“Making History with the FSP” by Tim Condon
Making History with the Free State Project
By Tim Condon, director of member services
The Free State Project (FSP) is like a circus performer doing some wildly improbable feat: You’re surprised not by how well it is done, but rather that it is done at all.
That’s why the FSP is making history. Consider these facts:
· The leadership of the organization consists of people living in North Carolina, Nevada, Michigan, Texas, Florida, Arizona, and Russia (of all places).
· Virtually none of them have ever met each other in person.
· The organization is formed for the purpose of convincing 20,000 people to “sign up as members.” In order to become a member you have to promise to pull up stakes and leave your familiar surroundings to move yourself and your family to…an unknown location most likely a thousand or so miles away from where you and your family presently live.
· The organization was officially formed on September 1, 2001. By the first week of September 2002, one thousand people had officially signed up and promised to move to…whichever state would be ultimately chosen by a vote of the entire membership when it reaches 5,000.
· After having taken one year to reach the 1,000 member milestone, it took the Free State Project just another two months to reach the 2,000 member milestone, and by the end of January 2003 it had 2,500 signed-up members..
· The organization is nationwide, and involves scores, if not hundreds, of people working together, communicating, interacting, deciding, solving problems, debating issues, issuing directives, and directing operations on a daily basis. And they’ve never met each other.
In other words, the existence and growth of the Free State Project—like the notion of a bumblebee being able to fly—is clearly an impossibility. That’s why the FSP “Porcupines,” as they call themselves, are making history.
In a sense, the very audacity of the founder’s idea has propelled the organization forward. Jason Sorens, a university student working on a Ph.D. in political science— a student! —came up with an idea to promote social, economic, political and political freedom that is so extreme that most people’s response upon hearing it is quick and simple: “It will never work.”
Yet in the face of all expectations to the contrary, incredibly, the Free State Project continues its rapid growth, flabbergasting both the plentiful naysayers and all conventional opinion.
How can that be?
It has to do with the intersection of two historic trends, and the appearance of one individual with one good idea. The two historic trends? One is the technological revolution in communications called simply “the Internet.” The other is the rapid increase in the size and intrusiveness of government at all levels in America, especially on the federal level. In taxes, in spending, in bureaucracy, in distance from the people it supposedly represents, America has never seen anything remotely approaching the unrestricted growth of government during the past 40 years.
And with that unrestricted growth of government comes increased power of all kinds and at all levels—political power, police power, social power, military power, economic power…you name it, the government is there and is gobbling it up like some kind of out-of-control robotic pig. So rapid has the growth of government become that many Americans see it as beginning to threaten to totally throw off what remaining bonds there are of the Constitution, and become totally unchained from any kind of restriction or control.
Right-wingers are worried. Left-wingers are finally worried. Civil libertarians are extremely worried. Conservatives are worried. Even some Liberals, who have nurtured and cheered the expansion of central government power for half a century and more…are having second thoughts.
But most worried of all are a sub-set of all of the above groups, those who might be called “freedom-lovers.” People who want to be left alone. Those who don’t want to dance to the tune of an all-powerful and all-beneficent “nanny government.” People of this bent are known by various names, including market liberals, individualists, classical liberals, Constitutionalists, and libertarians, depending on who’s doing the talking.
But they all share a simple desire: To be able to live their lives as they individually see fit, in freedom as they see fit, without being controlled and regulated in myriad ways by the modern “welfare” state. The explosive growth of federal government power in the United States has created more and more such people as each year has passed.
Thus, historical trends are coming together as we read this: The unrestricted, out-of-control growth of government power is rubbing up against the just-as-explosive growth of the Internet and wide-band communications capabilities…all waiting for one young political scientist with one good, far-seeing idea.
Nothing like the Free State Project has ever happened before, not in this way, not in response to times as they are now. To be sure, there have been mass movements in the past, throughout history in fact. And the Internet? Today politicians routinely try to utilize it to troll for votes. So what’s the big deal? Just this: There has never been a national movement birthed so quickly out of new communications capabilities, in response to the growth of government power so clearly threatening to spin totally out of control.
Of course, the Free State Project can’t claim to be totally unique in the way it has come about; there is a precursor, a previous non-political movement that the FSP suspiciously resembles. That is, the growth of the Linux computer operating system phenomenon.
Linux was also the brainchild of a single young man tinkering with a new idea. Linus Torvalds, a Finnish university student, decided to take on a project of creating a new “open” computer operating system, with the emphasis on “open.” To grow his project, Torvalds released it onto the Internet and invited computer programmers all over the world to help him tinker and improve it. The rest is still-evolving history. With thousands of unofficial hackers and helpers all over the world, Torvalds guides the revolutionary process at the center of the hurricane of creativity, and Linux continues to growth in complexity and popularity. Some predict that it will challenge the Microsoft monopoly on all fronts.
In the same way, the Free State Project has harnessed the creativity and energies of volunteers all over the world with incredibly diverse skills and backgrounds. They’ve come together (in cyberspace) in the service of one overriding idea: How to find a place where people can live their lives as they see fit, unmolested by the constant depredations of regulatory government at all levels.
The result is the FSP, which expects to reach its 5,000 membership goal within 6 or 8 months, whereupon “the Free State” will be chosen by vote of the members. And then? And then watch out. Watch out for a “gradual explosion” in freedom, wealth creation, creativity, and entrepreneurship, right here in America. Like tiny Hong Kong pointing the way for all of China, the Free State will show the way for the entire United States with, in Jason Soren’s words, “a restoration of constitutional federalism, demonstrating the benefits of liberty to the rest of the nation and the world.”
Sound exciting? You like the idea of being able to live in liberty in your lifetime? Then you may want to check out the Free State Project on the Internet at http://www.freestateproject.org…and help to make it happen!