A couple of days ago, Kat Meyer sent me a link to a Mashable post about the sailing ship “Blueseed, a brave new utopia for startups that will be anchored in international waters.” Written by Chris Taylor, the article describes plans to create a place where startups are not subject to any laws.
The concept is funded by Peter Thiel, co-founder of Paypal (he sold it to eBay in 2002). According to Taylor, Thiel is “famous for his libertarian views.” In publishing, Paypal is now famous for something else: its efforts to shut down Smashwords’ ability to sell erotica.
It can be easy to dismiss the value of erotica, but Taylor’s invocation of a book (Brave New World) offers a timely reminder. Aldous Huxley’s widely praised work is also listed by the American Library Association as its 52nd highest most-challenged book.
There are lots of definitions for libertarianism, including one that says it emphasizes “freedom, individual liberty and voluntary association.” In that spirit, I guess an iconic offshore boat makes sense.
Still, I struggle with the idea that solving problems starts by picking up our marbles and heading elsewhere. After all, it wasn’t the government that tried to censor Smashwords. It was a company.