L. Neil Smith's
THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 346, November 20, 2005
"If you can't beat 'em... join 'em"
"Just Tell Us What You Want, Claire!"
Exclusive to TLE
Aw, dammit. The Free State Project just took a thrust to the heart, and statists love it because the FSP is the biggest threat these days to their future dreams.
On November 2, 2005 the FSP got a "Dear John" letter. It came from the otherwise-wonderful Chaire Wolfe, author of great libertarian head-bangers like 101 Things to Do 'Til the Revolution, I Am Not A Number!: Freeing America from the ID State, and The Freedom Outlaw's Handbook.
With a written pedigree like that, you'd think Claire would be a great supporter of the Free State Project's growing migration to New Hampshire. Before November 2, 2005 she was. In fact, she was a signed-up supporter of the FSP. But in her public letter, "Dear Free State Project," published at [this link], Ms. Wolfe announced that the love affair is over. She accused the FSP, among other things, of "substituting feelgood propaganda for reality" and "fruitless activism."
In the midst of "questions swirling around the ethics of the FSP's morphing goals," Claire wrote, "the FSP seems merely interested in continuing its own existence despite obvious inability to achieve its aims."
"And the less you actually have to offer your members, the more you expect your members to give to you," she snarled as she slammed the door on her way out. Oh, amore! Love is so fleeting! Claire Wolfe is a real liberty-loving icon, a veritable rock of freedom in an increasingly fuzzy socialist world. I have two of her books myself! Right next to my bed! But when I read Claire's kiss-off letter to the Free State Project, I felt like I was back in Vietnam, consoling buddies who were foolish enough to believe their girlfriends back home would "wait for them."
What caused Claire's explosive loss of ardor for the FSP and all of us committed to it?
Wellllll...that takes a little background. Let's take it from the beginning. It all began in 2001 when Jason Sorens, then a Yale University political science Ph.D. candidate, stuck a sharp stick in the eye of the Libertarian Party. "Nothing's working," he declared in an article published online (and still available at [TLE Issue 131]). "Partisan politics has clearly failed: Libertarian presidential candidates consistently fail to break the one per cent barrier, while no Libertarian candidate has ever won election to a federal office.... If we do not carve out a sphere for freedom now, freedom will be lost for a long time to come.... What we need is a libertarian project that we can undertake right here in the U.S."
Thus was born what came to be known as the Free State Project. Between the publication of that first article by Sorens, the choice of New Hampshire as the "Free State" by a vote of FSP participants two years later, and the beginning of the migration to it, there was the typical libertarian habit of endless bickering, argumentation, and back-biting, interspersed with public pronouncements of "I quit! I'm taking my baseball and going home!"
In the midst of all that there was much discussion of "how long is the commitment to be?" And "what's the time span?" No official decision was ever made, and no time limit was ever mentioned in the main participation documents of the organization, including the FSP Statement of Intent or the Participation Guidelines.
Yet to many it seemed that there should be some "outside date" after we could all declare defeat and revert to the customary libertarian despondency and irrelevance. So at some point Jason Sorens, as the founder of the movement, blurted out September 2006 as a "deadline" after which the movement would presumably implode if we hadn't garnered 20,000 signed-up participants. (Jason, you dummy!) The resulting "unofficial deadline" quickly found its way into interviews, articles, and even some early FAQ's on the Free State Project web site.
Thus, a non-existent deadline became "reality." More recently it became clear it had to be dealt with, since it has become clear that 20,000 signed-up participants by September 2006 ain't necessarily in the cards. So the FSP board of directors recently made the necessary adjustments, and published them on the FSP website. "One of our longstanding goals has been to reach 20,000 signatures by the end of 2006," went the announcement. "While not outside the realm of possibility, this goal now seems unlikely to be reached. Armed with these facts, we decided to take stock of where we are and of what we need to do to move forward toward the extraordinary goal we all sharea truly free society." The rest has to do with what they're doing to keep the movement humming, as well as an offer to let people to bail out "who thought this goal was essential to their participation."
And that is where Claire Wolfe comes in. "If 20,000 other freedom activists have agreed to make the move to New Hampshire by then, I'll go," she wrote. "If not, then my obligation to the Free State Project ends."
It takes me back: "I've tried to remain true to you while you were over there fighting that horrid little war, but I've found someone new, someone kind and gentle, and most of all, here. You're a great guy, Free State Project, and I'm sure you'll find someone who's right for you somedayif you survive of coursebut...."
Awwwww, damn... BAWWWWWL.... I just can't go on. Give me some time to compose myself.... And then...I have to ask...What Does She Want?
Claire, in the name of Ludwig Von Mises, in the names of Hayek, Rand, Friedman, Rothbard, and Hospers...tell us what you want!
Do you want a place where open-carry of firearms is enshrined in the state constitution, and where local authorities are commanded to issue concealed carry licenses "forthwith" to applicants? Oops! New Hampshire already has both of those salutary features.
Do you want a place with no state income tax, no general state sales tax, no death tax, no intangible personal property tax, no tangible personal property tax, and the lowest per capital state tax burden in the lower 48 United States? Oops! The Free State already has all of that.
Do you want a state that has no mandatory motorcycle helmet laws, no mandatory adult seatbelt laws, no mandatory car insurance law, no mandatory anti-smoking laws...and where random police roadblocks are outlaws without a court order? Oops! All of that is already reality in New Hampshire.
Do you want a state where there are no cops and metal detectors at every state courthouse and statehouse door? Where there's no professional parasitic political class, and where members of the state legislature are paid no more than $200 per year? Oops! That's all already the case in the Free State.
Do you want a state where many places have no zoning? Where people are safe from small-town bureaucrats wielding "building permit power"? Where you don't have to ask "permission" to live in your own home through a "certificate of occupancy"? Oops! That's already largely the case in New Hampshire (although not everywhere...yet).
Do you want a place where land can be had relatively cheap, where large areas have zero population? Where you'll be left alone? Oops! Those characteristics are already fact in many parts of the Free State. Check out northern New Hampshire! Check out Berlin and points north!
Do you want a state experiencing a measured but steady influx of freedom-loving folks of all sorts, from all over the United States? A place where libertarians are regularly elected in local and statewide elections? Oops! That's a description of what already exists in New Hampshire.
Now, admittedly, New Hampshire can't give you warm winters without snow. Neither can Boston or anywhere else in New England, not to mention Montana where you live, or Wyoming or the Dakotas for that matter. Nor can New Hampshire offer you the easy liberation of sitting around and doing nothing...including making the move here.
Yes, the Free State Project asks much of us. But it offers us much, too, including the prospect of being able to live in liberty in our own lifetime.
Come home to liberty, Claire! I feel a song coming on: We want you. We need you. But there ain't no way we're not going to love you...no matter what you decide. You see, the Free State is going to happen. The Free State is already happening, no matter how many fair-weather freedom-lovers (you're not one of them!) continue to embrace fruitless activism where they live. Liberty will continue to grow in New Hampshire as more and more lovers of individual freedom are drawn to it.
Remember the state motto of New Hampshire: "Live Free or Die." That's the Free State... and nowhere else even comes close.
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