To Alter and Abolish – An Anarchist at Porcfest 2010

I’m just recovering from a great weekend at the Free State Project’s Porcupine Freedom Festival. The campground-based event in New Hampshire is not just a huge party with some of the coolest libertarians to ever throw lit matches at each other. It also offers a glimpse into a future of freedom.

The Free State Project (freestateproject.org) is an effort to get liberty-minded activists to move to New Hampshire to concentrate their efforts. Its participants have adopted the nickname “Porcupines” after the animal which, despite its cute and peaceable ways, would not be easy to trample on. Though the Project’s original focus was on electoral action to make government smaller (see the founding essay Announcement: The Free State Project), the idea of building local communities with strong libertarian tendencies has appealed to a number of people interested in creating a stateless society.

The desire to work with other people to build a free society led longtime New England libertarians to create the Alternatives Expo (altexpo.org) to showcase their efforts at Free State Project events. AltExpo has been a haven for agorist discussion and action. Cheap books on anarchism flank delicious food.

At this AltExpo, I presented a talk on the history of anarchism. It was well received despite the fact that I was overly ambitious with what I could cover in the time allotted.

Following my presentation, Art Haines introduced the solar-charging and plug-in electric vehicle that he sells as kits for under $6500 from his website sunnev.com. Though the car is only capable of 25mph, it is street-legal, fun to drive (Alt Expo is the place to test drive solar cars), and would be useful in certain applications. Currently, a large percentage of kits are sold to schools, which will hopefully generate interest in tinkering with and improving electric vehicles among future mechanics and engineers.

Other AltExpo sessions involved hydroponic growing, forms of social organization, jury nullification, and survival techniques.

Agorism is now well established in New Hampshire. At the 2009 Porcfest, I joined other Alliance of the Libertarian Left folks to introduce the idea of creating a market anarchist society through the expansion of non-coercive economic activity acting to counter authority. This year, Porcfest organizers and participants put the agora into action – and they did a fantastic job.

Looking at the glossy map included in the packet handed out at event registration, a section of the campground is marked “AGORA ALLEY!”

This open marketplace was the primary location where numerous individual entrepreneurs did what they liked for profit. The thriving local economy bolstered individuality and fostered healthy social interaction. Nobody was a cog in an impersonal economic machine dominated by authoritarians. Their sales were expressions of their personality.

In Agora Alley you could enjoy homemade ice cream while talking to a 78-year old libertarian who regularly confronts cops with peaceful non-compliance. Then make new friends and catch up with old friends while browsing cool shirts on the way to fantastic gyros and baklava. And if you’re in the mood, you can catch the shuttle to the Big Gay Dance Party. That’s what an open marketplace should feel like!

And a fun example of freedom in action is a more exciting way to attract people to libertarian ideas than some boring talk about legislative policy proposals.

Within the festival it was hard to see the state at all. The government didn’t build the roads that connected the festivities. The business involved recognized it was in their interest to have them available, and nobody believed it would be in their interest to obstruct them. There was no municipal garbage pickup and littering didn’t seem to be a problem.

Did the state keep us safe? No, an ethic of respecting individual liberty prevailed and those who chose to carry firearms were not prevented from doing so. A clever reminder of the state of things were parodies of the “STATE POLICE / Call 911” posters. The Porcfest version said “POLICE STATE / Call Porc 411.” Porc 411 is a number that New Hampshire activists set up to report police activity. Calling the number allows you to record a message which other participants will then be notified of. In addition to reporting police activity, it has been used for other mutual aid applications such as moving assistance and car trouble.

Porc 411 has since been established in other regions. This is one example of how activist concentration in New Hampshire can be beneficial to those of us who choose to work for freedom in our current location. In addition to providing a libertarian vacation spot and temporary visions of a free society, New Hampshire serves every day as a laboratory of liberty. The most enthusiastic activists are testing ideas for building and living a future of maximum freedom.

Examples of the effectiveness of Porcupine activism can be demonstrated by just two points mentioned on the NH-based radio program Free Talk Live: civil disobedience has enabled individuals to use marijuana in several public parks without police interference, and Porcupines who let others know of their plans to move to New Hampshire can expect their belongings to be rapidly unpacked by numerous friendly volunteers. Not only are Porcupines finding effective methods to challenge state control, but they are also building worthwhile communities – communities that benefit the individuals involved instead of requiring sacrifices when it’s convenient for authoritarians.

If you are thinking of moving somewhere, you would do well to consider a place with a head start on maximizing freedom. Freekeene.com and the AltExpo Facebook page would be great places to link up with other individuals interested in creating a consensual future.

Whatever your plans for living location are, New Hampshire is there to offer a chance to experience liberty in action. Those who want a future of freedom would do well to take a look at what’s going on there.

Citations to this article:

Free Markets & Capitalism?
Markets Not Capitalism
Organization Theory
Conscience of an Anarchist