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It's very simple. I don't trust African dictators. Or any other dictators for that matter.

Highly understandable. I don't trust so-called "democracies" in the West either.

Even a poor African dictatorship has huge military potential next to what a private group like this could possibly muster.

That is ONLY true in, say, the first 10-20 years of the Free State when it is still small. However, it is also in this period that there is the least likelihood of an invasion for two reasons: 1) this is so close in time to the original agreement that it is very likely that it will still be respected, and 2) at this point there is not very much to loot. After about 10-20 years there WILL be something to loot, but by then the Free State will be quite large in both population, economic power and in security forces. 3) the main value in the Free State is the people. There are no natural resources to loot, and buildings and structures can easily be destroyed in case of an invasion. Therefore there is really nothing to gain from invading because an invasion will destroy what they are trying to loot.

And said dictatorship could possibly enlist the aid of a _real_ military power. France, for instance, has shown itself quite willing to interfere in Africa, particularly those parts that France used to control. But it wouldn't need to be France. Even a larger African neighbor would be more than "we" could handle.

This of course is always a risk, however, my evaluation of the risk given my full knowledge of the situation is that it is quite low.

Something I realized after I replied to your last reply--you apparently find it acceptable to live with the _expectation_ that you will be invaded.

No, I said that I *now* expect that IF nothing is done to prevent it, invasion is a very real danger. But the whole point of having a strong security force with the capability of withstanding quite heavy invasion is to ensure that an invasion never happens. That is precisely the reason why a significant security force is an absolute requirement for the FSI. We will not budge on this, precisely because a) this dramatically reduces the value of the Free State because investors will worry that their investments are not safe, and b ) this makes us vulnerable to the kind of future invasions that are unacceptable. Therefore either the Free State is allowed to have jurisdictional autonomy and a significant security force or there will be no Free State. It's as simple as that.

As long as it's OK for you to cast aspersions on me for questioning your scheme (and ignore the people who have called you on this), I'll go ahead and point out you've provided exactly as much rational reason (i.e., no actual facts, just rhetoric) for me to support this, as Francisco d'Anconia provided for investing in San Sebastian.

That is true. I have only presented a general strategy, which can be read here:

http://freestateinitiative.org/mission

Here I explain the reasons why this is an attractive project for a developing country, and also why it is attractive to potential investors. I have outlined a set of potential sites that we have investigated, and the general kind of region we are looking for is an unpopulated region with no natural resources, typically a coastal desert-area. We want a coastal area because we do not want to be dependent on the host country or neighboring countries for access to the global trade.

Even though you cannot evaluate the specific host country you CAN evaluate the strategy. Is the plan of searching for an unpopulated, unproductive region a good one? Is this something that will make it likely that a potential host country will find the proposition attractive? I think it is fair to say that even with no more specific information you can agree that if a poor country ever were to create something like a Free State this would be the most attractive way for it to do it.

Now, as far as I can tell the whole project will rest on a single premise: will the Free State be allowed to have its own security forces? If not then there will be no deal, because few investors would trust the project, and it undermines the whole purpose of the project. Since this will be in a completely useless part of the country with zero population and zero natural resources there is nothing to lose in terms of political power for the host country, and it is not like they are losing access to the area. Peaceful citizens of the host country can immigrate freely into the Free State, just like anyone else, if they want to. So the only thing they might want assurances about is that the security forces are not strong enough to actually invade the host country. This is no problem. It is very easy to make a security force that is extremely strong at defense, but with low offense capabilities.

Edited by Onar Åm
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Well that's one more bit of information you've provided.

Zero natural resources.

Not much point then. "We" would have to import everything, possibly even including food. What would "we" (individuals, actually) trade with the rest of the world?

OK, I am out of this. You get the last word.

When you have more information to provide, maybe it will be worth discussing.

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Another reason to suspect it's a scam is he claims to be looking at 3rd world countries, and yet 5 of the points on his map are in Australia, a 1st world country and US ally. He hasn't even done his research, he just printed off a world map and put dots on areas that looked like desert, assuming they would be poor.

Whatever. I come to this board to discuss philosophy, not political schemes.

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Well that's one more bit of information you've provided.

Zero natural resources.

It is stated quite openly in the mission of the Free State Initiative. Zero natural resources is a key aspect of the strategy for making the Free State a reality.

Not much point then.

