Number 7, April 1996

Letters To The Editor...

Missing Tool!

         Language is important because it not only confesses but also shapes how people think and what parts of reality they notice. This is particulary relevant to "Sharing The Blame" in Libertarian Enterprise issue 6. Most of us English speakers have fewer (only a few fewer, however) words for snow than do most Eskimos. This means we have fewer mental tools to accurately differentiate a snow environment. Under certain circumstances, this could be a significant handicap. Perhaps a certain type of snow we can't name and thus don't easily differentiate from other types regularly overlies crevasses, for example.
         We are often blind to such word-tool deficits until we actually experience the alternative language, word, concept -- or situation. What would happen if we English speakers had an habitual language tool to easily and naturally differentiate ourselves from groups, especially governments -- a tool we'd have if we spoke, say, Cherokee:
"Among the other clever gadgets I have glimpsed in the grammars of so-called primitive groups, the complex Cherokee pronoun system seems especially handy. It distinguishes among "you and I," "another person and I," "several other people and I," and "you, one or more other persons, and I," which English crudely collapses into the all-purpose pronoun we.
-- The Language Instinct by Steven Pinker, p.28
         "WE" must pay "OUR" taxes?? "WE" killed 100,000 reluctant Iraquis in the Gulf Massacre?? The national debt -- "WE" owe it to "OURSELVES" don't "WE"? I guess "WE" showed those Branch Davidians a thing or two! SC-U-U-U-ZE ME! Which "WE" do you have in mind, bub? Perhaps this missing language tool causes or at lease exacerbates collectivist tendancies -- and group guilt -- in English speakers. Or perhaps it adds just enough extra confusion to let the statists consistently get away with murder.

Health, happiness & long life,
L. Reichard White

Monkies' Uncles?

         It's interesting to see the Republican hierarchy scramble to get rid of outsiders like Buchanan and Forbes. The same happened when Democrats, Republicans, AND the media establishment ganged up on Perot, all of which reminds me of the following:
The strongest evoker of agressive response in animals is the sight of a stranger, especially a territorial intruder. This xenophobic principle has been documented in virtually every group of animals displaying higher forms of social organization.

. . . Crowding of the monkeys induced a somewhat less than twofold increase in aggressive interactions. The introduction of strange rhesus monkeys, however, caused a fourfold to tenfold increase in such interactions.
-"Sociobiology" by Edward O. Wilson, p.122

The relative calm of a stable dominance hierarchy conceals a potentially violent united front against strangers. The newcomer is a threat to the status of every animal in the group, and he is treated accordingly. Cooperative behavior reaches a peak among the insiders when repelling such an intruder. -ibid. p140

Unfortunately, this seems to apply to LP gatherings as well. =(

Health, happiness & long life,
L. Reichard White

P.S. Also a comment or two:

         1. The last issue, issue 5 I believe, was VERY strong -- especially "Most Valuable Corner", *"Sharing The Blame"*, and "Right Wing Socialism."
         2. * * When you E-MAIL remember many E-MAIL servers truncate files longer than 50K. As a result, I was missing several K bytes from the first file in issue 5 --- and the last two articles in issue 6!! * *

[EDITOR'S NOTE: If your email server is truncating your files, well... we sympathise. If it is not feasible for you to ftp our publication, let us know. If there's enough interest, we'll start a list of people, and send you the Enterprise, chopped up in several files.]

Issue Number 6

         The first issue I received of the LE pleased me so much that it ripped an emailed response from me before I could even weigh the matter. This is another ripping issue. What is more, its editors solicit commentary from its readers. How can one resist?
         All nine of the articles in the issue are compelling, readable, and well reasoned. All present, vividly and succinctly, novel viewpoints which one cannot encounter in the mainstream media, but wishes that everybody encountered somewhere. In this stellar display of analytic acumen and wit, however, certain articles among the nine stand out more than their brethren, at least from the present reader's perspective.
         One of the finer pieces of political philosophy I have read recently is that which was lucidly developed by Wendy McElroy in her "The Ego and Her Own". At this point I request permission of the copyright holder -- is it Wendy? Libertarian Enterprise? -- to reproduce that article so that my colleague, Professor Eugene Heath of our university's Department of Philosophy, might distribute it to the students in his classes. What say? Wendy? The appropriate LE editor?
         The McElroy article is what I'd term a heavy-duty piece of theorizing, and I would set it in a class by itself accordingly. But there are other articles which hit hard clear blows in their own right. "Sharing the Blame", by Victor Milan, says what absolutely must be said by some commentator on the recent Congressional circuses that have been conducted purportedly to bring justice in the Randy Weaver incident. The lesson which Victor Milan teaches would of course apply to all of the other travesties of Gestapo cruelty and violation of citizen rights as well. I wish everybody could read his article.
         Other pieces fine enough to single out include the final three in your issue: L. Neil Smith's "Right Wing Socialism" says well what we all keep trying to tell to our neighbors who persist in confusing what they call "conservatism" from what we call "libertarianism". There sometimes seems to be a conspiracy abroad to confuse those two widely divergent political positions, and it is difficult for me to understand why that confusion should occur except that in general "liberalism" is "in", while "conservatism", which initiated many of the problems that the liberals have succeeded in aggrandizing and making hay from, has been by comparison "out". Of course, libertarianism has been "out" since before the Civil War, and we who would like it back "in" again would like it at least to be recognized for what it is and how it differs from the viewpoints with which it is malignantly confused and behind which it finds itself buried.
         John Taylor's "What If We Treated Cars Just Like Guns?" delivers a deft one-two punch sequence guaranteed to floor any anti-gun maniac who happens to raise that issue. Alas, most anti-gunners never do raise the issue, because they cannot see guns as "useful" whereas they do see cars as of use to Joe and Sally Schmoe. But the point is well said by Taylor in any case, and it is nice to have that handy sledge hammer at the ready.
         Vin Suprynowitz's "No Wonder Buchanan Confuses The Democrats: He Is One" is another bullseye in one shot. It demystifies what should be without mystery. But this article does more than merely demonstrating that what Buchanan recommends is just more state totalitarianism. Vin remarks upon how disaffection over apparently impenetrable "establishment" hegemony produces affection for any effectively demagogic bully who can assume the pose, however bogus, of The Outsider. I would go Suprynowitz one further, in fact, by remarking that just sixty three years ago a very similar sounding such populist, with a rather similar message, managed to ride the tide of his adopted country's disaffection with its then socialist regime, the Weimar Republic, and to get himself elected Chancellor with a split minority vote. The rest is history. The echoes should seem ominous.

Donald Morison Silberger SILBERGD%SNYNEWVM.bitnet@CUNYVM.CUNY.EDU

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