There is no such thing as half-free, but there are varying crime rates by locality. I make no distinction between public and private sector crime or institutional and individual criminals. In the Denver area, crime is out of control. I witness roadside robbery daily and armed gangsters prowl the streets in uniform, non-stop. I, personally, have been mugged several times in the last couple years. This is a comparable set of data to the statistics I have seen published. This is secondary, though, to the systemic oppression in the form of legal violations of rights. For example, taxation, gun control, vehicle and property regulation, licensure, insurance, drug policy, zoning controls, etc. present an unending litany of minor and major roadblocks to achieving human flourishing. Additionally, no amount of ethical or practical gymnastics can justify the threats of murder used to enforce these roadblocks. Southern California, Boston, Las Vegas, Arizona, Florida, Wyoming, and other places I've been seem to be comparable in both experience and statistics.
In the handful of days I was in the Shire, I saw a total of four cops. (I saw six times that number in the drive from Boston to the Shire, but that's why I'm not moving to Massachusetts.) That is the number of cops I see in Denver, daily. Of the cops I saw, two were assisting in traffic direction for an event in downtown Manchester, one was helping change a tire, and one was engaged in highway robbery... but in a really half-assed way. Anecdotal and statistical data seems to support this disparity in my experiences, so I'm not totally delusional in thinking life would be less rife with criminal interaction if I were to move to the Shire.
The most prominent body of anecdotal data is the numerous examples of law enforcement having been “trained” by activists in various towns in the Shire. By “trained”, I mean that being held accountable at all times by activists armed with cameras, knowledge of the law, and a culture of resistance has rendered law enforcement very cautious and professional. The Keene police department is rumored to be one of the most professional and benign criminal gangs in the nation, limiting a majority of their services to activities that would be carried out by private security in a post-state society. Of course, less coercion, murder, and rape is still coercion, murder and rape.
The aforementioned disparity in the scope of government between the Shire and elsewhere is due to two phenomena which are related. The first is a cultural heritage. The state's motto, “Live Free or Die” is unequivocally liberty-oriented and has been taken seriously throughout history. Despite geographic proximity to the of the most misanthropic, powerful, and far-reaching empire in known history, the Shire has resisted gun control, moralistic legislation, and a number of other American hallmarks to this day. Because of this pre-existing, yet insufficient, culture of resistance to tyranny, the Free State Project decided to focus its efforts in the Shire.
The Free State Project is two distinct but entwined entities in itself. One such entity is the company by the name of “The Free State Project”. I am not a believer in or supporter of the company for many of the same reasons I do not support the Libertarian political party; but the company spawned the second entity: the people engaged in the project itself. The stated goal of the FSP is:
“The Free State Project is solely an agreement among 20,000 pro-liberty activists to move to New Hampshire, where they will exert the fullest practical effort toward the creation of a society in which the maximum role of government is the protection of life, liberty, and property.”
A great many people have decided that such a migration is a beneficial move for freedom-minded individuals (sorry about the pun). The FSP is, broadly speaking, an attempt to incentivize people like me to concentrate in a geographically local area and experiment in anarchy. I have met several people of outstanding moral, intellectual, and social quality in the project who have moved to the Shire. I would be remiss in not pursuing a relationship with them and assisting in their project as well as taking advantage of the fruits of their experiments.
These experiments are as numerous as the number of people migrating. People are running for public office as open anarchists, and enough people are voting for them to actually win elections. People are trying, with varying degrees of success, to live entirely off of alternative currencies, such as gold, silver, and Bitcoin. Permaculture, microfarming, and a cornucopia of sustenance and market farming practices are being used and promoted. Peaceful parenting, unschooling, free-range kids, nonviolent communication, the trivium and more and more efforts are being made to improve interpersonal relationships and self-awareness. Constant in-person, social media, and public content debates, arguments, and friendly explorations concerning the principles of liberty and alternative lifestyles are ongoing throughout the Shire and internet communities centered on the FSP participants.
I often say that I'm going to New Hampshire to “find my liberty legs”. If it hasn't been clear in my blog posts, it is certainly in my book: I argue that belief and will exist solely in action. If I believe the things I write in this blog and, for example, will myself to be free, I must necessarily “walk the walk”. If paying taxes and obeying the law are moral and ethical evils, as I claim to believe, then I ought to do what it takes to cease doing so; the same is true of my beliefs that pursuing independence and human flourishing are ethical and aesthetic goods, if I believe that, I must necessarily pursue those activities. In the Shire, I will be far less likely to find myself in a kill-or-be-killed circumstance as a result of avoiding evil and doing good, but it is still too great a risk, given the ultimate nature of the costs associated with such a risk.
As such, migrating from the Shire to somewhere else, further away from imperial influence, is in order. Perhaps central Mexico, rural Greenland, Liberland, Cambodia, or anywhere with a weaker government that is less-interesting to the American Empire. Of course, such a move is incredibly risky. Without a solid grasp of local languages and customs, the laws that do exist in that region, and the skills necessary for self-sufficiency and freely living, my family and I would likely wind up destitute, imprisoned, drone-striked, or in any number of unfortunate modes of being. My time in the Shire is intended to be an attempt at learning the requisite skills, locating the next stopping point, making connections with other liberty-minded people, and possibly recruiting others to go the “the promised land” and found an intentional community there.
Remember, anarchy is a philosophy of personal responsibility.
Responsibility is impossible without reason and knowledge. Fear stands in opposition to all three of those things. One must avoid acting out of fear if one wishes to make rational and beneficial decisions. I bring this up because people have accused me of “running away” because I'm afraid of “they/them/those” and I've been accused of having not already moved to Somalia out of fear that I'm wrong. I have done all I can to rationally pursue cost/benefit and risk/gain analyses concerning these goals as well as engendering a spirit of discernment, and only time will tell if my analyses were correct.
I have taken on responsibilities and made investments throughout my life, and the goals and methods of achieving those goals that I have decided upon are directed at maximizing those investments and my ability to uphold my responsibilities. Maybe I'm mistaken; maybe, once I arrive at the Shire, I will discover that such a goal is best served by finding a state of being “free enough”... who knows?
P.S. I initially produced this post before the NH rulers' decision to defund Planned Parenthood, granting them yet another feather in their hat as far as setting an example of how to pursue “liberty and justice for all”.