5 Places Where the Only Rule Is, There Are No Rules
Ah, rules. The domain of the nerd and the snitch. A reason for glasses to be pushed up and throats to be cleared, for wet blankets to be thrown. Forever hanging above our animal brains, telling them what they can and can’t do, irrelevant of the natural order of things. A world without these rules is the dream of the angriest teenage punks and Libertarians alike. After all, are rules and laws really necessary in a society of intelligent beings?
The answer is yes. Very much so, if the amount of people that continually still break them are any indication. Leaving the well-being of your neighbors and the continued functioning of society up to the natural good in people might sound feasible, if the only people you’ve ever met in your life were two nuns. The rest of us, I think, realize that a couple rules here and there are helpful for things like minimizing fraud and keeping public pools diarrhea-free.
However, if you truly feel the need to cast off the regulations of a modern society, there are a few places you can get a taste of that life. Such as…
In 1956, the U.S. Navy decommissioned Camp Dunlop, in the middle of the California desert, and tore down every structure they’d put up. When they were done, the only indication that there had been a base there at all were large concrete slabs that had served as a foundation for the buildings in the sand. It no longer served any purpose for the U.S. military, but found exceeding purpose as a place for squatters to take up residence.
Most people wouldn’t see a couple flat pieces of concrete in a desert that gets up past 120 degrees in the summer as a promising new living destination, but most people don’t live in what’s now known as Slab City. The city has no public oversight, or any of the services that comes with it — running water, electricity or the other niceties that are modern requirements for living. In exchange, they pay no taxes and live almost completely outside government oversight, beyond maybe the occasional visit from a marshal looking for fugitives. Cops from the nearest town will come if called, but most people don’t call. The community instead runs on the prospect of minding your own business and maybe a dog or two if you’re particularly paranoid about your possessions.
With no native population or permanent residents, and no owner, the continent of Antarctica can feel almost like a little slice of outer space here on Earth. Funnily enough, the legal situation down at the South Pole isn’t that different from outside the atmosphere, either. Since there’s no owner or governing body, technically, there are no laws on Antarctica.
But if you’re planning to invite your wife’s buff new yoga instructor on a not-so-friendly expedition to Earth’s coldest anus in search of legal murder, it’s not all that simple. Perhaps to stop Antarctica from becoming a dumping ground for modern-day duels, the Antarctic Treaty was enacted in 1959. In addition to things like prohibiting non-peaceful use of the continent and banning nuclear activity and research there, it also ruled that crimes committed on the continent were under the jurisdiction of the native country of the perpetrator. But even though it might not be the place to get away with murder in (especially) cold blood, there’s still not bound to be a whole lot of instruction on what you can and can’t do.
Drivers’ licenses and speed limits seem to be, for whatever reason, a particular bugaboo among Libertarians. For people who feel that Big Government has an evil, overbearing grip on the operation of motor vehicles, they might be able to at least let loose some of their frustrations on Germany’s Autobahn, the only highway in the world where some sections are completely without a legal speed limit. On those sections, indicated by a unique sign, the only limitations placed on your current velocity are how much money you dumped into your engine and the greater will of universal physics. The longest section without a speed limit is the A24, a 237-kilometer section between Berlin and Hamburg.
If you’re looking to the Autobahn for pure, unregulated freedom, though, you might be disappointed. In order to keep it from being basically a long stretch of twisted metal, there are plenty of other rules, some of which are policed more closely than elsewhere. Tailgating, for example, isn’t just rude and dangerous, it can land you hundreds of dollars in fines. The only person you’ll get in official trouble with for driving too fast, though, is your insurance in case of a collision. But if you’re pushing light speed on the Autobahn before an accident, they might have a hard time finding enough of you to scold.
A perennial favorite of half-baked TV show plots is the mythical area of “international waters,” a seemingly lawless space in-between any country’s jurisdiction. Many a time, it’s a race against the clock to track down someone before they cross this infamous line, at which, we’re expected to believe that all governing bodies can do nothing other than throw up their arms in frustration. The way it’s described, you could sail out into international waters, execute an endangered species like a mob informant and sail right back, smiling and waving at the police the whole way.
The reality here might be the most disappointing of the whole list. If you thought that the governments of the world were going to let a massive loophole exist right between them, you thought wrong. Thanks to the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea, or UNCLOS, jurisdiction in international waters is pretty cut-and-dry. First, there is international maritime law that applies regardless, and second, legal jurisdiction is decided by the country the vessel in question is registered in.
Sorry to dash any dreams of scot-free piracy or easy escape routes, but you’re probably still on the hook for your crime of choice.
The cops can’t arrest you for what you do in your dreams… yet.