Have I Lost My Mind?

I woke in the middle of the night last night wondering if I could adjust to life in an enclosed space.

No, I don’t mean a small accommodation on a sea colony. I mean a rubber room.

I’ve been trying to analyze the extent of my madness, and which particular mental affliction applies in my case. I display a few easily-identified symptoms:

    Delusions of grandeur
    A resounding disconnect from reality
    Obsessive behavior
    Manic episodes

I guess that describes a few different mental illnesses. One thing is for certain, though…

…clearly, I’m nuts.

What else explains my eager acceptance of a challenge of this magnitude? My willingness to be made an absolute laughingstock? The hours and days, weeks, years of effort I’m volunteering to personally put forth, with no pay and only the smallest of intangible rewards in the end?

What else explains how a non-ocean guy, with no relevant building experience (shipbuilding, society-building, government-building), no seafaring experience (I went on a cruise to the Bahamas once…does that count?), no meaningful contacts, and no scientific background, suddenly thinks he can build a civilization from scratch, on the open ocean, while thumbing his nose at the privileged and powerful?

Oh, did I mention that I’m most definitely not rich?

What possible reason could I have, other than pure insanity, to undertake a project like this?

Let’s look at my thinking:

    The time is right for it.
    The need is great for it.
    I’m capable of it.

Wait, what? The first two maybe, but what makes me think I’m capable of guiding a project like this to completion? Other than mental defect, I mean…

Well, anyone who knows me or has read my books* knows that my guiding life principle is that you can accomplish anything if you set it firmly into your mind and then apply laser-like focus. Your only real limitations are those which you put on yourself.

I’m focused on this.

I’m hyper-intelligent, wickedly resourceful, and uber-creative. I think outside of the box quite well, which will be critical for a venture like this. I’m a genuine all-around problem solver, and ocean colonization is, in my considered opinion, hampered only by a few problems that need to be solved.

I can do that.

Well, I can help do that. I’m also a pretty solid decision-maker, team-builder, and organizational thinker. I’m going to build an organization of hard-working, true-believing people who positively have something to gain (not just those looking to hide their money from the tax man), and then I’m going to lead them–with help, of course–on a gigantic, humanity-saving mission that will put all of us in the history books.

That doesn’t sound delusional, does it?

Nah…didn’t think so.
 


 
So why start a new ocean colonization project, when there are others already trying to do the same thing? Why not just work to help them succeed?

That’s a complicated question, one that I asked myself for a very long time before I really set to work on this. In fact, I’ve spent parts of the last decade following the various seasteading attempts and trying to justify my participation in them. A few things dissuaded me from becoming involved, almost all of them related to what I believe is a fundamentally flawed organizational approach–specifically, the way in which to finance such a massive project.

Without exception, every attempt at sea colonization that’s ever been made–and there have been many–has tried to tackle the colossal need for funding by making appeals to wealthy individuals hoping that they’d see it either as a good investment, or a way to avoid taxation. Even those that use a “Come join our colony! Be free! Pay no taxes! Do what you want!” marketing strategy simply don’t apply logic to the thing:

  • Why would someone who has a mansion, two beach homes, a private jet and a yacht give all of that up to go live in a tiny room on an experimental island, lacking for everything but the bare necessities (at least for awhile)?
  • Why would someone with a butler, chef, maids, chauffeur, masseuse, and personal assistant agree to work his butt off to create this spartan colony?
  • Why would someone who already has society by the short-hairs, and can do pretty much whatever they want, give it all up to start from scratch just to “better” a situation that’s already pretty damned spectacular?
  • Even if you found such an individual, what makes you think that they aren’t going to demand a pretty hefty price for their “contribution”? And once you start down that path,
  • What is to stop these very same people from turning your “new colony” into their “old world” so fast your island will spin?

In short, the very same people who have created the stifling world we live in now, and control it with their wealth while enjoying the privileges of it at will, are not going to give it all up to be “free”, and they won’t work nearly hard enough to allow the colony to succeed merely to have (another) tax haven. Yet every serious effort toward ocean colonization has put these people (or more precisely, these people’s money) at the forefront of their approach to getting it done. That may be the easiest method, but it’s not the right one.

