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How to Stage a Coup, American-Style

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  • Dan Clore
    News & Views for Anarchists & Activists: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/smygo http://www.time.com/time/magazine/printout/0,8816,1555119,00.html Sunday, Nov. 5,
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 6, 2006
      News & Views for Anarchists & Activists:

      Sunday, Nov. 5, 2006
      How to Stage a Coup, American-Style
      Libertarian activists are moving to a state where they'll
      have maximum clout

      If Ron Helwig can join the revolution, then so can you. All
      you have to do is believe, as Helwig does, that the
      government has gone way too far in regulating your personal
      life, taxing your income and invading your privacy. And, of
      course, you have to move to New Hampshire.

      That's exactly what the affable computer programmer from
      Minnesota did this year. He's a new member of the Free State
      Project, a group of like-minded libertarians from around the
      U.S. whose goal is to come together in the tiny New England
      state in sufficient numbers to create a libertarian showroom
      for the rest of the country.

      The Free State idea was the brainchild five years ago of
      Jason Sorens, then a grad student in political science at
      Yale. Card-carrying libertarians make up just under 1% of
      voters around the country, a number that has made them
      achingly irrelevant in national politics. Sorens argued in
      online forums and later at political events that if 20,000
      libertarians would move to the same small state, they would
      no longer be in the electoral wilderness. They could finally
      make a difference and show the rest of America what real
      liberty looks like--the kind where you don't have to wear
      seat belts or register your guns and nobody passes laws
      about what the neighbors can do in their bedroom.

      By 2003 thousands had agreed in principle to make the move
      once a total of 20,000 had signed on. They settled on New
      Hampshire as their destination. The state's motto, after
      all, is LIVE FREE OR DIE, and its low taxes and high regard
      for minding your own damn business proved irresistible.
      Republican officials were delighted. "Come on up," Craig
      Benson, the Governor at the time, told them. "We'd love to
      have you."

      At a recent Free State Project meet-and-greet in Deerfield
      thrown by Helwig and his two housemates, also Minnesotan
      émigrés, it was clear that 20,000 is an ambitious goal. No
      more than a few dozen movement members from around the state
      showed up for the beer and pizza. In all, fewer than 200
      have moved to New Hampshire in the past three years.
      "Getting libertarians to do anything together is like
      herding cats," groused a partygoer.

      It would be wrong to write off the Free Staters entirely,
      though. Those who have moved have been putting on a display
      of rambunctious, representative democracy. Some prefer civil
      disobedience and street demonstrations: one was recently
      arrested at a local IRS office handing out pamphlets that
      said, "Hitler had a revenue service too." Although the Free
      State Project doesn't endorse political candidates, some
      members have been making competitive runs for local office,
      including some staunch home-schooling advocates who have
      been elected to local school boards. With one state
      legislator for every 3,000 or so citizens (the best ratio of
      any state), New Hampshire has a proud tradition of
      hyper-representative government, but as in the rest of the
      country, many of its citizens are apathetic about politics.
      By simply showing up and speaking out at public meetings,
      the Free Staters are filling the participatory void. They
      helped block a statewide ban on smoking in bars and
      restaurants and joined forces with elements of the two main
      parties to pressure the statehouse to vote down a pilot
      program for a national ID card.

      If the Republican establishment was expecting the movement
      to deliver loyal conservative voters, the libertarians--who
      want to lift controls on both guns and narcotics--are
      proving more complicated creatures. Cathleen Converse used
      to be a by-the-book conservative in South Carolina. But she
      says that the free-spending, prying Bush Administration sped
      up her defection from the G.O.P. and eventually brought her
      husband and her to the Free State Project. "As Republicans
      showed their true colors," she says, "we had to choose the
      side of liberty." She adds, "Back home, most of the people
      thought we were crazy. But here, when you talk about real
      freedom, people actually nod their heads."

      Moving to New Hampshire has given Helwig a new faith in
      politics. "Democracy isn't really ruled by the majority," he
      says. "It's ruled by the vocal minority." With more Free
      Staters driving their U-Hauls north each month, the vocal
      minority may slowly be growing a little louder.

      Dan Clore

      Now available: _The Unspeakable and Others_
      Lord Weÿrdgliffe & Necronomicon Page:
      News & Views for Anarchists & Activists:

      As the Government of the United States of America is not, in
      any sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in
      itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or
      tranquillity, of Mussulmen; and, as the said States never
      entered into any war, or act of hostility against any
      Mahometan nation, it is declared by the parties, that no
      pretext arising from religious opinions, shall ever produce
      an interruption of the harmony existing between the two
      -- The Treaty of Tripoli, entered into by the USA under
      George Washington
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