26 votes

How a New Hampshire libertarian utopia was foiled by bears

60 comments

  1. [38]
    Seven
    Link
    One thing that I'd like to focus on with this story is the echoes of colonialism throughout. The way these libertarians took over a small town and used their wealth and outsized influence to...
    • Exemplary

    One thing that I'd like to focus on with this story is the echoes of colonialism throughout. The way these libertarians took over a small town and used their wealth and outsized influence to basically destroy the lives of everyone there is incredibly reminiscent of white settlers stealing native lands throughout US history, and more broadly the history of colonialism across the globe.

    The sympathy the interviewee exhibits towards these libertarians to me is very surprising.

    Some libertarians are built around the idea of white supremacy and racism. That was not the case with these libertarians. Most of the libertarians that I met were kind, decent people who would be generous with a neighbor in any given moment. But in the abstract, when they’re at a town meeting, they will vote to hurt that neighbor by cutting off, say, support for road plowing.

    To say that these libertarians were not built around white supremacy I think is shortsighted; sure, they may not be explicitly yelling racial slurs, but the ideology they espouse and the colonialism they represent is inherently white supremacist. I don't understand why people divorce ideology from how someone acts in a given moment. Hongoltz-Hetling says that they're generous in a given moment but would then go and hurt their neighbors through the policies they support. I don't see how you could call someone kind or generous if they would do something like that. A person's ideology is not some isolated aspect of them that doesn't affect the rest of their lives. If someone is kind in the moment but cruel in their ideology, they shouldn't get a free pass for that.

    17 votes
    1. [29]
      FlippantGod
      Link Parent
      Colonialism isn't a white supremacist thing, it's a colonialism thing... It literally is not inherently white supremacist. Even if they were nazis, colonialism and white supremacy are two separate...

      Colonialism isn't a white supremacist thing, it's a colonialism thing... It literally is not inherently white supremacist. Even if they were nazis, colonialism and white supremacy are two separate things.

      17 votes
      1. [4]
        Seven
        Link Parent
        While it's not inherently white supremacist, it certainly has been in the US. To say that colonialism isn't white supremacist is like saying that slavery isn't white supremacist. While they're not...

        While it's not inherently white supremacist, it certainly has been in the US. To say that colonialism isn't white supremacist is like saying that slavery isn't white supremacist. While they're not inherently the same thing, their history is inexorably tied together.

        10 votes
        1. [3]
          FlippantGod
          Link Parent
          Colonialism is not white supremacist (it merely can be), and also slavery is not white supremacist (it merely can be). Their history is tied together in America, but that doesn't mean you can...

          Colonialism is not white supremacist (it merely can be), and also slavery is not white supremacist (it merely can be).

          Their history is tied together in America, but that doesn't mean you can claim colonialism (or even slavery!) is inherently white supremacist. Your logic is faulty.

          Edit: also, you have not been very careful with your language. Your last sentence states "while they're not inherently the same thing" which is a different argument entirely. They are not the same thing. They are not even remotely the same thing! They represent entirely different concepts!

          12 votes
          1. [2]
            Seven
            Link Parent
            I'm not claiming that. I'm saying that in our current historical context, they are inseparable. Saying that they don't have to go together is true, but not really useful in this situation. Going...

            Their history is tied together in America, but that doesn't mean you can claim colonialism (or even slavery!) is inherently white supremacist. Your logic is faulty.

            I'm not claiming that. I'm saying that in our current historical context, they are inseparable. Saying that they don't have to go together is true, but not really useful in this situation. Going by the strict definitions of the words does not reflect how it's relevant to our current sociopolitical reality.

            3 votes
            1. FlippantGod
              Link Parent
              Alright. I would argue that they are seperable. I would say that someone might be able to find parallels or similarities to colonialism in the Free Town Project, although personally it strikes me...

              Alright. I would argue that they are seperable. I would say that someone might be able to find parallels or similarities to colonialism in the Free Town Project, although personally it strikes me as not so similar.

              And I would say that a lot of the elements of american colonialism were/are driven by white supremacy ideology.

              But I would say that drawing parallels to colonialism doesn't equate drawing a parallel to white supremacy. One would first need to look at the motivations/justifications for the Free Town Project, and see if they are rooted in white supremacy ideology, like american colonialism was/is.

              And I don't believe that is the case here. To my eye, this is clearly driven by political ideology.

