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PorcFest XII (2015) Group Photo

PorcFest represents a microcosm of the world that freedom-seekers want to build. It is a freewheeling and peaceful gathering of libertarians and anarchists and their families. It is where they experiment with freedom, inspire each other and share dreams of a more free future. It takes place at the gorgeous Rogers Campground near Lancaster, New Hampshire, and lasts a week long in June. This year, over 1500 ardent libertarians showed up, and that number has been steadily growing with each festival.

Besides the numbers, there is something even more attractive and impressive about PorcFest.

It works. It works well.

Camp-goers prove that unadulterated freedom is not a fantasy. It is a reality. Critics assume that all these radical dissidents living in the same place would lead to a bloody melee of chaos, especially since many of them are openly armed or high on drugs. Instead, they live the week in relative harmony as they laugh, love, cook, dance banter about ideas and frolic among nature.

There is also a diversity of unique individuals within the group who harbor disparate anti-cultural or socially taboo sentiments. One just needs to walk around camp to witness this eclecticism. There are homosexuals, pansexuals, nudists, psychonauts, rednecks, gun geeks, polygamists, cryptographers, misfits, social visionaries and philosophers.

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A beautiful evening above the common area while the bonfire smolders.

But even though they have subtle differences in interest or personality, they have one commonality: they do whatever it takes to show that liberty can work. But what exactly do they do to prove this?

Differences in people exist, but the porcupine campers disregard these differences. They understand the concept of individuality. They are not concerned with dividing or segregating each other by race, age, sex, custom or any other petty difference. By showing they do not care about minor differences, they behave outside the scope of superficial government and social classifications.

For example: a naked man walked through the Agora Valley marketplace while people of all ages and sexes went about their business around him; they did not act upset. People of all backgrounds spoke to each other and interacted with ease; no tension existed. There is no feeling that rules on threat of violence needed to be obeyed, and no one was judged. People can simply be themselves and embrace their uniqueness. At one point, a group of guys played chess while an individual sat beside them and casually snorted a line of white powder and watched the game. But no one gave a damn. It was freedom.

However, PorcFest is not a Utopian pipe dream. There has even been some people problems. For instance, Christopher Cantwell got banned a while back, supposedly, for an article he wrote about killing agents of the State. Also, the fest only lasts a week so it is impossible to judge how things might pan out over months or years, and if anarchism would crop up. Notwithstanding these minor issues, the feeling of being free and expressing ones individuality is palpable and beautiful. It just needs to be replicated on a large scale.

Individuality and freedom were also mirrored in the way the venues were set up.

Several large tents and a pavilion were erected in a common area, and the festival managers arranged many debates, conferences and presentations— but no one is forced to attend. Instead, campers can enjoy anarchy. They can exercise choice. They can ignore the venues if they wanted to hang out with family or friends, meet new people, work the marketplace or do whatever they wanted.

But if they choose to attend a conference or presentation, they can watch Lyn Ulbricht talk about how her son was given a kangaroo court. They can listen to Stephan Kinsella debate an Atlas Society member on minarchism versus anarchism. They can catch Julie Borowski lecture on “Escaping the echo chamber.” There is even a presentation on how to make your own garage mead. The options are an endless mix of hedonistic pleasure, practical skill-training and intellectual stimulation.

Another major important way the campers interact is through economic diversity. Many of the vendors accept bitcoin as the primary method payment. This is just another example of the way freedom crops up, because it demonstrates that people are not beholden to State fiat currency. The vendors sell everything from coffee, booze, food, to supplies. And as Julie Borowski mentions in her article, there is a vending machine that accepts bitcoin for ammo and tampons, among other items. Nothing like this occurs in a coercive, external control culture. At PorcFest, this diversity of economics is a reality.

In the end, the activities at PorcFest are a practical embodiment of how freedom works. It is the apotheosis of spontaneous order. People did what they wanted. Even when two tax-collectors showed up on the first day, the porcupines gathered around to film them and chased them off the property. Within the campground, use of threats or coercion from anyone is not accepted, regardless if they wore fancy clothes and pretended to have some kind of moral superiority. This is the mentality that reverberated through the campground. The hope is that it will crawl its way through all of society, and plant itself, unashamedly, into the hearts and minds of everyone across the world.

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Sterlin Lujan is a professional writer and aspiring psychotherapist. He writes for a local magazine, and has written a peer reviewed article for the International Journal of Reality Therapy. He is now a Staff Writer for The Art of Not Being Governed. Previous articles include Anarchy is for Lovers and Soldiers Wear the Flag. He has a bachelors degree in psychology, and is working on a Masters degree in Counseling. He is specifically interested in the intersection of psychotherapy, neuroscience and philosophical anarchism. 

You can find Sterlin on Facebook and he accepts Bitcoin Donations for his work at: 1AtedXR923SXP1Spk2HschWuKCQ2b3W1KX

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Writer Sterlin Lujan and activist Lyn Ulbricht after a discussion about her son and the philosophy behind The Art of Not Being Governed.