Free Talk Live host Mark Edge delivered a speech he called, “What is Freedom?” at the Porcupine Freedom Festival this year. Sadly, in recent years, Mark has become a jaded activist and has looked heavily at moving to some “special economic zone” project or another, or perhaps Seasteading. This was part of the focus of his speech, but luckily his negativity was trounced by facts presented by Free State Project founder Jason Sorens.
As he’s explained many times on Free Talk Live, Mark is disappointed with his confused perception of the activism happening in New Hampshire – he doesn’t believe many people are doing any, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary that he’s not willing to even investigate for himself. All of the amazing political success stories or other outreach successes are not persuasive to him. Government is slow to change, and Mark is soon to turn 50 and worries his time is running out, so why bother trying to change the system when he now believes he can just bribe a government to leave him alone? That’s the plan with the “special economic zone” concepts – pay off a government for more freedom. If you think that will work, I have a bridge to sell you.
Anyway, after his speech, Free State Project founder Jason Sorens called Mark out and corrected his various misinformation. The fact is, the New Hampshire freedom migration is a tremendous, unprecedented success. The activism happening here is varied and ongoing and the more libertarians move here, the better. Mark seems ready to give up, when technically we’ve barely just gotten started. The Free State Project’s official five-year move window began in 2016 and doesn’t end until 2021.
Mark has pointed out his frustration over the FSP’s slogan, “Liberty in Our Lifetime” given that many in the FSP have died in the last 15 years. I’ve tried to explain to him that it’s just a slogan. The odds we’ll end the coercive state in our lifetime are quite slim, however there’s no better place to give it our best shot than here in the Shire.
That’s not to say Seasteading or a special economic zone is a bad idea – I wish those projects much success and if they ever get anywhere, I’ll seriously consider a move there. Meanwhile, New Hampshire has more libertarians, voluntarists, and liberty-loving anarchists in the same geographic area than anywhere else on the planet. More are moving in every month. Plus, the natives here are naturally more freedom-friendly than places like New York. Yes, progress toward freedom can be frustratingly slow, but no one said this would be an overnight success or a cakewalk.
This year, after a four-year absence, I returned as an attendee to the Porcupine Freedom Festival, aka Porcfest. I’m happy to say that Porcfest 2019 was a success and even featured some history-making civil disobedience. More on that in a moment. First, kudos to Rodger and Jessica Paxton and their crew for throwing an excellent festival – in spite of the now-expected political bungling by the Free State Project‘s board of directors. Longtime Porcfest attendee, and Free Keene blogger Rich Paul had this to say:
The tension that has subdued Porcfest for the last few years is finally healed. It feels like 2012 again.
Before I continue my review of the event, a little background:
After its rise to being one of the most well-attended libertarian gatherings on the planet and also becoming the most cryptocurrency-welcoming event as far as its vendors are concerned, the Porcupine Freedom Festival, which is organized each year by volunteers, but ultimately controlled by the Free State Project corporation, ended up making a few key errors. Yes, it was a mistake for them to kick me and my radio show out after a few volunteers made a stink back in 2016, but I don’t hold a grudge, and at the time even published a blog encouraging people to continue attending Porcfest.
That’s one of the more obvious mistakes they made, as despite my urging of people to continue to attend, attendance did drop sharply the following year, from what I have been told. However, the other things they botched were even more damaging to the event.
For years, and from before they decided to ban me, people who’ve attended the Porcupine Freedom Festival each Summer in Northern New Hampshire have complained that its recent years have been lacking in fun, partially due to an ever-increasing burden of rules at the event and centralized decision making on the part of the Free State Project’s board of directors. For instance, longtime vendors felt pushed out of the “Agora Valley” prime trading zone by the artificial extra costs imposed by the FSP onto the RV campsites in that area.
Nearly Empty Agora Valley @ Porcfest 2019
Where did these artificial costs come from? The story of Agora Valley is one that libertarians should know well and should have seen coming, but the libertarians running the FSP failed to see it and fell into the same centralized control trap they typically argue against. In the earlier years of the Porcupine Freedom Festival at Roger’s Campground, the first few rows of the RV camping area became, through natural market functions, the most desirable real estate in the park. The reason is that all the major speakers and events are held at the Pavilion at the bottom of the hill, so most campers will pass through that part of the RV area on their way to attend Porcfest’s various events. Eventually the zone was dubbed “Agora Valley” and vendors would compete to reserve the prime spots first for the upcoming year’s event, however the cost to the vendors at the time was the normal lot fee charged by the campground.
