A recent conversation with a couple of NH Anarchists left me wondering about freedom. As the Free State Project continues to thrive, along with the small government conservatives, libertarians, confused liberals and others who move here as part of the project several anarchists looking to avoid government altogether have also made the move. As part of their quest for freedom they have chosen to give up all constraints placed on them by the government. They've burned their Social Security cards, tossed out drivers licenses, chosen to no longer vote and stopped paying taxes. In doing so several have already landed themselves behind bars yet they declare themselves free.
This week a couple looking to move across state sent out a call for help in their move since they are unable to rent a moving van or truck since they no longer use government issued licenses to drive. That's when the question occurred to me, how free are they really if they are limited in what they can do and need to fear that things many of the rest of us take for granted may be the thing that lands them behind bar deprived of all their freedom? How free are they if they cannot hold any job they choose because they do not want to be tied with a social security number?
Since ideal governments should be limited to only preventing one person from infringing on the rights of others, most people can agree our government has grown far beyond its legitimate role. The problem stems from how we continue to define everything as "rights". Rights do not, nor should they include the ability to dip into the pockets of others to pay for things another wants. But I digress as I am straying from the main point here... Freedom would be the ability to live however you wish as long as you do not cause harm (i.e. take away rights) from others. So how free are anarchists who choose to go off the grid really?
Ironically I see their flaw (I use this for lack of a better word as many I've spoken to understand the limits) as the same flaw many who live unaware that they are deprived of freedom in this country share. They see themselves as free just as many of us living in this country following the rules see themselves as free. The problem is none of us are truly free. Having your choices limited is no different then having to ask permission before doing something. Most Americans think they are free yet cannot do basic things without government permission.
The only way things will change is when we all wake up to the fact that our freedoms are limited and work to slowly get those freedoms back. Until then deluding ourselves that we can either live off the grid or that we are truly free only allows more freedoms to be stripped away one by one.