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Sealand and the Architecture of the Sea: From Counter-Space to Counter-Culture

Sealand and the Architecture of the Sea: From Counter-Space to Counter-Culture ARCHITECTURE AND CULTURE Hamed Khosravi Architectural Association School of Architecture, London, UK hamed.khosravi@ aaschool.ac.uk Keywords: Sealand, architecture, counter-space, counter-culture, pirate radio, nomos, North Sea, colonialism Sealand and the Architecture of the Sea: From Counter-Space to Counter-Culture Hamed Khosravi ABSTRACT Focusing on the small state of Sealand, a platform built off the English Essex coast to carry anti-aircraft guns during the Second Volume 7/Issue 2 World War, this article posits the North Sea as a particular geopolitical pp 219–233 DOI:10.1080/20507828. condition based on its status as a “state of exception.” The article for- 2019.1608102 mulates its reading by considering the architectural legacy of the No potential conflict of pirates, privateers and hackers who have been the principle rulers of interest was reported the terrain. Their spatial strategies are understood not only in terms of by the authors. physical constructions that accommodate exceptional functions, but © 2019 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK also as a conceptual apparatus that facilitates extraterritorial juridical Limited, trading as Taylor & practices. The spatio-juridical characteristics of the “architecture of the Francis Group This is an Open Access article sea” are seen to offer new possibilities for ordering the distribution of distributed under the terms of goods, capital and information, and for alternative forms of living. the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial- NoDerivatives License (http:// creativecommons.org/licenses/ by-nc-nd/4.0/), which permits The Sea as the Space of Exception non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in The axiom freedom of the sea meant something very simple, that any medium, provided the the sea was a zone free for booty. [ … ] On the open sea, there original work is properly cited, and is not altered, transformed, were no limits, no boundaries, no consecrated sites, no sacred or built upon in any way. orientations, no law, and no property. 220 The prehistory of the global market can be traced back to the time of colonialism, when the great sea empires and maritime nations arose. Sealand and the Architecture of the Sea Among those, British, Dutch, Belgian, French and Nordic states had their Hamed Khosravi forces settled in more than half of the globe. They were all based on the North Sea. This was their safe haven, a rather small body of water from which much of the world was conquered. Unlike southern European states, the North Sea countries shaped their overseas empires mainly through private trading companies, or companies of “privateers.” The most important of these were the British, the Dutch and the Danish East India and West India Companies. Although they were private corporations, they were granted very specific jurisdictional powers by the nations on whose behalf they traded: they had the right to wage war, to imprison and execute convicts, to negotiate treaties and to establish colonies. The companies’ forces were freelance agents who expanded their nations’ empires at their own risk. Unlike the pirate, the privateer holds a legal title – the commission from a government, a “letter of marque.” The privateer’s ship is entitled to fly a country’s flag, while the pirate’s only flag is a “black flag.” In order to be employed on a mission – global trade, waging a war, an expedition or founding a colony – the privateer must be granted a defined legal status that authorizes his or her activities. However, the distinction between pirate and privateer, so clear and elegant in theory, was often blurred in practice. Privateers frequently exceeded the limits of their licenses; they navigated using forged letters of marque, or carried fake licenses issued by non-existent states. They reinterpreted the principle that the sea belongs to all, and turned it into a space of liberation from moral and legal ties. Carl Schmitt, the controversial German jurist, explains the juridical status accorded to the sea in his book The Nomos of the Earth (1950). He distinguishes the maritime performance of privateers from that of state powers; these private traders might be viewed as an enemy by a sea power opposed to their activities, but they did not have the status of an enemy state, nor were they outlaws, enemies of everyone, like pirates or criminals. Their actions were not illegal, but they were precarious. Schmitt writes that: their ventures were possible, because their operations – block- running or blockade – occurred in principle in the no-man’s land of a double freedom, i.e., in the non-state sphere: first spatially, in the sphere of the free sea, and second, substantively, in the sphere of free trade. These peculiar conditions define the ways in which the private companies performed within the state of exception, both spatially and legally, using the flexibility of the law of the sea and of economic relations to begin to colonize other lands. They are conditions that have historically 221 maintained the sea as a space outside the remit of land-bound laws, accentuated by various flows of goods, capital and information, where potentially new forms of production, occupation and exchange – be it cultural or economic – might be possible. From piracy to fishing, resource extraction and even the spatial occupation of the sea in the form of floating vessels or other architectures, the sea becomes an existential territory wherein new subjectivities might emerge. The life of the privateer has certain similarities to that of the contemporary computer hacker. Like the privateer, the hacker works as a freelance opportunist, working at his or her own risk to open up new networks (and disrupt those of competitors). Like the privateer, the life of a hacker coincides with his/her work: (s)he offers pure labor power in the service of a client. Like the privateer, (s)he operates often outside any particular national jurisdiction, and often on the edge of lawlessness. The North Sea, once a safe haven for pirates and privateers, now hosts one of the most significant hacker-friendly spaces: the world’s smallest micro- nation, called Sealand. The Principality of Sealand On February 11, 1942, one of Britain’s anti-aircraft defense platforms was installed some 12 kilometers off England’s Suffolk coast. Its construction marks the beginning of a remarkable story. In December 1966, a former military major named Paddy Roy Bates, his son and four crew members occupied the platform, originally known as U1 – Roughs Naval Tower. A few months later, Bates declared the independence of the Principality of Sealand, a sovereign state with a delimited border and an outlined territory. In 1975 he formed a government, issued a constitution, a currency and passports, a flag and a coat of arms marked with the motto E Mare Libertas (“From the Sea, Freedom”) that appears on all Sealand’s official documents. In 1987, the UK extended its territorial waters from 3 Sealand, in the North Sea off Harwich on the Coast of Essex, UK. Courtesy of Rex/ Alban Donohoe. 222 to 12 nautical miles (from 5.6 to 22 kilometers), but since the Principality of Sealand had declared its statehood before that date, Bates continued Sealand and the Architecture to assert the presence of its own territorial waters. The UK cautiously of the Sea Hamed Khosravi avoided forcing the question of Sealand’s status for the next three decades. Official policy reflected a pair of negatives: on the one hand, Sealand was not part of the UK; on the other, the UK government did not regard it as a state. What it was or is has never been entirely clear. Bates’s 1966 occupation of the Roughs Tower was his second attempt to squat a long-deserted platform. In 1965, Bates and his family, together with his crew members, had occupied Knock John Tower, a Second World War anti-aircraft defense platform in the estuary of the River Thames, and had founded there one of the earliest unlicensed or “pirate” radio stations, Radio Essex, broadcasting a twenty-four-hour music program using the abandoned wartime equipment. Radio Essex was on air for two years, changing its name to BBMS (Britain’s Better Music Station) in early 1966. In the mid 1960s, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) held a legal monopoly on radio broadcasting in the UK; Radio Essex Poster, 1965. Source: The Pirate Radio Hall of Fame/public domain. 