THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 554, January 21, 2010
"We don't need permission."
Special to The Libertarian Enterprise
One of the things I enjoyed growing up was science fiction. One of the authors I enjoyed reading was Robert Heinlein. He wrote a lot of science fiction, on a lot of differing themes. Some of it was really interesting, innovative, and displayed libertarian ethics. Stranger in a Strange Land especially the later, unexpurgated version, is a great example.
Among other things, science fiction makes me feel so good. The protagonist faces tremendous odds, deals with strange new technologies, but often comes out a winner. Sometimes SF is written with other ends in mind, and that's okay too. Some SF writers, including Heinlein, wrote other things, and once I find that I enjoy reading what a certain writer writes, it is often worthwhile to pursue their works outside the genre in which I first encountered them. (Neal Stephenson, for example, wrote brilliant SF with Snowcrash and The Diamond Age and then followed up with brilliant historical fiction including Cryptonomicon and the Baroque Cycle novels. [v.1], [v.2], and [v.3])
So it was that last night I found myself pursuing Heinlein's collection Expanded Universe. It really is an interesting collection of essays, short stories, and other material. No doubt, I do not find myself in agreement with Robert on all his views.
For example, he favors voting, running for office, and other involvement in the political system. I do not. He is a militarist, and I am not.
But he is also an individualist, a spirited defender of nudism, an iconoclast, and an enthusiast of science, technology, and human achievement. There has been much to enjoy in his novels and other writings.
Several of his essays were about his experiences traveling in the Soviet Union with his wife Virginia in the 1960s. Among other things he points out that Moscow could not have been a city of five million at the time, but was more likely a city of about 800,000.
Since the USA government is becoming increasingly oppressive, ramping up border "security" and engaging in security theater at the airports, it seems likely that the authoritarians are winning some short term victories. Americans are increasingly spied upon by their own government which tries vigorously to root out and attack all forms of dissent, which seeks to find all wealth and income, which pursues taxes more vigorously than ever, which imposes prior restraints on speech, and which has demanded the power to detain prisoners, including Americans, indefinitely, without trial, without counsel, without bail, without possibility of parole, and without evidence. Moreover, the USA government now routinely tortures prisoners to death.
These facts, of course, indicate that the rigidity of the system, the grinding noises about which I've blogged in the past, are increasing. The system is falling apart, those who control it know that it is falling apart, and they are determined to screw everyone else as hard as possible to get as much for those who run the state as they can.
When you think about it, the experience of a tourist coming to the USA today has quite a bit of similarity to the experience of a tourist going to the Soviet Union in the 1960s. Many tourists have to give their finger prints to get an entry visa, have to present papers frequently not only on arrival, have to go through all kinds of aggressive and pointless "security" protocols, and may be subject to arrest and detention even if they are only transiting through the USA. (A number of online gambling entrepreneurs have been arrested in transit lounges even though they were not planning to enter the countrybecause the people who run the USA government are bullies, liars, murderers, rapists, looters, and thieves.)
Whereas ordinary Russians that the Heinleins would encounterVirginia was fluent in Russian and they would often get out of their hotel away from guideswere convinced that every hotel room was bugged by the KGB, ordinary Americans can today be sure that all cell phones and all house land line phones are monitored 24/7 by the National Security Agency. The NSA has demanded and all phone companies have complied with, access to their switching equipment. The NSA monitors all calls, and has the power to listen at your phone even if you have turned it offtake out the battery from your cell, and disconnect your house phone from the landline if you want any privacy. (Also consider a Faraday cageyour phone cannot transmit a signal from within a solid metal box.)
One of the other tourists to whom Robert spoke after his travels suggested a tactic for getting information from Intourist guides and other Soviet officials. Shame them.
"Why won't you let me visit an ordinary Russian home? What are you ashamed of?"
"Why won't you let me see a brick factory? What are you ashamed of?"
In the former case, something similar resulted in a visit to a new apartment building before any tenants had moved in. In the latter case, the bricks were made by slave labor in the gulag archipelago, so there was no possibility of seeing a brick factory.
So, there you have it. Let's asks some embarrassing questions of those who run the state, and ask them why they are ashamed of answering. We used to have a free society where open records were the order of the daywhat are they ashamed of that they hide so much from us?
It has been ninety-three years since Woodrow Wilson lied his way into World War One. Essentially everyone who was involved, including just about every veteran who survived that war, is now dead. Yet the lies about the Lusitania and the Zimmerman telegram are still told. What is the government ashamed of? Why won't they release the truth, all of it, and stop hiding the facts?
It has been sixty-nine years since FDR lied his way into lend lease and provoked, repeatedly, the Japanese attacks on Pearl Harbor. Robert Stinnett found some of the information about the extent to which the USA had decoded all Japanese military and diplomatic messages. We now know that FDR knew all about the Japanese plans, ship movements, and had weeks of advance warning which he failed to provide to the military stationed at Pearl Harbor, in the Philippines, and to the Dutch, French, and British allies in the Pacific. What is the government ashamed of? Are they ashamed of their predecessor deliberately condemning thousands of soldiers, sailors, and airmen to their deaths? Are they ashamed of having condemned hundreds of thousands of civilians to capture and torture at the hands of the Imperial Japanese military? They should be ashamed, and they should release all the facts, all the papers, especially the top secret papers. There are no meaningful living "sources of intelligence" to protect, and everyone knows it.