Eventually, someone at the FSP got the bright idea that Agora Valley should be managed by the FSP’s festival organizers, and a vendor’s fee and agreement was created. When asked, the FSP’s representatives generally will defend the fees as reasonable, since they include a ticket to the event, promotion to the event’s VIPs, as well as a listing in the event’s “Whova” event program app, for a very small premium on top. They are right – the Agora Valley vendor prices are reasonable. However, the market is clearly speaking, more this year than ever before, that the fees and rules are not welcome.
However the other way the market responded during this year’s Porcupine Freedom Festival, was the creation of the “Where it’s at” zone deeper in the RV area. Longtime Porcfest vendors and attendees, fed up with paying more than they had to or simply frustrated by the restrictions for Agora Valley, decided to opt-out and setup a hot zone of economic activity in the RV rows past the Valley’s “jurisdiction”. This mass exodus left Agora Valley nearly a ghost town at this year’s Porcfest.
To be fair, according to Shawn Grissom, this year’s Porcfest vendor coordinator, there were vendors in the lonely Agora Valley that did very well this year. That said, even Grissom agreed the FSP should let go of trying to organize the campground and focus on their event production alone. Let the market self-organize again in the camp/RV area.
Heroic Open-Air Drug Market at Porcfest 2019
Aside from the centrally-planned failure of Agora Valley, the rest of the 2019 Porcupine Freedom Festival went off well and received rave reviews. The Paxtons did a great job of bringing balance back to where Porcfest wasn’t just a family vacation spot – with approximately 200 kids and teenagers in attendance – but also a great party. This year there was a naked guy down at the campfire at night on at least a couple of occasions that I saw, along with a topless young lady, plus an amazing open-air drug market.
During the final night’s Free Ross auction to benefit imprisoned liberty hero and founder of the Silk Road underground market, Ross Ulbricht, there were two vendors set up just outside on a couple of picnic tables right next to each other. One vendor offered items for sale on a whiteboard such as “not mushrooms” and “not pot” while the other seller’s blackboard offered shrooms, flower, and edibles. It even included a shout-out to #freeross.
The little things like that made this year’s Porcfest feel like Porcfests of the past, but what made this year’s Porcupine Freedom Festival historic was what happened at the end of the Free Ross auction. After two hours and well over $10,000 had been raised from bidders on dozens of donated items, two activists donated a couple of eighth-of-an-ounce containers of cannabis to the remaining auction items. The auction was run by Mancamp founder Jay Noone and since he doesn’t have a auctioneer’s license, the entire event was civil disobedience. Noone then made Porcfest and likely New Hampshire history by auctioning off the cannabis to two lucky winners including me and the his assistant, Angie. What fun! (more…)
Come out to join us – it’s not too late for this year yet!
The sun has risen on day number three of Forkfest 2019 at Roger’s Campground as we appear to be on track to top last year’s event. One key indicator – besides new faces showing up this year in the early two days – is the number of food vendors here this year. Day one was pretty slow as always, but by the evening of day two, there were at least four campsites offering food for sale including Matt Roach & Vincent at RV 82 who set up and were operational before anyone else, offering biscuits and gravy in the morning then other delicious hot food later in the day including a chicken chili and cornbread combo. By day’s end, “Taco Munch” had opened up in the tenting area, I heard Silver Dave was serving up food near the dome, and Bardo Farm sausages were being offered by Shawn the soda guy in the RV zone.
If you don’t already know, Forkfest is the yearly camping party in the woods that began in 2017 at Rogers Campground in the beautiful White Mountains of New Hampshire. This year, Forkfest happens the five days prior to the Porcupine Freedom Festival and you’re invited to come and create whatever experience you’d like others to have. No one is in charge and the event is decentralized. (In fact, some people have different names for the event, including Somaliafest, Shirefest, and Banned Camp) It’s up-to-you what happens at Forkfest.
