Big Head Press

L. Neil Smith's
Number 458, March 2, 2008

"I've about had enough of this fascist crap"

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The Last Test of Democracy: Part Three
They Hang War Criminals, Don't They?

by L. Neil Smith

Attribute to The Libertarian Enterprise

Want to change the world?

I can tell you how in just two words — well, a word and a number: NUREMBERG II.

I don't mean to be enigmatic, here, and I will explain exactly what I mean, I promise. You see, I used to wonder what was wrong with America's Founding Fathers, that they neglected to include a rigorous penalty clause as a part of the first ten amendments to the brand new Constitution, commonly known as the Bill of Rights. It seems to me that when you make a law — in this case, the highest law of the land — you need to spell out what it's going to cost the guy who breaks it.

As Thomas Hobbes put it, "The Covenant without the Sword is a Crock of — " Well, you get the general drift. Hobbes was such a fun guy.

Time passed, I learned a great deal about the principle advocate of the Constitution, Alexander Hamilton, and I wondered less. Hamilton was hell-bent on creating a "strong central government" for a gaggle of states considerably less united than they are — or were ever meant to be — in our time. Just to give you an idea of what the man had in mind, he wanted people to address President George Washington as "Your Majesty".

And what did little Alex want for himself? He wanted to be the Premier, the Prime Minister, the Grand Wazir, the Power behind the Throne. Hamilton saw the new government differently than most revolutionaries, as a source of boundless wealth for himself and his buddies.

So did his principal disciple, Henry Clay, who invented a little something he called "the American System", which would effectively reverse the Revolution by taxing international trade far worse than the British Navigation Acts ever did, enriching a handful of mostly northeastern business interests at the involuntary expense of many others, generating vast socialist make-work programs — "internal improvements" — roads and canals which ought to have remained the exclusive purview of the free market, bribing taxpayers with their own money.

Of course none of this would be possible if the states retained their sovereignty, but Hamilton's and Clay's biggest fan, Abraham Lincoln, took care of that, and all it cost was the lives of 620,000 people.

But I digress.

I still wonder about James Madison, who actually wrote the Bill of Rights. His idea, I think, was to satisfy Thomas Jefferson, the leader of opposition to the Constitution, along with others like Patrick Henry (the "rat" he "smelt" was Alexander Hamilton), that individual rights and "states' rights" would be considered sacrosanct under the new charter. My impression is that Madison was sincere, but I could be wrong.

However it happened, here we are today, with no teeth in almost certainly the most important law written in human history — which tells how we got into this mess, but not how we're going to get out of it.

We should have had public trials, long ago that would indicted, tried, and, upon conviction, disposed, under due process, of thousands of federal goons and their political pimps who have come to believe — mistakenly — that they are above the highest law of the land. Abraham Lincoln should have faced just such a tribunal, and the fact that he didn't is one of history's greatest tragedies, and probably the primary reason we're stuck with would-be dictator George Bush, now.

And will be with would-be dictator Mad John McCain, would-be dictator Hitlery Clinton, or would-be dictator Barack "Kablamma" Obama.

What we need instead is going to look a lot like the war crimes trials held in Nuremberg, Germany, immediately after the Second World War. Hell, there's even a tiny little town in Pennsylvania called Nuremberg, just waiting ... The trouble is, what laws apply to these cases?

Happily, there are a couple of bright spots to be seen in this otherwise gloomy cavern America seems to have stumbled into. Maybe more than a couple. I'm not a lawyer — nor do I play one on TV — but I believe there is enough law out there to cobble together credible charges against miscreants who have ignored or violated the Bill of Rights.

To begin with, take a long, hard look at Title 18 of the federal code, Sections 241 and 242, which makes it a crime to deprive people of their rights "under color of law". That's pretty much all that the government does these days, and I can see hundreds of thousands of convictions in the future far rosier than we have anticipated until now.

There's also a Fourteenth Amendment ban on acting in rebellion against the Constitution — a politician or bureaucrat guilty of that can be removed from his position and forbidden ever to hold office again.

For those who don't like the Fourteenth Amendment (and they are many in the general freedom movement), Article VI, Section II, in the main body of the Constitution makes "the judges of each state" responsible for upholding federal law in their jurisdictions. With any luck at all, the phrase "hanging judge" could acquire a whole new meaning.

And then there are the post-World War II Nuremberg precedents themselves, which created the concept of "crimes against humanity" and stretched the necks of various Nazis and Japanese officials who had committed them. It's fair to say that this was controversial at the time, and it still is in some circles. But it was government that made this bed, and it is government which should now be forced to lie in it.

Although I greatly prefer the charges to read "crimes against the Constitution".

I can hear you saying, "What good is this idea? It's a pipe-dream! It'll never happen!" And that, of course, is the best way to guarantee that it never will. In The Art of War, Sun Tzu pointed out a long time ago that if you can make your enemy believe that he's already beaten — before the battle begins — then he will, in effect, defeat himself.

I imagine the expression, "You can't fight City Hall" is pretty popular.

Down at City Hall.

On the other hand, like a lot of the ideas I've offered to the general freedom movement (and why do I have the feeling that I've never communicated this adequately? Oh, yeah — because we're still not free!) it doesn't have to happen in every detail, from beginning to end, in order to make badly needed changes happen. All it has to be is shared aspiration — Americans used to have those, although most of my readers are probably too young to remember it — and a credible threat.

Some people call that a "meme". The idea "NUREMBERG II" has to show up as a sticker on the bumper of enough cars so that people will scratch their heads and ask themselves, "What's this Nuremberg II stuff all about? It has to be grafittoed in enough places (taggers can be bribed you know) — like Kilroy or Simon Jester — that those who see it believe it's a swelling, unstoppable grassroots movement. It needs to be on letterheads, in billboard advertisements, in the .sigs of millions of e-mail messages so that it becomes a movement in and of itself.

And it has to become widespread and popular enough to withstand the inevitable attempts of its enemies to flush it down the memory hole.

When a traffic cop pulls you over, he won't know what NUREMBERG II means, at first. Then it'll make him mad (this is the hard part we must resolve to survive). Then it'll make him hesitate before he comes on too strong. And finally, he'll put a bumper sticker just like it on his own car — and maybe the car the police department issues him, as well.

So how do we make it happen? To start, with a website — and lots mirror sites across the world so the effort can't be broken by enemy action — that will explain the concept and suggest measures to be taken. We'll need more articles, some of them exploring other existing laws that could be used against those who erroneously believe they own us.

And even more articles, appealing to every American subculture, explaining just what living in a Bill of Rights culture could mean to them.

And someplace for people to get bumper stickers, t-shirts, and so forth.

When do we start?

We have already, the minute you started reading this.

What do we do next?

Stay tuned for the next and final article of this series.

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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