, is the name of an American cooperative
organization as well as the site and planned community
under its development in the salt flats
of north Hudspeth County
, intended to consist exclusively of "freedom and liberty lovers". The Paulville community idea was named after U.S. Congressman
and 2008 presidential candidate Ron Paul
, and the utopian
cooperative is modeled on his often libertarian
ideas. The New York Times
says, "For now, the town is little more than an idea and a title deed," but considers it to be evidence that Paul's "campaign appears to be growing into something beyond a conventional protest campaign," also echoing the concept expressed by others that "the Ron Paul revolution has increasingly less to do with Ron Paul".
The Paulville site is located in the undeveloped salt flats outside of city limits, located south-southwest of rural Dell City, Texas (population 413 in 2000), north of U.S. Route 180, and an hour east of El Paso. It is also from Paul's East Texas office of Lake Jackson. The organizers say have been purchased to date. Photos reveal the range of the Guadalupe Mountains east, and the local area has occasional deer and tumbleweeds. The mountain area is also noted for elk, coyotes, jack rabbits, desert cottontails, ring-tailed ground squirrels, and gray foxes. Another mountain range looms just west.
The site is located within Texas's 23rd Congressional district and is represented by Democrat Ciro Rodriguez.
The property became available to the community when offered for sale on eBay
by its original owner. It is now held by a cooperative
of shareholders, who held a first organizational meeting in April 2008
and who vote on essentials such as utilities. The cooperative's name in land records for this first purchase is "Jason Ebacher Land Investment Group". Shareholders, who obtain land use rights for a minimum of one homesteaded acre per share, priced at around $500, were described as "planting a flag" and in the process of "packing up and moving to Paulville. No, that's not metaphorical." Members discussed but ruled out secession
from the Union. Membership is open exclusively to "freedom and liberty lovers", or, as a Houston Chronicle
blogger put it, "r3VOLutionaries only".
The cooperative is also called "Paulville.org", after its website, established January 27 2008, by Ron Paul meetup organizer Jason Ebacher of Farwell, Minnesota. Ebacher appears in a one-hour conceptual video, created for Ron Paul Television prior to the purchase; captioned "Television for the revolution", it was carried by the New York Times, which meanwhile chided the website for a libertarian "view of the laws of grammar, spelling and punctuation" and noted its lack of contact information. On May 12 2008, web content formerly at Paulville.org became unavailable for several days, which Politico considered as possibly suggesting "a perilous time for the infant community."
Planners have (at least metaphorically) raised the Paulville town sign and are establishing septic and electrical systems on an opt-out basis reflective of principles of individualism
: citizens are not required to use the cooperative's water and energy supplies and may choose to live off-grid
. Members say they chose the West Texas
plot for its high amount of sunshine, favoring off-grid solar panels
. Buying in and homesteading the land from scratch is expected to take significant work, which the organizers warn is "not for the faint of heart". In his conceptual video, Ebacher has described the ease of raising sheep
, and the relative merits of energy from solar power, wind, water, and biodiesel
fuels. Members also discuss alternatives for conveniences like cell phones
connections, and Starbucks
A gated community unhindered by planning regulations is eventually intended, followed by additional communities in sites like New Hampshire, South Dakota, Wyoming, Alaska, or Montana; the paradigm of a liberty-minded community with gates has been questioned. Members' beliefs that ideologically like-minded individuals can form a detached, thriving community have been echoed by experiments such as the Free State Project in New Hampshire, New Australia in Paraguay, the Findhorn Foundation community in Scotland, and Celebration and Ave Maria in Florida. Paulville has also been compared to the contemporaneously newsworthy YFZ Ranch near Eldorado, Texas, a Mormon fundamentalist community that was controversially raided by state authorities in April 2008 on child abuse allegations. Ideology-based communities have ranged from communism to environmentalism. Jonathan Dawson, an educator based at Findhorn, questions the point of inward-facing micro-communities, but talks about "providing an example" to others: "It's not useful to retreat just for the sake of it."
The site was chosen by and for the large market of "100% Ron Paul supporters and or people that live by the ideals of freedom and liberty"; motivated followers of Paul have been estimated to number several hundred thousand, have had fundraising history that suggests "seemingly bottomless bank accounts", and appear not to be giving up in pursuing his campaign
goals. Paulville has attracted mixed reviews. It received derision from Wonkette
, which dubbed it "Paultard City"; the alternative Seattle Stranger
found it suitable for those who have "the covenant of freedom espoused by Ron Paul guiding their every decision". The Houston
-based Lone Star Times
referred to founding members as "Paulvillains" and as creating "an insane asylum", and presented diverse posts from forum members, while Philly.com
anticipated other "dusty exurbs" named after presidential candidates, both citing "Bidentown" as an imaginary example. The Guardian
expects shareholders to be interested in libertarian
views like "the right to wield semi-automatic weapons and the abolition of income tax", and the Economist
wonders whether the new town constitutes "a framework for utopia, or just a hilarious catastrophe".
Paul himself has been ambivalent about Paulville: "You want to spread out and be as pervasive as possible .... I don’t see [Paulville] as a solution, but it can't hurt anything either." He believes that "it shows how desperate people are for freedom." He finds the prospects for additional communities entertaining, but says, "I don't know how much [Paulvilles] would do.
Andrew Sullivan of the Atlantic said, "Who wants to live around people who agree with you on everything? Not my kind of libertarian"; he was echoed by Jesse Walker of Reason. The Libertarian Party of Texas believes Paulville has potential for demonstrating practical libertarianism in action.