Saturday, March 23, 2013

Liberty (or else)



It never fails. After each and every presidential election there are a group of citizens who announce that they can no longer, in good conscience, continue to live as Americans. Identifying the new commander-in-chief as inept or un-American, they head for Canada or dig holes in the ground and prepare for the inevitable siege on their liberties. For those that despise cold climates and do not wish to opt for a subterranean existence, there are two above-ground alternatives right here in the USA. While they are currently nothing more than websites and philosophies, ideas like this are gaining traction with a growing number of disenfranchised citizens.

The first project is called “The Citadel” and bills itself as a “Liberty-driven” walled community of 7,000 families who will agree to a lifetime lease to be paid over a 30-year period. All private homes must be comprised of poured concrete (for uniformity), are required to keep enough food and water on hand to sustain all members of the household for one year, and must participate in mandatory preparedness drills at predetermined times. In addition to several layers of defensive walls and towers, the site will feature a firearms factory, firearms museum (with reflecting pool), and a school system. Investors are reassured that a Citadel existence will be free from “Homeowner’s Associations, city ordinances, property taxes, and recycling.” 
Concept of "The Citadel"

Each resident over the age of thirteen is required to demonstrate proficiency with a rifle, handgun, and AR-15 on an annual basis. Furthermore every able bodied citizen is obligated to keep and maintain an AR-15 with at least 1,000 rounds of ammunition and always carry a loaded handgun in common areas. Prospective residents must agree to these conditions, complete an application, and conduct an interview via Skype. If approved you will then be responsible for a percentage of your monthly lease price (the money will be deposited in an escrow account controlled by an unnamed Idaho attorney). They hope to break ground later this year.

 As a fan of irony, I couldn’t help but notice how tightly controlled the resident’s experience of “liberty” is. They advertise freedom from city ordinances and homeowners’ association oversight but insist upon control of your grocery stockpile, refuse to let you own the land you live on, and conduct mandatory drills on weekends. If this place enforces any more liberty they will have to rename it “The People’s Republic of The Citadel.” The site indicates that although land has been allocated for a weapons museum with a reflecting pool, there is not enough space to accommodate “houses of worship” which need to be located elsewhere. I can just see one of the new residents bragging to a buddy:

“Well they might dictate the design and structure of the house I am not allowed to own along with its contents while forcing me to carry a pistol when I stop at the grocery to pick up a box of Golden Grahams, but at least no one asks me to recycle!”

Never one to be out-libertied,Glenn Beck recently unveiled his $2 Billion freedom utopia called Independence, USA. Like the Citadel it strives to be a self-contained community free from the oppressive socialism of our current governing structure. It will feature a marketplace (specifically barring large retailers like GAP) and a media center that will produce “news, movies, and documentaries” that “do not constantly assault the things that we all stand for” and adhere to “common decency.” The library, school, and archive will only contain books and manuscripts that contain “the truth” and they will offer “summer de-programming classes” for those attending secular colleges.  

While it will not have a “church” it will have a replica of The Alamo that will serve as a “non-denominational gathering area” that can also be a place to load trucks for disaster relief. All food will be grown locally and all energy will be renewable. Neighborhoods will be comprised of both rich and poor residents to break down “class barriers.” Homes will not be allowed to have backyards in order to promote community interaction.

I don’t know about you, but having an unnamed organization tell me what books and movies I should see because they may or may not adhere to what they consider “something we all stand for” is the polar opposite of freedom. At least the Citadel let me have a backyard. What if I am not particularly fond of my neighbor and would like the option of grilling a ribeye without being forced to make conversation? A classless, wind-powered, organically-fed community that doesn’t allow large corporations sounds more like a liberal utopia than libertarian haven.

The striking aspect of both projects is that they credit Disneyland as an inspiration citing it as a place to find “courage, inspiration, and hope.” Have these people ever been to a Disney theme park? I am not sure being forced to pay $6.50 for a 12oz bottle of water was exactly what Thomas Jefferson had in mind when he railed against tyranny.

Even that comparison doesn’t hold water, because once in a theme park I have the freedom to ride every attraction or no attractions at all. These people don’t just want you to have the freedom to carry a gun or stockpile Pop Tarts; they are forcing you to experience that freedom exactly as they have chosen to. It is a good thing that they don’t live in a country that doesn’t allow that sort of thing.

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