by Kevin Barrett, reporting from the 10th annual Porcupine Freedom Festival in Lancaster, New Hampshire
What do you get if you mix marijuana mavens, gun-lovers, unschoolers, computer hackers, bitcoin evangelists, survivalists, tax heretics, cop-blockers, cop-watchers, civil disobedience practitioners, gray- and black-market entrepreneurs, anarcho-activists, nullification enthusiasts, freedom theorists, sovereignty rebels, love-our-freedom Muslims, truth terrorists, de facto defectors, and other self-described enemies of the state?
The answer: Porcfest – as in porcupines, not pigmeat. Porcfest, a.k.a. the Porcupine Freedom Festival, showcases the Free State Project, which asks freedom-lovers to move to New Hampshire. Their goal: Make the “live free or die” state live up to its motto. If New Hampshire becomes a haven of liberty, these folks believe, it will not only be a really fun place, but it might even spearhead American Revolution 2.0. and help save America, and the world, from the forces of tyranny.
In ten years, the Free State Project has convinced more than a thousand liberty-lovers to move to New Hampshire. Their goal is 20,000 – which they calculate would be enough to radically change how business and government are conducted statewide. While they haven’t liberated the whole state yet, I can testify that the Free Staters have set up a wildly successful week-long Temporary Autonomous Zone here in the White Mountains of Northern New Hampshire.
The sweet smell of weed hangs over this place, rivaling the pungent woodsmoke from campfires and spicy meatsmoke from barbecues. All kinds of people are packing serious heat – not just holstered pistols, but also semi-(?)-automatic rifles slung casually over a great many backs. (That may be one reason visible law enforcement has chosen to stay away.) Some of the gun-toting guys look like hippies; a few even wear skirts. Others are skinheads in camouflage.
If you want magic mushrooms, you won’t have to wander around any cow pastures to find them. Unlicensed bars and lounges, some in plushly-furnished tents right out of the Arabian Nights, will serve you up just about anything you might desire, from absinthe to homebrew, from top-shelf wine and liquor to Miller Lite. (Since I’m a love-our-freedom Muslim, I prefer the equally luxurious gourmet tea-house next door.)
If the fear-mongering media stereotypes were true, PorcFest would be a terrifying place. During this week-long wild-and-crazy party, the official laws governing drugs, sex, firearms, currency, taxation, licensing and regulation are effectively null and void. All of us here at Rogers Campground are at the mercy of our fellow freedom-loving citizens. The state apparatus that normally “protects us” from each other is conspicuous by its absence. And yet somehow I feel safer here, among the pot-smoking survivalists with AK-47s slung over their backs, than I did at the normal campgrounds I stayed at while driving here from Wisconsin, where cops and park rangers are on duty to make sure you and your fellow campers follow all the laws…and if you don’t, they’ll kidnap you and put you in a cage.
It makes you wonder: Do we really need all those uniformed guys with badges threatening to kidnap and cage us, and beat the hell out of us or even shoot us if we resist? To borrow a phrase from police-beating victim Rodney King: Can’t we all just get along…without them?
Here at PorcFest, the answer is: Yes we can.
Several heroes of the resist-the-police-state movement are here: Jacob Crawford of Cop Watch, Pete Eyre and Ademo Freeman of Cop Block, and Antonio Buehler of the Peaceful Streets Project. All of these guys have come to the same conclusion: Since the police state is watching us, we’d better watch them right back. One way to do that: Film the cops whenever you can.
But cops don’t like being filmed. It’s almost like they have something to hide.
So when you film the cops, you risk arrest.
All of these guys – Jacob, Pete, Ademo, and Antonio – have been repeatedly arrested for filming cops. But they just keep doing it. Often, the cops will notice they’re being filmed, and decide not to carry out an arrest. Other times, the film will help the arrestee avoid jail. (Cops are trained to spin the facts and lie under oath, so having video of what actually went down can be useful to defendants, and embarrassing to cops…which is one big reason the cops hate being filmed.)
