions of a few plants are particularly nutritious – some seeds, berries, nuts; a few roots. These mature only at certain times of the year. And they are avidly sought by many little animals, birds and insects. When hiking I nibble almost continuously on various conifer needles, grasses and berries. And I undoubtedly obtain vitamins, minerals and roughage this way. But I always return to camp with a hearty appetite.

Half-truth: “I lived completely off the land for a week during a survival course.” Elaboration: Most likely you lived off your fat – the bugs and berries were hor d’euvres. Most people out of the slob society have at least 15 pounds of fat, which will fuel one for two weeks to a month, depending on activity. Haelan has fasted (for therapeutic reasons) for a month – embibing only water. She was active and vigorous for much of that time.

Half-truth: “Some city people have moved to the woods and lived off the land.” Elaboration: The ones we know of write mostly about the wild foods they get, but also consume large quantities of wheat, corn, beans, rice, and other staples.

Some Indian tribes lived exclusively by hunting and foraging. They had generations of experience learning not only what was edible, but where to find, when and how to gather, and how to prepare and preserve. Most of their working hours were spent obtaining and preparing foods.

Half-truth: “The only way to be really vonu is to be completely self-sufficient; if you need anything at all from that society you are vulnerable.” Elaboration: The more self-sufficient one is the more vonu one is, OTHER THINGS BEING EQUAL. But other things often are not equal. Vonu is costly; for example, a concerned shelter takes longer to build than does a conventional shack of the same size. If one must spend most time foraging, one won’t have time to develop vonu.

In conflicts between American Indians and government soldiers during the 19th century, the Indians were usually more skillful and better armed (due to the army ordinance bureaucracy). The Indians won many battles but lost extended campaigns because they had to take time out to obtain food (or starve); the soldiers had outside sources of supply. Today there are tribes in the Amazon Basin who are completely self-sufficient yet very vulnerable.

Haelan and I have eaten a great variety of wild foods – dozens of different kinds of berries and greens, porcupines, rattlesnakes, squirrels, rats, mice, grasshoppers, and acorns. Yet after three years “in the woods” only 20% of the food we eat is wild, figuring raw weights; only about 5% counting calories.

On the other hand we have devote relatively little time to foraging – we consider shelter development more important. As we gain experience and have more time we expect to forage more. We have available more processing and storaging techniques than did the Indians (though some of these use materials out of the other society). Eventually we believe we can obtain most food thru foraging plus small-batch horticulture.

A few people already have decades of experience and do much better. A few others are exceptionally talented and learn faster than we [do] or are in unusually lush areas. But to anyone new to wilderness vonu I recommend a big grub stake to plus a way to get more supplies.

WORTH CONSIDERATION BY A FEW

GET A HORSE AND WAGON. This conjures up romantic images – perhaps of American settlers moving west – perhaps of gypsy caravans in Europe.

Unlike a motorvehicle, a horse feeds itself, largely maintains itself, and sometimes even produces a replacement. A horse and wagon can travel legally on many rural roads if they stay on the shoulder. Contrary points:

The less time one spends on the road the safer one is. I once towed an unlicensed, oversize trailer a thousand miles with an automobile without being hassled once, by choosing my route carefully and traveling mostly at night. I doubt if anyone has moved a thousand miles with horse (or bicycle) on roads in present day North America without being questioned by the bludg.

One is safest on the road when traveling at the same speed as other traffic.

A motorvehicle needs little care when not in us; an animal is a continuing responsibility.

In forest or brushland, a horse or even a burro is largely limited to prepared trails – it can’t get to places a human on foot can.

A horse is easily followed by hoof prints and droppings.

When being worked a horse needs supplemental feed, just like a human does, unless there is exceptionally rich grazing.

A human can pack a larger load, in proportion to body weight, than can a horse.

Horses eat small trees and churn trails into foot-deep mud, and so are usually more objectionable to “land owners” than are jeeps or motorbikes.

Nevertheless, a horse (or mule or burro) may be worth consideration by someone who is already very experienced with horses, and lives either where there is miles of open country (parts of the southwest) or where there are many parallel farm roads (parts of the midwest and south).

