Another Day In The Anarchist City

Here’s the report so far from PorcFest, the weeklong anarchist city in the White Mountains of New Hampshire: “I’ve never seen this much water before.” It has rained, hard.

At about two am I was out under the tent with the other late-nighters (there is no curfew in the anarchist city), when a crash of thunder rumbled through the darkness, leading a charge of wind and rain from the hills to the campground. It was brutal. Rain doesn’t fall, or even drop here. It is hurled. The state can’t stop us from being free, but nature can sure try. Even under our tent, we had to move the picnic table twice to keep it out of an ever-growing puddle. Last year I made it a few days before my shoes got soaked. This year, I’ve given up on trying to keep them dry. But I brought socks, lots of socks.

But there is more cheer here than water. I plopped my way down to the main area to have some fun. There are three main speaking tents at PorcFest, situated in a field at the front of the campground. By day, the tents feature all the talks, panels, demos, and performances. Once the sun goes down, and the crescent moon is above us all, the bonfire begins.

I met more anarchists that night than I have in the last year, around the fire — the crescent moon sneering down upon us. Something wicked this way comes.

I met some of the security — PorcRangers, who chummed with the rest of us — and plenty of entrepeneurs, stoners, and yes, some sober folks. I’ve already met fine new friends from Colorado, France, and a girl who once lived on the same street as me in Dover, New Hampshire.

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Once the rain came in, we all felt trapped. Then someone showed up with a backpack filled with nips, four bucks each. When things get wet in the woods, they stay wet for days. Some of us find ways to get used to it. Some people shared something called a “Gandalf pipe.” You can let your imagination fill in the blanks…

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the free market at 2 am

During a break in the storm, around three am, one of the security guys yelled in a funny Moses kinda way that the gods have allowed us a chance to scatter. A few of us ran into the dark, not knowing what to expect. My shoes slapped into puddles and I felt my hoodie soak through, but I made it to my tent. I ripped my shoes off and tossed them into my car and pulled my tarp over my tent to keep some of the water off. I woke up at seven am with a sponge for a pillow, but otherwise I was okay.

We decided to tour Agora Valley for some chow. A crowd of people with cameras, led by the esteemable Ian Freeman of Free Talk Live and FreeKeene.com, were catching a lot of attention. Two well-dressed men with clipboards and maps of Roger’s Campground were attempting to get by, but Freeman and the others with cameras were full of questions. They were from the “Department of Revenue” and were here to make sure the vendors were paying their bills to the state. According to Freeman’s article, the only vendor the two clipboards actually had a chance to speak with told them he was “good” when it came to the books.

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The clipboards left promptly when they realized they were unwelcome. I don’t know if they spoke with management at all, but the management at Roger’s loves us libertarians — they even have commented in a recent article that they approve of this grand, decentralized liberty experiment, and it’s a plus that we clean up after ourselves. I don’t recall anyone dying from food poisoning or uncooked meat or cardboard-and-dirt sandwiches from voluntary transactions in the Agora Valley. Adam bought some grilled sausage and veggies from a vendor called Grass Fed Revolution and he’s still alive. I bought an ice cream flavor called Soylent that has seven secret ingredients. It’s green and minty, but more like a sherbet than an ice cream. Maybe there’s macadamias, or coconut milk, or just ice, but it might have been human finger nails. Something crunched. But I’m satisfied, alive, and the government got nothing, so it’s a win-win for us all!

Jeffrey Tucker’s Talk

This might blow your mind: Tucker was not wearing a double-breasted suit. It’s almost hard to recognize the man. Oh, he’s wearing a bowtie, alright! But his sport coat is this magical, plaidish pattern that is so perfect for an event like camping in the woods for a week — with style. A white shirt, a black bowtie, khakis, and some white-tipped shoes rounded out his outfit. In contrast to my soaked, muddy Toms, grey shorts, Rose Wilder Lane t-shirt, and kerchief, he’s rather dapper. Though I’ll confess we go for different looks.

He opened with some anecdotes about other events he’s spoken at recently. One was religious and the other was more about “bio-hacking,” but like PorcFest, he related, we are all seeking one thing: our freedom.

PorcFest is special, he said. We are here “creating a kind of mini-world” of liberty.

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In fact, Tucker said, “Since 1995, I’ve had a sense that a new world was dawning.” He’s referring to the internet. It’s been unleashed into the world; it is “reconstructing everything we think we know.” That’s a fascinating thought. Thousands of years of human civilization, and we’ve been wrong this whole time — well, the people in charge have been wrong. If you talk to any person as an individual human being, they are almost always correct — it’s the state that tries to convince us otherwise.

How is the blockchain (and the internet) going to put down the state like a horse behind a barn? It allows ideas to be copied instantaneously, and those ideas can be changed instantly as well. Think of it like that game “Telephone.” One child whispers into another’s a phrase, and that child does to another. By the end of the line, the phrase can be completely different, but it might not be. The point is, every child got a chance to translate the information they took in as their own, but no one lost any information. Out in the real world, the best ideas can flourish and the worst can dwindle.