Seriously!?!? Are you saying that the value of freedom is the natural resources that a country possesses!?!? What about Singapore and Hong Kong which possess absolutely ZERO natural resources? Is there no point to them?

"We" would have to import everything, possibly even including food. What would "we" (individuals, actually) trade with the rest of the world?

Isn't that pretty obvious? Investors will want to invest in such a place because it provides good governance, security of person, property and contract, free immigration, no regulations and low/no taxes. The primary asset of the Free State is good governance and economic freedom, just like Singapore and Hong Kong. All natural resources that are needed are imported into the state, just like e.g. Singapore and Hong Kong does.

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It is not just dictators that one has to worry about. Imagine that 10 years down the line, the dictator is overthrown by a democratic movement which turns out to be very middle-of-road socialist by African standards. Imagine that the general opinion is "the dictator gave these guys special privileges to take our country's land". It is time that they lost their "special privileges". We will be fair, say the people, and let them stay as full-fledged citizens of our new democratic republic, as long as they pay our taxes, and live by our just rules which recognize the role of government in helping the poor, not just is allowing the rich to exploit our land and labor, etc. etc.

The strategy of the FSI has been designed specifically to counter this argument. The FSI is specifically seeking out unpopulated and unproductive areas with no natural resources, not even fresh water and fishing rights. The primary reason for doing this is to maximize the likelihood of a host country saying yes, and the secondary reason is that it minimizes the likelihood of anyone afterwards saying that we have "stolen" anything from anyone. By seeking out unpopulated areas with no natural resources we are making it blatantly obvious to absolutely everyone that nothing is being stolen, nothing is being taken away from anyone, because there is nothing to steal. Furthermore, if the socialists claim that the Free State has "special privileges" we can reply that those "special privileges" are open to any peaceful individual who wants to move temporarily or permanently to the Free State. Furthermore it will be extremely hard to claim that people are being exploited since there from the very early stages will be great indirect benefits to the host country in the form of job creation, higher wages, lower prices on various goods, better infrastructure etc. These benefits will be noticeable to anyone in the host country quite early.

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Another reason to suspect it's a scam is he claims to be looking at 3rd world countries, and yet 5 of the points on his map are in Australia, a 1st world country and US ally. He hasn't even done his research, he just printed off a world map and put dots on areas that looked like desert, assuming they would be poor.

What's up with the extreme malevolence and paranoia? If you're wondering whether this is a scam then google my name and see what you find. I am actually quite well-known in Norwegian Objectivist circles. I have written several books, and I blog regularly to a quite large audience. Why on earth would I jeopardize my reputation by orchestrating a scam using my own real name? And why would you even accuse me of something like this with no evidence?

As to your claim that I haven't done my research, do you really think I don't know that Australia is a first world country? I mean, seriously!? The reason I have included some sites in the first world country of Australia is that apart from being a first world country it otherwise perfectly fits the criteria that we are looking for. In addition Australia is divided into separate states/regions that compete for people and business like everyone else. All the regions in the north are fairly poor and undeveloped and they all are looking quite desperately for ways of attracting investors. Because of this we don't exclude Australia. I consider it a lower probability of success than most of our other potential sites, but IF we were to succeed in creating a Free State in Australia then many of the worries that have been raised in this forum disappear. Australia is not a dictatorship or an unstable democracy, and a Free State would therefore be as safe as one could expect. This is the only place on earth we would be willing to concede the requirement for security forces to protect the borders.

Now, why you are so malevolent I don't understand. I have done nothing to hurt you, nor have I offended you in any way. I expect a basic form of benevolence as a common courtesy. If you have questions, ask them. Make your accusations after you have received answers you find wanting.

Whatever. I come to this board to discuss philosophy, not political schemes.

I find it extremely disturbing that you prefer philosophical mind games to actual realization of those philosophical ideas in the real world. You know, moving the world, and all that. Also, if you want to discuss philosophical ideas then maybe you shouldn't have ventured into this sub-forum called "intellectual activism-->Activism for Reason, Rights, Reality." I can think of few projects which better fit the description of activism for reason, rights and reality than the Free State Initiative.

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...By seeking out unpopulated areas with no natural resources we are making it blatantly obvious to absolutely everyone that nothing is being stolen, nothing is being taken away from anyone, because there is nothing to steal. Furthermore, if the socialists claim that the Free State has "special privileges" we can reply that those "special privileges" are open to any peaceful individual who wants to move temporarily or permanently to the Free State. Furthermore it will be extremely hard to claim that people are being exploited since there from the very early stages will be great indirect benefits to the host country in the form of job creation, higher wages, lower prices on various goods, better infrastructure etc. These benefits will be noticeable to anyone in the host country quite early.

