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The Free Me Project, or Worldwide Open Source Peaceful Evolution

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After my move to New Hampshire fell through, I thought, why don’t I just do here what I planned to do in the free state? I considered all those people that are in the same boat as me – aching to work effectively towards liberty but lacking like-minded comrades and, in some cases, even an idea of how to proceed. So when Joel Laramee announced his desire to free the entire Philadelphia metro region, it catalyzed my thinking.

It’s Not Enough to Downsize One State Government

We need 6 billion Free ___ Projects. Replace ___ with your favorite entity: states, townships, counties, boroughs, companies, neighborhoods, streets, other people … ME. The Free State Project is great idea, but it’s not enough. It’s not enough just to downsize a state government – or even all of them. We have to eliminate the concept that aggression is morally acceptable in the minds of 6 billion individuals. That’s the lofty vision I call Worldwide Open Source Peaceful Evolution.

But HOW Do We Do This?

So when I heard about Joel’s idea, I thought: PERFECT. But then I wondered: How? Electoral politics is easy: you campaign, you vote, you lose. But “outside-the-system” work is less clear. How do you de-legitimize the state? This is where concepts like peaceful evolution and a master plan for liberty come in. In order for the former to happen on a large scale, we first need the latter.

Keep it Local, Libertarian

While my first urge in response to Joel’s project was to think on a grand scale, I’m now convinced that we peaceful traders need to prioritize our local communities. Credibility is required to sell original ideas, and when your neighbors see you living the zero-aggression principle next door, it transforms abstract principles into a plausible third way. We’re not politicos, so we can’t rely on elections, protests and parades to show off our ideas. We use love and reciprocity. There’s a lot more room for that with your neighbors than with distant strangers.

No Market Anarchists ‘Round Here

No, I don’t know any market anarchists around here where I live. So I’ll be testing a controversial hypothesis of mine – that if we liberty-lovers just got out in the streets there’d be more of us. In other words, since I believe in the moral superiority and enormous practicality of liberty as well as the innate goodness in all people, I am confident I’ll encounter like-minded folks eager to beat their own evolutionary paths to liberty. If nothing else, it will be interesting.

Open Source Insurgency

I’m really talking about a kind of open source insurgency. This is very different from the Free State Project, which is about electoral politics (with market anarchists awkwardly tagging along). In order for an open source insurgency to work, we need, first and foremost, a plausible promise, which has three parts: adversary, goal and demonstration.

Adversary, Goal: Easy

Our adversary is not people (since people can always change their minds). It’s an idea: that aggression is necessary. Our adversary is NOT the people who commit aggression – they only require our obstinate, truthful, direct love. Our goal is a world in which aggression is never acceptable. We can’t banish aggression entirely perhaps, but we can make it so socially unacceptable that it becomes highly exceptional. Our goal is not the end of government (a negative) but a reign of peace (a positive). Does that goal motivate you? What would?

The Demonstration is the Proof that it Can be Done

The demonstration? Now that’s the hard part. The demonstration shows that your effort is viable. It’s an operation where you best your opponent. If your opponent previously seemed unbeatable, the demonstration removes that illusion. It can become a call to arms, like “Remember the Alamo”, that motivates more people to our cause. I don’t know what the demonstration will be yet, but it has to happen soon.

Stay Tuned

There’s more to come and your feedback is greatly appreciated.

Photo credit: Bohman. Photo license.

By George Donnelly

I'm building a tribe of radical libertarians to voluntarize the world by 2064. Join me.

23 replies on “The Free Me Project, or Worldwide Open Source Peaceful Evolution”

George, I’ve been ruminating on EXACTLY the topic of “keeping it local.” In a bid for cleverness and marketability, I’ve been thinking of it as “Mr Rogers Libertarianism” or [ironically] “State Farm Libertarianism” (“Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there ;-)

I was discussing with my wife the other day how little we’ve ever known our neighbors (she was born and raised in Queens, NY where we live now). She observed that she’s ALWAYS been distant from her neighbors, wherever she’s lived in Queens. It made me wonder: it might be conspiratorial to suppose that the state’s players try to build unneighborliness into society; but it DOES seem to play into the state’s interests. In monopolizing all the services it does, the state dilutes incentives to look to neighbors as partners in finding solutions to things like crime, child care, health care, education, sanitation, etc.

Besides that, in the event that the state ramps up efforts to REALLY sunder neighborhoods with tactics like neighbors spying or informing on neighbors, I suspect more tightly-knit communities could better survive such onslaughts.