              Disclaimer/bias, I guess: I consider myself something of a Georgist/Geoist, but mostly a Libertarian. I don't care for zoning legislation as it happens, but would like for communities to decide for themselves how that all shakes out. Also, I don't really understand how a group of predominantly white people moving to a predominantly white town to implement their own politics would be white supremacist... If anything, I would think that racism led them to select such a white place to live, rather than somewhere more culturally and racially diverse.

              8 votes
      2. [24]
        mtset
        Link Parent
        What? Do you think it's a coincidence that the vast majority of colonizer nations are white-majority nations, or that racial pseudoscience was created and used by those nations to justify their...

        What? Do you think it's a coincidence that the vast majority of colonizer nations are white-majority nations, or that racial pseudoscience was created and used by those nations to justify their genocides? I truly do not understand this take.

        6 votes
        1. [4]
          meff
          Link Parent
          The Empire of Japan at its apex ruled over much of Asia and contained roughly 20% of the world population. To this day there's a lot of enmity in many Asian countries toward Japan for that reason....

          I truly do not understand this take.

          The Empire of Japan at its apex ruled over much of Asia and contained roughly 20% of the world population. To this day there's a lot of enmity in many Asian countries toward Japan for that reason. Reparations from the Korean occupation continue to be a large diplomatic issue in Japan-South Korea relations.

          None of this has to do with white supremacy.

          23 votes
          1. rosco
            Link Parent
            So... racial superiority? I think the Japanese had similar feels, no?

            So... racial superiority? I think the Japanese had similar feels, no?

            3 votes
          2. [2]
            vord
            Link Parent
            I think it would be fair to say that white-supremecy could just be substituted for racial supremacy and everyones points would still stand. Colonialism kind of presupposes that your citizens are...

            I think it would be fair to say that white-supremecy could just be substituted for racial supremacy and everyones points would still stand.

            Colonialism kind of presupposes that your citizens are superior to others, and thus subjugation is ok, and the rascist rhetoric follows soon after.

            3 votes
            1. FlippantGod
              (edited )
              Link Parent
              It doesn't have to presuppose this. Someone can colonize, and then use racism/ethnic superiority in an attempt to rationalize/justify their actions. But the motivation for colonialism and...

              It doesn't have to presuppose this. Someone can colonize, and then use racism/ethnic superiority in an attempt to rationalize/justify their actions. But the motivation for colonialism and oppression can be greed, profit seeking, and so on overcoming morals, or perhaps simply a lack of morals.

              A colonizer doesn't have to presuppose they are superior, or be racist. They could just be a bad person.

              Edit for clarity:

              1. Someone is rational but colonizes (maybe excuses/internal justification like life is a zero-sum game, they're a bad person, maybe a sociopath, but probably just morally bad).
              2. Someone is racist/believes in ethnic superiority, before colonizing as justified by ideology.
              3. Same as 1, and after colonization, forms/uses ideas of racism/ethnic superiority to justify actions.
              4 votes
        2. MimicSquid
          Link Parent
          That the last major wave of colonization happened by white-majority nations doesn't make colonization inherently white-supremacist, any more than the Mongols dominating most of Eurasia in their...

          That the last major wave of colonization happened by white-majority nations doesn't make colonization inherently white-supremacist, any more than the Mongols dominating most of Eurasia in their heyday made colonialism Mongol-supremacist, right?

          17 votes
        3. FlippantGod
          Link Parent
          Oh, they absolutely can go hand in hand. Historically, ethnic supremacy was a major justification for colonialism. But there is nothing inherently white supremacist about colonialism. There isn't....

          Oh, they absolutely can go hand in hand. Historically, ethnic supremacy was a major justification for colonialism. But there is nothing inherently white supremacist about colonialism. There isn't. Sorry.

          8 votes
        4. [15]
          streblo
          Link Parent
          Yes? How could it not be? I'm not really sure what you mean.

          Do you think it's a coincidence that the vast majority of colonizer nations are white-majority nations, or that racial pseudoscience was created and used by those nations to justify their genocides?

          Yes? How could it not be? I'm not really sure what you mean.

          3 votes
          1. [14]
            mtset
            Link Parent
            Whiteness, as a category, is a recent phenomenon, created in a dialectical fashion alongside colonialism. Whiteness is just as much a part of racial pseudoscience as any other racial category, and...