It is very naive to think that this will simply be 'blatantly obvious' to everyone who sees what is happening there. First of all, a significant chunk of the world population still thinks (unfortunately) that capitalists produce nothing at all; that running a business consists of extracting surplus from your workers, and the more successful the business is, the more harm it must be inflicting on its workers.

In fact, this is how most of the world would perceive this project: a few rich, white, Western businessmen buying the right to set up sweatshops in order to exploit poor people in some third world country. You yourself state on the website that "fortunately there will likely be an abundant access to cheap labor in the region;" obviously you intend to utilize the fact that the local population will be willing to work for pennies. Now, it is true that sweatshop-like entities are a necessary and beneficial component of the development process; people can't simply jump from crushing poverty to the equivalent of the U.S.'s minimum wage, and in fact sweatshops are a boon to the local populace. However, by and large people do not understand this, and this project will simply be perceived by the world at large as nothing more than a poor exploitation machine.

Consider the Western companies that have already ventured into third world countries, and the flac they have gotten. The difference between what you propose to do and what they have done will be perceived as this: In the case of the Free State Initiative, the wealthy businessmen have brought along private security forces to keep the local government from protecting its people against exploitation. At least those previous Western companies from before accepted the local governments' attempts to 'protect' their people; with the Free State Initiative, there's not even that. You would be perceived as removing a segment of the population from some form of 'self-governance' (even if that consists of an evil dictatorship) and placing them under the power of Western foreigners. In short, when the local government inevitably decided to seize back control of the region, no one else in the world would care; most would probably cheer.

I really think there is no way to shortcut around the cultural change that needs to happen before a genuinely free state can arise. Without a proper understanding of morality and individual rights by many more people, significant advances towards freedom cannot be made (or, if made, cannot be maintained).

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This plan smacks of the disastrous colonialism of the last five centuries. References to an 'unpopulated' area means one of two things - the South Pole or somewhere the natives don't really matter too much, like Darkest Africa.

You may check the population density in the regions we have looked at. You will find that it is very close to zero.

This plan talks about paying the natives the lowest wages possible to build this shining City on the Hill while excluding these natives from controlling the terms of their employment.

Since the area is unpopulated any people who want to work there will have to move there voluntarily. In what way is this not "controlling the terms of their employment"? And what do you suggest constitutes such "control"? Re-distributive taxation? Minimum wage?

Western nations do not have this issue as starkly because of their educated, skilled and politically powerful working class. The peoples this plan alludes to would not have these advantages. They will turn to other means to achieve a piece of the pie.

Just to check: are you a socialist? You sure sound like one. If anyone moves voluntarily to the Free State to work there it must be because they regard the wages they are given there to be in their self-interest. Otherwise they wouldn't move there. Or do you suggest that they will be forcefully moved there?

You expect to take a radical capitalist system and introduce it to a society which has developed a radically different culture. More than a few wars have started over similar situations. It is called the Middle East, you may have heard of it.

We are fully aware of this, and have considered the ramifications of this. In the case of Israel this was a state that was explicitly not wanted by the surrounding states. That will not be the case here. The host country must want this and see it as in their best interest. Also Israel was an independent country, whereas this will be a sub-national entity. Furthermore, Israel was considered a foreign, Western entity. We will make sure that the Free State has a local connection so that people feel that it is not a lot of foreigners. And unlike in Israel where most of the inhabitants were from the West, most of the inhabitants of the Free State will be from poor countries. Finally, there is no free immigration to Israel. Arabs and Palestinians cannot simply move to Israel if they want to. They are shut out. Thus, there is a whole host of factors that are very, very different from the case of Israel or of colonialism.

This is not the story of Hong Kong, it is the story of Rhodesia.

What do you back up that claim by? Did Rhodes start a state in an unpopulated area with no natural resources? Did he get the consent from a local host country? In what ways do you think there is a similarity between Rhodesia and this effort?

3) One does not just walk into the desert and create something like this. You do not just throw money at a region and ba da bing it's productive. Infrastructure develops slowly and organically. If there are no natural resources of note, strategic location or anything then you really have no foundations to begin this affair. It is a dead letter from square one.