223 anyone else transmitting radio signals to the public faced prosecution. Offshore pirate broadcasters proliferated accordingly and challenged the monopoly of the BBC, filling the gap between the public’s demands for pop and rock music and the BBC’s rather sedate programs. Pirate radio became massively popular at all levels of society, and started to shape a new generation’s musical taste, favoring the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and The Who among other yet-to-be legends of twentieth-century music. Radio Caroline, which started broadcasting music in 1964, was probably the most famous of these unlicensed stations, based on five different ships at anchor in international waters in the North Sea. But it suffered from the unstable conditions both of its finances and of the naval vessels, vulnerable to any North Sea storm and the juridical restrictions in place in the waters in which they found themselves. Bates took advantage of his military background and occupied the Knock John fort to set up his own pirate radio in more technically and, he hoped, more legally stable conditions. Bates’s plan did not work out as expected. In November 1966, he and his crew were forcefully removed from the fort; they were found guilty of violating Section One of the Wireless Telegraphy Act 1949 – that is, of illegal broadcasting – a charge justified by the fact that the Knock John Tower was located within the UK’s 3-mile territorial waters. Following the verdict, Bates took his case to appeal. In a newspaper interview, he outlined his determination to pursue his broadcasting mission: “I hope to open a new station well out of territorial waters. I shall continue with this appeal and if necessary take it to the House of Lords,” he declared. Only a few days later, Bates and his crew squatted the Sealand fort, located outside the UK’s territorial waters, and moved the radio equipment there. Roy Bates and his Wife Joan on Sealand. In Charles Alverson, “A Law unto its Tiny Self,” Sunday Telegraph Magazine, October 1980. Source: Public domain. 224 The Architecture of Sealand For such a big dream, both the Knock John and the Sealand forts had Sealand and the Architecture of the Sea rather confined spaces. The Sealand platform contained living quarters Hamed Khosravi for family and crew, offices, utility and mechanical rooms, fuel stores and a radio transmission station. Despite the primitive working and living conditions, there was no shortage of young men prepared to endure the hardship for a job as a DJ. BBMS (Radio Essex) DJs included Michael Cane, ex-air force cook and radio operator, who changed his name to Martin Kayne when joined Radio 355, another offshore pirate radio station. For many years he was a columnist in Short Wave Magazine under his real name of Andy Cadier. Other figures such as Vince Allen, Dick Dixon, Guy Hamilton and Graham Jones were aboard. Life on the fort was rather precarious; the DJs frequently endured long periods at sea and often ran short of food and water. No alcohol was allowed and, for much of the station’s life, no television. With just one man’s money behind it, the station operated on a shoestring. But BBMS proved to be a good training Roy Bates, Letter to L. Meuwese, June 1, 1966. Source: The Pirate Radio Hall of Fame/public domain. 225 ground, and a number of the presenters later went on to jobs with larger stations. Before the BBMS could revive its programs on Sealand effectively, the Marine Broadcasting (Offences) Act of August 1967 outlawed the employment of British citizens by pirate stations. It was in response to this act that Bates declared the independence of the Principality of Sealand on September 2, 1967, embracing the ancient legal doctrine of jus gentium – those rules of law common to all peoples, regardless of nation. By this time, though, many of BBMS’s DJs had already left rather than renounce their UK citizenship. Consequently, due to insufficient funds and lack of staff, BBMS went off the air. However, this was not the end of Sealand’s story; it had just started a new chapter. The coming years for Sealand resembled typical pirate ship ventures. The conflicts of the pirates had been not so much with sovereign states as with other pirates and privateers. Roy Bates, who had taken possession of the Sealand fort when it was in free international waters, was caught up in quite violent confrontations with other pirate groups. Between April and June 1967, some of Radio Caroline’s crew members had attempted to invade the Sealand fort. Bates and his men repelled the boarding parties with Molotov cocktails and warning shots. Although the invasion attempts failed, Bates and his fourteen-year-old son, Michael, were arrested by the British authorities, charged with unauthorized use of a gun, only to have the case dismissed by the British court which claimed it did not have jurisdiction over international affairs, and that Sealand lay beyond the territorial waters of Britain. Bates used this as de facto recognition of his country, declaring himself as Prince Roy of Sealand and bestowing the title of Princess on his wife Joan. By appointing himself the “head of state” of Sealand, Roy’s status had shifted from pirate outlaw to sovereign. Of course, the position of Sealand remained not illegal but precarious; it was as if Roy had forged his own letters of marque and declared himself a privateer. As a place, Sealand has maintained its unique architectural form. Its platform stretches from north to south, held some 20 meters above the water. Outside, on the south end of the deck, a rusty 3.7-inch AA gun, installed when the platform was originally built, is still visible. Perhaps it was last used in 1978 when a group of German and Dutch men, led by Alexander Achenbach – a former German citizen and a diamond dealer – attempted to invade the fort, as a potential terra nullius to be occupied. A crane, a flagpole, a radio antenna and a satellite dish stand out among the other objects on the deck. Upon Bates’s occupation, the octagonal control tower and radar house were removed and replaced by a helipad. The remaining single-story building has water and fuel tanks arranged against its walls. Above them, the unmistakable Sealand logo, painted in large white letters, is instantly visible to the west. The building is cut through by a meter-wide corridor; to one side are the washrooms and toilets of the crew members and staff, to the other a galley kitchen, office 226 spaces, a lounge, a gathering room and a transmitter room. All of these rooms are naturally lit – they have conventional domestic windows – and Sealand and the Architecture of the Sea naturally ventilated. Hamed Khosravi The two huge hollow legs that support the platform house the rest of the accommodation. Each cylindrical tower is divided into seven floors, connected vertically by a series of ladders and a lift. Immediately below the main deck are the electricity generators, where they have the easy access and dependable ventilation required for safety. Despite this, on June 23, 2006, the building on top of the platform was badly damaged by an electrical fire that started in the generator room; it has since been restored and extended northward. The north leg is dedicated mostly to accommodation for crew members and other staff. On the second level down, however, is a chapel or prayer room, a half-empty circular space with a cross hanging on the wall, a simple desk sitting humbly below it. On the fifth level down is a conference room, for official meetings and gatherings. The sixth level down, in both the north and south legs, was originally a magazine chamber or arms store, now – in the north leg – turned into a jail; the walls are thicker than on the floors above, and the space is divided internally into smaller chambers in order to control possible explosion. The seventh level is occupied mostly by water pumps and safety valves. The south leg used to house, on the second level down, the royal chamber belonging to Roy and his wife Joan. But in late 1999, Sean Sealand’s Axonometric Reconstruction. Drawing by the Author. © Hamed Khosravi. 227 Hastings and Ryan Lackey, two members of Cypherpunks, an international crypto-anarchist group, started negotiating with Bates to transform the Sealand platform into a fat-pipe Internet server and global networking hub. In 2000, Roy and Joan’s quarters became a uninterruptible power supply (UPS) and computer server room, monitoring and controlling the databanks stored in the floors lower down. Right below the server room is a communal workstation. The former arms store houses further servers. The south leg is now a multistory data center, an incredibly plush computer hub. Data Haven The attraction of Sealand for Hastings and Lackey was that it allowed for a data hosting company that would stand outside governmental restrictions on privacy, copyright, music sharing and any censorship. They saw its potential as the world’s first truly offshore, almost-anything-goes electronic data haven – a place occupying a tantalizing gray zone between what is legal and what is possible. In their partnership deal with Bates, Hastings and Lackey proposed to move their company, HavenCo, set up a couple of years earlier in 1998, to Sealand. Their intentions should be understood in the light of the Cypherpunk manifesto, released back in August 1988: Computer technology is on the verge of providing the ability for individuals and groups to communicate and interact with each other in a totally anonymous manner. [ … ] These developments will alter completely the nature of government regulation, the ability to tax and control