Big Head Press

L. Neil Smith's
Number 455, February 10, 2008

.455 Webley

Previous Previous Table of Contents Contents Next Next

Pat Answers
by L. Neil Smith

Attribute to The Libertarian Enterprise

I can't think of a single dictator who came to power in modern times during a period of relative prosperity. Just consider Napoleon, Mussolini, Lenin, Hitler and Mao. All of them—including Franklin Delano Roosevelt and his fascistic New Deal—rose at a moment when their respective countries were on their economic knees and sunk in despair.

Then, as now, dictators are inclined, when their various crackpot schemes don't work the way they were supposed to, and the situation keeps getting worse and worse, to blame their failures on the people they rule, and to start shooting or otherwise disposing of them by the millions.

Aaron Zelman and Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership—to the enormous consternation of those who believe they own us—have demonstrated on many an occasion that it's hard to commit mass slaughter against those who are well armed. One of the first things on a would-be dictator's mind as he assumes power is how to disarm the people he plans to use and throw away like paper matches and keep them disarmed.

In this connection it's interesting, in a sick sort of way, that with only two exceptions, all of the current presidential candidates are "promising" even harsher gun control—properly termed "victim disarmament"—than we are already unconstitutionally burdened with. The ominous thing about all of this is that, thanks once again to idiotic government policies, we are rapidly approaching that "on their knees and sunk in despair" state which brings the wannabe dictators, the victim disarmers, and the genocides popping out of the wall like cockroaches.

Happily, we are not the only ones to notice this.

Over the past few weeks, on quite a number of different websites, you could read the political and economic commentary of Patrick J. Buchanan, former presidential speechwriter, political candidate, and author.

Buchanan is what we all used to call a conservative Republican and has been am obnoxious gadfly to several presidential administrations, most especially including the current one. He strenuously opposes U.S. foreign aid to Israel, which makes him an antisemite in the opinion of various observers. There is some evidence—memos from his period of fealty to Tricky Dick Milhous—that he may not be the least bigoted individual on the planet. However, queried about his stance on the individual right to own and carry weapons, he says that everybody has a right to own a fully-operative tank if he wants to, demonstrating a clear understanding of the Second Amendment that is rare in prominent politicians.

Mind you, the fact that Buchanan is one of the most original thinkers and stubbornly principled individuals (although you may not like the particular principles in question) in American politics today says nothing particularly good about Buchanan. It does, however, say everything you need to know (and were afraid to ask) about American politics.

Most recently (Okay, I admit I read it in WorldNetDaily) he was mourning the apparent passing of United States Treasury bonds as "the most secure investment on earth" and the American dollar as everyone's currency of choice—and refuge. This was happening already, mind you, but the George W. Monkeyboy Administration has accelerated the process in a way that would make Jack Kevorkian die of envy. "If the United States fails to rein in the soaring cost of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid," he warned gravely, quoting Moody's Investors Service, "the nation's credit rating will be down-graded within a decade."

What bothered him most—as it would anybody who wants America to be A Republic, Not An Empire (the title of one of his books)—is that politicians in both "major" parties, with the notable exception, naturally enough, of Ron Paul, are all grimly intent on broadening the American empire by expanding the U.S. military and maintaining all of our worldwide commitments to defend and subsidize scores of other nations.

Either that, or they are promising (or threatening, it depends on how you look at it) to impose a new entitlement—so-called universal health care for some fifty million individuals—on a nation and its Productive Class already drowning in red ink and entitlement costs. Buchanan says the government is behaving like the governments we used to bail out, just when Moody's is telling America it needs a period of austerity.

What we need most, of course, is a long period of government austerity, kicked off by shutting down each and every agency and activity not expressly sanctioned by Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution.

Can you think of some to begin with?

I thought you could.

"Meanwhile," Buchanan says, "Washington drifts mindlessly toward the maelstrom ... the dollar sinking, oil surging to $100 ... the Dow having its worst January in memory, foreclosures mounting, credit card debt going rotten, and consumers and businesses unable or unwilling to borrow ... tax revenue will fall, spending on unemployment ... surge ... stimulus packages both parties are preparing will ...add to the deficit ... This ... in the year that the first of the baby boomers, born in 1946, reach early retirement and eligibility for Social Security."

After citing more instances of our malaise—"California has already hit the wall ... we must borrow both to pay for the imported oil and foreign manufactures upon which we have become dependent ... [slashing] interest rates ... will further weaken the dollar and raise the costs of the imports to which we have become addicted ... the chickens of globalism are coming home to roost ... the euro has almost doubled in value against the dollar ... "—and especially the bizarre and ironic fact that we seem to be borrowing money from the various countries we protect in order to be able to afford to protect them, Buchanan continues: "This self-indulgent generation has borrowed itself into unpayable debt. Now the folks from whom we borrowed to buy all that oil, and all those cars, electronics and clothes are coming to buy the country we inherited ... the day of reckoning approaches ... America, to pay her bills, has begun to sell herself to the world."

Well, maybe.

There are many things to like, even to admire, about Buchanan, but he has failed to learn that you're either free or you're not—that there's nothing in between but degrees of unfreedom. This may be because he has adopted the flawed Hobbesian view (expressed here by Alexander Hamilton) that "Your 'People', sir, are a great beast!" If they are truly free, then they can buy or sell anything they want with anyone they want without fear of state interference. Our Revolution was fought over that very principal, and so was the War Between the States.

