Real Deal on the FSP
|Title:||Real Deal on the FSP|
|Publication:||Liberty for All|
Real Deal on the FSP
by Mike Ruff 09/24/03
There are a number of misconceptions about the Free State Project running rampant on the net. I hold no office with the FSP, but I am a member with a good understanding of the project and its goals. I propose to correct these misconceptions, both in a probably futile attempt to clean up our image some, as well as in hopes of inducing a few Liberty-minded folks who were unsure about the project to get off the fence and join us.
I haven't done any formal surveys, but a rough guess at the top misconception is that of secession. There seem to be a lot of folks who are convinced that the Porcupines (members of the FSP, for those who aren't already aware) plan to "take over" a state and secede from the U.S. I can't say this strongly enough-This Is Not The Plan. I won't say that the FSP has categorically denied the possibility of ever seceding from the U.S.-for that matter, we haven't denied the possibility of just picking the whole state up on a flying saucer and transplanting it to Mars either. But it isn't very likely, and not even close enough to the horizon for contingency planning at this point.
And that brings us to another misconception-the idea that the FSP plans to "Take Over" a state. Again, I can't say this strongly enough-This Is Not The Plan. Remember, this is a Pro-Liberty group. And more importantly, and despite the fact that it has not been endorsed by the LNC, and despite the fact that many members are not necessarily Libertarian Party Members, this IS a Libertarian Project. This group is primarily made of members who subscribe to the Zero Aggression Principle, and these folks recognize that the ballot box is no less capable of being used to initiate force than is the cartridge box-and in fact, has been used so more often than the cartridge box.
So what exactly is "The Plan?" Well, it's exactly as it is stated on the web site: "The Free State Project is a plan in which 20,000 or more liberty-oriented people will move to a single state of the U.S., where they may work within the political system to reduce the size and scope of government."
What exactly does that mean? Well, apparently many folks think it means we're planning to create some Anarcho-Capitalist Utopia, and furthermore attempting to do so via the "Underwear Gnomes" school of planning: (step 1. Collect Underwear. Step 2. (pause) Step 3. Profit!) Again, this is not the plan.
We are not planning to secede from the U.S. We are not planning a military or political coup. We are not scheming in hopes of establishing a theoretical Anarchist Utopia. We are not planning on beaming everyone up into a spaceship and transporting them to another planet. And we most definitely are not planning to move our group into a commune or compound, in hopes of inducing the Feral Government to repeat the Waco Debacle on a grand scale.
No my Friends in Liberty, we're planning something completely different, and we like to think that it is a truly Libertarian plan in its scope and method. The idea is exactly what has been stated, and nothing more.
Step 1-Gather a group of Liberty-Minded folks who like the idea, and are willing to commit to participating. If you aren't Liberty-Minded, you wouldn't be interested anyway. If you are Liberty-Minded, but you aren't willing to move, well, more power to you, and we wish you well. No coercion anywhere here, and not even any derision or name-calling-if you aren't interested in joining, that's fine.
Step 2-Once the 5,000-member level is reached (which it has been) the group votes on the state to which we will move. The members have been allowed to join and "opt out" of any of the ten states from which we were choosing. Upon the final selection of the state (to be announced 01 October 2003) those who opted out of the chosen state, and those who didn't return a ballot in the state selection, will be dropped from the membership roles, and offered the chance to rejoin if they are willing to move to the selected state. Again, no coercion, no name-calling, and no hard feelings.
Step 3-We continue to collect members for the selected state, with the ultimate goal being 20,000 members. Those who are willing to join-welcome! Those who are not, no hard feelings.
Step 4-Having reached 20,000 members who are committed to moving to the chosen state, we declare the completion of the building stage. From this declaration, members have committed to move to the selected state within 5 years.
Step 5-Five years from the 20,000 member mark, the 20,000+ Porcupines have moved to the soon to be Free State. The FSP is dissolved, because its mission is complete.
