WASHINGTON, D.C. — Under the Freedom of Information Act, or FOIA, the Gish Gallop has obtained information on a giant secret government experiment that took place over a period of years. Funded through both the U.S. government and private conservative think tanks, the experiment spanned the entire country.
After the “red scare” of the 1950s, conservative groups continued their assault on preventing Communism from encroaching on the “American Way of Life” throughout the 1970s. But their concern brought some unexpected results when a giant experiment they launched went strangely awry.
The secret experiment had its beginnings in the 1960s when the government set out to prove how dangerous and destructive Communism could be to the U.S. The demonstration was conducted by developing several “gated communities” throughout the country and setting them up with small central governments (called HOAs) that possessed the same social structures and culture that distinguished the countries behind the “Iron Curtain.”
The hypothesis was that as these communities evolved more fully into “Communistic” entities, people would grow disgusted with all the restrictions and leave. The government and conservative think tanks would then dissolve the communities and blanket the country with its newsflash finding: That Communism and the American Way were incompatible. U.S. = 1, USSR = 0
Dozens of Gated Communities Examined
Dr. Vladimir Bowen-Bone, a Professor of Political Science at Charles Coughlin University, and an expert in this topic, explained how the experiment unfolded as dozens of communities were set up across the country.
“As hypothesized, most communities devolved into a hard-core Soviet-style Communism. The HOAs for the most part became organizations headed by an elite few who used their power so that their cronies and golf buddies would gain most of the benefits, leaving the proletariat (or “residents”) powerless to influence or change the course of these decisions. It was a carbon copy of what was happening in the Soviet bloc countries at the time.”
Some findings of the study included:
- Fences and walls to keep residents in. Just as in the former Iron Curtain countries, you had to “show your papers” to enter and, in some extreme communities, exit. For Soviet bloc citizens, there was very little freedom of movement, even between Soviet bloc countries.
- Guards at the entrance/exit gates, as well as perimeter patrols around the fenced or walled areas of the community. The Iron Curtain countries employed many of the techniques the U.S. currently uses for its high-security prisons.
- Association fees which mostly went to golf course improvement and maintenance despite the fact that only 18% of the community’s population actually played golf. This was a common feature of Communist societies where a select few, pretending to represent the proletariat (residents) actually robbed the collective wealth for their own benefit.
- Citizen spies. The HOAs deployed its citizens to spy on one another and report back to the HOA when a resident had an unapproved type of shrub or tree, mailbox style, house color, fence style, and other arbitrary infractions. Usually there were hefty fines assessed along with a strongly worded letter. The USSR, under communist rule, was well-known to reward family members or neighbors who spied on and ratted each other out.
- Residents were charged supplemental fees without a vote or permission from residents. No-bid contracts were then handed to members of the HOA board who owned contracting companies. Such cronyism was rampant in the Soviet bloc countries.
- Petty tyrants in charge of HOA affairs were allowed to run roughshod over the residents’ desires and would arbitrarily invent rules. Such arbitrary rules like this made by local Communist Party officials were common in the Soviet era.
- HOA power became concentrated and it became almost impossible to unseat members on the boards. Elections were rigged so that only the leaders or anointed successors were able to run for office. No outsiders were allowed; if they managed even to get on the ballot, those ballots would conveniently disappear. These tactics are used even today in the former Soviet Union.
But something went very, very wrong: Instead of being outraged and furious, residents actually liked the gated community rules. To them things felt “safe,” especially for those with guards patrolling the perimeters of the fences and walls.
The Grand Experiment Backfires
“The expected result was that people would move out and tell everyone how horrible the community was—that it was just like communism!” stated Dr. Bowen-Bone. “Then the experiment would be abruptly shut down, the fences and walls removed, the security guards dismissed. The government and think tank would announce the results of the “Failure of Communism” experiment to the press, and communism as a concept and way of life would be discredited in the U.S. for all time.”
“However, the social scientists discovered that the residents adapted easily to the totalitarian structure and culture of petty tyranny. It was completely unexpected!”
What the social scientists didn’t factor into their experiment was two-fold, explained Dr. Bowen-Bone.
“First, there was the snob factor. People loved the amenities that made them appear exclusive and better than their peers. Aligned with that was the conservative and rigid values factor of many of the people who were initially attracted to living in a confined, hyper-structured environment. This included many military people, both active and retired. People in the military are used to capricious and mostly nonsensical directives within a rigid structure. They fell in lockstep with this manufactured Communist culture naturally.”
The Elephant in the Room
“Also to be considered is the ‘elephant in the room’: There was a ‘white flight’ from the cities to the suburbs that was happening during this period. The gated communities gave whites the assurance (though never spoken out loud) that hoards of blacks, Hispanics, Asians, and others from cities they deemed not part of ‘Real America’ were kept at bay, unable to breach the tall walls and gates. They too, might clamor to get in and enjoy the Soviet-style rules and highly controlled lifestyle.”
“The anti-Communist social experiment had inadvertently turned into a gold rush for snobs and racists. People naturally self-selected with their own kind,” added Dr. Bowen-Bone.
Government officials in a panic then sought to discourage this type of community through a mass anti-Communist propaganda campaign. Lobbyists were deployed to encourage out-and-out banishment of gated communities at local government councils and board. Thousands of mailings went out in the 1970s to convince local city and town planners to ban gated community development to prevent communist encroachment. Some notable mailers went out in the state of Florida and several communities in the California foothills which stated, “Communism! Don’t Let it Take Root in YOUR Backyard! –Ban Soviet-style Development”, and “Better Dead Than Living Under a Communist HOA Jackboot!”
The Camel in the Tent
But the camel’s nose and most of its body was already well inside the tent. The mailers were ignored as the work of cranks. Local governments looked forward to the increased tax revenue and potential residents were enchanted by the gated community lifestyle. The U.S. Government and conservative think tank were forced to quietly put an end to its largest social experiment ever and hid it under various untouchable government classifications for years.
As far as gated communities go today, it’s a mixed bag. Each has evolved its own rules, CC&Rs, HOAs, and levels of security. Do your homework before committing to the gated community lifestyle. Your tolerance may vary.