Why I Deleted the Free State Project Facebook Page

free state project cantwell

Just go out and do things to promote the Free State Project. Don’t ask for permission. We don’t work like that. Just go out and be a doer.” This is the message I got, with a knowing chuckle, from Free State Project insiders nearly two years ago. I was a Free State Project newbie and everything about it was exciting. So I took their advice and, among other things, created a fan page on Facebook for the Free State Project. I added several insiders as admins and went to work. I posted, answered people’s questions, corrected misconceptions, invited people and checked daily for spam. I did my best to motivate people to move to New Hampshire. I had the help of two other FSPers for a time.

The Free State Project has a policy. They promote people moving to New Hampshire but they don’t promote any activism beyond that. I had a hard time wrapping my head around this at first. I got in trouble for creating an event as part of the Free State Project page. I posted something else that ticked off FSP officials. Life went on.

“If you want to be a Free State Project representative, you’ll need to at least want to make an effort to do so appropriately. If you don’t, then you’re violating Facebook’s terms by being an admin for an organization you don’t represent.” – Varrin Swearingen, president of the Free State Project

The page accumulated 11,000 fans. It was a great success. Then I made three posts about the Baby Cheyenne controversy. (The posts of Facebook page admins appear to be from the page itself, so the author of mine appeared as “Free State Project”.) They were among the most popular ever. They were very relevant to FSP members. But FSP president Varrin Swearingen took issue with them (and many others). He claimed complete power over the page even though he never contributed to it. His hierarchical approach conflicted with the entrepreneurial advice I was given earlier.

Varrin demanded I post only within his strictly limited guidelines. I had a different vision for the page, a more expansive one. One that had achieved 11,000 fans and considerable buzz. Varrin demanded I hand the page over to him. Then he threatened to tell Facebook I was not an official representative of the Free State Project. That could get my entire facebook profile deleted.

I posted Varrin’s correspondence to my facebook profile. He lied about the threats he made. Jason Sorens joined the conversation with the claim that upon becoming a member of the Free State Project, I agreed to do what Varrin said. Jason told me I was just a volunteer. I’m not an FSP volunteer. I’m a social media entrepreneur (among other things). I don’t remember anything in the FSP statement of intent about following the organization’s orders.

That page was my baby. I worked on it almost every day for almost two years. I did it on my own initiative, as I was encouraged to do. I didn’t do it as a volunteer for the Free State Project. I don’t invest time in something so people with official titles can take it from me with only nasty attitudes as my recompense.

“Varrin is the President of the FSP; he gets ultimate say on these because that’s what we all agreed to when we signed up with the organization. You’re a volunteer, and it’s great that you started this page, but we’re all working for the FSP, not for ourselves.” – Jason Sorens

Varrin Swearingen and Jason Sorens made me feel like crap because I played a leading role in developing a nice promotional tool for the Free State Project. They took an officious tone with me and pretended to be my boss. Instead of treating me like an equal, they dictated to me. Instead of treating me like a human being, Varrin threatened me. Instead of acting with honor, Varrin lied about his threats. He did not retract them. There is no way I will allow my work to fall into the hands of these people.

I couldn’t hold on to the page either, because Varrin could get my Facebook profile deleted. He threatened to tell Facebook I wasn’t an official representative of the Free State Project. That would be a terms of service violation. Between a rock and a hard place, and after waiting several hours for Varrin to retract his threats, I finally deleted the page.

Some might not get the fact that I won’t stand for parasites like Varrin and Jason. Lots of parasites have fed off of me in my 40 years. I don’t stand for it anymore. I don’t care if these parasites are bosses, politicians, bureaucrats or a couple of penny ante thugs with a title and a sense of entitlement. Is it childish? Prideful? That’s for you, the reader, to decide. As for me, I sleep well at night knowing I’m not food for bloodsuckers. That’s part of my liberty activism.

P.S. Varrin alleged publicly that I deleted the threads about this from my Facebook profile. That’s another lie. If you care to read the backstory, here are the private message threads and related materials. The public discussion threads are on my Facebook profile for any of my 1200 connections to see. (I accept new connections from those interested in liberty.) Some of the below images are very large and you may have to click on them to zoom in.

Private message thread with Varrin Swearingen and others. [PNG]

Private message thread with Denis Goddard [PNG]

The offending Free State Project page [PNG]

The main Insights page for the FSP page. [PNG]

The interactions insights page [PNG]

The users insights page [PNG]

Update

I forgot about this. One reason why the page had 11,000 fans is because I spent $167.16 out of my own pocket to get 1.441 million impressions for ads that directed people to the page. Here is my advertising page from Facebook.

71 thoughts on “Why I Deleted the Free State Project Facebook Page

  1. Thumbs up, George. It’s always about property isn’t it? Protecting it, defending it, using it, discarding it.

  2. ” “Varrin is the President of the FSP; he gets ultimate say on these because that’s what we all agreed to when we signed up with the organization. You’re a volunteer, and it’s great that you started this page, but we’re all working for the FSP, not for ourselves.” – Jason ”

    Petty tyrants are always the most vociferous defendants of their domain. This quote says it all. Any organization that has someone who gets ‘ultimate’ say has lost all credibility as a champion of freedom. Voluntarism is all well and good, but when voluntarism leads to self-subjugation it’s become a twisted version of itself mascarading as ‘freedom’.

