L. Neil Smith's
THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 105, January 15, 2001
Happy Jackson-Lee Day!
From: "Randles, James" <JRandles@dallasnews.com>
Dear Mr. Taylor,
This is the first time I have felt the need to submit something to your fine publication TLE. I hope it meets with your approval (see attached file). I have enjoyed TLE now for awhile and honestly believe you should charge a yearly subscription fee. (As I do not use Pay-Pal or one of the other on-line services I regret no having contributed to TLE)
Thank You for your outstanding work with TLE.
James W. Randles
For some time now I have been reading TLE and other Libertarian style publications. In all of my readings I have perceived the silent (and not so silent) call for action.
Some call for action by way of passive resistance to local and national government—do not do anything for the government, unless the possible penalties influence you to cooperate. Some call for a more proactive approach—delivering garbage to the local bureaucrats who voted to raise the trash pickup and disposal fees. Then there are those who, without regard for our underling principles, call for a wave of violence not encountered in this country since the civil war.
It all boils down to one thing—an unorganized, disjointed call of action. Not debate and compromise, not formal talks, not brain storming or "think-tanking", but action. Put plainly something, anything, we can physically do now to change the way we live.
I have read L. Neil on occasion lead up to a call for action, then stop short on a suggested course. The same can be said of Vin Suprynowicz and some of the other contributors to TLE.
I am a simple man, not learned as Vin is, nor eloquent as L. Neil is, but I do have a suggestion for a course of action. Some may find my suggestion appealing, most I fear will find it distasteful or think it a cowards move, but for what it is worth here it is.
With the results of our last national election I find there are over 382,000 confirmed Libertarians here in America. That number may not be sufficient to influence (to any great degree) our bureaucratic overlords in Washington D.C. but on a local level even ten percent would be a resounding voice. I propose we—Libertarians, Anarchists, and anyone who values personal liberty—pick an out of the way area here in the United States and build our own town. As our forefathers went forth with the covered wagon into the west to find, and build, a better life so should we. A town (city even) built upon, and chartered with, Libertarian principals and ideals. A site where freedom reigns and the Bill of Rights are the law of the land. A place where the world can see the benefits of personal freedom and comprehend the consequences thereof. A "stronghold" or "central core" of our ideals, a place to reach out to those who continue to live under the hobnailed boot of bureaucratic authority.
This course of action would not be an easy one to follow. Some will say that it is just a form of running from our problems. Some will say it's just another "Hippie" style commune. There are innumerable arguments against such a course of action, but for the type of person who can dream of a city in the asteroid belt, personal air transportation, or the unalienable right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, perhaps it is the correct action to take.
I give credit to L. Neil Smith for most of this idea (whether he wants it or not) for it was he and other radicals, like Robert A. Heinlein and Nikola Tesla, who helped form my beliefs by their writings or incredible accomplishments. Anything is possible if we make it happen.
James W. Randles
In a message dated 01/07/2001 4:40:57 PM Eastern Standard Time, John@johntaylor.org writes:
I agree. Especially since Hillary Rodham seems hell-bent on getting rid of the Electoral College.
From: "James J Odle" <email@example.com>
For anyone who wishes to indulge in a little cheap political activism they can locate an appropriate E:mail address via the following link: http://www.webslingerz.com/jhoffman/congress-email.html
Personally, I like to gather a collection of addresses within 'groups' inside my E:mail program and then flood them all from time to time with an appropriate message. It's cheaper than sending out a bunch of letters.
And I don't care a whit if they live within my district. If they live off our tax dollars, then they can listen to us.
James J. Odle
From: "Sanders, Stuart" <Stuart.Sanders@IHE.com>
In a recent discussion I had with a co-worker, generally pro-freedom, but anti-gun, I came upon an argument which will, I think, hit harder than Waco, Ruby Ridge or other similar situations. Not because these situations weren't tragedies, but because they happened 'somewhere else'.
It occurred to me, as I was contemplating my next course of debate, that I knew of several incidents which would point up the increasing amount of government corruption, at the same time pointing out— hopefully—that such corruption is much lower in concealed carry provinces.
My examples? Amidou Diallo, Abner Louima, Rodney King (Guilt or innocence not germane to this discussion), and the recent Rampart and Oakland Riders investigations.
What I realized, in something of an epiphany, is that all the most brutal of Police brutalities occur in cities and states with the strictest gun control. It's not that I thought otherwise, merely that I had missed the trees for the forest. I was so busy looking at the Federal Government's excesses that I forgot to consider the local excesses.
And it's these local excesses that I think we can work best with. No matter how many examples of federal militarism we bring up, they'll always have happened 'somewhere else'. While most brutality happens away from the view of the middle class, such brutality is still greeted with shock and outrage. We can also point out that such viciousness doesn't tend to appear in places where the citizens are armed.