That willingness to tell the state “screw you, I’m going to stand up for liberty and take the consequences” also characterizes the civil disobedience panelists: Ademo, Ian, and Derrick Freeman, Lauren Canario, and Jim Johnson. They advocate Gandhi-style non-cooperation with the state at every level: don’t pay taxes, don’t get licensed-approved- and-regulated, don’t do what police and bureaucrats tell you, push it as far as you can (or as far as you dare), and when they kidnap-and-cage you, consider your stay in the Cheshire County Spiritual Retreat as a soul-building experience.
The panelists pointed out that when you’re resisting in a way that’s going to get you kidnapped-and-caged, it’s smart to do it in a place where the local jail is run by human beings, not sociopathic assholes. Fortunately for the free-staters in the Keene, N.H. area, the local boys-in-blue are mostly members of Law Enforcement Against Marijuana Prohibition, so a certain mutual respect prevails between the enemies-of-the-state and the thin blue line. Unfortunately, the same is not true in Manchester, where people are mistreated and (rumor has it) even occasionally “suicided.”
The freedom-fight in cyberspace
As the cop-watchers, cop-blockers, and civil-disobeyers fight for freedom on the ground in their local communities, other activists are doing the same thing in cyberspace. And the biggest freedom-fight in cyberspace right now is over Bitcoin, the leading crypto-currency.
What is crypto-currency? The short answer: Currency that gives its users privacy and anonymity in on-line transactions, in the same way that cash gives its users privacy and anonymity in real-world transactions.
If you use checks, bank cards, credit cards, pay-pal or other non-crypto-currencies, all of your transactions are being traced in real time by Big Brother. The Orwellian state can easily profile you, surveil you, and ultimately control you, based on the state’s knowledge of your recorded economic transactions.
And it isn’t just the state. Marketers can use knowledge of your activities, including economic activities, to figure out how to push your buttons and make you buy their stuff, based on surmises about the unconscious factors that drive your choices in life. In other words, they can profile you, attach puppet strings to your unconscious mind, make you dance to their tune, and steal your money.
The government (like the big corporations that own it) doesn’t like Bitcoin and other crypto-currencies for the same reason it doesn’t like cash: Big Brother wants to know every detail about every penny that passes through your hands. The most obvious reason, of course, is taxation.
The government wants to know about every penny you spend so it can extract a sales tax. And it wants to know about every penny you earn so it can extract an income tax.
A fringe benefit of knowing every last detail of your economic activity, from the government’s perspective, is that it can use that same information to profile, surveil, and control you. If you seem to have a little bit more money than you should, you’re probably growing a couple of marijuana plants in your closet: Time to kick in your door, shoot your dog, terrorize your kids, beat the shit out of you, and put you in a cage.
If you use crypto-currency carefully, the government and the corporations that own it will not know about your economic transactions. When tax time rolls around, you can actually do the “voluntary compliance” the IRS requires. What I mean by that is that your compliance with the tax laws will actually be voluntary, as it is officially supposed to be.
Needless to say, most of the end-the-state folks here at PorcFest will “voluntarily comply” with taxation as little as possible. They believe that taxation is theft, and that its main product is not roads, bridges, education, and security, but violence and injustice.
I used to think such people were crazy. But 9/11 and the so-called war on terror woke me up. It now seems fairly obvious to me that the government is just as evil as the wildest-eyed Rothbardian anarchist says it is.
Maybe even more evil.
Another huge advantage of Bitcoin crypto-currency is that it is a commodity currency, not a fiat currency. Bitcoins are based on a type of mathematical object that exists in limited numbers. Half of all bitcoins have already been “mined” (discovered). Unlike US Federal Reserve Notes and most other official currencies, bitcoins cannot be printed in unlimited numbers. For that reason, they are likely to hold their value, or rise in value, while official fiat currencies perpetually lose value as governments print more and more of them.