WORTH CONSIDERATION BY A FEW

EMMIGRATE. A permanent move to another country may be worthwhile for someone who has a special legal problem in the country where e lives but not elsewhere – e.g., someone coming of draft age in the U.S.

But emigration doesn’t offer a high degree of liberty. All major countries have repressive governments – less so than the U.S. in some ways, even worse in others.

Large English-speaking countries include Canada, England, Australia, New Zealand and Rhodesia. The latter three are in the Southern Hemisphere and may receive less fallout in event of nuclear war.

Legal immigration involves much red tape. Some people just enter as visitors, then develop “phony” ID. Regardless of how one enters, having friends in a country who “know the ropes” is recommended.

Some smaller countries offer interesting legal interstices but few job opportunities and little anonymity. English-speaking places include Bahama, Bermuda, British Honduras, Channel Islands, Grand Cayman. Such spots may be useful to one who is internationally mobile (further on).

WORTH CONSIDERATION BY A FEW

TRY TO START A NEW NATION. Probably quite a few will be started during the next 50 years (many have started during the past 30 years). And some of these will have interesting features. But this is not a worthwhile activity for most people.

New countries are most apt to be founded by (1) regional rulers who manage to secede from larger states; (2) large multi-national corporations with millions of dollars of speculative capital (the formal rulers may be local “puppets”). Trying to pool the capital and energies of a large number of small investors is unwieldy; it gives rise to the same problems which infest movements of all kinds – corruption and power-struggles.

The chances of any particular venture succeeding are small, though the potential payoff if it does is correspondingly large. Success or failure will likely hinge on unpredictable circumstances. Even a project which succeeds commercially may not offer much liberty (Freeport, Bahama, for Example). And how much liberty it offers may, again, depend more on happenstances than the ideology of its founders. A small new nation must be on friendly terms with most other governments if it is to have foreign trade and visitors, which it must have to survive. Principles will be compromised.

There may be opportunities right now for people with such skills as oceanic construction, small-boat operation, dealing with foreign bureaucrats, etc. The livest new-free-country venture at the moment I know of is Minerva which can be reached by writing to International Maritime Legal Research, Station E Box 4022, 1723 Broadway, Toledo, Ohio 43609.

The wisest course for someone who doesn’t have any special skills but would like to move to a new, free country IF any materialize, is to keep self and savings internationally mobile (topic further on).

At one time I believed that oceanic free-states on artificial islands were the wave of the future. I now think that the same opportunities can be realized more easily, economically and vonuly if less dramatically on continents. Hiding is easier on or under land than ocean. An artificial island is a conspicuous target, unlike a dispersed group of wildnerness-vonuans who associate mostly thru undetectable radio links.

I expect formal claims to territory will become less and less important as the ability of any organization to control or defend large amounts of territory declines.

WORTH CONSIDERATION

COMPARTMENTALIZE YOUR LIFE. Conform outwardly while doing your own things in private. The best places for this is a large city where there are millions of people, and people are less observant and curious than in small towns and farming area.

Compartmentalization probably includes rented living quarters separate from mailing address and from legal home (ID) address. An adept may sleep, work, bank and play under different identities.

Many people cannot for long withstand the psycho pressures of such a life – a sense of emersion in an alien culture of hostile values – the need to keep up a false front much of the time. One tends to become what e pretends to be.

One doesn’t have a secure place to do or own things. A house or apartment is subject to inspection by landlord or police.

Such a life offers no protection in event of nuclear war. I’m not predicting apocalypse; it MIGHT not happen this year, then again maybe not for 10 or 20 years. But an attack will probably come without warning – the weapons exist. So living in a target area is like playing Russian Roulette once a year.

Cities have smog and noise on one hand, and the availability of a great variety of products and services on the other.

Despite the hazards, living this way for a short time may be advantageous for someone who already knows the city and wishes to accumulate savings.

WORTH CONSIDERATION

LIVE IN A GHETTO. One way to reduce psycho pressures while remaining in the city is to gather together with fellow non-conformists. One loses anonymity with respect to the larger culture as one develops subculture speech, customs, mannerisms and dress. But one becomes relatively-indistinguishable member of a subculture, requiring an aggressor to attack everyone or no one. “All (Chines, Niggers, Hippies,…) look alike.” This doesn’t always stop aggressors – e.g., Jews in Germany and Japanese in U.S. during World War II. But this may be a fairly pleasant way to live between pograms.

