Operation Atlantis

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Operation Atlantis
Micronation
Status Defunct, destroyed in natural disaster
Organizational structure Libertarian country
• Leader
Werner Stiefel
• 
1968
Purported currency Deca

Operation Atlantis was a new country project, started by Werner Stiefel in 1968, developed with the intent of establishing a libertarian country on international waters.[1] The operation set out to do this by launching a ferro-cement boat into the Hudson River in December 1971 which was piloted into an area near the Bahamas. After reaching its destination it eventually sank in a hurricane.[2][3] After a number of subsequent failed attempts to construct a habitable sea platform and achieve regional sovereignty, the project was abandoned by its members.

Origin[edit]

Stiefel was born in the United States in 1921. He was inspired by the works of Ayn Rand, particularly Atlas Shrugged. Despite the relative liberty provided by his United States citizenship, Stiefel was convinced that postwar America was on the same road to socialism, which had already spread throughout Europe and the East. In order to preserve his own liberty, as well as that of other like-minded (and capable) people, Stiefel sought to "test the hypothesis that a free, capitalist society can exist and flourish in today's world" by physically building a libertarian nation in the Caribbean.[4] Operation Atlantis was thus born.

The Plan[edit]

1). Gather Libertarians in a single location where they can work together to build an integrated community (Motel = Atlantis I).

2). Acquire an ocean vessel and declare it to be an independent craft sailing under the flag of this new country while in international waters (Ship = Atlantis II).

3). Using this vessel and possibly an island, create a sovereign country as close to U.S. shores as possible.

(Ship + Island = Atlantis III)[5]

Starting a community – Atlantis I (1968–70)[edit]

His first move was to form the Atlantis Development Company, under which he would purchase the land and equipment necessary for the construction of a new country. Operating out of the Sawyerkill Motel in Saugerties, New York, near the location of one of his soap-making plants, Stiefel began assembling a team of capable and dedicated young libertarians.[6] In order to attract individuals from across the United States, he wrote The Story of Operation Atlantis under the pseudonym Werner K. Stevens and published it via his own Atlantis Publishing Company. The book was a call to action for entrepreneurial libertarians to seek an exit from established states and build a polity which better represented the principles of liberty.[7]

In March, 1969, Stiefel traveled to the Caribbean in search of a potential local base for Operation Atlantis. In The Atlantis News, a newsletter released by the Atlantis Development Company each month, Stiefel indicated that he had discovered a promising location for this base, known the Prickly Pear Cays.[8] Nevertheless, these seamounts were owned by an uninterested Anguillan government, and Atlantis' attempts to acquire these Cays came up unsuccessful.[9]

As the community at the motel began to steadily grow, Stiefel continued to search for a proper location. By the spring of 1970, the Atlanteans indicated the Silver Shoals Cays (which were claimed by both Haiti and the Bahamas) as a suitable location for a shoal landfill and the construction of a habitable sea platform. By May of that year, Stiefel visited the region himself to take aerial photos of the Silver Shoals area and plan the settlement.[10]

Building Atlantis II (1970–71)[edit]

By the end of summer 1970, Stiefel and the Atlantis community were satisfied with the choice of Silver Shoals as the foundation for Atlantis III. They were ready to begin phase two of their plan, and proceeded to ready the materials needed for the construction of a ferrocement seagoing vessel, Atlantis II. Before starting on the boat, they first built a geodesic dome at the motel to protect their construction site from the elements. Building the 38 foot ship within this dome would occupy the members of Operation Atlantis for a full year. With the aid of independent contractors, Atlantis II was finally completed in December 1971.[11]

Atlantis III and Decline (1971–73)[edit]

Once Atlantis II was finished, Stiefel and the Atlanteans were eager to launch the craft before the Hudson River froze for the winter. At high tide, the ferrocement boat was launched into the Hudson River but was immediately befouled by misfortune. As the tide receded, the boat capsized and lay sideways in the mud while a kerosene lamp broke inside and partially ruined the interior.[12] The concrete and steel structure of the boat itself was spared, and the boat began its voyage down the eastern coast of the U.S. towards Silver Shoals. After a number of near-failures, including a broken propeller shaft, Atlantis II was able to reach the Bahamas. This success would not last, however, as a passing hurricane caused the boat to sink soon after its revival.[13]

