L. Neil Smith's
THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 132, August 6, 2001
Did I Mention, Let's Secede?
I should certainly thank you for your kind words about the Awdal Roads Company in your recent essay on secession (TLE #131). It should go without saying that I think the project is legitimate, too. While a good many Americans have lived in Somalia, and some still do, it is not the case that we are asking anyone of the American libertarian persuasion to live there. Rather, we are discussing a country of great heritage, centuries old, called Awdal.
Nor would we recklessly suggest that any Americans seeking freedom pack up their kit bags and fly to Awdal today. Instead, we are working on a free zone connected to a free port. It is our intention to have a system of laws suited to the interests of liberty loving people, with private administration of all services. The negotiations are in process, and take time.
Somalia as it has previously been conceived doesn't exist. It ceased to exist, formally, in 1991, when its dictator was ousted. To speak of Somali people is sensible, to speak of Somali territories is practical, and to speak of Somalia, as if the Democratic Republic of Somalia still exists, is rather sad. It happens, quite often, but it reminds me of Southerners still proudly speaking of the Confederacy.
In your article, which is a very good one, you suggest that the USA would not send in troops to squash a rebellion or secession movement. If I were to refer to the events of 28 February 1993 in Mt. Carmel, Texas, all kinds of objections would arise as to why the heavily armed Branch Davidians were not a separatist movement. Of course, they are dead, now, so such discussions are largely academic. The official policy of the USA remains to this day one of defending the actions taken in February and April of 1993.
Similar actions took place in April and May of 1997 in Fort Davis, Texas, against the oddball R. L. McLaren and his faction of the Republic of Texas, and again in recent memory to the Freemen of Montana, and is happening now to a guy in East Texas, Joe Gray as I recall his name. The entire purpose of agencies like the FBI and the BATF is to oppose armed, organized resistance to the USA government. Turning a blind eye to these events is going to get people killed. Again.
Nor is it the case that the analogy to Milosevic holds. As you say, the system of internationalist socialist governance is set up to do the bidding of people in places of power, like Washington, DC. People from scruffy little countries like Serbia get hauled before international tribunals, where the media can tut their collective tongues. Janet Reno and Bill Clinton will never face such a tribunal, not in the Hague. Possibly in what remains of a post-war DC, though that is stretching a point.
In the event you get some enthusiastic support for your effort, I would strongly urge you to read the book How to Start Your Own Country by Erwin Strauss, available from Loompanics and other fine booksellers. Strauss treats ideas like "vo nu" or disappearing from the system, as well as the permanent traveller phenomenon with considerable attention to detail. He also ruthlessly separates the wheat from the chaff in new country efforts.
I would also suggest you look at the OECD attacks on tax havens as a lot of sound and fury, signifying nothing. There are people seriously working to demonstrate the advantages of digital encryption, tax havens, global telecomm, and I know a great many of them. Economic sanctions against places like Guernsey, Anguilla, and Singapore really don't have much significance to them. At the same time, there are billions of dollars locked away in complete safety, and more going underground all the time. The rate is accelerating tremendously.
Finally, you had me going, right up to the very end. You had me excited, ready to join, ready to be a part of yet another movement toward secession. Right up until you said we would vote on where to move to.
Voting is a ritual combat system to decide things we don't have a good way to evaluate and understand. It is used to count noses, as if that were important. In war, it might be, but there are numerous examples of wars won by smaller forces. The country of Monaco still exists because Grimaldi walked in, alone, to a fortress, and then let in a small team.
Moreover, in choosing a site for democratically elected takeover, great attention should be focused on winning. Not winning elections, which are ritual combat, rigged vote counts, and unlikely to play a major role in your success. (Name the election between 1773 and 1781 that counted the noses among 3 million North American colonists to settle the matter of independence.) But winning freedom, which is where it matters.
Choose a territory by using reason. Voting is not the accumulation of reason. If people cannot give good arguments about why things should go their way, they are probably a poor judge of how the decision should be made. Voters are as likely to vote for a warm climate as a cold one, as likely to vote for their neighborhood as not, and may have completely irrational reasons; libertarians are not that different from other voters.