Someone wrote in VONULIFE #9: “I find the radical community to be very congenial. I find most of these folks tolerant, voluntaristic, very anti-state, and usually quite reasonable – not the dirty, irrational, hippie stereotype you get from straight newspapers…I work as a coordinator with a food co-op, live in a collective, socialize with radicals, so I live 90% of my time in an anarchist society. I know there is a different fascist version out there somewhere, but I have to come in contact with it. Radicals tend to be very cool about aliases.

You can become known in a radical community by any name you choose. You could wind up living in a house where no one knew or cared what your “real” name was. And if you’re underground, say because you are dodging the draft, your roommates would probably be willing to cover to keep even your presence in the house largely unknown.”

One is still threatened by nuclear attack and other hazards of the city. But for someone who can find a compatible, already-established group without much effort, this life is probably more satisfactory than living alone in a city.

WORTH CONSIDERATION

BUILD A SECRET CELLAR beneath a cabin or garage on “owned” or leased land. Entrance to the basement is from within the covering structure. Traffic appears to be to and from that structure, so trails can be made and vehicles driven to the site without arousing suspicion. Thus conventional building materials and techniques can be used, which makes construction easier than is the case for a completely hidden shelter.

Such a cellar may be used only as a bomb shelter and for keeping a part of one’s home or shop out of sight. But with good soundproofing and insulation, self-contained utilities, and careful access, what appears to be only a weekend/vacation cabin could become a full-time home. One person at a time could commute weekly to city work, using a vehicle with few windows, so that apparent travel is consistent with weekend-only use.

Possible drawbacks: Keeping secret during construction is difficult. Draining and dampness may be problems as in all underground structures. It will be complex and costly, especially if equipped for surreptitious full-time use. It is immobile and may not be saleable for full cost should one move. It necessitates considerable involvement with that society – “owning” land, permit to build the covering structure. The covering structure draws attention to the site, which is thus more apt to be closely scrutinized than an area where no structure is known to exist.

Nevertheless this may be an attractive way for someone with plenty of money who is committed to an otherwise-conventional way of living

WORTH CONSIDERATION

FIND AN ABANDONED SHACK in the woods. In some areas there are quite a few, though on “public lands” the forest bludg burn them when they find them. Some already have stoves and other furnishings.

Drawbacks: Most such shacks were not built with vonu in mind so they are easy to find. Repairing them may be as much labor as erecting a plastic tent. Insulation may be no greater than that provided by a tent.

WORTH CONSIDERATION

GET A BOAT. “Life in a small boat, with the simplest food and clothes, is indeed free and easy. Go where and when you please. You have a sturdy, simple, not too expensive, not too easily damaged boat you can leave tied places while you make side trips. Anchor among islands and eat fish. Tie up at a big city dock for $20 or so a month and water, electricity and garbage disposal is free. Stay along a river and grow a garden in the fertile, well-watered riverside floodland and probably no one will bother you if you choose it well. Sail the world and travel. Want to hide? Lower the mast, push into the tules and put some on your deck.” (Paul Doerr, PIONEER, page 222.)

A contrary view: “I have investigated the maritime scene and my best advice is to forget it unless you need a tax write-off. A boat is only a symbol of freedom…It was having a boat that taught me to hunger for freedom as a drowning man hungers for air…I’m reluctant to become involved with owning anything that requires The Man’s approval (registration and licensing, insurance and endless goods and services.” (Dick, PRE-IN-FORM, 1968-1969 reprints.) Also in this vein, Oct. 72 MOTORBOATING has a long article on small boat regimentation.

My own comparison of boat and van: A boat costs roughly three times as much (counting labor if one builds one’s own) as a van/camper/bus in similar condition with smaller capacity. For short visits to cities, a van can be parked anywhere (at least for short times), not just in marinas. Waterways seem to be patrolled as much as are highways and roads, at least in North America. For remote living, there are many more miles of interior land than of seacoast, and much of the coast is steep, rocky and sparsely timbered – not suitable for boat large than a kayak. The wind is free but maintenance can be expensive – salt water is very corrosive. While a boat can potentially go anywhere there is water, crossing an ocean in a small boat is a major undertaking, not a routine trip.