economic interactions, the ability to keep information secret, and will even alter the nature of trust and reputation. [ … ] The State will of course try to slow or halt the spread of this technology, citing national security concerns, use of the technology by drug dealers and tax evaders, and fears of societal disintegration. Many of these concerns will be valid; crypto anarchy will allow national secrets to be trade [sic] freely and will allow illicit and stolen materials to be traded. An anonymous computerized market will even make possible abhorrent markets for assassinations and extortion. [ … ] Just as the technology of printing altered and reduced the power of medieval guilds and the social power structure, so too will cryptologic methods fundamentally alter the nature of corporations and of government interference in economic transactions. Combined with emerging information markets, crypto anarchy will create a liquid market for any and all 228 material, which can be put into words and pictures. And just as a seemingly minor invention like barbed wire made possible the Sealand and the Architecture fencing-off of vast ranches and farms, thus altering forever the of the Sea Hamed Khosravi concepts of land and property rights in the frontier West, so too will the seemingly minor discovery out of an arcane branch of mathematics come to be the wire clippers which dismantle the barbed wire around intellectual property. Arise, you have nothing to lose but your barbed wire fences! The Bates were immediately interested in HavenCo’s proposal: “[t]his [was] the first [idea] that seemed to be really suited to what we are,” Roy would later say. In 2000, HavenCo received an exclusive lease on part of the physical territory of Sealand for its data-center operations, and began their refurbishment of the south leg. HavenCo had by this time amassed its key employees, studied the relevant (and confusing) international law and scooped up the money needed to get going. Along with Lackey and Hastings, major personnel included Hastings’ wife, Jo – the three of them together providing experience in programming, offshore financing and online gambling – and Sameer Parekh, a computer security specialist who launched the crypto software company C2Net and by 2000 was HavenCo’s chair. Parekh confidently predicted that HavenCo would pull in between $50 million and $100 million in profits by the end of its third year in business. The success of the HavenCo was highly dependent on the quality of cyber infrastructure they could access. In the first few years they managed to obtain access to high-speed data pipes, namely a satellite link, a pair of 155-Mbps microwave links operated by Winstar Communications and a ring of high-speed fiber-optic cables installed by Flute, a UK-based corporation that builds undersea optical cable rings and then sells the fiber to its customers. But things did not go as planned; the fiber-optics were not ready on time, Flute later went bankrupt, the microwave links turned out to have been oversold and the satellite link had a limited bandwidth. Consequently, HavenCo gradually lost its clients due to poor service and lack of investment. The company’s website went offline in 2008. HavenCo did not only run under Sealand’s juridical title; since its staff and equipment – the servers – were all physically hosted there, Michael Bates classified it as a nationalized business. Perhaps HavenCo was not so different from the old privateers; it ran under the Sealand flag and, in a radical mutation, the territory of the motherland (Sealand) and the vessel (HavenCo) became one. Despite HavenCo’s demise, Sealand has continued to enjoy its ambiguous status. “Listen, old boy,” Bates told a journalist in 2000, “I like a bit of adventure. It’s the old British tradition. Maybe Britain’s changed, but there’s a lot of us still about.” In 2007, Pirate Bay, a Swedish website that hosts BitTorrent tracker files and claims to be the world’s largest 19 peer-to-peer file-sharing platform, announced its plans to buy Sealand. It was no surprise when in December 2010 the Sealand government announced that Sealand had been asked to give the Wikileaks founder Julian Assange a passport and a safe haven, a space slightly distant from normative legal systems and juridical precedents. The Nomos of the Sea The North Sea represents a paradigmatic case of the particular juridico- spatial status of the sea. Having served as the starting point for the colonization of territories across the world, it is a peculiarly “urbanized” body of water, and continues to be a disputed territory. Bordering mainland Europe, it has been the locus of geopolitical affairs and of cultural and economic exchange. This strategic role has manifested itself in a succession of military, religious, economic and social conflicts and alliances; it is a place of both discord and commonality. The case of Sealand is part of a contested history that continues, the ongoing refugee crisis and the threats of Brexit merely recent examples of its vicissitudes. In this reading, the sea is characterized by a juridical ambiguity that generates the possibility of creating a state of exception, a spatio- temporal condition in which normal rule is suspended. Thus, one could claim that the architecture of the sea – whether in the form of a military platform or a ship – emerges before and outside any spatial appropriation. It becomes a liminal space, as Victor Turner has coined it, a space that in its formal separation from the rest of the world presents a realm of instability and possibility. Such a condition is described by Michel Foucault as “heterotopia,” or “displacement of position,” where Foucault defines heterotopias as “counter-sites” within which “all other real sites that can be found within the culture are simultaneously represented, contested, and inverted.” In a lecture delivered in March 1967, Foucault takes the example of the ship as a “heterotopia par excellence.” He describes it as “a floating piece of space, a place without a place, that exists by itself, that is closed in on itself and at the same time is given over to the infinity of the sea.” Since the time of the sixteenth-century European maritime empires, the ship – or, more conceptually, the architecture of the sea – has been “the great instrument of economic development … [that] has been simultaneously the greatest reserve of the imagination. [ … ] In civilizations without boats dreams dry up, espionage takes the place of adventure, and the police take the place of pirates.” The spatial condition that Foucault elucidates pushes life to extremes, with no security and stability: a state of precariousness. In such a state, production and work acquire new purpose. Precarious life is not sustained through mere productivity, economic values and security measures. Within the realm of uncertainty, anything is subject to change; the state of precariousness triggers an alternative perception of the world that is anchored to the absolute present. In such a condition, the relationship between various forms of labor – material, immaterial, 230 cognitive, affective and creative – becomes distorted, and they almost merge. On the one hand, to cope with the “displacement” driven by the state Sealand and the Architecture of the Sea of emergency, the body is put to work for the matter of survival, while on the Hamed Khosravi other, the autonomy of the space, surrounded by the infinity of the sea, projects the imagination far beyond the limits of the bordering lands. Sealand and its multilayered history of war, music and cyberculture, might be revisited through this understanding of the “counter-site” and its condition of precariousness. Pirates, DJs and hackers represent forms of labor which have the potential to reinterpret the spatio-temporal structure of global economic systems. Through the momentary suspension of normality provided by the state of exception, these forms of life create the possibility for what Paolo Virno would call “innovative action.” Shrouded in the ambiguous spatial and juridical conditions of Sealand, the collective form of contingent labor could escape the gaze of the corporate state markets, taking on the free territory of the sea, cyberspace and intellectual capital. Sealand resembles a form of sanctuary for almost any innovative collective action. Its brutal military architecture has been not a space of confrontation, but rather a space of fulfillment where life, production and distribution are merged and fluxes of goods, capital and information are mobilized. Indeed, such spatial appropriation could potentially expand, to transform the “free sea” law also into a new land order. The Principality of Sealand, 1986. Courtesy of John Wray. 231 In The Nomos of the Earth, Schmitt employs the term nomos to explain such a multifaceted yet controversial condition. The Greek word nomos connotes “a wall around the Greek house,”“division,” “distribution” and “appropriation.” It also stands for “concrete order”– or the concept of law – that is traditionally bound to spatial organization and land appropriation. Schmitt’s suggestion that we should