Mary Lou Seymour

Mary Lou Seymour is a long-time libertarian activist and author. She lives in South Carolina.

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Liberty Action of the Week archive

Liberty Action of the Week
May 20, 2003: Taking a new look at the Free State Project
by Mary Lou Seymour

Two weeks ago, I posted the story of Tim Condon, Membership director for the Free State Project, getting arrested for handing out flyers in front of the NRA Convention in Florida. The response from liberty activists was overwhelming; many of you contacted the media, the NRA, local FL news, and posted the alert around the Net. (For a good local news story, see "Someone didn't like Condon's message" in the Orlando Weekly.)

But many of the messages I got were surprising in another way. Many folks asked me for more info on the Free State Project (that in itself is not so surprising), but several others asked me if I was a member, and why. Well, yeah, I'm a member, and an early one, I'm listed on the web site as an organizer. But I guess I never have explained "why," except to individuals who have asked. And since the column I write is a "weekly action" type column, and, the FSP is more of a long term commitment type action, I just never have written a column on my participation.

But for this week's action, I'd like to suggest that everyone "check out" the FSP, if you haven't already done so, or, if you checked it out in the past but were "waiting to see how it went," check it again -- the project has really grown over the past year. And as the action part, ask your friends to check it out also.

discuss this article on

This is an exceptionally good time to do so. There are two big FSP conferences coming up, one in the West (Grand Western Conference, May 24 and 25) and one in the east (New Hampshire Getaway, June 21-29). And there are numerous local FSP groups throughout the country. The project is beginning to hit the "mainstream" now, with predictable results. Statists in the governments of the "target states" are saying "NIMBY," and some FSP members are thinking perhaps we need to "soften" our message to "not scare Aunt Minnie."

As y'all should realize by now, if you've been reading my columns, I'm a big believer in the necessity of changing our culture as a pre-requisite to changing the system. Change comes from the bottom up, not the top down. To put it another way, even if it's possible to "sneak" libertarian candidates into office by mainstreaming the message so it doesn't scare Aunt Minnie, once in office, the libertarians can, basically, do nothing to actually change the government except in a minor way, such as lowering taxes to some extent ... because they have no constituency who supports their "real agenda," that of reducing government to a "night watchman" state, if even that.

The prime example of this is Leadville, CO, one of whose council members, BTW, is a FSP member. The city council is taken by a libertarian majority ... who try a fairly innocuous libertarian change (getting rid of business licensing, if I recall correctly), and all hell breaks loose. They end up backing down. The "culture" of Leadville just wasn't ready for the change.

The best way to change a culture, of course, is one person at a time. Each of those "changed" people then "changes" another, etc., etc. Obviously, this is a really slow process. And those of us who have been slogging away in the trenches for many years, trying to "change our cuture," know how lonely it can be.

The idea of the FSP is to "jump start" the cultural change by moving 20,000 liberty lovers to a single state, a small state where 20,000 will have an impact, and be able to realistically affect the electoral process, win state office, and actually be able to "prove" governmentt can be drastically reduced ... and, once it IS done, serve as "proof" that the world won't come to an end if libertarians "control" the state. (This is akin to the idea of pointing out to gun-control freaks that "Vermont Carry" -- no gun control laws -- hasn't made Vermont a hotbed of crime and murder.) "Statists To Libertarians: 'You Can't Win!'" gives a quick overview of how and why the FSP would bring electoral change.

The objections I usually get about the FSP are, "it's naive" ... well, hardly as naive as thinking that reading enough ISIL brochures or Reason articles will magically transform the culture; "even if you do 'free' one state, that'll be 1 state surrounded by 49 police states" .... well, better one free state than NO free states, also the synergy should be "expandable;" "the Feds will never let ou get away with it" ... well, but what is the alternative?

I personally "joined up" cause after 20 years of trying to change the culture one person at a time and 15 years of trying to get libertarians elected to office, while the police state grew every year and the dependent mentality of the citizens grew much faster than "we" could change it, it occurred to me [finally] that something more was needed. Or the the cartridge box was all that was left to prevent the final descent into tyranny.

The time is drawing near for a vote on "the chosen state," when the first 5000 FSP members will pick a state for this great experiment. I urge you, the liberty activists who are reading this column, to be among those who "make the choice."

Til next week
For freedom

Mary Lou

PS: Sorry the column is late this week, my elderly computer is in its death throes, and is barely running, it freezes up every 15 minutes. To help Mary lou buy a new computer (or get this one fixed), please drop a few FRNs in the "virtual hat" (Pay Pal or E-gold.)

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