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The Free State Project, One Decade Later 701

Posted by samzenpus
from the power-to-the-people dept.
Okian Warrior writes "About a decade ago Slashdot ran an article about the Free State Project: an attempt to get 20,000 liberty-minded activists to move to one state (they chose NH) and change the political landscape. Eleven years on, the project is still growing and having an effect on statewide politics. NPR recently ran a program discussing the movement, its list of successes, and plans for the future. The FSP has a noticeable effect on politics right now — still 6,000 short of their 20,000 goal, and long before the members are scheduled to move to NH."
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The Free State Project, One Decade Later

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  • "Liberty-Minded"? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by TWiTfan (2887093)

    WTF does that even mean? That could be anything from Libertarians who don't want to pay taxes to hippies wanting to set up a socialist utopia.

    • by Jawnn (445279) on Monday June 10, 2013 @09:57AM (#43960953)
      Never mind. If you can't be bothered to, you know, actually educate yourself you are definitely not someone we'd want participating in a truly representative government. The link is right there in TFS, BTW.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      According to the project page, it means people wo wish to take responsibility for themselves, rather than have the government run their lives.

      While get your point that liberty-minded by itself isn't very specific, one thing it can't mean socialist. From Merriam-Webster:

      Socialism: a system or condition of society in which the means of production are owned and controlled by the state
      Liberty: the quality or state of being free

      Obviously if everything is owned and controlled by the government, that's not freedo

      • by TWiTfan (2887093) on Monday June 10, 2013 @10:21AM (#43961275)

        I don't consider a system where the rich rule over the rest of us like unchecked gods to be very liberating (unless you're rich, of course--then it's pretty damned sweet).

        • by tmosley (996283) on Monday June 10, 2013 @10:25AM (#43961337)
          Those that don't understand the difference between fascism and libertarianism are destined to live under fascism.
          • by Nadaka (224565) on Monday June 10, 2013 @10:38AM (#43961559)

            The economic aspect of modern libertarianism will inevitably leads to fascism.

            Absolute economic "freedom" grants absolute economic license of the plutocrats to control every aspect of life for the people.

            • by tmosley (996283) on Monday June 10, 2013 @10:46AM (#43961711)
              The economic aspects of cleanliness inevitably lead to dirtiness.

              You are currently claiming that a totally different economic system from what we have now will inevitably lead to the economic system we have now.

              I've seen your argument a thousand times, and it just keeps getting more idiotic every time I see it.
              • by Nadaka (224565) on Monday June 10, 2013 @10:52AM (#43961795)

                We have had unregulated markets before, this is not new. They have always resulting in absolute concentration of wealth at the cost of the liberty, health and safety of the common man.

                Many of the problems we currently face as the plutocrats grow in power are a result of deregulation, pushed by people who foolishly think they will get more liberty when in reality it just means that the powerful have more license to infringe on your liberty.

                I've seen your argument a thousand times, and it just keeps getting more idiotic every time I see it.

              • Re:"Liberty-Minded"? (Score:5, Informative)

                by hedwards (940851) on Monday June 10, 2013 @11:08AM (#43962047)

                Probably because you're an idiot. Read up on the economic situation in the US at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century if you want to see why Libertarianism is doomed to failure. Either by destroying the things that made America great or just fizzling out when there's no longer a supply of idiots to buy into it.

                We used to have what the Libertarians want, and we no longer have it because it sucked.

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by Trepidity (597)

              To be "fair", it could end up in feudalism rather than fascism: some rich people letting you live in their company towns and sharecrop their farms, as long as you abide by their rules (agreed to via contracts, of course: you're "free" not to sign them if you don't want to eat!).

          • by hedwards (940851)

            Not really, those that believe in Libertarianism are generally not aware of what it's like to live under totalitarianism. Because then they would understand the difference between what we have in the US and totalitarianism.