There’s more.

I couldn’t make myself commit to current seasteading projects because:

  • They’re wrong-headed. The approaches being most seriously considered today suffer from some fatal flaws in thinking, not the least of which is choice of location. Put simply, I’m convinced that even if an inhabitable floating structure of any size is successfully built, it will quickly be subverted (if not outright annexed) by the nearest existing government in short order unless there is no government near enough to be bothered. In fact, I feel very strongly that the only way a truly autonomous sea colony can succeed is if it is positioned on the open ocean at a distance of at least 250 miles from any recognized shoreline. All of the “serious” seasteading projects currently being undertaken have chosen locations within the territorial waters of an existing country/government. This is suicidal at the outset.
  • They ignore, and even shun, the common man. One of the primary reasons for colonization in the first place is to give “common” men and women a real opportunity to be and do something great, on their own terms and unfettered by the demands of a society or government that has already been bought and paid for by the monied elite. The true pioneers of the American west, and in fact the American colonies to begin with, were poor people striking out for a chance. They wanted to own their future, literally and figuratively. They risked their very lives to make that dream a reality, and poured their blood and sweat into the effort just so they could have something that was theirs. And in truth, they’re the ones who needed it. Seasteading should, more than any other thing, be hope…and the privileged/wealthy don’t need hope. The downtrodden, hard-working-but-cash-poor folks of the world do.
  • They ignore the obvious. The people behind current seasteading efforts, while perhaps well-intentioned, are so focused on the difficulties of getting the project off the ground that they’ve seemingly missed the challenges they’ll face after they’ve done so. Any new colony requires a great deal of work from the colonists just to have a chance to survive. This will be particularly true of a colony at sea, especially if it’s far from land (as I believe it must be to maintain any sort of true sovereignty). Those wealthy sorts they’re appealing to just aren’t going to put their very lives at risk to move to and maintain a colony like this, with (in their world-view) so little to be gained. Only those who truly have something to gain will take these risks willingly, and work their butts off to make it work and grow. Related to this, and to the other things I’ve said so far…
  • Revolution comes from the bottom up, not the other way around. The high-and-mighty–you know, those currently in charge of things–don’t need things to change, don’t want things to change, and will react badly if things even seem to be changing. The status quo is good for them, and anything else is bad. Folks on the bottom, however–the ones who are downtrodden, abused, neglected, used, taken for granted, and ignored–hope and pray for change every single day, and when they get tired of waiting for those at the top to effect that change, they’ll do it themselves. Seasteading should offer a peaceful way for these folks to bring about that kind of change in their lives, on a new shore and on their own terms, free of the oppressive forces that presently have them trapped. Sadly, the most serious of the current seasteading movements are selling the common man out (or already have), a piece at a time. Ocean colonization is a revolutionary idea, but revolution never, ever starts at the top; it starts with the lowest members of existing society, a segment that simply isn’t recognized in the current crop of projects.

These are the reasons I felt a new approach–one that not only honored the “common man” but depended on him (or her)–had to be devised. I created the Arca Oceanus Project two years ago, bearing all of these things in mind. Before I could truly make it happen, though, I needed to put myself into a position where I could fully devote my time and efforts to it, and think through some of the organizational details that would be necessary to get it off the ground and moving in the right direction.

Twenty four months later, here we are. This project may seem to be just beginning, but it isn’t…it’s been in the works for years. And it may seem as if it’s competing with other, similar efforts (some of which are well ahead of where we are, or at least seem to be), but it’s not. There is no competition for Arca Oceanus, because nobody else is doing it where it needs to be done and for whom it needs to be done.

And certainly, there’s no one else who’s doing it in the way we’re doing it, with the labor of the people who will occupy it being the central beam upon which the rest of the structure is built.

Arca Oceanus is unique in approach, and will occupy a unique position in history.

I’ll see to it, or my name isn’t Napoleon.
 
 
 


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