Dear Jim: Letter to a "Libertarian" Politician
by L. Neil Smith
Exclusive to The Libertarian Enterprise
I just saw your Nov 18 posting and regret not having replied sooner, since it advances just about every half-baked bonnet-bee that ever plagued the Libertarian movement -- or retarded its progress -- since I joined some 35 years ago.
You refer, for example, to a "Drug Reform Petition" despicably toadying to an immoral, illegal, irrational crusade that threatens our Bill of Rights and the civilization it makes possible. "Signing the petition is the right thing to do," you simper, "I've heard nothing to convince me otherwise." Ever hear of the Non-Aggression Principle? Or the 9th Amendment? If you haven't, what are you doing in politics? If you have -- and signed anyway -- what are you doing in the Libertarian Party?
At the same time, you smear those who stand up for what they believe in for practicing "all-or-nothing Libertarianism" which, you ignorantly blather, "is fine for discussion groups but unrealistic for a political party." Jim, there's no such thing as "all-or-nothing Libertarianism". There's only Libertarianism and non-Libertarianism which, contrary to another of your unsupported assertions, lessens and cheapens Libertarian ideals exactly the way that any contradiction -- offered "merely" as a "reasonable" variation -- lessens and cheapens them.
Not long ago, someone else I differ with, making an East Coast speech he thought I'd never hear, referred to me as an "extremist", a term I hadn't heard for decades. I'm unsure what an "extremist" is. Certainly, hearing Newt Gingrich denounced as an extremist is like hearing Roseanne denounced as voluptuous. You don't know whether to laugh, feel insulted on behalf of the genuinely voluptuous, or -- inspired by the repulsive images evoked -- run to the bathroom and throw up.
In the 60s, to New York's Nelson Rockefeller or Pennsylvania's "Weeping Willy" Scranton, an extremist was anyone who disagreed with the wishy-washy positions they took on issues like crime and poverty. It's possible, of course, to deal with such problems in a principled, positive, and final manner. Libertarians should be the first to shout it from the housetops, because only we can accomplish it. But Rockefeller, Scranton -- and that East Coast speechmaker -- would prefer you never heard it.
On some other hand, it seems to me that the quivering poltroons who, from the instant the LP was conceived, began trying to soften its rhetoric for fear of scaring off potential contributors (when what America needs most is unshakable convictions expressed in firm, confident tones) it seems to me they're the extremists, judging by their misguided persistence, their falsetto-voiced hysteria, and the lunacy of the policies -- watering down the platform, eliminating the Non-Aggression Pledge -- they always urge.
Look: when you write a computer program -- or hire someone to do it -- each keystroke must be correct or it won't run. Is your programmer an "extremist" if he strives, accordingly, to write it flawlessly? Do you condemn such "all or nothing programming" as "dogmatic"?
How would you feel if your surgeon told you he'd only removed 99% of your cancer because "all or nothing surgery" might "alienate him from the mainstream"?
Better yet, you're in Germany in 1934. Hitler's killing thousands every day, Jews, Gypsies, homosexuals, Poles, while you avoid "preaching to the choir" and "work within the system", presenting "reasonable and correct" arguments for reducing the rate of increase in the slaughter. You argue that cooperation with this murderous regime in no way lessens or cheapens your general moral obligation to your fellow human beings. Do you really expect not to be tried, convicted, and executed at Nuremburg along with the rest of the Nazi vermin?
Jim, you remind me of when I first saw John deLancie wearing a Starfleet outfit. My reaction was echoed by one of the characters: "You don't deserve to wear that uniform, Q -- you haven't earned the right." You say, "I am a Libertarian". I say no, you're not. Don't call yourself a Libertarian any more. You haven't earned the right. You never paid the dues. And now you're telling us you never will. You're unwilling to do the one thing that makes a Libertarian: forswear the use, advocacy, or delegation of initiated force.
Worse, you fail to understand that while you accomodate yourself to socialism for the sake of leaving Mrs. Grundy undisturbed, real Libertarians are preparing -- in response to an absolute moral imperative -- to take individual liberty places even the Founding Fathers never dreamed of. While you cower in the past, they're creating the future you're going to live in.
You're not just part of the problem, Jim, you are the problem. You want to collect taxes, beating up or killing anyone who would keep the fruit of his labors. You want to enforce barbaric, all-corrupting drug laws, beating up or killing anyone who won't obey. You defend educational socialism, not only beating up or killing anyone who won't support the public schools, but ravaging the minds of little children for the greater glory of the State. All because you're afraid folks might laugh at you, otherwise, and you don't have the guts to take it until -- thanks to an integrity you'll never know (perhaps because, deep inside, you want the power to impose your will on others) -- real Libertarians have won the battle for you.
From now on, whenever you dare call yourself a Libertarian in public, I'll be there -- or someone will -- to expose you as a fraud. All we'll have to do is quote the Non-Aggression Principle and your mealy-mouthed posting. So before it becomes too embarrassing, get out of the LP. Get out of the Libertarian movement. And take the others like you with you. You know who they are: those who threaten to sue their "fellow" Libertarians or turn them over to the IRS or the FEC.
Have the decency to leave the LP to real Libertarians. You're not one. You never were. You're not wanted. You don't belong. And you'll be much more comfortable -- don't tell me you haven't thought about it more each day -- beneath that Republican rock you crawled out from under in the first place.
L. Neil Smith
L. Neil Smith is the award-winning author of 20 books including The Probability Broach, The Crystal Empire, Henry Martyn, The Lando Calrissian Adventures, Pallas, and (forthcoming) Lever Action and Bretta Martyn. An NRA Life Member, founder of the Libertarian Second Amendment Caucus, and publisher of The Libertarian Enterprise, he has been active in the movement 35 years and is its most prolific and widely-published living writer.
Next to advance to the next article, or Previous to return to the previous article, or Index to return to The Libertarian Enterprise, Number 4, January, 1996.