            Ultimately, getting the government out of our lives means that we also don't have the government there to protect us against corporate interests and the powerful coming in and just taking our stuff. Ironically it's mostly the Libertarian minded people in congress that are eroding our free

    • There will always be disagreement on some issues of policy. Unfortunately, preserving our fundamental freedoms and the checks and balances that ensure them seems to continually take backseat to all these other disagreements. Committing to uphold the constitution should be a prerequisite to serving in government, not something that is so low on people's priority that none of the candidates even discuss it in their campaign, and all of them violate it when elected. Assembling a large number of people who will

    • by jythie (914043)
      'Liberty' means having the government do what you want it to do and meeting your lifestyle choices, stopping other people from impacting your life while not preventing you from impacting other people's lives. Oh, and in the FSP's case, liberty also means taking away local's ability to form a government of their choosing and replacing it with one of their design.
    • Re:"Liberty-Minded"? (Score:5, Informative)

      by bill_mcgonigle (4333) * on Monday June 10, 2013 @10:12AM (#43961155) Homepage Journal

      WTF does that even mean? That could be anything from Libertarians who don't want to pay taxes to hippies wanting to set up a socialist utopia.

      Liberty means that both of those groups should be able to do those things that they want, short of hurting others.

      I'm a long-time NH resident, and have met several of the FSP early movers. That pretty well fits each one of them - let people do what they want, short of hurting others (oh, the horror). They're almost all strong on property rights (except for the odd Georgist or two) and favor peace and tolerance as the prevailing basis for society. Most favor sound money and work hard for private charity. There are already a few that live in something like a commune and the ones that are pro-markets and free enterprise are completely down with that - they think it's silly, but the commune-ists pose no threat to them.

      It's probably a safe bet that none favor Greek-style central control, central banking, and a pervasive regulatory environment, or the US-style warfare/welfare state (corporate welfare being tops among them). Their statement of intent [freestateproject.org] says, "the maximum role of civil government is the protection of life, liberty, and property."

      I've worked with some of them at the State house on issues like the right to record public officials in their official duty, the prosecution of victimless crimes, and legalizing industrial hemp. The Earth is "full" as there are no unclaimed jurisdictions, so the new reality of the past century is that one cannot simply move to settle a new area with like-minded friends (e.g. Utah) - the only option left is to move en masse and gentrify an existing area.

      It's certainly not for everybody - those who would rather be kept as pets should not move here, and that's the beauty of political migration - those who do wish to "Live Free or Die" can move here with the FSP and work to make this one beautiful spot of nine-thousand square miles the freest place on Earth.

      • by thoth (7907)

        They're almost all strong on property rights

        Isn't that extreme hypocrisy? This land was occupied by people before Europeans colonized it, and through a series of what one might term "coercive government action", that land was stolen through wars and outright genocide. Nobody cared about the property rights of the Native Americans.

        So to me, there are 3 possible reactions to this:
        1) Immediate return land to the Native Americans, recognizing that it was illegally seized through warfare, government coercion, etc.
        2) STFU and accept government has final ju

    • As an NH resident - the view is that they are typically more extreme right wing. Gun-carrying, anti-government, militia-forming.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      Their definition of 'Liberty' is to submit to group think. They pretend that you are free to vote as you want (wink wink) but the idea is to transplant 20,000 libertarians into New Hampshire and introduce their political beliefs into that state. If you read the FAQ, you will notice that they don't consider current residents of New Hampshire as full members (they are allowed to subscribe to the newsletter). They do everything they can to not openly declare their intent since they don't want to be considered

  • Liberty loving? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Nadaka (224565)

    These are libertarians, While they do support many liberties, they utterly fail on economic concepts, and are looking to negate liberty through plutocracy via corporate proxy.

    • In other words, they're just like any existing western country.
  • Okay, now how do you stretch "News for Nerds" to this?
    • by Nerdfest (867930)

      A large majority of nerds seem to appreciate having freedom. The populace at large could learn a lot from those then ridiculed in school.

      • A large majority of nerds like cereal. Doesn't mean random news stories about cereal movements are relevant either.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Daemonik (171801)
        A large majority of nerds are anti-social, high on the autism spectrum and have never lived outside of their parents house while they read Randian screeds how they'll one day take over the world as the 'parasites' burn and masturbate to the photos from the hidden cam they installed in the girls restroom at school. FTFY
    • Re:Seriously? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by thrich81 (1357561) on Monday June 10, 2013 @10:07AM (#43961079)

      An AC basically just said the same thing -- Slashdot seems to have a very large contingent of "Libertarians", some rational, some unhinged. How this happened continues to be a subject of discussion among my techy friends. This isn't "News for Nerds" but it does cater to much of the Slashdot readership, both the Libertarians and we who are interested, but not convinced, by their arguments.

