Threatening to go Galt, again

One of the great fantasies inspired by Ayn Rand’s book Atlas Shrugged is that the real producers in society can bring society to a grinding halt by simply withdrawing their services. In the book they are so tired of the fruits of their labor being taken by the moochers and looters that they carry out their threat and retreat to a remote place called Galt’s Gulch.

One can see the appeal of that idea to a certain type of adolescent mind. If one feels that one’s worth is unappreciated by those around you, the idea that if one were to disappear then people would realize what a treasure they had lost and would mourn your absence and wish they had treated you better can be quite comforting. This fantasy can, unfortunately, lead young people to do reckless things. But as one grows older, this is seen as the childish illusion it is and is abandoned. At least, that is the case for most people.

But there are some for whom that fantasy remains real and we now have the spectacle of people seemingly willing to live it out by creating remote supposedly self-sufficient enclaves where those who are dissatisfied with the way they feel that the US is taking away their liberties can go and be free, leaving the jackbooted hellhole to the rest of us.

One such project is called The Citadel and is located in Idaho. The promoters have plans and everything, as can be seen from this map of the proposed community.


Note the two levels of fortified walls and the arms factory to defend themselves, presumably against our future United Nations overlords. The enclave will allow somewhere around 5,000 families to live in it. The application fee is $208 but before you send in your deposit be aware that not everyone is welcome. According to the project’s website, “Marxists, Socialists, Liberals and Establishment Republicans will likely find that life in our community is incompatible with their existing ideology and preferred lifestyles.” You can read more about the place and the hopes of the people who will live there here.

Of course, hucksters like Glenn Beck see this as yet another way of separating the rubes from their money and he is talking about starting a similar project, this time in Texas, maybe because that state has a lot of people with more money than sense, proven by the fact that they have repeatedly elected Rick Perry as their governor.

Needless to say, comedians have been having a field day with reports that the rugged individualists in the US are threatening to Galt. Here is Stephen Colbert’s take on the Citadel.

(This clip was aired on January 9, 2013. To get suggestions on how to view clips of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report outside the US, please see this earlier post.)

One thing that amuses me is that all these people who are seeking to escape from the tyranny of government in order to live fully free lives don’t seem to realize that for a small closed community to survive within a walled fortress, it must have strict rules about what everyone can and cannot do. They will end up having to live with far more rules than the most restrictive condominium association in a big city, with one major difference in that everyone will be armed to the teeth and feel justified in settling disputes with force. I don’t see this ending well for the libertarians.

Unfortunately these people are unlikely to carry out their threat. It is one thing for rich people to believe intellectually that everyone depends on them. In reality, it is they who are the moochers and looters, who depend on an entire system of low-wage workers for their luxurious lifestyles.

But having said that, I am totally in favor of these projects. I have written before (see my post titled In the name of Galt, go!) that we would all actually be better off if those who are currently threatening to ‘go Galt’ and throw society into chaos would actually carry out their threat. We would be rid of these pests for good, and the people who remain would be those who see that contributing to the public good makes life better for everyone. The problem is that these Galtians never seem to carry out their threat.

But what about the basic idea that if these very wealthy people abandon a society, that society will suffer? Is there any way to test that idea since these pests don’t seem likely to leave? It turns out that there may be a natural experiment that may shed some light on this. The French government has proposed taxing incomes over one million euros at a rate of 75%. This prompted some rich French to say they were going to leave the country. I was hopeful that this would provide a natural experiment to see if France actually did better after these rich parasites left. Unfortunately after an adverse court ruling, the government said that businesses could pay the tax on behalf of their highly paid employees so the experiment may not be definitive, since the rich will not be paying that tax themselves, and so they may stay.

Too bad.


  1. CGM3 says

    My first thought upon reading this was “I’m gonna eat worms!” (in the voice of an outraged six-year-old).

    My second was, What do they need those “interior defensive walls” for? Are they expecting factional infightng?

  2. Pierce R. Butler says

    If you have just one penny to your name, and vote for Rick Perry, you have more money than sense.

