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JG Essay by Nini Sirbiladze

“Gullibleland “– the Imaginary Reality

By Nini Sirbiladze, Tbilisi State University.

July 30, 2023

The island that Ken Schoolland’s character, Jonathan Gullible, discovers is literary fiction, but during the reading, we discover that it is not a fiction, but our everyday reality. It turns out thatuntil now, we lived on an island that was once discovered by the author's main character. The book is not a fantasy in which the described imaginary environment does not have a practical purpose. Jonathan Gullible, an adventurous individual, encounters a lifeless island stuck in a routine, the description of which sets out a number of criteria for what the world should be like. Unfortunately, while reading the book, we find out that the society we live in satisfies all the listed criteria. The author illustrates these economic fundamentals, whose neglect has a lasting negative impact on humanity. Here, the protection of economic freedom is directly analogous to the fundamental rights of the individual.

In the book, Jonathan Gullible constantly asks questions, this is only an individual wise action. The main character questions every routine action, tries to figure out why life on the island is so miserable and possibly inspires us to do the same. As a society, we are frequently preoccupied with a "paternalistic consciousness" which connotes a persistent demand for a master you can entirely rely on. It can be a parent, an employer, a person at the head of the country, or the so-called "General Plan" in which people have unconditional trust and do not doubt the protection of their rights. For example, until now, little thought was given to what monetary policy is and what power the National Bank actually has. What causes money to depreciate, and who sets market prices? Why do we pay taxes? The island, with its bureaucracy and arbitrary laws, reflects the complexities and challenges facing modern society. It empowers individuals to critically analyze prevailing ideologies, challenge dogmas, and actively participate in shaping a liberalized society. The name itself "Jonathan Gullible" should be underlined, because it parallels one of Ayn Rand's most memorable characters, John Galt. John Galt cannot be thought of as a specific person, just like Jonathan Gullible. It is a philosophy that constantly appeals to individualism and human rights. In Ayn Rand's works, there is always a collective close to the individual, which tries to absorb everything that is different and progressive, Ken Schoolland also tells us about this problem. This is indicated by the second title of the book as well, "Odyssey of the Free Market".

In the Adventures of Jonathan Gullible, the main attention is given to the idea of private property. Generally speaking, the type of private property a person owns can influence how well their rights are protected in a given nation. There is a discussion of a lake that previously gave the community a large amount of fish in one of the book's chapters.  The image of a society lacking individual responsibility that destroys the common property and dumps garbage at the bottom of the lake is well illustrated here. Why? - Because the lake belongs to everyone, therefore it is not owned by anyone. The fisherman's desire is to own this lake, he has big plans for the property, cleaning it, raising many varieties of fish, but outdated laws on private property stifle his ideas. The mentioned story will definitely make the reader think about all those potentially profitable resources that are wasted in the hands of the state today. On lands and natural resources, the privatization of which would greatly benefit the nation's economy.  This issue is addressed in the chapter "Plan for Taking Care of the People" which precisely describes the violation of private property. The woman who used her own strength to build the house witnessed its collapse because she no longer owns the land. The house no longer appeared to be private property because of laws and taxes. This narrative reminds me of "Fountainhead" by Ayn Rand, where the main character, Howard Roark, destroys his own idea when he recognizes it is no longer his own, with his distinctive individualism. Therefore, its existence in common property would be inadmissible. This is how everything that is private, which deals with the state, is destroyed. Individuals do not create a property for the collective, and as soon as the concept of "private" is related to the "common", individualism immediately disappears and the perspective of development is lost.

- What is an individual, and how does it work? The concept of freedom is for perfect human functioning. Jonathan Gullible’s Island describes all the circumstances that prohibit the functioning of the individual, people are like birds who, after spending many years imprisoned in a cage, forget how to fly. The book is meant to inspire readers to find as little as possible in common with Jonathan Gullible’s stories.

-Nini Sirbiladze, Tbilisi State University.

"I am Nini Sirbiladze, the bachelor of American Studies from Georgia. Besides the academic space, I am actively involved in different social, educational, and non-formal activities about liberty. During my active life, I got interested in the idea of economic liberalization and free market. “The Adventure of Jonathan Gullible” perfectly meets my interests and explains economic freedom as easily as it gets."

Please see the original in Georgian at this link:


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