For what it's worth, I disagree with several of Buchanan's points, especially his condemnation of the American people for programs and policies that have largely been forced on them by a wanton, runaway government. In the past, we had a tidal wave of violent crime only because the people were forbidden to carry—and often to own—the means of self-defense which are the essential key to peace and social order. That has begun to change, now, as the people begin to re-arm themselves.

In a completely analogous way, Americans are often criticized because they have a tendency to spend their money instead of saving it. Want to increase savings? Then get rid of all taxes on savings, interest, and capital gains. In the first place, it's double taxation—you're taxed on the money when you receive it, and again when you take it out of the bank—and it's the principle reason people don't save.

Another reason, of course, is inflation—which is just another word for government counterfeiting. Baby boomers are the Children of Inflation, and the lesson most of them have learned from life so far is this: why put it in the bank when its value will just evaporate there? Spend it—as quickly as you can—on something you can keep, instead.

Like that nice scoped bolt-action hunting rifle you've been craving, that semiautomatic shotgun, or that brace of single action revolvers.

Buchanan is sort of a preacher at heart; his harangues often have a feel of evangelism to them. I don't think he invented the concept of Original Political Sin—Jimmy Carter was eager to blame inflation on consumers, rather than on a government that financed its excesses with phony money and vaporware credit—but it has taken his career a long way.

Similarly, American industry didn't fail because of the weather or some "impersonal forces of history", but because government acted on polices that made it fail. Wanna rebuild American industry? Abolish corporate taxation, while getting rid of limited liability. Get rid of fractional reserve banking, and the market will gradually stabilize itself.

America could be its old "great" self again in five years.

Maybe three.

Like many of the British people in the 70s (I particularly recall being lectured by an enthusiastic Cockney driver as he drove us around the perimeter of Trafalgar Square under the gaze of Horatio Nelson himself), Buchanan blames an enormous lot of what's gone wrong with America on "furriners" in general, and on immigrants, both illegal and legal.

Trouble is, in his heart of hearts, the man doesn't really mean it. I clearly remember, 25 or 30 years ago, watching him calculatedly adopt this know-nothing, anti-trade, anti-immigration cant of his, not necessarily because he believed it, but because it seemed to offer him an otherwise unoccupied niche in the political marketplace. Now all of the false premises and faulty reasoning that spring from that variety of nonsense are causing him to make predictions that are, I believe, erroneous.

We have been through all of this "foreigners are buying America" nonsense before, last time with the Japanese. I said then that—especially given certain quirks in Japanese culture, notably what I called the "nerd gap" (a fatal lack of original thinking, caused by their custom of "hammering down the nail that sticks up")—we were in no danger at all. All it would ever amount to, I predicted, was a sort of national rummage sale, where we offloaded decades of white elephant investments, leaving Japan holding the bag. I predicted that they wouldn't last as a world-dominating economic power, and I was right.

When is the last time you were advised to worry about "Japan, Incorporated"?

Another thing about Buchanan and those like him. Obsessing over issues like immigration and abortion has cost this civilization, in terms of liberty and dignity, more than any enemy action, foreign or domestic.

This is analogous to the way that we—meaning cretins like the leaders of the National Rifle Association—always hurt gun rights most when they try to selectively disarm this group or that, often newcomers to America or those who lack social approval in some other way. Every gun law ever passed in this country—and the NRA has signed off on a shocking number of them—was originally aimed at some particular racial or ethnic minority. The exception is the Brady law, which was intended to discourage women from buying pistols and revolvers.

If you take nothing else from this article, understand that these are the issues, immigration and abortion, that the badguys can always count on to divide—and to fatally weaken—the general freedom movement. I'm not saying they're not important, or that I don't have my own vigorous opinions about them—trust me, dear reader, I do—only that this isn't the time or the place to debate them. It's like arguing over whose deal it is when your card table is standing right on top of the railroad tracks and a fast freight is roaring down the line.

The Klingons said it better: "Only a fool fights in a burning house." Unfortunately, the freedom movement seems to have a great many fools.

America is in a big, deep, dirty hole, unquestionably the biggest, deepest, dirtiest hole it's been in since the War Between the States. But it's not quite time to panic, rest assured. David Rockefeller and all the other "malefactors of great wealth" in this country may be evil dudes, but they're not going to let their money-farm fall apart, any more than they were going to let the Soviets bomb it back to the Stone Age. To be sure, they will try to save it on the backs of the Productive Class, the consumers, and especially the taxpayers—what to do about that is a topic for another article—but save it, they will.

Of course I could be wrong.

But whether I'm right or wrong, one thing remains remarkably clear and bears repeating. Harsh times bring the wannabe dictators out from behind the baseboards, and wannabe dictators simply can't abide the notion that you and I might possess the tools necessary for resisting them.

After all, they have so many nifty plans for you and yours—see Napoleon, Mussolini, Lenin, Hitler, Mao, and Roosevelt, above, and throw in Pol Pot—if they can only relieve you of all those pesky guns.

If only.

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


Help Support TLE by patronizing our advertisers and affiliates.
We cheerfully accept donations!

to advance to the next article
to return to the previous article
Table of Contents
to return to The Libertarian Enterprise, Number 455, February 10, 2008

Bill of Rights Press