    • Re:Seriously? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by fallen1 (230220) on Monday June 10, 2013 @10:11AM (#43961145) Homepage

      It is easy to equate this with "News for Nerds" -- they are hacking a system while attempting to use the system against itself in order to bring about change. It is also a learning process. This is the epitome of what hackers and other creative people used to embody -- and what many of us should strive for now. Learn, grow, change (for the better, we hope) instead of just maintaining the status quo.

      All it takes is one "domino" to fall the right way and systemic change is created - even if it takes years for that domino to fall. The things get exciting.

    • Re:Seriously? (Score:4, Informative)

      by jythie (914043) on Monday June 10, 2013 @10:19AM (#43961247)
      While not tech specific, the libertarian movement has pretty strong representation among the tech community. It is a very popular philosophy among people who make a bit more then the general public, live a comfortable lifestyle, and generally do not interact with other segments of the population.
  • by magic maverick (2615475) on Monday June 10, 2013 @10:06AM (#43961065) Homepage Journal

    I'm an anarchist. I want a society free from capitalism, the state, and other forms of hierarchy. (Oooh look, communism.)

    But even so, I can see benefits in working within the state while we wait for the mythical general strike that will bring down the government and implement the seeds of a new society.

    And so I can see the benefits of this style of mass migration. Except, good luck. It ain't working is it. They don't even have 20 000 people after ten years!

    Besides, they are still capitalists most of them aren't they. They don't want true liberty, just liberty to accumulate wealth and oppress others that way. And any attempt to go against the wishes of the actual rich (as opposed to the merely wanna be rich) will result in them being shutdown by whichever police force got the bribe quickest. Freedom doesn't just come, you have to fight for it.

    • And any attempt to go against the wishes of the actual rich (as opposed to the merely wanna be rich) will result in them being shutdown by whichever police force got the bribe quickest. Freedom doesn't just come, you have to fight for it.

      If you're a bank executive you can make unethical gambles with other people's money, try to hide your losses, and bring down the world economy putting millions of people out of work. Go to jail? No, you don't even lose your annual bonus that's worth more than most people earn in 50 lifetimes.

      But if you paint a sign and get out in the streets to protest, you run a serious risk of being billy-clubbed and pepper-sprayed by the police.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 10, 2013 @10:08AM (#43961091)

    They chose my home town as the test bed.
    They attempted to stack the select board with their members using unscrupulous means such as slander stuffing mailboxes without stamps in violation of federal rules.
    There is some good as they oppose wind development which largely benefits out of state interests and decimates local ridgetops. As a group they seem like nice folks, kind of like right wing hippies ; )
    However they are subverting the will of the public by attempting to hijack local and state politics and a similar bunch has devastated the legislature at the state level and made many questionable laws in defiance of the majority of the electorate.

    • by CodeBuster (516420) on Monday June 10, 2013 @10:56AM (#43961857)

      They chose my home town as the test bed.

      The hippies chose the city of San Francisco here in California and now it's one of the most liberal cities in the United States. The hippies left the conservative communities around the country from which they originated, and where they weren't accepted and couldn't change things politically, to move to an area where they were accepted and could vote to change things. The Free Staters are just a better organized and more intentional effort to do the same.

      They attempted to stack the select board with their members using unscrupulous means such as slander stuffing mailboxes without stamps in violation of federal rules.

      The lefties here in California have done that and more in pursuit of getting what they want politically and now they run this state. So that's actually pretty tame by California standards.

      There is some good as they oppose wind development which largely benefits out of state interests and decimates local ridgetops. As a group they seem like nice folks, kind of like right wing hippies ; )

      One thing that you can count on with Libertarian types is that they won't be a drain on local social services. New Hampshire could do a lot worse than attracting a bunch of people who want to work hard and be self sufficient.

      However they are subverting the will of the public by attempting to hijack local and state politics and a similar bunch has devastated the legislature at the state level and made many questionable laws in defiance of the majority of the electorate.