For my own part, unfortunately, I’m an extreme introvert; so it’s a serious challenge for me to actively make connections like that. I’ve been making some progress, at least in breaking ice. It’s good to know there are people thinking along the same lines.

Hmm…. I remember coming across Mr. Robb’s site some time ago, but I didn’t pay TOO much attention: it all struck me as rather abstract.

Besides overcoming barriers of temperament, the idea strikes me as very simple and very straight forward. I think the only theorizing required would be in determining whether there’s a reason to expect that such personal efforts would have impact. But then having impact wouldn’t have to be the only reason to try it: surely there’s personal benefit to be had by thinking of your neighbors as a market, nurturing it, and engaging in trade, even if only trade of time with people whose company you discover you enjoy.

Anyway, looking forward to more on the topic!

George:

YESSSSSSS. :- )

Andrew:

You are totally right, about the State and its fragmenting dynamic. I personally am trying to avoid thinking of the State as an “enemy”, in the sense that an “enemy” has “personal” characteristics, and “motives” that you can discuss. I think the State is more like a cancer. We fear cancer, we hate it, we want it gone, but… does cancer “think”? Or have “personal” characteristics? I really do think in terms of The Matrix.

While I’m not sure I would characterize myself as a straight-out “introvert”– I’m probably just about equal parts introvert and extrovert, with a bit of an edge for the introvert part– I know that my wife is more into talking to strangers than I am. Whether at “home” or “out”. One thing I can say for sure, I have felt *way* more interested in my neighbors since I converted to market anarchism this April.

Another thing– I went through my teens and twenties, being told by my religious community that we really really needed to “get out there” and “spread the good news about Jesus”, so that people would “come to know him” and “be saved”. It never really clicked for me, probably because I was gradually moving away from a belief in the supernatural, that whole time. But now– I feel that I really do have good news (“you are free! wake up!!!” etc.). And I have been increasingly good at spreading that news and seeing the light come on in the eyes of a variety of different types of people. (And btw, it IS the good news of Jesus. That’s just a sweet bonus.)

I have to read a little more about “swarming”. I think it’s just so delicious that George is taking strategy tips from evangelicals. :- )

George: although I came out on the side of “do business stuff! no agitation! we’re good little boys!” on your previous post, I have actually given some thought to “master plan”-level stuff, for the metro region, and the suburbs are in some ways the total key, because there are more property holders there, and there is more of a culture of wanting to be left alone and to govern yourself. Gun ownership and training needs to be drastically increased in the suburbs, while there’s still time. (There!! I said it!! If my comment cuts off in mid-sentence, you’ll know what happened to me. :- ))

If the Philly suburbs awaken, it’ll be all over– at least for PA and the City of Phila. The feds… well… I’m still a little worried about them…

George:

Is SHTF really any closer to “right around the corner” now, than it was when the LP was formed? Prophetic types have been saying “people can only be pushed so far” for ever, and somehow the riots never seem to come. But go ahead, I want to be convinced. :- ) Anyway, we certainly can bring on some SHTF, if we are effective enough at shaking popular support for the State, across a wide enough swath of the Philly region.

(I promise I’m almost done.) Although I am totally “Philly Philly Philly Philly”, I also think we should try to find someone somewhere else in the U.S. who is thinking similarly, or get someone to start thinking about it, and we can set things in motion in our respective regions, and share “best practices” (sorry for the business cliche). I know Chuck Johnson has said “Las Vegas will be free in our lifetimes”, but does he think regionally? Could we get him on board with it, for his region? It would great not to be the only metro region in the country who is staring down the feds. N’amean?

Oh, and by the way George, I am SO happy you’ve come out explicitly with the reason that FSP is kinda cool, but not really it.

Here’s another thing– we all know what did and didn’t happen during “The American Revolution”, but there are some important things to remember, about how it started. To wit: there were rich people, bent on making money and having a good time doing it (Samuel Adams?). There were “plain old folks” (farmers)– some rich, some poor. But as Britain started to squeeze them for money, they started to chafe and they started to talk. Leaders emerged, who helped refute the words of people who would rather everyone just roll over and do whatever the king wanted.

The point? The “conflict” did not start in 1775, but the date that we all learn in elementary school is in that year, because that was the year that the British got nervous enough to go– armed themselves– after folks’ guns. And folks decided not to hand over their guns. And I’m told that’s when the shooting started. It started when folks responded to other folks who were coming onto their property, with the aim of seizing their means of defending themselves against anything at all, but especially, against the people who were coming to seize their means of defending themselves. :-)

It was “local”, because “local” is where you live, and where you can defend yourself. These farmers who were working damn hard, just trying to run their own lives, thank you very much, did not stop and say: “Hmmm. Maybe we should go down to RI and saturate it with liberty-minded folk. After all, it’s a tiny little place, we’d have a bigger impact than we can up here in big ole MA!” No, they worked hard, they kept vigilant, they talked with each other, and finally they just stood their own ground.