Well, how then do you explain something like the Lekki Free Trade Zone in Lagos, Nigeria? It has no natural resources, and apart from being on the coastline (as the Free State also is intended) then by your logic it should be "a dead letter from square one." Yet, here it is being built as we speak, and the Chinese are pouring hundreds of dollars into it. Why do you think that is? Also, what is a "strategic location" in a globalized economy? Let me give you an example of such a "strategic location." Norway has one of the best arctic fishing regions in the world. One should think that Norway is "strategically located" for the processing of this fish, right? Well, despite this fish is being transported directly from the ocean in ships down through Europe, past Gibraltar, through the Mediteranian, through the Suez channel, across the Indian ocean, through the Malacca strait, past the Philippines and then finally docked in a "strategically located" Chinese city, where the fish is processed! Then after it has been processed it is sent in ships back the 5000 miles it came from to Europe and even to Norway! How is that for "strategic location" for you? Now, do you think it could possibly be easier to stop somewhere in Africa and process the fish rather than to ship it all the way to China? Do you think there are other factories that could benefit from being closer to the US, Europe and South-America?

An individual or business invests in resources and man power for limited projects only, to expand you need a government in this situation for additional infrastructure. This will take money and more than you will earn in taxes (or likely donations given this proposal).

Again, are you a socialist?

4) You expect a security force to uphold the law and act as a deterrent to the host country. The former makes sense, the latter is sheer lunacy. No State is ever going to stand for that.

Because?

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Dante,

let me first say that a few days ago a colleague of mine asked if I had announced the Free State Initiative on the Objectivism Online forum, to which I replied no, but I would do this. However, I also said that I did not expect anything positive to come out of it because in my experience a shockingly large portion of those who call themselves Objectivists are grumpy, negative pessimists. He was quite shocked that I could say something like this, because both he and I are well-versed in the life celebrating philosophy of Ayn Rand. Today, after reading this thread he sent me an email saying "now I understand what you mean by grumpy, negative pessimists."

I really think there is no way to shortcut around the cultural change that needs to happen before a genuinely free state can arise. Without a proper understanding of morality and individual rights by many more people, significant advances towards freedom cannot be made (or, if made, cannot be maintained).

While you and other people in the West are immersing yourself in negativity the Chinese have simply not cared. The Chinese have said "screw that these are unstable regimes and that the West will be giving us a hard time about sweatshops and exploitation, we'll just do it." So while the West was completely hands-off on Africa the Chinese were able to go in and "take over" Africa while no-one was paying attention. No-one in the West cared, because they don't really care about what goes on in Africa, only about what they can use as ammunition against Western corporations. So while no-one was looking the Chinese transformed Africa. Africa has had tremendous economic growth in the last 10-20 years or so, and it is mainly because of the Chinese who are building roads, cities and infrastructure. They are setting up factories and Free Trade Zones, and African countries are really excited about this.

But the sourpusses in the West haven't noticed any of this gigantic change in Africa. All they care about is how incredibly unstable and dictatorial African countries are, and how awfully close it is to colonialism to try to do anything that remotely resembles business in Africa. They've focused so much on the negative that they've failed to see that African economies have picked up speed and actually surpassed the Asian economies in economic growth, percentage wise.

http://rs.resalliance.org/2011/01/12/africas-economic-growth/

Having actually talked to Africans I have a good sense of some of the vibes that are emerging in Africa, and unlike the gloomy tone of so many Objectivists there is actually happening something in Africa and South-America that is not happening in America. There is a growing feeling that the global market and free trade is the way out of poverty and they desperately want to be part of that. Don't forget that literally hundreds of millions of people in poor countries are dreaming about going to the West because they see the opportunities that exist there. They want that and are desperately seeking it.

But I guess a report from the real world and how poor people actually think is of no concern to the dark-minded Objectivist?

PS: I hasten to add that not ALL Objectivists are dark-minded grumpy faces, and not even a majority. It is just that these negative forces make such a large imprint everywhere that it is easy to conclude that all Objectivists are like that. I will therefore emphasize that I know a lot of Objectivists who are both positive and life affirming. I dig Yaron Brook, but one of my absolute favorites is Lisa VanDamme. If more people were like her the world would be a much better place.