  3. richardrobinson says

    I wonder how they plan to get steel for their gun factory. Or, for that matter, where they plan to grow their food.

    And only one entrance? What are they protecting, and from whom, that they need such over-the-top defenses.

    What always strikes me is how firmly middle class most libertarians actually are.

  4. Scr... Archivist says

    I had this post open, as well as Tauriq Moosa’s “I need your help with an article on video games”. When I saw the picture here, I thought I was looking at the video game post.

    But I have to say that it’s funny how these paranoiacs want to build their own FEMA camp.

  5. richardrobinson says

    Also, I think the reason no one ever actually takes the plunge is because they expect us to beg them to stay. When all they get is a nonplussed ‘K-Bai!’ it kinda takes the wind out of their sails.

  6. Ben P says

    I wonder how they plan to get steel for their gun factory. Or, for that matter, where they plan to grow their food.

    I was going to say. The “artists’s concept” doesn’t contain anywhere near enough land to feed even a community of 500 people, particularly in a dry place like Idaho. Yeah, sure, with plenty of water you can grow a little backyard plot that can give you some tomatoes and peppers in the summer, but feeding a population of people full time takes a lot more land.

    By comparison from something I actually heard about this weekend on the radio. In the early 1900’s there was a homestead rush into Montana. The Federal Government, under lobbying by railroad companies, gave settlers 160 acres of land. This caused a boom, and railroad companies and banks were happy to lend money and sell supplies to people attempting to start farms on the Montana plain.

    But it went bust in a few years when people realized that without a level of irrigation impossible 100 years ago, you simply cannot feed a family on 160 acres of land in Montana. That land today is part dryland wheat, and part cattle.

    I suppose it could be like a medieval castle, and they’d own tends of thousands of acres of farmland outside of the castle, but you can’t farm 5000 acres of land without lots of warm bodies or lots of mechanical help, and I wonder where they’d going to get gas for tractors?

    And only one entrance? What are they protecting, and from whom, that they need such over-the-top defenses.

    What always strikes me is how firmly middle class most libertarians actually are.

    Not just that, the main gate and the outer gate displaced from one another? that throws out even the easy answer.

    The first answer to come to mind is that they think if they “go galt” they’ll have to face down the feds in some sort of Ruby Ridge/Waco standoff. But this concept can’t even have been drawn by someone who was thinking about resisting government intrusion.

    The idea that you build a fortress and offset the gates is a medieval one. You force the attacking army to either blow through two walls, or slog over open ground from one gate to another while being pelted by rocks and arrows from the interior wall.

    Anyone with even the barest sense of modern military tactics should recognize that the modern military thinks in three dimensions. You set a fortress like that in front of the US military, they’ll just drop soldiers onto the roof of the town center and “arms factory” with helicopters secure the weapons, then blow holes in the walls with high explosive and use armored vehicles to exploit the breaches.

    That only leaves either (a) someone is stupid, or (b) they’re antcipating something even crazier, which would be Turner Diaries esque mobs of rampaging minorities (apparently in the middle of rural idaho) when in their absence society breaks down.

  7. tmscott says

    Actually, Gérard Depardieu did hand in his french passport, and became a Russian citizen. I don’t think that France has suffered for it though.

  8. garnetstar says

    It’s not only steel and water and farmland and food and a medieval fortress. If these people are planning to stand off the government, haven’t they ever heard of long-range artillery?

  9. embraceyourinnercrone says

    Ok, maybe I’m missing it but where is the hospital?!? Do they think one or two doctors and no hospital is enough? Yeah talk to my great grandmother about that. She lived in rural Vermont and died in childbirth with her second child. She was 20.

    Or is their idea of medical care ” get better on your own or die quickly” ? Although I guess if they don’t take into account population growth(what happens if your population outgrows the walls) then people dying of easily prevented diseases and infection, as well as women and babies dying in childbirth helps keep their population down . Kind of a brutal form of birth control but hey “Survival of the fittest!” Also, I guess no vaccines or penicillin either? Insulin?

