Saturday, March 24, 2012
Planning a "Free Town" Up North
I met Evan during OccupyNH up in Manchester last year. He seems like a pretty chill guy and is probably anti-capitalist in his personal philosophy, and I hope he and his friends are able to get a project like this off the ground. (It looks like communism for crying out loud! - Like an imitation of other utopian communities which have existed throughout history.) And to be honest, it's refreshing to see libertarians in NH engage in more actions like this rather than passing ALEC-written legislation in the State House or deliberately getting arrested on the sidewalks of Keene for something petty. As far as the "free" element goes, I know that James C. Scott wrote about a culture which avoided statism by living so poorly that the state didn't even bother subjugating them to its power. Perhaps going up north with a knapsack full of gold and silver isn't the best way to escape taxation after all, then, but rather choosing to live without all this material abundance that our culture heavily promotes.
I have mixed feelings on the whole "living like you're already free" mentality (or as many would put it, "dropping out"), especially when its coupled with this kind of hyper-egoism (even though I highly doubt those are Evan's views or the views of his colleagues, just from what a mutual friend of ours told me). On the surface, it's a beautiful thing, and something I would encourage. Where such a lifestyle tends to go down the drain is when it results in the individual being removed from the larger picture and switches the person's main goal from something social to something personal (compare the people you know who swear by organic products because they think buying such things helps the environment, for example). I mean, at the end of the day it's not going to matter whether you "feel free" or not; the state is still in existence to rule over you, capitalism is still exploiting the fuck out of people and our earth, and society at large is still heavily racist, patriarchal, and xenophobic. I don't mean to sound contentious here. I'm a huge fan of alternative communities which emphasize anarchistic principles, I just wouldn't take up a mindset which attempts to divorce oneself from the rest of society in hopes that doing so will bring down the status quo in some way.
As well, I know that Kropotkin was very critical of "escapist" communes in The Conquest of Bread. If I were to start a kind of neo-New Harmony, I'd most likely establish it in a city like Baltimore or Cleveland where we can squat abandoned buildings and take over abandoned factories so that our actions do a lot of good for others around us. Instead of bringing those who have been beaten by the capitalist-statist system to utopia, we'd bring utopia to them.
Here is a video of the full talk: