There was a time in the distant past when I was naive (or delusional) enough to believe we could set the whole world free if we just worked hard enough. Today, I believe that the best we can do is to change little corners of the world and hope others decide to copy the successful models.
One of the more interesting “halfway” ideas I’ve heard about lately is that of establishing “free cities” inside existing nation-states. The idea is a head-scratcher at first, because you wonder why a government would see the value of real freedom, but limit it to just certain zones. For whatever reason, though, the idea is gaining strength. Zachary Caceres sent me a link to a story he wrote for the Adam Smith Institute about the development of free cities. (The Adam Smith Institute is considered the leading libertarian think tank in the UK.) He also points to an article by Michael Strong that looks at attempts to establish zones of freedom within very restrictive countries. He looks at attempts to do this in China, India and the United Arab Emirates. There are also videos of a recent conference devoted to trying these ideas in Honduras, which recently changed its constitution to allow such efforts.
Strong is working with Caceres and others on a “Free Cities Project website and a non-profit organization that will exist to promote the concept. Strong is also the author of a book that sounds like one I’d like to read, called “Be the Solution: How Entrepreneurs and Conscious Capitalists Can Solve All the World’s Problems.”
So-called “free cities” that exist at the permission of a state can’t necessarily be long-term solutions for those of us who would like to get rid of the state entirely, but they might be transitional solutions that can lead the way to something more radical. They certainly sound as though they’re worth investigating further.
What do you think? Is this a viable alternative that could lead to more freedom? Or is it too limited to make a difference?