    But they must have their firearms factory! (I am assuming that’s the kind of arms they mean)
    Any guesses as to the mortality rate from accidental firearms discharges?

    But as previous commenters have stated where do they plan to get their food, and their raw materials for making: shoes, clothing, furniture, homes, etc? Where are they going to put their trash? What about sanitation/water treatment? You really don’t want your “effluent” contaminating you water supply. Cholera is not fun.

  10. MarkF says

    I don’t think the designers actually expect anyone to live there for long. This is just another scheme to take money away from paranoid, entitled conservative types. It’s a larger version of bullet-proof backpacks.

  11. Chiroptera says

    Of all the cultural amenities they could have included, they chose a firearms museum?

    LOL. They sure understand their market.

  12. left0ver1under says

    The idea of a “Galt gulch” is predicated on the same thing as any police state: the expectation that there is a support system that will blindly obey orders, often against its own interests (stasi, gestapo, military, “workers”, police, brownshirts, etc.). Corporate power only exists as long as there is a government willing to obey it, a government capable of carrying out its orders.

    Dissenters, on the other hand, don’t require corrupt support systems to bring down a kleptocracy. Unions do that all the time, and revolutions with enough people have brought down regimes throughout history. All it takes is enough popular support.

    “L’etat c’est moi”? Non, mes amis. L’etat c’est nous.

  13. baal says

    “The problem is that these Galtians never seem to carry out their threat.” Hear hear!

    I hope they attract all the sovereignty movement types and then have problems with them actually paying for their new homes in the upscale FEMA camp.

  14. wtfwhatever says

    First, I certainly don’t agree with 99% of the ideas espoused by the citadel and its promoters, but the COMMENTS to this thread are a monument to the idiots of FTB and how they refuse to research the very thing they purport to ridicule. It mainly shows that jackasses like Zvan, a so called analyst, mainly contribute in order to feel superior and put others down.

    When the citadel was mocked at FARK, at least FARKers know to either read the article, or write, “do you know how I know you didn’t read the article?”

    So how will they have a farmer’s market without a farm? Where will they get their steel? How will they hold off the government?

    You guys are absolute geniuses.

  15. says

    #17: That was awesome! “I don’t agree with 99% of this, but everyone criticizing it is WRONG, and don’t you dare expect me to provide citations!” The internet never disappoints.

    Anyway, what better way to stand up for your freedoms than by walling yourself off in a prison camp, eh?

  16. lorn says

    Interesting … notice the “perimeter houses”. Note how much larger they are than the other houses. Mansions? Notice their uniformity and location along the walls. They look to me to be apartment blocks for people who can’t swing the coin to get a detached house sitting in the better protected center of the complex. Based upon this depiction there will be special duties. Like having your apartment act as a shield for those who are better financed and, because of this unfortunate geometry, being much more highly motivated to defend those walls and act as cannon fodder. Clearly, some people are going to be more equal than others.

    Which is where the whole Galt’s Gulch fantasy falls apart. If you had the wherewithal you could conceivably move to an island or mountain top and live by yourself. It is going to get mighty lonely. Adding other people means you are going to get media to discover truths and spread the news, politics to lobby for everyone’s most desired allocation of resources, government to establish rules, and some sort law enforcement to coerce compliance.

    At first, with small groups, it can all be informally established with nods and handshakes. Some busybody will keep people informed, there will be one or more leaders, there will be debate over resources, and someone will, more or less subtly, enforce rules. As more people show up and the logistics get more complicated someone has to start writing things down and jobs will become better defined and specialized. By the time you get a few hundred people you are effectively a small town with well established social structures and a government set up to fill all the necessary roles. Even as some claim that there is no need for any structure or rules.

    That is the way humans live together. It doesn’t matter if it is the interpersonal matrix of a gang in Guatemala, Charlie Manson’s tribal system in the foothills of LA, a cult in Guiana destine to have a punch line too long to joke about, a quite ordinary mid-western small town in the 1880s, or a tribe of self-incarcerating Libertarians in Idaho all the parts will be present in one form or another.

