The Hilarious History of Libertarian Utopias

Have you ever noticed how libertarians universally know that if the government simply got out of the way then free-market fundamentalists like themselves would flourish? If only they had this chance, then libertarians could prove that they were right all along, that all systemic problems come from the government.
If only they were given a chance.

Guess what? It turns out that libertarians have repeatedly demonstrated beyond a shadow of a doubt that they have no idea what makes a society work.

Here's a short and incomplete list of libertarian capitalist utopias:

Operation Atlantis, 1968

The operation launched a ferro-cement boat on the Hudson River in December 1971 and piloted it to an area near the Bahamas. Upon reaching its destination, it sank in a hurricane. After a number of subsequent failed attempts to construct a habitable sea platform and achieve sovereign status, the project was abandoned.

Republic of Minerva, 1972

They anticipated a libertarian society with "no taxation, welfare, subsidies, or any form of economic interventionism." In addition to tourism and fishing, the economy of the new nation would include light industry and other commerce. According to Glen Raphael, "The chief reason that the Minerva project failed was that the libertarians who were involved did not want to fight for their territory."[2] According to Reason, Minerva has been "more or less reclaimed by the sea"

Principality of Freedonia, 1997-2004

The Freedonia project's website has not been updated for a number of years and its discussion forum no longer functions, e-mail communication with the self-styled Prince does not work, and the entire project appears to be defunct. E-mail statements from the founder indicate that the project is not being actively pursued as of 2004

Grafton, New Hampshire, 2004-present?

This is what happens when massively funded propaganda campaigns lead large numbers of Americans to lose faith in our system of government. This is what happens when that loss of faith leads to blind opposition to taxation. This is what happens when public services and public infrastructure are systematically starved of resources in the name of “fiscal responsibility.” And this is what happens, shamefully, when those who are best able to recognize the threat and sound the alarm choose instead to treat local politics like some sort of low-stakes sporting event for out-of-shape people.
Today, we are all living in Grafton. Armies of rabid bears are wandering through our streets, clawing at our window screens, and gnashing their teeth at our children while the phone rings unanswered at the state department of fish and game. The old village church is erupting in flames, but someone has slashed the tires on our town’s lone fire truck, and the fire hydrants—unmaintained for a decade—have all run dry. Terrified, we beg our neighbors for help, only to be told that the Lord will protect us, or that the cataclysm in the streets is just punishment for our moral failures or our political misdeeds.

And all of this is happening because a large, disgruntled minority of Americans dutifully memorized the Declaration’s listing of our inalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness without perceiving that these rights can exist only within the context of the social contract—an Enlightenment concept so deeply familiar to the Founding Fathers that, tragically, they didn’t consider it necessary to mention.

Von Ormy, Texas, 2006-present?

In September 2016, Von Ormy made headlines when its police department was forced to shut down. For nearly a year, Reyes and the two city commissioners had been locked in a power struggle over who should be the police chief. When Reyes took over as mayor, she moved to sack Police Chief Greg Reyes (no relation), who she and others accused of harassing council members and city staff and lying about his law enforcement background.
...“This ain’t going well at all,” he said. “We’ve got a bunch of empty buildings, a lot of [federal] grant money spent, and for what? We have a fire station that nobody wants to operate and a police station with no police. Where did all that money go?”

Liberland, 2015-present?

Liberland has no diplomatic recognition from any nation. The land lacks infrastructure and lies on a floodplain.

Satoshi, 2020-2021

The Ocean Builders’ great freedom project, whose intrinsic purpose was to offer an escape from oppressive rules and bureaucracy, was being hobbled by oppressive rules and bureaucracy. As Elwartowski would reflect a few months later on Reddit: “A cruise ship is not very good for people who want to be free.”

The biggest and most elaborate Libertarian Utopia is Galt's Gulch, Chile, 2011-present?

Months later, in a Skype conference, I asked the then-GGC-alienated salesman, "When you 'sold' us the property, when you printed out a photo from your phone that read 'Wendy's tree,' did you know you could not legally sell us the lot you were offering?" He said, "That is correct."

