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Over 200,000 Apply to Join New Libertarian ‘Nation-State’

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“Live and let live” – that’s the motto of Liberland, a new country established by Czech libertarians in a 2.7-mile patch of unclaimed territory between Serbia and Croatia. Originally created as a publicity stunt, an enormous swell of interest in the proposed nation-state has led its founders to get serious. With almost 250,000 applications for citizenship from all over the world, it seems “live and let live” is a popular idea.

The state of Liberland was proclaimed on April 13th by acting President Vit Jedlicka and two fellow Czech libertarians. The date was chosen to coincide with the birthday of Thomas Jefferson, one of the American founding fathers. Jedlicka, who is also President of the classically liberal Free Citizens Party in the Czech Republic, wants Liberland to be based on the principle of limited government, with voluntary taxes and volunteer-based public services. Unsurprisingly given his small-state beliefs, Jedlicka says that Liberland will not be joining the European Union.

When Jedlicka set up a registration website for Liberland, he was hoping to attract around five thousand applications. But the market for a new nation-state has dwarfed his expectations. According to Washington Post, over 250,000 have applied to become citizens of the fledgling country in just over a week.

Reading the draft Constitution of Liberland it’s clear that Jedlicka is serious about limited government. There are 22 sub-sections outlining restrictions on legislators, including prohibitions on the passing of laws against victimless and/or consensual crimes, actions of self-defense, and free expression:

§10. No law shall create victimless and/or consensual crimes.

§12. No law shall abridge the freedom of thought and feeling, or their peaceful expression or dissemination, as in speech, press and other media, artistic depiction, or religious practice; nor shall any law promote or hinder any religion, artistic culture, scientific research, gender, specific community.

§17. No law shall abridge the right of self-defense against initiators of aggression, including the agents of the Public Administration where acting unlawfully, including the right, to own, manufacture, sell, and bear arms.

Controversial debates around drugs, abortion, and gay marriage are also tackled in a typically libertarian fashion:

§7. No law shall abridge the right of persons to the control of their own bodies, nor interfere with voluntary consensual or contractual relations among adult persons, or the right to form cooperative ventures of any kind.

§19. No law shall regulate the use of any chemical substance so long as the use is not designed to intentionally harm any person without his or her consent.

§21. No law shall establish and/or regulate the institution of marriage.

There will also be no discrimination in Liberland, neither negative nor “positive”:

§12. No law shall abridge the freedom of thought and feeling, or their peaceful expression or dissemination, as in speech, press and other media, artistic depiction, or religious practice; nor shall any law promote or hinder any religion, artistic culture, scientific research, gender, specific community.

Speaking to Vice, Jedlicka explained his political values. “Now the state takes more than half of what you earn, and we call that Capitalism, but it’s not capitalism if you work past June for the state, that’s something between Capitalism and Communism.” He also indicated a relaxed attitude towards people of different lifestyle and belief, highlighting the Facebook groups “Gays in Liberland” and “Transsexuals in Liberland” as examples. According to Jedlicka, so long as applicants have no connections to extremist political organizations, “everyone is welcome in Liberland”.

Jedlicka is by no means the only person plotting an exit from existing nation-states. The Seasteading Institute, founded by US libertarian activists Wayne Gramlich and Patri Friedman in 2008, aims to build new autonomous communities on floating platforms in international waters. The Institute attracted considerable attention after it emerged that it was backed by PayPal founder and venture capitalist Peter Thiel. Although not strictly an exit movement, the Free State Project also seeks to build a long-term libertarian stronghold in the state of New Hampshire. In more radical circles, the mysterious and ever-shifting neoreactionary movement is fixated on the creation of new states.

Liberland seems more tantalizingly close to reality than any of these visions, although it still faces possibly insurmountable obstacles. It is unlikely that Croatia or Serbia are going to allow the creation of a new tax haven on their doorstep. According to the Washington Post, Croatian border police are already turning away journalist and removing Liberlandian flags from the claimed territory.

Nevertheless, the response to Liberland is a clear example of the enduring popularity of the principles of freedom and limited government. Humanity’s age-old hunger for freedom, new frontiers, and radical experimentation is still very much with us.


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