Peter Thiel, Paypal founder and Facebook investor, wants to build a utopian society free from government control. For anyone who doesn’t know, a “utopia” is a perfect community or society. It’s literal meaning is from the Greek combination of terms no and place, or NoPlace, to mean that it is an ideal that can never truly exist.
A libertarian society is probably the closest set of political and moral beliefs that could mimic this ideal. The libertarian platform is based on maximum freedom with limited government interference. Thiel got the idea for creating this type of environment from former Google engineer, Patri Friedman. Patri is the grandson of Milton Friedman, the Nobel Prize-winning economist who stressed the importance of free market economies, again with minimal government intervention.
The Perfect Islands
Logistically, the islands would be built on oil-rig-type platforms based in international waters. There would be no regulation, no laws and a free-will system of morality and ethics. Think anarchy with positive intentions. Thiel’s goal is to house tens of millions of residents by the year 2050. In the event of an emergency, an attack, extreme weather conditions or other random acts, the 12,000-ton island structures could be moved by diesel-powered motors.
Friedman’s ultimate goal is to experiment with new government structures. He believes that our current systems are not working and thinks that a society built upon entrepreneurial principles has a better chance of success. Some of the changes Thiel is proposing for his utopia are:
- No welfare.
- Looser building codes.
- No minimum wage.
- Few weapons restrictions.
As an openly gay man, a wealthy business person, and a Libertarian, Thiel has concrete motivations for seeking a society free of restrictions. He’s probably not thrilled about the idea of radicals Michele Bachmann or Rick Perry taking over leadership of the U.S. in 2012.
The idea of a utopia goes as far back as Plato and was explored in literature in 1518 by Sir Thomas More. However, the models proposed by the late philosopher and author presented radical viewpoints that were required in order for a utopian society to function. For example, in More’s book, slavery was common practice and it was viewed as necessary to keep society running smoothly. While sentiments have certainly changed in the last 500 years, any society still requires hard labor, i.e. ditch diggers, to function and flourish. Without protectionist minimum wage laws in place, it’s unclear where Thiel thinks this labor will come from.
Initial plans are in effect and the first utopian enclave is set to exist in just one year. It will be an office park off the coast of San Francisco. The plan also calls for the first settlements to be build within seven years.