Big Head Press

L. Neil Smith's
Number 520, May 24, 2009

"There is really only one freedom, the freedom to
be left unmolested, by the state or anybody else."

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Strategy and Tactics
by L. Neil Smith

Attribute to The Libertarian Enterprise

Each morning I find a dozen messages in my e-mail concerning evil plots by the current administration or some other enemy of individual liberty to take away our guns, our money, our homes, our children, our cars, our land, our gardens, our right to speak out, or travel freely, or whatever else it is that momentarily tickles their kleptocratic fancy.

Their kleptocratic and murderous fancy.

Seldom does this litany of grievances conclude with any suggestion about stopping collectivist predation, or punishing the predators. The focus is always on what "They" did to us in the past, on what "They" are doing to us now, or on what "They" are planning to do to us in the future.

There are at least a couple of reasons for this. One of them is a pathological and pathetic desire on the part of some individuals for victimization, a value they pervertedly tend to treasure—and defend—more than any amount of freedom, prosperity, progress, or peace that actually rising up and doing something about it might win for them. They display an energetic resentment (I know, because I've often been on the receiving end of it) toward anybody who dares to offer them genuine solutions to the troubles they luxuriate in complaining about.

Also, they might actually have to unplug their thumbs and do some work. The academic equivalent is to keep generating scholarly papers that nobody reads, until the Romans come and cut you down as they did Archimedes.

Misplaced reliance on electoral politics is another reason all you ever hear from certain quarters is petulant whining. You can almost define conservatives (who still have a long way to go to reestablish themselves as members in good standing of the general freedom movement) as those who would rather squat in their own dung, piteously ululating over their cruel circumstances, as long as they can lay everything, every two or four years, in the unclean hands of crooked jackasses in cheap suits and cheaper ties who never quite manage a total commitment to the concept of self-ownership and the Bill of Rights.

They (petulant, squatting conservatives, not crooked jackasses, who know better) calculate that if they vote faithfully and contribute to campaigns and right wing causes, they've done all they can—all that can be done—about the totalitarian cesspool we've all slid into.

Various anarchoid colleagues to the contrary, there is a place for political action in an overall libertarian strategy, but this isn't it.

A related problem is an ill-advised reliance on institutions like the National Rifle Association, who must learn—or be taught somehow (despite a demonstrated inability to benefit from experience)—that they are not up to bargaining with left wing socialism, unfit to wheel and deal with proven enemies of freedom. They are out of their depth because they misunderstand the basic nature of the conflict they find themselves in, and because they, themselves, are socialists of the right wing variety. Early drug war enthusiasts, in spite of repeated libertarian warnings, they helped erect the vicious anticonstitutional federal establishment now threatening to destroy them and the rest of us.

I'll never forget how thrilled (and surprised) I was when NRA Executive VP and CEO Wayne "Pepe" LaPierre referred to federal law enforcement officers as "jackbooted thugs" (now abbreviated "JBTs") or how disgusted (and unsurprised) I was when he pusillanimously took it back.

The national Libertarian Party is in even worse shape at the moment.

So what can be done?

First of all, forget all about both the traditional political spectrum—which only offered people different reasons to sacrifice themselves to one voracious power-hungry collective or another—as well as those described later, even by yours truly. There was no genuine freedom advocacy until libertarianism came along in the late 1940s and early 1950s. The past decade of state security terrorism has made it plain: there are indeed two political sides in this country, not right versus left (they're on the same side) but freedom versus non-freedom.


Don't worry about the mythical past, grieve over imagined former glories, or waste precious resources trying to regain liberty we never really had. The Roman republicans made that mistake and never got what they wanted. Concentrate instead, on a future in which we have built everything we desire with our own hands and minds. That's what I've written about for the past 30 years and it's time more people paid attention.

For the time being, forget abortion and immigration, too. You're never going to change my mind about them, and they're the issues the anti-freedom side counts on to keep the pro-freedom side divided. There will be plenty of time to argue about them later, in the warm, mellow light of liberty—or behind the barbed wire of the FEMA camps.

Most of all—and if you take nothing else away from this essay, take this—we can no longer afford to fight every issue the enemies of freedom present us with. Libertarians must learn to promote those solutions that undercut several—or all—statist assaults on our liberties at the same time. If we fight them one picayune battle at a time, we will always lose—in fact, it's why we have always lost so far.

That's why I invented the concept—and the phrase—"Bill of Rights enforcement" years ago. It covers every different bit of victim disarmament legislation the enemy throws at us, while supporting free speech, freedom of assembly, and other liberties, at the same time, as well. It underlines an important and neglected truth, which is that freedom is indivisible, that in fact there is really only one freedom, the freedom to be left unmolested, by the state or anybody else. Fight in the name of Bill of Rights enforcement and you will gain allies whom you wouldn't have had before, possibly solving many problems at once.