            Whiteness, as a category, is a recent phenomenon, created in a dialectical fashion alongside colonialism. Whiteness is just as much a part of racial pseudoscience as any other racial category, and all racial categories exist, historically, because people needed to square their lofty ideals and religious values with the brutal reality of colonialism. It has continued to evolve since then, too; the assimilation of Irish and Ashkenazi Jewish people in America post-WWII is a great example. Neither category was considered white in the early 1900s, despite the dominant phenotype being basically indistinguishable from, say, the Anglo-Saxons.

            6 votes
            1. [5]
              vord
              (edited )
              Link Parent
              I think many people forget that in America, Irish immigrants were considered racially inferior (and thus not white) for quite a long time. They were basically slaves along with chinese immigrants...

              I think many people forget that in America, Irish immigrants were considered racially inferior (and thus not white) for quite a long time. They were basically slaves along with chinese immigrants and black slaves building the railroads.

              Even moreso today, Whiteness in America seems more a philosophy more than a skin color. The whitest person I know is brown.

              It's hard to classify whiteness, in the same way as classifing neoliberalism is difficult. But there definitely is an overlap with percieved affluence (even if living in debt to do so) and living in cul-de-sacs. /half-joking

              3 votes
              1. [4]
                mtset
                Link Parent
                I... would be careful about leaning too hard on this as a defining characteristic. One of the most powerful components of racial ideology is that it gives even the poorest indigent rural white...

                there definitely is an overlap with percieved affluence (even if living in debt to do so) and living in cul-e-sacs.

                I... would be careful about leaning too hard on this as a defining characteristic. One of the most powerful components of racial ideology is that it gives even the poorest indigent rural white person a way to declare their superiority over their non-white neighbor; it creates an inherent political block that can be counted on to support the white upper class, because at least some poor whites will prefer the label "white" over the label "poor", and will thus blind themselves to their exploitation.

                2 votes
                1. [3]
                  vord
                  (edited )
                  Link Parent
                  You're right, it was kinda just a half-joke to re-enforce my point regarding Whiteness as a philosophy. I have no idea if I'm explaining my thought process well. Whiteness transcends racial...

                  You're right, it was kinda just a half-joke to re-enforce my point regarding Whiteness as a philosophy. I have no idea if I'm explaining my thought process well. Whiteness transcends racial ideology on its own IMO. It's part of what makes me uncomfortable putting white/caucasian on racial demographic surveys.

                  Poor rural caucasian are not White. Rich, affluent, caucasian people are, and they use that racial ideology to convince other people with the same skin color that they're the same and better than everyone else and thus deserve to be affluent. So I guess you could say that the rural whites are White, but not because they follow the philosophy, but because they were drawn in to the racist philosphy created by the Whiteness philosophy (I'm sorry, a bit hypo today)

                  I guess I see Whiteness as a mechanic of broader classism, and the actual racial/sexist ideology in it is a byproduct of the affluent historically being white men. I think that's why who is considered white is fluid at any given time to insure that ideology remains popular enough to sustain itself. You can even kind of see this with how White/hispanic is distinguished from White/non-hispanic today.

                  I feel subconsciously like there's some kind of alternative Blackness classism forming as well with the rise of wealthier dark-skinned folks. I don't feel qualified to speak with any sort of authority, and would welcome anybody who also senses this and can give me better terms. But it feels distinct from Whiteness when I sense it. "Hip-hop culture" feels a part of it, but I don't think that's right either.

                  I think it's a feeling of how racism is being used as a wedge of superiority, regardless of which race you are, to kind of feed more heads of the racism hydra. Whiteness is being shunned more and more, and thus an alternative wedge is forming to supplement it.

                  1. [2]
                    mtset
                    Link Parent
                    Yeah, this is what I disagree with here. They absolutely are, that's the point - whiteness creates a political block out of people who would otherwise be at each others throats with good reason.

                    Poor rural whites are not White

                    Yeah, this is what I disagree with here. They absolutely are, that's the point - whiteness creates a political block out of people who would otherwise be at each others throats with good reason.

                    2 votes
                    1. vord
                      (edited )
                      Link Parent
                      Check some of my edits, I hope I explained my thoughts better, because I don't feel that you're wrong, but missing the forest for the trees, if you will.

                      Check some of my edits, I hope I explained my thoughts better, because I don't feel that you're wrong, but missing the forest for the trees, if you will.