More Galt's Gulch

What most don’t know is the sordid story of how so many investors in the project were wiped out, with one even now living in his car with his family… and the one person who put $0 into the project and masterminded the scam is hunkered down with weapons and living on the property that others bought!

Bitcoin - The Final Libertarian Utopia?

Before Ayn Rand, the enterprising, profit-motivated individual that wanted to live outside of any government influence were called pirates, warlords, and freebooters.
Before Ayn Rand, being a libertarian meant that you were a socialist.
Both of those things flipped with Rand.
Since then anarcho-capitalism means libertarianism.

If libertarians had an actual education in the history of capitalism, then they would know exactly what a free market utopia looks like. Back in the 18th and 19th Centuries there were several examples of massive countries totally controlled by enormous, for-profit corporations that distributed enormous sums of cash to investors.
What could be more capitalist than that?

These examples include India under the British East India Company, Indonesia under the Dutch East India Company, and the Congo Free State.
By coincidence, all three engaged in slavery, war crimes, famines, and genocide.

It makes you wonder if capitalism isn't the solution.

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usefewersyllables's picture

address libertarian utopias without talking about the work of one John Calhoun, as well. Assume lots of food is somehow provided, get rid of all the rules, and watch the fun!

We already have a lot of the "beautiful ones", so we are well on our way. "The mice were not nice"...

And you also mentioned good ol' Ayn Rand and Atlas, who is apparently still Shrugging. I remember all-too-well when Nixon ditched the gold standard. It cause great consternation with my hardcore-Objectivist parents, who were completely convinced that The End Was Nigh, and were just waiting for him to announce that 1970 was heretofore be known as the Yardstick Year (Directive 10-289). If anything would have made them become preppers, that was it... They wouldn't have minded too much if we all got vaporized by an errant Sunshine Bomb, but by Gawd make the price of cigarettes go up and there'd be hell to pay.

My dear departed mother thought that Nathaniel Branden was the greatest thing ever, right up until ol' Ayn shoved him out the airlock (my mom was still wearing her dollar-sign necklace when we buried her). I first read Atlas Shrugged when I was 10, and eventually read everything Rand ever wrote.

Looking back from that perspective over 50 years later, I think that the following John Rogers quote is absolutely dead-nuts accurate, as well as being utterly hilarious:

“There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old’s life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs."

Having said all that- I doubt that either of my parents would ever have imagined, even in their most depressed and alcohol-fogged worst days, what things actually look like now.

11 users have voted.

Twice bitten, permanently shy.

polkageist's picture

At 86 I'm rereading for the umpteenth time "Lord of the Rings" and I did read all of "Atlas Shrugged" including John Galt's interminable speech once a few years ago for the only time I will ever touch it. John Rogers was right on the money. Thanks. By the way, capitalism isn't the solution.

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-Greed is not a virtue.
-Socialism: the radical idea of sharing.
-Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.
John F. Kennedy, In a speech at the White House, 1962

usefewersyllables's picture


is the moral equivalent of BUDS training (or maybe just SERE school) for the hardcore Objectivist. It is a baptism-with-fire. The true overachievers memorize the damned thing and can interminably recite it to you, just like a Monty Python fan (but without the humor).

Me, I slogged through it several times to be on the same page as my parents when arguments arose. But I finally rang the bell in my late teens, and have managed to forget most of it over the years. All except for the last line, of course- the mark that that made on my 10-year-old mind remains to this day, and I'll never be able to purge it.

“I swear — by my life and my love of it — that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine.”

5 users have voted.

Twice bitten, permanently shy.

@polkageist 100% right on. It's a mental illness.

6 users have voted.
Sima's picture

@usefewersyllables That quote is spot on, and really funny. Reminds me of my high school friends, at least some of them. One group read Tolkien, the other Rand. Some read both. I tried to read both, but was bored, especially by the Rand. I wonder what that sez about me? Smile

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If you're poor now, my friend, then you'll stay poor.
These days, only the rich get given more. -- Martial book 5:81, c. AD 100 or so
Nothing ever changes -- Sima, c. AD 2020 or so

It's still a thing, and they've made inroads in the legislature mainly by going stealth as mainstream republicans and democrats.

6 users have voted.