I am so getting one of these

Spinal Transfers

I am the king of Cliveland

Apparently, a bunch of libertarian geeks are now so angry at the U.S. government — mostly over gun-control and anti-marijuana laws — that they’ve decided to secede. They’ve started the Free State Project, where they’re trying to get 20,000 people to agree to move to a state in the U.S., then use their voting-bloc power to overtake the state government and leave the U.S. There’s a great discussion of this going on over at Slashdot (which is where I found the item), and interestingly, given Slashdot’s geekoid audience, only about 20% are in favor of the scheme.

What’s really weird is not how far-out this idea is, but how common it is. Poke around online a bit, and you’ll soon realize that just about every libertarian headcase on the planet has, at some point, tried to form a sovereign state. Remember those guys who founded Sealand on an abandoned oil rig off the coast of Britain, planning to turn it into a superencrypted shelter for the rich? Or how about that Eric Klien dude who kept on threatening to build a floating ship-island called Oceania, where the rich could escape taxes? (That failed, so he’s working on a space station called The Lifeboat Foundation, now.)

But the granddaddy of all these, apparently, is the Hutt River Province in Australia. It was founded in 1970 by a farmer named Leonard Casley, after the Australian government slapped him with a wheat quota that would have starved him. So he seceded, temporarily declared war on Australia, “accepted” their surrender, and ever since has run his province — with a living population of 150, and another 13,000 worldwide who’ve become official citizens of the 75-square-mile “country.” (You can apply for citizenship yourself by emailing Hutt River here.)

Australia has never recognized Hutt River, but that hasn’t stopped Casley from officially proclaiming himself “Prince Leonard” and minting a crapload of stamps; apparently, Hutt River stamps comprise the bulk of the revenues for the, ah, nation. According to at least one academic, Hutt River might actually quality for state status under U.N. rules. And dig the totally berserk outfits the founders use on ceremonial occasions.

Mind you, when you consider what a hack job the establishment of the United States was in the first place, this doesn’t seem quite as loony as it might, I suppose.

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I'm Clive Thompson, the author of Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing Our Minds for the Better (Penguin Press). You can order the book now at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Powells, Indiebound, or through your local bookstore! I'm also a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine and a columnist for Wired magazine. Email is here or ping me via the antiquated form of AOL IM (pomeranian99).

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