            2. [8]
              streblo
              Link Parent
              Whiteness, as a social construct, has nothing to do with why the vast majority of colonizer nations are white-majority nations. It's one of my biggest qualms with the term Whiteness -- people...

              Do you think it's a coincidence that the vast majority of colonizer nations are white-majority nations, or that racial pseudoscience was created and used by those nations to justify their genocides?

              Whiteness, as a social construct, has nothing to do with why the vast majority of colonizer nations are white-majority nations. It's one of my biggest qualms with the term Whiteness -- people start conflating white and Whiteness and all of the sudden people are shouting at each other along totally different axis.

              2 votes
              1. [7]
                mtset
                Link Parent
                Could you say more about this? I very much think they do have to do with each other, in the same way that being wet has to do with getting water on oneself.

                Could you say more about this? I very much think they do have to do with each other, in the same way that being wet has to do with getting water on oneself.

                1 vote
                1. [6]
                  streblo
                  Link Parent
                  But we're using circular logic that point. White colonizers, through the process of colonization, established a system of Whiteness. Whiteness enabled and required further colonization. That's...

                  I very much think they do have to do with each other, in the same way that being wet has to do with getting water on oneself.

                  But we're using circular logic that point. White colonizers, through the process of colonization, established a system of Whiteness. Whiteness enabled and required further colonization. That's certainly not why most colonizers were white.

                  Most colonizers are white because of the set of environmental factors that led Europe to become the dominant military/technological region of the time.

                  3 votes
                  1. [5]
                    mtset
                    Link Parent
                    Right, absolutely, that's the beginning of the dialectical process that has resulted in what we today think of as whiteness; the "getting water on oneself" of my analogy above. That Jews had no...

                    Most colonizers are white because of the set of environmental factors that led Europe to become the dominant military/technological region of the time.

                    Right, absolutely, that's the beginning of the dialectical process that has resulted in what we today think of as whiteness; the "getting water on oneself" of my analogy above. That Jews had no state from which to colonize and Italy few profitable colonies is a major reason those groups weren't considered white.

                    I don't really think we're disagreeing, here, unless I misunderstand what you're saying?

                    1 vote
                    1. [4]
                      streblo
                      Link Parent
                      I don't think were disagreeing moreso misunderstanding. @FlippantGod states that colonialism and white supremacy are literally different things. You are disagreeing along a different axis -- the...

                      I don't think were disagreeing moreso misunderstanding.

                      @FlippantGod states that colonialism and white supremacy are literally different things. You are disagreeing along a different axis -- the two have a history intrinsically linked. I think both statements are valid but the reason I responded to you is that

                      What? Do you think it's a coincidence that the vast majority of colonizer nations are white-majority nations, or that racial pseudoscience was created and used by those nations to justify their genocides? I truly do not understand this take.

                      I initially read this as white people are genetically prone to colonialism. That's obviously not what you meant and I understand the point you're making now but I think being more explicit is useful. We can talk about white people without talking about Whiteness and vice versa -- so when your point references white nations my mind doesn't jump to Whiteness but rather whites.

                      2 votes
                      1. [3]
                        mtset
                        Link Parent
                        Ahh, see, this I do disagree with. "white" has never historically had a meaning outside of what you call capital-W Whiteness, and trying to discuss it in that way isn't particularly useful. You're...

                        We can talk about white people without talking about Whiteness and vice versa -- so when your point references white nations my mind doesn't jump to Whiteness but rather whites.

                        Ahh, see, this I do disagree with. "white" has never historically had a meaning outside of what you call capital-W Whiteness, and trying to discuss it in that way isn't particularly useful. You're right that we need to agree we're not talking about a genetic predisposition, but I would hope that's a shared assumption among Tildes users?

                        1 vote
                        1. [2]
                          streblo
                          Link Parent
                          I'll agree to disagree there, "black" is also historically linked to Whiteness (Blackness?) but we also need a method in our language to just talk about skin color regardless of the words' origins...

                          Ahh, see, this I do disagree with. "white" has never historically had a meaning outside of what you call capital-W Whiteness, and trying to discuss it in that way isn't particularly useful.

                          I'll agree to disagree there, "black" is also historically linked to Whiteness (Blackness?) but we also need a method in our language to just talk about skin color regardless of the words' origins being a method of othering. In contemporary language, black and white fill that role.

