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What “New Libertarian Country” Projects Get Wrong

Correction: This article has been edited to add information about Prospera’s legal standing.

I want to found my own country. I don’t like any of the options available, and I think I could design a better governing structure that allows freedom and prosperity to flourish.

But that’s a tall order.

There have been a number or projects and concepts which tried to gain various levels of autonomy.

Operation Atlantis

In the early 70s, Operation Atlantis intended to gather libertarians, sail out to international waters, and declare sovereignty. They built a boat out of rebar and concrete, and it sank into the Hudson. They revived it, and managed to bring it all the way down to the Bahamas… where it sank again.

Who isn’t John Galt?

More recently a couple projects in Chile named after an Ayn Rand character fell apart before they began. And those weren’t even special jurisdictions that could set their own tax rates and business regulations, for example. They were essentially just meant to be intentional communities with likeminded people come together to learn and produce.

One appeared to be a legit scam, and the other was abandoned due to the political situation in Chile.

Chile had a lot going for it, but then elected extreme socialists who are rewriting the Constitution, and went mental over Covid… so it turned out not to be the best location for those looking for freedom.

Liberland

Then there is Liberland, which seven years ago planted its flag on an unoccupied river island between Croatia and Serbia which neither country officially claimed since the 1991 dissolution of Yugoslavia. Its motto is “To live and let live” and they have done a great job thinking through a form of Republican government, and mapping out the land. They want to essentially become a micro-state with a free economic zone.

But no one actually lives on the land, and visitors have in the past been detained by Croatian secret service just for visiting. However the President of Liberland claims they are building more positive ties with the Croatian government.

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