    You did the right thing George!

  3. Following orders? Signing pledges? Yeah this all sounds real effing free to me! Screw it! Do what you want.. you are not hurting anyone! I hate ‘movements’ b/c the more organized they get, the more statist they get and the more corrupt they get… look at LOLA!

  4. George, you were scum when you defended those who stole food at the Liberty Forum, and you are scum today, destroying that which you didn’t truly own, since you were only allowed to use the FSP name/logo/etc by showing responsibility for it, which you failed to do, and deleting the page, rather than allowing someone else to run it if you no longer felt able to accept the responsibility for it, was an act of vandalism, because the 11,000k fans of the page weren’t _your_ fans, they were fans of the FSP, and your deletion was destructive and aggressive toward the FSP leadership.

    But you’ll spin it whatever you want, just like you did defending theft at LF, because you are the worst sort of person: you have no principles but claim you do.

    Let’s see if you even post this criticism…

  5. If the prize your eye was on was to help ‘recruit 20,000 liberty-loving people to move to New Hampshire,’ I’d say that it wasn’t worth it to kill your children (FB FSP page) in order to defend your honor.

  6. Seth, if George created and managed the page than his labor brought those 11k fans there. Not the FSP. FB was allowing George to run his page, which was about the FSP, and they (FB) also gave him the power to remove such page. He (George) fulfilled every requirement from both sides, well until the FSP wanted George’s work and fruits of such work (11k group).

    I’m sure the FSP ‘leaders’ have all sorts of plans on how to get those 11k fans back. After all they know what’s best for FSP’ers, more so than you.

  7. Seth, for like the 10th time, I do not defend the people who allegedly stole food at Liberty Forum. We discussed this in depth already so I’m at a loss as to why you would continue misrepresenting my position.

    For those interested in reliving the past:

    http://forum.freestateproject.org/index.php?topic=20327.msg240024#msg240024

    In fact, I and several other anarchists offered a reward for information leading to the identification of any thieves. I believe we got it up to 100 FRNs. You made it divisive. We took libertarian action.

    No one needed to give me permission to use the FSP name or logo. Are you guys claiming copyright on it now? That would be rich.

    As you well know, I was prepared to continue managing this marketing tool, but Varrin’s threats put me between a rock and a hard place.

    If I had created a mailing list or a website to promote the FSP to a certain audience, I suppose you would have claimed ownership of that as well. They’re all marketing tools, just like the Facebook pages. I created it, I built it (with some help from 2 people).

    It was my property therefore there was no aggression on my part.

    The personal always comes before the collective IMHO, Bill.

    Thanks for commenting guys.

  8. Not sure why there is so much confusion over “hierarchy” and “leadership.” The FSP is a private organization, is it not? As such, is it wrong for it to have leaders? The fact that one disagrees with the leadership doesn’t mean the leadership as a concept is invalid.

    Did a poster above really suggest that “Any organization that has someone who gets ‘ultimate’ say has lost all credibility as a champion of freedom” – Ummmmm WTF?? Seems to me like whoever creates the organization should decide whether someone has ultimate say. Let’s not slip into collectivism and democracy-worship here, please? Leaders of private organizations are A-OK in my book.

    This sounds like a disagreement on tactics between official, private leadership and members of the FSP. Was deleting the page which took 2 years of work really the best solution? I think George has every right to delete the page he made… but was it smart to do so?

    George – it seems you had created a great thing with the page, investing significant work, but why would you destroy it over a disagreement on tactic? At best it seems hasty, at worst it seems very childish and antithetical to bringing liberty lovers to NH.

    Also, George, to me it seems that if the creators of the private organization known as the FSP preferred you not to use its brand materials, you should’ve perhaps respected that, no? It has nothing to do with government copyright laws, but much to do with voluntary interaction and respect for the originators of the brand assets.

  9. Funny, perhaps the two tyrants in training will have to either expose the violence inherent in their system or cut the loss at their comments. As always George you strike the root. This tidbit of insight into the FSP core is very informative. Thanks!

  10. I learned about this aspect of the “Free” State Project right at the get-go. I’ve never supported it beyond telling people that if they’re interested in living “free” on the East Coast, good f’n luck and maybe try New Hampshire. The rest of us are out West.

    It took one conversation with these FSP people for me to learn that they’re just like most fake freedom lovers: they love freedom, so long as it’s theirs to lord over you.

    Boston T. Party’s Free State West is exactly the opposite. He hates it when I call it “Boston’s” FSW since he works hard not to be seen as a leader, just the guy who came up with the idea. Regardless, that’s one of the many reasons I’m in Wyoming.

  11. Erik, you didn’t read what I wrote, did you? Varrin threatened to get my entire facebook profile deleted over this. I chose to cut my losses and keep my personal profile.

    This dispute never had anything to do with “brand materials”. You will also see in the article that I was told early on to just run with it and not ask permission. That’s what I did. Also, Varrin, Jason Sorens and other FSP insiders were admins for the full 2 years. They knew about the page the whole time. But only now did they decide to raise a ruckus.