                          2 votes
                          1. mtset
                            Link Parent
                            Yeah. That's fine if that's how you're using the words, it wasn't how I was using them and also isn't how people actually use them ("white passing" is a thing because black people can look white),...

                            Yeah. That's fine if that's how you're using the words, it wasn't how I was using them and also isn't how people actually use them ("white passing" is a thing because black people can look white), but I think we each understand the other now.

                            1 vote
        5. [2]
          vegai
          (edited )
          Link Parent
          It seems like you're implying that being white leads to a person or people being inherently bad or evil somehow. I'm probably reading this wrong?

          It seems like you're implying that being white leads to a person or people being inherently bad or evil somehow. I'm probably reading this wrong?

          1 vote
          1. mtset
            (edited )
            Link Parent
            That is not what I intended to imply, no. EDIT: I think (and correct me if I'm wrong) that you're assuming whiteness as a concept is literally the same as "having pale skin", which is... not...

            That is not what I intended to imply, no.

            EDIT: I think (and correct me if I'm wrong) that you're assuming whiteness as a concept is literally the same as "having pale skin", which is... not really accurate to how the concept was created historically, how it's been used over time, or even really what it means today. The go-to US historical examples are Italians and Jews, who were not considered white for quite a while - and still aren't today, by some - despite their dominant phenotype being pretty pale.

            What I meant by "do you think it's a coincidence" is, as I said here, that whiteness is a colonial concept; there was a time in history, not so long ago in the scheme of things, during which "white people" wasn't really a political category that anyone used. The French found the Belorussians just as different to them as the Algerians, with the main different being that they didn't feel they could invade Polotsk without suffering political repercussions.

            As it became clear that plundering non-European nations was The Done Thing, racial pseudoscience kicked off as almost a direct response, among other things as a way to justify the violence.

            Many, many good books have been written on this; consider looking into Ian Haney-Lopez, C. W. Mills, and Omi and Winant's Racial Formation in the United States for a good starting point.

            4 votes
    2. [6]
      skybrian
      Link Parent
      “If we all move to the same place then we can outvote the locals” doesn’t seem much like how colonialism worked, historically. Often, democracy didn’t exist, and even if it did, foreigners were...

      “If we all move to the same place then we can outvote the locals” doesn’t seem much like how colonialism worked, historically. Often, democracy didn’t exist, and even if it did, foreigners were unlikely to get a vote.

      If this is an exploit (in a gaming sense), it’s an exploit of democracy in a large country where everyone involved is a citizen. (Though I think consensus-based systems with no barrier to entry have the same problem.)

      Also, it sounds like most of the people moving in weren’t rich. Critical for the exploit was a lack of zoning. Rich people moving into a place with zoning would work more like gentrification.

      6 votes
      1. [2]
        DepartedPretzel
        Link Parent
        Not exactly in that way, no. But in the abstract, this group moved into a community they discovered, dismantled the community’s way of living, and replaced it with a social model that works...

        “If we all move to the same place then we can outvote the locals” doesn’t seem much like how colonialism worked, historically.

        Not exactly in that way, no. But in the abstract, this group moved into a community they discovered, dismantled the community’s way of living, and replaced it with a social model that works specifically to their advantage. Compared to colonialism, all that’s missing is the subordination of the existing inhabitants.

        This isn’t colonialism but their behavior fits within the colonialist mindset. Even Hongoltz-Hetling describes them as colonists.

        4 votes
        1. skybrian
          Link Parent
          My understanding is that local government got worse in Grafton, but the newcomers didn’t entirely get their way? I’m not sure that crime going up counts as “dismantling the community’s way of...

          My understanding is that local government got worse in Grafton, but the newcomers didn’t entirely get their way? I’m not sure that crime going up counts as “dismantling the community’s way of living” or replacing it with a different “social model.”

          Maybe the book has more about how the residents were affected.

          3 votes
      2. [3]
        NaraVara
        Link Parent
        The saying is that democratic politics is war by other means. The elections were what substituted for wars of succession. If the imposition of your will via voting rather than force of arms is the...

        “If we all move to the same place then we can outvote the locals” doesn’t seem much like how colonialism worked, historically. Often, democracy didn’t exist, and even if it did, foreigners were unlikely to get a vote.

