Big Head Press

L. Neil Smith's
Number 457, February 24, 2008

"Media so putrescently corrupt they
glowed in the dark like rotten fish"

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The Last Test of Democracy: Part Two
Putting Teeth in the Bill of Rights

by L. Neil Smith

Attribute to: The Libertarian Enterprise

It always comes as a surprise—to anybody who was taught history by the public school system—to discover that the rebel side didn't win the American Revolution, at least not in any technically military sense.

Stick with me, now, it'll all be relevant in a minute.

The historic fact is that our rebellion was part of something larger going on between England and France. After a certain point, it became too expensive—economically and politically—for George III and his boys to go on trying to keep us pesky colonials down. I'm told that there wasn't even a formal peace treaty ending our fight with the King, just a paragraph in a bigger document pertaining to the two kingdoms, a mere afterthought, as in, "Oh, yeah—and the formerly British occupants in certain parts of North America are now on their own."

In part, this happened because the same issues that had sparked our rebellion—Navigation Acts imposing tariffs considered crippling in those days, that had the effect of forbidding trade with any but the mother country—were just as unpopular and subject to resistance elsewhere in the empire. Look up Dr. Syn: The Scarecrow of Romney Marsh. It seems that Danger Man and The Prisoner was also a tax protestor.

Exactly the same is true of the Vietnam War. I don't know how many times I've had to listen to veterans and chickenhawks alike complain that "our boys weren't allowed to win" that war, that "we" could have won if only we'd had the guts, or we could have simply slagged Hanoi, instead, and turned all of North Vietnam into a gigantic glass parking lot.

Aside from the utter lack of morality it betrays, the objection is infantile, childish, like a toddler throwing a tantrum because Mommy and Daddy—who have minimum wage jobs—won't buy him a pony. I could do anything—I could literally fly to the Moon—if I had 20 billion dollars. But the simple fact is that the war had already cost too much, in millions of dollars spent every day, in both American and Vietnamese lives (they killed 60,000 of us, we killed 2,000,000 of them), in irrevocable cultural distortion, and the loss of freedom at home.

Some armchair pundits whimper that our national will had flagged, but it wasn't a matter of our will, but of our won't. The Johnson Administration had two or three different kinds of rebellion in the streets at home, so in the end, the old bastard simply quit, the way his successor Richard Nixon would, for different reasons, a few years later.

Good times...

But I digress.

The point is, you don't have to win to beat the other guy, you only have to make his win too expensive. As Pyrrhus said, after an extremely costly defeat of the Romans, "Another such victory and I am undone."

For almost forty years, now, I've been watching the Libertarian Party try to achieve what amount to revolutionary goals by working "within the system". Like many of my readers, I've shivered in the rain or broiled in the sun collecting petition signatures, exhausted myself in what turned out to be comic relief campaigns, been held up to ridicule by media so putrescently corrupt they glowed in the dark like rotten fish, only to see our hopes dashed cruelly in elections rigged in several different ways against us by those who own the process.

The only thing that makes today's Ron Paul campaign different is how openly crooked the establishment has been in opposing it. You're seeing it, too. From denying this year's only peace and freedom candidate his rightful place in the debates, to failing to count his votes—or simply giving them to another candidate—the system has proven willing to destroy itself in order to save its clients and patrons.

For four decades we have been playing on their field, with their bat and ball—and more importantly, their umpire—and wondering why we can never win. It is time to change that, and I believe I know how.

Think about the American Revolution, think about the Vietnam war, think about Pyrrhus. What if there were a way to double the cost of the other guy's victories? What if we could make staying in office so costly they were forced to change their system, either to accommodate us or to exclude us completely—which would destroy their system altogether?

About twenty-five years ago—long before the Internet became a daily (make that hourly—or minutely) part of our lives—my wife Cathy and I had an idea we called "The National Recall Coordinating Committees"—note the plural, it'll be important later. Cathy was a typesetter in those days (this is a lady who keeps huge catalogs of different typefaces in the bathroom the way I do Cartridges of the World), and we were accustomed to creating extravagant letterhead stationery with unlikely names on it, sometimes just for our own amusement.

The Libertarian Enterprise began as that kind of an idea.

But we wondered what would happen if a politician received a letter with that heading on it, "The National Recall Coordinating Committees", asking him about his position, say, on firearms ownership. Would it be more intimidating than any other mail he received? We didn't know, and we didn't try the idea, because we were struggling just then to stay alive, and other things seemed more important.

Cut to the 21st century, when an idea can be flashed all over the world in seconds, and massive numbers of Americans are increasingly angered by a government that seems to exist only for the purpose of draining them dry and denying them their rights. It seemed bad in 1983, but by those standards, we're living in an Orwellian nightmare today.

Now imagine tens of thousands of Ron Paul partisans looking around for something to do with themselves after the Republican convention. The good doctor has stated on repeated occasions that he won't run as an independent. To their number, add massively unhappy members of the Libertarian Party, thwarted once again by a political system designed only to keep incumbents in office. Stir in a powerful, well-mirrored website that will gather information at the national, state, county, and municipal level on recall and impeachment procedures, help people find each other and organize, report on efforts underway, and on results.

Suddenly the Bill of Rights has started teething.

This is something that can go on all year, every year, instead of just election time. It's an undertaking that does not focus itself on a single candidate—who may be an embarrassing idiot or a weakling, but is the only person available or willing to run for office. It's an activity in which each and every individual participant can be an equal spokesman. It's not meant to replace the Libertarian Party but to operate in parallel with it—and Democrats and Republicans are free to jump on the bandwagon if they can agree to a few underlying principles.

The first of these underlying principles is that the first ten amendments to the Constitution, commonly known as the Bill of Rights, means what it says—what its authors meant it to say—and is the highest law of the land. In an increasingly lawless society, no state- serving court ruling or legislative act will be permitted to change that.

The second underlying principle is that nobody has a right to initiate physical force against anybody else for any reason whatsoever.

Yes, I know these ideas may be a bit of a stretch for Republicans or Democrats (and some libertarians, apparently), but in those areas where they want what we want—getting rid of a specific politician—they may be willing to expand their consciousness enough to form an alliance. Rather than recognize these ideas as the eternal values they represent, they will see them, in the beginning as the rules of the game.

And that will be enough, at first.

From the website, we establish—charter—state, county, and municipal satelllite organizations. We compile existing legal procedures and assist in managing actual recall and impeachment campaigns. We agree, from the outset, that we're only going after politicians and bureaucrats who have committed "crimes against the Constitution", and we avoid areas of conflict—abortion comes to mind—where the general freedom movement finds itself hopelessly split.

We use the plural, The National Recall Coordinating Committees, to remind everyone that we are everywhere and though you can run—and even win—you can't hide forever if you use your political office to destroy individual liberty. This will speak to national parties that will eventually come to see such miscreant politicians as an expensive liability.

And above all, we remember that, while the overall objective is a free society, even when we "lose" a recall election we win, because we've raised the enemy's cost of doing business, handing him a Pyrrhic victory.

The National Recall Coordinating Committees™ all rights reserved.

Next Time: Crime and Punishment

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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