L. Neil Smith's
THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 226, June 1, 2003
Mr. Ed Tells All!
On Switzerland, Anarchy, Theory, and Practice
Special to TLE
In a previous article, I made the mistake of claiming that Switzerland was "entirely free from coercion" both internal and external; I should have said, "mostly" or "generally". I was speaking in the general sweep of their 700 year history, of course, and in comparison to every other country in the world. Over the seven centuries of the Swiss experiment, the Swiss have enjoyed a level of prosperity and self-government unparalleled in that same time period -- not perfect, just way out ahead of whoever is in second place.
Mr Davidson wrote an article in opposition to my suggestion that this unique experiment in self-government is instructive to the cause of Liberty. I shall reply here: The fact that Switzerland was overrun by Napoleon hardly disqualifies the concept of armed neutrality; unlike specious anarchist theory, Liberty doesn't come with a guarantee of easy success. Every nation in Europe which ole Nappy attacked fell, right up to the gates of Moscow. Switzerland suffered aftershocks from their brief occupation for many years afterward, and they were not immune to the various troubles sweeping nineteenth-century Europe.
The Swiss, however, managed to learn from the experience (there's that nasty concept of learning from experience, as opposed to trying to force reality to fit some theory), and held off the entire Axis during the six years of World War Two. That their neutrality included allowing the continued use of some Swiss roadways does not negate it. Unmentioned in Mr Davidson's article is the fact that Switzerland also shot down quite a few Nazi planes and, in essence, provided a safe haven for a great number of crippled US and UK bomber and fighter aircraft which would otherwise have had to land in Axis territory. (The American OSS also was allowed to operate nearly openly in Switzerland during this time, by the way.) This is hardly collaboration with the Axis.
The Swiss were neutral, not non-existent, during the war. Neutrality does not mean one cannot favour one side or another, it means that one does not become directly involved in alliances and the hostilities which inevitably result therefrom. The Swiss traded with many nations (mostly in exchange for food, of which they were desperately short -- the reason they did not accept every refugee in Europe, by the way), and supplied war materiel to the Allied nations, shipping their wares through fascist Italy. The Axis had to allow it, or the Swiss would have closed their borders to all Axis traffic, instead of just most of it.
Other complaints: the Protestant and Catholic Swiss have not made their cantons kosher. Maybe that is "bad", but it is their decision and their right. Perhaps they feared that they would suffer the fate that befell the Palestinians. In any case, immigrants don't have to go there if they don't like it. Those who hate the Swiss would likely feel happier bulldozing Palestinians' homes, murdering the residents, and "settling" their stolen lands and businesses. In that case, they know where they can go... Palestine's Christians have not exactly had an easy time of it under Israeli fascism, either, but that would be applying the same standards to Zionists which they attempt to force on the rest of the world.
[Note that the numbers game ("25,000 refused!") is played every time "the Holocaust" is used to attack anyone outside the pro-Israel lobby; the numbers cannot be verified, of course, as no source is given (as usual), although it is indicated in Mr Davidson's article that his claim is based on "probably". I have never been able to find a reliable source for the notorious "six million" figure, either, but since "everybody knows it's so," we peasants probably don't need to know how this "fact" is arrived at -- or why it was changed from the four million touted in the '50s and '60s.]
Also unremarked is how many Jews did find refuge in Switzerland, how many were accepted in the USA (which turned away all but the handful of scientists they needed for atomic bomb building, et cetera), how many "Gypsies" (Roma) were sheltered by European Jews, how often the Holocaust Industry mentions the five million Poles killed by the Nazis, et cetera. It's always easy to hint at the dreaded "anti-Semitism", however, as every neocon and pro-Israel lobbyist knows, and this seems to be a convenient club to use on the Swiss, too.
The nonsense about "Swiss collaboration" with other countries because they refused to stop doing business with them, is just that; banks are under no obligation, moral or otherwise, to investigate their customers' finances, even if the Simon Wiesenthal Center does want more cash. Of course, in "the land of the free", the federales have powers to do just that. I feel "safer" already... The recent extortion and fraud that was committed against the Swiss people by the Holocaust Industry has already been widely exposed and denounced elsewhere; for more on that topic, do some research at www.lewrockwell.com, for example.
Finally, the complaint that the Swiss have not done as others want: this does not mean that they have not provided a lesson in self-government. When nations and peoples are free to determine their own course, they will do so, even without consulting with Americans. It's one of the drawbacks of (even a modicum of) Liberty.
Switzerland is a long way from perfect, and there is much that I do not like about it (fondue, for example, is way overrated), but as Edward Gibbon pointed out, "The ones who carry the arms determine the form of government," and the Swiss are themselves the army of Switzerland. The Swiss at least moved in the opposite direction from all the competing empires of Europe, Asia and North America.
The point of the article, restated here, is that there is much to be learnt from Switzerland, primarily: the concepts of a citizen soldiery, armed neutrality, a weak and part-time federal government, the rights of recall, referendum and initiative. As Libertarians believe in minimal government, as opposed to statism, that is of interest to us.
This brings us to a letter which bemoaned the "attacks" on anarchists which have "sullied" TLE recently. In opposing anarchy, I have pointed out that anarchists are not Libertarians, and should stop masquerading as such. They should stand on their own philosophical feet and stop attaching themselves, leech-like, to other philosophies. "I was under the impression that..." hardly qualifies as a basis for this behaviour, either. Libertarians believe in (severely) limited government. That is why we can learn from the Swiss, who have had more experience of it than anyone else.
A good explanation of basic Libertarian principles is available at several sites; all of them concede that some common functions (notably mutual defence against fraud, coercion and invasion) must be carried out by people acting in concert. Of course, anarchists don't believe this; that is why anarchists are not Libertarians. Perhaps there is a movement afoot to rename L. Neil's site, "The Anarchist Enterprise". If so, just be open and honest about it.
It has been my experience that anarchists spend a lot of time talking about their theories, but cannot point to any actual historical examples of anarchy which have accomplished what they claim for them. Anarchists oppose doing anything that they don't approve of (which is usually doing anything at all), and consistently oppose all serious attempts to do something concrete about reducing the interference of government in peoples' lives.
Those who wish to believe in anarchy are welcome to do so; those who believe in
Libertarianism don't have to pretend that anarchists share our beliefs. There
is more to Libertarianism than just "the non-aggression principle" and the silly
claim that "private enterprise can do everything"; as a matter of fact, we
Libertarians actually believe that some things which are necessary to the
preservation of Liberty will not be accomplished by private enterprise. Then
people will need to work cooperatively. That, of course, is anathema to
anarchists, and that is why they are anathema to the cause of...
You've read about it, now if you want to DO more FREEDOM in your life, check out:
This ain't no collection of essays and philosophical musings!
Doing Freedom! Magazine and Services specializes in