This year’s Liberty Forum in New Hampshire was a whirlwind. Something like 700 people filtered in and out of the Radisson Hotel — NH’s largest conference center — over four days. From state reps to students; from barefoot dread-heads performing yoga to the perennial presidential candidate Vermin Supreme, who wears a boot on his head; from activists with flyers for the annual 4/20 rally at the State House to economists and think tank guys like David Boaz with copies of his new book to sign — there was something for everyone at Liberty Forum.

Thomas Jefferson wrote that “the boisterous sea of liberty is never without a wave,” so I let the tide at Liberty Forum take me where it may.

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Friday morning began with a talk in the Armory by Rick Broussard, the editor of New Hampshire magazine, called “How NH Invented the Modern World.” From some of the first real revolts against the King of England to the first actual raid on an English fort during the Revolution, New Hampshire’s colonial history is rich with that “live free or die” attitude. NH is the birthplace of grassroots marketing (tupperware was invented here), is the only place where you get to see fringe candidates for president debate each other, is the birthplace of the Christian Science religion, and is where the “classic” alien abduction story was born.

New Hampshire has so much cool, badass history that I won’t (but will) get into it here (later!). Broussard mentioned a bumper sticker that some locals in a certain town put on their vehicles to keep their town a secret. “Maybe that’s why New Hampshire doesn’t get credit for all the great things from it. We don’t make a big deal about it.” When you’re actually awesome, you don’t feel the need to impress anyone. And New Hampshire is awesome.

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I sat in on the annual New Hampshire Liberty Party convention, in which their membership rolls increased by 75%. Ian Freeman, also known as the host of Free Talk Live and the proprietor of FreeKeene.com, ran in the Democratic primary under the NH Liberty party platform for governor against the incumbent. He won 4% of the vote. What did the libertarian in your state get? In fact, Freeman was able to speak for ten minutes in front of the Republican debate, because none of the Dems would debate him. He “got to talk about destroying the state, and secession.”

The Liberty Party’s platform can’t be changed. It can be read at nh-liberty.info/platform and is basically the ultimate voluntaryist manifesto. “If you don’t like our principles, then go start your own damn party,” Freeman told us. There may have only been fifteen people in the room, not all members of the party, but this little political statement has made more
traction than some of the national movements dream about. Amazing!

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It was lunch time, and it was cold out. I popped into a restaurant called N’Awlins. Spicy comfort food and a hoppy IPA were warming and settling. I didn’t know School Sucks was recording a live show at the same time, oh well. I wrote in my diary: “Ben Swann isn’t going to make it — he was the scheduled keynote speaker tonight, but now it will be Peter St. Onge. I sat in on his talk in the Armory — a “cheeky romp” through economic stuff. Paying up, time for a smoke, and the tail-end of 101 Reasons — ‘Summer Spliffs!'” I like that song, the perfect ending to a wonderful film…I stepped out into the sunlight and lit up.

Yes, they were showing the great new film 101 Reasons: Liberty Lives In New Hampshire. The line about how “winters aren’t that bad” here had the crowd laughing. At some point this weekend, some tourists asked me to take a picture of them with all the snow in the background. After the film, a short Q & A followed with the men behind the magic. Director Beau Davis admitted he put around 1,000 hours into this 59-minute documentary, so be sure to give it some attention.

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Scott Horton raced into Salon C at the last minute with his backpack on — I really think Scott Horton is a hero in the unsung american libertarian culture.

An image of the Schia Crescent was on the display, teasing us of the miraculous talk ahead. He had just finished broadcasting live in the media room. His talk was on the Terror War, and it was a tempest, I tell you! If you’ve listened to Scott Horton before, you’d know what the forty of us in the room were about to experience. Horton got right into it. And he didn’t stop until he had to. The neocons think “Islam is evil, Islam makes people evil…The nicer we are, the meaner they are.” Laughably, the Dems think the radical jihadists just, uh, need jobs. They need a Great Society-like program to keep those wily young men busy…

Meanwhile, TIS is less than .01% of all muslims. There are less than 100,000 men in TIS. There are 3-5 million muslims in America. They are working, family people. The neocons must think they are all posers, liars, and spies. That’s not “Islam” !!! No, no, no, the real reason the middle east is after us is because of American intervention. “What al Qaeda is trying to do is draw us in, to completely bankrupt us, to draw us out,” Horton said.

