Free State Project

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The Free State Project is a libertarian initiative that tried to convince around 20,000 libertarians to move to New Hampshire, with the goal of achieving enough influence to make state a “model libertarian society”. In February 2016, the group announced that the target number had been reached, thus starting the next phase of the plan — moving all those people to New Hampshire within the next 5 years (starting in 2016).[1] However, the intiative largely went nowhere. In 2012, only 1,827 were actually living in New Hampshire and there were 2,550 in-state "friends" (people who could not move to New Hampshire because they already lived there).[2] Even as of May 2022, this number had only climbed to a measly 6,232- only about three-tenths of the planned 20,000 participants had actually moved to New Hampshire.[3][note 1] It also doesn’t help that as of 2023, they appear to have shifted their focus to events and guest speakers for the small handful of libertarians who actually followed through.[4]

Their mascot is "Porc" the porcupine, which is also the symbol of the US Libertarian Party.

Libertarian writer Kenneth "Boston T. Party" Royce disagreed with their choice of New Hampshire on the grounds that it was on the East Coast and therefore far too close to the pernicious liberal influence of New York (to say nothing of socialist Massachusetts, and — gasp — Canada), so he started his own rival "Free State Wyoming."

The Free State Project, as with libertarianism in general, has many opponents. New Hampshire’s politics are far from libertarian (at least in its alcohol laws), and the effect of 20,000 on the state's population of 1,316,000 is yet to be seen, but it is indeed one of the few hopes there is for a libertarian short of moving to Somalia or some random patch of woods.

The Free State Project has convinced about 6,232 libertarians to preemptively move to New Hampshire. However, since the start of the project, these few people have still had a significant impact on the politics of the state because, in the words of one commentator, they are all "obsessed with politics".[5] Several bills have been introduced by Free Staters, and at least one (opting out of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative) has been passed. It just goes to show the occasional power of even a small organized concentration of individuals.

To be absolutely fair[edit]

The United States does have a tradition of freedom advocates using the power of emigration and geographical demographics to tilt the scales of political power. See Popular Sovereignty; people deliberately moved to the Missouri/Kansas territories (a.k.a. 'Bleeding Kansas'Wikipedia) to vote in anti-slavery legislatures. Thankfully, the libertarians wouldn't face anywhere near the same amount of violence that those immigrants did.

Most of the derision stems from the impracticality rather than the underlying idea; the United States is much, much larger in the 21st century in both area and population than it was during the times in which visionaries like Joseph Smith or Stephen F. Austin could build a political demographic from scratch, and it would require a larger human wave these days to do so now. Libertarians would be better served trying to grow their numbers first rather than wasting members' resources in projects like this. Assuming that they wouldn't have moved to New Hampshire or Wyoming otherwise.

Cop killer controversy[edit]

Cantwell after being pepper-sprayed at the Unite the Right rally

One controversy that the Free State Project has faced is that when you invite a whole load of libertarians to come to one state, some of them tend to be nuts. When Christopher Cantwell,Wikipedia a free stater activist who advocates killing police officers as "self-defence" (because they are going around engaging in "violence" by arresting people for breaking the law), the leadership of the Free State Project decided to eject him from their movement, causing some counter-reaction from libertarians who don't see anything particularly wrong with shooting cops.[6] Cantwell has since distanced himself from mainstream libertarianism and embraced the alt-right, racialism, white supremacy, and aspects of fascism. His own website describes himself using the tagline "Anarchist, Atheist, Asshole". Cantwell attended the Charlottesville, Virginia "Unite the Right" rally and gave a boastful interview to Vice for their documentary on the riot. Cantwell would later be arrested (eventually earning a 2 year suspended sentence) for dispersing pepper spray during the riot. [7][8] Cantwell was a scheduled speaker at the rally.[9] Later in September 2020, Cantwell was sentenced to 41 months in prison for extortion and rape threats made over Telegram against a leader of another online group called the "Bowl Patrol", a group of white supremacists dedicated to supporting the racist mass murderer Dylann Roof.Wikipedia[10][11][12] Sounds like a pleasant guy to have at a party.[13]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


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