Religion

Rev. Sun Myung Moon's South American Utopia

A city without citizens

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Good read of the day: In Outside, Monte Reel travels to Puerto Leda, the late Sun Myung Moon's utopian colony in South America. As is often the case with applied utopias, the place isn't everything its founder envisioned:

insert Todd Rundgren joke here

In 2000, Moon paid an undisclosed amount for roughly 1.5 million acres of land fronting the Paraguay River. Most of that property was in a town called Puerto Casado, about 100 miles downriver from Puerto Leda. Moon's subsidiaries wanted the land to open commercial enterprises ranging from logging to fish farming. But a group of Puerto Casado residents launched a bitter legal battle to nullify the deal. While that controversy continued to divide Paraguayans, the Puerto Leda project proceeded under the radar. Moon turned the land over to 14 Japanese men—"national messiahs,"according to church documents, who were instructed to build an "ideal city" where people could live in harmony with nature, as God intended it. Moon declared that the territory represented "the least developed place on earth, and, hence, closest to original creation."…

Now, as I glance at the scene, I see huge dormitory buildings, guesthouses, and sheds for mechanical repairs. I count seven freshwater fish farms, fully stocked with pacu, a toothy species that looks like an overgrown piranha. I see no other people.

"Normally, there are about 10 of us who live here," Mister Date tells me. "But this week six are away in Asunción. So there are just four now."

Read the whole thing here.

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  1. 1.5 million acres seems like a lot of land for setting up a Jonestown.

    1. But there’s a benefit to their arrangement: not enough people for mass suicide!

  2. Ok, I slogged through that article and I am left with…..WTF?

    Fuckin’ moonies.

  3. 10 bucks says Glen Beck’s Gulch ends up like this too…

    You cannot centrally plan a utopia.

    1. You can if you just put. the. right. man. in. charge!

    2. One common failing of libertarians is thinking they CAN centrally plan an utopia, by imposing the correct rules at the start then sitting back and letting it flower. “If we just have the correct property rights, the correct contractual enforcement mechanisms, and the correct adjudication procedures, then everything will work out and we’ll have a libertopia”. Nonsense! Galt’s Gulch worked because it was *fiction*.

      In real life we have to deal with communities that are not inhabited by like minded individuals. Your anarcho-capitalist society only works if everyone agrees to your assertions of property. If a bunch of anarcho-syndicalists decide to take over your factory, good luck trying to convince them otherwise by waving Rothbard in their faces.

      1. Isn’t the United States of America an excellent counterpoint to this argument?

        We started off with a very good (but yet flawed) set of “rules” called the Constitution, and guess what “flowered” from there forward?

        1. We started off with a very good (but yet flawed) set of “rules” called the Constitution, and guess what “flowered” from there forward?

          A fuckton of horrible rules and nobody who follows the Constitution?

        2. We started off with a very good (but yet flawed) set of “rules” called the Constitution, and guess what “flowered” from there forward?

          The commerce clause?

      2. But you could convince your neighbors to help you convince them otherwise. You benefit by getting your property back. Your neighbors benefit by showing that such take-overs don’t work in this neck of the woods. Looters can only succeed if they have more power than those who oppose them. Naturally, this doesn’t work if your neighbors are not like-minded, but I don’t think anyone ever claimed Libertarianism could be made to work when less than half the population identifies as libertarian. It seems to me that the general goal of most libertarians is to sway opinion so that society starts to lean libertarian, not design some libertarian utopia outside the rest of society.

      3. I wouldn’t be waving Rothbard in their face. One of the reasons we’re in the current situation is that the vultures in power do not fear the people as they ought to.

      4. One common failing of libertarians is thinking they CAN centrally plan an utopia, by imposing the correct rules at the start then sitting back and letting it flower.

        Do you see the contradiction in your statement?

        I’ll help. “letting it flower” is not central planning. It’s emergent order.

        Having a referee enforce rules is not central planning. Central planning is then the referee is also the coach.

        If a bunch of anarcho-syndicalists decide to take over your factory, good luck trying to convince them otherwise by waving Rothbard in their faces.

