Human Interest: Free State Festivi 2010/11

Latest Pilgrim Chronicles from a renewed activist
by Brian Wright


Perhaps I should say ‘renewed though lagging a bit,’ because for the first time it’s hitting home that ol’ BW, libertarian man of the ’60s, is becoming a libertarian man in his 60s. Though the flesh is fading, the spirit soars… in line with my more political-level freedom-loving past… now with truly a personal spiritual revelation and transformation that stands to bring liberty to full fruition. Getting ahead of myself…

As a fairly diligent diarist and panegyrist of the Free State, I’ve covered in journal-like form most of the Free State celebratory gatherings over the years, that is Porcupine Festivals in the summer and Liberty Forums in the winter. Here are links to those writeups:

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  • Porcupine Festival 2004—A friend of mine, Logan Brandt, wrote up this very first FSP Porcupine Festival for ReasontoFreedom.com
  • Porcupine Festival 2005—The link is to New Pilgrim Chronicles, in which my story for the festival is included as the book’s prologue. This is when I formally became an Early Mover to the Free State.
  • Porcupine Festival 2006—By 2006, I had left and come back; PF2006 is when I first sold copies of New Pilgrim Chronicles.  After PF2006 in Lancaster I moved to Amherst. In late 2006, I returned again to Michigan. No PF2006 writeup, but very active politically, the PF2006 link goes to my article on our defeat of the first smoking ban.
  • Liberty Forum 2007—First Liberty Forum, February in Concord, NH. Notable for John Stossel attending and speaking, also Ron Paul effectively announcing 2008 Republican candidacy.
  • Porcupine Festival 2007—At Gunstock Mountain Resort in Guilford, NH. As I recall, not many notables, a debate among Libertarian candidates for President. Gunstock facilities very disappointing.
  • Liberty Forum 2008—LF2008 in Nashua, this time. Several notables as speakers, then Ron Paul comes on Sunday. US Senator John Sununu (Republo-statist) banquet speaker… Why!?
  • Porcupine Festival 2008—DNA (did not attend); mainly uncomfortable even hostile to Guilford setting. Instead I intended the Rally for the Republic (Ron Paul, Jesse Ventura) in Minnea-noplace. this was a sensational event, PF2008 link goes to my article.
  • Liberty Forum 2009—This forum was “the biggie,” complete with Mary Ruwart, Ethan Nadelman, Patri Friedman, and so on. And I did attend; currently my writeup of LF2009 consistently receives highest Coffee Coaster site traffic. First presentation (to Altexpo) of the Sacred Nonaggression Principle.
  • Porcupine Festival 2009—DNA, for financial reasons, I had to sell the Free State Audi, for which I wrote up in a fun travelogue (which is what the PF2009 link goes to).
  • Liberty Forum 2010—Subject of this article.[1]
  • Porcupine Festival 2010—Subject of this article.[2]
  • Liberty Forum 2011—DNH (did not happen). Controversy.
  • Porcupine Festival 2011—Subject of this article.[3]

So that’s the deal so far. As a writer, I have mixed feelings about bringing my older journalistic and opinion material to anyone’s attention. So much I want to cringe over: “I wrote that!?” I know, you want to cringe over it, too. [My regret is that I tended to write poorly voluminously; I have lately managed to rein in that tendency. So please bear with me here as I intend to briefly cover the latter three ‘festivi’ mainly to reach a kind of journalistic closure vis a vis the Free State and where I see it heading.][4] So here are my heartfelt comments on the latest three FSP festivi.

FSP Liberty Forum, March 2010

Some know me as the author of the Sacred Nonaggression Principle (SNaP), which is the book I wrote following my FSP diary, New Pilgrim Chronicles. At LF2009, I made my first presentation on the original version… to the always welcoming Altexpo audience courtesy Jack Shimek et al. There were logistics issues back on that occasion: the rooms at the Nashua Crowne Plaza that had been booked for various ‘alternative exposition’ presentations somehow got cancelled… so we wound up in someone’s ‘suite.’ I was a trooper, did the best I could in explaining my latest thinking to the half-dozen souls assembled in the shoebox, but it did discourage me considerably.

