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…)
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?
The most important thing to know is that there’s no central committee deciding anything for the decentralized event. Just about the only thing generally agreed upon are the dates. Even the name has changed, depending on who you ask. In 2018, Free Keene blogger Darryl W Perry came up with the catchy name, “Forkfest”, which seems to have stuck with many participants. An unofficial Forkfest website was launched along with an unofficial Telegram chat room and unofficial Forkfest Forum. Liberty.menu has created an event to which one can RSVP. Last year there were even two competing event calendars made by attendees.
Darryl’s “Forkfest” name speaks to the idea that this event “forked” off from the Porcupine Freedom Festival. Some have noted that attending Forkfest felt to them like the first original Porcfests, which were much less centrally managed early on than they are today. Porcfest is still a great event, but its direction over the years has resulted in some wanting an alternative, and now they have it as Forkfest 2019 is coming up June 13th through 18th, at Rogers Campground. There are no ticket prices, as there is no organization behind the event. It’s just a bunch of liberty loving people coming to the same campground at the same time. Whatever happens, happens.
Five-Hour Rave at Forkfest 2017
Some Forkfest attendees may just want to hang out and camp with other like-minded people while others may wish to create activities and events for their fellow attendees. Usually, they’ll announce their plans on the Telegram chat or Forkfest forum and already there’s going to be “Mancamp”, nightly dance parties thrown by Anypay, and looks like at least a couple of food vendors. Maybe there’s something you want to see happen? Make it happen!
One excited past Forkfest attendee, Chris Waid of tech talk show Freedom Decrypted has stepped up to help promote Forkfest by purchasing a major sponsorship of Porcfest! Thanks to Waid’s efforts, Forkfest is now a Gold level sponsor of Porcfest! That means Porcfest’s VIP tent will be provided by Forkfest and Forkfest fliers will be in all Porcfest attendees’ bags, promoting Forkfest 2020. When asked about his reasons for sponsoring the event, Waid said, “As a programmer and CEO of a tech company that deals in free or open source software where forking is a common solution to problems of centralization it would have been difficult for me to pass on an opportunity to help sponsor events I love and particularly when one has been forked from the other.”
Unfortunately, this year’s event received quite a bit of bad press in the couple weeks prior. A self-proclaimed anarchist, John Galton was shot to death. Galton had been living in the area after allegedly escaping prosecution for cannabis “crimes” by the US Federal gang. Despite the murder having nothing to do with Anarchapulco as Galton was co-organizer of a different and now-canceled event called Anarchaforko, Anarchapulco was targeted by the media anyway.
No one knows the real story behind the murder. Various theories abound. Was the murder an inside job, a cartel killing, or something else? Would Anarchapulco founder Jeff Berwick be gunned down during his own event? This had the liberty community buzzing away before Anarchapulco 2019 began. Would the speakers show up? Would the attendees? I even heard that some craven busybodies had been contacting speakers and encouraging them to cancel.
Anarchapulco 2019 Logo
Turns out, the event is a major success, with excellent attendance, likely more than last year, which was a sellout. This year the organizers rented the entire resort and it seems to have been worth it. They’re already planning for 2020.
That said, it is likely some attendees chose to stay home due to fear. According to one participant, Anarchapulco tickets were allegedly being offered for sale before the event at a very low price on some facebook group. There was discussion by some over what, if any, extra security would be provided. This, despite no credible threat being made against the event.
It’s true that some speakers didn’t make it either, but that happens at any convention, especially one the size and complexity of Anarchapulco, where there are several stages operating simultaneously. It’s inevitable cancellations will occur. Shit happens.
The real test was Dr. Ron Paul, who was scheduled to speak this evening as the event keynote. If he didn’t show, I think the tone of the event would have shifted to depressed and negative from excited and positive.
Lyn Ulbricht chats with Ron Paul at Anarchapulco 2019
Not only did Ron Paul show up and give a great, uplifting speech, he came in the front like a boss, rather than slipping in the back, and spent plenty of time with his fans on his leisurely pace to the main event stage. He stopped many times for long periods to chat and pose for photos. Afterwards, there was a special dinner with Dr. Paul and he hung around to spend even more time with regular event attendees both before and after the dinner, in different parts of the hotel. We just kept seeing him over and over posing with people for photos. It was great.
There’s a reason Ron Paul is a libertarian hero and people flock to see him speak. He has always stood for his beliefs, whether in D.C., Texas, or in Acapulco. He’s never backed down.
When some suggested we at Free Talk Live not attend at all and even my co-host Mark Edge proffered we hide away broadcasting in a green room, I said no way. I don’t live in fear. I’m glad and honored to have Ron Paul at my side – literally.
The FSP’s Announcement of Cody Wilson’s Now-Canceled Speech at Liberty Forum 2019
UPDATED @ 20:31 Eastern 2018-09-22 – I contacted a source within the FSP about this last night, long before going to press. The takedown was confirmed by the source but they would not speak publicly about it.
UPDATED @ 18:10 Eastern 2018-09-22 – See bottom of story for FSP’s response.
Cody Wilson is a libertarian hero who has made countless international headlines in the last several years, first for releasing plans for the world’s first 3D-printable gun, the “Liberator”. After that, he created the “Ghost Gunner” hardware, which makes machining a gun from scratch almost as easy as pressing “start”. All the while, he has bravely thumbed his nose at the oppressive state and federal governments and recently won a major settlement from the federal government that illegally tried to stop him from engaging in the free speech of sharing his 3d-printable weapon files.
Wilson’s a free speech and gun rights champion, no doubt. No wonder the Free State Project had asked him to speak at their 2019 Liberty Forum convention they’ve held in the wintertime here in New Hampshire for over a decade. It wouldn’t be the first time Wilson’s spoken at the Liberty Forum. Here’s a Forbes article talking about Wilson’s speech from 2014’s Liberty Forum. Here’s a video interview of Wilson at the 2014 Liberty Forum by Free Keene blogger Garret Ean.
Sadly, this week an arrest warrant was issued from Austin, Texas police alleging Wilson had met a sixteen-year-old young lady on a website called SugarDaddyMeet.com, took her to a hotel room, had sex with her, gave her $500, then dropped her off at a Whataburger. In Texas the “age of consent”, is apparently 17, which means they are charging Wilson with felony “sexual assault” for the consensual act he committed with his “victim”.
Within a couple of days, the Free State Project (FSP) quietly removed Wilson’s photo and bio from its place on the front page of their NH Liberty Forum website. Wilson’s photo had occupied the top left speaker’s position on their list of expected speakers. That pretty much means he was their top billed keynote speaker.
Wilson’s still caught in Google’s cache of the FSP’s Liberty Forum site.
Poof! Just like that, he was gone. It’s not the first time they’ve tried to memory hole something – there was also the time when they tried to suppress video of a well-produced awards ceremony from Liberty Forum 2016 featuring me as a recipient.
The Free State Project used to be the reason many of us libertarians, voluntaryists, and liberty-loving anarchists moved to New Hampshire. They were known for throwing two great yearly events, including the previously mentioned Liberty Forum and the Porcupine Freedom Festival in the summertime. However in recent years, the FSP has taken a strong turn away from the principles of liberty by jettisoning any people they can associate with any uncomfortable ideas of sexual liberation. Namely, the crazy idea that teenagers could possibly make decisions for themselves. (more…)