First there was Galt’s Gulch (aka Mulligan’s Valley or Atlantis), the secluded community in Ayn Rand’s novel Atlas Shrugged. Founded by fictionalized banker Midas Mulligan, this community was populated by a group of spirited revolutionaries spurred on by the book’s capitalist working-class hero, John Galt. Readers of Rand’s prolific tone remember Galt’s Gulch as the hidden refuge where America’s most forward-thinking creators, industrialists and inventors sought community amidst an American society that had fallen prey to collectivism and government overreach. It is through this experimental culture that Galt sought to promote a transactional community of voluntary exchange, devoid of laws and regulations that hinder foundational principles of freedom and liberty.
Fast forward to 2015 where we could be witnessing a derivative of Galt’s vision, as exquisitely captured in Rand’s book. Known as “micronations,” these developments function as independent nations, states, or even just communities free of the restrictive controls of a central government. In a fully idealized form, these independent milieus might establish a dedicated currency system, community mission and other elements codifying their functional ecosystem.
Within libertarian circles, media attention is in full buzz around Liberland, a new micronation situated on a 2.7-mile swath of unclaimed territory between Serbia and Croatia. Originally done in jest as a publicity stunt, this proposed nation-state is now attracting a groundswell of interest, garnering nearly 250,000 citizenship applications over a short period of time from all parts of the world.
Liberland was officially codified on April 13, 2015, by acting President Vit Jedlicka and a couple of other Czech libertarians. Symbolically, this date was intended to align with the birthday of one of America’s founding fathers, Thomas Jefferson. The purposeful intent of Liberland: To embrace the principle of limited government in alignment with voluntary taxes and public services. And according to Jedlica, no, Liberland will not be joining the European Union.
The hope is that Liberland will evolve over time into a libertarian utopia, with a population of 35,000, which would place it in the same category as Liechtensten, another small European state. State decisions will be made by referendum, embodying the philosophy of direct democracy and electronic voting. In lieu of a traditional tax system, the citizenry will be privy to an autonomous decision-making process that allows them to determine how much they want from the state and what they are willing to cough up in terms of money to pay for it.
By Land and By Sea
There are also vast bodies of water worldwide being coveted by independent nation enthusiasts seeking to carve out new vistas of freedom and liberty. Perhaps the most ambitious initiative in play is currently fueled by the Seasteading Institute, founded in 2008 by libertarian activists Wayne Gramlich and Patri Friedman, with the aim of erecting autonomous communities on floating platforms situated in international waters. Interest in this concept mushroomed after word that PayPal founder and venture capitalist Peter Thiel was a major backer.
According to the institute, as well as micronation advocates, these free market floating cities are the next big thing, with predictions of these communities taking shape in the next five years.
The “Live Free or Die” State
New Hampshire has always been somewhat of an odd duck among the U.S. States. But amidst its majestic landscapes and beauty is a micronation initiative that has been showing momentum for some time. Known as the “Free State Project,” a migration of libertarians is taking place in this New England state, and they are intent on fueling a state of unencumbered freedom,
On tap are some lofty ambitions targeted by or before the year 2035: reducing government debt by one-half as well as government employment by 15 percent; the legalization of marijuana and prostitution; abolishing smoking bans; ending sobriety checkpoints; rolling back unnecessary regulation; impacting free enterprise; reducing incarceration rates and tax burdens to among the lowest in the U.S; facilitating the end of victimless crimes, among others.
The Glendale, Colorado Experiment
Quietly nestled within the mile-high City of Denver, Colorado, is a home rule municipality that is engaged in a quasi-micronation experiment. In the village known as Glendale, Mayor Mike Dunafon has a grand vision of transforming this 4,100 person community into the “go-to” destination for freedom lovers across the world.
According to Dunafon, decisions related to how the city is run are predicated on a philosophy or principle which upholds the freedoms and liberties of the individual. Here, the goal at every City Council meeting is to take at least two often obscure laws off the books that unduly target and punish its citizens or even visitors to the area.
Whether in Glendale or in an obscure part of the world where a new micronation community is sprouting up, the goal is to deregulate our lives through limited government and voluntary exchange. As Dunafon is quick to point out, very few, if any, laws are truly needed for people to govern themselves and act like reasonable, civilized people.
Harkening In The New Gults Gulch?
Irrespective of whether Liberland and other micro nation experiments succeed at their quest, this movement reflects a liberty-oriented consciousness that’s catching fire across the globe. Here questions abound:
Why are such onerous laws restricting our liberty still in vogue from days gone past?
Why are we so hemmed in by taxes that serve as barriers to individual initiative and free enterprise?
And what about our privacy rights?
And what about our freedom to use money as we see fit as long as we are not harming others?
Can’t we just live our lives as free human beings?
These questions and more are all spurring interest in autonomous, experimental enclaves where libertarian ideas can be beta-tested a la Galt’s Gulch. Moreover, they suggest growing interest in the principles of freedom and limited government as the new normal for a free society that works for all.
Michael Scott is the Founder and Principal Barista with Bookmark Global Connect, Inc a firm committed to creating collisions between authors and readers one book at a time. Find out more at http://allthatbookjazz.tumblr.