Coming into the 2010 Liberty Forum, again at the Crowne Plaza in Nashua, I had been working quite hard on the SNaP II book, and I had great expectations for making some sales. Again, this was not to be; not invited as a Free State Project speaker—frankly I was not prepared in March of 2010 to step up to the main FSP stage (though now I am)—I again presented at Altexpo… this time to a slightly higher number of fans. [The accommodations were still not appropriate to a major presentation on a key idea; Altexpo had two larger hotel rooms, and conditions were still cramped.]

The featured speakers at LF2010 were Judge Andrew Napolitano and NH representative Dan Itse. Napolitano did not disappoint, and I do feel when 9/11 Truth comes breaking out all over, Judge N will be the media wedge to get it going. [I doubt Stossel or anyone else of stature will dare to question the official fairy tale on 9/11. Judge N shows signs of having the intellect as well as the courage, because here at the Forum he represents openly on the complicity of FDR and others in the govt wrt Pearl Harbor.]

LF2010 featured a large number of other speakers and presenters, but the main excitement I was able to sustain came from meeting and talking with two key people: a) Mr. Robert K. Jones, author of Secure the Blessings of Liberty: Understanding the Constitution, and b) Robingale Masters, who had put together a phenomenal spiritual development and maintenance booklet entitled Intentional Journey. [Mr. Jones, a fellow author with whom I shared a literature table, showed me the common sense utility of spreading awareness of the Constitution to everyone… as it was originally intended for every citizen to read the document. Robin listened to my SNaP II presentation and we now share a common goal to infuse spiritual direction within the freedom movement… not to mention everyone else.][5]

FSP Porcupine Festival, June 2010

It was back in Lancaster again (unlike 2008), and I could afford it (unlike 2009), so I put the Villager in gear and pointed her toward New Hampshire. I was still involved with the FSP Magazine at a low level, and my SNaP II book had become finalized, so I had a mission with no formal speaking requests. PF2010 represented a kind of changing of the guard: reading between the lines—for family healthcare and economics reasons, I have not been on the ground consistently in the Free State since late 2006—I suspected the ‘civdis’ (civil disobedience and anarchist, tending to be younger, ~30s) crowd was displacing much of the political activism (those who believe in being part of the conventional political process, tending to be older, ~40s-60s) crowd at the helm of the FSP.

The effect for me was and is a perceived loss of structure. Though I am willing to concede my old-fashionedness in clinging to standard event items like a) keynote greeting in the large hall (preferably by some hottie freedom leader like Amanda Phillips back at the first Porcfest), b) literature and idea-focused tables rented under central FSP auspices, c) a main dining event with banquet speaker, such as the side trip to visit Plymouth University hosting Ron Paul in 2005 (he is such a rambler), d) social intimacy based on shared ideas and values, honed via heartfelt discussion among serious beer-enhanced minds around a handful of campfires into the wee hours, and e) a general focus on helping people find their way to immigrate to New Hampshire, and showing them the ropes of how the system works (which tends to fall into the political activism camp).

I’m really not objecting to anything, only voicing some feelings that perhaps this branch of the freedom movement is passing me by. In PF2010 the first signs of upheaval were there: a) Agora Valley which consisted of mainly light and alternative commercial ventures, b) segregation of the main FSP Tent for literature and other traditional vendors (for example, real estate) to a relatively untraveled area c) placement of many of the FSP-invited speakers in the larger enclosed amphitheater space down and away from the campsites (no longer in the more convenient speakers’ hall near the pool) and d) in the evening, using the amphitheater for music. We had a lot more people, a lot more younger people, more decibels, more children, dogs up the wazoo.

In the earlier Porcfests you had a sense of an integrated outdoor event, basically a gathering of freedom-loving friends, geared toward conversation and transitioning to life—political, family, and individual—in the Free State. PF2010 felt to me more like a carnival or bazaar, something for everyone, but not like there was a structure devoted to a singular purpose. Is that a problem? Not necessarily, but I do miss feeling part of something singular… and falling within hailing frequency of the leading movers and shakers.

FSP Porcupine Festival, June 2011

PF2011 is like PF2010 only more so. It feels more decentralized and less Free-State ‘purposeful,’ with more sound and fury, and less accommodation for those of my bent, which tends to be literary-conceptual. This year they don’t even have an FSP Tent for lit tables and vendors, and I’ve arrived too late to make other arrangements. I had planned once again to sell a few books—the SNaP chapters I’ve modularized as shown here—and to pitch my FLOW (Fellowship for the Liberation of our World) ideas.

