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Old 10-21-2008, 02:27 PM   #1
Baggywrinkle
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Default Gulching; What is it?

Gulching
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Gulching refers to the act of forming a localized, underground economic and social community of freedom-minded individuals. The term comes from Galt's Gulch, the fictional village of economic outlaws in Ayn Rand's novel, Atlas Shrugged. Galt's Gulch was hidden in the Rocky Mountains and protected by a holographic shield so perfect it was described in the novel as "almost magical". Modern gulching typically occurs in remote areas, but can also take place in suburbs, urban areas, or even online. These underground communities are called gulches, and the inhabitants and participants thereof are called gulchers. Exact statistics on gulching's prevalence are unavailable, as privacy is usually paramount to gulchers.

Gulchers trade and barter with each other outside of government regulation and tax systems. The intent is to create a greater degree of economic and personal freedom, while building a trust-based local trade network to provide goods and services that might become unavailable if the mainstream economy collapses. Self-sufficiency as a whole, in terms of food, energy, fiber, shelter, health care, and other production and services is considered valuable, even vital, to a free existence. Gulchers are also free to trade outside of the gulch, though a remote location might make this difficult.

A gulch differs from a commune in that it is uniquely freedom-focused, and so upholds individual and property rights rather than operating by the rules of community property. Participants remain free to own property, to earn and to keep their own wealth, and to live their days as they see fit, rather than by rules imposed by a nebulous 'community.' There may be some mutually accepted plan to share chores or self-defense duties, but in the main, gulchers tend to prefer minimal rules, believing that free individuals will always create better solutions to the questions facing them. Those who seek to participate in a Gulch generally adhere to the Zero Aggression Principle and have no wish to harm or attack others who choose to live differently. They do believe in self-defense if first aggressed upon by others.

Writer Taran Jordan describes a gulch as "a place where one stores needed supplies to last a certain length of time, until one has arranged to produce as many of those supplies as possible once that initial time runs out, [where] one has made contacts with other likeminded folks to band together in the interests of future production, trade, and the defense of the produce, its means of production, and its producers, [and where] one can enjoy the fruits of one’s labor, and life at the pace of nature, free from those who do not choose this way of life." [1]

The Gulcher's Guide, by Claire Wolfe and Mary Lou Seymour, recommends that gulches be located at least 100 miles from any major city, in the event that a catastrophe causes refugees to spill out of the city in search of food, loot, and refuge[2]. The choice of location involves tradeoffs that affect suitability for gulching. For instance, while the intermountain west is perceived as relatively friendly to the goals of gulchers, it also suffers from lack of water, harsh climates and poor agricultural conditions.

Since gulchers may need to sacrifice many conveniences associated with the above-ground economy, Wolfe considers the most crucial characteristic of a potential gulcher to be adaptability[3]. Gulchers typically eschew banks, preferring to barter or use gold and silver as a currency. Wolfe notes that gulchers may have to rely on anonymous advertisements to find customers and services, e.g.:

* "Chiropractor needed for individual in Coos County, New Hampshire."
* "Internist and full range of clinic services available to gold-paying customers in Pocatello, Idaho."

A variation on gulching, but done as a single individual with the specific goal of "Refus[al] to engage in any implementation of your personal creative ability which benefits the State[...]Tak[ing] your brains off the statist marketplace[...]Act[ing] so that only those who add to your life, not those who devour it, comprise your creativity marketplace[...]Reserv[ing] your achievements for yourself and those who will join you in the endeavor to build a sane and sensible world" is what David King termed "Shrugging"[4]. This term also originated from Ayn Rand's novel, Atlas Shrugged.

See also

* Agorism
* Back-to-the-land movement
* Economic secession
* Free State Project
* Rapture (Fictional City)
* Survivalism

References

* Seymour, Mary Lou, and Wolfe, Claire: The Gulcher's Guide.
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Old 10-21-2008, 09:30 PM   #2
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Default Re: Gulching; What is it?

Heading for Hardyville
Gulch, Part II
Gulching: Yes, You Really Can Herd Cats

By Claire Wolfe

So here Nat and I sit by the side of the road. A delegation from the Chamber of Commerce just came out and asked us to quit shooting at the tourists. Besides, it got a little too interesting when some of the tourists started shooting back. But what else is there to do on the outskirts of Hardyville on a slow day?

Nat picks up a beer and tilts an eyebrow in my direction.

“No thanks," I say. “That stuff tastes like moose drool."

Nat shrugs and chugs.

“So Nat, you were saying something about gulches not having to be what everybody thinks gulches have to be. What do you mean?"

He sits, scratches his chin, thinks, spits. “Well now, why's anybody gulch?" he finally asks.

“To hide out. Stay safe. Stay free. Be reasonably self-sufficient as a community. Bring freedom back to the world when the world is ready for it."

“Yeah. Except you're all libbetarians."

“And constitutional conservatives. And anarchists. And classical liberals ..."

“Right. Meanin' none of yer gulchers can put up with each other for two minutes altogether."

