Imagine a country where you could live free without a central government telling you who to be, what to do and how to act. Roger Ver does, and he is inviting people to join him on a ground level in plans for creating a libertarian utopia.
The early Bitcoin investor and voluntaryist (someone who advocates nonviolent strategies to achieve a free society) took the stage last week at Nexus Conference, a three-day event in Aspen hosted by the cryptocurrency platform Nexus Earth, to announce Free Society, a project aimed at raising money to organize the venture.
Ver, who is founding the project along with Olivier Janssens, another early Bitcoin investor, stated he has already raised $100 million, but hopes to raise plenty more.
As Ver explained to a surprised audience, who settled into their seats expecting a talk about Bitcoin Cash, he is currently negotiating with different countries to purchase sovereign land with the hope that fellow libertarians will begin populating the area in one to two years.
Bitcoin Magazinecaught up with Ver in Aspen to learn more about his ambitious plans for a free country.
Inspiration for the libertarian country or “non country,” as Ver called it, comes from David Friedman’s The Machinery of Freedom, a book that explores the idea of a society organized by private property, individual rights and voluntary cooperation.
Ver’s dream is to create a free society where people voluntarily abide by a set of rules they sign off on when purchasing a land title. “It will be a new experiment where it is the first time it’s been tried in the world,” he said.
The Bitcoin enthusiast hopes to raise more money for more land. “I think very realistically, we can raise half a billion dollars and maybe a billion dollars. If we have a billion dollars, we will have a lot more capital to play with for a bigger piece of land,” he said.
Right now, the seed funding comes from early Bitcoin and Ethereum adopters. “I’m one of them,” he said. He would not disclose who the others are, saying if they wanted to come forward, that was up to them.
But the general idea was to open the door to the public. “We were planning to have an ICO, but the regulators have kind of gotten in the way of that at the moment. But basically, we are working out the details as to how people can participate directly,” he said.
Ver added that this type of project is only possible due to cryptocurrency. “Thanks to cryptocurrencies, now there is a way to fundraise for people all over the world who are interested in this. Myself and my other friends all have a fair amount of capital now because of cryptocurrency. Dying with a pile of money isn’t any fun, so let’s make the world a better place,” he said.
Search for Land
But before he can build out his libertarian paradise, Ver and his team need to find some land to buy. He doesn’t see that as being an issue though.
“We have approached a number of different governments already, and we have actually been really surprised at how eager they are. Governments love money, and so, we will have to negotiate the final details.”
Of course, they have criteria. “We want to have a seaport, we want to be geographically close to other economic powerhouses so we have trading partners. We don’t want to be out in the middle of nowhere,” he said, adding that something close to Europe or South America or parts of Asia would be best.
Once they buy the land, the next step is putting the infrastructure in place. “When we auction off the land, we suspect a lot of the people who would be most interested in buying land will be development companies that will want to develop the land into big buildings,” he said.
The concept of libertarianism revolves around the idea that order evolves spontaneously, rather than through some central authority pushing out arbitrary laws.
Still, for many, it can be hard to imagine how that might work exactly. How will the country resolve disputes? What if someone gets out of line?
Right now, decisions are easy because so far only a handful of people are involved, said Ver. Otherwise, instead of laws, there will be guidelines similar to what someone might agree to before joining a condominium homeowner’s association.
“Everybody can do whatever they want within the guidelines, and they will be agreeing to the guidelines by the time they purchase in. There will not be a government. It will all be private institutions and private organizations,” he said.
The idea is to purchase land from a government that will allow sovereign behavior. “We are guessing that the governments will still try saying things like, you can’t export drugs, you can’t have nuclear weapons and that sort of thing,” he said, adding, “I think the main answer is there isn’t going to be some centralized institution imposing these rules. That is what we are trying to escape.”
He also emphasized that there would be no taxes. People would need to raise money for roads and other projects on their own.
Who Will Live There?
What will people do for work in the country? “We suspect it will be a lot of people working on the internet,” said Ver, adding that he thinks 90 percent of the population will come from the blockchain and cryptocurrency space.
And will citizens be forced to use cryptocurrency? “People will be free to use whatever form of money they want,” said Ver. But whatever the case, he made it clear, the time to act was now. “Life is short,” he said. “We want to move quickly.”