When will the USA military end the second world war and bring the troops home from Germany and Japan? When will the USA government disclose its shameful role in Operation Keelhaul and release information that could be helpful to the survivors of those the USA military forced onto trains in Western Europe and forcibly sent to the Soviet Union to be tortured and killed? When will the USA government release the facts about Hiroshima and Nagasaki, what was known by Truman, the truth about how few Americans would have been killed in an invasion of the Japanese home islands, and how many civilians were deliberately and maliciously slaughtered? When will the USA government disclose the nature and exact terms of the UK USA treaty that makes the USA an agent of the Hanoverian usurpation? What are they ashamed of?
It has been sixty years since the start of the Korean war. When will the USA government end the war and bring the troops home? Why is there so much secrecy surrounding USA support for the dictators of South Korea oppressing dissidents, imprisoning and torturing students? What are they ashamed of?
In his excellent book Legacy of Ashes author Tim Weiner (who is clearly sympathetic toward a hierarchical and authoritarian government empowered by foreign and domestic espionage activities) illustrates the role of the CIA and the USA government in lies, corruption, abuse of power, support for brutal dictators, and a direct role in the mass murders of millions and millions of people in countries like Indonesia, Chile, Guatemala, Cuba, Philippines, Haiti, Somalia, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran, and elsewhere. For sixty-five years, the CIA and the USA governments have lied to the American people repeatedly. For sixty-five years they have supported the mass murder, and at times committed the mass murder, of tens of thousands of Americans and millions of people around the globe. They should be ashamed, and the only way to end the shame is to disclose the truth.
Wiener points out that at the time of the purported "missile gap" there were not 500 nuclear tipped Russian missiles pointed at American cities. There were six. The CIA lied. The CIA deliberately and knowingly lied, because making the Soviet threat seem worse was a scheme to get more money for the CIA and their cronies in the military contractor (death merchant) industry.
There was no Gulf of Tonkin incident. LBJ himself knew there was not, and said "those sailors were shooting at flying fish" to an aide in a private moment. LBJ lied and tens of thousands of Americans died. Hundreds of thousands of Americans were wounded, most of them severely, and many with life changing injuries that would shorten their lives and deny them much enjoyment from living. Why? Entirely, and exclusively so that LBJ and his cronies could divert approximately two trillion dollars (in inflation adjusted 2010 dollars) from the treasury to the pursuit of military occupation. A long war was very profitable for Bell Helicopter and other death merchants.
The CIA prevented the release, and continues to withhold documents relating to the assassination in 1963 of president John F. Kennedy. It has been 47 years, and anyone who was an intelligent source at the time, say 21 years old or older, is now very elderly (68 plus) or dead. Who, then, could they possibly be protecting? They are not protecting any human intelligence sources, they are protecting the CIA, which is ashamed of its role in the assassination. And they should be ashamed. They committed treason, they know it, we all know it. Why won't they release all the documents relating to JFK's assassination? They are ashamed.
If they weren't involved, if they weren't complicit, if they didn't order the killing, if they had nothing to hide, then what are they hiding? They were involved, and they are hiding the documents that explain in detail how they were involved and what their operatives did, and to whom, because they are ashamed.
They are afraid of the American people and what we would do to each and every person working for the CIA in any capacity today if we learned the shameful truth about what they did to JFK. And RFK's assassinationwhy aren't all the government documents about that terrible event now public? And Martin Luther King, Jr.'s assassinationwhy aren't all the government documents about that killing now public? What is the government ashamed of?
The government lied about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and has sent thousands and thousands of Americans to die there. Tens of thousands have been injured, many of them in terrible and life altering ways. Why? To pursue policies based upon shameful lies.
Why does the government hide the evidence against terrorists? What is it ashamed of? Why is the government afraid to face terrorists and other accused criminals in open court and present the evidence that has been kept secret? They are ashamed, that's why.
It is actually shameful to detain people without charges, to abandon the thousand plus year tradition of habeas corpus, to torture anyone, ever, to deny a speedy and public trial, to abandon the entire structure of jurisprudence handed down to us from Solon in 600 BC, along with all the rights, privileges, immunities, and benefits gained in the American revolutionary war and defended with so much blood and treasure in other wars.
The USA government is a tyranny which is ashamed of itself. The people who run the state do so for the benefit of the banking gangsters, the death merchants, and the businesses which are big and powerful enough to hire lobbyists and bribe congress with campaign contributions. It is plutocracy run amok. And it is shameful.
A people with a long tradition of freedom have abandoned their heritage for the pretended security of a police state. Americans should demand that this shameful behavior end, now.
And if they won't? Then it becomes a shame to be an American. If, and only if, Americans would refuse to confront their government and demand openness, personal and economic liberty, and an end to policies of domestic espionage, indefinite detention, torture, war, and abuse of power, then it makes no sense to call yourself an American. Who could be proud of such evil?
Now, this strategy that Heinlein mentions may have worked on the Russians because they do have shame. It is quite possible that it won't work on American authoritarians, who don't seem to have any shame.
In which case there is another tactic to consider. People who live in wood houses should not inspire others to burn with anger.