revisit the idea of nomos in order to explain the changing relation between the firm land and the free sea is perhaps even more relevant today. Nomos offers a spatial condition wherein free movements are first captured, organized and then distributed. The ordering of space becomes a fundamental device through which an alternative form of power relations might be achieved. Architecture of the sea potentially provides such a possibility. Hamed Khosravi, is an architect, researcher and educator. He holds a PhD in the History and Theory of Architecture from the program “The City as a Project” at the Berlage Institute/TU Delft, the Netherlands. Hamed has previously taught at the Berlage Institute, TU Delft and Oxford Brookes University, UK. He currently teaches at the Architectural Association School of Architecture, London, UK. His research and projects focus on the history and theory of architecture and urban form in relation to territorial organizations and political decisions. Notes 1 An earlier version of this paper, Hamed 4 Carl Schmitt (1885–1985) was a Khosravi, “The Nomos of the Sea: conservative German jurist and political Pirates, DJs, Hackers, and the theorist. Schmitt is often considered one Architecture of Contingent Labor,” The of the most important critics of Avery Review 29 (February 2018), liberalism, parliamentary democracy and available online: http://averyreview.com/ liberal cosmopolitanism. But the value issues/29/nomos-of-the-sea (accessed and significance of Schmitt's work is August 25, 2018). subject to controversy, mainly due to his 2 Carl Schmitt, The Nomos of the Earth intellectual support for and active (New York: Telos Publishing, 2006 involvement with National Socialism. See [1950]), 43. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. 3 The term privateer or buccaneer refers Available online: https://plato.stanford. to a person responsible for a private edu/entries/schmitt/ (accessed company (usually a one-man company) September 14, 2018). or a ship. “In international law, privateers 5 Oppenheim classifies piracy as a crime of are defined as vessels belonging to universal jurisdiction. “The pirate is private owners, and sailing under a considered the enemy of every State and commission of war empowering the can be brought to justice anywhere;” person to whom it is granted to carry on “Piracy has for centuries been a crime all forms of hostility which are under customary law of nations, and a permissible at sea by the usages of war.” pirate has always been considered an See Janice E. Thomson, Mercenaries, outlaw and ‘enemy of mankind’ (hostis Pirates and Sovereigns (Princeton, humani generis).” See Lassa F. Oppenheim, NJ: Princeton University Press, International Law: A Treatise,vol. 1, Peace, 1994), 21–2. 8th edition, ed. H. Lauterpacht (New York: Longmans, Green and Co., 1955 [1905]), 15 Simson Garfinkel. “Welcome to Sealand. 232 609. The privateer, who either ran Now Bugger Off,” Wired, January 7, 2000. Sealand and the Architecture blockades or took contraband, was viewed Available online: https://www.wired.com/ of the Sea as an enemy only by a warring sea power, 2000/07/haven-2/ (accessed August Hamed Khosravi and not by every state. But was he a justus 25, 2018). hostis, a just enemy? Not in the same 16 Tim May, The Cyphernomicon, 1994. Available online: http://www. sense as an equally sovereign state, but cypherpunks.to/faq/cyphernomicron/ also not in the sense of an enemy in a war cyphernomicon.txt (accessed May of annihilation against criminals and 23, 2017). pirates. See Schmitt, Nomos of the 17 John Markoff, “Rebel Outpost on the Earth,311 Fringes of Cyberspace,” New York Times, 6 Schmitt, Nomos of the Earth, 311. June 4, 2000. Available online: https:// 7 Schmitt argues that state law has www.nytimes.com/2000/06/04/world/ its foundation in the primeval act of rebel-outpost-on-the-fringes-of- land appropriation and territorial cyberspace.html (accessed May definition. In regard to Sealand, as a 23, 2017). man-made artificial platform, it is not 18 Anon., “Prince Roy of Sealand,” immediately obvious that it is a territory. obituary, The Telegraph, October 11, However, since the structure that 2012. Available online: http://www. supports it is anchored in the seabed, it telegraph.co.uk/news/obituaries/ has been regarded as part of a larger royalty-obituaries/9602837/Prince-Roy- landmass. This was the basis of Bates’s of-Sealand.html (accessed May claim for its statehood. See Claudio Minca 23, 2017). and Roy Rowan, On Schmitt and Space 19 Flora Graham, “How The Pirate Bay (New York and London: Routledge, 2016). Sailed Into Infamy,” BBC News, 8 See James Grimmelmann, “Sealand, February 16, 2009. Available HavenCo, and the Rule of Law,” University online: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/ of Illinois Law Review 2 (2012): 405–84. technology/7893223.stm (accessed 9 See Adrian Johns, Death of a Pirate: May 23, 2017). British Radio and the Making of the 20 Victor Turner, From Ritual to Theatre: Information Age (New York: Norton, The Human Seriousness of Play (New 2011), 28–36. York: PAJ Publications, 1982), 20–60. 10 Daily Telegraph Reporter (anonymous), See also Michiel Dehaene and Lieven De “Appeal by Radio Essex Dismissed,” Daily Cauter, eds. Heterotopia and the City: Telegraph, January 18, 1967: 12. Public Space in a Postcivil Society 11 Other nations (e.g. Ireland and the (London and New York: Routledge, Netherlands) followed the UK with the 2008), 96. introduction of similar laws. 21 Michel Foucault, “Of Other Spaces,” 12 John Ryan, George Dunford, and Simon trans. J. Miskowiec, Diacritics 16, no. 1 Sellars, Micronations: The Lonely Planet (1986 [1984]): 24. Guide to Home-Made Nations (Carlton, 22 Ibid., 27. VIC: Lonely Planet, 2006). 23 Ibid. 13 See Grimmelmann, “Sealand, HavenCo, 24 Paolo Virno, “Jokes and Innovative and the Rule of Law,” 426–8. Action: for a Logic of Change,” 14 On the Cypherpunks, see Stephen Levy, Artforum International 46, no. 5 Crypto: How the Code Rebels Beat the (2008): 251–7. Government – Saving Privacy in the Digital Age (London: Penguin, 2001). References – Anon. 2012. “Prince Roy of Sealand.” The obituaries/royalty-obituaries/9602837/ Telegraph, October 11. Available online: Prince-Roy-of-Sealand.html (accessed http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/ May 23, 2017). 233 – Daily Telegraph Reporter (Anonymous). – Markoff, John. 2000. “Rebel Outpost on 1967. “Appeal by Radio Essex Dismissed.” the Fringes of Cyberspace.” New York Daily Telegraph, January 18. Times, June 4. Available online: https:// – Dehaene, Michiel and Lieven De Cauter, www.nytimes.com/2000/06/04/world/ rebel-outpost-on-the-fringes-of-cyber- eds. 2008. Heterotopia and the City: Public space.html (accessed May 23, 2017). Space in a Postcivil Society. London and – May, Timothy C. 1994. The Cyphernomicon. New York: Routledge. Available online: http://www.cypherpunks. – Foucault, Michel. 1986 [1984]. “Of Other to/faq/cyphernomicron/cyphernomicon.txt Spaces,” translated by J. Miskowiec. (accessed May 23, 2017). Diacritics 16, no. 1: 22–7. – Minca, Claudio and Roy Rowan. 2016. On – Garfinkel, Simson. 2000. “Welcome to Schmitt and Space. New York and London: Sealand. 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Princeton, NJ: – Khosravi, Hamed. 2018. “The Nomos of Princeton University Press. the Sea; Pirates, DJs, Hackers, and the – Turner, Victor. 1982. From Ritual to Theatre: Architecture of Contingent Labor.” The The Human Seriousness of Play. New York: Avery Review 29. Available online: http:// PAJ Publications. averyreview.com/issues/29/nomos-of-the- – Virno, Paolo. 2008. “Jokes and Innovative sea (accessed August 25, 2018). Action: For a Logic of Change.” Artforum – Levy, Stephen. 2001. Crypto: How the Code International 46, no. 5: 251–7. Rebels Beat the Government – Saving Privacy in the Digital Age. London: Penguin. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Architecture and Culture Taylor & Francis

Sealand and the Architecture of the Sea: From Counter-Space to Counter-Culture

Architecture and Culture , Volume 7 (2): 15 – May 4, 2019

Sealand and the Architecture of the Sea: From Counter-Space to Counter-Culture

Abstract

AbstractFocusing on the small state of Sealand, a platform built off the English Essex coast to carry anti-aircraft guns during the Second World War, this article posits the North Sea as a particular geopolitical condition based on its status as a “state of exception.” The article formulates its reading by considering the architectural legacy of the pirates, privateers and hackers who have been the principle rulers of the terrain. Their spatial strategies are understood not only in terms of physical constructions that accommodate exceptional functions, but also as a conceptual apparatus that facilitates extraterritorial juridical practices. The spatio-juridical characteristics of the “architecture of the sea” are seen to offer new possibilities for ordering the distribution of goods, capital and information, and for alternative forms of living.1

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Taylor & Francis