  12. George, I’m with you on this one. It’s really sad that the FSP has devolved into this centrally-managed concept headed by a bunch of control freaks. Such a mindset runs counter to the very idea of the freedom they are supposedly pushing for.

  13. Thanks for your comments guys.

    One addendum. One reason why the page had so many fans is because I spent $167.16 out of my own pocket to get 1.441 million impressions for ads that directed people to the page.

  14. You all are treating the FSP as if it were some government telling you how to run your lives. That’s so silly it’s almost asinine. The FSP is an idea and some people were given stewardship over the idea. I do believe you have managed to define “fringe” by attacking something as benign as the FSP for simply defending the brand. Way to go! Alright! High 5! Bringing down the man! Hooyah!

    Seriously? o.O

  15. George, I did read what you wrote. To the extent that Varrin would have FB cancel your account I think is an overreaction on his part, but I’m really not privy to the details which color both sides.

    If your only option to prevent your personal account from being deleted was to abolish the FB FSP page, then I suppose you did the right thing… just seems maybe some more patience on both sides would’ve helped. Maybe I’m being naive =)

    I’ll reaffirm that this matter does have a lot to do with “brand materials.” Brands are extremely important, whether talking about a company, a non-business organization, or an individual person’s reputation. Brands must be maintained if they are to be effective, and thus if the leaders of -this- particular brand disagreed with your tactics, I can understand why they’d want you to change them or remove any formal branding from the page. Not sure if that was suggested, but maybe would’ve been a good compromise?

    I do want to re-acknowledge the hard work you put into the page. It’s unfortunate it ended in such a way =/

  16. Lou, that’s like saying the Tea Party is an abstract idea whose stewardship was given to Sarah Palin in good faith. Please. The FSP was an idea that has been TAKEN OVER by these people. George isn’t the only one to have been screwed by these “leaders.”

  17. Erik, the topic of branding never came up as such in the discussion. Just talking about branding is offensive to me. The FSP was marketed to me as nothing more than what people decide to make of it. The concept of branding is not compatible with it.

    “The FSP was an idea that has been TAKEN OVER by these people”

    Thank you. Well said. And this is the problem with having official leadership. Eventually, if there is something remotely of value, some penny ante thugs will ride in and play tiny emperor.

  18. It’s not “my” brand and the idea hasn’t been taken over by anyone. There has always been a board…since, before NH was even chosen. The Tea Party doesn’t have a board as far as I know. It’s a non-profit organization and has been since it’s inception. Don’t like it? aww.

    I think that is why so many people have started their own organizations, ideas, concepts, Free Grafton, Free Keene, NH Liberty Alliance, god the list goes on and is what the FSP pushes people to do. It’s fine if they don’t want the FSP name attached to these projects because they truly aren’t affiliated with the FSP. It’s such an elementary concept that it frightens me that you don’t get it?

  19. I don’t think I articulated that last post as well as I intended…especially the “aww” part. :P

    If the FSP is an idea that has been taken over by others, then you will have to name it something different because…

    http://www.freestateproject.org/org/articles

    I’m thinking Free Keene, or Free Grafton, or some other name like that would be good. In fact, new ideas and projects, once you move here would be a grand idea. I think there are some people here that already got those balls rolling. We need more balls.

  20. George,

    There are a lot of scumbags in the Freedom movement, and a lot of them are making a lot of money by exerting control over their little domains. I’m not surprised at all that the top FSP people fall into this category. Good luck in your own ventures.

  21. Mr Donnelly,

    Did you at least save to disk or other media the page(s) content? Can you modify the content and run another page that promotes the ideas without the FSP brand?

    Just asking

  22. Since they were threatening you real albeit small harm, it makes sense for you to take it down. They can build it again if they want.
    We did not agree to have guys like jason and varrin tell us what to do. We all represent the FSP.

  23. the funniest part is that people talk about the ‘leadership’ of the FSP.

    Granted there is some stuff between George and Varrin…

    But Jason has no position in the FSP.

    The FSP is what people make of it. yes there is a board but there are many activists who do more than many board members for the FSP.

    I don’t think that this one example is why the FSP is flawed and failed.

    I see this above episode as communication breakdown between two individuals.

    I also don’t think that the FSP is a ‘right libertarian’ organization. The FSP tries (and occasionally fails) to be everything to all libertarians and that is what started this whole thing (Varrin didn’t want the FSP to have ANY say in in-state activism)

    *disclaimer I was invited by George to be an admin of the FSP FB page and I posted something at least weekly.
    ** I hold no formal position with the FSP … just a volunteer.

  24. I’m behind you, George. Sorry it had to come to this, but as you say, they put you between a rock and a hard place. I’m not sure I would want this Varrian character or some other FSP petty tyrant in charge of the facebook page, so deleting it was probably the least bad option.

    The Intellectual “Property” aspect of this dispute, whereby Varrian and the FSP org is claiming all rights to the FSP brand and use of the FSP name, is fascinating. How can anyone own a movement?

    Centralization & Hierarchy FAIL!

  25. Doc, no, there is no option to download a page’s content. But we did start a new page called Liberty Activism:

    http://www.facebook.com/pages/Liberty-Activism/131614566891115

    Dreepa, I wasn’t aware that you posted so frequently.

