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04/30/2003 Archived Entry: "Laissez Faire City auction"

THE ASSETS OF LAISSEZ FAIRE CITY ARE BEING AUCTIONED OFF. After seven years and millions in investments by some high-powered people to create first a physical community, and later a worldwide cybercommunity of freedom, it's surprising how pathetically little there is to sell. Other than the MailVault encrypted mail service, there's not much more than a handful of posters of what someone once imagined the new city would be. Bids opened April 23 and close May 5. So far there's not a single bid listed on the site, though this could reflect a posting time-lag rather than the reality of the situation. An announced sale of MailVault on March 28 fell through. (Thanks to Gray Wing for that information.)

What went on inside LFC is mysterious. ScamDog's report pins the fall on the personality and ethics of one founder. I was never inside and haven't a clue. I just know that there was always a disconnect between the vision and the limited real-world contact I did have with them. Like when I signed up to test LFC beta products. I was instead subjected to a long series of high school-type multiple choice tests designed to measure (as far as I could tell) how robotically I could recite the economic theories of Ayn Rand. When I objected that this was pointless, embarassing, and a damn fine way to attract a bunch of mindless followers rather than intelligent customer-citizens, they offered me a free trip to their then-base in Costa Rica -- as long as I showed up exactly 12 days from the time of the invitation. I never actually saw a beta product. Or went to Costa Rica. It all seemed too control-freakish for a project aiming to promote individual liberty. There were too many teases, too many hoops to jump through, and too few real benefits to make all the coy & manipulative stuff worthwhile.

Maybe I'm the last to know. LFC has been gone for more than a year now and I was way out of the loop on it. Even though it was obvious for years that something was amiss, it's still sad to know that one of the most visionary, and best funded, freedom community projects has not only bitten the dust, but has left so little to show for its efforts. (Note: Some LFC financial privacy products ended up being completed and taken over by J. Orlin Grabbe's Digital Monetary Trust.)

Freedom lovers need community -- not just "cybercommunity," which we have, but real-world communities and networks of mutual interest and support. But we tend to be absolutely lousy at long-term cooperative endeavors. The most philosophically "pure" of us, especially, seem to lose sight of the fact that, in order to accomplish anything with a group, we have to put the group goal ahead of our momentary "ego-thing." If ScamDog is correct, it was another failure to do that that led to the downfall of LFC.

Oh well. Next century in the asteroids, perhaps ...

Posted by Claire @ 09:05 AM CST

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