No wonder so many PorcFest participants have phased US dollars out of their lives, and are using Bitcoin and commodity currency (mostly gold and silver) for all of their market-exchange transactions.
Could the crypto-currency revolution bring down the government? That is what many here hope. Their forecast: Because crypto-currencies offer privacy and stable value, all rational economic actors will gradually move out of fiat currencies into crypto-currencies. The dollar, and all other fiat currencies, will collapse. Governments will no longer be able to print currency or tax their subjects. Bankrupt, they will wither away, replaced by mechanisms of voluntary association, beginning with the free market.
In preparation for that day, the Freedom Movement is big on agorism: Entrepreneurship in gray or black markets. Agorism basically just means starting a business – except you do it in such a way as to minimize or eliminate taxation and regulation. If possible, your agorist business will also help spread the word about the movement.
A PorcFest event called The Agorist Pitch offered prizes worth thousands of dollars to those with the best business ideas. The winner: Davi Barker’s plan for crowd-funded follow-ups to the Milgram and Stanford Prison experiments on obedience to authority. Runners-up included an educational game and a chicken farm.
Unlike the 1960s hippies who camped out and partied at places like Woodstock and Altamont, the folks here at PorcFest are not using “freedom” as a vague and mystical slogan. Their intellectual heroes – people like Murray Rothbard, Ludwig von Mises, and of course the overrated Ayn Rand – offer a rigorously analytical libertarian philosophy and economics. Personally, I’m not convinced that these ideas always have straightforward and unambiguous real-world applications; like PorcFest speaker David Friedman, the son of famed Chicago School economist Milton Friedman, I think we need historical observation and empirical reality-testing to complement and sometimes contradict all of the wonderful libertarian theories.
But if the anarchists finally won their argument with the Marxists, as I think history shows they did, it was for a reason. The anarchist critique of government is correct.
If the government isn’t around to tell us what to do – or if we just ignore it – what will stop us from doing terrible, evil things?
The dominant school of thought here at PorcFest holds that humans are rational animals who will find ways to maximize mutual benefit through free interaction. People will find ways to pool their money to build roads and schools, defend their communities, and enforce justice, without something called the “sovereign state” threatening to cage or kill them if they don’t.
Others, including myself, believe that people need divine guidance to fully achieve their highest goals, aspirations, and potential. Like Will Coley of Muslims for Liberty, and Davi Barker the Muslim Agorist, I draw on divine revelation as the source of real freedom.
If you submit absolutely to God – not to anyone or anything else – you are truly free.
And if you care only about God’s opinion of you, and care nothing for what anyone else thinks, you have achieved real inner freedom.
Even David Friedman, a brilliant Jewish scholar who is neither deeply religious nor a hard-core anarchist, finds Islamic “law” – a deeply pluralistic set of guidelines that needs no state and is not meant to be coercively enforced – to be one of the most promising alternative models for libertarians.
Are David Friedman, Davi Barker, Will Coley and I “trying to bring shariah to America” ?
I plead guilty.
I’m a truth terrorist.
I’m an “Islamic radical.”
Because I love our freedoms.
And I’m tired of seeing them taken away.
Hope to see you next year at the 11th annual Porcupine Freedom Festival, insha’allah!
Dr. Kevin Barrett, a Ph.D. Arabist-Islamologist is one of America’s best-known critics of the War on Terror.
He is the host of TRUTH JIHAD RADIO; a hard driving weekly radio show funded by listener donations at Patreon.com and FALSE FLAG WEEKLY NEWS (FFWN); an audio-video show produced by Tony Hall, Allan Reese, and Kevin himself. FFWN is funded through FundRazr.
He also has appeared many times on Fox, CNN, PBS, and other broadcast outlets, and has inspired feature stories and op-eds in the New York Times, the Christian Science Monitor, the Chicago Tribune, and other leading publications.
Dr. Barrett has taught at colleges and universities in San Francisco, Paris, and Wisconsin; where he ran for Congress in 2008. He currently works as a nonprofit organizer, author, and talk radio host.