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11/02/2005 Archived Entry: "Dear Free State Project"


Yesterday you posted a statement on your site asking "people who thought [the original September 2006] goal was essential to their participation" to notify you of their intent. Here's my notification.

I signed an agreement to move to any state chosen by FSP members if a "critical mass" of 20,000 project participants has been reached 10 months from now.

If 20,000 other freedom activists have agreed to make the move to NH by then, I'll go. If not, then my obligation to the FSP ends.

Until now, I've stayed neutral on all the questions swirling around the ethics of the FSP's morphing goals. But I read yesterday's statement with dismay. It seems the FSP has gone the way of all institutions. Perpetuating itself has become its most important goal

Several things in your statement rang an off note with me -- like your belief that the media is solely responsible for the low recruitment numbers and a belief that a hired PR firm will do what networking among activists would not. (I could be wrong, but I really don't believe you're going to find many hardcore activists through stories in the morning fishwrap.)

What struck me most of all, though, was that at the very same time you totally forswear your own original commitment to project members, you've decided to ask them to make more of a commitment to you.

You now "actively encourage" them to move in advance of your ever-disappearing goal. You ask them -- on increasingly thin hopes -- to uproot their lives ASAP and move to New Hampshire. You urge them to do this regardless of the numbers, regardless of the FSP's long-term prospects, regardless of the fact that your own research and publicity always said that fewer than 20,000 couldn't create a free state.

"Liberty in our lifetime!" you cry. And it's a wonderful slogan. For the reality behind that slogan (or even a reasonable shot at it), I'd move anywhere. Jason Sorens' original concept for the FSP was brilliant, and I congratulate everyone involved with the FSP for getting this far.

But without the 20,000, you're merely substituting feelgood propaganda for reality.

What happens to all those people who pack up and move to an expensive state smack on the borders of statist hell? What happens when loyal, hopeful members keep their promise to you -- and you fail them?

Sure, they may end up forming free enclaves or free towns. Sure, they may end up with a great little freedom network. But that can be done anywhere by small numbers of people. What happens to them if the 20,000 is never reached? Or if it's reached 20 or 30 years from now -- after many of the original members are dead and most of the others have grown weary of fruitless activism?

Having a finite life and realistic goals was part of the FSP's founding mission. And part of the FSP's virtue. It was one of the many things that set this project apart -- and above -- so many other free town, state, or country projects.

Now, like a government program that begins with a limited, worthy-sounding goal, 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.

Posted by Claire @ 07:40 AM CST

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