Wyoming and Idaho have good prospects, owing to their size, mountainous terrain, low population, presence of lots of freedom enthusiasts (a friend of mine, Mark Laughlin, has a photo on one of his web sites of a liquor store in Pineland, Wyoming, the marquee of which reads "Who Is John Galt?"), lots of guns in the woods, distance from dead-center Washington, and other merits. There is even a chain of convenience stores in Wyoming which features in its advertising a cartoon character, Maverick, who is "for Western independence."
Military history is an important branch of political science. Picking the time and place of battles, and the rules of engagement, is the key to victory. Numerical superiority and brute force can win battles, but timing, location, and other tactical advantages often win out. It was not numerical superiority that won the Vietnam war for Vietnam, nor the war for Afghanistan for the Taliban. Terrain played a major role. One could go on and on. From Alexander's battles with the Persians to Henry at Agincourt, terrain and tactics have proven the equal to numbers. Not one victory has ever happened on a site which was chosen by polling the combatants.
Finally, I think you should be aware that there is a group which wants to take over, not a state, but a county, in Texas. You may have heard of the West Texas county of Loving, headquartered in Mentone, population 80, give or take 20. I admit to not having 2001 census data in front of me, and to not being willing to believe it if I did.
County governments have a good deal of power. They control many taxes, and collect certain others. Their police forces are entitled to surplus weaponry from the USA military, and Loving County Sheriff's department could make a good case for helicopters, fixed wing aircraft, battle tanks, and SWAT armament for fighting the drug war, it being reasonably close to some drug traffic flows.
And, of course, a county government could be a proof of concept for you, much more readily attained than a state government. I don't happen to think Loving County has many terrain features going for it, but it is one of the lowest population counties West of the Mississippi, so as a proof of concept, it has merit. So, if you want to contact those folx, or the digital encryption guyz, or a large number of people enthusiastic about doing something useful in their own lifetimes, please let me know.
If your project takes up the question of whether voting is a sensible way to settle anything, I would be very interested.
Jason, let's do it. Let's create a free place on Earth. Then, let's do it again. With the Limon Real project, the efforts in Belize, the project in Romania, and a half dozen others, there are credible efforts to put new countries together. The USA presents particularly fierce and fearsome challenges to any such effort within its borders, but dozens of Indian nations eke out an existence, many with casino style and verve.
As I told an audience in France recently, the more places on Earth that become free, the better. And the sooner I'll start working on free places in space.
Jim Davidson [email@example.com]
Dear Jim (and others),
Thanks for your detailed comments on my proposal. I just wanted to make one brief response to your objection to voting as decision mechanism. Certainly voting as it operates in state systems does not work, because of the apathy & ignorance of most citizens. However, voting works in a myriad of other settings, including everything from corporate governance to high school clubs. We hope to inform our members in detail about the advantages & disadvantages of every state & thus reach a decision, in the end, based on reason. The only alternative is for me or somebody else to claim unique access to reason and to dictate from the beginning where everyone should go.
Jason P Sorens
<< 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. >>
Florida would also be ideal.
Susan Wells [Swftl@aol.com]
<< Some day, a critical mass will be reached. Enough people will wake up and decide to be free that we can just laugh at the toady. That day isn't today. Therefore, if you're a smart freeman, you take out your cash, pay up, drive on, and speed up as soon as the toady is out of sight. You don't have to like it, but being short of cash is better than being short of your life. >>
No, you can demand a trial by jury and get your friends to hand out FIJA pamphlets to everyone - including the jury pool - before they enter the courtroom.
Susan Wells [Swftl@aol.com]
The so-called "tax rebate" checks coming to American taxpayers are
apparently NOT a rebate, but simply an advance on 2001 tax year
refunds. Check out this article for a good explanation of how the
White House and Congress are hustling us:
Kent Van Cleave [firstname.lastname@example.org]
P.S. -- Please cross-post widely. This is phantom-goodies-for-votes politics at its worst.
> I've noticed of late that people are again stating that a
Yes. Next question?
Oh, there's the idea that you can only kill while the threat is active, that once the perpetrator is "helpless" and "unarmed" the threat is no longer and it in unethical to off the bastard. But if a gubmint agent is breathing (and can reach his office or even a cel-phone) there is a clear and present danger.
Glad we agree, Ward. Not sure if the Libertarian platform would...