So yes– go around, finding the people who really want to be free, and who don’t spend their days parroting the warped and tired propaganda that gives the State it’s little fig leaf of legitimacy.

You hear what I’m saying? You don’t go around, talking the same to everyone. When you’re in sales, you “pre-qualify”. You don’t give up prematurely, but you pre-qualify too, so you don’t waste your extremely precious and scarce time and energy trying to breach a 10-foot thick stone wall with your bare hands.

When you’re a good salesman, you know that your product is desirable and needed. You also know that you need “stuff” that the people who need your product have. You are motivated by the prospect of an exchange of value. So– you make your sales plan. You take everything you know, and you decide where to go, who to contact. What to bring with you. What you’ll say. What you’ll do if interest is shown. What to do if there is evidence of a very large potential sale, but with significant additional effort required to overcome objections and doubts.

Anyway, George, I think I may be able to play a role in developing “sales brochures” (so to speak) that are geared toward different “segments” of our “market”. I will sell too (everybody sells, after all), but I think I can (maybe) have an impact with people I don’t interact with directly, by means of literature that other people can use to convince. My most fruitful sales efforts, to date, have been with those I know best– passionately committed evangelical Christians. (One of my brothers is coming around, too!! But is also part of that market segment.)

This is part of why I want to do a quick mapping of the whole Philly region. (Not the “full” full mapping, that I mentioned in an email to you, George.) We can figure out where to concentrate our efforts. We can develop approaches suited to various places. For example, you do something VERY different in a place like Drexel Hill or Havertown (both in Delaware County), than you do in a place like Wynnewood (Montgomery County) or Wayne (at the intersection of Chester, Delaware and Montgomery Counties). All three look “similar”– they are white and they are “reasonably affluent”, with “crime-free neighborhoods”, but scratch beneath that thin surface and you find very deep differences.

Getting very excited now! (I bet you couldn’t tell.)

I think it’s just so delicious that George is taking strategy tips from evangelicals. :- )

Gun ownership and training needs to be drastically increased in the suburbs, while there’s still time. (There!! I said it!! If my comment cuts off in mid-sentence, you’ll know what happened to me. :- ))

Hahahahaha.

And that’s very insightful about the ‘burbs.

Is SHTF really any closer to “right around the corner” now, than it was when the LP was formed? Prophetic types have been saying “people can only be pushed so far” for ever

Your average Joe will never take to the streets, not until the government leaves him with no choice but to do so. Jason Seagraves pointed out that when a similar crisis hit in the ’70s that Volcker I think it was raised interest rates to 21% to right the previous excesses.

But they show no signs of the willingness to do that now. Signs increasingly point to hyper-inflation, which will be a SHTF scenario that gets people into the streets, FWIW. On this topic, I like:

http://www.chrismartenson.com/

His crash course is a series of short videos that I found informative and intriguing.

I also think we should try to find someone somewhere else in the U.S. who is thinking similarly, or get someone to start thinking about it, and we can set things in motion in our respective regions

Right on. It must be done. Maybe goodiemonster and the folks in the Bay Area, CA? RadGeek definitely seems to be on a similar wavelength.

No, they worked hard, they kept vigilant, they talked with each other, and finally they just stood their own ground.

I think you have a really solid point there.

You don’t go around, talking the same to everyone. When you’re in sales, you “pre-qualify”. You don’t give up prematurely, but you pre-qualify too, so you don’t waste your extremely precious and scarce time and energy trying to breach a 10-foot thick stone wall with your bare hands.

Amen. That is very important. I’m kind of groping in the dark for that in my online discussions.

This is part of why I want to do a quick mapping of the whole Philly region.

Now that you explain it like that it makes more sense to me.

Thanks for all your comments, this is great stuff! :)

George,

I completely agree that it isn’t enough to have just one free state. I love the whole world to be free, but we have to start somewhere :) I promise, if we get anything close to a free state in NH, I’ll leave the state and try to free somewhere else. Unforunately, I think we will need at least a couple thousand additional freedom activists in NH to go with the thousand or so we already have to free NH.

Once that is done, I’d like to help spread the message to other places. Actually, truth be told, I already attend events and places outside of NH and try to spread the world, especially about Free Talk Live.

