The Free State Challenge

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Free State West’s basic premise is to create a freedom community, a place for people who would like to build a society with as much freedom as possible, meaning as little government as possible.

Since 1972, off and on, I have been a Libertarian Party member and sometime activist. I’ve thought of trying to increase the size of the LP in a particular area, getting libertarians to move there — not for the sake of the party, but so the party could get candidates elected who would, in office, repeal repressive laws.

At least one would-be migrant says that she really dislikes politics, understandably, and has little to no interest in boosting the LP. But I don’t know how to bring about a free society without politics, as distasteful as it might be. As I say frequently, laws won’t repeal themselves, and governments won’t abolish themselves.

So, looking for a place I wanted to live, and a place that might be amenable to freedom, I picked Arizona, and made what seems to be a mistake: Phoenix and Tucson are both run by corrupt Democrat politicians oriented to the welfare state, and their numbers pretty much overwhelm everyone else.

Laws won’t repeal themselves, and governments won’t abolish themselves.


So I lowered my sights a bit: Cochise County, large in area and small in population — and a place where, frankly, I was invited with offer of a place to live — is a more reasonable goal. For several reasons, including the small population and the fact that it had and has a relatively large number of registered Libertarians. That number, by the way, has grown 25% in the now five years I’ve been here — with no leadership and no organization! People here are generally individualistic: I would bet there is no other place, outside of prisons, where there are more tattoos per square inch, and where more people carry their guns and knives, often everywhere they go.

So Cochise became our homeland. Then when an ally moved to Safford, I made an executive decision and added Graham County to Free State West.

Our model, the Free State Project, which started about 20 years ago, took a vote among its members. At the time I suggested Arizona, thinking then of the northwest corner, but the vote went to New Hampshire. Its motto of “Live Free or Die” seemed inviting, but, alas, since the FSP started, even New Hampshire has become more collectivist and statist, perhaps because so many people fled Marxachusetts, or Taxachusetts, and then stupidly brought with them the very policies they claimed to be fleeing!

Still, some very good and intelligent and dedicated people are there, striving mightily to bring about a Free State. They try to help immigrants and would-be immigrants with finding jobs and homes, and I’ve tried also, in my limited way, to do that here.

I would bet there is no other place, outside of prisons, where there are more tattoos per square inch.


On Fascistbook, as so many of us are now calling the repressive Facebook, we have Free State West, the general invitational page, plus Free State West Homes, for links to sell or rent or to buy or rent, and Free State West Jobs, to offer or seek employment.

Right now, of course, with all the disruption caused by government actions supposedly in response to covid, jobs and homes and living in general are all very difficult. Home and property prices around here are generally lower than many other places, but prices are rising, apparently in large part because Californians are fleeing here. Jobs are and have been very scarce.

A huge decline began when several Blackwater-type government contractors moved out of Cochise County, lowering both the population and home prices and, worst, the number of jobs. Right now, almost the only people who can reasonably move here are those receiving pensions or some kind of income, or people like me who work via the internet. (Anyone who wants to open a business will, naturally, be welcomed with open arms.)

However, Cochise County also gets a lot of “off-gridders,” people who want to be off the grid and below the radar, people who are asking nothing from anyone and just want to live their own lives by their own rules. In my opinion, each and every one of them should be part of Free State West, but many still don’t know about us and many just don’t want to be part of anything, even a freedom movement. They’re practicing it, but they’re not aware of being part of a concept. Certainly not of a movement.

Cochise County, by the way, is actually welcoming, if not exactly inviting, off-gridders. Rules are loosened for anyone with four or more acres.

Alas, since the Free State Project started, even New Hampshire has become more collectivist and statist, perhaps because so many people brought with them the very policies they claimed to be fleeing!


One more aspect to Free State West and the Free State Project and any similar effort: lots of people are, right now especially, discouraged, depressed, disconsolate, seeing politics, government, voters, news media, all slouching toward an even more repressive and oppressive — and suppressive — state. They are often, to one degree or another, seeking comfort by having around them people who share the dream of liberty, of support for and protection of individual rights, of human freedom.

So there are the two aspects of Free State West: (1) a freedom community aimed at securing repeal of restrictive laws and encouraging liberty, and (2) a welcoming community for self-contained, self-reliant, self-responsible individuals who will be helpful, kind, and generous to others but not controlling or demanding.

We have pretty much no infrastructure, no headquarters, no facilities, and not much more than a presence on social media, plus a few individuals who already live here, or who have recently moved here, or who are planning to move here, or who hope to move here.

We have two obstacles, in addition to the generally fascistic trends and the very fascistic governments at state and federal levels: (1) so many people who give lip service to “I want freedom” and then add “but I can’t live without the ocean . . .” or “shopping malls” or “my grandchildren” or some other excuse (and it’s most galling when it comes from someone who lives in the fascist nanny state of California, someone who bitches and complains and gripes but continues to stay there and enable it, paying the obscene taxes and bowing to the frequently moronic restrictions), and (2) the cynics and pessimists who just don’t believe any effort will ever pay off.

Well, nothing will work if people don’t try it.

People are seeking comfort by having around them people who share the dream of liberty, of support for and protection of individual rights, of human freedom.