    Dreepa, Varrin used the power of FSP inc to get the outcome he wanted. That’s troubling. You are one of the people who most sold me on this idea that while the FSP has leadership, they don’t actually have it. And this incident conclusively disproves that. Either you don’t see it or you don’t want to admit it.

    “How can anyone own a movement?”

    Amen

    In response to Varrin, the main thrust to his response over at LiveJournal is that he never made the threat. Admittedly his threat is implied but it came through loud and clear. What’s more he called it his “nuclear option against George.” I think that ends any doubts about what he was thinking. Also, he said he was “not interested” in getting my account deleted. But he never promised not to do it. “Not interested” = not good enough. He continually lies about making the threat. Threat + lie + failure to retract = I can’t trust you.

  26. George…

    I recall telling you so…
    Now that this is out of my system…

    You are going to be personally attacked, a lot, and I am sorry that this will be happening to you, but it is like sunrise, inevitable…

    I invite you and all your enthusiasm to Individual Sovereign University, where everything you were told about FSP is actually true. There is no “owner” deciding actions of people involved with the University. Certainly Jim Davidson is the creator of the project but as he is enthusiastic about free growth he is not involved in managing the project.

    Verily the only stipulation I can think of is Individual Sovereign University refuses to accept assistance from the State.

    I suppose you can mail me on FB or something like that….

  27. George,

    yes I posted easily once a week and probably visited daily and commented daily if not more so.
    I also deleted spam whenever I saw it. I never deleted comments or posts even if I disagreed with them. I often posted things which many could be considered questionable. I think that 3-4 of the posts that Varrin mentioned were posted by me.
    (YAL, FSPers win primaries, Anti- War accolades, Liberty on Tour and some others)

    I agree that the FSP has leadership and they don’t have ‘it’. I still stand by that. I do things all the time without asking for permission. Sometimes I get some emails telling me not to do things. Then I decided if I will continue. However was I was never put in your situation with the threat of losing your personal account or anything like that. (Mine had nothing to do with FB but other activities)

    I don’t think that one incident proves anything. (one data point never proves anything)…. however you are correct in that this case it was a case of FSP ‘leadership’ doing something.
    I do see cases where the FSP official ‘leadership’ gets involved some where they should and some where they shouldn’t. But I see hundreds of cases where they don’t get involved.

    I still think that libertarians gathering in one place to effect change is the best method whether people do it under the auspices of the FSP or not.

  28. George,

    Based on subsequent comments by yourself and others, I would like to provide an addendum to my response.

    I’m sorry you feel like I threatened you in the way you state. I have tried to explain that I didn’t actually threaten you, I didn’t intend to threaten you, and after being alerted to your lack of trust, made it clear that I wasn’t interested in doing what you thought I was threatening to do. I did all of these things *before* you deleted the page and the record of those facts is clear and well-documented. If I somehow failed to make it clear that I wasn’t threatening to report you and/or persuade Facebook to delete you, I apologize for that lack of clarity.

    I have outlined in my response my reason for citing Facebook’s terms: You had already repeatedly cited them yourself as your *reason* for not wanting to start a second account to post things to the Free State Project Facebook page as yourself. Therefore, it appeared to me that you respected Facebook’s terms. I intended to appeal to your respect for Facebook’s terms, not to threaten to attempt to persuade Facebook to enforce their terms. I intended to do the former and not the latter and stand by both of those.

    However, I’m truly sorry if my communication to you about all of that was not clear enough.

    For the record, I’d like to publicly apologize for two more things:

    1: I should not have recommended starting a second account. When I did so, I was not thinking about that being in violation of Facebook’s terms. Thank you for pointing that out to me and for encouraging me to put forth effort to respecting Facebook’s terms. My suggestion was clearly inappropriate, I subsequently corrected it (as has already been documented), and I do apologize for it.

    2: I apologize for using the term “nuclear option.” I intended that phrase, in the context, to be a short and hopefully mildly humorous (even if sarcastic) phrase meaning: “Varrin files some form of report to Facebook indicating inappropriate content which may result in George’s account deletion.” That was poor judgment on my part under the circumstances. If there was any “nuclear option”, it was deleting the Free State Project Facebook page. You actually did that. I still think, under the circumstances, it would be poor judgment to call it that, so I’ll do my best to refrain from calling it that.

    V-

  29. Since I’m not able to comment on Varrin’s post, and it appears he’s following this one, here’s constructive criticism:

    1. Whatever your intent may be, the reference to Facebook’s TOS clearly appears to be a veiled threat that you will act on the TOS. It is difficult to draw any other conclusion from the statement other than the one that George drew, further reassurances notwithstanding. The same would apply to any reference to terms or laws which act in favor of your position and against the opponent. E.g., an example we’re all familiar with, “i think you should do such-and-such, and by the way you know smoking that stuff is against the law” – implying, “do what I say or I’ll send the authorities after you.” There is no need to bring this kind of language into any discussion unless you have the intent to act on it and want to represent that intent; it may be appropriate in some cases, but it wasn’t in this one.