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© 2019 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group
ISSN
2050-7836
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2050-7828
DOI
10.1080/20507828.2019.1608102
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Abstract

ARCHITECTURE AND CULTURE Hamed Khosravi Architectural Association School of Architecture, London, UK hamed.khosravi@ aaschool.ac.uk Keywords: Sealand, architecture, counter-space, counter-culture, pirate radio, nomos, North Sea, colonialism Sealand and the Architecture of the Sea: From Counter-Space to Counter-Culture Hamed Khosravi ABSTRACT Focusing on the small state of Sealand, a platform built off the English Essex coast to carry anti-aircraft guns during the Second Volume 7/Issue 2 World War, this article posits the North Sea as a particular geopolitical pp 219–233 DOI:10.1080/20507828. condition based on its status as a “state of exception.” The article for- 2019.1608102 mulates its reading by considering the architectural legacy of the No potential conflict of pirates, privateers and hackers who have been the principle rulers of interest was reported the terrain. Their spatial strategies are understood not only in terms of by the authors. physical constructions that accommodate exceptional functions, but © 2019 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK also as a conceptual apparatus that facilitates extraterritorial juridical Limited, trading as Taylor & practices. The spatio-juridical characteristics of the “architecture of the Francis Group This is an Open Access article sea” are seen to offer new possibilities for ordering the distribution of distributed under the terms of goods, capital and information, and for alternative forms of living. the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial- NoDerivatives License (http:// creativecommons.org/licenses/ by-nc-nd/4.0/), which permits The Sea as the Space of Exception non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in The axiom freedom of the sea meant something very simple, that any medium, provided the the sea was a zone free for booty. [ … ] On the open sea, there original work is properly cited, and is not altered, transformed, were no limits, no boundaries, no consecrated sites, no sacred or built upon in any way. orientations, no law, and no property. 220 The prehistory of the global market can be traced back to the time of colonialism, when the great sea empires and maritime nations arose. Sealand and the Architecture of the Sea Among those, British, Dutch, Belgian, French and Nordic states had their Hamed Khosravi forces settled in more than half of the globe. They were all based on the North Sea. This was their safe haven, a rather small body of water from which much of the world was conquered. Unlike southern European states, the North Sea countries shaped their overseas empires mainly through private trading companies, or companies of “privateers.” The most important of these were the British, the Dutch and the Danish East India and West India Companies. Although they were private corporations, they were granted very specific jurisdictional powers by the nations on whose behalf they traded: they had the right to wage war, to imprison and execute convicts, to negotiate treaties and to establish colonies. The companies’ forces were freelance agents who expanded their nations’ empires at their own risk. Unlike the pirate, the privateer holds a legal title – the commission from a government, a “letter of marque.” The privateer’s ship is entitled to fly a country’s flag, while the pirate’s only flag is a “black flag.” In order to be employed on a mission – global trade, waging a war, an expedition or founding a colony – the privateer must be granted a defined legal status that authorizes his or her activities. However, the distinction between pirate and privateer, so clear and elegant in theory, was often blurred in practice. Privateers frequently exceeded the limits of their licenses; they navigated using forged letters of marque, or carried fake licenses issued by non-existent states. They reinterpreted the principle that the sea belongs to all, and turned it into a space of liberation from moral and legal ties. Carl Schmitt, the controversial German jurist, explains the juridical status accorded to the sea in his book The Nomos of the Earth (1950). He distinguishes the maritime performance of privateers from that of state powers; these private traders might be viewed as an enemy by a sea power opposed to their activities, but they did not have the status of an enemy state, nor were they outlaws, enemies of everyone, like pirates or criminals. Their actions were not illegal, but they were precarious. Schmitt writes that: their ventures were possible, because their operations – block- running or blockade – occurred in principle in the no-man’s land of a double freedom, i.e., in the non-state sphere: first spatially, in the sphere of the free sea, and second, substantively, in the sphere of free trade. These peculiar conditions define the ways in which the private companies performed within the state of exception, both spatially and legally, using the flexibility of the law of the sea and of economic relations to begin to colonize other lands. They are conditions that have historically 221 maintained the sea as a space outside the remit of land-bound laws, accentuated by various flows of goods, capital and information, where potentially new forms of production, occupation and exchange – be it cultural or economic – might be possible. From piracy to fishing, resource extraction and even the spatial occupation of the sea in the form of floating vessels or other architectures, the sea becomes an existential territory wherein new subjectivities might emerge. The life of the privateer has certain similarities to that of the contemporary computer hacker. Like the privateer, the hacker works as a freelance opportunist, working at his or her own risk to open up new networks (and disrupt those of competitors). Like the privateer, the life of a hacker coincides with his/her work: (s)he offers pure labor power in the service of a client. Like the privateer, (s)he operates often outside any particular national jurisdiction, and often on the edge of lawlessness. The North Sea, once a safe haven for pirates and privateers, now hosts one of the most significant hacker-friendly spaces: the world’s smallest micro- nation, called Sealand. The Principality of Sealand On February 11, 1942, one of Britain’s anti-aircraft defense platforms was installed some 12 kilometers off England’s Suffolk coast. Its construction marks the beginning of a remarkable story. In December 1966, a former military major named Paddy Roy Bates, his son and four crew members occupied the platform, originally known as U1 – Roughs Naval Tower. A few months later, Bates declared the independence of the Principality of Sealand, a sovereign state with a delimited border and an outlined territory. In 1975 he formed a government, issued a constitution, a currency and passports, a flag and a coat of arms marked with the motto E Mare Libertas (“From the Sea, Freedom”) that appears on all Sealand’s official documents. In 1987, the UK extended its territorial waters from 3 Sealand, in the North Sea off Harwich on the Coast of Essex, UK. Courtesy of Rex/ Alban Donohoe. 222 to 12 nautical miles (from 5.6 to 22 kilometers), but since the Principality of Sealand had declared its statehood before that date, Bates continued Sealand and the Architecture to assert the presence of its own territorial waters. The UK cautiously of the Sea Hamed Khosravi avoided forcing the question of Sealand’s status for the next three decades. Official policy reflected a pair of negatives: on the one hand, Sealand was not part of the UK; on the other, the UK government did not regard it as a state. What it was or is has never been entirely clear. Bates’s 1966 occupation of the Roughs Tower was his second attempt to squat a long-deserted platform. In 1965, Bates and his family, together with his crew members, had occupied Knock John Tower, a Second World War anti-aircraft defense platform in the estuary of the River Thames, and had founded there one of the earliest unlicensed or “pirate” radio stations, Radio Essex, broadcasting a twenty-four-hour music program using the abandoned wartime equipment. Radio Essex was on air for two years, changing its name to BBMS (Britain’s Better Music Station) in early 1966. In the mid 1960s, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) held a legal monopoly on radio broadcasting in the UK; Radio Essex Poster, 1965. Source: The Pirate Radio Hall of Fame/public domain. 