    The point is that you can’t flee society and government. Social structures and government are the natural and inevitable response of individuals seeking to enjoy the benefits of living in groups while limiting the friction.

  17. says

    First, I certainly don’t agree with 99% of the ideas espoused by the citadel and its promoters, but the COMMENTS to this thread are a monument to the idiots of FTB and how they refuse to research the very thing they purport to ridicule. It mainly shows that jackasses like Zvan, a so called analyst, mainly contribute in order to feel superior and put others down.

    Most of the questions posed are salient. The Citadel website doesn’t answer them.

    So how will they have a farmer’s market without a farm? Where will they get their steel? How will they hold off the government?

    The Citadel website says they are going to purchase a modest amount of land. It doesn’t explain how this land will be farmed, which is interesting since the “farmland” will be outside the walls, and is clearly insufficient to support a community the size they are projecting anyway. In the even of an economic collapse, they can’t come close to being self-sufficient, and any farmland outside the walls would be vulnerable to the mobs the walls are supposed to defend against.

    If there is an economic collapse, which is what their walls are intended to guard against, they have no source for raw materials for their gun factory. Or for any of the other hypothetical businesses that they think will sprout up there. The Citadel plan only works if there isn’t an economic collapse. Which means that it is nothing more than a theme park. They say that it will be a tourist destination. Of course, they also say that tourists can’t see most of it, so one wonders why anyone would go there. And tourism only works as a source of income if there isn’t an economic collapse. In short, they aren’t preparing for the thing they say they are preparing for. They are just creating a very silly tourist trap.

  18. richardrobinson says

    Went and read the homepage. Still idiotic and hilarious. Should I keep going?

  19. kevinalexander says

    Whenever I think of Witlas Thugs I remember the John Rogers quote:

    “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.”

  20. richardrobinson says

    If they want to close off one square mile in the curtain wall, they need at least 3.6 miles of wall. For the sake of argument, let’s say that wall costs $1000 per linear foot (a laughably low estimate or a laughably low wall). That means the wall costs at least $19M, or a humble $2,700 per household at maximum occupancy of 7,000. Which certainly won’t fit in that one square mile, unless the condos in the wall towers are 10+ story affairs. In which case, the residents are effectively living outside the wall.

    These guys stopped thinking about the same time the booze ran out.

  21. Chiroptera says

    LOL. From their FAQ page:

    Will You Be Doing Anything Illegal?

    Absolutely not. We will abide by all Constitutional federal and state laws.

    Question: Which laws do Libertarians think are unconstitutional?

    Answer: The ones we don’t like!

  22. says

    The more you read on this place, the loonier it gets.

    Residents would have to agree to conditions such as:

    — Being armed with a loaded sidearm whenever visiting the Citadel’s town center

    Wait. They’re cloistering themselves from humanity because they’re mistrustful and afraid of the big bad socialist commie librul anchor-baby nanny state America is becoming… but now we see they’re mistrustful and afraid even of each other.

    Any word on if they plan to hold an annual Hunger Games?

  23. mnb0 says

    ” the people who remain would be those…”
    Optimist. There just will be others who grab their chance to get rich and adopt the same attitude.

    The first thing I notice is that the arms factory is near the walls. It’s an easy target for any enemy. The second thing I notice is that the inhabitants will mainly have their co-inhabitants to point their arms at. The third thing I notice is that this community still will depend on the outside world for all kind of consumer goods.

  24. mobius says

    This place is supposed to be self sufficient? Where is the food supposed to come from?

  25. mnb0 says

    The Citadel reminds me of a German joke from 1945.
    “How long will it take a modern army to conquer the Citadel?”
    “One hour and five minutes.”
    “One hour ROFL and five minutes to take the place down.”

  26. Francisco Bacopa says

    Let them go to their gully. There are plenty of people with great ideas and the banks have lots of money. Let the parasites isolate themselves and let capital flow to to many worthy projects that will employ many people.

