“I watched the beautiful ships arriving filled with hopeful believers. I gazed at the sky as the jets landed in Quelimane, I shook their hands and directed the orchestra as the colonists were showered with rose petals. I saw their cheerful faces and heard their dreams. Was it worth it? I don’t know. I can’t know everything. As a matter of fact, from now on ask me nothing.”
Transvaal Private Association general manager Robert Auckland
Dr. Emmanuel Mises is at the forefront of an innovative but also controversial project. As head of the Transvaal Private Association, Dr. Mises, who holds a Ph.D. in liberal economics from the University of Vienna, has been the leading force behind negotiations that led to the purchase of 200km2 from the Republic of Mozambique. Decried as an out-of-control cult leader by his critics, praised as a leading innovator by free-market advocates, Mr. Mises agreed to give a brief interview from his offices in Quelimane, Mozambique. Soon to be renamed Misesland – upon his followers’ requests, he likes to underline – the city is going through an astounding transformation, with whole blocks being razed down to give place for Austrian style apartments and houses. Fifty thousand people from all over the world, and from every race and creed, have signed up to join this astounding experiment.
Interviewer: First of all, thank for you talking with us. We understand these are busy times for you. Can you tell us a little bit about how your plans are going?
Dr. Mises: Thank you, a pleasure to be here. Our plans are running as scheduled. We have installed the first 3D printers on the industrial zone and construction of the first city is nearly complete. I believe we will be able to receive the first neonatives in two months.
Interviewer: Your plans have drawn controversy. Some say you are reinstating colonialism.
Dr. Mises: Those who say that are just plainly ignorant about our plans. We are the first experiment in society building since Communism. We offer an alternative to the over-regulation of the Western world. In our association, people can be truly free. I am absolutely certain that our results will leave the world in awe. This is not about colonialism. We purchased this land in a fair and transparent way. The funds paid already are benefiting the people of Mozambique in the form of schools, hospitals, new roads. This is not colonialism, it’s anti-colonialism. We are not a new Congo Free State. We will use our advanced technology for cutting edge manufacturing and trade, not to exploit the land’s natural resources or peoples.
Interviewer: You have the stated goal of creating a nation-sized private community, governed only by market laws. Choosing a formerly Communist country seems a bit ironic to many.
Dr. Mises: We are grateful for all the help from the people of Mozambique. The whole transaction, buying the land, establishing borders and resettling the inhabitants who declined to be part of our project, has been conducted with the utmost respect for human rights and the rule of law. We are not creating barbarism, we are creating the next stage of civilization. The logic stage, where free markets and individual enterprise serve as central tenets of a new and more efficient form of civilization. Since Communism was a Utopian endeavor, we believe this nation’s history doesn’t disagree with our plans.
Interviewer: One of the most remarkable aspects of your experiment is the absence of courts and regulations, of any kind of rule outside free-market principles. Are you not afraid the association will devolve into barbarism?
Dr. Mises: Let me make one thing very clear: free market does not mean barbarism. Our critics would like to believe they have created their own utopia. Look at them: negative demographic trends, constant friction between companies and workers, mass shootings, drug addiction. They think that by paying every citizen a minimum wage, regardless of productive activity, is their greatest achievement. Their productivity gains are mainly based on new technology. Yet if you look into the numbers, really look into them, you realize how feeble is the whole idea. The US is experiencing negative demographic growth for the first time in its history. If you give things to people for free, complacency takes hold. We are the opposite of that. We want to keep the torch of freedom and competition alive and save the world from this decrepit state of affairs.
Interviewer: Social commentator Alanis Heltron has taken to call the association “Violand”, deriding your plans to offer full freedom to the individual without centralized rules and regulations. How do you respond to that?
Dr. Mises: I will not dignify their stupidity with an answer. If I spend all my time defending my project, my energies will be wasted. Let them talk. Meanwhile, we act. The association will be victorious.
From the diary of Dr. Mises
I had a dream last night. In my feverish sleep, I saw barren hills filled with bodies and packs of men, or beasts, who fired weapons into the air and drank the blood of innocents. The factories were destroyed or taken over. Women and children were raped, properties were stolen, families destroyed. They say chemotherapy can cause vivid dreams of hallucinations, but for the first time, I questioned the wisdom of a land without rules, organized only on market principles. Nobody must know this; I must instruct my associates to burn all of my papers.
Those closest to me know I have been plagued by prescient dreams since childhood. Of course, I would never report any of them in public. It doesn’t fit well with the leader of a bold experiment in free-market radicalism. No, I should write a new speech, an inspired speech that will instill hope and resolve into my [left unfinished].
My name? Auckland. Robert Auckland. As I was saying it was a beauty to gaze, yes it was. The platform spread over five square kilometers, a marvel of engineering and human ingenuity. Desalinization equipment provided fresh water to 200 American-style homes. Complete with backyard and barbecue grill. And the trucks, ah, the trucks. Yes, yes. The American colonists had to have their trucks.
The Americans, in turn, started arriving in March, about a year after the colony began officially. They mostly were former oil men, some were retired, most had their savings carefully packaged into Roth-IRAs and annuities. Some even had capital to invest. The platform also could extract oil and gas, refine it and liquefy it. The only thing it couldn’t do was selling it, but for that, there were the oil men. Dr. Mises never objected to this parallel colony of sorts. They had the cash; it was a transaction and therefore sanctified by him. They purchased a share of our territory and agreed to share in any oil profits.