        The saying is that democratic politics is war by other means. The elections were what substituted for wars of succession. If the imposition of your will via voting rather than force of arms is the only difference all we're really doing is outsourcing the application of force to the state apparatus. The imposition of your will on others is still happening.

        2 votes
        1. [2]
          skybrian
          Link Parent
          I guess, but the differences seem important. Although wariness about the "tyranny of the majority" is a thing, I'm reluctant to say that voting for what you believe in during an election is...

          I guess, but the differences seem important. Although wariness about the "tyranny of the majority" is a thing, I'm reluctant to say that voting for what you believe in during an election is somehow an illegitimate imposition of your will on others. (For one thing, it seems like a rather libertarian argument?)

          Possibly, some flash-mob shenanigans could be prevented with a residency requirement. I see that New Hampshire has same-day registration, and they don't require people to live there for any length of time to vote. For many states it seems to be 30 days.

          If you believe that newcomers' desires are less legitimate than those of long-term residents then there might be an argument for perhaps requiring a longer residency to vote in local elections? But this has other side effects, like disenfranchising college students at the place where they go to school. Some people might even argue that's good, in a college town where they think the college has too much influence, but this seems like a slippery slope? There is a lot of current and past legal maneuvering to discourage and disenfranchise voters.

          3 votes
          1. NaraVara
            Link Parent
            It’s a liberal one. The premise of our republic isn’t about majority rules, it’s about forming a broad based consensus among the polity about how to move forward. The design process to achieve...

            I'm reluctant to say that voting for what you believe in during an election is somehow an illegitimate imposition of your will on others. (For one thing, it seems like a rather libertarian argument?)

            It’s a liberal one. The premise of our republic isn’t about majority rules, it’s about forming a broad based consensus among the polity about how to move forward. The design process to achieve this goal is adversarial (weight the system to privilege certain constituencies, separate powers to prevent conspiracy, and create key veto points to prevent overreach). But the intent is to encourage compromise rather than imposition.

            For this to work there needs to be a general understanding that we’re voting for people to represent our interests but not strictly impose our preferences on everyone else without a good reason that is of benefit to everyone.

            2 votes
    3. nothis
      Link Parent
      It sounds like all the people involved were mostly white, including the original town's population. How can there be white supremacy involved?

      It sounds like all the people involved were mostly white, including the original town's population. How can there be white supremacy involved?

      2 votes
    4. NaraVara
      Link Parent
      I've been reading a lot about Asian history lately, and one of the recurring features going back at least 5,000 years seems to be the periodic invasion of pastoralists from the central asian...

      I've been reading a lot about Asian history lately, and one of the recurring features going back at least 5,000 years seems to be the periodic invasion of pastoralists from the central asian steppes into the fertile, agricultural lands of India and the Fertile Crescent. These pastoralists tend to bring with them certain sets of values tied to militarism, strict gender roles, and strongly hierarchical family arrangements.

      Every now and then these groups would have a population surplus (both of men and horses) for various social or ecological reasons (like unseasonably heavy rains that swell the sizes of their herds) and they would get it in their heads that they actually have a big army now, unite, and attack one of the kingdoms bordering them. They would mostly raid and get soundly beaten back by the well-established, settled agrarian kingdoms they went after. They would plunder a few towns along the way and kidnap many of the women and children to take as war brides or slaves. But every now and then they would happen to show up during a period of political unrest or internal turmoil when these kingdoms were weak and they'd end up toppling the existing order and establishing their own.

      I can't help but see shades of that mechanism in play here. The US is a colossal republic and the invasions aren't happening by force of arms. But we do contain a multitude of cultures and biomes. You can't just ride across the plains and conquer lands, but you can certainly use various types of financial power and legal mechanisms to impose your will all the same. When the "settled" areas are weak and lose their ability to resist on those same financial, legal, and political dimensions they evidently get swallowed up.

      1 vote
  2. [6]
    rkcr
    Link
    I feel like two key points - both stated by the article's title - aren't addressed in this interview: How the bears foiled the libertarian utopia. If the libertarian utopia failed. Maybe you have...

    I feel like two key points - both stated by the article's title - aren't addressed in this interview:

    • How the bears foiled the libertarian utopia.
    • If the libertarian utopia failed.

    Maybe you have to read the book to get it? Like, having a bear problem sucks, but that doesn't mean it foiled their plans. And there's no evidence that the project is dead.