My next course of action is to begin researching this, to see if my conclusions hold. New York, LA and San Francisco are easy—there's almost too much information. What's needed is information about other areas, with or without gun control. Any suggestions? If we could verify this correlation, I think it would work wonders for our cause.
From: "John" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Running the HB article was not only right and proper but defines both you and L. Neil as the Gentlemen I know you to be.
Some folks on our humble list here in Tennessee were upset with L. Neil after the Browne piece was reposted to our group <TnLP@egroups.com>.
My response was simply that you may see Mr. Browne's words in Mr. Smith's publication, but I suspect you are unlikely to see any of Mr. Smith's volumous writings in the LP News or any other organ in which Mr. Browne has influence.
From: "JEA" <email@example.com>
Dear Mr. Taylor,
I read the insipid whine of Mr. Harry Browne from beginning to end. Much in the spirit shown by the (proudly) disafilliated Arizona LP, you have done your utmost to be fair to these scheming trolls.
Several years ago, El Neil so clearly held that the National LP, and most of their afilliates are long-dead rotting corpses. Their members are either too stupid or self-blinded to realize that the rotting corpse smells to all who would notice.
I would be truly shocked if the last hold-out, the Arizona Libertarian Party, does not soon conclude that conventional Party Politics, even as tweaked by steadfast freedom-fighters, is a net loss for liberty.
It will be a bitter-sweet day. I'll savour a shot of single-malt and fire a volley in final salute to our dead steed... and then set about plotting treason, unfettered... and sharpening my blade for the days to come.
James Eric Andreasen
From: "Harry Browne" <HarryBrowne@Home.com>
I don't know whether you're up to running another article by me. But the letters in issue 104 call for some kind of response. I've given one—below as text and attached as a Word document.
With best wishes,
Mr. Heard says that fully 80% of the libertarians he knows think I am not radical enough. However, he gave only one example—my belief that we should focus on prosecuting future violators of the Bill of Rights, rather than vowing to go back in history and seek revenge on all the people who have done us wrong. I can understand Mr. Heard's position (and Neil Smith's), but I disagree with it. That doesn't mean I think Mr. Heard or Mr. Smith is less of a libertarian. This is something we can discuss—and maybe or maybe not we'll come to some agreement. But it shouldn't be a test of whether someone is libertarian enough to support.
I think you should actively oppose a Libertarian candidate only if he is proposing to expand the government in some way, if he is offering only proposals that most Republicans or Democrats might support, or if he has a competitor for the nomination that you prefer. But in the latter case, you will achieve more for your favored candidate and for the libertarian cause if you play up the virtues of your candidate, rather than trying to tear down your candidate's opponent.
Perhaps there are other areas in which Mr. Heard thinks I've demonstrated that I'm not radical enough. But he didn't mention any. And those who claim I'm too wimpish don't ever seem to offer specific examples with some evidence to back up the examples—such as quotations from one of my two political books, excerpts from my web site or the many articles I've published, or anything else. I wrote the article in the first place to correct the misunderstandings that Neil Smith had presented in his article.
In my article I said, "I'm not familiar with any 'well-documented misuse of political contributions by Harry and his Watergate cronies.' I know only of some rumors that have circulated by people who have offered no real evidence to support them."
To this, "Dan" replied: "I recall Liberty did a special report on these accusations. It came out around the time of the LP National convention. Unfortunately I don't have my copy anymore, maybe there are some Liberty readers out there that can provide a month and year for me. Basically their conclusion was that the accusations, while exaggerated, had some solid factual basis to them."
I will be glad to provide the information for you. Liberty Magazine publisher R.W. Bradford wrote two articles in the September 2000 issue. It repeated all sorts of accusations, most of them originating with Jacob Hornberger, but none of them accompanied by any evidence whatsoever. When I confronted Mr. Bradford about them, typical of his response was this statement in a message to me: "I had one unimpeachable source on the Bergland claim and two very reliable sources on the Lark claim." So we are supposed to trust R.W. Bradford to choose whose anonymous, unsupported words he will rely on.
While on this subject, I might wander a little afield to mention that both Jacob Hornberger and R.W. Bradford have referred several times to evidence in the FEC (Federal Election Commission) reports that supposedly shows that practically none of the money raised by my 1996 or 2000 campaigns actually went into campaigning. To see how empty those claims are, just go to www.FEC.gov and find the appropriate FEC reports. You will see that there's nothing in those reports that tells you how much the campaign spent on advertising or any other campaigning activities. The reports merely indicate from whom the money came and to whom it went. As to the recipients, you learn nothing about the purpose of the expenditure, whether it was salary, expense reimbursement, or being transmitted on to someone else. Invoking "the FEC reports" is a good way to sound authoritative, but it isn't proof of anything. And it's a sure sign that the accuser hasn't done any first-hand research.