223 anyone else transmitting radio signals to the public faced prosecution. Offshore pirate broadcasters proliferated accordingly and challenged the monopoly of the BBC, filling the gap between the public’s demands for pop and rock music and the BBC’s rather sedate programs. Pirate radio became massively popular at all levels of society, and started to shape a new generation’s musical taste, favoring the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and The Who among other yet-to-be legends of twentieth-century music. Radio Caroline, which started broadcasting music in 1964, was probably the most famous of these unlicensed stations, based on five different ships at anchor in international waters in the North Sea. But it suffered from the unstable conditions both of its finances and of the naval vessels, vulnerable to any North Sea storm and the juridical restrictions in place in the waters in which they found themselves. Bates took advantage of his military background and occupied the Knock John fort to set up his own pirate radio in more technically and, he hoped, more legally stable conditions. Bates’s plan did not work out as expected. In November 1966, he and his crew were forcefully removed from the fort; they were found guilty of violating Section One of the Wireless Telegraphy Act 1949 – that is, of illegal broadcasting – a charge justified by the fact that the Knock John Tower was located within the UK’s 3-mile territorial waters. Following the verdict, Bates took his case to appeal. In a newspaper interview, he outlined his determination to pursue his broadcasting mission: “I hope to open a new station well out of territorial waters. I shall continue with this appeal and if necessary take it to the House of Lords,” he declared. Only a few days later, Bates and his crew squatted the Sealand fort, located outside the UK’s territorial waters, and moved the radio equipment there. Roy Bates and his Wife Joan on Sealand. In Charles Alverson, “A Law unto its Tiny Self,” Sunday Telegraph Magazine, October 1980. Source: Public domain. 224 The Architecture of Sealand For such a big dream, both the Knock John and the Sealand forts had Sealand and the Architecture of the Sea rather confined spaces. The Sealand platform contained living quarters Hamed Khosravi for family and crew, offices, utility and mechanical rooms, fuel stores and a radio transmission station. Despite the primitive working and living conditions, there was no shortage of young men prepared to endure the hardship for a job as a DJ. BBMS (Radio Essex) DJs included Michael Cane, ex-air force cook and radio operator, who changed his name to Martin Kayne when joined Radio 355, another offshore pirate radio station. For many years he was a columnist in Short Wave Magazine under his real name of Andy Cadier. Other figures such as Vince Allen, Dick Dixon, Guy Hamilton and Graham Jones were aboard. Life on the fort was rather precarious; the DJs frequently endured long periods at sea and often ran short of food and water. No alcohol was allowed and, for much of the station’s life, no television. With just one man’s money behind it, the station operated on a shoestring. But BBMS proved to be a good training Roy Bates, Letter to L. Meuwese, June 1, 1966. Source: The Pirate Radio Hall of Fame/public domain. 225 ground, and a number of the presenters later went on to jobs with larger stations. Before the BBMS could revive its programs on Sealand effectively, the Marine Broadcasting (Offences) Act of August 1967 outlawed the employment of British citizens by pirate stations. It was in response to this act that Bates declared the independence of the Principality of Sealand on September 2, 1967, embracing the ancient legal doctrine of jus gentium – those rules of law common to all peoples, regardless of nation. By this time, though, many of BBMS’s DJs had already left rather than renounce their UK citizenship. Consequently, due to insufficient funds and lack of staff, BBMS went off the air. However, this was not the end of Sealand’s story; it had just started a new chapter. The coming years for Sealand resembled typical pirate ship ventures. The conflicts of the pirates had been not so much with sovereign states as with other pirates and privateers. Roy Bates, who had taken possession of the Sealand fort when it was in free international waters, was caught up in quite violent confrontations with other pirate groups. Between April and June 1967, some of Radio Caroline’s crew members had attempted to invade the Sealand fort. Bates and his men repelled the boarding parties with Molotov cocktails and warning shots. Although the invasion attempts failed, Bates and his fourteen-year-old son, Michael, were arrested by the British authorities, charged with unauthorized use of a gun, only to have the case dismissed by the British court which claimed it did not have jurisdiction over international affairs, and that Sealand lay beyond the territorial waters of Britain. Bates used this as de facto recognition of his country, declaring himself as Prince Roy of Sealand and bestowing the title of Princess on his wife Joan. By appointing himself the “head of state” of Sealand, Roy’s status had shifted from pirate outlaw to sovereign. Of course, the position of Sealand remained not illegal but precarious; it was as if Roy had forged his own letters of marque and declared himself a privateer. As a place, Sealand has maintained its unique architectural form. Its platform stretches from north to south, held some 20 meters above the water. Outside, on the south end of the deck, a rusty 3.7-inch AA gun, installed when the platform was originally built, is still visible. Perhaps it was last used in 1978 when a group of German and Dutch men, led by Alexander Achenbach – a former German citizen and a diamond dealer – attempted to invade the fort, as a potential terra nullius to be occupied. A crane, a flagpole, a radio antenna and a satellite dish stand out among the other objects on the deck. Upon Bates’s occupation, the octagonal control tower and radar house were removed and replaced by a helipad. The remaining single-story building has water and fuel tanks arranged against its walls. Above them, the unmistakable Sealand logo, painted in large white letters, is instantly visible to the west. The building is cut through by a meter-wide corridor; to one side are the washrooms and toilets of the crew members and staff, to the other a galley kitchen, office 226 spaces, a lounge, a gathering room and a transmitter room. All of these rooms are naturally lit – they have conventional domestic windows – and Sealand and the Architecture of the Sea naturally ventilated. Hamed Khosravi The two huge hollow legs that support the platform house the rest of the accommodation. Each cylindrical tower is divided into seven floors, connected vertically by a series of ladders and a lift. Immediately below the main deck are the electricity generators, where they have the easy access and dependable ventilation required for safety. Despite this, on June 23, 2006, the building on top of the platform was badly damaged by an electrical fire that started in the generator room; it has since been restored and extended northward. The north leg is dedicated mostly to accommodation for crew members and other staff. On the second level down, however, is a chapel or prayer room, a half-empty circular space with a cross hanging on the wall, a simple desk sitting humbly below it. On the fifth level down is a conference room, for official meetings and gatherings. The sixth level down, in both the north and south legs, was originally a magazine chamber or arms store, now – in the north leg – turned into a jail; the walls are thicker than on the floors above, and the space is divided internally into smaller chambers in order to control possible explosion. The seventh level is occupied mostly by water pumps and safety valves. The south leg used to house, on the second level down, the royal chamber belonging to Roy and his wife Joan. But in late 1999, Sean Sealand’s Axonometric Reconstruction. Drawing by the Author. © Hamed Khosravi. 227 Hastings and Ryan Lackey, two members of Cypherpunks, an international crypto-anarchist group, started negotiating with Bates to transform the Sealand platform into a fat-pipe Internet server and global networking hub. In 2000, Roy and Joan’s quarters became a uninterruptible power supply (UPS) and computer server room, monitoring and controlling the databanks stored in the floors lower down. Right below the server room is a communal workstation. The former arms store houses further servers. The south leg is now a multistory data center, an incredibly plush computer hub. Data Haven The attraction of Sealand for Hastings and Lackey was that it allowed for a data hosting company that would stand outside governmental restrictions on privacy, copyright, music sharing and any censorship. They saw its potential as the world’s first truly offshore, almost-anything-goes electronic data haven – a place occupying a tantalizing gray zone between what is legal and what is possible. In their partnership deal with Bates, Hastings and Lackey proposed to move their company, HavenCo, set up a couple of years earlier in 1998, to Sealand. Their intentions should be understood in the light of the Cypherpunk manifesto, released back in August 1988: Computer technology is on the verge of providing the ability for individuals and groups to communicate and interact with each other in a totally anonymous manner. [ … ] These developments will alter