    5 votes
    1. mycketforvirrad
      Link Parent
      There's also this article posted to Tildes that might provide more details on it.

      There's also this article posted to Tildes that might provide more details on it.

      4 votes
    2. [3]
      lou
      Link Parent
      I felt that the article presented many examples on how the city got measurably worse. The bears are just the cherry on top.

      I felt that the article presented many examples on how the city got measurably worse. The bears are just the cherry on top.

      4 votes
      1. [2]
        rkcr
        Link Parent
        "Measurably worse" by whose standards though? I am not at all a libertarian; while it seems like the town got shittier to me, by a libertarian's standards it might be much better!

        "Measurably worse" by whose standards though? I am not at all a libertarian; while it seems like the town got shittier to me, by a libertarian's standards it might be much better!

        1. DepartedPretzel
          Link Parent
          The application of libertarian ideology became widespread. Though it came with inarguably bad social consquences (save for recycling). I don’t know how someone would not at least feel discomfort...

          Matthew Hongoltz-Hetling: By pretty much any measure you can look at to gauge a town’s success, Grafton got worse. Recycling rates went down. Neighbor complaints went up. The town’s legal costs went up because they were constantly defending themselves from lawsuits from Free Towners. The number of sex offenders living in the town went up. The number of recorded crimes went up. The town had never had a murder in living memory, and it had its first two, a double homicide, over a roommate dispute.

          The application of libertarian ideology became widespread. Though it came with inarguably bad social consquences (save for recycling). I don’t know how someone would not at least feel discomfort if their neighbors were murdered.

          5 votes
    3. mtset
      Link Parent
      Good point! My understanding is that the town now has much more normal policies, and is no longer operated under libertarian principles.

      Good point! My understanding is that the town now has much more normal policies, and is no longer operated under libertarian principles.

      1 vote
  3. [4]
    lou
    Link
    What a delightful story. That was a highly predictable outcome. I'm not a libertarian, but, for something like that to have any chance of success, it would have to be on a national level. A tiny...

    What a delightful story. That was a highly predictable outcome. I'm not a libertarian, but, for something like that to have any chance of success, it would have to be on a national level. A tiny city like that has no way of succeeding in isolation.

    5 votes
    1. [3]
      rosco
      Link Parent
      How do you think a establishing libertarianism at a nation level would give it a better chance?

      How do you think a establishing libertarianism at a nation level would give it a better chance?

      1 vote
      1. [2]
        vegai
        Link Parent
        Momentum and the amount of resources available for such an experiment should be several factors higher. Of course, if such an experiment would fail, the failure might also be quite a big one. This...

        Momentum and the amount of resources available for such an experiment should be several factors higher. Of course, if such an experiment would fail, the failure might also be quite a big one.

        This example was a town of a thousand people being implanted with a group of utopists -- it's hard to imagine why anyone thought why it would work in any sense of working.

        1. rosco
          Link Parent
          That's really interesting. My sister's husband is a staunch libertarian, to the point of creating a game to teach people about barter systems and paying $10,000 dollars to each lunch with Rand...

          That's really interesting. My sister's husband is a staunch libertarian, to the point of creating a game to teach people about barter systems and paying $10,000 dollars to each lunch with Rand Paul. Whenever we would talk about how it would work at scale, it always felt like something you could only do at the local level.

          There was another thread recently discussing how a fully free market would devolve into an array of Pullman towns. It seems to me that a fully libertarian society would meet a similar end.

          Thinking about this has me thinking about implications at a national level and I'd really love to talk this through with someone who whole heartedly believes the libertarian ideology. Luckily thanksgiving is just around the corner!

          3 votes
  4. NoblePath
    Link
    Late to this party, but the most interesting logical flaw I see in the whole experiment is they had to go somewhere pre-existing. If their principles were so robust, they should have been able to...

    Late to this party, but the most interesting logical flaw I see in the whole experiment is they had to go somewhere pre-existing.

    If their principles were so robust, they should have been able to start from scratch on patch of fallow cotton field down in Mississippi.

    5 votes
  5. [10]
    mtset
    Link
    I heard about this on TikTok and decided to look into it slightly more. It's a hilarious story.

    I heard about this on TikTok and decided to look into it slightly more. It's a hilarious story.

