Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Galt's Gulch in the Seaweed

Ready-made island fort for sale!
James Bond villain's lair

As if the James Bond series were prediction, not fiction, we learn that yet another billionaire proves the rule that with great wealth comes great sociopathy.  PayPal founder Peter Thiel has put up $1.25 million to start the process for floating autonomous libertarian "countries" at sea.  Whereas the Bond villains wanted to take over the world, the real unbalanced superwealthy just want it to go away. 
For a little more, Peter could buy, for 4 million pounds sterling, an island fort built in the Victorian era (so perfect for a steampunk theme!) sited in the English Channel.  It has a 21 room luxury hotel, two helipads (a must-have for evil geniuses), a heated indoor pool, and can bristle with armaments again as it once housed 49 cannon as well as antiaircraft guns.  Peter, like all libertarians, really just wants to avoid taxes, so his plan is to head 200 miles west of San Francisco and eventually link up other oil-platform "islands" to make a nation recognized by the U.N. (a little libertarian contradiction inherent in that, but our Ayn Rand robo-clones today can't recognize cognitive dissonance for beans).
A Cato Institute utopia will not, as he might think, result in Plato's Republic; billionaires with limitless guns served by indentured serfs are no philosopher-kings  -- they're just mob bosses in a closed, rigged system (feudalism run by unrestrained aristrocrats and Church magnates all over again).  Yes, we had, in the 14th century, the "moral order based on freedom and individual responsibility" and "restrained government" that libertarians sputter about, and you can see it now in 15 failed states around the world.  Haiti is the exact image of what a libertarian nation is all about.
Aside from this silliness, islands of wealth effectively detached from the broader body politic have been established in the exurbs of cities such as New York, L.A., Philadelphia, Miami and Denver.  These wealthy enclaves, through local control, can fund large and well-equipped police forces supplemented by layers of private security.  Anyone looking out of place can be expelled and fined quickly.  They want or need nothing from the state and expect the same.  Meanwhile, a city in Michigan has removed its no-longer affordable street lights and miles of roads are returning to gravel all over the nation.  Mirroring the disappearance of moderates from Congress, families living in middle-income neighborhoods have declined from 65% in 1970 to 44% today.
The extremism of concentrated wealth here and the extremism of levelling (Mao's Cultural Revolution or Pol Pot's Stone Age ideal) are two faces of the same coin.  Neither ideology goes anywhere but off the cliff.  As Aristotle said, virtue always lies in the middle.

(The Hipcrime Vocab blog is the inspiration and principal source for this post.) 

1 comment:

  1. The perfect "Mansland" but it is difficult to bike to the store, but you don't have to pay taxes or vote for some crazy folk because you have your own island...empire...sanctuary.