"There is a sucker born every minute"
Before you read this article, read my disclaimer.
I stumbled across a link the other day that led me to the website of III Citadel. I started reading about the concept and it blew my mind! I started thinking, "This is it! This is my Galt's Gulch! This is everything I have been looking for!" But after two hours of research and reading between the lines, I felt all my newly christened hopes and dreams come crashing down. I should have known better. If something is too good to be true, it probably is. I am now of the firm belief that this is not only a bad choice for anyone considering it, but also a potentially dangerous enterprise to be a part of. It is not what is stated on the website that is the problem, it is the information that has been intentionally left out that you need to worry about. If you have stumbled across this blog post in an attempt to research the III Citadel project, please read on. By the end you may have a totally new view of things.
The III Citadel project is a planned intentional community of like minded, liberty loving individuals based upon Thomas Jefferson's ideal of Rightful Liberty. Rightful Liberty is defined on the III Citadel website as "unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others." This is simply a rewording of the non-agression principle. The project plans to purchase between 2000 and 3000 acres in Benewah County, Idaho and turn at least one square mile of that property into a walled castle-like compound. The website shows an artists conceptual drawing of what this planned community will look like, complete with its own firearms manufacturing plant, a school, an amphitheater, a farmers market, and its own water and power plant.
You can buy into this community for as little as $250 per month. That amount gets you a 300 square foot "micro-suite" inside the city walls that can be used as a bug-out location. The price range goes up from there and peaks at $7078 per month for a mansion inside the city walls. This purchases a 10,000 square foot home on 1 acre with a 15x30ft workshop and a completed exterior. A median priced home of 2000 square feet on a quarter of an acre lot will run you $1118 per month. All price figures listed here were taken from the Citadel Housing Cost Calculator. Options for paying on land and homes outside the walls are available as well. The life of payments on your home are drawn out over 30 years. Each home is constructed of poured concrete (its a bunker) and the occupant is responsible for finishing the interior of the home at their own cost. The exterior fascia can be finished by the occupant or included in the cost of initial construction and finished by The Citadel. Exterior options are log, vinyl siding, and brick. Each adult occupant that buys into the community receives a one year supply of food, an AR-15 type rifle, and 1000 rounds of ammunition. Each home comes complete with a panic room, a vault, a generator, a composting toilet, and a 2,500 gallon water tank. All of this is done with zero interest, no credit check, no background check, and no down payment. Employment can be found locally in the III Arms factory and through the III Construction company. Many subject matter experts in weapons manufacture and employment will be needed in the community along with skilled tradesmen and craftsmen to help build everything. At this point, you might be thinking, "Wow! All that and a bag of chips?" That is exactly what I thought. Read on.
The Catch (Serious Red Flags)
You don't own it! Your land and your home are leased to you. The website says that this lease is for life, but they do not define "life". Does life mean the life of the lease's payoff time (30 years) or does life mean as long as the occupant is breathing and has a heartbeat? There is no clear definition. In legal terms, a lease is: A contractual agreement by which one party conveys an estate in property to another party, for a limited period, subject to various conditions, in exchange for something of value, but still retains ownership.
Basically, you pay rent on property you do not own for a period of thirty years. After thirty years, you might be allowed to stay in your home. In the website's FAQ section under the heading "Where does the money go?" the only answer given is a vague "The Citadel." Under the heading "Who is the leader?" again, more vague terms, "the ideal of Jefferson's Rightful Liberty" and "motivated individuals." Who are these motivated individuals? This will be explored later in this post. The biggest red flag you should look at, however, is under the heading "Private vs. Public." A one sentence explanation is given, stating that the reason for community members not actually owning their property is so these "motivated individuals" can keep non-Patriots out. The website then provides a brief explanation of the business model for Disneyland. Confused yet? Keep reading.