Please understand that I’m not disparaging the event or its organizers. Reading the program, I note so many quality events and speakers, so much attentiveness to family-oriented activities, a whole week full of things to see and do for everyone, it’s even a little intimidating. I just felt there were fewer people around me who cared what I had written or what I had to contribute in thought or word… and I’d spent a lot of time writing these things. The intimacy I recall from five, six, and seven years ago has evaporated, at least for me. (On the other hand, it isn’t as if I’ve stayed in touch on the personal affairs of these mostly political-world friends of mine. I’m always about the ideas in my writing it seems, and when they’re invisible I feel invisible.) Too many campfires :); that closer circle of old Free State friends seems to have gone in different directions. On the other hand, the picture at upper right shows a familiar and fun time of the pot luck. World famous pot luck judge Chris Lopez center. World class food and peripatetic pleasant chitchat, for sure.

This year I am invited by Patty Lee of FreeU to be a presenter, title of talk: “Liberty as a Spiritual Practice.” Unfortunately, politics gets FreeU bumped from prime real estate, and it doesn’t seem that many people are aware of the FreeU program; I give my talk on Friday night, which happens to be the time of the Libertopia screening in the Free Keene Pavilion and ‘Liberty Speed Dating’ in the Jazz Hall. Maybe next year.

One final observation, and it’s another general one: Some of us—I’ve discussed this with Robingale and some others—see a diminishing presence of the ‘spiritual’ from the freedom movement, particularly the Free State part of it. What do I mean exactly? Well, I’ve been busy with something specifically spiritual, which I call my ‘Church’ of Being and ‘religion’ of Beism. But the wider view is that we need to be spreading a deeply felt connection with Being—with the universe of living things, on a compassionate level—underneath and surrounding the various liberating causes we embrace: from 2d amendment, vaccination choice, drug freedom, end to corporate privilege, taxes and regulation, and all the rest.

I don’t know. Maybe we’re seeking a coherence and peace where none can be found… or should be expected. Liberty is messy, and that’s to be expected. It isn’t particularly spiritual of itself: indeed, if I’ve learned any lesson it’s the following from Eckhart Tolle:

All evils are the effect of unconsciousness. True change happens within, not without. If you feel called upon to alleviate the suffering [esp. caused by aggression] in the world, that is a very noble thing to do, but remember not to focus exclusively on the outer; otherwise, you will encounter frustration and despair. Without a profound change in human consciousness, the world’s suffering is a bottomless pit. Empathy… needs to be balanced with a deeper realization of the eternal nature of [your] Being. Let your peace flow into whatever you do … — Eckhart Tolle

Robin and I and many others have been feeling that the freedom people need to come to more of a central realization(s) that leads to such an inner peace, then spread that to the world. Freedom will follow in due course, and it will be deeply invigorating to individual consciousnesses. Personally, I had my own epiphany, a profound singularity of spiritual transformation—on the way home from PF2011—and the above ‘ego’-based anxiety and regret I’ve been feeling (for the relative invisibility in the FSP of my life-saving, planet-saving ideas) are receding in the rearview mirror for me. Which is what I wish for all my friends… not to mention for my enemies. 🙂 More to come: it’s all about consciousness and it will prevail.


[1] Ref. my column, April 2010, The Constitution Solution.

[2] Ref. book review, June 2010, Hannah’s Revenge.

[3] Ref. column on ‘Church’ of Being, June 2011, FLOW.

[4] I’m not beating myself up too bad, at least I was someone who wrote down key FSP events of the day. As someone once said, “the faintest—or even poorly composed—ink is better than the sharpest memory.” Further, the latest edition of New Pilgrim Chronicles I consider quite objectively fabulous to bear the test of time.

[5] Another key meetup was with Varrin Swearingen, then FSP Director. He sought help to put together an FSP ‘brochure,’ in the vein of the promotional literature one finds at state welcome centers these days advertising various recreational or cultural enterprises. I did spend some time in composition, but budget and other considerations suspended the project; if anyone is interested in pursuing such a literary project, please email me at info@brianrwright.com.

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