hygienic dark retreat

profound rest for the self‑healing psyche

a book by andrew durham

formerly darkroomretreat.com


[NOTE: from 2011, this was an early, flawed attempt at an individualist politics.]

A simple plan for freedom, as applied to a piece of land in Guatemala.

  • La Finca is a rural neighborhood development where people are finally free to:
    • securely own a private home on registered land
    • be good neighbors with local indigenous people
    • and cooperate at whatever level is comfortable
    • all in the year-round, mild warmth at Lake Atitlan, Guatemala.
  • This is accomplished by:
    • acknowledging people’s need for freedom from each other so that we can sincerely be ourselves and be together. Freedom is a social condition in which the rights of an individual to life, liberty, and property—his body, motility, and belongings—are recognized and everyone has full liability for his actions.

      Only crime—the initiation of physical force—is grounds for complaint. This means touching another’s person or property without permission. Life is violated by poisoning, assault, battery, maiming, and murder. Liberty by obstruction of movement, capture, and harassment in place. Property by vandalism, fraud, theft. Poisoning usually means pollution, which we detect through the senses: noise, air, light, electromagnetism, water, soil.

      Since property, to be owned, has to be used (not just paid for), an unoccupied holding may result in squatting. After two years, squatters would then have the option to buy out the owner or be paid back-rent by the owner for the next five years. After that, property unoccupied by the owner would accrue to squatters.

    • offering different kinds of land for sale by the square meter. They are zoned according to a permacultural survey to maximize ease and flexibility of ownership and participation. Owners thus freely exercise their authority over the land they pay for and use and are left free from the meetings, rules, and resentments that collective ownership tends to cause.
    • requiring autonomous infrastructure as much as possible. For example, a year-round spring exists on the land to provide water, but this should only be seen and used as a back-up until people can arrange their own water source, and will be priced accordingly.
  • Land is 3 hectares/7 acres/45 cuerdas, half steep, half flat. Proposed prices/zones:
    • meadow for residences, $3/meter
    • large garden and newly planted food forest, $3/m
    • mature coffee and avocado farm, some with 1m of “black gold” topsoil, in flats. Also useful for collecting pressurized water.$4/m and hills $2.50/m.
    • farmhouse with electricity and running water (not for sale)
    • wilderness with Mayan altar (not for sale)
    • river and spring (not for sale)
    • reclamation area (damaged land to be restored)
  • Ways to participate:
    • reside
    • work
    • invest
    • visit
    • volunteer (Q__ /day)
    • partner
  • Offer: buy and participate as you like. Proposed minimum purchase: $2000, distributed proportionally among the land zones. These may be rented to others. After 5 years, these may be sold once one’s interests, activities and role have settled a bit. Terms: cash on delivery.
  • Finca culture: Those invested or interested in the property are committed to self-sufficiency, individual rights, including those of the indigenous, natural design and building, and natural health. We see the finca as a chance to rehabilitate from civilization, and to discover, create, and live in sane, natural ways. But only the freedom to pursue these or other purposes is officially recognized, not any particular purpose itself. No one is required to believe or participate in these ways, just to not make them impossible. We will not sell land to people with hostile ideologies, ie, communism, Satanism, and Islam.
  • Legal structure: officially, the finca is “registered land”, with a clear title going back to the 1940’s. We can confidently laugh off the farm anyone showing up to demand his land back. It is unlikely anyway. Unofficially—and this is at least as important as the official—the indigenous people of the neighboring pueblos are giving us the benefit of the doubt. Some of them actually like us. None will violently throw us out as long as we are good neighbors. If we are harmlress to them and provide work that strengthens their culture, they will likely become fierce allies.

    However, it is too difficult and expensive to divide registered land. The law in Guatemala is interpreted by easily bought judges. So we will survey and register individual plots within the finca ourselves. We will have our own, open records of land holdings, probably on a blockchain. Senior owners, friends, and neighbors of the finca, including indigenous elders, can be contracted to arbitrate disputes. This arrangement among fully interested, known, and respected parties rather than national kangaroo courts, will serve us. We do not intend to start a new country, just keep existing ones out of our affairs.

These ideas are our informal covenant with each other. We will have no official laws, court, police, or army. We will just have facts. For example, people like others who give them pleasure. Self-sufficiency and respectfulness tend to elicit generosity and friendliness.

On the other hand, causing displeasure discourages association. Harmfulness is reciprocated. When rights are violated, people tend to get upset, then use force to protect themselves and neutralize danger. Their retaliation might be worse than the original crime. It might be irreversible. Why risk it? Instead, get a life. La Finca is a good place to do so.

States only exist to extend to some the privilege to harm others or deflect retribution from harmful people. Therefore, they hamper freedom. We don’t like them. We won’t reproduce a small one with our neighbors. In freedom, the common sense, decency, and justice people exhibit outweigh their opposites.

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