The screening and selection of community Patriots starts out with reading and agreeing to a Patriot Agreement. You then complete an online application that costs you 208 dollars. If you are accepted to the community, this money goes towards your lease. If you are denied you will be refunded 175 dollars and III Citadel keeps 33 dollars as an administrative fee. You are then contacted by III Citadel and give them your personal information followed by a Skype video conference with a III Citadel representative. If you make it this far, you will then meet in person with, presumably, one of the "motivated individuals" mentioned earlier. Once you are fully approved and have your Patriot bona fides, you begin paying on your lease. This is where things get murky. The section that details the application process states that you are required to start paying 25% of your full lease price 90 days after acceptance of your application. When they start building your home, you are required to pay 50% of the monthly lease payments, and finally once the concrete is poured and your home is ready for a custom interior you are required to begin making full payments.
So we have a progressive payment system for property you don't own with no guarantees that it will actually be built, a manifesto, a community employer, and a selective process for membership. Hmm, something smells fishy. What could these "motivated individuals" be planning?
A Philosophical Conundrum
"The true foundation of republican government is the equal right of every citizen in his person and property and in their management." --Thomas Jefferson to Samuel Kercheval, 1816. "A right to property is founded in our natural wants, in the means with which we are endowed to satisfy these wants, and the right to what we acquire by those means without violating the similar rights of other sensible beings." --Thomas Jefferson to Pierre Samuel Dupont de Nemours, 1816.
I can quote Jefferson too.
To anyone who has read even a small amount of Thomas Jefferson's writings, it is abundantly clear that the bedrock of the Jeffersonian Tradition and classical liberalism is the ownership of private property. Without the right to own property, liberty is not possible. The big question that should be on the tip of your tongue at this moment is: How can a planned community, who's stated purpose is to live under the Jeffersonian Ideal of Rightful Liberty, deny the ownership of private property? The only answer to this question is, it can't, it is a contradiction. Something is seriously wrong here.
There are a few possibilities for what could actually be happening here. It is hard to discern any hard facts from the III Citadel website because the wording is so vague, so anything from this point on is speculation on my part. I will begin by defining the terms I will be using. I will then explore each of these possibilities, provide circumstantial evidence for each claim, and then provide my opinion as to what I believe is happening at the III Citadel project. I understand that this leaves some wiggle room for the excluded middle, but I am basing my theory on what I believe to be intentionally vague statements on the III Citadel website. Once I have provided a thorough logical deconstruction of the Jeffersonian Rightful Liberty contradiction, I will provide some information found on external sources and explore a little bit of the excluded middle.
I will define three separate socioeconomic/political structures as they apply to the ownership of land and private property in general. These definitions come directly from wikipedia and are not a thorough examination of the ideologies mentioned, they are only a general explanation. For a better understanding of each system, click the links provided and conduct your own study. Some terms are hyperlinked more than once. This is done to credit the source for each text block.
Socialism is the system of social organization in which private property and the distribution of income are subject to social control; it also refers to the political movements aimed at putting that system into practice.
"By the Lord before whom this sanctuary is holy, I will to [specific Lord] be true and faithful, and love all which he loves and shun all which he shuns, according to the laws of God and the order of the world. Nor will I ever with will or action, through word or deed, do anything which is unpleasing to him, on condition that he will hold to me as I shall deserve it, and that he will perform everything as it was in our agreement when I submitted myself to him and chose his will."
To become a serf was a commitment that encompassed all aspects of the serf’s life. Moreover, the condition of serfdom was inherited at birth. By taking on the duties of serfdom, serfs bound not only themselves but all of their future progeny.
After a little research on discussion forums and the III Citadel facebook page, I noticed a lot of folks leveling the charge of socialism against this community. I think this may stem from a misunderstanding of what socialism actually is. As defined above, it is the communal ownership of land and the ways and means of production. The III Citadel website gives no indication as to who will actually own the land and the means of production (III Arms manufacturing plant, construction company, etc.) Given the high amount of right wing rhetoric on the site, I highly doubt that any of the land or means of production will be communally held. III Citadel promotes entrepreneurs to start their own businesses. They encourage businesses who focus on self sufficiency that support the local economy, and businesses that are regional and national in scope. A list of what they are looking for can be found on their blog post: Entrepreneurs and Businesses. The info-graphic at the top of the linked blog post states, "Freedom of choice, the right to profit." Given the evidence, I would wager that this is not intended to be a socialist structure.