    The experiment was called the “Free Town Project” (it later became the “Free State Project”), and the goal was simple: take over Grafton’s local government and turn it into a libertarian utopia. The movement was cooked up by a small group of ragtag libertarian activists who saw in Grafton a unique opportunity to realize their dreams of a perfectly logical and perfectly market-based community. Needless to say, utopia never arrived, but the bears did!

    4 votes
    1. [8]
      vord
      Link Parent
      I really would love an opportunity to see what could become of a proper socialist town. I suspect some of its problems would be refugee-related from trying to provide everyone whom asks with basic...

      Yeah, I think that’s true for libertarianism and really all philosophies of life. It’s very easy to fall into this trap of believing that if only everybody followed this or that principle, then society would become this perfect system.

      I really would love an opportunity to see what could become of a proper socialist town. I suspect some of its problems would be refugee-related from trying to provide everyone whom asks with basic needs while not getting any material support from the surrounding areas to do so.

      A strong social safety net does not work in isolation, unless the population is kept small or there is a way to attain resources from other areas to help care for "the drains on society" (as others would call them) whom aren't getting help elsewhere.

      5 votes
      1. [2]
        rosco
        Link Parent
        I wonder if Christiana would be a good example. It's lasted over 50 years now.

        I wonder if Christiana would be a good example. It's lasted over 50 years now.

        6 votes
        1. vegai
          Link Parent
          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freetown_Christiania calls it an "anarchist commune and partially autonomous intentional community". Not sure if their designation is correct. As a comparison, here's...

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freetown_Christiania calls it an "anarchist commune and partially autonomous intentional community". Not sure if their designation is correct.

          As a comparison, here's a much shorter article about this "libertarian utopia" village: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grafton,_New_Hampshire -- interestingly, their total population numbers are fairly similar.

          2 votes
      2. Happy_Shredder
        Link Parent
        See for example East Wind, or Rojava, or the Zapatista communities. You might find some interesting articles in the crimethinc.com archives.

        See for example East Wind, or Rojava, or the Zapatista communities. You might find some interesting articles in the crimethinc.com archives.

        4 votes
      3. [2]
        lou
        Link Parent
        I think the model with more chances of success would be the most reality oriented, which means "as socialist as reality allows for", or "as libertarian as reality allows for". Any kind of...

        I think the model with more chances of success would be the most reality oriented, which means "as socialist as reality allows for", or "as libertarian as reality allows for". Any kind of fundamentalism is much less likely to succeed.

        4 votes
        1. vord
          Link Parent
          Yea, but I'd wager that you could get a lot closer to a sustainable and happy fundamental socialism than libertarianism. Hence why I'd like to see it. As a sidebar, so many people act like the...

          Yea, but I'd wager that you could get a lot closer to a sustainable and happy fundamental socialism than libertarianism. Hence why I'd like to see it.

          As a sidebar, so many people act like the USSR is kind of the definitive example on communism/socialism can be. Rather than the true equivalence of early 1800's capitalism.

          If a socialist society were given 200+ years to get everything sorted out without the capital of the world waging economic and physical war against it who knows how it would look relative to a modern capitalist state.

          2 votes
      4. DepartedPretzel
        Link Parent
        Arden reportedly still follows the tenets of Georgism. It approaches similarity to communism, enforcing public land ownership and heavy land tax while reducing other taxation, like income. For...

        Arden reportedly still follows the tenets of Georgism. It approaches similarity to communism, enforcing public land ownership and heavy land tax while reducing other taxation, like income. For what it’s worth, Upton Sinclair lived in Arden for a time.

        That said, Karl Marx criticized Georgism for being still too similar to capitalism. Plus Georgist communities like Arden have almost entirely catered to White artists and artisans. (Aside: Apparently Biden had a residence there?)

        Further research necessary.

        2 votes
      5. NaraVara
        Link Parent
        There are a fair number of communes around. They're not usually incorporated as "towns" and many of them don't call themselves that, preferring terms like 'intentional community' and would bristle...

        There are a fair number of communes around. They're not usually incorporated as "towns" and many of them don't call themselves that, preferring terms like 'intentional community' and would bristle at the suggestion that they are practicing a form of 'communism.'

        They are usually closed to outsiders though, and often have a sort of culty or religious overtones, but there are also some intentionally and self-consciously socialist and anarchist projects as well.

    2. rosco
      Link Parent
      It was a good chuckle. Thanks for posting!

      It was a good chuckle. Thanks for posting!