L. Neil Smith's
THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 50, July 4, 1999
Of Ants and Men
by L. Neil Smith
Special to The Libertarian Enterprise
The war we're fighting is a war between ants and Men.
Ants scurry about their world at random in great numbers, leaving
behind long sticky trails of pheromone, chemically commanding anyone
and everyone, "DO THIS! DO THAT! GO HERE! GO THERE! EAT! SLEEP! WORK!
The pheremone trails build up, one upon another, lapping,
overlapping, tracing, back-tracing, up, down, sideways, overlay on
grimy overlay, imperative after foul imperative, until the whole
ant-world lies cloyed and covered in tarry, reeking, imperious filth.
Men speak, and as the words die cleanly in the air between them, they
think about the words and speak anew. The surrounding environment of
will, of choice, and of motivation is unpolluted. Their decisions,
agreements, judgments, options, alternatives, preferences remain
inside them, inside their individual minds. They do not clutter and
befoul the physical space in which they all must live.
Ants cannot live like Men and more importantly, men cannot live like
ants. Yet that's precisely what we've been trying to do. For two
centuries, ten generations, we've endured ant-like accumulations of
obsolete, discredited commands, ordinances, statutes, and decrees
building up beneath our feet, slowing us, binding us, gluing us down
like so much gum lying gooey on a sidewalk at high noon.
Keeping us from being what we might have been.
Keeping us impoverished, hungry, and stultified.
Keeping us from the one true destiny of Men, the stars.
As we've been told so often -- by those who wish to live like ants --
it's time to clean up the environment. To decide that we are Men, not
Twenty years ago, when I first began pondering this subject, there
were FIVE MILLION FEDERAL LAWS (and ignorance, I'd remind you, of the
law is no excuse). Who knows how many now? Who knows how many state,
county, and city laws? Who knows what they cost us -- besides our
The Founding Fathers never meant the nation's legislatures to become
full-time pheromone-factories. There's evidence that they envisioned
Congress and the state assemblies as places Men would meet --
occasionally -- to deal with some emergency. And even then they may
have been wrong. They must have been wrong, or we wouldn't be
suffering all this clutter, this legislative pollution today.
I propose a Moratorium, a final Law, an Amendment to the Constitution
creating a 100-year prohibition on legislative activity of any kind
within the borders of the United States of America, during which the
only thing a legislature could do would be to REPEAL old laws, mop up
all the pheromones, clean up the environment.
Those who wish to live like ants, and they are many, will fight it,
shrieking that they won't know what to do without their little sticky
overlapping trails (desperately afraid, too, that they won't be able
to tell others what to do any more) and won't know how to live.
Those who want to live like Men will champion it.
And in that Century of Sanity, they will reach the stars.
to advance to the next article, or
to return to the previous article, or
Table of Contents
to return to The Libertarian Enterprise, Number 50, July 4, 1999.