The Plan to Defrost Walt Disney and Save Capitalism With Sea Cities

Illustration for article titled The Plan to Defrost Walt Disney and Save Capitalism With Sea Cities

Remember that time back in the 1990s when Walt Disney was awakened from his cryogenic sleep, started building artificial islands off the coast of Massachusetts, and then privatized the U.S. military to protect his new capitalist paradise from an evil, one-world government?


Yeah, neither do I. But that was the techno-libertartian fever dream of one Jerome Tuccille, who wrote about just such a scenario in his 1973 book Here Comes Immortality.

When it comes to far out futurism, libertarian-minded businessfolk of the last half century have been most obsessed with two ideas: living forever and building their own pseudo-anarchist colonies. The former usually looks like some version of cryonics, where people are put into suspended animation and awakened at a later date when medical science has advanced significantly enough to "cure" death. The latter idea takes many different forms, including colonies in space, artificial islands in international waters, or, if you're the patron saint of the so-called wealth creator class, a town in Colorado.

Tuccille's Immortality outlines a techno-libertarian's paradise, marrying the ideas of living forever and free-market utopianism in one funny little book. Not only will you one day be able to live as long as you please, you'll be able to do so without the big bad government getting all up in your business. And a newly defrosted Walt Disney was supposed to do just that in a chapter called "Disney's Dream."

Most everybody's heard that resilient urban legend about Walt Disney being cryogenically frozen. It's a stubborn story, somehow kept alive despite the fact that Disney was cremated in 1966. But that didn't stop Tuccille in 1973 from imagining a world — the futuristic world of 1990, to be exact — where Disney is brought back to life and fulfills the capitalist-utopian promises of his experimental city. Disney's EPCOT at sea, if you will. With less Duffy.


In Tuccille's version of 1990, President John Kerry (yes, that John Kerry) personally approves of Disney's reanimation and this great rebirth is broadcast on live television. Disney's first words to the world after waking up? "I am the Way. Come follow me." This newly thawed Waltsicle would be no less than the savior of mankind.


In real life, John Kerry had just lost his first bid for Congress when the book was written, making him a particularly unlikely President and intentionally humorous choice for Tuccille. Kerry is depicted as an opportunist who embraces big government and represents everything that Disney is not. Tuccille explains that as the first "reanimato," or person awakened from cryogenic sleep, Uncle Walt's leadership ushers in a new age. An age where business is free to innovate without the meddlesome government ruining it for everybody with things like taxes or libraries or public safety laws.

From Here Comes Immortality:

By moving out to sea, Disney wasn't interested merely in escaping tax laws. It wasn't just freedom from bureaucratic regulation that he was after. The vision Disney had in mind went way beyond these noble, though limited, aspirations.

Disney's dream was the creation of complete and independent parallel societies, which would, in effect, compete with governments throughout the world. The concept of multinational or international corporations was obsolete before it really got started in the mind of the reanimato. Disney envisioned a series of island communities complete with housing, schools, shops, hotels, industry, theaters— everything necessary for comfortable human existence—in international waters all over the globe.

They would not, of course, be subject to the laws of any nation. They would be free to trade among themselves and also with existing nation-states, whenever it was possible. These island societies would, in a sense, be proprietary communities developed and managed by Disney Enterprises, which, in another sense, would become a giant landlord over a new, anationalist, sea-borne world society: floating Lefrak cities on a grand scale, so to speak, with total ocean living for everyone.


If this sounds familiar, it's probably because this is more or less the plan for a seafaring libertarian society backed by people like billionaire PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel and the Seasteading Institute. Well, except for the living forever part. The billionaires at Google seem to be more interested in that.


Tuccille explains that after Disney begins building his capitalist utopias in the early 1990s — one that's sixty miles southeast of Martha's Vineyard, and two more slight farther out to sea — the United Nations quickly tries to establish a one-world government to quash his dream. You see, inspired by Disney, other renegade companies begin to follow suit, setting up their own competing artificial islands. Within less than two years a flurry of islands are established near Martha's Vineyard, while another network begins popping up in the Pacific Ocean from Southern California all the way to Hawaii. This, of course, doesn't make the power-hungry folks at the UN too happy.

On March 8, 1994 the United Nations is finally successful in establishing a one-world government. But that wasn't going to stop zombie Disney and his like-minded contemporaries who were fighting for American-style free enterprise. In fact, when the new one-world government was to be announced on global TV, nobody seemed to be watching. Why? Because Disney picked that day to throw a huge party out at sea. And everybody was there. "It was the Ringling Brothers, Barnum and Bailey, and all the World's Fairs in history rolled up in a single happening," Tuccille writes.


It was a celebration of capitalism, and everyone was invited. Well, everyone accept for the United Nations.

The mobs flocked in from every nook and cranny on earth, some with their life savings in tow. More lucre changed hands that day than an any other day in memory. Parades? Candy canes? Balloons? Trombones? All the trappings of manufactured gaiety were present in spades. President Rockefeller (elected by a hair in 1992) wanted to send in the Marines to break up the affair; the Secretary-General of the UN thought it best to land an international task force to avoid the stigma of "U.S. imperialism."


The only problem for the UN? They didn't have any way to violently intrude on Disney's capitalist orgy because he'd already hired the Marines as his own private military force.

But they discovered too late that Disney had hired the Marines and Green Berets to police his own operation. Cagey entrepreneur—he had anticipated something like this. Most of the world's military personnel were now working for anationalist developers, who, after all, paid them much more than the current minimum wage. The politicians of earth were virtually unprotected. They were at the mercy of every thug and rapist who wanted to have at them.


Well that's... graphic.

So what comes next for the revolutionary dreamers at sea? By the next chapter we learn that between 1995 and 2005 nearly a billion people flee the old fashioned nation-states for these capitalist-minded ocean cities.


Disney woke up, said "follow me," and Tuccille's capitalist-loving people of the world did just that. The book continues well into the 21st century, drawing a roadmap for how to achieve a libertarian utopia. But it was Disney — this Christ-like capitalist — who delivered unto the world its free market salvation. What Would Jesus Do? Rise from the dead, privatize the military and build a hedonistic, money-worshipping city-on-the-sea. Obviously.

It certainly makes you wonder what the average Silicon Valley billionaire is hiding in their freezer out in the garage. Here's hoping it's not a Jobs-sicle.


Image: Disney's Waterworld by Nick Stango


Super random post. What inspired you to write about this? How did you find out about it? Does the Bell Isle Commonwealth plan have anything to do with it? r