Robert Zdanowski on The Free State Project

Robert began, somewhat surprisingly, by talking about the Schlieffen Plan, his point being that the German General Staff after the First World War included people whose entire job was to criticise and to find the weak spots in all the various plans that other members of the German General Staff were proposing. And for quite a few years after first becoming a libertarian, Robert was himself just such a permanent critic, of all the other plans produced by other libertarians to make libertarianism a reality. He spent, as he put it, “many years doing nothing”.

All that changed early in the year 2014, when Robert heard about the Free State Project, which is based in the American state of New Hampshire. Here was an idea about how to establish and spread libertarianism and libertarian ideas that he felt happy to support. Robert decided that he would move from Poland to New Hampshire. He is not there yet, but is currently in England, and is on his way. Meanwhile, he is learning English as fast as he can.

The idea of the Free State Project is to gather 20,000 people in New Hampshire and have a real impact on the local politics of the area. Statement of Intent signers (the “intent” declared being to move to New Hampshire and join the likes of Robert Zdanowski) numbered very close to the twenty thousand that FSP has been aiming at, and that number has now been reached. It is predicted that fewer than that will actually make the move, but that enough will arrive to make a big difference to the politics of New Hampshire (about 4,000). Not enough totally to transform matters, but enough to push things in a big way towards libertarianism. The two main US political parties have only a few hundred activists each. Several thousand libertarian activists will make a big difference.

Why was New Hampshire chosen for this project? New Hampshire, said Robert, is already one of the most free places in the USA and in the world, and it has a sufficient level of autonomy to start to making autonomous changes. It has no income tax, no sales tax. Better yet, its legistators are almost entirely unpaid, and are regular people rather than the usual pack of lawyers. It is not so hard to be elected. The gun law is open carry. Town meetings decide things like local budgets directly. There is a right to revolution and a right to secession. Juries can acquit not just on facts, but because they don’t like the law they are being told to enforce.

So, Robert has chosen to go to New Hampshire and live his life there, for liberty.

After about twenty minutes, Robert came to what sounded like his finish, and we all started clapping. But this was actually only the last of a number of pauses he had made while finding the right words for what he wanted to say. He stopped our clapping. He had one more important thing to add. There was another pause. Then:

“You can help too.”

At which point we really clapped.

 

I want to add few words of appreciation for Robert Zdanowski and for his talk, beyond the above bare summary. He was, as he himself was acutely aware and as I have already alluded to, handicapped as a speaker by being only recently acquainted with the English language. But despite this undoubted problem, Simon Gibbs invited Robert to speak to Libertarian Home, essentially because he seemed like a good man, and because, for all that his English is as yet very imperfect, he had something of great interest to say. It was, I think, a good decision.

I agree with Simon about what a nice man Robert is. I talked with Robert face-to-face both before and after his talk, I hope not in a way that put him off his speaking too much, and the man’s sheer goodness made a strong impression on me. As Simon mentioned briefly in his introduction, Robert now works in a care home in Margate. Robert told me that his colleagues sometimes criticise him for taking too long in doing menial tasks for those he is caring for, basically because he likes also to talk with his charges as well as just do the necessary physical stuff for them.

So, as Simon said, a nice man. And being nice is no small thing. One of the central complaints that anti-libertarians make about libertarianism is that libertarianism is not nice. So being both nice and a libertarian, even if that is all that you do, is a major contribution to our cause.

Which is not at all to say that this is all that Robert Zdanowksi will do. It will be extremely interesting to see what other contributions he makes to the cause of liberty in the future. We wish him all possible happiness and success in New Hampshire, just as soon as he contrives to arrive there.

  10 comments for “Robert Zdanowski on The Free State Project

  1. Feb 5, 2016 at 4:49 pm

    After the talk was done, a rather concerned Rob Z came over and – after 20 mins of struggling to present about 10 min of content said “why me”. Well, for someone to have resolved themselves to the responsibility of doing something, and to have started to take definite actions in that direction is a huge and rare talent. There are 620 registered libertarians in the meetup, I think between 5 and 25% have done anything significant (i.e. more than a blog post or two), very few will have emigrated. Robert will be unique, I expect, in having emigrated twice — all for an idea.

    People like that deserve a hearing, and poor English should not be an obstacle.

    • Tim Carpenter
      Feb 6, 2016 at 2:13 am

      Here hear!

