I think I'll call it Johnsylvania

Some many years ago, there was something called Oceania - The Atlantis Project that promoted the idea of forming a new country. This new country was to be built on floating platforms in International waters.

What is the legality of this? If I had the dough, could I form my own country? Would it be recognized as a country by other countries? Could I create my own laws that would permit, for example, use of narcotics, without molestation from land-based countries?

I dunno. But that Atlantis Project is certainly mind numbing. What would those people do as jobs? Fishing couldn’t be lucrative enough to support an entire country. Especially not one that would have such massive costs as keeping an entire city afloat. Plus what would they do in a storm or hurricane? Or if they floated ashore? It would take a lot of outboard motors to move a city.

And pretty much you can form your own country if you get another country to officially recognise you as such.

I was thinking that it could operate primarily as an offshore banking centre, a la Cayman Islands. Nice side benefit - not much in the way of (non-white-collar) crime in a country populated almost entirely with accountants and bankers.

As far as weather, I was thinking I’d throw a big fat anchor in the mid-Pacific, just north of Hawaii. Not nearly the horrid weather that the Atlantic would present.

Marduk: Information storage. Buy x gigs and know that nobody is going to be looking at what you put there, because no government really has jurisdiction. Because the cost of information storage is decreasing, you could pay a rather large amount up front for them to put in a bank account to amortize over however long that money lasts: It’s a deflationary system, meaning that over time, the money’s value in terms of storage bought will rise. Coupled with interest, you could easily purchase outright hundreds of gigs pretty much permanently, knowing that they’re behind secure firewalls and your data is protected by strong encryption not encumbered by government-mandated key-escrow systems.

Sealand already does something along these lines, with the restriction that they will not store child pornography. I predict that such extranational corporate entities will only become more common, especially once space travel becomes less expensive, which will happen when we stop fooling around with toy rockets and graduate to space planes. Governmental foolishness regarding cryptography and censorship will only speed the process.

Sounds a bit like Sealand:

Something more than one person did in the past was find a remote island with an unspohisticated, tribal government, and declare himself king. Sometimes the natives went for it.

Do you have a flag?

I don’t think the “someone else has to recognize you” thing works because then all you’d have to do is get a buddy to start his/her own country and you could both recognize each other.

But will anyone outside that duo recognize either state? Recognition from the Lower Bratislavian Nationalist Democratic Republic doesn’t count for nearly as much as recognition from a member of the UN, for example, and if you can get recognition from the US you’re on your way to an aid package.


Of course, recognition is as political as anything else: If the Cold War had been a little more spiteful, the USSR could have recognized the Symbionese as at least an `aspirant people’ (a stateless bunch who wants independence) despite their being completely looney tunes, just to tweak those Capitalist Pigdogs in DC. This is probably more relevant in actual civil wars, because recognition could be the first step in military aid.

Of course, I don’t really know any nations that we don’t recognize but someone else does. I’m sure some exist, but I’m not nearly that strong in geography and geopolitics.

Look, you don’t have to declare yourself an independent country to evade the laws of countries. Simply get in a boat and motor out to international waters. Suddenly you are no longer under the jurisdiction of the United States government. You can do whatever you like, without declaring yourself an independent country. And if you want to declare yourself an independent country, no one is going to stop you.

But the kicker is that no one is going to pretend along with you. Countries are only countries if everyone pretends they are countries. If people stop pretending, the countries cease to exist. But if they all pretend together, then the countries become real. Kind of like fairies, you know? But no one in the US or Europe is going to pretend that your country is real, like they pretend Barbados or Belize is real.

You can set up banks and databases in international waters if you want, but those banks don’t become more secure simply because you have declared yourself an independent country. They only become more secure if the US coast guard and the IRS agree to pretend they are an independent country. And they won’t do that, because that would mean that they lose out on all the juicy tax money, and can’t arrest you for all those juicy drugs. You would be considered to be under the law of the sea, which exists because all the other countries have agreed to pretend it exists.

And even if your pretend country is recognized, that still won’t help you if you annoy the other powerful countries too badly. Break US law often enough, and you’ll be arrested if you ever set foot in the US. At the very least they will deny you an entry Visa. Annoy them enough and a few US navy ships show up and haul everyone back to Guantanamo Bay.

“Clap your hands, everyone! Clap your hands really hard to save the Confederacy! I don’t hear any goddamned clapping, New Hampshire!

Every time you hear a bell, a nation gains recognition by the UN.