I nod sadly. Individualists are famously unherdable cats.

“That's good," says Nat.

“Good? I've heard our inability to organize called a lot of things. Pain in the backside, mostly. But never good."

“Nope. It's good."

“Why?"

“Think on it yourself."

I think on it myself while Nat polishes off the can of beer.

“Because if you gather a lot of us all together in one community, we're likely to get Wacoized?" I venture.

“There's that," Nat nods.

“And because trying to get everybody behind one big, central plan kinda misses the point of freedom, anyway."

“That, yeah." Nat plucked another beer and waited.

“And because no one community could really manage to be self-supporting. Or have enough work. Or enough services. Or could manage to hide from Big Brother in this day and age."

Nat nods.

“So what do we do instead?"

Nat pulls a grubby pencil stub out of the pocket of his Carhartts and draws a diagram on the wood of the shooting bench where we sit.

“This here's the Freedom-Bar-None Ranch," he says, pointing. “Over here... town. Call it Libertyville. Here ... big city. Govopolis."

He continues, pointing back at the ranch again. “Now, Les and Betsy Spooner own the Bar-None spread. But right near it ...." dot, dot, dot goes Nat's pencil stub, all around the borders of the ranch, “there's this recreation development. Forty acre 'ranchettes.' No utilities. Cheap. Middle of noplace. EZ terms. Real pretty. Good dirt."

“Every state in the west has something like that," I agree. “Montana, Wyoming, and New Mexico, for sure."

“So next thing you know, Les' drinkin' buddy and Betsy's best friend and her cousin and his shootin' instructor each buy some of them ranchettes. For vacation, you know. Only costs 'em a thousand or two to get started buyin' in. Real good investment."

“And each one owns his own place. No communalism," I say. “And nobody trying to build a gulch for a profit, which makes people suspicious."

“Right. But there they are, maybe sharin' some wells, raisin' some food. More honey or goat milk or beef or rutabagas than they need. Ready to trade."

“Rutabagas?"

“Well, then popcorn. Growin' hemp. I don't care. Meantime, over here in Libertyville, the Paine family and the Henry clan and the Crocketts have all moved in and started up little businesses. Writin' software. Crackin' people's backs if one's a chiropractor. Sellin' homemade dried foods. You name it."

“And I'll bet," I add, “that they don't come crashing into town making a big stink about taking over the government or changing the local culture."

“Right. Nice quiet people. Mebbe one runs for city hall like a real civic-minded citizen, but mostly they're just there because they like small towns. Funny thing that they all happen to know each other. Or maybe even be related."

“So they've all gotten out of Govopolis ..." I suggest.

“Nope. Not everybody." Point, point. “There sits old Sam L. Adams, right in the middle of Govopolis. He's not the kind of guy wants to be out usin' an outhouse or havin' close encounters with bugs an' worms. He's the kind guy who's gotta be connected to a 'lectrical outlet 24 hours a day. He just stays home and lives the kind o' life he likes. Travels a bit, sometimes. Funny thing, though. His specialty is settin' up communications networks."

“But the good thing is," I say, getting it, “all these people are doing what they want. And at most they've found five or six or 10 other families who like the same places they like."

“Right."

“But ... then what? I mean, five or six here, two or three there. What can they accomplish?"

Point. “Ask Sam L. Adams. Or Bob-the-Nerd."

“You mean they network?"

“Bingo."

“Ohhh... So each little group has its own secure communications network. Out there at the ranchettes, maybe they've even got underground utility tunnels and shielded computer systems."

“Mebbe."

“And they gradually link with other groups, using stuff like Freenet and the old FidoNet. On FidoNet, you can just be a 'node' and nobody even has to know where you are."

“You're over my head," says Nat. “They can also drive. Or send letters. Or leave messages at drop points. And they can arrange to trade. But nobody outside the system even knows the gulches are there. And even the people in the gulches don't always have to know where all the other gulches are."

“Good security if they don't know. You just know that Gulch A has apples to trade. And Gulch B has a well driller for hire. And Gulch C has a webmaster who works real cheap if you pay him in gold."

“... And Gulch D has a doctor. And Gulch E's got a lawyer. And Gulch F's got an Indian chief who holds sacred ceremonies."

We sit and think about that a while. The highway stretches out before us, empty as the sky.

“Sometimes the gulches have to know where the others are," I finally say. “Some things can only be done in person, on site."

“Sometimes," Nat admitted. “Need to know basis."

“But mostly they can make connections anonymously. Or on neutral ground. And gradually, as the network gets big enough, they can start developing a whole alternative free-market society ... maybe even with its own metal-based money, banking, employment, medical care, shipping systems ... everything."

“Risky," observes Nat. “Gummint's don't like the competition."

“Risky," I agree. “But no Wacos. 'Cause there's nothing to Waco. No compounds. And no paper trail. Not even an e-trail if people are careful. Set up anonymous communications or a cells-of-three system ..."