There are many different kinds of boats and many different life-styles possible with boats. To someone interested I suggest first trying a way of life with someone else’s boat, by being a crew member and sharing costs.

WORTH CONSIDERATION

DIG A HIDDEN CAVE. Unlike a secret cellar, there is no covering structure; the entrance is camouflaged to blend with the terrain. While a very high degree of vonu is hypothetically possible, achieving it is not easy. Problems:

The basic structure must be very strong to withstand soil and water pressures and thus heavy. Since a vehicle cannot be driven to the site (to do so would defeat the purpose) and backpacking materials a long distance is arduous, the structure must be built mostly of native materials. Many heavy timbers are needed and these must be cut with care over a wide area and carried to the site.

Much equipment is needed for habitation: at least artificial lighting and ventilation.

Good drainage is necessary. And during warm weather there will be condensation inside on everything exposed unless there is continuous artificial head or some other means of reducing relative humidity of inside air. (Otherwise warm outside air enters, cools, and moisture condenses.)

The easiest way to construct is to dig a hole, assemble the structure in the hole, then fill the dirt back in, contouring with the surrounding terrain and adding covering debris. But while construction is underway the hole is visible to anyone walking by, or flying over if there isn’t tree cover.

Alternately, if a tunnel is dug, timbers must be put in as one digs (more difficult and dangerous) and dirt carried away from site for disposal. Rarely is solid rock so close to the surface that timbering isn’t necessary; if there is, noisy equipment is needed to cut the rock.

Great care is necessary going to and from the cave, to avoid forming visible trails.

All of these problems are solvable but require time and expertise. Completely-underground construction is a promising field for pioneering by someone who is already vonu and has time to experiment. It’s not for someone trying to get out of the city who needs something quick, simple and reliable.

WORTH STRONG CONSIDERATION

BE INTERNATIONALLY MOBILE. Don’t settle in any one country. Instead be multi-national. Pick and choose the best features from a number of nations while bypassing their undesireable aspects. Thus one might be a “citizen” of Canada, live most of the time in Bahamas, do writing or designing for a U.S. company, and bank in Switzerland. Many different life-styles incorporate international mobility.

One might use a boat for shelter and transportation. But most of the pros lease living space, travel on commercial airlines, and rent equipment as they need it. A great variety of products, from electronic test gear to earth-moving machines, can be rented in any large city.

International mobility is an extension of urban compartmentalization. Instead of slipping thru the cracks and crannies of a single city one exploits the interstices of many countries. Someone who does well at this kind of life is probably an “extrovert” who enjoys dealing with many people and a great variety of people – among other things e knows when and how to bribe a local customs inspector or immigration bludg and doesn’t mind doing so. Some internationally-mobile people live and travel very economically. But life-styles of this kind are easier for those able to affect the outward appearances of affluence, especially when crossing borders. Visibly “poor” people are unwelcome everywhere in the “welfare” world.

There is no set procedure for developing such a life-style. Avenues to explore: overseas employment with U.S. companies; technical specialties in high demand in various countries; free-lance writing; employment in certain capacities with multi-national corporations; being secretary or assistant to someone already into this kind of life. Two periodicals about international mobility are NOMAD/OTHER SCENES and HARRY SCHULTZ LETTER. (See listing of periodicals).

WORTH STRONG CONSIDERATION

BUY A VAN, camper or bus. This can be a mobile shelter as well as occasional transportation for someone who lives part-time in woods and mountains.

One can choose from a great variety of equipment over a wide price range. For ten grand or so one can buy a new “self-contained” motorhome equipped with most of the conveniences of a deluxe apartment. Or, for a few hundred, one can throw a mattress on the floor of a worn out delivery truck.

A van can’t be hidden nearly as well as can a shelter that’s back-packable or built from native materials. But, if disturbed, one is usually able to move on.

Also a van depends on fuel and roads for mobility; it is comparatively costly as a means of transportation. A van is most suitable, not for one who travels considerably, but for one able to limit movement to seasonal migration and infrequent trips.

WORTH STRONG CONSIDERATION

RIG A TENT IN THE WOODS. For a very few dollars worth of plastic and rope, and a day’s work, one can erect a bright, spacious, airy, rain-shelter any place e can hike to. A few more dollars will furnish it with a foam pad, used bedding mosquito net, and cooking utensils.