Angel Shamaya [Director@KeepAndBearArms.com]
In TLE#132, Angel Shamaya asks,
"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?"
The concept of "initiation of force" recognizes the reality of force used in defense, even lethal force. If I come to the aid of an innocent and kill their attacker, I am hailed as a hero by those who believe that the attacker was in the wrong.
My personal, private opinion is that murder is wrong. As a jury member, I might very well consider the killing of a bureaucrat as self defense, but that would depend on the bureaucrat.
What's left? Being a "Good Libertarian"? Does a "Good Libertarian" stand aside as his neighbor is persecuted, or defend and protect the inocent?
I think this will always be the eternal question of those who espouse Liberty: At what point does it stop being "too early to shoot the bastards?"
My gratitude to Claire Wolfe for the above turn of phrase.
Curt Howland [Howland@priss.com]
> I think this will always be the eternal question of those who
What would spark patriotic Americans to move out of using the First Amendment in defense of Liberty and into using the Second Amendment in defense of Liberty?
1) The Supreme Court falsely declares the second amendment to pertain only to the military and national guard, or
2) Congress passes and the President signs a national registration "law", even if only for handguns.
Should the gunwolves attain either of the above two objectives, I predict that a number of dedicated Real Americans would declare open season on those who participated in making them so -- and several ancillary traitors, to assure that the disease was put into remission.
Wishful thinking, you say? We'll know somewhere between 2004 and 2008, after Bush loses the election to a Demoncrat because he doesn't kill the so-called "assault weapons" ban or because he closed the so-called "gun show loophole" -- unless of course we figure out collectively, beginning very soon, how we are going to put a third party candidate into the White House in the next election.
Good sir, and TLE,
My honest opinion is that the vast majority of American gun owners are going to roll over and their guns be taken rather than risk having their homes and children burned to the ground.
After Waco, there was a time when I think the spark might have been set off, as might have happened with the woman in (Indiana I think?) who was being starved out of her home after she shot the police dogs that had been sent in for her. But "cooler heads prevailed", and the police drugged her, and she's long gone.
National firearms registration exists, with the Illinois CAGE program and various other licensencing schemes. The "blatently unconstitutional" laws of Brady, Dole (assault), Feinswine, and the rest have been passed, their provisions enacted, peaceful owners prosecuted. Confiscation continues, limited only by geography, like New York or Chicago, or California.
Yet the "Spark" has not yet sputtered to life. Who mourns Carl Drega?
Unless the stealth uprising, ala Unintended Consequences, comes to pass, personally I think we're already screwed.
I do not know the next place that the rights and liberty of the individual will be recognized as superior to the "state", but I fully expect it will happen again as it has happened in the past. 1775 was a milestone, not the end of the road. I hope I'm alive to see it, and I will live as if I will be.
Curt Howland [Howland@priss.com]
> Good sir, and TLE,
The vast majority of British-worshipping serfs on American soil in 1776 were cowards, too. Care not what jellyfish do; be a shark when your teeth are needed.
> After Waco, there was a time when I think the spark might
There will be another Wacolike event. Have faith in tyrants' propensity to tyrannize.
> National firearms registration exists, with the Illinois
Chicagofornia and New York City, England are of little consequence to the overall big picture of general uprising potential in that they won't rise up first. It will happen in the south first, as a result of something the federal government does, most likely.
> Yet the "Spark" has not yet sputtered to life. Who mourns
I do. Don't you?
> Unless the stealth uprising, ala
Speak for yourself. I won't be screwed until I'm done breathing.
> I do not know the next place that the rights and liberty
The next place the rights of the individual will be recognized as superior to the "state" will be in your mind and heart, right now. Pass it on.
>> 1775 was a milestone, not the end of the road.
The American Republic will be restored.
> I hope I'm alive to see it, and I will live as if I will be.
In my lifetime, unless by some misfortune I go out early. I'll be 33 in September.
A friend of mine from church went biking the other day in a somewhat rural part of the state, and ran across some deer blinds. Somebody had put them up, and had been feeding the deer right in front of the blinds. When deer season starts, whoever set up the blinds is evidently going to blast the deer as they come to eat.
My friend was angry; he didnít mind hunting, but didnít think that you learned anything about yourself, nature, or life by training deer to stand there and let you blast them. At the time, I thought it was fine, since the whole point of being human was to be able to outsmart your prey and then go home to watch "Frasier" in air-conditioned comfort.
