Who, What, and Why Is Progressive State Project?

Published by Dennis Pratt on

I was joking on a podcast last week about “State Swap”, which was my idea of a TV show like  “Wife Swap” (in which they swap wives between families), except this would be for authoritarians and libertarians to swap states. 

We’d let the NH authoritarian — upset with the rise of libertarianism in New Hampshire — choose a state she preferred, and we’d match her to a libertarian who wanted to move to the Free State. We’d pack them up, move them out of their old states, and into each other’s homes in their new states. They’d look for their new home and jobs, while we would help them sell their old homes. 

No muss; no fuss.  Just a painless swap. The amount of dissatisfaction and rancor would greatly diminish as each person found greater consonance with their values in their new home states — neither any longer having to fight all the time just to be themselves. And the states would develop clearer identities.

Alu heard me and contacted me. He had had the same thought. “Let’s do it!”

We’re now a week since that decision, and I wanted to provide a bit of context for what we are doing.

The united states are in real turmoil. We porcupines believe we know why — too many people believe that they should be commanding (through the violence of the state) everyone else to live by their personal values. And as the number sky-rockets of personal preferences being fought over and ultimately legislated under a threat of death for disobedience, the political stakes are getting ever higher, and the anger at being violently forced to live someone else’s values — values that you may well find repugnant — for the rest of your life — naturally puts us at each other’s throats.

The Free State Project, the most successful libertarian effort in the world, offers a blueprint for how to decrease this tension. It helps to move disaffected libertarians from their authoritarian home states, where the libertarian felt regularly abused, to the state where we are evolving greater human liberty.

The problem is that New Hampshire, while enjoying a strong freedom base population, also started with a lot of authoritarians in it, and those authoritarians have (understandably) gotten increasingly upset with the liberty direction the state is headed. And given our determination and focus and, most of all, lack of anywhere else to go, their discontent will only increase.

From an engineering perspective, the problem is obvious. We have added a flow into the state, but we have not improved outflow. And so, the authoritarians falsely believe that they have only one choice, and that is to fight to subjugate those of us who are immigrating. And their rhetoric and actions have become increasingly aggressive and threatening as we have continued to win.

However, extending just a modicum of empathy towards these disaffected, confused NH authoritarians, we libertarians can recognize ourselves back in our authoritarian former states. What if instead of fighting, we focus on helping dissatisfied authoritarians find what we have found — a homeland that is consistent with their values? We have that blueprint — the Free State Project. And so, the answer falls out — we just need a similar project to support the authoritarians’ migration to states that are increasingly evolving into their brand of authoritarianism.

Now, simply because we see the answer, doesn’t mean that we can communicate our vision to them, nor does it mean that they will then implement it on their own. And so, at this early stage, it is we who are starting it up, setting it up for them, and letting them see its potential. Most in our PSP group today are Free Staters. But we plan on adding partners who are authoritarian, and sooner rather than later: we will coordinate with authoritarian groups who desire to make their states more their brand of authoritarianism, encouraging them to reach out and invite NH authoritarians.

If the united states are really heading towards a divorce (from a coerced, involuntary, abusive marriage of irreconcilable differences), we would like the split-up to be as clean and peaceful as possible. That will mean that blue states must become more blue and red states become more red, and those with confused populations divide. What the PSP is doing is paving the way for that national divorce, making it easier and safer and more beneficial for all involved, regardless of their personal values.

Question 1: If this is about swapping libertarians and authoritarians, why is this called the “Progressive State Project”.

Answer: The progressives are today the most upset group as New Hampshire evolves libertarian. Given the size of this project, we knew we’d have to implement it piecemeal, so we simply started with the lowest hanging fruit. Someday, we may well have, say, a Conservative State Project, especially as conservative states start to solidify their identity.

Question 2: Wait!  Aren’t you trolling?

Answer: No. This is not a troll site, nor a sock-puppet site. We are open-kimono about our goal of advancing peace by separating people who can’t get along. The Progressive State Project is as serious about creating multiple states where progressives can advance their preferred progressivism as the Free State Project is about creating one state to advance libertarianism.  In fact, we believe that both FSP and PSP together are necessary for either to succeed. The main difference is PSP lags FSP’s 20 year head start. But the FSP has given us a roadmap with lots of wisdom about how to proceed.

Question 3: But some of your early articles were tongue in cheek!

Answer: Yes. We have stumbled a lot out of the gate trying to figure out who we are and why we’re doing this. And we’re still stumbling and will continue to stumble. But, this article is us trying to explain frankly who we are and why we’re doing this and why we think it’s important.

Question 4: But will progressives listen to libertarians?

Answer: Traditionally, no. If they (and conservatives) had listened to us, the nation wouldn’t be in the crisis in which it finds itself. However, the PSP is today primarily run by libertarians only because we are the ones who understand the problem and have a proven solution to resolve it peacefully. While we want a libertarian homeland, we don’t want people in it who will be miserable. If they would be miserable, we want to help them find a place where they can live their life joyfully according to their preferences. We look forward to working with progressives in multiple states to support them as they create the type of progressive states they want.  

We hope that when all is said and done, there are multiple flavors of progressive states and multiple flavors of conservative states. And we hope that our one libertarian state will have productive, peaceful relations with all of them, even though we would never want to live under their thumbs.


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