Big Head Press

L. Neil Smith's
Number 533, August 23, 2009

"Freeman Dyson once said that if we can make it to
the asteroids, the IRS will never be able to find us."

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A Chance to Reboot History
by L. Neil Smith

Attribute to The Libertarian Enterprise

I have been known to say, on occasion, that anyone who opposes the concept or actuality of individual liberty is either evil, stupid, or insane.

To point out a single, unfortunately common example, there are no circumstances in which chaining people up—enforcing evacuations or curfews, stealing their means of transport or self-defense, forcing them into camps or "emergency shelters"—is likelier to get them through a mess than leaving them free to act. There is no "emergency clause" in the Constitution permitting it to be set aside, nor is there any exigency that morally justifies suppressing individual rights.

Everything good that happens in human society is initiated by individuals and accomplished by them. Government can only blunder in, jog their elbows (while they're doing brain surgery), trample through the fresh food and water, and steal everything that isn't nailed down. If you don't believe me, ask any local cop who's ever had to deal with FEMA, or the women in the Third World raped by UN "peacekeeping" personnel.

Evil, stupid, or insane. Sometimes two out of three. Sometimes all three together. My lovely wife insists (and I agree with her) that any compromise with evil is still evil. Bargaining a democidal tyrant down to killing only five million instead of ten is not moral progress or progress of any kind. It's an agreement, evil, stupid, or insane, that now places a full share of the innocent blood on your hands as well as his.

Evil, stupid, or insane. Exactly as any compromise with evil is still evil, so any concession to stupidity is stupid. And as for insanity...

Global warming is just another two-for-a-nickel orthodoxy that has to be imposed at bayonet-point—through transparent fraud and naked fascism—because it has no basis whatever in reason or the facts of reality.

Evil, stupid, or insane.

With two technical exceptions, the Earth does not now nor has it ever needed saving. If it did, in the way we're being told, it would be beyond the present technological abilities of our species. In any case, there are only two ways in which the planet we all live on can be "destroyed" and from which it might require "saving". The first, which would "merely" render it uninhabitable to any lifeform above the evolutionary level of a rat or cockroach, but otherwise leave the globe pretty much intact, is to have a nuclear "exchange", filling the Earth's atmosphere and dusting its surface with deadly radioactive material.

This is not a danger that can be averted by giving up candlelight dinners (as one ecolunatic prescribed the other day) or using only one square of toilet paper at a time, as Cheryl Crow has suggested. (Don't give up your day job, Cheryl.) Preventing an extinction-level nuclear war is a political problem. The only solution is to disarm governments everywhere, and to arm the people. Regrettably, folks like the candle guy and One Square Cheryl hate the solution (which would also pretty much eliminate crime on this planet and make life a whole lot less fun for each and every would-be dictator on it) more than they hate the problem.

Evil, stupid, or insane?

Whatever you decide to call them, there are a whole bunch of them out there. Some of them want us to believe that the planet is a living organism, our mother, a goddess, lovely Gaia. But as I've been saying for some time now, the Earth is not your mother, or mine, it's just a big rock. A huge pet rock for some, maybe, but a rock, nonetheless, accreted by gravity over billions of years, out of spaceborne dust, exactly like every other object in the Solar System, including the Sun.

Those other objects include comets and asteroids, ranging in size from a that of a grain of sand to a few hundred miles in diameter. Most of them tidily circle the Sun in a broad band between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter, but by no means all. Now and again, one of them will get tickled out of its place by the interacting gravitational influence of larger bodies, and take off with a brand new flightplan that will eventually bring it into violent contact with some other object.

You may recall the comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 that broke up into 23 pieces and struck Jupiter in 1994, visibly roiling its atmosphere for months. Most people understand today that an asteroid about the size of Manhattan struck the Earth 65 million years ago, ringing the whole planet like a bell, spraying North America with white-hot ejecta, opening up a chain of volcanos half a world away, burning every tree on the planet, and killing off the dinosaurs and other species, making way for mammals and birds to reach their full potential. Another such event, 140 million years earlier, had killed off even more species. All in all, it's thought that Earth has suffered about a dozen of these "extinction-level events" and quite a number of lesser ones, as well.

Statistically, we are several million years overdue for another extinction-level event, a serious grownup danger that, of all the species that ever evolved here, humanity is uniquely capable of preventing. Although it will require titanic effort, it will bring other rewards, beyond the "mere" continued survival of the human race and the planet we live on, very possibly beyond our present ability to imagine.

Hint: there is more gold to be found in a single asteroid a mile in diameter than has ever been mined in the last ten thousand years on Earth. And gold is the very least of the treasures we will find Out There. The greatest treasure is a chance to reboot the history of our species.

So why do we continue all this mud-wrestling with Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Henry Waxman, Barny Frank, their commie-care scam, and a thousand other lethally mundane issues, when we could really be saving the Earth, and reaching for the stars with the same effort?

A clue might be found in a fairly lame attempt made a couple years ago to discount the danger of any future asteroid incident. The claim was made that new statistical analyses had determined that the danger was exaggerated, and that we could all just go back to sleep ... back to sleep ... back to sleep ... I never saw the statistics, myself (I don't know if they were ever offered) but I could see what was going on. If people suddenly got worried about a real danger, they would be that much harder to enlist in completely phony and unnecessary campaigns like those associated with global warming, acid rain, ozone depletion, and those ever-popular A-rab terrorists hiding under every bed.

Freeman Dyson once said that if we can make it to the asteroids, the IRS will never be able to find us. Make no mistake, that rogue's gallery of collectivists and cannibals I listed above are perfectly willing to see the human race wiped out in a preventable calamity than risk losing control of us among the tumbling rocks of the Solar System.

Environmentalism is not a real body of scientific knowledge like evolution, relativity, or quantum theory, it is a religion. Religions (like it or not) are born of shame and fear. Most of the bonnet-bee beliefs plaguing us today arise from disappointment and self-loathing. (Gun control is more a matter of projection than protection.) That's one reason why the job of asteroid detection and disposal must never be left to government, which, either through incompetence or malice, is as likely to divert an asteroid into the Earth's path as away from it.

Evil, stupid, or insane?

Or none of the above?

Your choice.

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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