The whole point of the project is basically to build a critical mass of Liberty-Minded Individuals within a particular state. The FSP itself doesn't plan to "take over" the state-merely to build the local population of Freedom-Oriented Individuals. Once it has completed this goal, it has served its purpose, and will officially no longer exist. This is not to say that the group will not re-form with another mission-even if only as a social club. But there is no plan for the FSP to be yet another "3rd Party" in local elections, vying for political office against the Demopublicans and the Libertarians.
Now then, a lot of folks will stipulate the above plan, but take issue with the possibility of its ever being effective. This is due to some further misconceptions about the FSP.
One is the belief that we are planning to get 20,000 some folks together and have everyone move to the Free State over one weekend. That would be quite a sight, and probably enough to cause even the most stalwart Statist goon to quiver in his jack-boots. As nice as that would be, we all know that such an operation is not very likely to come off-as has often been noted, organizing Libertarians makes cat-herding look simple. Furthermore, we all recognize that Feral Government Goons are more bloody-minded and aggressive when they are scared than at any other time-and such a move would probably cause the Ferals to call in a nuclear strike.
The move is not coordinated. It is not planned for a particular date. Some of us will be moving as soon as the state is chosen. Some will be waiting until the very end of the 5-year period after the 20,000-member mark. And the rest will be spread out between these points-and 20,000 people moving to one state over a 6-7 year period isn't that big a population bomb.
Another concern seems to be whether or not there will be enough jobs for the Porcupines in the Free State. Fair enough-but we've got it covered. A pretty high proportion of Porcupines are either 1) telecommuters 2) self-employed 3) entrepreneurs who will be moving a business (and jobs) to the Free State 4) an entrepreneur with plans to start a business in the Free State 5) an individual possessed of certain skills which will be readily marketable in the Free State or 6) some combination thereof. I suspect that the Free State will find it has a better economy after the move than before-and that really is the point, isn't it?
But what seems to be the strongest and most pervasive fear for the Free State is that "The Feds/Cops/Thugs/ATF/DEA/FBI/Homeland Security will never let you get away with it-remember Waco and Ruby Ridge?" Well, there is a theme in the common victims of government-at least those like Waco and Ruby Ridge-they were separate from their neighbors. This allowed the Feral Government to characterize them as "wackos" and "violent gun-nuts" and so forth.
I'm sure the FSP will have its fair share of "moody loners" and hermits, but the overwhelming majority of Porcupines expect to live mixed in with their non-Porcupine neighbors. But it's kind of hard for the Ferals to convince the guy who plays golf with you every Wednesday that you're a violent extremist. It's hard for the ATF thugs to convince the neighborhood that you're a wild-eyed member of an apocalyptic cult when they know that you attend the same mainstream Methodist-Catholic-Presbyterian-whatever denomination church that they do. It's hard for the DEA to convince a jury that you're a dangerous drug dealer when the jury pool is full of the folks who work with you, come to your house for cookouts, have you over for Halloween parties, and so on. So, I think we'll probably be a little safer from that sort of Feral attack than the former victims were.
I don't think many FSP Members are expecting an immediate change in the Free State. And that isn't the plan anyway. The Porcupines aren't planning to move in and immediately register as candidates for local office in attempt to grab the government gun. The object is to move in, be good neighbors, coworkers, employers, and friends of the folks who already live there. Demonstrate by example that Porcupines make good neighbors and friends-ones who will loan you their lawn mower, stand beside you in defending your property from eminent domain and other thieves, keep an eye on your house while you're away on vacation, and share a beer or two over the grill. Lead and influence by example-and gradually educate the natives, helping them to see for themselves that individual liberty is the only workable method of "organizing" (for lack of a better word) society-and that everything else merely turns them into slaves.
One of the things that will help us do this is that the states on the final list were not chosen only for their small population, but also for having a fairly strong tradition and culture of Liberty already. We're not trying to turn Josef Stalin into Harry Browne, or Hillary Clinton into a decent human being. We're trying to turn people who are already on the fence into true Pro-Liberty folks. I don't think that's an unattainable goal.
We do love all our Libertarian friends who won't be coming with us-and we hate to leave them. And we hope that many our Libertarian friends will move to the Free State once they see what we've accomplished. We know we aren't going to make the perfect Libertarian State right off the bat-but we do think we can at least make something better than we have now.
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