Hi everyone, I’m Edson Brusque and today is Monday, June 4th, and I’m in Liberstad, Norway. We had a meeting this weekend for landowners, investors in Liberstad. With a wonderful dinner, a very good band playing, it was lots of fun. People from all over Europe have been around. There were people from the United States, too. And I’m here with John Holmesland who is one of the main heads of the project and let’s ask him a few questions so he can explain what Liberstad is all about and solve some doubts. Let’s go John, what is Liberstad? Liberstad is a project to create the Norway’s first private city. A private city run by a company and built on the foundation of voluntarism and the philosophy of liberty. And John, how this idea began to take shape and how do you managed to start the project? It started in 2015 after being a voluntarist for many years I was looking at ways for me and my family and other people who wanted more freedom in their lives. I was looking for ways in how to achieve this and after several years studying Austrian Economics and moral philosophy and history, I came across this concept of private cities which are reality in some cases in the world, it’s a new concept (—) So it was after reading an article by Jeffrey Tucker about Atlantic Station which is a small city part of Atlanta (Georgia) which is run by a company and I though to myself this could be possible? It would be possible in Norway and in most places in most countries in the world? Without breaking any laws, doing everything completely legal, one can start a company and a private city and offer theirs services to other people who want to live in a more free and private society. Great The name of this article … This article is available in Portuguese at Instituto Mises Brasil and if I’m not mistaken it’s called “How Policing Works in a Privatized City”. Great article. I recommend. What have you progressed from the start until now? Well, we bought this land in 2017 with the help of over 100 investors from all over the World, who pre-bought plots here and this is how we gained the capital to get started on this. So in 2017, June 1st, we bought this land and we immediately started the development and as this land was 100% forest and have been abandoned for several years, the first thing to start was clearing out the area and the vegetation and so blasted out some (—) side here to produce rocks and ravels so we can make roads and a central area. So we’ve come a long way with the central area here and we can now have more guests and visitors and we have parking places, and we also have started the development of an event center a small convenience store, a kiosk, and we built some offices and a few accommodation rooms. Yesterday… no, the day before yesterday you talked at the presentation about a “non-aggression zone”. What do you mean by that? A non-aggression zone is what we want to achieve with Liberstad. It’s a term that I came up with when I was trying to explain what we want to achieve with the Liberstad because some people think that we want to make our own state, our own country and things like that and it’s not anything like that. So, a non-aggression zone is a geographic area within a country where aggression is not allowed in any form not even by the government. And this is what we hope to achieve in the future by having an agreement with Norwegian government that we create a small piece of land in Norway where aggression is seen as illegal. It’s seen as illegal by me already and other voluntarists and libertarians but we want to make an agreement with the Norwegian government to start the development of this society without any form of legalized aggression. OK, you almost answered my next question that was about the legality of trade inside Liberstad. At the presentation you said that it would be like people from a rewards club or something like that. Can you elaborate on that? On the internal market it’s a member’s organization were people can trade within the organization legally, without breaking any laws and it’s like what you call an internal invoicing. Within an organization you use a token or your own kind of cryptocurrency coin or something like that to have a payment method for trading within each other. And of course if we make an agreement with the Norwegian government that this would be a non-aggression zone this would be completely legal and we don’t have to have the membership organization. But in the beginning now, it has to be withing the membership organization to have it legal. So it’s a little bit in the gray market but it’s not illegal, but of course it depends on the amount of products and services being provided on the internal market. And what about the external market? How would you expect the economy between Liberstad and Norway, or even between Liberstad and the rest of the World? Yeah, so the internal market is a membership organization only for the people who are residents in Liberstad. As Liberstad is an open city and we want to attract tourists and visitors from Norway and other countries, other business here will be just like any other business in Norway, registered business with the government, and you pay VAT and tax on your income and all of this. So if visitors come here and pay with credit card and want to use the government issued money it would be just like any other business in Norway. What about homeschooling and private schools legality in Norway? It seems that there’s no necessity of private schools following a predefined curriculum. Is that right? Private schools in Norway have to follow the curriculum that the Norwegian government sets. One way of getting around this is by having an international private school where you don’t have to follow the curriculum. Homeschooling is not very common here and what we hope here is that we can organize homeschooling in a more communitarian, professional way. But in the future we hope to make our own private schools here and we would be working on that. This is one of the first things we were trying to achieve. And how about the natural resources on the property? Do you have drinkable water here, for example? Norway is known for having a lot of water and also clean water and on the land we own now have lakes that can be used for drinking water but something that is more common is drilling in the bedrock to get wells. And we can drill easily 100 meters down in the bedrock and get good, clean, mineral rich water. So, water is one of the smallest problems. And electricity? You would buy it from the external market? In the beginning, now, the electricity is brought by the electrical company in Norway. So we don’t produce any electricity here ourselves but we hope to build up our own electrical company and utilize the waterfalls