Having thought the matter through, Iíve decided that my friend was completely wrong; you can learn an important life lesson from these deer blinds. I donít hunt, but if I ever have kids, Iím going to set up a similar deer blind/feeder combination for them. During the off season, Iím going to take them out to see the deer:
Me: "Look, Susie, thereís the deer"
Susie (my hypothetical child): "Ohhhhhh. Daddy, its sooooo cute!!"
The lesson comes when deer season opens, and we take a rifle with us when we go to see the deer. Weíll wait behind the blind for our victim to come up.
Me: "Susie, its deer season. Why isnít the deer afraid?"
Susie: "Why should it be? Weíve been feeding it for a year. It trusts us."
Yes, the self-preservation instincts that deer have developed over millions of years have been dulled by one single year of handouts. Bambi is now lazy, stupid, and dependent, and does not know the danger he is in. If Bambi had opposable thumbs, he would be writing in the New York Times about how the free food means that humans love him, care for him, and how all deer should stand ready to sacrifice for their human leaders. Then again, being too low on the evolutionary tree never stopped Thomas Friedman from writing things like that for the Times. At any rate, that is the day that Bambi sacrifices, and I drive that little life lesson home with a large caliber bullet:
Me: "Susie, this is what happens when you trust others, and give up thinking and doing for yourself. Now watch as I exhale and smoothly pull the trigger so as not to screw up my aim."
Susie: "Daddy, noooooooooo!!"
*** BLAM ***
Bambi: "Gasp Run, Thumper, wheeze runÖ"
Now, the kid will probably be angry with me as we haul our kill to the deer processing shop (i.e. "IRS headquarters") in our gas-guzzling SUV, but she will thank me in the long run. Maybe Iíll have the deerís head mounted on the wall in her bedroom opposite her pillow, to be the first thing she sees every morning when she wakes up.
Scott Cattanach [email@example.com]
Dear Libertarian Enterprise,
In a few days the first Tax Refund Checks will begin arriving in American's mail boxes. Democratic politicians and pundits are already decrying the bestowment of this refund of stolen wealth upon the American people saying that it is irresponsible. They suggest that, instead of spending it on useless consumer goods, we should send it to charitable organizations or give it back to the government as the honorable House of Lords, er, Senate member Robert Byrd has suggested he would do.
Lord Robert Byrd's idea seems to suggest that if a mugger takes our wallet and then for some odd reason we get the wallet back, we should still give the money to the mugger because it was rightfully his to begin with. Of course Lord Byrd is more interested in turning West Virginia into a western suburb of the District of Columbia and therefore wants his $600.00 to be used for that purpose. However, Lord Robert Byrd does not make the most interesting suggestion, instead, those liberal pundits who suggest that they will give their tax refund to charities does. Why is this you ask?
Because, it is exactly what libertarians have been saying people would do if they'd have the money that is stolen, er, raised through taxes returned to them. Many a time I have talked with friend's of mine and said, "give the money back to me and let me decide what to do with it," only to be met with their reply, "no one would give money to charity." People are able to make their own decision on where the money goes instead of the government - what a novel idea. But that is just what is happening, or suggested by certain liberal writers. That they will be giving their money to charities that they choose.
Even if people spend the money on "useless consumer goods" it is still flowing into the economy and creating jobs but we as libertarians already know how that works.
So in and odd way these liberal pundits and parliamentarian lords are showing the validity of libertarian economic and tax theories.
Yours in liberty...
Keith Shugarts [firstname.lastname@example.org]
Excerpt from "On Mortimer Adler" by Gail Jarvis, Libertarian Enterprise, issue 132, July 30, 2001
"...Charles Darwin's "Descent of Man" also made Adler's list of Great Books. (I've always wondered why Darwin used the title "Descent of Man" rather than "Ascent of Man". Maybe he knew something we didn't.) When Adler picked Darwin's book, people were considered ignorant if they didn't believe in the theory of evolution - remember the famous Scopes Monkey Trial in Tennessee. Alas, scientists are now relegating Darwin's theory of evolution to the trash heap along with Freud's silly complexes... "
Look, if you want to slam Freud, at least remember that we've had decades to learn more than he ever could, and that at least the guy was trying. He may have been wrong about some things, but I'll have to take your word for that, since I'm no expert on Freudians. I understand, however, that even he said at least once that, "Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar," i.e., he was not trying to suggest that everything goes back to the penis. (So to speak.) On the other hand, I don't believe present-day psychologists get it right every time, either, so perhaps we shouldn't be quite so smug. It's really more of an art than a science, isn't it?
