"A Libertarian Walks Into a Bear" by Matthew Hongoltz-Hetling

Review by Borodutch

Every time I've heard the story of Grafton, I've laughed out loud. Being a libertarian is somewhat of a meme in the crypto community (or a phase everybody seems to go through). All the arachno-capitalism-esque political movements severely disillusioned me until I started to study politics more formally. Nowadays, I realize that any political movement has its pros and cons — and in the case of libertarianism, well, there are bears.

Sorry, I can't help but chuckle while I write it. The whole story is so outrageously hilarious from the beginning to the end that I can't help myself. I mean, obviously, there were numerous lives endangered in Grafton, NH — and some even suffered the bear attacks, but still, "bear attacks" — that sounds like a new-wave rock-punk band name, doesn't it?

The author goes on multiple tours to figure out what's up in the "free town" and why bears were mentioned more and more frequently while talking to the libertarians there. Even though the phrase "a bunch of libertarians got together to overtake a town to stop paying taxes and then got molested by bears" encapsulated most of the book, there is so much depth in the journalistic work done here. Matthew unwraps the complicated structure of relationships in the town, starting with individual stories and how they interact.

Now, I want you to imagine a town of thousand-something mostly white males open carrying guns and not paying taxes. No, not the trailer park boys; get this picture out of your heads! I mean more like "The Revenant" movie type of frontier where, yes, the lead actor is attacked by a bear. Gods, the jokes here do write themselves!

Now add a few women to the mix who are either afraid of the bears or feed them, wait for it, doughnuts! Yes, one of the crucial parts of the story is the woman who fed bears doughnuts, attracting them to human foods. Bears also can feed on cats!

And, of course, the men are fixing the issue the only way they can — trapping and shooting the bears with their cubs. But this is still insufficient, and the bear population is steadily growing.

Over a decade or so, one could follow the story of the first true libertarian city and how it devolved into a primal "everyone for themselves" type of situation. "A Libertarian Walks Into a Bear" is precisely this story. And yes, it is as hilarious as the very promise of the book.

Bears molesting the city without any animal control (because of no taxes and no funding) put an end to the Ayn-Rand-esque libertarian utopia. Some stories must be only written in books, but here, the phrase from the Fargo movie is justified:

THIS IS A TRUE STORY. The events depicted in this film took place in Grafton in 2000s. At the request of the survivors, the names have been changed. Out of respect for the dead, the rest has been told exactly as it occurred.