Big Head Press

L. Neil Smith's
Number 443, November 11, 2007

"A pack of blatant, glaring, ridiculous liars"

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The Fall of the Towers
by L. Neil Smith

Attribute to The Libertarian Enterprise

Any historian will tell you that every culture is sustained by a mythology, stories of fabled heroes of the past it tells its children in order to pass along that culture's ideas of what is virtuous and valuable.

The Romans told their kids the story of Gaius Mucius Scaevola, for example, who tried to poison an Etruscan king to set the Eternal City free, but who failed, was caught, and demonstrated his determination and courage by thrusting his right hand into a brazier, allowing it to be burned off without a whimper. The king was so impressed, so goes the story, he released young Mucius. "Scaevola", by the way, means "Lefty".

Another legendary figure was Lucius Junius Brutus (no, not that Brutus), one of the first Roman chief executives. His two sons sold out to one of Rome's many enemies, and when he found out, he had them both executed, demonstrating the Roman notion that patriotism trumps family.

In the 19th century, the British imagined that their Empire was somehow a successor to that of Rome. A favorite Roman hero of theirs was Horatius Cocles (I know, it sounds like he thrust something else into a brazier), a soldier who singlehandedly defended that last remaining bridge to Rome against an invading enemy host of thousands while his buddies wrecked it from beneath. Horatius either jumped in and swam home or drowned in the attempt, depending on who you listen to.

All of this makes our early stories about George Washington and his father's cherry tree, or Honest Abe Lincoln reading by firelight while trudging home uphill through six feet of snow, seem like pretty thin soup. Naturally, a civilization as grand as America eventually became required a much grander mythology—let's cut to the chase and call it what it really is: a pack of blatant, glaring, ridiculous lies—to sustain it. And sure enough, two and a half passing centuries (not to mention a pack of blatant, glaring, ridiculous liars) provided it.

In recent decades, at least, America's sustaining lies—as opposed to the lies that propped up ancient Rome—have been less directed toward actual children than they have been toward the artificial children that voting, taxpaying adults have idiotically permitted themselves to be transmogrified into by a series of socialist governments. And they have been constructed, not so much to illustrate some quality Americans ought to have—the courage of Scaevola, the integrity of Brutus, the valor of Horatius—but to support various otherwise questionable or outright illegal government activities.

McKinley's explanation for the destruction of the Maine comes to mind, or Wilson's prevarication about the sinking of the Lusitania, or Roosevelt's racist portrayal of the Japanese, or Johnson's Gulf of Tonkin Incident. Exactly like Hitler's Reichstag Fire, they allowed the government—with the enthusiastic cooperation of the whorish mass media—to "stampede" the people into things they mightn't have consented to, if they'd had enough information and time to think about it.

* * * * * *

I'm sure lies of this kind go back in history—and prehistory—far beyond the comparatively recent times of the Romans. We've had what we loosely refer to as civilization for about six thousand years. We've had what can reasonably pass as cities for about eight thousand years. And there are those who believe—based on various different kinds of erosion that Egyptian monuments like the Sphynx have been subjected to—that culture goes back something like ten thousand years.

Since most of these agglomerations were dictatorships of one kind or another, it is inconceivable that they were not held together with the same lies that keep coercive government at the top of the heap today.

However, our times are radically different in at least one vital respect. Thanks mainly to the Internet, if you didn't know that the Gulf of Tonkin Incident was an utter fabrication before, you know it now. You also know that the twin towers of the World Trade Center could not have been destroyed the way the government claims, and that many people within the government doubt openly the official story. You've probably seen enough intentional demolitions of buildings on TV that you know another one when you see it. And you may even know that no trace of wrecked jetliners has ever been found in the rubble of the Pentagon.

Thus the simultaneous collapse of the towers, almost certainly arranged by the villains who profited most from it, becomes eerily symbolic of the simultaneous collapse of their own body of sustaining lies.

What conclusions you draw from this are entirely up to you—a fact that those in power deeply and bitterly resent and would dearly love to change. For the first time in history, information (as well as disinformation, of course) flows freely from one individual human being to another, virtually from every spot on the globe to every other, subject to the most remarkably democratic process of peer review.

What emerges foremost and loudest from all this is a First Clear Truth, shared now by almost everybody on the planet, everywhere on the political landscape, that despite what they claim, governments are evil, that most corporations are their partners in evil, and that the mainstream media are nothing more than despicable pimps or prostitutes who help to make it all happen—which is to say, help keep us all in chains.

In the short run—especially throughout the next decade—these people will try to force the genie back into the bottle. In the long run, they will fail. What sort of world that will create, we can only guess.

My guess is that it will be better.

Four-time Prometheus Award-winner L. Neil Smith has been called one of the world's foremost authorities on the ethics of self-defense. He is the author of 25 books, including The American Zone, Forge of the Elders, Pallas, The Probability Broach, Hope (with Aaron Zelman), and his collected articles and speeches, Lever Action, all of which may be purchased through his website "The Webley Page" at

Ceres, an exciting sequel to Neil's 1993 Ngu family novel Pallas was recently completed and is presently looking for a literary home.

Neil is presently working on Ares, the middle volume of the epic Ngu Family Cycle, and on Roswell, Texas, with Rex F. "Baloo" May.

The stunning 185-page full-color graphic-novelized version of The Probability Broach, which features the art of Scott Bieser and was published by BigHead Press has recently won a Special Prometheus Award. It may be had through the publisher, at, or at


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