“I just want to be left alone!”
That was the defining phrase in one of the first videos I ever watched about the Free State Project. It was the last thing said by one of their interview subjects. They followed it with a brief clip of him walking away, almost like he was stomping off in a huff. The impression on the interviewer seemed to be that the FSP was composed of anti-social hermits eager to withdraw from civilized society.
I had a little fun with that stereotype in my comic, but it is just a stereotype, and it really does stem from a misunderstanding. That early mover in the interview may not have expressed himself very well, or maybe he did and it was edited out, but when he said he wanted to be left alone, he wasn’t being anti-social. He was expressing an understandable aversion to the intrusion of aggressive governments into his personal life. It’s those elements of unwelcome intrusion that we take issue with.
Free Staters aren’t anti-social by any far stretch. They’re settling all over the state, but most of the members have settled in the Merrimack Valley area in the highest populated cities of New Hampshire. My social life is more active than ever since I moved here. There’s always something to do, organized by various members. Often I’m forced to choose.
I understand where the confusion comes from. Most people see our modern governments as practically synonymous with society. We’ve all grown up in a world where governments have assumed an enormous role in our lives. When we imagine governments as much smaller than they are now, it seems like there’s a huge gap. But when intrusive governments shrink, the voluntary and peaceful aspects of our society are free to fill that gap. A desire for peaceful and voluntary cooperation is crucial for building healthy communities, and that’s exactly what the early movers of the Free State Project are already doing.
Of course the liberty movement always seems to attract its share of eccentrics and the media always manages to home in on them. I guess it’s good for ratings.
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