“Leaderless resistance," Nat nods. “That old bigot Beam was right about one thing."

“Hey, we can resist without resisting," I grin.

“Hide in plain sight."

“Gulch without gulching. No timeline, no mass movement, no big project. Just individuals and small groups making natural connections – and setting up free institutions to replace all the corrupt, controlled Big Brother ones.

“Not perfect," concludes Nat.

“What community ever is?" I ask. “But somehow, though every sort of trouble and chaos, communities still survive ... as long as people need each other. Hey, maybe you really can herd cats – just as long as you let the cats go where they want and you're not too fussy about whether they all go in the same direction at the same time."


If you think gulching is a good idea, head on over to the gulching gathering at The Claire Files forums. The folks there won't shoot at you. They'll just share ideas and tips that go way beyond what I could cover in two short columns.
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Old 10-21-2008, 10:14 PM   #3
freekatz
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Default Re: Gulching; What is it?

Herd cats????? ...good luck trying that here
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Old 10-21-2008, 11:47 PM   #4
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Default Re: Gulching; What is it?

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Herd cats????? ...good luck trying that here

There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root.
--Henry David Thoreau
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Old 10-22-2008, 12:46 AM   #5
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Default Re: Gulching; What is it?

Wow, there's a word for it!
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Old 10-23-2008, 01:43 AM   #6
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Default Re: Gulching; What is it?

This seems like the kind of thing that can't be "pre"-organized, unless it follows along the trails of already established drug dealers and other black markets. I imagine this would be a spontaneous reaction originating all over the place in response to the fit hitting the shan. Any thoughts?
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Old 10-23-2008, 02:49 AM   #7
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Default Re: Gulching; What is it?

In good times it requires the discipline and focus of an
idealogue to make it happen.

When times go bad and people are faced with living in the shruburbs (see hooverville from the depression era)...
well...it is hard to get folks to garden but there is no problem finding them when it is time to eat!
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Old 10-23-2008, 05:23 AM   #8
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Default Re: Gulching; What is it?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Shellie View Post
This seems like the kind of thing that can't be "pre"-organized, unless it follows along the trails of already established drug dealers and other black markets. I imagine this would be a spontaneous reaction originating all over the place in response to the fit hitting the shan. Any thoughts?
That's actually pretty perceptive to make the connection with black-market growth. It's viral and anarchic, and it seems the secret is to do it right out in the open.

I've envisioned exactly this kind of community, never knowing it existed and actually had a name. I've found many ways to barter handmade soaps...for lunch, for a massage, for an oil change, a potted palm. It wouldn't take much for the idea to spread, once times get a little more dicey. Matter of fact, I printed both of the above posts. I want to share those ideas with my face-to-face group.
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Old 10-24-2008, 12:29 AM   #9
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Default Re: Gulching; What is it?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Baggywrinkle View Post
Heading for Hardyville
Gulch, Part II
Gulching: Yes, You Really Can Herd Cats

By Claire Wolfe

So here Nat and I sit by the side of the road. A delegation from the Chamber of Commerce just came out and asked us to quit shooting at the tourists. Besides, it got a little too interesting when some of the tourists started shooting back. But what else is there to do on the outskirts of Hardyville on a slow day?

Nat picks up a beer and tilts an eyebrow in my direction.

“No thanks," I say. “That stuff tastes like moose drool."

Nat shrugs and chugs.
i am truly in awe now...
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Old 10-24-2008, 12:32 AM   #10
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Default Re: Gulching; What is it?

Hah hah, I just thought; this is how people make it in prison!
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Old 10-24-2008, 12:53 AM   #11
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Default Re: Gulching; What is it?

actually... i have been thinking a lot lately about how to simply

WALK AWAY FROM THE SYSTEM

and i come here and find this about gulching
AND it makes perfect sense with the NON-organizational part...

so this concept is now definitely within my sphere of conscious creation... i have a new light in my heart!!!!!

yay!
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Old 10-24-2008, 05:01 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SunRa View Post
WALK AWAY FROM THE SYSTEM
yay!
"America is at that awkward stage. It's too late to work within the system, but too early to shoot the bastards."

- Claire Wolfe, 101 Things to Do 'Til the Revolution


Let sister Claire and brother Boston T Party be your guides....

You will find them where ever libertarians and
constitutionalists gather



please forgive my outburst. I work hard at being a pacifist, but when my children's liberty is at risk I swing away from
classical George Fox and lean towards Smedley Butler


Last edited by Baggywrinkle; 10-24-2008 at 05:23 AM.
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Old 10-24-2008, 05:16 AM   #13
MMe M
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Default Re: Gulching; What is it?

I would love to trade goods, find resources and talent that is outside of the eyes of the government. Ours is a system thats meant to keep people enslaved and gets worse every successive generation.

My primary problem is keeping my wreck of a house on my little piece of earth. The banks just dont want to trade my pumpkin scones for the mortgage payment every month, damn em! The power company is just plain full o aceholes. They both insist on cash.
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