Edited by Onar Åm
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let me first say that a few days ago a colleague of mine asked if I had announced the Free State Initiative on the Objectivism Online forum, to which I replied no, but I would do this. However, I also said that I did not expect anything positive to come out of it because in my experience a shockingly large portion of those who call themselves Objectivists are grumpy, negative pessimists. He was quite shocked that I could say something like this, because both he and I are well-versed in the life celebrating philosophy of Ayn Rand. Today, after reading this thread he sent me an email saying "now I understand what you mean by grumpy, negative pessimists."

There is a difference between optimism and utopianism. Objectivism as a philosophy gives compelling reasons for optimism and excitement for the future, because it is indeed a reason-based, life-affirming philosophy which explicitly identifies the type of morality and government under which men can flourish. It also maintains that the universe is generally hospitable and open to value achievement a la the benevolent universe premise. Objectivism thus has reality on its side and I do believe this is cause for a great deal of optimism. However, there is a stark difference between this form of optimism, which is based in the facts of reality and the features of the Objectivist philosophy, and a utopianism which neglects the facts of reality. The factual basis for optimism that I have outlined only goes so far. Despite the positive features of Objectivism, it is still not widely accepted or even widely known, and the political views of the average person are pretty bad. There is no widespread recognition of the importance of absolute individual rights, or the moral sovereignty of the individual over his or her own life. In order to act effectively to achieve our values in the world, we need to acknowledge these facts and also which courses of action they render ineffective. If we do this, our optimism will be inspiring and beneficial because it results from a realistic look at the world. If we fail to do this, utopianism will cripple us, rendering our attempts to change the world ineffective.

I think that the fundamentals of a rational philosophy based on moral individualism need to permeate our culture to a much greater extent before significant and lasting political change can arrive. Eventually, this will happen, because these ideas are correct and valuable, but we are not at that point yet, and we need to recognize that in charting a course forward.

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... "now I understand what you mean by grumpy, negative pessimists."
I too sometimes am irritated by the pessimism among Objectivists. So many people in India, living under a government that is still evolving out of a statist "licence Raj", and who have not heard of Objectivism, have nevertheless asked "how can I make my life better" and have acted to do so. The same for so many in China, particularly those of a decade ago. And, again in the U.S. itself... so many people become actors, or doctors, or aeronautical engineers, or computer programmers and enjoy what they do. They also enjoy the tremendous ease of life and benefits that come with living in a rich country.

So, when I hear Objectivists who live in Western countries complain that life is so bad that it is tough to live a truly fulfilled life, I find it really shocking that someone who claims to follow Objectivism cannot see the tremendous opportunities around him. I had one person tell me that if Libya became like a Western European country that would be nothing great since Western Europe can hardly even be termed "decent".

Perhaps having grown up in a poor, statist country has taught me to appreciate the greatness of the West and of America in particular, even though I see so many things that are wrong with it as well. Perhaps this is what has shown me that life can be great here, and that I don't need to retire and become a farmer in Montana or Swaziland in order to be happy.

Edited by softwareNerd
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I too sometimes am irritated by the pessimism among Objectivists. So many people in India, living under a government that is still evolving out of a statist "licence Raj", and who have not heard of Objectivism, have nevertheless asked "how can I make my life better" and have acted to do so. The same for so many in China, particularly those of a decade ago. And, again in the U.S. itself... so many people become actors, or doctors, or aeronautical engineers, or computer programmers and enjoy what they do. They also enjoy the tremendous ease of life and benefits that come with living in a rich country.

So, when I hear Objectivists who live in Western countries complain that life is so bad that it is tough to live a truly fulfilled life, I find it really shocking that someone who claims to follow Objectivism cannot see the tremendous opportunities around him. I had one person tell me that if Libya became like a Western European country that would be nothing great since Western Europe can hardly even be termed "decent".

Perhaps having grown up in a poor, statist country has taught me to appreciate the greatness of the West and of America in particular, even though I see so many things that are wrong with it as well. Perhaps this is what has shown me that life can be great here, and that I don't need to retire and become a farmer in Montana or Swaziland in order to be happy.

