This week saw not one but two announcements about the development of intentional living communities dedicated to the principles of libertarianism: one from Glenn Beck (Independence, USA, a "city-theme park hybrid" that will marry "media, live events, small business stores, educational projects, charity, entertainment, news, information, and technology R&D") and the other from a group of like-minded citizens looking to build a rifleman's paradise in the mountains of Idaho (The Citadel, which boasts "No credit check. No background check. Zero down payment. Zero interest. Zero property taxes.").
Which one will you choose? Let's take a look at the facts.
The Citadel: Just enough of a sci-fi flavor to keep it from being overly ominous. Sounds like the military college in South Carolina, but without the federal government part. Excellent.
Independence, USA: Sounds like a gated suburban subdivision. Insufficient panache.
The Citadel: From the Citadel's FAQ page:
At the moment, the Citadel intends to purchase between 2,000 and 3,000 acres. Of that, 640-1,280 acres are to be walled-in (minimum one square mile). Plot sizes for the leases inside the walls will be no more than 1 acre for home sites, and larger lots will be available outside the walls.
At this time we are still in the process of determining exactly where the Citadel will be built. We have tentatively chosen the state of Idaho and are particularly interested in Benewah County, but we are still considering a number of other options for the actual site.
We have purchased 20 mountaintop acres in Benewah County. This will become the initial factory location for our firearms company and will be developed into a Showcase for the larger Citadel concept.Improvements to the mountaintop Showcase property will begin in the Spring/Summer of 2013. We have been calling this property our Beachhead.
Independence, USA: To be determined. From the Dallas Observer: "Beck doesn't specify where in Texas this community will be, whether it will be based near his Westlake home, or his Las Colinas studio, or on some of that farmland he bought."
Point: Beck. While both locations are splendidly vague, "the mountains of Idaho" is a bit too definite.
Comparisons to Disneyland
The Citadel: "The model will be similar in many ways to that of Disneyland. It is walled, gated, private property with controlled access. People pay to enter and agree to the rules because they see value in doing so. It is all based on a voluntary agreement between the owners of the property and those who want to come inside. Millions of people visit Disneyland and interact peacefully. It's exceptionally rare to hear of any serious problems. The key is that those people want to be there and understand what is expected of them. Surprisingly similar to what we are doing." If you had to live in Disneyland, where would you build your house? I'd try to befriend the Abominable Snowman in the Matterhorn. He would protect me if the electrical grid were ever disrupted by a North Korean invasion.
Independence, USA: "Glenn believes that he can bring the heart and the spirit of Walt's early Disneyland ideas into reality. Independence, USA wouldn't be about rides and merchandise, but would be about community and freedom."
Point: A tie, at zero points. No rides, no points.
The Ayn Rand Connection
The Citadel: No overt name-checks. However, they do address the problem of how best to peacefully withdraw from a society one finds corrupt and degraded.
Won't The Federal Government or Military Simply Blow Up Your Town?
Why would they? We are a law abiding group of people minding our own business. We are conducting our affairs in an open and transparent manner. The Citadel Community is designed to be a safe haven and a major tourist destination. The U.S. Government does not make a habit of blowing up law abiding citizens and tourists on American soil.
Independence, USA: From The Blaze:
"Galt railed against the collectivist system and believed that only through freedom could people tap into their divine potential to become creators of their own: leaders, businessmen, artists, and so on. The community that was created in this spirit was called "Galt's Gultch," and it is that very ideal Beck strives to emulate in his own enterprises. In fact, that's why he moved to Texas.
Drawing on this free market, limited-government model, Beck said he aspires to build an actual community based on just that. While the price tag of building an actual city-slash-theme park is steep at an estimated $2 billion, Beck said he feels compelled to move forward with his ultimate plan "once piece at a time." Having toured "three possible sites in three different states" and having spoken to two governors already, Beck is serious in his goals."
Point: Beck, if only in the hope that he'll rename Independence something more alliterative and Randian.
How soon can we move in?
The Citadel: "We will start accepting applications mid December 2012. An applicant should expect a 120- to 180-day approval process."
Independence, USA: "While Glenn was clear that Independence, USA is very much a dream at this point, viewers and fans should watch both old shows and new shows to see how Glenn's various projects all have their tie to this one place that currently exists only in Glenn's vision. But just because Independence doesn't exist yet, it doesn't mean the American Dream Labs aren't starting to build the pieces. The Dream Labs are currently working on special effects technology that would be featured in Independence in this summer's The Man in the Moon show."
Point: Independence, for subscribing to the timeless Glinda-the-Good-Witch school of thought. Independence already exists inside each of us, and also on television.
The Winner: Beck's Independence by a sizeable lead. Just close your eyes and move to Texas, or visit Disneyland and refuse to leave. You're already there, right now.
Please submit your own Ayn Rand-based names for a libertarian utopia in the comments. Galt's Galley? Rearden's Eden? Dagny's Hideout? Return to The Valley of Objectivism? (Ayn Rand's School for Tots already taken.)
[Image via AP]