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L. Neil Smith's
Number 525, June 28, 2009

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Enough Is Enough
by L. Neil Smith

Attribute to The Libertarian Enterprise

[AUTHOR'S NOTE: On Monday, June 29, I will be starting a new website at built around this essay, parts of which appeared in an earlier issue of The Libertarian Enterprise. This will be an action site, designed to make the idea below really happen. If the prospect of ending socialism and restoring individual liberty interests you, drop on by. But be prepared to be put to work.]

For each of us who demands nothing more from the civilization we live in and contribute to than absolute ownership and control of our own lives (and, as Ayn Rand noted, the products of our lives) there has been nothing but increasingly bad news as long as most of us can remember.

Since the turn of the 20th century, collectivism—called by every conceivable euphemism: communism, progressivism, socialism, fascism, liberalism—has taken more and more and more from us. It is insatiable. It wants everything we earn, everything we own, everything we hope to own. It wants our homes, our land, our children. It wants our cars and our weapons. It wants our very lives and strives for the means to observe and control them every minute, every step, and every breath.

Any ally we ever hoped we might rely on, every organization we turned to or created ourselves to put a stop to this horror, betrays us sooner or later. The Republican Party, the Democratic Party, unions, the Libertarian Party, the National Rifle Association, even the Boy Scouts of America are run by idiots, lunatics, crooks, and outright traitors. Most of them are simply weak-willed sponges chosen for their abject compliance to whatever is considered politically correct at the moment. There isn't a university in this country worth the sewage it generates.

I'm no conservative—basically, I'm on my way to the stars, by way of Ceres—but before that happens, I want America back the way I remember it. No, it wasn't perfect, not by a long shot. But it was a hell of a lot better when I was a little kid than it is now. I want an America with no more grand utopian schemes to save an environment that doesn't need saving, to prevent global warming that isn't happening, or to force people to participate in a collectivized medical system that is a hollow farce and a justification for snoopery, robbery, and tyranny.

I want an America where the few, pitiful, starving, underpaid bureaucrats that remain—eking out their final days before their positions are abolished forever—have nothing to say about what I eat, what I drink, what I drive, what I keep in my gun cabinet, who I love, how I do it, and even what, in the immortal words of the great George Carlin, I shoot, snort, smoke, or rub into my belly. Maybe it seemed like a good idea at the time, giving them power to interfere in all of these things. Now we know it was a mistake and we must correct it.

I want an America where there are no more hidden agendas—or at least no money to encourage them—like rounding up the population and forcing us to live in gigantic hundred-story tenements while the nomenklatura ride to hounds in the empty countryside and shoot peasants. I want an America where the eternally smoldering ruins of the United Nations building in New York stand as a monument to freedom and a warning to collectivists no matter what rock they choose to hide under.

It is time to forge a device for restoring liberty and destroying collectivism (both are vital) that can't be compromised, broken, or betrayed.


In 1972, when I was 26 years old and had been a libertarian for a full decade already, I attended a week-long seminar in Wichita, Kansas hosted by the local 7-Up bottlers and the Love Box Company. It was conducted by perhaps the freedom movement's greatest educator, Robert LeFevre.

He wanted everyone to call him "Bob".

Bob said a great many things during those almost magical 40 hours, and I remember a surprising amount of what he said verbatim, even today, 37 years later. (At my age, I've discovered, time flies whether you're having fun or not.) One of the things he said is that there were "on the books" at that point in time, an estimated 15,000,000 federal laws.

I have had a number of individuals argue with me about that figure since then, but none of them has ever offered me a credible counter- estimate, and I have seen the endless rows of lawbooks myself, in libraries and lawyers' offices. If the true number were only a third, or even a tenth of that estimate, clearly we'd still have far too many laws. And, as Bob reminded all of us, "Ignorance of the law is no excuse".