Unlike physical goods, the digital realm cannot be owned “socially.” Tucker made a funny example: his technicolored dream coat. He knows we all want it, but we can’t have it. The state can only operate in the physical realm. It needs geographical borders. Ideas do not. Ideas don’t “care in the slightest idea where they’re heading.”

“You can’t coerce an idea.”  It is the downfall of every state, ever. And it will be the downfall of this one. Tucker shared the story of Cody Wilson, the creator of the 3-D printed gun blueprints. The blueprints were posted online, then the state told Wilson to remove the document.

“Okay…” Tucker muttered, pausing for effect. We got it instantly — the file was already copied thousands of times or more on the internet.

In order to remove the state entirely, we only need two institutions: LAW and MONEY. The blockchain technology can provide that. He also mentioned that there is obviously no person named Satoshi Nakimoto — in fact, Adam Kokesh is the person who created bitcoin and unleashed it into the world. Kokesh laughed from the back, while everyone turned to find him. He sat there in his aviators, holding his dog. I heard he’s giving out free copies of his new book FREEDOM to anyone at PorcFest.

The blockchain can provide law. It is a ledger. Law is necessary to prevent forgery. It can provide money. Whether that’s bitcoin, or NXT, or doge, or whatever else, the exchange of currency is an easy win. Once we have those, on a larger scale, wow. “This is what’s happening to the planet,” Tucker said. “This is what’s happening to the whole of society RIGHT NOW.”

We all already know this, I thought, but it’s important to hear it delivered in the best possible package, and Tucker delivered in one short, sweet sentence. As he stood on stage in the middle of the White Mountains, the sun shining down on this beautiful little group of individuals, he set the stage for the entire week here at PorcFest:

“What can we say about this institution we call the state? It’s not long for this world. It’s just not.”

The applause began like the rain, soft at first, then as the message settled in, the room erupted into a downpour of cheers. Because we are here, RIGHT NOW, living this lifestyle, proving that it can work, without a need for the state — and with bad wifi, to boot.

Peace Love Liberty Radio

I stopped up to see my friend Darryl W. Perry host his radio show Peace Love Liberty. He interviewed Ernest Hancock, Randy England, then did a lightning-round Ask Me Anything from the “first ever live studio audience.”

I think PLL is a fun podcast that shares libertarian ideas and all sorts of news stories you won’t hear elsewhere. A fun feature is that on Wednesdays, he accepts AMA questions — on all sorts of topics, often not even libertarian-related. Of course, I submitted lots of questions he answered in that nine minute segment.

“What is missing from Agora Valley, in your experience?” segment co-host Suzanna read. Without missing a beat, Darryl replied, “Stripper poles.” Ha! And strippers, of course. I asked him about kidtrepeneurs, his favorite lectures to happen at PorcFest, his favorite ice cream flavor, and what it was like to live in the same neighborhood as Mr. Rogers and Arnold Palmer. That was a fun episode, so don’t miss it.

Darryl Perry interviewing Ernest Hancock

Darryl Perry interviewing Ernest Hancock

The LRN.FM media room at PorcFest is probably the coolest little corner of PorcFest. It is, at this very moment, the liberty media capital of the world. Over the course of the week, not just Free Talk Live and Peace Love Liberty, but Sovryn Tech, Off the Grid, Cop Block, Seditious Sirens, Flaming Freedom, Freedom Feens, Freedom’s Phoenix, and so many other shows will be broadcasting from this very room. Many bloggers, writers, and other media producers will sneak up there to have some quiet time, an electrical outlet, and reasonable wifi. Where do you think I spent some of my time writing this?

Lenora Skenazy’s Talk

The headliner on Monday night was Lenore Skenazy, the leader of the “free-range kids” movement. She belongs here, man. She’s my new hero. She is a firecracker: a lively, FUN, interactive speaker. I wondered if she was trained as a stand-up comedienne, but then she told us she used to write for the DAILY NEWS, and it all made sense. “I’m just America’s Worst Mom, but I’m working my way up.” Of course, she wasn’t shy to remind us that she has a husband. No one ever ranks on her husband for being the “world’s worst father.” In fact, this is a gender thing; mothers are the villains for not sending our security details to send their kids down the driveway to the school bus.

Skenazy is so lively while talking that the microphone wire got wrapped around her legs. She is so lively she almost walked off the edge of the stage! Maybe she set it all up just for this quip: “I’m so scared of falling off…Of course, then I would just sue — just kidding.”

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But in all seriousness, consider the amount of steps required it takes to kidnap a child from a grocery store. If you’ve ever read “I, Pencil” then you can appreciate the complicated process of removing a child from a cart while the mom isn’t looking, keeping the kid content, standing in line, buying the groceries, cleaning up the spit from the drooler, packing all the groceries into the van, while watching the kid, putting the kid into a car seat, changing its diaper, jumping into the driver’s seat, speeding off, raising the kid, etc. etc. etc. All without getting caught. After this rant, she apologized for drinking too much coffee…or was that later in her talk when she described how picking up kids from school these days is like the Fall of Saigon? Man, it was entertaining.