It is quite refreshing to hear from a non-Western Objectivist. I really wish more Objectivists (and any Westerner) would actually travel to a poor country and see how people live. I am thoroughly impressed by people such as the Peruvian economist Hernando de Soto who has not been sitting in his ivory tower thinking Great Thoughts, but has actually gone out in the real world and talked to real people in the poor world. This gives him a totally refreshing perspective on economics. The fact that he is a classical liberal makes it even better, because he presents free market ideas to poor people, and he has done so extremely successfully. Unlike the average grumpy face Objectivist, Hernando de Soto is now considered one of the most influential people on the planet, and for extremely good reasons. Hernando de Soto has been able to use actual data from poor countries all over the world to help governments reform their property right laws, and to reduce the bureaucratic burden of government. Because of this his own home country Peru today has one of the highest rates of economic growth in South America, and very encouragingly, that growth is coming from below, from poor people generating wealth. Hernando de Soto has actually managed the incredible feat of singlehandedly changing the views of millions of people to become truly enthusiastic about capitalism. de Soto is truly someone who moves the world. He hasn't been sitting and moaning about the culture not being ready for a free market, he has gone out and changed it by talking to the people who gain the most from a free market: the poor.

Quite inspired by de Soto I have done something similar, only in the Philippines. I've gone out and studied how people there live, what they earn, how much things cost, what business opportunities there are, what hindrances there are etc. It became abundantly clear to me that corruption and bad laws were holding the Philippines back, but that there at the same time was surprisingly many opportunities for growth there. Let me tell you one thing that I learnt that truly changed my perspective on business. I learned how incredibly Western-centric we are in the West with regards to what we consider business opportunities and solutions. Let me give one example: in the West we think of oil as cheap and biomass as expensive, but when I came to the Philippines I realized that it just wasnt' true there. Biomass was much cheaper per energy unit than oil. Why is this? Because biomass is a product that is labor intensive, and since labor is cheap there, biomass ended up being cheap too.

So I started seeing if this was true in other areas. In the Philippines it is actually cheaper to hire lots of people to dig ditches manually than to use a caterpillar. Why? This makes no sense from a Western perspective. Ok, so labor is cheaper, but how on earth can it make sense to do things unproductively when there are technologies to greatly improve efficiency? Then I realized that the reason is that oil and caterpillars are produced in high wage countries for rich markets. If really low-tech and low quality caterpillars were made in poor countries by poor people they could be sold in low wage countries with poor markets at a major profit. The key is to reduce the quality to make it possible for poor people to make them, and thereby match the market.

This type of thinking is completely alien to Westerners. No-one thinks about third world countries and poor people as massive markets, but they are. They are gigantic business opportunities for those who dare view them as more than socialist hill-billies living in corrupt semi-dictatorial countries. The fact of the matter is that most third world countries are in fact more advanced today than most European countries were 200 years ago during the dawn of the industrial revolution. No-one back then waited for the culture to change before they took action. They simply went ahead and changed the world.

This is also one of the reasons why I am optimistic with regards to the possibility of a Free State. Truly important things are happening in the world right now if one just cares to open one's eyes and see them. I mentioned two of these, and no-one on this forum cared to even take notice or comment on them, namely the Honduras Charter City and the Lekki Free Trade Zone. This to me is completely amazing. How is it possible to close one's eyes to these radical transformations and say that one should wait for the culture to change when the change is taking place right now? Change IS coming, and the only question is whether it will be the Chinese who are the movers of the world or if it will be someone with a better philosophical foundation. At the moment it seems that a lot of Objectivists are saying that they don't want to be a mover. They'll leave that part to the Chinese. Go figure.

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I expect a little bit higher level of communication than this. So far you've presented nothing but sour negativity and snarly sarcasm. While that may entertain you vaguely it is not the kind of attitude that moves the world.

I was entertaining myself and being silly and I apologize. And obviously its a reversal of cause and effect. That type of sarcasm doesnt translate well in this medium.

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There is a huge difference between actually investing in the Free State (i.e. putting thousands or maybe millions or billions of dollars on the table) and to support the Free State Initiative with pocket change. I have stated the reason for not going public about which government we are currently talking with because this is sensitive information that does not belong in the public domain. I think this should be a pretty obvious point. Once we actually have a preliminary agreement, i.e. a letter of intent to create a Free State, the information will be disclosed and then we start gathering investors.

So...e-mailing or private messaging it on here wouldn't cut it?

Also, I agree word for word with Aequalsa's post right above mine.

Edited by CapitalistSwine
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What's up with the extreme malevolence and paranoia? If you're wondering whether this is a scam then google my name and see what you find. I am actually quite well-known in Norwegian Objectivist circles. I have written several books, and I blog regularly to a quite large audience. Why on earth would I jeopardize my reputation by orchestrating a scam using my own real name? And why would you even accuse me of something like this with no evidence?

