I knew there was something seriously wrong with the “The Free Thought Project” (a.k.a., “Police the Police,” “Get Involved, You Live Here,” “V is for Voluntary”) which somehow has become a wildly popular source of information for many of my liberal, progressive and radical friends on Facebook.
While their extensive reporting on incidents of police brutality in the United States at a time when Black Lives Matter has brought the issue of racist police brutality to national attention makes it appear that the folks at FTP must be progressive anti-racist allies with BLM, nothing could be further than the truth.
The Free Thought Project website articles on police accountability support an “All Lives Matter” perspective. One FTP writer’s perspective on the police violence in Charlotte is very different from anything coming out of Black Lives Matter. “Corporate media subtly furthered victim-blaming and what it inaccurately surmised to be a matter of black versus white as the cause for rioting in Charlotte — rather than that overzealous officers stole yet another life for which justice almost certainly won’t follow.”
Another FTP article’s headline reads, “Black Libertarian Calls Out Black Lives Matter’s Culture of Divisive Politics and Victimhood.” Not only does FTP not support BLM, it opposes and undermines the work and anti-racist perspective of that movement.
I first became alarmed when good friends started parroting several words and concepts they attributed to the Free Thought Project. It was easy to recognize the code words used by conspiracy theorists and libertarians: “imaginary money,” “volunteerism,” “Rothschilds,” “false flags,” “Federal Reserve criminals.” Yet most of my friends are well-educated politically conscious folks on the left – so what is going on that so many of them are getting on board with this “Free Thought Project” and their “Police the Police?”
I used my Sunday morning to find out exactly who is part of The Free Project, who funds them and what their real political agenda might be. I found out and it’s not pretty.
First I watched the video linked below that was filmed in February 2016. It features a couple of chain-smoking young white dudes wearing sunglasses and khaki cargo shorts. The background is a beautiful beach in Acapulco. They have just attended the 2016 Anarchapulco international conference there. Despite the incorporation of the word “anarchy,” I’m not feeling the solidarity.
Jason Bassler, one of the two “enlightened” founders of FTP, cannot manage to keep his knees still for even one minute during the half-hour interview with one of his fellow “anarcho-capitalist” activists, Jeff Berwick. Bassler looks more like a coke-head hipster on vacation from his Wall Street job than an anarchist who might proclaim solidarity with the goals of Occupy or Black Lives Matter.
Yes, I did write, “anarcho-capitalist” in the above paragraph. Anarcho-capitalists are more commonly known simply as “libertarians.” These are people whose agenda is to eliminate all government regulation of corporations in favor of “individual sovereignty” in a free market economy. Injecting the word “anarchy” into their new name makes libertarianism sound almost attractive and interesting to progressives who otherwise would reject it outright. Similarly, two of their favorite terms, “evolving consciousness” and “enlightenment” provide their work with an aura of Eastern spirituality. But their anarcho-capitalism is just another word for libertarianism, that noxious conservative neoliberal ideology on steroids.
We could also just remove “anarchy” from the “anarcho-capitalist” label and call them . . . capitalists. If you happen to be one of my friends who believes in overthrowing capitalism, or at least in greater government regulation of corporate capitalism, you should be aware that FTP is owned and operated by people who definitely disagree with you. So be aware whenever you want to repost one of the Free Thought Project’s police brutality videos that you are increasing their advertising revenue and supporting their pro-capitalist libertarian agenda.
The Free Thought Project’s libertarian agenda also includes the concept of volunteerism as a substitute for government provision and coordination of services through the common payment of taxes. The government doesn’t need to provide regular trash pick-up service to urban dwellers, because all we need are volunteers like Bassler, who reports having carried a trash bag to the Acapulco beach to collect the litter there himself. His “leadership” apparently inspired and “empowered” other individuals to join him in his personal project of cleaning up the beach.
Now how easy was that? A couple of people a couple times a month and who needs government services to clean up beaches or whatever? Without governments stopping us from performing volunteer services like this, individual citizens could easily provide all the goods, services and coordination needed in a complex society. “It’s not up to the government to take care of all our problems,” says Bassler. “Volunteerism is the only consistent ideology I embrace.” I bet it is.