        If they take over my factory they have committed an act of aggression, and I would be perfectly within my rights to use force to remove them.

        non aggression != pacifism

        1. then when

      5. One common failing of libertarians is thinking they CAN centrally plan an utopia,

        I guess “Thou shalt not plan” is a plan, of sorts, but accusing libertarians of central planning strikes me as intellectually dishonest, kinda like when we are accused of wanting to impose freedom.

        1. kinda like when we are accused of wanting to impose freedom.

          In an un-free society there is a subset of the population that uses force to impose its will on everyone else and make them un-free.

          For there to be liberty that subset would need to be stopped.

          How can that happen except by force?

          So libertarians need to use force to impose freedom.

          Thus libertarians are tyrants, see?

          1. Why do you always do this, Sarc. Now I’ve got a headache.

            1. Libertarians would use force against the subset that is using force to impose its will everyone else, and then stop.
              One use of force to end a continual use of force.
              The resulting absence of force on everyone else would be liberty.

              Is that better?

      6. Societal acceptance of property claims is indeed an issue with pure anarcho-capitalism. I vacillate between holding that there is a very minor role for government and anarcho-capitalism for this reason. From a moral standpoint you would be certainly permitted to use force to protect your property without violating the NAP. However, if no one else in your community respects your property claim you will have difficulty in justifying your actions. A government that is founded to maintain the enforcement of property rights (as classically understood) would be useful in this instance, provided that the enforcement is impartial and mechanical. However, maintaining this condition of government would be problematic.

        1. Who says libertopia would be anarcho-cpaitalist?

          I would drop the anarcho part, in part.

          1. CPAitalist – mistake, or inadvertent neologism?

      7. Do we look like people with a *plan*? You know what we are, we’re just dogs chasing cars, we wouldn’t know what to do with one if we caught it. You know, we just . . . *do* things?

      8. If a bunch of anarcho-syndicalists decide to take over your factory, good luck trying to convince them otherwise by waving Rothbard in their faces.

        Why would I wave Rothbard when I could just hire strikebreakers?

      9. If we just have the correct property rights, the correct contractual enforcement mechanisms, and the correct adjudication procedures, then everything will work out

        Hate to break it to you but Communists Socialists, Fascists, Monarchists, Republicans and Democrats all believe that as well.

        1. But they’re wrong.

          1. I agree.

            I am only pointing out that the “problems” Brandybuck’s finds with libertarianism are no different then any other political ideology.

            Utopian thinking is not unique to libertarians nor do libertarians lack realists.

            It should also be pointed out that Das Kapital” and Mein Kampf and “It takes a Village” and “Dreams of my Father” and “Faith of My Fathers” exist. You can’t get much more utopian then those books…libertarian (along with classical liberal) works tend to be more pragmatic and instructive.

            Hobbes’s Leviathan (a classical liberal work) does not describe a utopian end game while the books above do.

    3. Sure you can. Planning it is no problem. The rub is in the execution.

      1. …because it is all about Intentions! If you intend it to be a utopia, it is!

        Don’t look at the man behind the curtain!

  4. whatever

  5. Interesting. I don’t understand it, but they seem harmless. I guess there is a benefit to completely devoting yourself to your spiritual pursuit. If that means building a farm/hotel in a swamp in Paraguay, so be it.

  6. I can see by what you carry that you come from Puerto Leda.

  7. If most of his 1.5 million acres is in that town, that town must be freakin’ huge. As in nearly 2400 square miles huge, or nearly 50 miles on a side.

    1. 1.5 million 3d acres.

      1. Threee-D acres is the place for me
        Two dimensional livin’ ain’t deep enough you see

      2. It is one cubic acre that exists over 1.5 million year period..

        !!!!4D!!!

  8. Thanks for the article.

    Some of the commenters have twisted IMHO all this around to parade their strange ideas abot how a libertarian community ‘works’ or doesn’t.

    For info on people using voluntary Libertarian tools on similar and other issues worldwide, please see the non-partisan Libertarian International Organization @ http://www.Libertarian-International.org ….

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