But when the oil market crashed in 2053, well, that’s when the raids began. Midsized gunships, surrounding by a flotilla of speedboats, would sweep into the coast and attack farms, factories or stores. They would take everything. By then Dr. Mises was deeply ill. The cancer was eating him alive and clouding his judgment. Pressed by members of the Quelimane Business Partnership, he told them they would have to fend for themselves. “Build your army,” he said. Several people questioned the wisdom of such an endeavor. They were promised peace.
Dr. Mises died last week. They built a monument using the 3D printers. Seated on a stately chair in the main square of Misesland, he seemed to offer his wise blessing. But now it is man against man as if they were beasts preying upon each other’s tribe. That’s what we were reduced to, tribes spread out over the Savannah. We had turned into savages, earning the derisive name the press has given us: Violand.
Colonists begin abandoning TPA as raids intensify
Mark Cahill in Vienna (WP) – Thousands of colonists are arriving in Vienna from the former Quelimane Airport in the Transvaal Private Association as a rival faction of American colonists intensified a series of raids that left hundreds dead. They say the situation deteriorated after the death of colony founder Dr. Emannuel Mises and that lack of an official authority in this radical free-market outpost is hindering efforts to fight back.
World leaders discussed the crisis in an emergency UN meeting in New York on Tuesday, but an agreement remained elusive as the UK and the US argued that the TPA is private property. Brazil, France and Russia, in turn, warned of a growing humanitarian crisis if no action is taken. A tentative deal to send food and medical supplies was reached, but the meeting devolved into a shouting match when Russia and China declined to finance the effort. “This is a stop-gap solution. We need a permanent solution,” Chinese Foreign Minister Han Tsing told UN delegates.
The Mozambican government, in turn, tightened its borders and refused to accept the thousands of refugees trying to cross its borders. President Orlando Machane told reporters in Maputo that sales agreements signed with TPA representatives prevent the country from interfering in the colony’s affairs. “Our hands are tied and we lack the resources to receive the refugees adequately. This is a problem for the rich nations; they should rescue their citizens, not us,” Mr. Machane told the National Assembly on Tuesday.
Four hundred refugees arrived in Vienna on Wednesday reporting widespread abuses and violence. Hans Frankel, a 34-year old engineer and his wife Melania and four children, said they left behind all of their belongings in the hurry to escape. “The Americans had their guns and trucks, and they told everybody to leave or be killed. Those who tried to resist were killed on the spot,” Mr. Frankel said.
“Some people wanted to stay and fight, but we decided against it because we had been promised peace. We thought the TPA would herald a new form of organization, a new way of living, but it turned out to be more of the same,” he said. Originally from Germany, Mr. Frankel says he will try to resettle in Cologne but he faces an additional hurdle: As part of the process of joining the TPA, he burned the family’s passports and renounced any claim to citizenship. “I’m counting on the goodwill of the authorities. We are refugees now,” he said.
“When is daddy coming home?”
“Soon dear. He will be back soon.”
“But we haven’t seen him in a long time. I’m hungry.”
Sophia started to cry, but mother held on tight to her and the tears dried out.
“Let’s make some biscuits!”
She poured lard on the pan, just a bit to make the biscuits taste like something. They were down to the last kilo of flour, and larding the pan required somewhat of a scraping effort in the nearly empty can. Brian had been away for a week now trying to hunt something. The reassuring ping of his cell phone on her location app as he scoured the land for game offered some respite, but she couldn’t shake off the feeling that maybe he was dead. Perhaps someone was carrying his phone around. Maybe that’s why he will not answer the calls, not because he has bailed out on them. At least the phones still worked, but electricity was getting scarce.
Misesland had collapsed into an uneasy truce with the Americans. They were supposed to pay taxes now, but all the 3D-printer factories were idled, awaiting spare parts that would never come. Most people had already left, leaving them as sole occupiers of one of the new buildings created for the colony downtown, near the water. At night, the scent of cooking fires provided a reminder that civilization and its gas stoves were now a long distance from them.
With the little girl fed and asleep, she turned to watch the street. When they arrived there used to be dogs, but they were all euthanized. Later, after the colony collapsed, the reappeared briefly. Now they were all gone, hunted for their meat. She had stopped being impressed at her own emaciation, or the dizzy spells from lacking enough sustenance. Now she knew how to fire an AK, just in case the men came back to ransack the little they had, and maybe take her and the child to God knows where.
A pile of coins sat on the kitchen table. Every colonist had to tender any foreign currency brought along into their own coins, at a fixed exchange rate. She caught herself marveling at how prices stayed stable despite the complete lack of monetary controls, as Dr. Mises wanted. Of course, that was before he died. Now they were just child’s toys, and the girl would keep piling them up into small mounds just to destroy them, and begin again.
Patrick Brock (1979) is a writer and translator living in New York who is one of the founders of Edições K, a writers collective that has published 13 books in Brazil. He has published two books of short stories in Brazil and participated of Desordem, a crowdfunded anthology featuring seven new Brazilian writers. Patrick holds a MA in English Literature from CUNY and is an editor for Brazilian business daily Valor Econômico. He is married and has a young son.