  27. kyoseki says

    Ok, maybe I’m missing it but where is the hospital?!? Do they think one or two doctors and no hospital is enough?

    Dude it’s right there on the website:

    Six: Every able-bodied Patriot aged 13 and older shall pass a class every three years sponsored by the Citadel on basic emergency medical care; the courses shall focus on battlefield and wilderness environments.

    See? Problem solved.

  28. wtfwhatever says

    Hey dumbass, I’m actually not the one that needs citations.

    YOU are the person making the claims, It is up to YOU to provide the citations that the people at the citadel have the policies, the problems, the plans, etc., that YOU claim they do.

    We both disagree with them, but you disrespect them, objectify them, dehumanize them, and turn them into your puppet putting words into their mouths.

    READ their plans and criticize what they actually say.

    They are probably as intelligent as most FTBs and certainly more intelligent than you.

    As I said, even FARK was a bunch more accurate that you dumbasses.

  29. wtfwhatever says

    The citadel is not planning on isolating themselves economically from the rest of the world. It’s not even clear they are the Galt’s Gulch that is being claimed for them.

    They are more like preppers. The citadel is not their to war on the government. The citadel is there to run inside of when it’s Mad Max world or Zombie world.

    At that point the land outside, the land inside, their stores will help them survive while you and me kill each other or are killed by the zombies.

    They’ve explained that many times.

    I think they are a bunch of nuts, and I like your comment it is a theme park. I think that’s about right.

  30. says

    …you disrespect them, objectify them, dehumanize them, and turn them into your puppet putting words into their mouths.

    Yeah, I’ll just wait right here while you quote where I did any of that. Because, you know, citations.

    My own intelligence may or may not be above average, but I’m at least smart enough to figure out that an armed enclave with little to no governing or economic infrastructure, based on paranoid Libertarian fantasies and designed like a Ren-Faire fortress that any tabletop war gamer would laugh at, is probably not a workable proposition in real life.

    As for the rest of your histrionics, here is a picture of a kitty in a fedora to help you simmer down.

  31. CaitieCat says

    Frankly, the US Army or Air Force or, hell, the CIA or Blackwater/Xe/wtfisitcalledthisweek could very easily set up a nice parade of well-armed drones able to bomb this place petrolithic in no time. And the Gulchers wouldn’t even know it was coming until their wedding party went boom. If they truly wanted to prevent themselves from being hurt, they’d need to make the society in Spock’s Brain come to life. Morg and iMorg! It was predicted by the Prophet of Paramount, The Great Roddenberry (Pizza and Mountain Dew Be Unto Him), except maybe for Apple’s involvement.

    While there’s a certain ironic Schadenfreude-based entertainment about that possibility, I have to concur that this is just another neo-con, pun very much intended.

  32. Tsu Dho Nimh says

    I find it interestng that they have already purchased TWENTY “mountaintop acres”. And they plan canals, lakes and other water features, to which they will have to pump water (leaving them vulnerable to water shut off). And their farms have to be where it’s flat and plowable, leavng them away from their food source.

    And their OH WOW WE GOTS A SQUARE MILE INSIDE THE WALLS is fun to play with. They are going to put a couple thousand families, plus parks, firearms factory, etc all in their SIX HUNDRED FORTY ACRES!!!!

    Look at Google maps for Phoenix, AZ. Each of the main streets is a typically mile apart, making tidy 640 acre square plots. Now count the houses in a square mile … they are going to have to erect apartment buildings to get that many families in there.

    I think it’s a pipe dream,intended to separate the sheeple from their money.

  33. kevinalexander says

    Arms factory?!?
    WTF, they already have a gun for each finger and toe and a spare for each of those so they need to make more?
    Just when you think gunnutification couldn’t get worse.

  34. Chiroptera says

    Looking at the website, I got the impression that this whole venture is an attempt by someone to raise capital to start his or her own gun manufacturing business.


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