While watching this talk, I wondered how many people in the room knew who Scott Horton was, or who were intimately familiar with this argument of anti-US interventionism. There was a granny knitting in the row ahead of me. I want to note that on the ride home that evening, I listened to Free Talk Live from the event. Most of the people in the live audience were not early movers to the FSP, and it struck me that some of these ideas were actually getting to people for the first time. I looked around the room and saw a dad and son sitting near the front. It felt wonderful, really, to see that.

Horton built up the history of US intervention in the middle east, and talked about how bin Laden was blatant with the specific reasons for 9/11. “Look at what the Americans are doing to us.” Duh. Then he got into TIS, more specifically. “It’s really no different, y’all, if the French invaded South Carolina and we all drove down in pickup trucks to fight them.” I imagined Free Staters waving AR-15s in Toyotas while driving down 95, through NYC, through Baltimore, haha — it’s silly. But Americans are told night after night that these rednecks of Iraq are somehow a threat to us.

Horton’s talk was like a wrecking ball in slow motion, and each brick flew by me close enough to read the name on it — it was some wall of donors to the state that he smashed. He quickly made the case for NO WAR in the middle east: “NO ONE WILL EVER RECOGNIZE THE ISLAMIC STATE.” There will never be any trade, nothing. TIS cannot invade anyone, and no major country around them has a real benefit from trading with them. Like a plant in the shade, it will die. At most, TIS can make $2 billion a year in black market oil sales. That’s what the US military spends “doing nothing in ten minutes.” Not only do we not have to fight them, Horton concluded, but no one wants to. It would only create more blowback if we did. Spread the word, liberty lovers. My heart exploded and I hope yours does too. THAT is the argument for peace in the middle east.

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There was a fascinating side-track going on at Liberty Forum called Alt Expo. Most talks in the Alt Expo were only 20 minutes, compared to the regular 50 minute talks.

Jack Shimek, the founder of Alt Expo and the Shire Co-Op, gave a talk titled “The New Libertarian Worldview” and it was all about alternatives. With every system, there is an alternative. I thought about the recent comments by paleo-hero Robb Wolf on the topic of food future in America. It needs to be decentralized and market-based. We can bypass the CAFO-farms and mainstream food system with local, truly sustainable systems of production. Instead of “coming up with the perfect libertarian theory,” Shimek argued, we can find our own solutions to the systems most people are subjected to day to day.

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Before I could sulk into my chair, and think about it, Carlos Morales got up to give a talk on Child Protective Services, those domestic terrorists. He recently published a book on this very subject. Children are six times more likely to die in foster homes than in an abusive household. They are more likely to have PTSD symptoms than soldiers today. He went over Leviathan’s history of eugenics and forced sterilization for minorities. Between 1900-1974, over 100,000 people were told by the United State Government, “You are not allowed to have children.” Wow.

We’ve been taught to fear our neighbor, to fear multiculturalism (even while faux-celebrating it). Morales gave one piece of advice that I think is the most important takeaway of the entire weekend: CHOOSE to talk to your neighbor about how they take care of their children. Calling the police is the worst thing you can do. If you have to step into a situation, ask “Is there anything I can do to help you?”

It’s powerful to think about. How many situations have I witnessed in my life that I could have tried this in? A lot. How about you? How many lives could have been changed?

Morales offered one more piece of obvious advice that many don’t follow, and he speaks from experience as an employee of a government agency: “Just be slightly wary about what you guys post on Facebook, for fuck’s sake.” He’s one of my favorite up-and-comers in the liberty movement, and his message is powerful.

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I wander out for a smoke and I see a horde of people smoking. Then I saw a giant boot hat rounding a corner, with a fellow named Vermin in tow. I joined the group and told them I saw Vermin and wanted some herd mentality. I was greeted by a liberty friend I’ve met at various events. He introduced me to some new movers, fresh from Chicagoland! This was their first major FSP event and it was wonderful to meet them. Since I live about twenty minutes from them, that makes us neighbors.

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Saturday was a fantastic morning — bright and cold and perfect for taking the Forum by storm. I raced down the highway and parked and got coffee and hung my coat up and settled right into the Alt Expo.

Bob Forshee gave a talk on biodynamic farming. He keeps a greenhouse in NH at 45 degrees, and his tomato plants look like jungle plants. He showed some photos of his tomatoes and beets. “That’s a beet grown in eight inches soil. It’s like a cannonball. It’s fantastic.” Yow-zah! “I cultivate the living organisms in the soil. I don’t cultivate the plant. Big difference. The soil feeds the plant.”