    2. “things inappropriate for the Free State Project to say” – it may be that you have some granted authority over FSP members to determine what is and is not appropriate for its representatives to say in an official or unofficial capacity. I don’t know, I’m not familiar with your charter or practices and don’t care to be (no offense intended). In that case however the ultimatum you should have delivered was, “either respect our guidelines or don’t claim to be a representative of the project”. George should have/could have updated the page to denote that it was an “unofficial fan page for the FSP” like others present on Facebook in order to distance its content from FSP’s official positions, whatever they may be. In any case you should know that liberty activists are extremely averse to suppression of speech, official positions, and political correctness. Backlash from this was inevitable and you either knew this or should have known this ahead of time.

    3. Regarding the publication of emails: when the contents of a private conversation are called into question the rational recourse is to publish those conversations in the same space where the conflict is playing out. This is not a violation of any kinds of etiquette; George is simply providing evidence in support of his position. You are similarly free to point out omissions and misrepresentations based on the evidence. If you would rather that the conversation not be published, the proper course of action would be to not dispute its contents. You would then have some kind of standing to claim that the publication was unwarranted (though I doubt an ethical or moral one, as I personally am opposed to the concept of intellectual monopoly from which an ethical claim would arise).

    My take on all of this is that the FSP wanted to distance itself from this situation, perhaps due to fear of political volatility, and took an underhanded approach to doing so. It may not appear “underhanded” to FSP officials because this kind of behavior is what passes for discretion in political circles. Again, I believe the correct response would have been to post publicly that the FSP project did not support this situation or political activism in general and to publicly request withdrawal or a change to the page to clarify that it was not associated with the official FSP organization, not to privately demand that the whole thing be snuffed.

    On a personal note, this kind of drama, infighting, and power struggle is what I intend to do away with in my life. I don’t have a problem conceptually with people voluntarily arranging themselves into hierarchical structures but I want nothing to do with this kind of thing personally and it’s not a great selling point for the project. It seems that the whole constellation of organizations around the tea party, the free state project, and others in the liberty movement are attempting to consolidate power and image into the exact kinds of collectivist top-down organizations we were all trying to get out from under on joining with them. I don’t wear labels personally so this doesn’t impact me, but it appears that many of the most passionate people in the movement are feeling betrayed and disowned by all of this.

  30. It’s fine if they don’t want the FSP name attached to these projects because they truly aren’t affiliated with the FSP. It’s such an elementary concept that it frightens me that you don’t get it?

    Lou, you’re talking about something completely unrelated.

    Dreepa, D’oh. I thought Curtis was posting all that stuff. I apologize.

    Spectacular comment, Justen.

  31. I find your LiveJournal post to lack substance, Varrin. I’m not going to respond to it point by point. I will say that I published this article not to cause further conflict (thought that may be an unavoidable consequence) but to explain to anyone interested what had happened. I am open about most of what I do and I intend to be accountable for my actions. In order to accomplish this, I have to publish what exactly I did. I didn’t submit it to Reddit or post it to the new FSP page. I didn’t like it 180 times on Facebook (thus making it my most popular post).

    I refused to speak to you on the phone because I was already very stressed and you offered no compelling new information that would justify the call.

    I find the apology a little weasly. I’m not sure if you’ve admitted to threatening me or not. I don’t really care anymore.

    Frankly, I expected to be made a pariah in the liberty movement by publishing what I had done and why. I’m shocked to see so many people approving of what I did. This is probably because in the statist world, and as an unconscious libertarian for most of my life, people just didn’t get my motivations and I often suffered for standing up for principles or myself. It’s amazing to be in contact with so many people who get it.

  32. I don’t understand why you didn’t just change the page to a “non-official” Free State Project page. Simply make it clear that the things on the page were not officially endorsed by the FSP, it’s management, or members. Simple!

    I am also not sure why Jason Sorens or Varrin Swearingen would not have suggested this. I suspect they may have.

    Instead of a simple, free-market solution going into practive, we all have to be subjected to a lot of needless drama, name calling, and wasted time.

    I hope we can all learn to do better.

  33. Ray Powell,

    No “free market solution” was necessary. Varrin had no right to dispute anything. He shouldn’t have thrown his little fit in the first place. From what I have read it seems to me that Varrin was 100% wrong from the start.

  34. they would not have accepted an unofficial page
    they might not have been able to do anything about it

    don’t worry you have plenty of friends here in the Shire that will understand your ideas and experiences

  35. This entire dispute is hinged upon one simple question … who did the page belong to?

    Had either George or Varrin been the owner, the conflict would have ended where it began; the solution would be self evident – whoever owns the page calls the shots.

    Sadly, neither of them owned it. As irony would have it, the page was owned by a fictional character called ‘facebook’ with its own group of managers and watchdogs – a page with its own set of rules and regulations backed by an involuntary monopoly of force.

    Is it any wonder the scene is set for chaos? George felt he owned it since he clearly homesteaded it, while Varrin claimed ownership of at least its content, being the official representative of the FSP. The thing that surprises me is these two self proclaimed lovers of liberty are at each others throats instead of identifying the actual problem.

    George and Varrin … what are you guys doing? You ought to both be laughing it up at the corner pub over a couple of frothy malt beverages and having that ‘aha!’ moment. Then bury the hatchet and humbly admit to one another that Murray Rothbard is surely rolling over in his grave right about now!

