THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 473, June 22, 2008
"The nifty thing about democracy is that it's
never over, no matter how many fat ladies sing."
Special to The Libertarian Enterprise
In case you've never heard of it, the Free State Project encourages pro-liberty activists to move to New Hampshire to concentrate their efforts. Every summer they hold a Porcupine Freedom Festival to showcase the Project and New Hampshire. Some of their dudes invited me to sell my book Bring a Gun to School Day at this year's event. Though I was only there a couple of days it was a great experience.
After arriving on Friday I immediately set up my table. The main activities were concentrated in one area and there was a huge vendor tent. Most tables were run by some kind of activist organization, but there were other commercial vendors.
The friendliness of the attendees was immediately apparent. Everyone seemed to be having a great time and was eager to meet other people and lend a helping hand whenever needed. The other immediately apparent thing was the number of guns being carried. As evidenced by photographs, this was an armed society. Since open carry is legal without a permit in NH, I brought my 1911 for the occasion. Because I arrived late and was eager to set up my table I didn't put it on until later. It does not appear that open carry is totally socially acceptable in much of the state, but Porcupines are already working to change that.
My sales went as well as I had hoped, and I gained lots of publicity for the book. I also made contact with the owner of Concord's Liberty Books, which now carries Bring a Gun to School Day. From a business standpoint, the trip was a success.
Porcfest was also a lot of fun. The interaction of free individuals was like a little slice of libertopia to me. The feeling was not spoiled by the township regulation that required sales to go through the holder of the vendor permit, but this did serve as a reminder for the amount of work ahead. Though I was busy during the day and pretty tired by the night I did manage a bit of socializing with those friendly porcupines, which always went well. I also got my picture taken with the Anarchy Boogeyman and sat in the audience for a Free Talk Live broadcast.
I attended Porcfest back in 2005, and though I saw less of the festival this time, it was undoubtedly bigger and better. The only thing I didn't like is that it was hard to hear the live bands well from my table. Porcfest gave me a totally positive impression of New Hampshire and the FSP. Not only is the government there less evil than what I am used to, but the quality of libertarian activism was clearly top-notch. Liberty-minded folk of all types seemed to mingle fine with each other and work together when their interests meshed. This is a refreshing contrast to hearing minarchists exclude and distance themselves from anarchists, or hearing campaigners say anyone not supporting them is part of the problem. The concentration of activists already appears to be paying off, as I heard many stories of Porcupines helping each other or just partying together. With the exception of the distant Free Town PR fumble it seems that original NH residents are largely okay with the Project.
The geographical location of New Hampshire could be a disadvantage when considering the states one would have to drive through to get there. However, I do not see any plausible scenario where geography would be a major problem. I doubt it is likely that neighboring governments would target Free Staters at security checkpoints. If the FSP were to make that much of an impact, it is likely that residents of other states would not tolerate such measures for long. In the worst case, New Hampshire has eighteen miles of coastline. Currently, according to J. Scott Kappas' Traveller's Guide to the Firearm Laws of the Fifty States, the federal McClure-Volkmer Act allows a traveler to transport firearms through a state that has banned them provided they only stop for fuel or emergencies and their final destination permits their possession. There's no reason for the cops to find out what's in your trunk or bag anyway. Of course, the distance of New Hampshire from many parts of the country could be a problem for many liberty activists.
I think that New Hampshire's geography has stronger advantages than disadvantages for the Free State Project. The FSP is an organization of activists, not refugees. Making a free state right on the east coast would be more visible than doing so in other parts of the country and for this reason be more conducive to the goal of spreading liberty. Also New Hampshire's small size allows for better concentration of activity within the state.
The Free State Project is a successful organization worth supporting even if you won't personally move. It shows great potential for gaining liberty in our lifetime and has already made progress toward that goal. Libertarians looking for a place to move should consider New Hampshire. I plan to attend Porcfest 2009 and the thought of moving there is emerging again.