L. Neil Smith's
THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 132, July 30, 2001
"DING DONG, ...!"
>The Fifth of July
With all due respect to the man whom the term 'Libertarian' rightfully belongs, I must protest -- only on the technical aspect of his less than proper regard of human frailty.
The idea that a firearm may be safely discharged into the air without regard to where the bullet may be fall, is more than a bit irresponsible.
And, yes, I do own a copy of "Hatcher's Notebook"; Hatcher does indeed describe various damage -- to hard objects. Note that none of the men involved in his experiments volunteered to become targets for falling projectiles.
Now, I don't know about you, but there is a significant difference between wood, and human flesh.
Tossing a bullet into the air without regard to whatever consequence might result, is the very same thing as random violence.
Infant babies have notoriously soft skulls. Care to guess the results of a bullet hitting one of them? And, even if the bullet caused no permanent damage, with what excuse may one rationalize the act of violence to that child? Simply that they were having fun without regard to any possible consequence?
What would be the difference between shooting a neighbor's windows out willfully, or simply shooting into the air with wild abandon, and accomplishing the same damage?
If Libertarian reasoning is to be the standard by which the politics of freedom is measured, then it behooves each of us to reconsider our motives and their attendant consequences long before we anticipate a first move. If we don't, then we are no better than riffraff in high office, who see nothing wrong with having fun at our expense.
If nothing else, our first article of faith must lay with the Natural Laws.
EJ Totty <email@example.com>
I've noticed of late that people are again stating that a Libertarian believes, among other things, that one must never initiate force against another person.
Meanwhile, every day, various government agents are using guns and other forceful means -- including "legal" and judicial -- to enforce unconstitutional laws against people who've not harmed anyone. The term "initiate" is met by such actions.
So my question:
If someone specifically selects a government agent who behaves in such a manner -- initiates force against someone who's truly done nothing wrong -- and exterminates him, can that person still be a good Libertarian?
Just curious. Keep up the great work.
Angel Shamaya <Director@KeepAndBearArms.com>
Dear Mr. Sorens:
First off, I think there is much merit in your idea. I don't believe, at the moment, that it is feasible, so I am remaining anonymous for the moment. (Paranoia in the interest of personal security is never wasted.)
However, I would like to lend some (anonymous) support to the cause, at least until I am convinced that it can work in the real world. I am a writer (unknown, I'm afraid), and am quite willing to contribute essays, polemics, and anything else you need. I'm not nearly the essayist that El Neil is, but perhaps I can help anyhow.
One real-world consideration you neglected to consider in your essay, though, troubles me. For a secession to have even a ghost of a chance, free trade is (obviously) essential. The Free State Project will have a far better chance of success if carried out in a state that is not landlocked. If Iowa or Wyoming secede, the Federal Government can simply tariff it to death. Even a state on the Great Lakes or St. Lawrence Seaway could be choked off by Canada and the US. An ocean front state would be best, preferably one with a foreign border as well (Texas, by only these criteria, is perfect). There are other considerations, naturally, but this struck me as essential.
Good luck to you sir, and I hope to see this idea grow and mature in the near future.
Jason P Sorens has nice idea, and it could work, except for one sore point: It allows those who achieve high office to corrupt the essential principles of the idea of government.
I have written here before about a method of government which would satisfy every Libertarian ideal.
But first, let me concisely explain my comment above:
Our current form of government supposes high ideals, both morally and ethically, on the part of our elected and appointed officials.
It doesn't take a political scientist to understand that such thinking is sheer folly. The Founders of this nation had a lot to work with, but the political interests of the day had a say very much beyond their actual physical numbers.
Were the founders went wrong is that they left the door wide open to corruption of principles, and all of it is entirely legal. Two hundred years of American experience in government shows that even the men who were of supposedly high ideals, were actually nothing of the kind -- from the get-go.
So, even if Libertarians succeed, who's to say that 5, 10, or 20 years down the pike, the same old crap isn't right back in place?
If you don't change the essential nature of the beast, it will revert to its basic nature: accumulation of all power.
If a group of Libertarians do in fact succeed in taking the political power of a particular state, just remember this: the tide can just as easily be reversed by a consonant act of yet another party, by the very same method. Imagine a determined group of New England communists moving directly into that same state and completely reversing the Libertarian tide.
There's more of them than us.
If the government ever figured that a group of us were at work doing such a thing, they'd send in a complementary group of statists to counter the move: either stalemate or checkmate.
The answer to this is to change the essential nature of the government, while leaving the framework intact.
I wrote an untitled piece here, a bit ago, describing the structure of what I considered to be the obvious changes.
I will repeat here that when a politician has no power to decide how much money is collected, and no power to decide where any funding is disbursed, then bribing him is a useless thing.
The whore of commerce would not be involved in the process of making any kind of decisions in government, as her interests would be with the people themselves, and not the powerless politicians.
And, if the government cannot act without the will of the people, then it could not do what it does now.
Check it out, under construction:
Carol Moore <Carolmoore@kreative.net>
Since I can't find any reference that allows me to to Email directly to Jimmy "Peanut-Farmer" Carter, I'll have to post my response to him and hope he see's it on his way through.
Dear Mr. Carter,
Since I was young and stupid in 1976 and actually voted for you then I feel justified in telling you to "SHUT UP!" You were a pathetic, socialist fool then and I was very young and actually fell for your line. You were unqualified to be president in 1976 and thankfully everyone had their fill of your drivel by 1980 in order to chuck you out of the White House!
You did more harm in 4 years than almost any president in history until Billy Bob Clinton beat you at the Communist/Socialist Game.
In case you didn't hear me: SHUT UP MORON!!