  36. Verrin said: “I’m sorry you feel like I threatened you in the way you state. I have tried to explain that I didn’t actually threaten you, I didn’t intend to threaten you, and after being alerted to your lack of trust, made it clear that I wasn’t interested in doing what you thought I was threatening to do.”

    Sending a message saying that “hey, since I think you’re doing something wrong, I’m could share that thought as fact with someone who has the ability to destroy your property” is absolutely a credible threat, and George is justified as feeling it as such. Worse yet, it is merely a passive-aggressive threat from a man who obviously doesn’t have the balls to reach a peaceful agreement.

    This is no better than the guy from next door who mentions that he ‘could’ call the police on you because you’re smoking weed, and weed is illegal. He may not directly be threatening to do so, but even bringing up his power over you is a show of force both highly immature and inappropriate.

    Saying “I have a gun which I could use to kill you” isn’t much better than pulling out the gun and pointing it at someone. That’s exactly what you did, Verrin, and for that you have lost all my respect. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be a way to un-join the FSP.

  37. From what little I know of the debacle, I agree with George. “Freedom” and “control” are antithetical. Whereas I imagine Varrin has plenty of nuisance with public relations and effective organization, that is very much intrinsic to any project so structured. Frankly, Varrin, you took the job and the job is what it is. You aren’t a successful cat-herder if you need to turn them into obedient dogs. Astute observers will recognize that incidents such as this one are evidence of the hierarchical model failing to compete with the horizontal model, and bit by bit being disassembled. It would behoove Varrin to recall this incident next time he gets the urge to give orders to his underlings.

    And personalities aside, I encourage all to think of it that way. Embrace horizontal structures and dismantle hierarchies – every time, even if they exist in projects you support. Why? Because it strikes the root. The state is but one hierarchy, and by addressing its fundamental structure you can be far more effective than hacking at its proverbial branches in political actions. Change, of course, starts within.

    A shame a good thing had to go away to make a larger point, but it was the right choice.

    With regards from Tennessee. :D

  38. At the LIO Facebook page ( http://www.Libertarian-International.org) which I edit we let people share their LINKS and projects. Folks can THEN comment to their heart’s content. Admins who want to editorialize or post personal items are just temporarily removed so it appears under their name (including me). I hope things work out and the page can be restored. Thank you for your work.

    BTW LIO is piloting a project similar to FSP in Pinellas area of Florida (about the size of NH) that has worked well and will be taken worldwide soon. The difference is developing people locally using our methods, not asking people to move in.

  39. I think George should have handed over control of the page to the FSP, for the following reason:

    The FSP is an organization. Because George agreed to Facebook’s terms, which basically state that Facebook ‘Pages’ are basically under the control of the organizations they represent, and because George was not an official representative of the FSP, George was obligated to relinquish his control over the page. This is a matter of pre-existing agreements. It is unfortunate that George staked so much of his effort on something that could (in accordance with agreements he made) be taken from him so easily, but that was his choice.

    Incidentally, I don’t understand why George continues to reference an alleged threat from Varrin to hold George accountable to terms of use that he himself agreed to. Even if it were a threat, it would be completely in the FSP’s right (and consistent with the non-aggression principle) to make and follow through and report George to Facebook.

  40. I was laughed at for asking permission to do stuff like this. I was effectively told that there was no such thing an official FSP anything. If that’s true, what meaning does Facebook’s “official representative” have in this context? Is their new page run by “official representatives”? How do you know one way or another?

    The FSP can not at the same time pretend they are a movement without central control *and* a corporation that has to be in control of its branding. Pick one.

    IIRC Varrin himself was one of the people who laughed at me at LF09.

  41. I think I can see why you deleted the page. I just don’t understand why you seem to believe the FSP is wrong to want control of it.

    Maybe this is the issue:

    The FSP can not at the same time pretend they are a movement without central control *and* a corporation that has to be in control of its branding. Pick one.

    I pick the second: the FSP is a corporation with branding interests. If they are at fault for anything, it’s for claiming to be anything other than that. I can see how the general impression of the FSP is not consistent with that truth, and I am sorry that it led to this conflict.

  42. I am fucking stunned by the amount of apologia for petty authoritarianism in this thread. Take orders from some unaccountable guy that isn’t picked by the respective participants? And people like Patrick Shields dare to call themselves libertarians– I hope to Kropotkin you don’t yourselves anarchists. Guess what Varrin, Jason, et. al.- You can crack your whip, but we can pull the plug. Without us, your “volunteers”, your pie-in-the-sky dream would be nothing. Without your Ian Freemans, your Russell Kannings, your George Donnellys, your AnarchoJesses, your Evan Pierces, your Rich Pauls, you guys would be nothing but a bunch of closet republicans itching for your chance to finally have some sort of authority over people who can’t hold you accountable.

  43. Patrick, yes, I was told by insiders that it was a movement without a controlling authority. Or, at least, the controlling authority was in name only. The page was for the movement, not any corporation that may exist. I added many insiders as admins. I didn’t expect to be the little king of it. I just didn’t expect to be a serf taking orders from above.

    Thanks for your comments everyone.