ACLU Sign to End Death Penalty in NH – Photographed in Keene
New Hampshire today became the 21st state to abolish the death penalty, as the state Senate and House have now both voted to override the governor’s veto. Despite the death penalty having no deterrent effect on violent crime, governor Sununu stood firmly with the police, as he has foolishly done on cannabis legalization, and against the overwhelming tide of history.
It’s refreshing to see some level of compassion win the day and see the police state taken down, even if it’s only symbolic. New Hampshire hasn’t actually put someone to death since 1939 and though one man is currently in state prison with a death sentence, according to the Washington Post, the state prison system has no plan to acquire any lethal injection drugs.
According to one anonymous state rep, bloodthirsty Republican legislative leadership apparently cranked up political pressure in their attempt to stop more compassionate Republicans from voting along with Democrats to end the insanity of the death penalty. While they were successful in changing some votes to back the governor, they ultimately failed as many Republicans followed their conscience instead of party dictates. The bill first passed the House in March by a vote of 279 to 88, while the House’s veto override passed last week by a closer 247 to 123 vote. In April, the NH Senate voted 17 to 6 to abolish the death penalty while its veto override today passed 16 to 8.
All the New England states now no longer have the death penalty! Kudos to all liberty reps who did the right thing and shame on any who sided with the cop-loving governor.
Ross Ulbricht is the founder of the world’s first Darknet market site, the Silk Road. By launching the anonymous marketplace, Ross changed the black market in the most fundamental and positive ways in all of history. The Silk Road allowed users for the first time ever to purchase their drugs anonymously and from the safety of their homes rather than having to go out in the streets where robbery and ripoffs have been common occurrences in the black market.
The Silk Road lowered violent crime and increased the odds that the buyer was actually getting the drug they ordered, since dealers on the Silk Road were subject to anonymous competitors. That drove prices down and quality up. All the while, Ross, allegedly acting as site administrator, “Dread Pirate Roberts” helped his site’s users understand the ideas of liberty through a book club he ran. Ross was and still is a very principled voluntarist libertarian. Ross is also arguably the second most important person in the history of Bitcoin besides its anonymous creator, Satoshi Nakamoto. Silk Road put Bitcoin (BTC) on a lot of people’s radar at a very early time in Bitcoin’s history, as one needed to have Bitcoin in order to shop on the site.
Of course, the government thugs could not allow this newfound free market to stand so they targeted Silk Road and were able to uncover its location and admins back in 2013, bringing them up on multiple felony charges. One admin, “Inigo” aka Andrew Michael Jones was even a Free State Project signer who had visited Keene, though we didn’t know that about him at the time.
After a sham trial, where Ross was clearly railroaded, lowlife judge Katherine Forrest sent him to prison for two life sentences plus forty years. All for simply creating a website. Forrest believed this would “send a message”, but apparently no one cares. More sites like Silk Road popped up to replace it and despite many of them being taken down by the feds over the years, they keep springing up again and again. After all, there is a lot of money to be made and someone will always be willing to take the risk to supply the demand in the market. The cops can talk tough all they want – the war on drugs is a failure and anyone honest knows it.
Derrick J and Michele Seven rally to Free Ross outside his trial.
This week, I spoke with Lyn Ulbricht, Ross’ mother. She told me about a new petition to get her son out. Given Ross’ appeals failed in the corrupt, evil “justice” system, his only chance at freedom is a commutation of his sentence from none other than Donald Trump. Though this certainly seems like a long shot, Trump has indicated some interest in criminal justice reform, so perhaps it’s not impossible. Lyn has already been circulating a petition nationwide which has garnered over 168,000 signatures. However, there is a new, special petition only for people in New Hampshire.
Lyn hopes the new petition will get New Hampshire likely voters to indicate their support for Trump commuting Ross’ sentence, ideally with the voter pledging they’ll become a single issue voter and vote for Trump in 2020. While the petition itself doesn’t pledge that the signer will vote for Trump, those willing to make that pledge should do so in the comments section. If you’re in New Hampshire or will be by 2020, please take a moment to sign the petition here. If you’re willing to vote Trump if he commutes Ross’ sentence, please indicate as such. It’s not like your vote means anything at the national level anyway, so why not?
Once the petition gets enough signatures, Lyn will present it to the head of the Republican party in New Hampshire in hopes that will help it get in front of Trump. It’s a long shot, but it’s the only chance Ross has. I’m signing, how about you?