Sunday, August 21, 2011
I spent the most of yesterday in the lovely Keene, NH to finally check this place out. I had never been there before despite living only an hour and a half away, and with all the hype centered around the "Free Keene" movement I thought it was worth a shot. It was a beautiful day and people were everywhere on the sidewalks of Keene. There were also lots of tourists whom you could just tell were from New York or Connecticut just by how they were dressed. When I first arrived at noon, I noticed the weekly anti-war demo out in Central Square. I didn't join them though since I felt a little uneasy doing so.
I wandered around downtown Keene as I waited for my friend Thom. The only things I saw with any kind of political message were the numerous Ron Paul stickers on the road signs. Here I was expecting to see Gadsden or black and gold flags outside every other house, but no. Keene doesn't appear to be a "libertarian" neighborhood the way Newton, Mass is a "Jewish" neighborhood (you'll see more Israeli flags than American ones there, for example). I get the feeling that the locals are mostly non-political and the town itself is centered around the State College, not unusual political ideologies or heterodox economic theories. Wasn't it Lew Rockwell who called Keene the "libertarian capital of the world"? Not sure, but on the surface it didn't seem that way (at least, not during the time I was there). Perhaps this place will be way more active once the primary comes into full swing and the roads really start to fill up with campaign signs and stickers. Yeah, rabid support for politicians makes me puke, but whatev.
Even so, I can't help but wonder what's going to happen to the mainstream libertarian movement in the US if Keene really did become a huge hotspot and all these people choose to move there. Wouldn't that just lead to mainstream libertarian groups and parties becoming less active elsewhere? Not sure.
I caught up with Thom later that day. We talked about the anarchist movement in the US, how sectarian people can be, all the different philosophies we were interested in (turns out both of us have some kind of respect for the primitivists even though we both find them a little nutty), and all sorts of other things. He told me he just doesn't understand the right-libertarian ideology at all. They claim to support having "voluntary authority" or "voluntary hierarchy" - who would willingly choose to be on the bottom of the hierarchy? (Then again, that's a fundamental part of capitalism: "voluntarily" agreeing to sell away your liberty just to survive.) It's also kind of ironic, since one of the reasons why the state still exists is because the people have voluntarily chosen on their own free will to accept the state's authority (I mean, they've been conditioned to, but still).
There isn't too much else to say, but Keene is a hip little place and I may come back during school breaks if I can find any way to get back there.