But enough of Sigmund.
You state as a fact that scientists are relegating Darwin theory of evolution "to the trash heap." I don't believe that this is true. As far as I know scientists in the field still hold him, and his theory of evolution, in high esteem. Please provide a few names of the scientists to which you refer, along with specifically which theory is supplanting the theory of evolution among scientists who have discarded Darwin. In all honesty, I believe I know where you are coming from, but I would rather not guess.
Gun control : What It All Boils Down to...
What it boils down to is a question of personal belief :
Do you believe that most people are rational enough to be allowed to live without some larger force guiding their actions?
If you believe most people can't be trusted, then you believe in gun control, socialized medicine, gov't funded housing, Federally controlled schools, and , in general, the concept of "people control". "People Control" says that the gov't must control the environment because all people are potential criminals who are just waiting for the means and opportunity. Call it "baby proofing the house" writ large. People who are successful are taxed to make up for other people's failure to make as much - just like kids who should be bumped a grade level in school are kept behind to learn "social skills". When they see other people in trouble, they turn to the "parent figure" of gov't, and demand those poor folks be helped. It is more important to be seen as "supporting a cause" than to be actively involved in the cause (ie, wearing a yellow ribbon to remember the dead children at OKC ... even though that yellow ribbon doesn't signify a contribution to a fund to build a memorial. Or wearing a red "AIDS Ribbon", and not contributing blood to help people who are getting transfusions due to hepatitis/AIDS complications.)
If you believe most people can be trusted, then you believe laws should punish those who do bad things. The general mind set here is that if everyone who committed crimes of violence was put in a pine box, only a small minority of the overall population would be lost, and the rest of the people would live peacefully. They don't believe any object should be illegal, but actions which initiate force against another demand the strongest reply. They believe the only rational response to criminal use of force is an immediate blunting attack, preferably delivered by the victim - and they believe this is the best way to minimize harm to the innocent. There is a strong concept of "Evil" and "Innocent" in their mentality. When they see an "innocent" in trouble, a strong streak of "There but for the Grace of God go I" is in these people - they help out the neighbor with the broken well pump. They give to the Red Cross when there's a disaster. They help during the search for the kid that's lost in the woods.
With respect to gun control, the major core of the issue is that the folks who are against it view guns like car safety belts : I'll probably never have to use it, since most folks are as rational as a I am, but on the slim off chance that I do, I want it close at hand. With your car you can drive for decades without getting in an accident, but when you do, you want as much protection as you can get. Same with guns - with any luck you'll never need it, but if you do, you'll need it badly.
On the flip side, the gun control advocates see it similarly, except they see the world as inhabited basically by people who don't know how to drive ... to clear up the metaphor, they see the world as filled with people who are basically irrational, and who are likely to cause trouble. If everyone has guns , they say, then everyone will be shooting at the slightest provocation (because anyone who has a gun is, by definition, a ticking time bomb). They live in a world where everyone around them is a continuing threat, and they want to minimize the weapons available to that threat in order to minimize damage to themselves. Curiously enough, most of the gun control advocates also include themselves in the "too irrational to own a gun safely" category. Consider the strongest speakers at the MMM were women who had lost children due to the speaker's own improper storage of the firearm.
If you boil it down, most people see themselves as basically "normal". They figure most people are like them - similar strengths, similar weaknesses. This makes sense - darn few people like to go through life thinking "I'm weird", so they project a bit of themselves into how they see everyone else.
If the person is self-confident and self-disciplined, they believe most everyone else is too, and who would be crazy enough to deny a rational adult the use of a life-saving tool, such as a seat-belt, life vest or gun.
If the person is knee-jerk emotional and views themselves as a "child" who needs to be helped by the "nanny State", they think everyone else is similar to them, and who the heck would be crazy enough to hand a child a gun.
Jeff Schwartz [Schwartz@BitStorm.net]