"Dan" also wrote: "Harry, your positions aren't 'flaccid and cowardly.' It's the way you presented them. Why didn't you follow the advice Ken Sturzenacker (apologies if I mis-spelled your name Ken) gave in several issues of Liberty? That is, staging some publicity stunts instead of hiding out on talk radio? Talk radio is preaching to the converted, they're going to vote for you. Your job is to get the people that are 'in play' to vote for you."
First, we got a great deal of publicity of the very kind Mr. Sturzenacker claimed we were missing. Our campaign events often were attended by one or two local reporters, a radio host or two, and two or three local TV stations. This is the kind of publicity we could hope to get and we did get. Anyone who thinks Dan Rather or Peter Jennings is going to come watch me hug a tree or flip pancakes in a coffee shop is simply dreaming.
Second, what does "hiding out on talk radio" mean? I appeared on 111 national radio shows, 211 big-city radio shows, and 162 smaller-city shows. Do you think that only "the converted" listen to these shows? You might just as well have mentioned that I also "hid out" on national TV—on shows like Hannity & Colmes, Meet the Press, Catherine Crier, the PBS News Hour, various C-SPAN broadcasts, Equal Time—in all, 30 national TV shows. Was that "preaching to the converted"?
Third, perhaps I should have done more "preaching to the converted." There are far more than 385,000 Americans who should have voted Libertarian for President. If we had spent more time with them, perhaps more of them would have come out to the polls and voted for us. If I had replied to Neil Smith, Jacob Hornberger, and Liberty Magazine during the campaign, perhaps fewer libertarians would have accepted the false accusations made against me. If we had focused more on those who should have voted for us, perhaps we could have gotten more of our supporters to the polls.
I made mistakes in the campaign. But one of them was not doing too much "preaching to the converted."
Mr. Ney wrote to say, "It's interesting to note that Harry Browne chose to confront Neil well after the campaign was finished. I wonder why that was ..."
That's a good question. As I pointed out in my article, "I haven't responded to these accusations because I didn't want to encourage public fights that would serve to divide Libertarians and weaken our campaign efforts. But now that I'm no longer a candidate, I would like to lay to rest many of the most egregious allegations. And Mr. Smith's article is a good place to start."
I may have been wrong in thinking I shouldn't try to correct all the erroneous statements made about me as they're made. I believed then that this would simply allow my opponents to tie me down answering repeated accusations, when I should be campaigning to bring in new libertarians. And I also didn't want to throw more gasoline on the fires that were already dividing libertarians. I may have been mistaken in my decision. I infer from the way Mr. Ney worded his statement that he believes he knows why I didn't answer the charges earlier. Perhaps he would let me in on what he thinks was the reason.
I'm very grateful to John Taylor and L. Neil Smith for giving me a platform in TLE to state my case.
While I'm disappointed in the vote total we received in 2000, and while there are many things I wish we had done better, I'm not disappointed in the inroads we made in some areas of the media, the enormous numbers of people who heard about libertarian ideas for the first time, and the dedication and efforts of so many Libertarians in virtually every state.
I hope more libertarians will come to realize that we don't build a better, stronger party by tearing down other libertarians. We build by presenting better ideas and advancing them in positive, constructive ways.
As Libertarians, I believe we face two enormous hurdles.
One is the legal barrier. The two-party system is solidly entrenched because the Republicans and Democrats have the power of government behind them. They use that force for many purposes: to limit our ability to raise money to oppose them, to help themselves to vast sums of taxpayer money to finance their campaigns, to finance public debates that exclude third-party candidates, and to enact ballot-access laws that make us use up so much of our resources just getting on the ballot.
This is why Perry Willis, I, and some cooperating organizations, are suing the FEC to dismantle all the campaign finance laws. We assume the case eventually will be decided by the Supreme Court. Surprisingly, I think we have about a 50-50 chance of succeeding. For more information, go to www.RealCampaignReform.org.
The second hurdle is an easier one to deal with. If you believe most Americans would be better off living in a Libertarian America, then realize that what we face is simply a marketing problem—the kind faced throughout history by many companies who have developed a superior product but faced large, entrenched, intimidating competitors.
We need to find the right words to explain to people how much better off they'd be in a Libertarian America. Not by telling them they're wrong, not by berating them, not by asserting our moral superiority— but by showing them persuasively what they're missing. And we need to develop the resources to being able to transmit those right words to every American—not just once, but often enough that they take us seriously enough to actively support us.
This is no easy task. But it's not an impossible task. I don't know whether we'll succeed—or succeed in my lifetime. But I do know it's possible for us to succeed, and in the not-too-distant future. And so I will continue to work in the best way I know to bring about a Libertarian America.
Those who disagree with my approach are free to work in any way that makes sense to them. But I hope they will choose to work in a way that shows non-libertarians what they're missing—rather than choosing to tear down libertarians.