A Vermont Counter-Revolution?

Column by Alex R. Knight III.

Exclusive to STR

It’s something of an axiomatic view of history here in the Green Mountains that beginning in the early 1960s, the socio-political landscape of Vermont began to change, specifically because of an influx of young Baby Boomers seeking to create a haven based on leftist ideology. There is no question, at least, that quasi-Marxist Great Society ideals and ideas predominated the nouveau-garde of the era – or that the trappings of “progressivism” at gunpoint entered the Vermont scene at the end of the 1960s and moving into the '70s with such things as sales tax, income tax, government-mandated “green” initiatives, building regulations, etc., ad nauseum.

Over half a century later, this “government is the solution” mentality still persists – even in the face of runaway taxes, an economy devoid of many high-paying job opportunities (tourism . . . and government . . . are the only real growth “industries” in Vermont these days), and a constant push from statist demagogues in Montpelier for ever more laws and regulations – even though the most recent onslaught of them failed. Even especially because they failed.

Yet, is it just possible that a new dawn is arising in Vermont? Is it possible that Vermont might soon experience a 21st Century libertarian counter-revolution?

At the time of this writing, self-avowed socialist Senator Bernie Sanders is making a bid for the Democratic presidential primary, and is proving wildly popular with leftists all over Amerika – not just Vermont. Whether that translates into popularity in a general election is highly questionable indeed – assuming the DNC gatekeepers even allow him to finish first in their primary . . . which is a very big assumption, given the privilege capital Hillary has to spend.

But I’m talking strictly Vermont here, a socio-political microcosm that rarely projects much of an impact across American society as a whole. Are there any signs that Marxian ideologues are losing their grip over the Green Mountains?

We need not belabor the famous fact that Vermonters enjoy – at least, at the time of this writing – greater gun freedoms than any other Americans. And arguably, more than any other people on Earth. That this continues in the face of such a long-standing political push towards collectivism may at first seem counterintuitive – until we factor in the ultra-rural character of Vermont, and the almost unique attitude among the left-leaning of Vermont that guns are a human right. Of course many of them – quite inconsistently from any libertarian paradigm – believe that public (government) schooling, health care, and even food fall into the same category. Vermonters can be strange birds, sometimes.

East of here, across the Connecticut River in New Hampshire, there exists the Free State Project (a name which I never fail to point out the oxymoronic nature of; I’m assuming it exists merely to appease the minarchists), the epicenter of which seems to still be Keene. While the Freestaters/FreeKeeners certainly have a long way to go in terms of transmogrifying allegedly “Live Free or Die” New Hampshire into a stateless (or at least even dramatically government-reduced) bastion of individual liberty, there is no question that the influence of such efforts, in the years to come, will resonate to some degree here west of the river. Such waves, in fact, are already being felt.

For my own part, in 2011 I launched this Facebook page to raise awareness about Voluntaryist philosophy from both a general and Vermont-specific perspective. It has realized modest but steady growth over the past four years.

There is, looming on the near political horizon, the prospect of full marijuana re-legalization (after all, government made no move to stop the green plant prior to Harry Anslinger’s 1937 propaganda campaign filled with racist hysteria and clinically preposterous claims that grass use produces insanity) -- however, in true statist fashion, you can bet that the bureaucrats will regulate and tax it to the gills, in order to continue their insatiable vampire thirst for yet more constantly inflating capital in the name of ever expanding the slimy tentacles of the collectivist State. And we are talking about freedom here -- not some isolated instance of self-serving quasi-benevolence bestowed upon us by ruling masters.

But what else? The aforementioned developments are not entirely insignificant, though they are at present still small issue to the task of reversing the tide and eliminating the constant threat emanating from Montpelier, a NON force majeure based on a thoroughly failed and discredited statist philosophy.

The conservative Vermont Watchdog ran an article on August 19th, regarding retirees – particularly those on fixed incomes – leaving Vermont. Here’s an excerpt:

Lapworth blames Vermont’s cost of living on overspending by the state, which leads to ever-increasing taxes and higher prices.

“We’re a small rural state and we’re acting as though we’re California,” he said. “We have people who have come here that believe we should have every social program you can think of. School teachers are making more money and have better health insurance and benefits, and yet the population of the schools has gone down.”

Lapworth said he would downsize and retire in Vermont if he believed the political climate would change. He’s less than optimistic.

“We see it getting worse, and we have underfunded pension funds for teacher and state workers that are going to be addressed some day, and there’s only one place it’s going to come from: that’s taxpayers.”

He even worries that Bernie Sanders’ presidential bid is generating bad publicity for the state.

“Bernie Sanders is going to hurt Vermont. A lot of people will realize it’s a progressive socialist state and they won’t want to buy here. That puts my house for sale in jeopardy because . . . it has to be a professional that could buy a house in my price bracket, and professionals aren’t going to want to come to Vermont.”

LeBlanc also said change must occur in Montpelier if the state hopes to attract retirees.

“It’s no secret that Vermont is not a business-friendly state. There seems to be a mentality in Montpelier and across the state that business is evil, that business brings phosphorus runoff,” he said. “But the reality is business pays the bills.”

And, he might’ve added, government does not. It simply creates more of them with taxes. This paints a bleak picture indeed. But perhaps also, opportunity.

Wasn’t it Vladimir Lenin, that arch-communist of the Bolshevik Revolution who cryptically stated, “The worse it gets, the better it gets”? I submit that the ground is fertile in Vermont for counter-revolution that contains the social liberalism that Vermonters have grown used to and cherish, coupled with the free-market economic
mechanisms that they need.