completely the nature of government regulation, the ability to tax and control economic interactions, the ability to keep information secret, and will even alter the nature of trust and reputation. [ … ] The State will of course try to slow or halt the spread of this technology, citing national security concerns, use of the technology by drug dealers and tax evaders, and fears of societal disintegration. Many of these concerns will be valid; crypto anarchy will allow national secrets to be trade [sic] freely and will allow illicit and stolen materials to be traded. An anonymous computerized market will even make possible abhorrent markets for assassinations and extortion. [ … ] Just as the technology of printing altered and reduced the power of medieval guilds and the social power structure, so too will cryptologic methods fundamentally alter the nature of corporations and of government interference in economic transactions. Combined with emerging information markets, crypto anarchy will create a liquid market for any and all 228 material, which can be put into words and pictures. And just as a seemingly minor invention like barbed wire made possible the Sealand and the Architecture fencing-off of vast ranches and farms, thus altering forever the of the Sea Hamed Khosravi concepts of land and property rights in the frontier West, so too will the seemingly minor discovery out of an arcane branch of mathematics come to be the wire clippers which dismantle the barbed wire around intellectual property. Arise, you have nothing to lose but your barbed wire fences! The Bates were immediately interested in HavenCo’s proposal: “[t]his [was] the first [idea] that seemed to be really suited to what we are,” Roy would later say. In 2000, HavenCo received an exclusive lease on part of the physical territory of Sealand for its data-center operations, and began their refurbishment of the south leg. HavenCo had by this time amassed its key employees, studied the relevant (and confusing) international law and scooped up the money needed to get going. Along with Lackey and Hastings, major personnel included Hastings’ wife, Jo – the three of them together providing experience in programming, offshore financing and online gambling – and Sameer Parekh, a computer security specialist who launched the crypto software company C2Net and by 2000 was HavenCo’s chair. Parekh confidently predicted that HavenCo would pull in between $50 million and $100 million in profits by the end of its third year in business. The success of the HavenCo was highly dependent on the quality of cyber infrastructure they could access. In the first few years they managed to obtain access to high-speed data pipes, namely a satellite link, a pair of 155-Mbps microwave links operated by Winstar Communications and a ring of high-speed fiber-optic cables installed by Flute, a UK-based corporation that builds undersea optical cable rings and then sells the fiber to its customers. But things did not go as planned; the fiber-optics were not ready on time, Flute later went bankrupt, the microwave links turned out to have been oversold and the satellite link had a limited bandwidth. Consequently, HavenCo gradually lost its clients due to poor service and lack of investment. The company’s website went offline in 2008. HavenCo did not only run under Sealand’s juridical title; since its staff and equipment – the servers – were all physically hosted there, Michael Bates classified it as a nationalized business. Perhaps HavenCo was not so different from the old privateers; it ran under the Sealand flag and, in a radical mutation, the territory of the motherland (Sealand) and the vessel (HavenCo) became one. Despite HavenCo’s demise, Sealand has continued to enjoy its ambiguous status. “Listen, old boy,” Bates told a journalist in 2000, “I like a bit of adventure. It’s the old British tradition. Maybe Britain’s changed, but there’s a lot of us still about.” In 2007, Pirate Bay, a Swedish website that hosts BitTorrent tracker files and claims to be the world’s largest 19 peer-to-peer file-sharing platform, announced its plans to buy Sealand. It was no surprise when in December 2010 the Sealand government announced that Sealand had been asked to give the Wikileaks founder Julian Assange a passport and a safe haven, a space slightly distant from normative legal systems and juridical precedents. The Nomos of the Sea The North Sea represents a paradigmatic case of the particular juridico- spatial status of the sea. Having served as the starting point for the colonization of territories across the world, it is a peculiarly “urbanized” body of water, and continues to be a disputed territory. Bordering mainland Europe, it has been the locus of geopolitical affairs and of cultural and economic exchange. This strategic role has manifested itself in a succession of military, religious, economic and social conflicts and alliances; it is a place of both discord and commonality. The case of Sealand is part of a contested history that continues, the ongoing refugee crisis and the threats of Brexit merely recent examples of its vicissitudes. In this reading, the sea is characterized by a juridical ambiguity that generates the possibility of creating a state of exception, a spatio- temporal condition in which normal rule is suspended. Thus, one could claim that the architecture of the sea – whether in the form of a military platform or a ship – emerges before and outside any spatial appropriation. It becomes a liminal space, as Victor Turner has coined it, a space that in its formal separation from the rest of the world presents a realm of instability and possibility. Such a condition is described by Michel Foucault as “heterotopia,” or “displacement of position,” where Foucault defines heterotopias as “counter-sites” within which “all other real sites that can be found within the culture are simultaneously represented, contested, and inverted.” In a lecture delivered in March 1967, Foucault takes the example of the ship as a “heterotopia par excellence.” He describes it as “a floating piece of space, a place without a place, that exists by itself, that is closed in on itself and at the same time is given over to the infinity of the sea.” Since the time of the sixteenth-century European maritime empires, the ship – or, more conceptually, the architecture of the sea – has been “the great instrument of economic development … [that] has been simultaneously the greatest reserve of the imagination. [ … ] In civilizations without boats dreams dry up, espionage takes the place of adventure, and the police take the place of pirates.” The spatial condition that Foucault elucidates pushes life to extremes, with no security and stability: a state of precariousness. In such a state, production and work acquire new purpose. Precarious life is not sustained through mere productivity, economic values and security measures. Within the realm of uncertainty, anything is subject to change; the state of precariousness triggers an alternative perception of the world that is anchored to the absolute present. In such a condition, the relationship between various forms of labor – material, immaterial, 230 cognitive, affective and creative – becomes distorted, and they almost merge. On the one hand, to cope with the “displacement” driven by the state Sealand and the Architecture of the Sea of emergency, the body is put to work for the matter of survival, while on the Hamed Khosravi other, the autonomy of the space, surrounded by the infinity of the sea, projects the imagination far beyond the limits of the bordering lands. Sealand and its multilayered history of war, music and cyberculture, might be revisited through this understanding of the “counter-site” and its condition of precariousness. Pirates, DJs and hackers represent forms of labor which have the potential to reinterpret the spatio-temporal structure of global economic systems. Through the momentary suspension of normality provided by the state of exception, these forms of life create the possibility for what Paolo Virno would call “innovative action.” Shrouded in the ambiguous spatial and juridical conditions of Sealand, the collective form of contingent labor could escape the gaze of the corporate state markets, taking on the free territory of the sea, cyberspace and intellectual capital. Sealand resembles a form of sanctuary for almost any innovative collective action. Its brutal military architecture has been not a space of confrontation, but rather a space of fulfillment where life, production and distribution are merged and fluxes of goods, capital and information are mobilized. Indeed, such spatial appropriation could potentially expand, to transform the “free sea” law also into a new land order. The Principality of Sealand, 1986. Courtesy of John Wray. 231 In The Nomos of the Earth, Schmitt employs the term nomos to explain such a multifaceted yet controversial condition. The Greek word nomos connotes “a wall around the Greek house,”“division,” “distribution” and “appropriation.” It also stands for “concrete order”– or the concept of law – that is traditionally bound to