Hi Keith. Gotta start somewhere – so true. :)

It will be interesting to see how far the electoral strategy takes FSPers in NH, and at what point they become content with their progress.

I may still move to NH. Who knows what will happen. Kudos for helping spark the evolution both inside and outside of NH.

Thanks for commenting. :)

Why not turn as much of the state’s power against the state as possible?

Is it less effort than it would take to “turn” that many voters, or is it more? I’m convinced it would be more effort to “turn” voters towards even an inconsistent libertarianism, without the party structure. Why? Because most voters identify with a label, and before they apply the label to themselves, they will “pick and choose” elements of voluntaryism. (ie: I’m a voluntaryist when it comes to taxes, but I still want to keep them illegals out! etc…)

Elections are a tool for moving the less enlightened toward enlightenment values, without forcing them to be something they are not (as intelligent as the enlightened). As a good example: Ronald Reagan got people to vote for generalized libertarianism. Now then, he wasn’t a libertarian. He apparently had no depth or philosophy, and he didn’t refrain from getting involved in areas that a proper government has no business in (he didn’t avoid using the power of his office, as a principled libertarian would have).

…But he could have been a libertarian (…had he not been vetted by the Federal Reserve Bankers who run America. I’m speaking only of his relationship with the voters who voted for him…)

What might a libertarian executive have done? A libertarian executive might have spoken with the public about how using government force was not the right answer to any problem. (And other than that, he might have been similar to Calvin Coolidge, and done very little.)

…Which would have been immensely better than the drug warrior S&L bailing out Reagan.

Now, I doubt that the LP can win the presidency any time prior to the fiscal ruin of the USA (so, probably not any election in the next before 2020), but I am certain that we could win an entire state prior to then. (Unless the bankers simply intend to kill anyone who begins to win a full state.)

Do you think this wouldn’t make a difference?

The full weight of the police state will attempt to crush anything you do in PA. Although I was recently heartened to see the relatively large numbers of LP registrations in PA (there were around 36,000 last time I checked, largely due to a popular libertarian radio host there).

Again: the success of non-electoral voluntaryist activism is as good as the activist(s) themselves. The success of any libertarian (voluntaryist) electoral political campaign is similarly dependent on the intellect, organization, and dedication of those involved.

Politics is not inherently bad. To say so is to deny the power of human communication and intelligence. Politics is usually bad, for obvious reasons: limited averaged human intellect, limited average time of those who are smart, limited financial means, etc…

But where there is a surplus of ability, there are options. The optimal use of one’s full weight is what any intelligent and dedicated political libertarian should logically attempt to achieve. Then, one should underestimate their abilities, and reduce their goal to one they are virtually certain they can achieve. Then, they should attempt to add to that goal as quickly as possible.

In choosing the goal, one should choose one that can be built upon. Building out from an already immense city like Philadelphia is a large task. …I’m very interested to see your plan.

Hello,

As you may know, Ron Paul’s son, Rand Paul, is now an official candidate for the United States Senate in Kentucky. His website is located at http://www.RandPaul2010.com. Early polls have indicated that Rand has a strong chance of winning this seat, but first he must defeat establishment candidate Trey Grayson in the Republican primary.

Grassroots supporters of Rand Paul have announced a new date for an online fundraising “money bomb” called “Kentucky Fight” (www.kentuckyfight.com). Supporters will pledge to donate at RandPaul2010.com on the 23rd of September for what is sure to be a blockbuster event.

The date and the event were inspired by a recent article reporting that Senator Mitch McConnell and 23 other Senators in Washington are to hold a fundraiser for Rand Paul’s opponent Trey Grayson. This development is seen by grassroots supporters of Rand Paul as an unprecedented interference in a contested state primary. They also consider this an act of hypocrisy on the part of Senator McConnell who claimed he would remain neutral for the election.

The Kentucky Fight fundraiser is meant to be a lighthearted counter to the Grayson event and will be billed as “We The People vs. The DC insiders”.

I am writing you this email to ask you to join the coalition helping to promote this fundraiser for Rand Paul. I simply request that you to add a banner to your site (they can be found here: http://kentuckyfight.com/banners.html) and/or reach out to your members through an email or blog post. Any way you can help would greatly be appreciated. Your site will be listed on the coalition page (http://kentuckyfight.com/coalition.html).

Please respond whether or not you want to be a part of this coalition.

In Liberty,

The Kentuckyfight.com Grassroots Team

Why not turn as much of the state’s power against the state as possible?

I find that to be specious, in general. Kind of like, why don’t I turn the mugger’s knife against him? Well that’s a lot harder than just using my own defensive capability.