and make our own energy. Also, solar panels are very good in Norway. We have a lot of sun in the summer, we have less sun in the winter. But solar panels works very good here in Norway specially in the south. We are near the southern tip of Norway, Liberstad is 55 km from Kristiansand which is a rather important port city, and the sun here… at this time of the year we practically have light all the time So it’s kind of weird for a Brazilian to be here. It has sun from 4 A.M. until about 10 P.M. or so. And even in this sunless period we are still in the twilight. So at least in the summer solar panels should work very well here. And what about the waste generated by the hundreds or even thousands of people living here? Just sending the water to the river is a sure recipe for government prosecution. So, how do you intend to treat the waste? Sending out the waste in the river or outside is also a breach on the philosophy we have on private property and we take that very seriously. Anything that is… all garbage and the waste inside of Liberstad will be handled by an outside garbage company until we can manage to take care of it ourselves. In the future we plan to have a recycling system and take care of most of the waste ourselves. Special waste that is not good for the environment and stuff we have to have companies outside to take care of that. So, we cooperate with other businesses outside like any other company and get rid of our waste. On the human side, what could you say about the interaction between you guys and the local people? There’s a small municipality here, I think four hundred people live here? In this local community? Yeah, in Bjelland it’s about four hundred people. Yes, so it’s a very small town. And what can you say about the interaction with the local people? How are they seeing your project? When we started in 2017, in the beginning of course the locals were very skeptical to the project as, on our website, we used words like anarchism and capitalism and a lot of other words that is not well known so people misinterpreted words. So they were very skeptical but now as we’ve been here for a year and we’ve met and talked to a lot of locals and they’ve been visiting ourselves up here our view is that almost all of the locals are very, very positive to the project and they’re looking forward to having more residents here and more businesses and they’re very positive. And what about the local government and the Norwegian government? How do they see this project? Or are they simply ignoring the project by now? And there’s the possibility that they could just shut down Liberstad in the future, or something like that? Well, yeah, the government can actually do anything so… but the local municipality government here was in the beginning very positive, of course, they were seeing tax revenue. The first thing they were thinking about was tax revenues because all of the businesses and private companies that would come here. But after reading more about our philosophy they’ve been a little bit skeptical. because, you know, the government likes to have control and by us making this private city, we’re limiting their control over what happens inside Liberstad because it’s a private property and the government can’t just come in and do whatever they want here. They also have to follow the laws and their rules. So, they were a little skeptical but it’s a mixed view. I would think that probably half of the municipality government is positive and the other half is a little bit of skeptical and a little bit offended by what I say on Facebook and my words about socialism and politicians. I have seen a… There is a post on the blog but I think it’s only available in Norwegian right now, where you or… I don’t remember if it was you that answered some of those questions. It was you or it was Sondre? It was Sondre (Bjellås) who wrote the piece however we were both working on the blog post together and it came after a piece by the Norwegian national TV who had a longer segment about Liberstad for the first time, a month ago. And they interviewed the politicians here and some of the local people here and what they said about the project was, of course, false and misinterpreted. So we wrote this piece to try to explain about it. What was mistaken, what misinterpreted parts of this was. This answer is only available in Norwegian but you can take a look using Google Translate. I actually found that very interesting, your reply, so would you translate it into English? We would try to translate all of the things we have on the Norwegian website into the English website but we are a little bit limited on time and manpower here. There are very few people working on this project and myself. After we established the project here I have been doing a lot of the constructions and a lot of the work on site, so it has been… my time on the computer and at writing has been limited. OK, completely understandable. As soon as the English version of this answer comes out, I’ll do the translation and I’ll post it in Portuguese. OK, and there are still properties for sale? And how can people from Brazil participate in the project? Well, we had the first pre-sale to get the initial capital to start the project and we sold plots at 35,000 Norwegian Kronas and all was sold out fairly quickly and before our deadline and we were planing not to sell any more plots until this has been regulated and rezoned. But we needed some more money to continue the development so right before new year, I think it was in November, we launched another pre-sale of 50,000 square meters which also has been almost sold out now as there’s 9,000 square meters left or nine plots left of this ongoing pre-sale now. Well, I think that that covers a lot and so please feel free to give any final words to the Brazilians. Yeah, what I would like to say is that people who wants to achieve more freedom and has a heart for liberty and the philosophy of voluntarism should go just get started. They should just not wait for anybody else to do it or they shouldn’t wait for the money. They should get together and start building private communities and do it within the rule of the law so they don’t get into trouble and when this goes on it would expand and it doesn’t happen overnight. This project is a life project for me and I hope that my children would continue it and we’re not gonna achieve liberty overnight. And I wish that people all over the World just get started on this and just start different kinds of private cities and other communities to achieve their own place of freedom. That’s wonderful. Well John, thank you very much for doing this interview. It was, as always, a pleasure to talk with you. Thank you. And that’s it for today. Thank you so much guys.