Forshee had an ultimate motive, and he wasn’t shy about it: “We’re not truly free unless we’re healthy!” he exclaimed. I clapped for him. This is freedom. It is individual. It is you.

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Davi Barker is a name that is gaining traction in libertarian circles. He wrote Authoritarian Sociopathy, Voluntary Islam, and most recently, Survivor Max, a novel about a kid who has to survive the zombie apocalypse. We were handed a free comic of the first two chapters. Barker’s talk was titled “The Undead Democracy Apocalypse.”

The best monsters, he told us, are all personifications of our actual fears. “They become something people fear about themselves.” From vampires to Walking Dead, it ends up being a social commentary. “When things are decided democratically…This is a society of zombies…It doesn’t matter if they’re brainless or not.”

The important takeaway from Barker is that you should take your liberty into your hobby. He wrote a novel about zombies, so now he will be sitting in on zombie-cons, or whatever happens out there in the world. You can do that too. Just think about how you can.

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“Are public schools successful?” That’s the question, asked Dr. Darren Tapp. He showed examples of his experiences with a 7 year old math student in a more playful setting. Math shouldn’t “go around and stalk you at night,” Tapp said. “I’d rather have a math problem any day.”

Math anxiety is an issue in public schools. Tests and grades and sheets of paper with numbers on them are not helping. Meanwhile, Tapp’s young students are drawing Pascal’s Triangle and the multiplication table for fun, with a little help from the teacher. “They’re not worried because they’re not going to get a grade.” Tapp also encourages art within his math playground, which is held weekly for homeschool students at the Praxeum in Portsmouth, NH. Picture-taking can be incorporated into learning, because it encourages the student to enjoy showing off. What a great idea!

Praxeum founder Mike Vine got up to ask a question, but made a point to plug the event: “I don’t know some of the stuff that he is teaching 8 year olds, but –”

“Join his class!” someone in the crowd yelled.

“I might,” Vine replied.

I sat with Darren Tapp briefly in the evening as friends and we had a good chat. I think the important lesson from his talk wasn’t about math, but critical thinking. If we can teach our children how to think, they will take what they learn and grow beyond the state without even knowing what the state is.

I might reiterate, “What a great idea!”

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I wandered upstairs at some point and saw Brett Veinotte interviewing Darren Tapp for an episode of School Sucks. Holding my inner geek to just a smirk, I went into the art room. I told the moderator that I have no art skills (I wish at least I tried) but that I’d write about it, because I know I’m good at that. I entered a room with fresh art on the walls by various porcupettes. Over the weekend, the Frost Room held poetry slams, puppetry shows, and various art lessons. Art is an important element of liberty, if not the most important.

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So, Lyn Ulbricht gave a talk. Nick Gillepsie gave a talk. David Boaz gave a talk. Claps n’ stuff. I bumped into mon amie from Montreal, Jenny, and she told me about the talk by Francois-Rene Rideau called “Passivism: To Save The World, Start With Yourself.”

“Get your shit together,” she summarized. We talked about parking and our experiences at the event so far. She told me about the chocolate shop down the street that she found to be a wonderful place. It offered free samples and no complaints. The world is a place full of inviduals.

Never forget it. And remember that everyone loves chocolate.

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I’m holding a few talks hostage until I write articles about them, but the great keynote of Saturday night was Patrick Byrne, the overstock.com hero. He gave a fantastic talk on the topic of public education. He did some math for us. And he pointed out a missing $165,000 that seems to magically fall into the pockets of certain monopolists. He then proposed some ideas that would provide surpluses in the future for the government. No wonder the government hates him…

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I had a few chats with people off the record. We’re tired of the intellectual talks, they said. I agree. We want ideas for things we can do NOW, they told me. This is the rift in the liberty movement. Some of you want to dive into the paper ocean of the austrian economics world; some of us want to surf the waves of everyday action in the liberty activist movement.

The glory of the Free State Project is that there is room for both. No one moves as a member of the FSP and expects to be told where to go or what to do. They just do what they want. And it tends to find success.

FSP president Carla Gericke got up after Patrick Byrne’s talk and gave some thanks for the organizers for the event, but first told us that the Free State Project is off and running…

It’s “past the proof of concept, it’s past the alpha, it’s past the beta…Baby, we’re in production!” She meant it. The cheers and claps meant it. The local papers mean it. This is the future. Get used to it.

I won’t bother reading another “economics theory” piece again, because I live in the real world. That “real world” is New Hampshire. We’re actually achieving liberty in real ways. Visit us sometime…