She shared her story of how she became so well known as the free range mom. Her young son wanted to take the subway home so they agreed she’d drop him in a random location and see what happens. She left him in a handbag department of a store that just happened to be near a subway. He made it home, and he was “levitating,” she said, so proud of himself. When she wrote her column, it blew up. Every media outlet wanted to interview her. Then she founded her now-famous blog and it’s been growing ever since. In fact, the first media outlet to call her was a guy from Howard Stern. She agreed to the interview — after telling him how she really doesn’t want to touch a stripper pole — then “hung up the phone and washed my hands.” Then Stern dumped her and the Today show called. That’s what made the history, really. Tough, Stern.

Why are parents so crazy when it comes to child safety, today? There are four main culprits, according to Skenazy, who wanted to call her next book something like “Don’t Imagine Your Kid Is Dead,” but her publisher refused. She also wants to put out a t-shirt that reads “Don’t bother abducting me, I’m a pain in the ass.”

The four reasons that parents kidnap their children so their children won’t be, uh, kidnapped are these: the media, the blame culture, the expert culture, and the “child industrial safety complex.”

Before I get into that, she told a story about how someone downloaded something illegally, and the audience cheered. She thought that was funny. In fact, she called it “strange,” which elicited cheers. Then she decided to list other things we anarchists might cheer. “Pot?” Yeaaaaah! “Pork?” Wooooo! “Alternative schools?” That was a very loud cheer, actually. “Rain?” One guy booed. Then Skenazy shot all these words out so fast I almost couldn’t write them down quick enough: “Catching rain on your property and never giving it back to the government because it’s yours?!” The place went crazy.

I think it’s easy to understand how the media creates enough fear to convince parents to helicopter their kids. “Tonight!” the news might say, “A local child is abducted! Stay tuned to find out how your child might be abducted!” Therefore, every kid will get abducted, forever and ever. When it isn’t the media, it’s everyone else blaming each other. Most companies feel obliged to recall things that aren’t unsafe, but can be viewed as unsafe because of one incident — and this is all because they don’t want to be blamed for anything.

The expert culture is easily relatable to libertarians, as well. People today turn on the news and are told by “experts” what is okay and what isn’t. Just trust the Fed, says the banker who profits off it at the same time. It’s the same in the child-rearing market. A classic example is the book What to Expect When You’re Expecting, “Now with More symptoms than ever!”

If that isn’t creating a mindless mindset of followers who look for trouble before solutions, the fourth reason will do it real nice. The “child industrial safety complex” is alive and well. Just walk into Babies Are Us, Skenazy said. She held up some examples of items they sell and asked the audience to identify them. What looked like booties were actually baby knee pads. A table cloth with disney characters on it was labeled “For protection against dirt, germs, and cleaning chemicals.” Wow, so no matter if the table is dirty or clean, it’s still dangerous? This is setting a precedent that is creating a society of non-thinkers.

And last, Skenazy held up the 21st century’s rubber duckie. This bad boy has a built-in thermometer to tell the parent if the bath water is too hot to put the baby in. Back in the old days, Skenazy said, Mom would just stick her hand in the water, and if it wasn’t bones when she pulled it out, it wasn’t too hot! But get this, the duck has a disclaimer: it reads on the package to put your hand in the water before putting the duck in the water.

These products only say one thing to parents: “You’re stupid.”

It’s time to end that culture and found a new one, one that begins with a certain word that we like to throw around here at PorcFest. What do people remember most fondly from their childhoods, Skenazy asked. Was it when their mom was around all the time? No! It was when they were left to explore, to go off on their own, to learn and experience their humanity. It was their FREEDOM they cherish. It was our parents trusting us that let us build relationships with everyone else, after knowing it was okay to do so.

But don’t blame the parents — it’s the culture. Society has to stop being “addicted to fear.” We need to remove the profiteers, and the state that fuels it all. The good news is, however, that because of the efforts of Skenazy and others, the conversation is shifting. Less parents are concerned about their kids being abducted by a stranger in a van, and more concerned about their kids being abducted by the Child Protective Services.

When I walked back to my site, I walked past the playground. I saw a merry-goround filled to the brim with kids, laughing and whooping. A little boy ran into the street, his sister on his tail. I walked past a girl squirting water on her giggling sister’s head. It was wonderful.

I ran up the slide and slid down, with my backpack on and everything. I haven’t had that much fun in twenty years!

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The sun went down, so I went down to the bonfire with my friends. There was an 80’s dance party, where kids, parents, and stoners galore danced to “Dancing With Myself.” I talked with folks around the fire and had some drinks. I was smart, though, and got to bed early. Still lots to cover in the coming week. And I’ve waterproofed my tent now, trust me.

 

Until next time,

Rich