Fordlandia, photographed in 2003 by Meg Belichick.Fordlandia, photographed in 2003 by Meg Belichick.

In 1928 Henry Ford, looking to cut costs, decided to do something about the high price of rubber: he bought his own mini-nation.

Ford intended to use Fordlândia to provide his company with a source of rubber for the tires on Ford cars, avoiding the dependence on British (Malayan) rubber. The land was hilly, rocky and infertile. None of Ford’s managers had the requisite knowledge of tropical agriculture. The rubber trees, packed closely together in plantations, as opposed to being widely spaced in the jungle, were easy prey for tree blight and insects[…]. The mostly indigenous workers on the plantations, given unfamiliar food such as hamburgers and forced to live in American-style housing, disliked the way they were treated — they had to wearID badges, and to work midday hours under the tropical sun — and would often refuse to work. In 1930, the native workers revolted against the managers, many of whom fled into the jungle for a few days until the Brazilian Army arrived and the revolt ended. – wikipedia

Oddly, if he’d actually succeeded in starting a modern round of corporate colonization his fiefdoms would probably look very much like a heavily enforced version of ‘The Ideal American Home’ of the 1950s, with sobriety and hamburger sammiches for everybody. Even the reality of the Ford “Sociological Department” was tough enough to live under, the idea of the Ford Ministry of Sociology seems like it would be a 1984 caricature.

At least until the labourers were “liberated” by a General Electric tank battalion.