Review of Seasteading by Joe Quirk

Joe Quirk‘s book Seasteading is a valuable addition to your ancap library. It explores the potential of the ocean to solve some of the world’s greatest problems. While written for a mainstream audience, it has a solid anarcho-capitalist undertone, referencing Patri Friedman, Milton Friedman, and Bryan Caplan.

This book is also recommended for ancaps because of its purely capitalist approach to solving problems. In short: privatize the ocean and develop business models that make use of its enormous untapped resources.

It is often corny, wasting no opportunity to use terms like blue-topia, aqua-preneur, etc. However, the humor often hits the mark. For example, when Quirk talks about “politicians embracing their kinship with pondscum.”

The book is highly business oriented, discussing real people doing real work right now. It tells of some of the latest companies and technologies created around ocean resources. Examples include healthcare tourism, improved fish farms, medical access companies, financial services provided by island nations, and, of course, seasteads.

Despite this, it manages to get across that libertarianism is very environmentally friendly, so it is a good book for your friends who care about saving marine life and habitats. It tries very hard to be inclusive of environmentalists, socialists, progressives, anyone who might want to get involved in seasteading. But it never sacrifices libertarian principles to make the case.

In fact, more than making the case for seasteads, it makes the case for freedom. Quirk argues that charity is not scalable, and only profits can bring improvements to the whole world for the long term. That alone makes it a worthwhile read for libertarians. But the fun ideas, new technologies, and gentle approach make it a good book to have for handing out to potential libertarians who just need a little inspiration.

Quirk also implicitly promotes libertarianism by pointing out important historical examples of freedom causing massive wealth (South Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore). He also goes over some revisionist history and provides nice explanations of how freedom has been essential for progress in Europe, China, and the US. For the United States, he argues that success came not from the constitution, but competition among the states. Even more interesting, Quirk relates the tale of 18 farmers and bureaucrat who resisted the government and set the stage for the capitalist revolution in China.

With a wide range of topics, and a very different flavor from most libertarian books, ancaps should read Seasteading and keep it on hand. It has good lessons and good ideas that can be shared with those excited about the sea. Quirk says that the greatest evil is the superstition that people belong to governments that they didn’tchoose. He states that people should be able to opt out of governments. And he places great emphasis on having a diversity of experiments, testing, and breaking away from the bloody military empires of the 20th century.

An informative and occasionally hilarious book about bringing anarcho-capitalism to the high seas. Five Murrays.