One more aspect of the Freedom Movement that Liberty people might be interested in: seasteading. It is technically more difficult than a free state or free city effort, and much more expensive, but the hope of people involved in such projects is that no established state will be able to interfere. To which I say, Good luck, and point to what happened to Minerva in 1972. Several liberty-oriented individuals tried to turn those South Pacific reefs, usually mostly underwater, into a free nation, but the Australian government pressured the king of Tonga to mobilize his navy (a Chris-Craft, I believe) and he drove off the would-be nation builders.

Very evil act, but what we should always expect from governments, their component politicians and bureaucrats, and, for that matter, their kings and other tyrants.

One last note about Arizona: despite Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona ranks about 17th in the latest survey of free states. We beat the heck out of such monstrosities as California and New York, but other states beat us in such areas as state income taxes. Several states have no income tax at all. But one of them, Tennessee, has an obscene and highly regressive sales tax: almost 10%, even on food! Also high humidity and bugs and terrible drivers. And a huge percentage of the voting public not just willing but eager to impose their version of Christianity on everyone. Until recently, it had Sunday-closing laws and some parts still have strict anti-alcohol laws. The county where Jack Daniel’s is made doesn’t allow the sale of Jack Daniel’s!

Not even Arizona, not even Southeastern Arizona, is perfect. But it’s way ahead of whichever state is in second place, and it can get better and freer still.


  1. Unfortunately, it is going to be a while before we achieve freedom once again country wide. Many people have lost the concept. They think freedom is getting government assistance for anything from having a baby to owning a house to getting a college degree – and if you tell them freedom actually means getting rid of all those handouts because they place a burden on the freedom to save of others, they don’t care. But thanks for the article — and at least you didn’t aim for anarchy this time.

  2. Don Wilde

    I’ll vouch for that, Michael! The climate in Sierra Vista is quite tolerable since it’s at 4000 feet altitude and it has the added advantage that, like most of Arizona, it’s comfortably dry.

    While Arizona has its government ‘nannies’, we have some conservatives in office who actually believe in liberty and personal responsibility. I’ve had some good conversations with Representative Andy Biggs and even Senator Kyrsten Sinema… they actually listen to me and I can attest that Senator Sinema put a lot of what we discussed into her floor speech at the beginning of this year (2022).

    1. Michael F.S.W. Morrison

      Thank you, Don. Sinema has been a real surprise. And her leaving the Democrat Party, though she is still a big-government advocate, is a big help toward helping end that two-party monopoly — as she sort of pointed out herself.
      And especially thank you for telling us of her grace and courtesy in listening to you.

  3. Anastasia Beaverhausen

    In his rush to demonize Democrats, the author fails to mention the new type of big-government fascist Republicans, who are littered around Arizona. Ducey and his shipping containers, Kari Lake spouting nonsense about drag queens, Republicans in the Legislature who want to ban citizens from police citizen-review commissions unless they’ve been vetted by the armed goons of the state (oops, “police”), the list is endless. Frankly, the far right and the far left are no different – they want to use government as a club to enforce their own social and political agendas. Arizona is no different.

    1. Michael F.S.W. Morrison

      Thank you, Anastasia, for your comment. You made only two errors:
      1) I don’t have to “rush to demonize Democrats.” They do all the preliminary work. For all of us who pay attention. And/or who care about human rights and individual liberty.
      2) The “big-government fascist Republicans” are not new. They are merely the newest generation of blue-noses who oppose government involvement in individual lives … except for, of course, where government is acting as the secular arm of God.
      They’re the ones acting so aghast about “liberalizing” of anti-drug laws, and about legalizing prostitution. (By the way, did you hear or see what Jo Jorgensen said in her presidential campaign of 2020? Sort of paraphrasing, “It’s about sex and it’s about capitalism. What’s not to like?” Brilliant!)
      Was it not Mencken who said of them — although I think his own word was “Puritan” — they’re afraid that somewhere, somehow, someone is having a good time.
      About 1973, introducing as speaker to a Libertarian Party July 4 picnic Dr. John Hospers, I further paraphrased Mencken: A bureaucrat is someone who is afraid that somewhere, somehow, someone is doing something without permission.
      Yes, Arizona has become too much like those other places: election fraud, emphasize on “conservative” agenda, lying and propagandistic “news” papers, and we’re even expecting rain next Sunday!
      Though we can’t do much about weather, if enough good people (like you, hint, hint) were to move here to Cochise County, we might be able to sway enough folks in the more benighted areas for better — meaning, in part, smaller — government.

  4. Kevin O'Keeffe

    Perhaps a little off-topic, but when I first moved to South Dakota (from California, in 2011), I was flabbergasted when an employee of the local supermarket offered me a complimentary shot of some sort of booze/liquor (which I readily accepted), as I was browsing the beer section.
    At the time, I remarked how if anyone tried that back in California, they’d call in a S.W.A.T. team.

    1. Michael F.S.W. Morrison

      Thank you for your not-really-off-topic comment.
      Some time last year, I saw Gov. Noem being interviewed and, boy, did she make South Dakota sound inviting — except for the weather.
      Though I don’t know how consistent she is, or the state legislature is, about human rights and individual liberty, everything I read and hear is pro-freedom. At least comparatively.
      Kevin, I wish you well in your new home, but, if the weather finally chases you away, I hope you consider Cochise County.

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