Seasteading is clearly awesome and one of the most important ideas of our time. My feeling is that while it won’t produce quite the utopia some might imagine, it will be a significant boon to human welfare. I worry, though, that the discussion is dominated by its cheerleaders, with those who don’t think seasteading will work dismissing it as a crackpot scheme. Serious sceptical engagement is crucial to the development of any idea. In that spirit, I will try to offer some thoughts of a political economy type nature I think are relevant.
I think the most important of these is to carefully consider the Cowen and Sutter cartelization critique of anarcho-capitalism, and see how it works under dynamic geography, and also look at the argument Eric Crampton and I make about meddlesome preferences, which may be more of a problem for seasteads in certain respects [Added: see here and here]. I still need to do a fair bit of thinking about this, and re-read the relevant parts of the seasteading book.
For now, I’ll only point out a minor issue I have with how the seasteading argument has been framed.
Seasteading claims to be politically agnostic. This is not completely true. At least part of leftist ideology rests on coercive redistribution. With dynamic geography, (in the ideal case) all government becomes voluntary and so coercive redistribution is no longer possible. If a jurisdiction redistributed wealth from rich to poor, simple microeconomic theory would predict that the rich would flee and the poor would flock, producing an adverse selection problem which would unravel the whole enterprise.
The upshot is that while many forms of government are possible under dynamic geography, some are not. The left can justifiably complain that radical Tiebout competition rules out their preferred form of government, since that involves coercion. I think everyone who supports seasteading is at least some kind of libertarian and sees preventing coercion as a feature rather than a bug, but the claim that seasteading helps anyone interested in making their preferred form of government work better is false.