    • Julie near Chicago
      Feb 8, 2016 at 8:22 am

      Yes indeed. Good for him!

  2. Paul Marks
    Feb 6, 2016 at 4:40 pm

    The S. Plan might have worked had it not been changed – the tactical changes (under the new commander) had the effect of reducing the punch power of the offensive (by diverting German soldiers to defensive positions where they were not needed) – the Germans remembered the mistakes of 1914 and concentrated their forces more in 1940.

    As for the New Hampshire Free State project – it seems to have had a negative effect.

    The splitting of free market people in New Hampshire has had the effect of turning a once “rock ribbed” Republican State into a State with Democrat Governor – and which voted for Obama (twice).

    The libertarians forgot that the small government position was based on a certain CULTURE – a culture they did not support (indeed helped undermine). The “social liberalism” of New Hampshire is failing – and leading to bigger government.

    However, the real defeat was some years ago when the courts declared that a State wide property tax should be imposed to increase government education spending.

    That was the time for Republicans and Libertarians to unite and declare NO TAXES TO BE IMPOSED OR INCREASED BY UNELECTED JUDGES – and to make that stick by impeaching the judges involved.

    But they both failed to do this.

    New Hampshire now has high business taxation and very high property taxation.

    Although it is still one of the lower taxed States – not the lowest by a long chalk.

    A useful thing to do would be for the libertarians to get behind Ted Cruz for the Primary.

    But they will not – because “he is not a libertarian”.

    This is the point.

    When there is a candidate (at State or Federal level) who actually does want smaller government – libertarians are no where to be seen. Or they are actually part of the problem.

    Still I would love to be proved WRONG.

  3. Julie near Chicago
    Feb 7, 2016 at 8:56 pm

    The Free State Project wasn’t helped when all those from down south in Taxachusetts fled across the border to Keene, N.H. and environs, taking taking their taxaholism with them — and the Free Staters who had moved into the area moved on up north, leaving Keene to the vipers in its bosom.

    There is one thing. Two things. First, the Free States did manage to get a few people into local governments, and maybe (not sure) there’s one state senator or equivalent. But perhaps that’s old news and the situation has improved in the last couple of years? Must listen to the talk.

    The other thing is, looking at it from the point of view of native New Hampshirites, I think some of them were afraid of what sort of nonsense this upstart Free State Project was going to try to inflict on them, and those folks resisted alignment with the Free Staters on those grounds.

    Or so I read somewhere, and I can believe it. People who come into your territory with an intent to set about “fixing” things are greatly to be suspected. They tend to be up to no good — see Colorado, Wyoming, western Montana, parts of Utah … and working on Texas. Oregon I think has always been a mixed bag.

    However, from the writeup your guest seems to have sounded a positive note. That’s very good. I wish them all the luck in the world and would join them in a heartbeat if I weren’t joined at the hip to the Young Miss und Herr (by choice).

  4. Julie near Chicago
    Feb 8, 2016 at 8:20 am

    By the way, I completely agree with Paul: Better to vote for a Republican who wants smaller, more limited government and really believes in it, but isn’t 100% libertarian, than for a libertarian who can’t possibly be elected. And utterly stupid to stay home on the theory that “your vote doesn’t make a difference anyway.”

    A step in the right direction is closer to the goal than you get if you refuse to step at all.

  5. Feb 8, 2016 at 2:21 pm

    Agreed Julie – but where are the Libertarians in New Hampshire now? They are not helping Ted Cruz. “What do we care about 5 less Federal Government Departments and 25 less Federal Government Agencies – you do not have the letter L after your name”.

    And they come out with stuff such as “you believe in Federal abortion laws”, “you believe in Federal drug laws”, “you believe in Neo Con wars for democracy”. And on and on.

    Basically they describe Marco Rubio – and think they are describing Ted Cruz;

    I had to block one such libertarian only a few days ago. He just kept citing Rubio stuff and attributing it to Cruz (perhaps he just could not tell two hispanics apart).

    It got boring.

    And tomorrow will be bad.

  6. Paul Marks
    Feb 10, 2016 at 1:05 pm

    To be fair – now I have more of the facts. Ted Cruz would not have come third yesterday (beating Big Government neo cons John Ellis Bush and Marco Rubio) had it not been for the support of certain libertarians in New Hampshire.

    I apologise for saying that no libertarians were helping – some were helping.

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