Thursday 22 October 2009

Lifeboat situations: Ephemerisle Edition

The one event closest to an “incident” was a perfect fable of libertarian communalism (trying to run an improvised society without lots of rules) versus libertarian propertarianism. A swing-set boat was drifting in the waterway and had to be dragged in. The boat that volunteered to do so was sinking; the people stuck on the swing set were shouting for help, the last thing any of us wanted to hear.

So the nearest boat, a rented speed boat, was taken out by a Samaritan, against the wishes of the people who had rented it. I witnessed a tense, repetitive, and ultimately inconclusive debate between the boat owners and Rinaldi, as they took the stance of paying customers wondering why the event didn’t have a better plan for such eventualities than just grabbing the nearest boat. Rinaldi argued that they did have a designated rescue boat, it was just blocked by the complainers' boat. So this ruleless community had to improvise the best solution to the emergency that arose. In Rinaldi's view, the boat renters were really demanding that Ephemerisle have a government to take care of them. But if they were unwilling to pitch in and help, maybe they’d be better off not participating in a ruleless community. No one budged; the conversation wound down with Rinaldi assuring them that, even as they complained to him, if he heard someone shouting “help” and their boat was still the quickest means at hand, he’d temporarily commandeer it again.

Brian Doherty, Building Ephemerisle, Reason

Lifeboat situations at Ephemerisle....

At next year's Ephemerisle, I expect they'll construct a situation in which a sinking ship with ten people on it can be saved by someone throwing a lever that causes a ship with two people on it to sink instead, and another where they can only save the ten people by pulling the lifejackets off of two non-swimmers in the water to aid the ship's buoyancy. What will they do? Stay tuned....

Update: yes, I am just jealous...

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