      They are the public. They moved there, remember? Elections have consequences, as the left is fond of saying, and in this case their strategy of moving to an area to concentrate their votes appears to be working. You may not like the results, but coordinating your move with like minded people isn't illegal and it's the right of every American to live in wherever they choose to and are able to. The states cannot deny any American citizen the right to become a resident if they want to live there and freedom of association is protected in the First Amendment of our Constitution, right up there with speech.

      • by Bill_the_Engineer (772575) on Monday June 10, 2013 @11:49AM (#43962593)

        The hippies chose the city of San Francisco here in California and now it's one of the most liberal cities in the United States.

        If you look at presidential election results since 1916, you'd notice that the plurality of the population of San Francisco have voted for a Democrat 21 out of 25 presidential elections with 19 of them being a clear majority of the votes (over 52%). Since this is almost a hundred years of voting, I don't see San Francisco ever being right-leaning during your lifetime.

        If anything it shows that, when it comes to moving to a new community, people will choose a community that reflects their own personal views. The Free Staters are going against that trend by purposely moving to an area with the intent of changing that community's political landscape.

    • by moeinvt (851793) on Monday June 10, 2013 @11:15AM (#43962119)

      "stuffing mailboxes without stamps in violation of federal rules."

      OMG!

      Ironic how most people in the USA say they support "democracy", but when a group of people (with whom they disagree) decide to engage in political activism, those people are accused of "hijacking" politics and "subverting" the process.

      Are they engaged in actively suppressing the majority? Election fraud? Voter intimidation?

      If the majority of "the public" refuses to participate in politics, then why should the "will of the public" matter? If "the public" doesn't like it, what's preventing them from employing the exact same techniques that the FSP activists are using?

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Monday June 10, 2013 @10:15AM (#43961185) Journal

    Curiously, for a state whose motto is "Live free or die", NH continues to permit a government monopoly on the sale of any booze punchier than beer or wine. Those two can be purchased at grocery and convenience stores; but if you want the hard stuff it's off to one of the state's state-owned liquor distribution facilities.

  • So you want to show a difference in libertarian policy, and you choose New Hampshire as your test bed? New Hampshire is already one of the most libertarian states out there, and the capitol of "retail politics" due to it's state in the primary process. The state's motto is "Live Free or Die" already (joked to be changed to "Live Free or Cheap"), you think they come about that one by accident, or because they already espouse these values?

    Tainted data from the start.

  • by Lumpy (12016) on Monday June 10, 2013 @10:27AM (#43961371) Homepage

    AS there are no JOBS in NH... From the beginning this "project" screamed, "for rich people only" because those are the only ones that can just uproot their lives and move without having to have a job.

  • by iamcadaver (104579) on Monday June 10, 2013 @10:59AM (#43961909)

    The first time the FSP was on /. I was tempted. The second time the FSP was on /. I signed up.

    Now I've lived here for five years. This is the real deal, NH has the perfect state and local government for this experiment. Politics is the unofficial state sport of NH with 400 state reps for only 1.3 million constituents that are about equally divided between the two major parties. Republican and democratic parties engage our ideas, sometimes in battle, other times in courtship. You don't have to explain first principles over and over again, everyone here knows government like fire can be a dangerous master, you get to have debate and make an impact on people and policy with all that stuff as accepted framework of the discussion.

  • by mrthoughtful (466814) on Monday June 10, 2013 @11:02AM (#43961957) Journal

    I guess that there's nothing that distances the US from western europe more than the attitude towards taxation. I like to pay taxes - I feel that contributing to my nation is a great way of demonstrating true patriotism. The money is used to benefit those who are less advantaged than me. I cannot believe that anyone who has substantially lived in a country that offers universal healthcare would ever dream of going back to any other system, regardless of the fact that such a system entails taxation.

    Likewise, the way in which I judge the success of a country is not by the looking at the elites, but by measuring the sense of fulfilment of the least advantaged; it's a different way of seeing the world, I guess.

    As for liberty, doesn't that tie in strongly with what one identifies as the individual - i.e., who one is responsible for? For instance, a family man may wish to fight for the liberty of his family, rather than just himself, - his sense of self is tied into what he is responsible for. Likewise, a good politician works for the benefit of the entire country (or state), with no self-interest - he identifies with the needs of who he is responsible for. In my mind, the larger the community one can be responsible for (and identify with) the more mature one becomes, and the more worthy of respect and honour.