  44. “If your only option to prevent your personal account from being deleted was to abolish the FB FSP page, then I suppose you did the right thing…”

    It was not his only option.

    Another option (of many), would have been to make me the sole admin of the page, thereby removing the liability from himself. I offered this to George hours before the deletion, and he said Varrin would just threaten me as he did George.

    I (who was the third member in the private email between Varrin and George while all the public stuff was happening), did not see it as a credible threat, but rather a taste of George’s own medicine. You see, Varrin requested George make a second profile, in order to post to the wall without it being attributed to the FSP. George claimed that was a violation of Facebook’s TOS. Later, Varrin copied in the relevant (to page admins) section of the TOS, encouraging George to respect what he already claimed to respect.

    I already have two profiles. I would have been easily able to fulfill Varrin’s request, without threat of deletion or overt censorship. And quite possibly without making Varrin, or any other FSP ‘insider’, an admin of the page.

    I felt that George could be sure that with the page in my hands, it would be run just as George would have liked it (we practically competed to post the coolest stuff as page admins), but I guess George did not see it that way.

    I had a very similar event happen to me, not too long ago, where I destroyed something I love out of pride and spite. So I really dont want to be too hard on George, cause I “killed my page” just like him. While this was all going on, I tried to be the guy I wish had been around when I was destroying that which I love. I suggested both he and Varrin take a break from the computer, and go get a snack. Unfortunately for all of us, I do not think either took the advice, at the time.

    Without your Ian Freemans, your Russell Kannings, your George Donnellys, your AnarchoJesses

    Just had to slip THAT one in there, eh? LOL (I also question the inclusion of “Evan Pierce” in that list, but then again, I can guess who made the post, and why those two names were included…)

  45. I was “friends” or whatever with the FSP page. I was following along with the abducted child news when the page went **POOF**.

    Good for you for removing it. Just shows me that NH isn’t as “free” as they claim. And the Free State Project seems to be turning into a NH militia.

    Thanks but no thanks.

  46. A taste of your own medicine, yes.
    You opened up that door when you went there first.

    But I dont see how that translates to your agreement with facebook being meaningless. Unless the TOS includes an agreement that you will not use the TOS to convince others of your position…?

    And, yes, I think you can violate facebook’s TOS at will (assuming you are aware of, and willing to subvert and possibly face the consequences for subverting, facebook’s TOS).

    I’m really sorry this happened, George. You’re a great guy, a tireless advocate of liberty, and someone I consider a friend. As I mentioned before, I did something very similar to what I watched you do. Remembering (even now) how much it hurts to recall what I did, for reasons of pride and spite, I tried to spare you from that fate. I honestly wished I’d tried harder, but there was a fear you would interpret my actions as supporting Varrin, and I figured if that happened, there would be no way I could talk you off the ledge.

    The only thing left to do is convert this to a positive experience going forward. We should all learn a thing or two from this, particularly regarding how we communicate with one another.

  47. Curtis, I pointed to the terms to show why I wouldn’t do something. Varrin pointed to the terms as a club he could use against me. Big difference. Whatever other considerations there are, this is the bottom line on that particular topic.

    I am sorry this happened too. Mostly I’m sorry I invested my time and energy in this in the first place. The principle lesson I take away is to never work with a hierarchical organization again. On that topic, I notice even C4SS has hierarchy. It’s a subsidiary of something else, has a director and a board!

    I want you to know I value our association and that is one of the few things that kept me from deleting it for several hours. I still feel I owe you something and renew my offer to make restitution.

    The only regret I have about deleting the page is that I feel you took a loss as a result.

    On a side note, FSP inc did not lose connection with 11,000 interested parties. The Free State Project (the movement) lost one means of connection to those 11,000 parties. The movement retains connections to those 11,000 people one way or another. The FSP inc is a client-server relationship. But the FSP (movement) is a peer-to-peer thing. This page wasn’t integral to the movement’s success. It was a result of its success. It was never meant to promote FSP inc.

  48. On a side note, FSP inc did not lose connection with 11,000 interested parties. The Free State Project (the movement) lost one means of connection to those 11,000 parties. The movement retains connections to those 11,000 people one way or another. The FSP inc is a client-server relationship. But the FSP (movement) is a peer-to-peer thing. This page wasn’t integral to the movement’s success. It was a result of its success. It was never meant to promote FSP inc.

    Put that way, I agree.

    Oh, and again, no need for restitution. We’re already moving in the right direction with the Liberty Activism page (and I think we should start many others).

  49. And the Free State Project seems to be turning into a NH militia.

    I am a member of the FSP, living in NH, and I know of no one who identifies as a member of a militia.

  50. @Sovereign Curtis

    Friend, I was witness to a great many provocateurs (my opinion), in NH and around FSP projects, advocating “joining militias” (paraphrased with a very small degree of variance).

    I avoid the term, and am a pacifist – but it behooves FSP members to consider how that loaded term will be leveraged against them, should they misspeak or misstep.

    Hence the FBI and their bomb dogs.

  51. advocating “joining militias” (paraphrased with a very small degree of variance).

    I’ve never seen this happen. Maybe those types simply do not waste their time on Anarchists/Voluntaryists/Keeniacs. I’d think limited government “conservative” politico types would be much more receptive to that message. So maybe in places other than Keene and Grafton.

