Matthew Hongoltz-Hetling (2020)

A group of libertarians decide that they need to form a free utopia, and move en masse to a town in the forests of New Hampshire that just happens to be in the middle of a massive boom in the local bear population. Hilarity ensues.

Well, not hilarity exactly, although this book is laugh-out-loud funny in places. But there are serious points being made too. The libertarians take apart the town’s community activities and services, to some extent by freeloading off the services in neighbouring towns that have only fractionally higher taxes but have larger populations because they’re … ermm … better places to live. The collective resources are depleted to the point that the bear become more than a metaphor, a problem for which the town can’t summon a collective response. And the final humiliation is that, when a national libertarian movement in the same vein starts, and also picks New Hampshire as their target for their new society, they don’t find the original enclave welcoming enough and start their own communities elsewhere.

It’s hard to know exactly what the moral of the story is, if there is one. Certainly it makes a point about the benefits of community very well. But it’s also somewhat trapped within a rather American rubric of democracy simply meaning having more votes than the other groups, where the majority can impose their will without too many safeguards,

5/5. Finished Thursday 25 March, 2021.

(Originally published on Goodreads.)