Despite this loss, the members of Operation Atlantis refused to quit. Stiefel bought a new boat and moved the Operation to Tortuga Island, where the Atlanteans prepared to begin terraforming Silver Shoals. The Haitian government learned of their plans, however, and decided it was against the state interests. Operation Atlantis was subsequently driven off of Tortuga and forced to advance its construction of Atlantis III at Silver Shoals. After dredging sand for a new island and even recovering silver coins from a nearby shipwreck,[14] it seemed to those involved that Stiefel's dream for a libertarian polity might have finally been coming true.

Nevertheless, operating on local reports that pirates were diving for shipwrecks in the area, a Haitian gunboat happened upon Atlantis' construction site. Mistaking them for a pirate crew, its captain issued an ultimatum to the Atlanteans: leave or be shot. With no arms to defend themselves and not seeking to start an international incident, Stiefel and his allies were forced to abandon their project at Silver Shoals.[15]

After this catastrophe, most of Operation Atlantis' members had decided to return to the United States. In another effort to revive the project, Stiefel purchased an oil rig which he planned to tow and deposit at the Misteriosa Banks between Honduras and Cuba. Like the others, this plan failed as well when it was thrust out to sea by a hurricane and destroyed. Stiefel's final attempt to create a libertarian nation came when he bought an island off the coast of Belize with the intention of gaining freeport status from the Belizean government. Growing old and tired of working with the bureaucracy, he put the island up for sale.[16] This would mark the end of Operation Atlantis.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Live Free or Drown: Floating Utopias on the Cheap =". Wired. 
  2. ^ Halliday, Roy. "Operation Atlantis and the Radical Libertarian Alliance: Observations of a Fly on the Wall". Libertarian Nation. 2001.
  3. ^ Halliday, Roy. "Operation Atlantis and the Radical Libertarian Alliance: Observations of a Fly on the Wall".
  4. ^ Stevens, Werner (1968). The Story of Operation Atlantis. Saugerties, New York: Atlantis Publishing Company. p. 8. 
  5. ^ "In Pursuit of Liberty: Operation Atlantis | Startup Societies Summit". www.startupsocieties.com. Retrieved 2016-01-20. 
  6. ^ MacCallum, Spencer Heath (June 19, 2006). "Werner K. Stiefel's Pursuit of a Practicum of Freedom". LewRockwell.com. 
  7. ^ Stevens, Werner (1968). The Story of Operation Atlantis. Saugerties, New York: Atlantis Publishing Company. p. 1. 
  8. ^ Halliday, Roy. "Operation Atlantis and the Radical Libertarian Alliance: Observations of a Fly on the Wall". 
  9. ^ Strauss, Erwin S. (1979). How To Start Your Own Country. Paladin Press. p. 72. 
  10. ^ Halliday, Roy. "Operation Atlantis and the Radical Libertarian Alliance: Observations of a Fly on the Wall". 
  11. ^ Strauss, Erwin S. (1979). How To Start Your Own Country. Paladin Press. p. 71. 
  12. ^ Strauss, Erwin S. (1979). How To Start Your Own Country. Paladin Press. p. 71. 
  13. ^ MacCallum, Spencer Heath (June 19, 2006). "Werner K. Stiefel's Pursuit of a Practicum of Freedom". LewRockwell.com. 
  14. ^ Strauss, Erwin S. (1979). How To Start Your Own Country. Paladin Press. p. 74. 
  15. ^ MacCallum, Spencer Heath (June 19, 2006). "Werner K. Stiefel's Pursuit of a Practicum of Freedom". LewRockwell.com. 
  16. ^ MacCallum, Spencer Heath (June 19, 2006). "Werner K. Stiefel's Pursuit of a Practicum of Freedom". LewRockwell.com.