    So, if we take on the view that liberty for all is the highest possible achievement, then we find that the libertarian view is not different from the socialist one - there is a need for taxation in order to provide liberty to those who cannot otherwise achieve it - for training, for support, and for developing a sense of value, so that even the most humble person may feel great about the society within which they belong.

    I probably left everyone behind by this point. Thank goodness everyone believes in the right to freedom of thought.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Gary Perkins (1518751)
      I think your sense of liberty is a little overthought. True liberty isn't something that can be given with money. Liberty has nothing to do with support or training. It is the freedom to move about, the freedom to express oneself, the freedom to live, work, and play as one likes. I've been following one videographer in NH...Ridley I think his name is. There was one case where he was visiting a hotel where the VP was attending a fundraiser, and he was outside interviewing some senators as they arrived,
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by mrthoughtful (466814)

        I am not suggesting that taxation is used to make payouts. The point is that liberty is about freedom, and freedom is founded on rights. Those rights are where all liberty starts. The right not to be hungry. The right to healthcare. The right to education. The right to vote. The right to work. The right to warmth, clothing and shelter. The right to be protected and looked after when you are flooded, your home destroyed, or your land invaded, or you or your family merely get old, or sick. The more fundamenta

        • by Arker (91948)

          "The point is that liberty is about freedom, and freedom is founded on rights. "

          Absolutely true.

          " The right not to be hungry. The right to healthcare. The right to education. The right to vote. The right to work. The right to warmth, clothing and shelter. The right to be protected and looked after when you are flooded, your home destroyed, or your land invaded, or you or your family merely get old, or sick."

          Absolutely false.

          None of those are rights. None of them could conceivably be rights outside of a syst

          • I am only going to respond in one place, Arker.
            You speak of obligations and enforcement, but it's not like that; though it may look that way to you.
            Every person has choice - we have the freedom to break laws just as much as we do to keep them. But most of us choose to stay within the law, because we prefer the company of law abiders; and there is a mutual benefit.

            Humans are social by nature. Language - the internet - slashdot - is evidence of this. Social groups depend upon collaboration for success. The

  • Rep. Warden’s Democratic opponent in 2012, Aaron Gill, alleged that Free Staters threatened New Hampshire’s ideals. “Imagine what happens when 20,000 Free Staters move here, get elected and vote,” he said in a letter to the Concord Monitor.

    Yes, imagine when 20,000 people who are actively engaged and informed about what's going on in politics and the world have the temerity to vote and make their voices heard. 20,000 people who won't just vote a party line. 20,000 people who believe they can make a difference and are actually working to do so...

  • by Millennium (2451) on Monday June 10, 2013 @11:37AM (#43962401) Homepage

    The real problem with the capital-L sort of libertarianism is that frankly, we're not good enough to make it work. Much like communism, you essentially set up a system that's almost trivial to game, and then you ask people not to game it. Recorded history has shown all too clearly what humanity is in the dark: not enough people will uphold the system to be able to support the system.

    You could do it in a culture with an absolutely ironclad notion of honor that was so all-pervasive and agreed upon that the people followed it instinctively. In the West nowadays, we actually see such cultures -either from our own histories or from elsewhere entirely- as exotic: we're that far removed from where we'd need to be for a libertarian system to work. But even in these cultures, honor is almost always confined to the warrior classes: finding a culture that actually practices it throughout borders on impossibility. And when you find these, the underlying philosophies don't even claim to be libertarian in nature.

    Honestly, this is where libertarians really need to be spending their time. Their goal is a good one to strive for, but the culture simply is not ready. The real work right now is preparing the culture, and as much as political parties would love to think otherwise, you cannot do this from the top down. You have to work from the bottom up: learn how to produce honorable people in an honorless world, then get out into the dialogue and spread the memes. This is slow, but it's the only way cultural change has ever really worked.

    And yeah, this means we're unlikely to see a true libertarian system in our lifetime. That's a shame, but honestly, it doesn't really change the odds. Plunk the modern populace down into a libertarian system, and you'll only wind up with Thunderdome. You've got to fix the people before you can fix the system.

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