New Hampshire's Libertarian 'Utopia' Got Overrun By Bears
The sleepy town of Grafton, smack dab in the middle of the Live Free or Die state, has been overrun not once but twice. All in the pursuit of creating a tax-free utopia in its hinterlands, a place with no gods or kings, only bears.
As hilariously detailed in Matthew Hongoltz-Hetling's book, A Libertarian Walks Into a Bear: The Utopian Plot to Liberate an American Town (and Some Bears), the first lumbering interlopers were libertarians. They recognized in Grafton, with its small population, bad economy, and lax government, the ideal stomping ground to transform a piece of the United States into a free-market utopia. Some wanted to be free of government influence, others wanted to return to the pioneering days ... and some wanted a place where they could (in theory) practice "consensual cannibalism" and be free to "traffic organs, the right to hold duels, and the God-given underappreciated right to organize so-called bum fights."
In the 1990s, groups of self-regulating, Ayn-Rand-quoting quixotic libertarians made their way up to Grafton, taking over community centers, residential neighborhoods, and even building a survival tent community in what they called the Free Town Project. And for a while, libertarian values reigned supreme. The new Graftonites even managed to subvert the town the libertarian way: by slashing its budget, crippling it with frivolous lawsuits, and overtaxing local law enforcement with their open carry bullshit.
But soon, the interlopers were interrupted by another faction eager to bite the hand that feeds them: black bears. Typically, black bears are a shy sort, gigantic raccoons easily scared away from your garbage cans. But over decades of Fish and Game cutbacks, New Hampshire black bears had become a "bold" new breed, wandering into yards and snatching not just pic-a-nic baskets but even pets in broad daylight.
Sadly, since you can't debate with a bear in the free marketplace of ideas, the Free Town Project was wholly unprepared to deal with this ursine uprising. Some wanted to hunt the bears down (which is illegal but, y' know, libertarians), others wanted to feed them donuts, and some hardcore libertarians debated whether they should infringe on the bears' God-given right to eat their faces at all. And while many had come to live out in the wilds as Ron Paul intended, they had all been too busy studying the blade to learn any actual survival or bear-repelling skills.
These mixed messages only further discombobulated the black bears, causing them to assert their dominance over these message board freedom fighters, even more, invading houses and even attacking several town members. But it wasn't bears who destroyed the dream of the Grafton libertarian utopia, but libertarians. Having an actual problem to deal with simply caused half of the libertarians to try and rebel against the other libertarians, each refusing to do what the other suggested out of principle. Like a Randian ouroboros, the Free Town Project soon devoured itself, scattering its remaining ideologues and leaving Grafton with nothing but empty buildings, broken dreams, and a bad economy. Oh, and a shit ton of bears.
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Top Image: Joshua J. Cotten via Unsplash, State of New Hampshire