Free State Project

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The Free State Project (FSP) is a plan to have 20,000 or more (self-proclaimed) "liberty-oriented" people move to a single state of the United States, where it is intended they will influence local political policy.


History of the movement

Inspired by an article published in L. Neil Smith's online magazine The Libertarian Enterprise on July 23, 2001, Jason Sorens, a Ph.D. candidate at Yale University, argued that the thinly scattered libertarian activism was failing. His conclusion was that it would be necessary for libertarians to geographically concentrate their efforts in order to achieve "liberty in our lifetime." As a result, the Free State Project was founded on September 1, 2001.

When the FSP surpassed 5,000 members in August, 2003, a vote was held to choose the state. The ten candidates were (alphabetically): Alaska, Delaware, Idaho, Maine, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont, and Wyoming. These states were chosen because of their low populations (under 1.5 million), relatively pro-libertarian native cultures, lack of dependence on federal funds, and decent job markets. The voting process used a Condorcet method to determine which state was most preferable to the most people. On October 1, 2003, it was announced that New Hampshire had been chosen as the Free State (Wyoming came in second). The vote was certified by ECL / Synchromesh Computing of Austin, Texas as fair and unbiased—one of the few times in history an important social movement's vote was counted and certified by an independent third party—and a private company. As part of the certification process, individual members of the FSP could also view their ballots on-line so that they could self-verify their vote.

Following the vote, the focus of the FSP shifted toward recruiting another 15,000 members to commit to the move to New Hampshire. Once membership reaches 20,000, all members are supposed to move within five years. There is no obligation to move until and unless 20,000 members are reached, but many members expressed their desire to move before that time. Early in 2004, Amanda Phillips was named President of the FSP. Dr. Sorens continues to remain active as Chairman of the Board of Directors.

After moving to New Hampshire, members have pledged to "exert the fullest practical effort toward the creation of a society in which the maximum role of civil government is the protection of life, liberty, and property.". Most (but not all) plan to work within the political system to reduce the size and scope of government through reductions in taxation and regulation, reforms in state and local law, an end to federal mandates, and a restoration of what they see as constitutional federalism. The Free State Project has become a "big-tent" political, social, and cultural movement for "liberty-minded" people. The Free State Project itself is non-partisan and non-political and does not take any stance on issues, but acts only as a "bus" to get these like minded individuals to move to New Hampshire.

Insignia of the FSP

Missing image
Free State Project porcupine insignia

The porcupine signifies a cute and cuddly creature which one is advised to avoid stepping on. This is meant to imply that these individuals are friendly and non-aggressive, but want to be left alone and will defend themselves if attacked. This mascot has given rise to "porcupine" or "porc" being used as a term for both FSP participants as well as anyone in New Hampshire (FSPer or not) devoted to working for libertarian causes. The insignia bears the FSP's motto, "Liberty in Our Lifetime."

Recruitment Progress

As of June 3, 2005, 6,563 participants have signed up. Of these, 364 are already in New Hampshire, including 106 who have already moved. Over 1,000 originally opted out of New Hampshire and were removed from the count after the vote, so total growth since the state vote was held is over 2,500.

With the recent New Hampshire town meetings in March, 2005, the FSP scored its first overt election victory with the election of member Dawn Lincoln of Winchester, NH (formerly of Connnecticut) to the Winchester School Board. Ms. Lincoln homeschools her two daughters.

The FSP also sponsors a syndicated call-in talk radio show, Free Talk Live ( which is available in several broadcast areas, as well as on satellite radio, via download, and via Podcasting services. This show has contributed to sustaining membership growth and encourages listeners to help expand syndication.

Criticisms of the FSP

Many commentators have questioned the capability of the project to reach its goals. While the project at first received strong support in the libertarian community, it now appears to be stalling. Based on the rate of new sign-ups from the 6-month period of December, 2004 through May, 2005, the project will not reach its goal of 20,000 members until late 2025—far later than the original goal of September, 2006.

Another problem is the commitment of members to actually move when the time comes. Many did not participate in the 2003 state selection vote, and though several hundred of the non-voting members did reaffirm their commitment after being contacted by FSP leadership, nearly two thousand have not responded.

To combat these problems, the FSP plans to step up recruitment efforts in 2005. These efforts will include direct mail, which has not previously been used.

Also, the reaction of the present residents of the state is a controversial topic. The plan could be considered analogous to entryism, however entryism is typically a strategy used by a subversive group to infiltrate and alter the agendas of opposition groups. Free Staters claim they picked New Hampshire as their destination because it is the most in line with their own views.

See also

There have been earlier movements to achieve a political or economical agenda by moving population to a relatively sparse territory. The relocated people have not always moved voluntarily and they have not always been accepted by the previous residents.

External links

fi:Free state project fr:Free State Project


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