Thursday, September 09, 2004

Libertarians and New Hampshire 

Let's say you are an ardent believer in a very unpopular political cause. How can you minimize your exposure to policies you disagree with? If you're possessed of tremendous bloodthirstiness, extraordinary military resources or are Doctor Doom or Turkmenbashi, you might consider taking over an existing nation state by force and imposing your will. But most of us don't have what it takes to go down this road. What's left over?

As I've noted before, creating a new country is one possibility. True believers have tried erecting man-made islands, but just declaring dominion over desolate rocks in the sea might work just as well.

But say you're prone to seasickness. What then? Extremists of various stripes have tried to create exclusive zones of control within existing states, usually seeking autonomy on privately-held land. For example, Richard Butler (who recently permanently relocated to Hell) once advocated a mass movement of racists to Idaho. [On a personal note, I've always hoped that some utopian followers of Fourier would create an enclave somewhere, mostly because I'd love to see the seas turn to lemonade, and to regard the magnificent anti-whale.]

But let's say you're not interested in just carving out an autonomous zone. No, you want to impose your ideology on the public! What to do?

Some US Libertarians have fastened on one possibility: get a bunch of fellow travelers to, well, travel with you to a small state. If you can convince enough Libertarians to move to one place, you can create a critical mass, win lots of elections, and start running things. The "Free State Project," which aims to put this idea into practice, got going in earnest in September 2003, after the state of New Hampshire was chosen as their new Libertarian eden.

How are things going? Hard to say. I will note, however, that New Hampshire is the only state in the union where the Libertarian presidential candidate will definitely not be on the ballot. Make of that what you will.

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