Government has backed Vermonters into a corner with reckless taxation used to finance Marxist boondoggle after socialist failure galore. The evidence is simply too great and multitudinous to ignore: The entirely impracticable left-wing cause celebre of single-payer healthcare. The facts-ignoring feel-good push towards mandatory “clean energy” development. “Climate change” carbon-footprint fuel tax hike proposals. Increased sales taxes on scores of “sugar sweetened” beverages. A proposed tax on plastic grocery bags. Even cloud-computing by businesses is taxed.

All of this and more in the name of an ideology which holds that “business is evil” for no other reason than to blindly and arrogantly defend leftist 1960s-era dogma like an old and senile farm dog will defend a barnyard against an innocent courier delivering a package. The time for this foolishness to end is well-nigh.

More: It must end if Vermonters are to survive. It’s that simple. People need jobs, and they need to be able to keep the money from those jobs in order to eat. The Marie Antoinette attitude of the Soviet ideologues in Montpelier has run its course. And Republicans are no more a credible means of accomplishing this than are their Democrat/“Progressive” counterparts. All have been statist parties to the plunder.

Can libertarianism – especially its puritanical voluntarist/market anarchist derivation, in other words, true libertarianism – promise a modern counter-revolution in Vermont like the one that swept the region in the 1960s and 1970s, as the state-marshalled economy crumbles, and the free-wheeling Marxist paradise promised by the flower children shows itself up more and more for the intolerant and destructive authoritarian monstrosity that it is? Are we finally approaching that tipping point, where Vermont’s current generation are ready, willing, and able to trashcan the State in favor of real freedom? Has an era of that kind of mobility arisen once again, to change the ingrained (now leftist) paradigm for the better?

I’m certainly hoping so – though I’m also old and experienced enough to realize the allure handouts hold for the unprincipled, and for the rationalizers. I realize the envy and anger that many direct towards those who have more than they do, and how this manages to somehow transmogrify itself into a strange sense of “justice” when state force is seen to pry some of that abundance from their possession. Many people would rather attain comfort by any means at all, rather than live by principle. As voluntaryist Kyle Bennett has put it, "If you want government, it is because you want to be able to impose your values on other people, and to render those values immune from being tested against reality.” In other words, I want part of what you have, and I don’t ever want there to be an absence of force which guarantees that I’ll get it.

Obviously, this attitude, so smug in its self-righteousness, must stop if there is ever to be freedom. But will it?

The answer will seal Vermont’s fate quite shortly, I’m afraid – and for an interminable time to come.

As well as that of the world.

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Alex R. Knight III's picture
Columns on STR: 153

Alex R. Knight III is the author of numerous horror, science-fiction, and fantasy tales.  He has also written and published poetry, non-fiction articles, reviews, and essays for a variety of venues.  He currently lives and writes in rural southern Vermont where he holds a B.A. in Literature & Writing from Union Institute & University.  Alex's Amazon page can be found here, and his work may also be found at both Smashwords and Barnes & Noble.  His MeWe group can be found here.


Samarami's picture

Nice observations, Alex. Whether or not Vermont leads the way in leftist-rightest thinking can certainly be up for grabs -- or whether or not "the tide" will ever be completely turned. And you're absolutely observant with your take that "Free-State-Project" of NH is a first-class oxymoron.

I'm not sure hand-outs are necessarily the prime inducement -- although the thought of getting something for nothing will always lure some.

There is an eerie, capture-bonding phenomenon that seems to grip mankind (see comment to the link end of this paragraph). It has been going on since the beginning of recorded history. And it has given rise to states, nations, countries, and other mindless abstractions that are almost impossible to exorcise from the human brain. Of course the "psychologists" over at Psychology Today fall into the trap of presenting the social engineering swindle -- trying to convince us that a psychiatrist named Nils Bejerot "baptized" the thing, and that it has been limited to a bank robbery in Sweeden. Well, and Patty Hearst. And maybe a few others.

As I opined, the media types won't admit it -- we in the libertarian "community" should recognize it vividly -- but the tendency toward capture bonding seems to addict an extremely high percentage of people. And it has been rampant since the first conquerors came up with the genius idea of forming empires instead of slaughtering all the conquered people unfortunate enough to reside in besieged cities in the path of the hordes. It is astounding how -- even among us "libertarians" -- it is almost impossible to completely divorce our mentalities from statist thinking.

And so I'll develop this or that "opinion" about the Rand Pauls or the Lindsey Grahams or the Bernie Sanders of the predator world. As if a Ron Paul or a Saul of Tarsus might make a difference. Not.

This thing is going to have to run its course. The economy as we know it is going to have to eventually collapse before "we" get better. I suppose I should include myself in that dangerous "we".

Who knows -- there might be a strong enough anarchy mass among us to really "turn the tide" when that certain calamity actually comes about. I hope to live to see it. I'm the healthiest 80 year-old in Des Moines, and I'm counting on being in the front row when it all comes tumbling down. Applauding.

I sincerely hope I'll also still be willing (and able) to reach my hand out to help those many, many who will not be prepared when the cataclysm unfolds.


Paul's picture

Vermont sounds a lot like Oregon. "Liberals with guns"...

I spent time living in Wyoming, allegedly the most conservative state in the nation. The personal taxation is less there, but the government is largely supported by the severance tax (on extraction of minerals - which of course raises the cost of those minerals and depresses their market). This gives rise to an (apparently) odd phenomenon, a conservative legislature that spends like a drunken sailor while the state finances remain viable. Yet what happens when the market turns down and the severance tax no longer covers the state boondoggles? We already know, because that happened in the '90's: rather than dumping the spending programs, taxes are raised to cover the programs, that have now developed a constituency to keep them going. Wyoming has the highest per capita government employment in the nation.

Bottom line, there really isn't much difference between conservative government and liberal/socialist government.