Some of those millions of laws represent legislation "properly" introduced, shuffled through committees, and voted for on the floor of the House of Representatives or the Senate. But a great many more of them—possibly as many as 99 percent—consist of various rules and regulations voted on by nobody, but simply promulgated and shoved down our throats by various agencies full of appointees and bureaucrats, often in direct contradiction to what the legislators originally intended.

And of course, a number of those laws consist of nothing more than judicial reinterpretation that many complain actually constitutes the passage of new legislation by judges. Even worse, as America continues to slide down the slimy slope into fascist dictatorship, there is an increasing tendency of "law enforcement" agents to make up the law as they go along, out in the field. With so much legislation already on the books, and its precise meaning perfectly unclear even to those who wrote it, the law becomes whatever minions of the police state say it is.

The vast majority of the existing body of law, and of new law passed every year is, of course, thoroughly unconstitutional. Article 1, Section 8 lists those functions of government that are legally permissible. Anything the government does that is not on that list (probably 95 percent of its current activities) is a clear violation of the law, and the individuals who perform those functions for the government—politicians, bureaucrats, cops of various kinds—are criminals.

When I was a kid, I often heard newspaper and radio editorialists whimpering about the "do-nothing congress" that was failing to crank out enough new legislation to satisfy whatever statist crackpots—they were usually left-wing socialists in those days—were doing the editorializing.

These were the Eisenhower years, I confess, and even as a fairly naive youngster, it occurred to me that, after almost two centuries, the powers that be ought to have passed more than enough laws by now. At that point, I'd spent my entire life—exactly like any kid—being told what not to do. It seemed to me that there was enough of that crap already going around to last us for at least a hundred years.

The more I've thought about that idea over the years, the clearer it has become to me that the indispensable first step toward restoring our freedom in this country, and, at the same time, the ultimate goal of any organization advocating freedom, should be a constitutional amendment forbidding any new legislation for at least that hundred years.

Let's just call it "THE MORATORIUM".

(For some time, now, I've intended to write a series of stories about the period in history following ratification of this amendment. The first of these stories, TimePeeper can currently be seen at

At minimum, such an amendment would provide that, from the date of its passage forward, for a full century, no new legislation may be passed at any level of government—be it federal, state, county, municipal, or any other level—especially including rulings by the court system that, in effect, constitute new law, and treaties of any kind.

Nor may any new regulations be promulgated by any agency of the government.

The only exceptions would be bills of repeal, initiated referenda getting rid of old laws, rulings that declare existing legislation to be null and void, and the official disbandment, dissolution, or abolition of various arms, wings, legs, or other appendages of the government.

Perhaps I should have said, "amputation".

And because nothing political occurs in a vacuum and the opponents of this concept would be inclined to see the handwriting on the wall and attempt to make the most of whatever time they believed they had left, the amendment would automatically repeal any and all legislation rammed through in the final year (or two, or five, or ten) before its ratification.

Naturally, there would be draconian penalties for any violation of this new "highest law of the land". For a long while now, I've been interested in seeing the ancient federal prison on Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay fully rejuvenated and dedicated exclusively to the incarceration of government lawbreakers. I'm more than confident that tourists on excursion cruises (especially those individuals who had never "benefited" from indoctrination by the public school system) would pay a reasonable amount for small packages of meat with which to keep the bay's famous sharks interested in hanging around the prison island.

In the meantime, having nothing better to do with themselves (that would show above their newsdesks, anyway), the broadcast media might begin to measure the accomplishments of the nation's legislatures, not by the number of laws they pass, but by the number of laws that they repeal.

THE MORATORIUM. And when the blessed century is over, we'll make it permanent. Perhaps ultimately there may only be one law, the Zero Aggression Principle, forbidding the initiation of physical force by anyone—especially government—against anyone else, for any reason whatever.

We might then begin to count ourselves as civilized again.

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 Where We Stand: Libertarian Policy in a Time of Crisis 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. Links to Neil's books at are on his website


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