Go back to pounding nails for "habitat for welfare queens" and leave really important stuff to people with some smarts and backbone.
I'll take the flak for voting for you but I don't have to listen to you WHINE about a semi-conservative president!
You are part of the reason that we are in such deep trouble these days! Can anyone see where we left the Panama Canal? Oh, there it is, over in the "Chinese" area!
Being a pathetic excuse for a "leader" for a few years does not give you perpetual claim to the media spotlight "for life"! So go pound nails and as a matter of fact go "POUND SAND"! Catch my drift?
Drop Dead Peanut Head!
Bill Butson <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Paul Birch makes a pretty good point about the etymology of "libertarian" (as well as the fact that its heritage was English at about the same time as (or even before?) it was American ...).
What has always worked for me in "the LP pledge" is this:
However one defines and perceives his or her appreciation of "non-aggression" (ranging from personal actions to tacit acceptance of tyranny -- by a state or other power-center?), if in the face of mere inconvenience or personal tastes (as opposed to actual force or fraud) one's personal perception is that of either (a) "there oughta be a law" or (b) "we need to stop that" ...
One is NOT a libertarian ...
If the general tendency is to seek other non-statist ways of handling problems (even if in some cases the person has not 'thought it through completely") .. there is hope! [no pun intended?]
Our job in persuading more and more people to choose Liberty ... is merely opening their eyes to the wider issues involved ...
Assuming they have a foot on the right side to begin with ...
The toughest battle seems to be in deciding when to give up on those who just "don't want to be free" ...
Steve Trinward <email@example.com>
Dear Libertarian Enterprise;
I was driving through the Eastern Shore of Maryland listening to Rush Limbaugh hijacking the ideas of freedom and liberty while ruminating over my progression from conservative to libertarian.
When I first heard Rush in 1990 it was easy to believe that the ideals he was speaking about, liberty and freedom, were actually contained with the Republican party. After all, I had grown up in a rock solid Republican county of Pennsylvania and believing that conservatives were for freedom and liberty was not hard to believe. Nevertheless, through the evolution of my ideas and philosophy, I have begun to cut through the illusions of mythology and half-truths that surround the hazing summit of liberty and freedom.
One of the most shocking to me, and one that I am still dealing with to this day is that Democracy is actually and anathema to individual liberty and freedom. How is that so you ask? Throughout all of our schooling, we are taught that the democratic system offers the most freedom - but is that necessarily true - after all, we are also taught that Abraham Lincoln was a savior.
How can democracy be an anathema to individual liberty and freedom? One just needs to take a brief look back at history to understand that the broadening of access to a democracy leads to the dissolution of liberty. This has happened to both the United Kingdom and the United States - that as democracy is opened to increasingly people, freedom and liberty begin to wane. Britain's liberalization of voting laws in the 19th century led to the expansion of government programmes and regulations. The same happened in the United States later in the same century and early in the 20th. Why is that so? Because, in a system that does not represent individuals but pockets of disparate population, every democratized citizen wants something from the government and their elected representative - attempting to be all things to all people - attempts to succeed in providing that. This is why we see Republicans supporting certain social programmes and Democrats supporting certain economically beneficial programmes. This response to the will of the people, a phrase so popular in today's lexicon, leads to the expansion of the government pie. In order to satiate the government's hunger for both power and money, the government grows. This problem is exacerbated when the number of representatives is frozen at an arbitrary number - take 435 for example - and does not represent individuals. This growth in government continues regardless of which of the two parties are in power. As democracy is broadened even further - motor voters laws, registration drives, etc, liberty will continue to wane.
Thomas Jefferson, and other non-federalist founding fathers, realized the perils that liberty could face even in a democracy and placed this passage in the Declaration of Independence "That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed, that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these Ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to instituted new Government, laying its Foundation on such Principles, and organizing its Powers in such Form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness." Jefferson goes to to offer insight into the role that status quo plays in the continuance of despotic and tyrannical government,"Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient Causes; and accordingly all Experience hath shewn, that Mankind are more disposed to suffer, while Evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the Forms to which they are accustomed."
The growth and expansion of democracy will continue to erode what is left of our freedoms and liberties until we are forced again to seek out a new government that shall seem most likely to effect our safety and happiness.
Yours in Liberty,
Keith Shugarts <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To the Editor:
I always enjoy Neil Smith's articles. Usually I agree with them, However, sometimes, it seems El Neil goes a bit too far. Here is a quote from a recent one.
While I agree that government has no business regulating fireworks (or just about anything else), somehow I can't bring myself to sing the praises of child labor. Come on, Neil, be real. Child labor was a system of ripping off the poor by (government protected) businesses looking for cheap, slave-like workers. I care not for what politicians babble. However, it was, in my humble opinion, perfectly all right for labor unions--then freely joined associations of individuals, attempting to enforce their rights without governmental interference--to protest and embarass employers away from using the next-best-thing-to-slave-labor. (Yeah, I did say that the unions were attempting to exist back then without government interference--remember that until the 1930s, the U.S. Supreme Court had held that a free association of individuals, attempting to collectively bargain with an employer to increase their bargaining strength, was illegal as a violation of the Commerce Clause of the Constitution! The fact that this view was merely purchased by the wealthy with political contributions, and has not one bit of support in any honest scholarship on the Constitution, did not slow them up for a second).
By the way, Neil--congratulations on your nomination for another Prometheus award! I trust you will not be crazy enough to come to the Big Pretzel (i.e., Philadelphia), during August, however. The weather here in the People's Republic of Brotherly Love is usually "98-98-100" in August--98 degrees, 98 percent humidity, and 100 percent cloud cover.