I've also offered ideas, over the years, any one of which, pursued with energy and persistence, could have changed—could still change—our miserable situation. Most lately, it's been the National Recall Coordinating Committees and an effort to repeal Article 1, Section 6 which grants to legislators immunity from prosecution or lawsuit for their acts of criminal predation. If I were a leftist, I'd have a tenured university position by now, and my own ten million dollar think-tank.

It didn't have to turn out this way, of course.

Seeing clearly what was about to happen to us, in the 70s and 80s, I wrote to the editors of various gun magazines who might have raised and organized effective opposition to all the subsequent violations of the unalienable individual, civil, Constitutional, and human right of every man, woman, and responsible child to obtain, own, and carry, openly or concealed, any weapon—rifle, shotgun, handgun, machinegun, anything—any time, any place, without asking anyone's permission.

If they'd fought then, we wouldn't have to fight now. But instead, advertising being more important than freedom, they patted me on the head—one even called me "hysterical"—and basically told me, "Go away, boy you bother me". I haven't bought a gun magazine since Brady Bill-Bob Dole pushed the Clinton gun and magazine bans through. I don't know why I haven't given up the same way on the libertarian movement.

I've made mistakes in my life, and have plenty of things I regret, but the worst is my failure to communicate—to those who claim to stand for freedom—that none of the measures I've proposed actually have to pass into law in order to have the effect we desire them to have.

The other side, you must understand, is just as fearful, just as hysterical, just as inclined to stampede purposelessly all over the landscape, to bargain and compromise stupidly, to waste time, energy, and money, and get screwed by their own politicians, when they hear of organized political efforts that would threaten them. They huddle together, whimper to each other, and dirty themselves, exactly like conservatives.

How do I know this? Partly because I worked with the left in the peace movement and the Eugene McCarthy campaign in the 1960s. Partly because I watch and listen to them now. Conservatives keep asking why the left—which now controls the House, the Senate, and the White House—is still angry and unsatisfied. It's because they know that in democratic politics, nothing is ever really settled, and they're afraid.

How do we use this knowledge?

Allow me to propose yet another project. Let's call this one the "Obama Akhenatenization Act". The idea is simple, based on the efforts of their royal successors to eradicate every trace of the religiously radical Pharaoh Akhenaten and his consort Nefertiti. On January 20, 2013, a new law will go into effect, under which each and every decision, decree, edict, guideline, mandate, measure, notice, order, ordinance, precept, regulation, requirement, ruling, promulgation, and statute enacted during the Obama presidency will be declared null and void.

Now, for a short, self-indulgent moment, just imagine all of the screaming, moaning, whimpering, and handwringing that this idea will generate among left wing socialists, if it gets enough exposure in the media and on the Internet. Imagine the panic, hysteria, wasted motion, and squandered resources. Imagine all the moderates, gradualists, and compromisers who infest the left wing cluck-clucking at their fellow collectivists that they've gone too far, they need to backpedal, back off, soften their tone, and slow down. How do I know that this will happen? Because I've been fighting the moderates, gradualists, and compromisers who infest the freedom movement what seems like all my life.

The "Obama Akhenatenization Act".

And when they whine at us about it, we'll tell them that our next goal is to repeal every law and abolish every agency created since 1913.

Tactically, an undertaking like this offers tremendous advantages over any mere exercise in electoral politics. In the first place, you don't have to wait two, four, or six years to start the ball and keep it rolling. Anyone can work to publicize and promote the Obama Akhenatenization Act 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 52 weeks every year.

We don' need no stinkin' election.

Even better, every individual involved can speak equally for the Obama Akhenatenization Act and what it means. We don't have to settle for, prop up, and constantly find ourselves apologizing for some fatuous moron of a candidate who either doesn't really get it, or is deathly afraid of being embarrassed by the public appearance that he does.

It doesn't really have to be the Obama Akhenatenization Act, of course. It can be anything, any authentically pro-freedom measure. The more outrageous the better. Every time you talk about it, you win a victory for liberty. You make some socialist's stomach churn, you cost him a night's sleep, you shorten his actuarial life-expectancy by five minutes—exactly as they've been doing to us for three or four generations.

And while the opposition is busy chasing down his Tums and Pepcid with Maalox and Pepto-Bismol, you can explain to your onlookers what's actually at stake. With freedom you can do anything; without it, you can do nothing. Anybody who would diminish freedom for any reason—whether it's saving the planet, preserving national security, or "for the children"—is an enemy of his fellow human beings, not their benefactor.

And certainly not their savior.

The "Obama Akhenatenization Act".

So how about it? Are you willing to give up your victimhood, roll up your sleeves, and get your hands dirty helping create a culture of freedom?

Or would you just rather whimper until the JBTs smash your door down?

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 more than 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 is currently running as a free weekly serial at

Neil is presently at work on Ares, the middle volume of the epic Ngu Family Cycle, and on What Libertarians Believe with his daughter, Rylla.

See stunning full-color graphic-novelizations of The Probability Broach and Roswell, Texas which feature the art of Scott Bieser at Dead-tree versions may be had through the publisher, or at where you will also find Phoenix Pick editions of some of Neil's earlier novels.


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