spatial organization and land appropriation. Schmitt’s suggestion that we should revisit the idea of nomos in order to explain the changing relation between the firm land and the free sea is perhaps even more relevant today. Nomos offers a spatial condition wherein free movements are first captured, organized and then distributed. The ordering of space becomes a fundamental device through which an alternative form of power relations might be achieved. Architecture of the sea potentially provides such a possibility. Hamed Khosravi, is an architect, researcher and educator. He holds a PhD in the History and Theory of Architecture from the program “The City as a Project” at the Berlage Institute/TU Delft, the Netherlands. Hamed has previously taught at the Berlage Institute, TU Delft and Oxford Brookes University, UK. He currently teaches at the Architectural Association School of Architecture, London, UK. His research and projects focus on the history and theory of architecture and urban form in relation to territorial organizations and political decisions. Notes 1 An earlier version of this paper, Hamed 4 Carl Schmitt (1885–1985) was a Khosravi, “The Nomos of the Sea: conservative German jurist and political Pirates, DJs, Hackers, and the theorist. Schmitt is often considered one Architecture of Contingent Labor,” The of the most important critics of Avery Review 29 (February 2018), liberalism, parliamentary democracy and available online: http://averyreview.com/ liberal cosmopolitanism. But the value issues/29/nomos-of-the-sea (accessed and significance of Schmitt's work is August 25, 2018). subject to controversy, mainly due to his 2 Carl Schmitt, The Nomos of the Earth intellectual support for and active (New York: Telos Publishing, 2006 involvement with National Socialism. See [1950]), 43. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. 3 The term privateer or buccaneer refers Available online: https://plato.stanford. to a person responsible for a private edu/entries/schmitt/ (accessed company (usually a one-man company) September 14, 2018). or a ship. “In international law, privateers 5 Oppenheim classifies piracy as a crime of are defined as vessels belonging to universal jurisdiction. “The pirate is private owners, and sailing under a considered the enemy of every State and commission of war empowering the can be brought to justice anywhere;” person to whom it is granted to carry on “Piracy has for centuries been a crime all forms of hostility which are under customary law of nations, and a permissible at sea by the usages of war.” pirate has always been considered an See Janice E. Thomson, Mercenaries, outlaw and ‘enemy of mankind’ (hostis Pirates and Sovereigns (Princeton, humani generis).” See Lassa F. Oppenheim, NJ: Princeton University Press, International Law: A Treatise,vol. 1, Peace, 1994), 21–2. 8th edition, ed. H. Lauterpacht (New York: Longmans, Green and Co., 1955 [1905]), 15 Simson Garfinkel. “Welcome to Sealand. 232 609. The privateer, who either ran Now Bugger Off,” Wired, January 7, 2000. Sealand and the Architecture blockades or took contraband, was viewed Available online: https://www.wired.com/ of the Sea as an enemy only by a warring sea power, 2000/07/haven-2/ (accessed August Hamed Khosravi and not by every state. But was he a justus 25, 2018). hostis, a just enemy? Not in the same 16 Tim May, The Cyphernomicon, 1994. Available online: http://www. sense as an equally sovereign state, but cypherpunks.to/faq/cyphernomicron/ also not in the sense of an enemy in a war cyphernomicon.txt (accessed May of annihilation against criminals and 23, 2017). pirates. See Schmitt, Nomos of the 17 John Markoff, “Rebel Outpost on the Earth,311 Fringes of Cyberspace,” New York Times, 6 Schmitt, Nomos of the Earth, 311. June 4, 2000. Available online: https:// 7 Schmitt argues that state law has www.nytimes.com/2000/06/04/world/ its foundation in the primeval act of rebel-outpost-on-the-fringes-of- land appropriation and territorial cyberspace.html (accessed May definition. In regard to Sealand, as a 23, 2017). man-made artificial platform, it is not 18 Anon., “Prince Roy of Sealand,” immediately obvious that it is a territory. obituary, The Telegraph, October 11, However, since the structure that 2012. Available online: http://www. supports it is anchored in the seabed, it telegraph.co.uk/news/obituaries/ has been regarded as part of a larger royalty-obituaries/9602837/Prince-Roy- landmass. This was the basis of Bates’s of-Sealand.html (accessed May claim for its statehood. See Claudio Minca 23, 2017). and Roy Rowan, On Schmitt and Space 19 Flora Graham, “How The Pirate Bay (New York and London: Routledge, 2016). Sailed Into Infamy,” BBC News, 8 See James Grimmelmann, “Sealand, February 16, 2009. Available HavenCo, and the Rule of Law,” University online: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/ of Illinois Law Review 2 (2012): 405–84. technology/7893223.stm (accessed 9 See Adrian Johns, Death of a Pirate: May 23, 2017). British Radio and the Making of the 20 Victor Turner, From Ritual to Theatre: Information Age (New York: Norton, The Human Seriousness of Play (New 2011), 28–36. York: PAJ Publications, 1982), 20–60. 10 Daily Telegraph Reporter (anonymous), See also Michiel Dehaene and Lieven De “Appeal by Radio Essex Dismissed,” Daily Cauter, eds. Heterotopia and the City: Telegraph, January 18, 1967: 12. Public Space in a Postcivil Society 11 Other nations (e.g. Ireland and the (London and New York: Routledge, Netherlands) followed the UK with the 2008), 96. introduction of similar laws. 21 Michel Foucault, “Of Other Spaces,” 12 John Ryan, George Dunford, and Simon trans. J. Miskowiec, Diacritics 16, no. 1 Sellars, Micronations: The Lonely Planet (1986 [1984]): 24. Guide to Home-Made Nations (Carlton, 22 Ibid., 27. VIC: Lonely Planet, 2006). 23 Ibid. 13 See Grimmelmann, “Sealand, HavenCo, 24 Paolo Virno, “Jokes and Innovative and the Rule of Law,” 426–8. Action: for a Logic of Change,” 14 On the Cypherpunks, see Stephen Levy, Artforum International 46, no. 5 Crypto: How the Code Rebels Beat the (2008): 251–7. Government – Saving Privacy in the Digital Age (London: Penguin, 2001). References – Anon. 2012. “Prince Roy of Sealand.” The obituaries/royalty-obituaries/9602837/ Telegraph, October 11. Available online: Prince-Roy-of-Sealand.html (accessed http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/ May 23, 2017). 233 – Daily Telegraph Reporter (Anonymous). – Markoff, John. 2000. “Rebel Outpost on 1967. “Appeal by Radio Essex Dismissed.” the Fringes of Cyberspace.” New York Daily Telegraph, January 18. Times, June 4. Available online: https:// – Dehaene, Michiel and Lieven De Cauter, www.nytimes.com/2000/06/04/world/ rebel-outpost-on-the-fringes-of-cyber- eds. 2008. Heterotopia and the City: Public space.html (accessed May 23, 2017). Space in a Postcivil Society. London and – May, Timothy C. 1994. The Cyphernomicon. New York: Routledge. Available online: http://www.cypherpunks. – Foucault, Michel. 1986 [1984]. “Of Other to/faq/cyphernomicron/cyphernomicon.txt Spaces,” translated by J. Miskowiec. (accessed May 23, 2017). Diacritics 16, no. 1: 22–7. – Minca, Claudio and Roy Rowan. 2016. On – Garfinkel, Simson. 2000. “Welcome to Schmitt and Space. New York and London: Sealand. Now Bugger Off.” Wired, January Routledge. 7. Available online: https://www.wired. – Oppenheim, Lassa F. 1955 [1905]. “Peace.” com/2000/07/haven-2/ (accessed August In International Law: A Treatise, 25, 2018). 8th ed., edited by H. Lauterpacht. – Graham, Flora. 2009. “How The Pirate Bay Vol. 1, Peace. New York: Longmans, Sailed into Infamy.” BBC News, February Green and Co. 16. Available online: http://news.bbc.co. – Ryan, John, George Dunford, and Simon uk/1/hi/technology/7893223.stm Sellars. 2006. Micronations: The Lonely (accessed May 23, 2017). Planet Guide to Home-Made Nations. – Grimmelmann, James. 2012. “Sealand, Carlton, VIC: Lonely Planet. HavenCo, and the Rule of Law.” University – Schmitt, Carl. 2006 [1950]. The of Illinois Law Review 2: 405–84. Nomos of the Earth. New York: Telos – Johns, Adrian. 2011. Death of a Pirate: Publishing. British Radio and the Making – Thomson, Janice E. 1994. Mercenaries, of the Information Age. New York: Norton. Pirates and Sovereigns. Princeton, NJ: – Khosravi, Hamed. 2018. “The Nomos of Princeton University Press. the Sea; Pirates, DJs, Hackers, and the – Turner, Victor. 1982. From Ritual to Theatre: Architecture of Contingent Labor.” The The Human Seriousness of Play. New York: Avery Review 29. Available online: http:// PAJ Publications. averyreview.com/issues/29/nomos-of-the- – Virno, Paolo. 2008. “Jokes and Innovative sea (accessed August 25, 2018). Action: For a Logic of Change.” Artforum – Levy, Stephen. 2001. Crypto: How the Code International 46, no. 5: 251–7. Rebels Beat the Government – Saving Privacy in the Digital Age. London: Penguin.

Journal

Architecture and CultureTaylor & Francis

Published: May 4, 2019

Keywords: Sealand; architecture; counter-space; counter-culture; pirate radio; nomos; North Sea; colonialism

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