In a martial arts sense, I’m all for turning the attacker’s strengths into weaknesses, but I don’t think this is the same thing.

I’m a voluntaryist when it comes to taxes

I find this kind of thinking to be part of the problem. When people pick and choose conclusions from philosophical thinking based on expediency, it furthers the problem; the problem being a failure to reason, think and have integrity.

As a good example: Ronald Reagan got people to vote for generalized libertarianism. Now then, he wasn’t a libertarian. He apparently had no depth or philosophy, and he didn’t refrain from getting involved in areas that a proper government has no business in (he didn’t avoid using the power of his office, as a principled libertarian would have).

Reagan set liberty back IMHO. He talked a good game and did the same thing as other big-spending govt goons. That’s hypocrisy and it’s bad.

but I am certain that we could win an entire state prior to then.

What’s the point? It would be self-defeating for libertarians to control a state.

The full weight of the police state will attempt to crush anything you do in PA.

That’s an extreme statement. Care to qualify it at all?

Thomas, I resist all instances of the state, including its elections.

Jake–

Are you aware of the concept of satyagraha? It is a Sanskrit word from the Hindu scriptures that is sometimes translated “truth-force”. It basically means actively fighting something, without using violence. I wrote a little bit on it this morning, here:

http://fr33agents.ning.com/xn/detail/3426699:Topic:23860?xg_source=activity

It was the method of Jesus, and Paul, and Gandhi, and MLK. Please don’t quibble with the tactics or the “naivete” of these guys. It is very easy to look back across the decades or the centuries and Monday quarterback the great leaders for truth and justice. Their very greatness comes from an expert combination of purity of non-violent principle with in-the-moment tactical shrewdness. The problem is that when we read about these guys, most of what we read is by scholars, and most scholars are statist supporters of the American political system. So they measure these men against our system, as a baseline. Even if they don’t do that explicitly, they do it.

You think you can “do the state”, “better” than “they” can, Jake. You can’t. The monopoly on violence, which our political system is fundamentally based on (the Constitution itself was promulgated by force) is the “One Ring”. If you believe in your own goodness, you are tempted to think you can use the “One Ring” for good. The problem is, the maker of the ring was/is evil, and it destroys all who try to wield it. Small staters have an inordinate respect for the power of law to lead to good society. It’s a fundamental reality that law cannot make people good. The other extreme– arbitrary rule by individual thugs– isn’t good either, but that doesn’t mean that if you just make the right laws, if we just would use the Constitution “as the framers intended”, we will have a just and peaceful society.

You defeat evil by being uncompromisingly good. That is satyagraha– because to be uncompromisingly good you must be uncompromising about your self-ownership, which is a moral truth. And you actually, also, need to see that the state is made up of people, who are essentially good, but who are in the service of evil. They are deceived into thinking they are in the service of something good. When you do satyagraha, you “save” everyone who can be saved– both among the oppressed and among the oppressor.

If you think this is pie in the sky, Jake, or mushiness– consider that the masses are desperate for something new. There are many who actually allowed themselves to believe that Obama was different from all who came before. So offer them something truly NEW– not just complicated, non-mainstream versions of the same old violence. Truth-force is always new, while also being time-tested. That’s what makes it so cool.

Oh, and George, I’ve come back around, realizing that if you don’t intimately know your own neighborhood and your own township, how can you claim to know how to save a whole metro region?

I have begun to investigate my own township, to get to know it better. I will be posting some findings about the Lower Merion School District soon, on my Free Philly blog (http://free-philly-region.blogspot.com.

waypasthadenough, I have read multiple books about Gandhi including a lot of his own words. Why am I going to read your quote collection? What significant lesson or point am I to take from it? Why don’t you just summarize it for us here?

When the govt. of South Carolina fired on Fort Sumter were they being ‘aggressive?’

Self-defense is not aggression. Once SC seceded, the feds should have abandoned the fort. They dithered probably hoping for some PR coup, which of course they got – which brings us back to some of the points I have made.

When you kill someone who is planning to come to your home and kill your family is that being ‘aggressive?’

Too open and subject to radically differing interpretations for me to answer in a significant way.

Why are you going to read multiple books about ghandi? To have a better understanding of the world you live in. Sounds like you need to spend some time on other subjects. I won’t summarize it, you’ll have to put the time in. I know you have the time to chew more intellectual bubble gum don’t you?

Lincoln got the excuse for war he was looking for. Our enemies will use ANY excuse to start the blood war that is coming, so long as they think they can win it.

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