  52. I’m new to the concept of the FSP and have read through this entire thread and the referenced Liberty Forum thread as well. It seems to me that there are, at least, two distinct philosophies at odds here: Anarchism and what I think would be called right-libertarianism?
    In order to better understand the two sides and their respective arguments, and to decide if I wish to have anything to do with either / both, might someone be able to point me to some educational material? Please share what you believe to be the best written examples of your philosophy.

    TIA. I’ll check back here often!

  53. Wow, a random passerby maintained the interest level to go through all of that? That is some real stamina! Hmm, the best examples. Well I can sum the two lines of thought up for you.

    Right libertarians say we need a government, albeit small, or we will devolve to warlordism. Or they say anarchy will devolve to minimal government. I’ve heard both. Some say that there must be government control of the defense and arbitration industries because justice must be uniform and objective.

    Anarchists hold a wide range of views but generally agree that the state is responsible for many of the evils we face today. Anarchists feel that individuals can do better by themselves, working voluntarily, without coercion in any of a range of styles, from communism to socialism to capitalism to mutualism.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Right-libertarianism

    http://c4ss.org has a lot of good writing on the libertarian anarchist point of view.

  54. Hi, and welcome, Random Passerby. George and others may differ with my take (in fact I just saw George’s reply to you) but here it is.

    Call them Anarchism and Minarchism. The minarchists believe that some laws are necessary to maintain society, though they would like to reduce them to a minimum, hence the name. Ayn Rand and the Libertarian Party are two notable minarchist icons. Anarchists believe that no laws are “necessary”, and some or many believe that creating laws and enforcing them are actually the source of many social ills. A. J. Nock and Lysander Spooner are notable anarchists.

    As an autarchist myself (Rule of Self by Self), I caution you that most of the “anarchists” who wear black clothing and call for “smashing the capitalists” are just misguided punks who wouldn’t know Che from Marx – i.e.: not indicative of the philosophical arguments.

    I could give you a long list, but instead I’ll point you to sources for more sources. Try…

    the “Libertarian” subreddit on reddit.com

    and

    the “Anarchism” subreddit

    Both groups are fairly indicative of the two schools. HTH and YMMV.

  55. This is actually a really good question Random. Thanks. And great reply meme. Thank you!

    I wouldn’t say that laws in and of themselves are bad and that all anarchists believe them to be so. I for one like Murphy’s idea in his book “Chaos Theory” that legitimate law (statute?) can arise from voluntary relationships. Laws that are valid and legitimate as a result of the nature of ourselves and the universe I accept wholeheartedly. Laws that arise from the various oligarchies and are imposed on the rest of us, not so much.

    The anarchism subreddit is populated more by social anarchists (anarcho-communists, anarcho-syndicalists, etc) than by market anarchists like myself. Market anarchists can also go by the terms anarcho-capitalist, voluntaryist, agorist, mutualist and probably a dozen more.

  56. > Thank you!

    YW, and I bet NH is lovely right now. We’re in the Tennessee hills, which looks just like the white mountains, and the leaves are just starting to turn. :D

    I wrote a long essay once that argued it is the codification of social mores into laws that creates the problems of lawyers, politicians, and police, etc. That is: left as generalized conventions of a society, and enforced ad hoc by the public, you can get the same results w/o creating the Appeal to Authority fallacy inherent in the Force Monopoly and Arbiter of Last Resort. If nothing else it was a fun essay to write, hehe.

    > The anarchism subreddit is populated more by social anarchists (anarcho-communists, anarcho-syndicalists, etc) than by market anarchists like myself. Market anarchists can also go by the terms anarcho-capitalist, voluntaryist, agorist, mutualist and probably a dozen more.

    Largely true about reddit, and Mr. R. Passerby might google those terms too.

  57. THANKS for the responses! I’ll start reading and come back with the questions that are bound to surface. ;-)

  58. Well if FSP wants to persuade people moving to NH but doesn’t want to involve with activism beyond that, then I think I can understand Swearingen when he objects issues like baby cheyenne getting an important place on your FSP page? It is only after that that he reacted and I tend to endorse that.
    Also you seem to think that libertarians are all friends, love each other and turn the world into a peaceful place? I think the conflict between you and Swearingen did not violate however any libertarian principle. The only difference between a “normal” war and a libertarian one is that the latter is financed privately, but not that the latter would not exist because we’re all “brothers and sisters”.

  59. Yeah… I don’t see a lot of libertarian wars happening. Are you gonna march your army across *my* property? Feed it with *my* money? Quarter it on *my* land? Call mass murder of unarmed, uninterested parties “collateral damage” and get away with no liability? I don’t think so. For that matter, where are you going to get a mass of ignorant young people so religiously in love with your organization that they cry when pop stars sing about it and are willing to throw their lives away to settle your quarrels? Or did you plan on instituting a libertarian draft? Heh.

    No, there’ll be crime, and there’ll probably be plenty of gangs and and some amount of mass violence, but all the causes and consequences of war are impossible without a state robbing from one set of victims to pay for the murder of another, and the ego of the sociopaths who wage them.

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