I'm sorry I didn't know that you were well known and were serious about this, I apologise for my hostility.

However I believe it can not work because contracts are only as good as the force that backs them up. Between individuals under the same government they are great, but between nations not so much. I think your best bet for freedom is to advocate for change in your own parliament. If you really want your own nation you will need a credible military from the start.

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I was entertaining myself and being silly and I apologize. And obviously its a reversal of cause and effect. That type of sarcasm doesnt translate well in this medium.

That was very mature of you to admit. A rare quality on Internet forums these days.

Edited by Onar Åm
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I'm sorry I didn't know that you were well known and were serious about this, I apologise for my hostility.

Thank you. Apology accepted.

However I believe it can not work because contracts are only as good as the force that backs them up. Between individuals under the same government they are great, but between nations not so much. I think your best bet for freedom is to advocate for change in your own parliament. If you really want your own nation you will need a credible military from the start.

In Nigeria alone there are 23 Free Trade Zones, and the biggest one, Lekki, is 160 sq km (62 sq miles). In Honduras congress have changed the law so that it is possible to create a Charter City, i.e. where a foreign nation leases a city/area to create good governance in that region. Do these facts tell you anything at all? Are they all doomed to be taken over by dictators? Or could it maybe be a sign that things are changing?

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First, you have chosen to share an idea on a website populated by supporters of a philosophy that attracts a disproportionate amount of INTJ's and other heavy critical thinkers. The usual approach with new ideas for us sorts, is to attack it from all possible angles and find the weaknesses.

That's fine, I expect skepticism and critical questions, but I was met with extreme malevolence and outright nay-saying. (To be fair, several have apologized for this)

Second, similar(though admittedly different) schemes like this have been tried before with consistent failure, so our usual level of skepticism is even higher. What's more, you have a website requesting donations which is cause for even more skepticism and fact checking if someone were considering donating to your cause. Especially in a world where we get nine requests a day to let a citizen of Zimbabwe deposit 3.4 million dollars US into our accounts for our discreteion of which half we shall humbly keep. Both seem like great things for us...

But since I am a known author and blogger and have been a member of this forum since 2006, I assumed that people would not confuse me with a Nigeria scam. A prudent skeptical question would have been to ask: "schemes like this have been tried many times before. In what way is this different? How will you succeed when others have failed?"

And the answer to that question is that previous attempts have been at creating an entirely new COUNTRY (usually some uninhabited remote island) populated entirely by libertarian Zionists, or as the Free State Project has done, to pledge to migrate into an existing US state and then try to maybe change the laws there. Our approach is very similar to the Free Trade Zones, and as such it is a formula that actually has a lot of empirical data to it, and a lot of success. Both Hong Kong and Singapore were built by being a haven of good governance and low taxes. All over the world, especially in Asia, the Free Trade Zone model has been implemented extensively. And they have been tremendously successful, and the governments have NOT just seized them. To my knowledge not a single country in the world has nationalized anything in a single Free Trade Zone. I might be wrong, you may possibly be able to dig up an example, but my point is that countries build Free Trade Zones because they understand why they work.

Now, building on the extensive positive experience with FTZs we have simply extended the idea so that rather than a mere FTZ which is administered by the central government, the central government sets up a jurisdiction that needs to abide to the Free State Charter, but is otherwise completely autonomous. This is not such a big leap from a FTZ, and hence there is no reason why governments should be extremely negative about this or try to nationalize this any more than they do FTZs.

Once you understand that this is much closer to a free trade zone-concept than to the traditional "start your own country," the success rate actually turns dramatically in our favour.

Honestly, I like your idea, but am a bit put off by your seemingly thin skin. I imagine that if you see this through there'll be far more "grumpy" things said to you before the end. Just sayin. Anyway, good luck with it!

Thanks for the advice and for the good luck-wishes. I do expect a civilized tone from people, even if we are on the Internet, and I have to hand it to you guys. On no other forums have I experienced that people actually in a mature and adult manner apologize for or withdraw their initial malevolence. I do appreciate that. Now, maybe we could get back to the constructive criticism?

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Interesting concept, but I see that others have already raised my main concern. You would be over-run and killed within a few months. You would have neither the resources nor the experience to defend yourself against even a moderate force on the African continent. Look what happened to Rhodesia, which had a well trained military.

