The Idea of creating parallel societies is not new. There have been attempts throughout history to live differently. From medieval Nordic Anarchists through the hippie communes of the sixties. One of the more successful recent attempts is the Free State Project.
The Free State Project is a movement with the mission to move liberty-minded, broadly libertarian ideals to the state of New Hampshire. The movement is an attempt to concentrate political and social influence in a region that has a relatively small population and is already “free” in comparison. These two key aspects would allow for a coordinated, small group to influence policy up to and including the state level.
The Free State Plan
The initial plan was developed by Jason Sorens, a Yale University student, in July 2001. He is the author of the initial essay that led to the movement as well as the follow-up essay that further helped grow it. The idea: get 20,000 liberty-minded people to pledge to relocate to the state of New Hampshire. The move would be triggered at 20,000 signatures and the goal was to complete the move within 5 years of it being triggered.
Soren’s inspiration for the movement originated from what he saw as a change in the public’s attitude towards free markets and globalization. According to him, while many countries around the world have shifted to regional governance from the previous federal centralization, the United States has moved towards an opposite direction.
Promotion of Ideas
The aim of The Free State Project is not to “take over the state” as have been said by critics. The goal of FSP is to bring new ideas to floor about local and state policies. In recent years, several ideas have been advanced by The Free State Project participants. These include marijuana reform, occupational licensing reform, school choice, and more.
Over the years, The Free State Project has evolved and changed its approach to activism to be more efficient and effective. The movement’s porcupine logo puts an emphasis on supporting non-aggression. Porcupines are non-aggressive and cute but you certainly don’t want to step on them. According to Sorens, FSP has worked to “police its boundaries” for fundamental elements. This is in contrast to simply endorsing civil disobedience to trivial problems.
Why New Hampshire?
There are a number of reasons why interested people might want to move to New Hampshire:
- Improved quality of life.
- Low crime levels.
- A low local and state tax burden.
- Great opportunities for political involvement and activism.
- A dynamic economy with lots of opportunities for jobs and growth.
- A culture of self-reliance, independence, and responsibility.
The State of the Free State
The goal of 20,000 signatures was met and the FSP was triggered in February, 2016. As of August 2022, over 6,000 pledgers now live in New Hampshire according to the organization’s website. Due to various logistical challenges not everyone who pledged to relocate is expected to move.
Although it is impossible to know what policy changes are attributable to FSP, The Free State Project:
- Boasts many elected state representatives,
- Has millions in real estate investment
- Influenced constitutional carry
- Helped reform the drug laws
- Introduced business tax cuts
- Helped Reduced The State Budget
Jason Sorens said he foresees The Free State Project becoming even more decentralized in the future. However, until at least in 2022, FSP will remain a formal organization. He said that the movement will then reevaluate whether to continue with the current formal operations or transfer its mission over to different organizations.
There is little doubt that FSP has established a foothold in New Hampshire. However, even the movement’s more high-profile supporters have acknowledged that there is still a lot of work to do.