Freedom Summit 2009

This past weekend (December 3-6, 2009) I attended the Freedom Summit, hosted by Ernest Hancock and Mar J. Victor, in Phoenix, Arizona. Two days before the Summit, Ernest Hancock and Freedom’s Phoenix hosted a premiere of “For Liberty: How the Ron Paul Revolution Watered the Withered Tree of Liberty“ at the Valley Art Theater. I must say, this is one of the best documentaries and the best full-length political documentary I’ve ever seen. The night before the Summit began, a “Pre-summit debate” involving many knowledgeable and well-known men in the Freedom Movement. The debate topic was originally “anarchy vs. minarchy” but was changed, close to if not at the last minute, to “What if the US Constitution was replaced…with nothing?!?” Slightly different than most debates, where each side presents an argument and then rebuttal, each man gave his views in a very civil way, after which there was audience Q&A.
One of the recurring themes, from both minarchists and anarchists, was that pure anarchy; whether that be in the form of voluntaryism, anarcho-capitalism, anarcho-communism or any other version; is only a dream and unlikely to be achieved. Minarchy, the belief in small government, was also commonly accepted as unlikely. Professor Butler Shaffer regularly asks his students to write “constitutions” to which he plays “court” and shows that no matter how “restrictive” a constitution is, it can always be interpreted to lead to a large government. He cited an example where a student had written a constitution that only gave the government the authority to “regulate time”. Professor Shaffer argued that it could be interpreted that the government could regulate how one spends a portion on his/her time and over time; the government would be regulating almost everything.
Another speaker offered an example of two “societies” – assuming there were only two groups of people; those in our meeting room and those in the joining room. Our room (Society A) has a voluntaryist society, anyone is free to leave or join as they wish, with a constitution that states simply “Article 1: no person shall initiate force against another person. Article 2: This constitution can not be amended.” This simple constitution drew a rousing round of applause. The other “Society B” had no rules or rulers – a true “anarchy”. He hypothesized, that over time, “Society A” with it’s simple constitution would lead to tyranny. He explained it could be decided that a bureaucracy would need to be created to ensure no one aggressed against anyone else. The Non-Aggression Bureau would be given the authority to initiate force, since the Bureau would be a “group” not an individual. However, you’re free to leave and join “Society B”, which has no rules or rulers, but may not be any more free.
After this “debate” a group which included Tom Woods, Adam Kokesh, “The Liberty Rider” Michael Maresco, Catherine Bleish, myself and others went for an after-debate meal at Denny’s; where we decided that we, as anarchists and libertarians, would all prefer to live in “Society B” since we all subscribed to the “non-aggression principle”.
On another note, Tom Woods created the “Austrian Slam” using Denny’s “create your own grand slam” menu option. The “Austrian Slam” is served with eggs, pancakes, sausage & an English muffin. Adam Kokesh claims that Tom made the decision because it gives the most food at the most economically advantageous price. I’m not disputing the economical advantages, but this claim wasn’t made publicly by Dr. Woods, nor was the claim that if “every person ordered this combination, Denny’s would be bankrupt in three months.” These are, to the best of my knowledge statements made in jest by Adam Kokesh, a man that ate TWO T-bone & egg platters.
As the Summit officially kicked-off, Marc J. Victor gave everyone sound advice for “surviving” an encounter with the Police. That advice included the wise advice to NOT answer ANY questions; after all, you have a RIGHT TO REMAIN SILENT! The second best advice is to make sure you know if it’s a voluntary or involuntary interaction with the Police, and always be sure you know when you are free to leave the interaction. Marc was followed by Charles Goyette, author of “The Dollar Meltdown”, who gave a wonderful speech.
The highlight of the day was, not only the speech by Dr. Ron Paul just before lunch, but seeing Dr. Paul participate in some “street activism” with a “sign wave” on the street corner outside the Sheraton Crescent and the opportunity I hd to present him with the Free Patriot Peace Prize, for actively supporting the belief “that no one has the right, under any circumstances, to initiate force against another human being for any reason whatever; nor advocate the initiation of force, or delegate it to anyone else.”
The day continued with many good speakers (John Taylor Gatto, Butler Shaffer, Judge John Buttrick) and a dinner concert by Jordan Page and a speech by Tom Woods. After dinner the Ladies of Liberty Alliance (LOLA) hosted an open bar fund-raiser that lasted well into the night. The successful fund-raiser allowed LOLA to raise enough money to ensure they could go to C-PAC in the spring.
The last day of the Summit opened with a speech by Boston T. Party (aka Ken Royce) who encouraged people to find ways to remove themselves from “the grid.” And continued with speeches by Joel Skousen & Bud Burrell. After lunch, Congressional candidate & Iraq veteran Adam Kokesh gave a rousing speech and announced his pledge and challenge to only accept a portion of the Congressional salary equal to the national average income, approximately ¼ the current Congressional salary.
The Summit ended with a presentation by Stewart Rhodes, founder of Oath Keepers a “non-partisan association of currently serving military, reserves, National Guard, veterans, Peace Officers, and Fire Fighters who will fulfill the Oath to support and defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic” and will refuse to follow any unconstitutional orders.
On a side note, I was able to sell the 18 copies of “Songs of Freedom: Tales From the r3VOLution” that I brought; I could have sold more, had I had more copies with me. All in all, a very informative and successful weekend for the Freedom Movement and the cause of liberty.