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Interesting concept, but I see that others have already raised my main concern. You would be over-run and killed within a few months. You would have neither the resources nor the experience to defend yourself against even a moderate force on the African continent. Look what happened to Rhodesia, which had a well trained military.

This is a little bit like saying "look what happened to the Soviet Union." Apart from the fact that Rhodesia was in Africa, that most of the population was black and the people in government were mostly white/foreigners there are very little similarities. I really do hope you have something more to go on in your evaluation than the color of the skin of the people involved.

As I mentioned elsewhere:

- Rhodesia was a country, not a sub-national entity.

- Rhodesia was a former colony acquired by force, not a sub-national entity voluntarily created by the host country.

- Rhodesia was not recognized internationally, the Free State will be recognized internationally.

- Rhodesia was full of indigenous people and full of resources, the Free State will deliberately be created in an area with close to zero population and with zero natural resources, not even fresh water (if it is in a desert) rights, or fishing rights.

So apart from being placed in Africa, what is the relevance of Rhodesia to a Free State? And why would it be "over-run and killed within a few months"? Why hasn't this happened to all the Chinese companies that have ventured into Africa? Africa now sports many Free Trade Zones, in e.g. Nigeria and Gambia:

http://www.africa-import-export.gm/free-trade-zones-africa.html

None of these FTZs have been "over-run" and the people there haven't been "killed within a few months." Why? They have built seaports and factories, roads and infrastructure. Why haven't they been "over-run"? Why hasn't it all been nationalized? My own explanation is that it hasn't been nationalized for the very simple reason that the countries that are creating free trade zones have understood something very important. They understand the importance of good governance and of the free market. While, like China, they don't feel that the whole country is ready for it yet, they do want to attract foreign investors, and you don't do that by "over-running" them and "killing them within a few months." These governments know that IF they do something like this, it will be the end of foreign investors for decades. That's what I believe. Look at this video from the Lekki Free Trade Zone:

Listen to what the politicians are saying. They are saying things and using arguments that you NEVER would hear in the West. They show that they have truly understood the importance of free markets. One of the politicians say that the problem that Africa has had in the past is that investors just bring out the natural resources and ship it to other countries where all the jobs are created. They want to change that by making it attractive for investors to create the jobs in Africa. This and other trends gives me hope that Africa is changing in a positive fashion, and people can choose to sit on the fence and be nay-sayers or they can choose to be the movers and doers of the world and jump on the train.

In Atlas Shrugged a sub-theme was that both Rearden and Dagny were risk takers. It was James Taggart and all his cronies who didn't want to put any money on an "unproven and untested metal." Moving the world involves taking risks. Because of this it is now the Chinese that are moving the world, not naysayers in the West.

Sure there is risk with the Free State but we have worked hard to minimize those risks, and in my opinion the risks are not as daunting as one is often lead to believe about Africa.

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For those who are interested the Free State Initiative now has a blog up and running, which will be addressing many of the questions that we are regularly asked. The two first essays are:

Data and tax haven?

http://freestateinitiative.org/data-and-tax-haven

Leveling up

http://freestateinitiative.org/leveling-up

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In a broad sense, Romer's idea of a charter city in Honduras seems pretty sound. In current events, Honduras war under fire by progressives worldwide for _adhering_ to the letter of their constitutional law when their supreme court removed their president for violating the constitution. It seems that there is at least the desire there not to be a banana republic. Romer seems to be looking for a foreign country to guarantee the independence of such a charter city in Honduras, but I'm not sure if that would even be necessary. Plenty of oil companies continue to go back in to South American countries to build new oil rigs after their previous oil claims have been repeatedly nationalized. I don't think it would be inconceivable for a multinational to build up infrastructure in a Honduran charter city without a foreign guarantor.

Rather than looking at Africa, there is a lot more opportunity for development in the New World. On the same hemisphere as America, it would be easier to integrate into its economic sphere. Another significant reason I would discourage you from looking at Africa is that sub-Saharan Africa has yet to prove to the world that it has gotten past tribalism. The conflicts in that continent, of course, don't make every country guilty, but it would not be rational for any investor to ignore that risk either. One mercy of Catholicism was that it unified the culture of South America, and there have not been recent tribal genocides. My suggestion is for you to try to work with Romer on his project and see if you can try to influence it from within. From the TED lecture I saw, he seemed un-ideological, so it might be good for someone to provide his idea with a rational basis.

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