Choose a site away from habitations, roads, trials, lakes and main creeks; put the tent among bushes; keep it low, put a few branches over it; be careful with fire, and it will rarely if ever be found. An extremely remote site isn’t necessary desirable – count on backpacking in 50 pounds of dry foods a month plus other supplies.

A plastic tent is pleasant during Summer if shaded and if openings are covered with netting. In the Siskiyou region, it is tolerable all Winter if one has a warm inner dwelling such as a foam hut. Maybe you don’t want to live in a tent or live in seclusion the year around. But perhaps you can do it during Summer – vonu that much of your life.

A plastic tent is merely the simplest and quickest of a whole “family” of shelters which can be built out of a few pieces of native wood, polyethylene film, rope and cord. A next model might be a semi-underground structure such as a Shuswap dwelling.

DEVELOP YOUR OWN WAY.

This is actually what each individual or family does. There is no universal formula for vonu; different people have different desires, abilities, problems, and opportunities.

A few years ago I did not even conceive of some of the approaches described here. And, a few years hence, I expect there will be ways I can’t dream of now.

Approaches which seem especially promising for the near future: 1) Various kinds of semi-underground dwellings, built mostly of native materials, which are comfortable the year around without artificial heat – inside temperature remaining close to that of the earth – about 55°F. (2) Pre-fab modular structures weighing a few hundred pounds, with space and built-in “conveniences” comparable to s a small motor-home, which can be backpacked in pieces to a remote site and easily assembled or disassembled. (3) Smum life-styles involving migration between multiple, relatively specialized, relatively stationary low-cost shelters.


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The post 16 “Ways to Live Freer,” A Critical Evaluation by Rayo (VONULIFE, March 1973) appeared first on Liberty Under Attack.

In Pursuit of Financial Freedom (LUA Podcast #42)

By Liberty Under Attack

On this episode of Liberty Under Attack Radio, Jason and Shane discuss their Anarchy Day weekend shenanigans, analyze the contradictions and hypocrisy of those within the statist-servile society, and ponder why most folks refuse to take responsibility for their freedom, and rather put it in the hands of those who falsely imagine themselves to be “our” rulers.

In the second segment, Shane informs you about his new plan towards financial freedom, which includes freelancing and entrepreneurship.

Please enjoy and share!

The post In Pursuit of Financial Freedom (LUA Podcast #42) appeared first on Liberty Under Attack.

Midwest Peace and Liberty Fest Wrap-Up and Off-Grid Yaksteading with Nick Hazelton (LUA Podcast #41)

By Liberty Under Attack

On this episode of Liberty Under Attack Radio, Jason and I begin by providing you with our post-Midwest Peace and Liberty Fest Wrap-Up. In the second part of the show, you will catch my interview with Nick Hazelton that was recorded live at the fest. We talk about Nick’s recent decision to move out of his parents house into a camper down by the river, the importance of being close to nature, and much more.

Please enjoy and share it around!

Click here to get yours today! On sale for $15, shipping included!

Show Notes:
Yakkin’ with Nick


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The post Midwest Peace and Liberty Fest Wrap-Up and Off-Grid Yaksteading with Nick Hazelton (LUA Podcast #41) appeared first on Liberty Under Attack.

“Konkin Was More Rothbardian Than Rothbard” with Wally Conger (LUA Podcast #40)

By Liberty Under Attack

In this episode of Liberty Under Attack Radio, I’m joined by libertarian community old hand, Wally Conger. We start by going through his history within libertarianism, the bustling community in Los Angeles from the 1960s-1990s, his “friendship” with Samuel Konkin, Agorist Class Theory, and both wonder how political crusading libertarians haven’t learned their damn lesson yet.

This was an extremely fun discussion. Please enjoy and share it around.

Show Notes:
Radicals for Capitalism: A Freewheeling History of the Modern American Libertarian Movement (MUST READ)
WallyConger.com
Wally’s “Out of Step” Blog


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The post “Konkin Was More Rothbardian Than Rothbard” with Wally Conger (LUA Podcast #40) appeared first on Liberty Under Attack.

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