The example of cleaning the beach is discussed at length in the video to demonstrate why everyone should refuse to pay taxes to “corrupt governments” for programs serving the common good. Apparently, the provision of health care, mass transit, and education should be fully volunteer-run and privatized. And if you want streetlights in your neighborhood, you better come up with a way to pay a private company to install them in front of your own house.
Bassler and Berwick fully embrace libertarian politics in this video when they openly scoff at the idea that people need any kind of “social contract” to ensure the protection and welfare of all. And if private citizens can figure out a way to make a hefty profit by delivering what used to be a government service under the new libertarian system of wholly unregulated capitalism, so much the better! Just look at how great privatized prisons worked out.
Capitalism has worked out just fine for Jason Bassler and Matt Agorist. They are very happy about having founded the profitable Free Thought Project. With tens of millions of website followers, Bassler and Agorist are rolling in dough from advertising revenue. And they believe that’s a great thing! FTP is unapologetically a pro-capitalist business venture promoting libertarian candidates and ideology. Their other Facebook pages, which include “Police the Police” and “Get Involved, You Live Here,” also link tens of thousands of people back to their profit-making website.
So don’t confuse the Free Thought Project with a benign grassroots nonprofit organization promoting a social justice mission. The mission of FTP is to spread libertarian propaganda disguised as progressive left ideas and make a lot of money doing it.
If you are Black, Muslim or Latino and you think the good folks at the Free Thought Project are looking out for you because they are deeply concerned about how people from racial and ethnic minority groups are targeted by police violence, you can let go of that illusion right now. FTP promotes only “liberty” from a “corrupt government” and “the police state,” but it expresses zero interest in promoting social and economic justice for black communities or fighting back against racist police practices.
In fact, in over thirty minutes of the linked video which emphasizes FTP’s work on the issue of increased police accountability, the words, “racism,” “Black” and “African American” are not mentioned once, let alone the words “Black Lives Matter.”
However, Jason does let us know how excited he is that “a growing swell of people” from “different groups” are joining their efforts to demand police accountability. Like, for example, that “different group” in Ferguson, Missouri after the police execution of Michael Brown.
Finally, let’s move to an examination of some other content on FTP’s website. We see in the “About Us” section that the founders support a “revolution of consciousness.” I assume this is somehow connected to enlightenment” in FTP’s self-description: “The front page to exposing the corrupt government and finding enlightenment along the way.” Yeah, these are a couple of very spiritually-evolved guys.
The “Anti-War” section of the website contains several stories that appear to be taken directly from conspiracy theorist Alex Jones. The articles do not report on any issues central to most progressive peace movements. The “Government Corruption” section has a story focused on a teen who was suspended from her school for taking photos of dirty water in the school water fountain. Yep, there’s evidence of some nasty big government corruption. The “Solutions” section is not a list of links, resources or recommendations, just reposts of the same news stories that appear elsewhere on the website.
So who are some of the role models and activists our enlightened anarcho-capitalist activists mention on this video as folks whose work they find inspiring? Alex Jones, the social media king of convoluted conspiracy theories. Adam Kokesh, gun rights activist. Ron Paul, former Libertarian Presidential candidate from the heart of Texas. Are these guys your heroes?
If you feel still comfortable supporting the Free Thought Project’s libertarian and All Lives Matter political agenda, by all means, continue to uncritically repost their police brutality and conspiracy theory articles and videos to help them earn more advertising revenue. The same is true for their multiple Facebook pages under different names, including “Police the Police,” “Get Involved, You Live Here,” “V is for Voluntary.”
Me? I’d rather send my nickels to my comrades Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez at Democracy Now!
#blm #blacklivesmatter #freethoughtproject #thefreethoughtproject#jasonbassler #occupy #anarchy #garyjohnson #ronpaul #socialism#democracynow
Anarchast Ep.279 Jason Bassler: The Free Thought Project
Jeff interviews Jason Bassler of The Free Thought Project, topics include: the recent Anarchapulco conference, Ron Paul and the anarchist movement,…