This system looks a little more appealing and closer to what III Citadel is striving to accomplish. Under geolibertarianism, when it comes to actual land ownership, individuals pay rent to the community so that they may exclude others from using it. This seems to fall in line with what the III Citadel FAQ speaks about in their "Private vs. Public" section. They intend to exclude non-Patriots from entering the community. Land is still somewhat communally owned/controlled, but the focus is placed on the exclusion of others, not on a belief in limiting the productive forces in an economy. In contrast to socialism, the ways and means of production are controlled by the individual. Each person has the right to the fruits of his or her own labor. This also seems to fall in line with the stated goals of III Citadel. Finally, geolibertarianism supports full civil liberties and no taxes, also stated goals of III Citadel. Given the evidence, geolibertarianism is a top contender for what III Citadel hopes to accomplish.
This system seems the most likely in my mind. Someone has to own the property, and my best guess is on the motivated individual or individuals behind this plan. They could purchase the land, have others pay for it, and then rule over their kingdom for years to come. I will explore the reasoning for this in the last section.
Sometimes, it is helpful to look at what is not specifically stated, to ponder what is not said in addition to what is said. The III Citadel website is just too vague. It does not tell us what we really need to know. The FAQ is all but worthless. Most of the time, the manner in which a question is posed determines its answer. This FAQ does not even ask the right questions.
Who owns the land?
After a little digging around, I found out that III Citadel is the brainchild of a guy named Christian Hyman. And it turns out that Hyman uses a host of aliases on the internet and in his business dealings: Sam Kerodin, Christian Kerodin, Sam Kerillion, Christian Hyman, Sam III, and Sam Hellesponte to be specific. Finally, I learned that Hyman aka Kerodin was convicted of extortion back in 2003. I can put up with a lot of things in life, but one thing I absolutely will not tolerate is a poser in the security industry. Given the amount of information available surrounding Hyman's/Kerodin's arrest, this seems to be exactly what he is, a poser.
Now the picture is becoming more clear. My best guess is that Mr. Hyman aka Mr. Kerodin is marketing the III Citadel community as a geo-libertarian movement, but in reality he is hiding behind the vague explanations on the III Citadel website and really setting up his own fief in Idaho. He will own the land, and if you give him money, you will pay for that land. He gets a huge chunk of property that he can control, and you get to pay for it. Since he controls it, he can kick you off of it any time he chooses. Sounds great, right! It makes me sick! This should be marketed as pre-Magna Carta living at its finest because if Mr. Hyman aka Mr. Kerodin can actually get enough people to support his project, he will have found a massive group of useful idiots who have just voluntarily entered into serfdom.
Con men operate in gradual steps, and the complex interview process for III Citadel may be a set of gradual steps intended to gain your confidence and take your money. You have to pay to advance past step two in the application process. If the III Citadel community does not succeed, Mr. Hyman aka Mr. Kerodin gets to keep the 33 dollar administrative fee for each person. The stated goal of III Citadel for total numbers is 3500-7000 people. Using an estimate of 3500 two adult families (7000 people total) Mr. Hyman aka Mr. Kerodin could keep up to $115,500 in administration fees even if the community fails to move past the second step of the process. That is no small chunk of change for a little bit of thinking, writing, and the purchase of a few domain names.
This has scam written all over it. Vague language, oaths of fealty, and a convicted extortionist with a long list of aliases at the helm. It is a win-win for the owner, Hyman/Kerodin. The project could theoretically never make it past step two in the application process and the owner would net over $100k. Those signers that move forward and are selected for the community (picked out as willing dupes) will start paying on their lease soon thereafter. That is more money in the owner's pocket. If it fails, he keeps the money. If it succeeds, he gets an army of serfs to pay his mortgage and fight on his behalf. His risk is minimal to nonexistent, all the risk falls solely on you.
I guess I will have to find my Galt's Gulch elsewhere. I am not in the business of giving advice. This is just my personal opinion. But I will state with certainty that I will not be involved in anything associated with III Citadel, and I will not recommend it to any of my personal friends. There is a sucker born every minute, and I aint one of them. It looks like the Free State Project is still the best thing going. Maybe I will dedicate a little more time and effort into researching that community. I am sure they need a few more good folks in New Hampsire.
See you at Galt's Gulch!