Glenn Beck's Independence Park: Utopia or Crazy Town?

glenn beckGlenn Beck/Screen capture

There is a long history of utopian communities in America. Some were rather successful and their names live on, like the Amana community in Iowa, who were role models of sustainability and independence. According to Wikipedia, for over 80 years the Amanians "produced, right there in Amana and its surrounding villages and farms, everything they felt they needed for a good and honest life. "If we couldn't make it ourselves, we believed that we just didn't need it!" Their name lives on as a brand of appliances.

Ellis Island entranceEllis Island entrance to Independence/Screen capture
Now Glenn Beck wants to start his own utopian community that he calls Independence Park. When he starts decribing it, the place actually sounds sensible and Amanian. Designed with someone named Rob Petrie, (formerly of the Alan Brady Show) it is "an entire city developed around patterns." It starts off sounding weirdly Jewish, with Glenn describing the entrance as being modelled after Ellis Island, because "thats how most of our families came through". In fact, the drawings look much more like the lower east side of Manhattan than they do like suburbia, surprisingly dense and car-free. It even appears to have a flatiron building. It's a bad remake of Fievel Goes West, with Beck even quoting the Emma Lazarus poem on the Statue of Liberty:

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

He paraphrases Jefferson. "If you really want to pass on the truth, embed it in architecture." He praises self-sufficiency. "We have a real problem with food, we need to be much more self-sufficient and it needs to be local. We have to teach how to grow food and we have to produce more than we consume."

That really does sound Amanian. From his website:

Glenn believes that he can bring the heart and the spirit of Walt’s early Disneyland ideas into reality. Independence, USA wouldn’t be about rides and merchandise, but would be about community and freedom. The Marketplace would be a place where craftmen and artisan could open and run real small businesses and stores. The owners and tradesmen could hold apprenticeships and teach young people the skills and entrepreneurial spirit that has been lost in today’s entitlement state.

AlamoRemember the Alamo/Screen capture

Across the lake, there would be a church modelled after The Alamo which would act as a multi-denominational mission center. The town will also have a working ranch where visitors can learn how to farm and work the land. Independence would also be home to a Research and Development center where people would come to learn, innovate, educate, and create.

People would also have the option to live in Independence, with a residential area where people of different incomes could all come together and be neighbors.

word cloudGlenn Beck/via

One might even think that Beck had become a fan of Agenda 21, which he has called a UN plot to take over America. This town has all the buzzwords: sustainable, resilient, common good, quality of life, livable communities.

turbinesWind Turbines/Screen capture

Then it all falls apart. Beck says the wind turbines were put in the drawing "just to piss me off." There is a theme park where you play cowboys and indians. A giant mountain is really a huge digital screen. There will be a media center and movie studio making "decent" shows; Beck says Little House on the Prairie is too racy for him. You don't get to buy what you want: "There’s not going to be a Gap here. There’s no Ann Taylor. You want Ann Taylor, go someplace else."

It turns out that the Libertarian paradise is just about the most controlling, un-free, unlibertarian place you can think of, a giant two billion dollar theme park that is little different from Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker's Heritage USA

Which is a shame, because here is something really seductive about utopian communities. This is Crazytown.

Glenn Beck's Independence Park: Utopia or Crazy Town?
It starts off sounding quite reasonable, a vision of a community based on "education, independence, entrepreneurship and apprenticeship. "

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