Big Head Press

L. Neil Smith's
Number 605, January 30, 2011

"The Age of Authority is coming to an end.
The Age of the Individual is dawning."

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China Moon
by L. Neil Smith

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Attribute to The Libertarian Enterprise

I'm a novelist by trade, with overwhelming emphasis on science fiction. While many folks believe that "if it's sci-fi it doesn't have to make sense", the truth is, if a science fiction writer doesn't have all his ducks in a row, scientifically and otherwise, his loyal fans will make him think being eaten alive by piranhas is a pleasurable experience.

Over thirty-odd years, I've predicted many things: bone-mending electronics, the rise of .40 caliber handguns, the Internet, computer aided forensics, Wall-sized video screens, the laptop computer and iPads.

I'm also a political writer, and sometimes that calls for peering into the future fully as much as writing science fiction does. I have made a number of successful political predictions—the collapse of the Soviet Union, the American embrace of Marxism—and now it's time to lay out another I wholeheartedly hope fails to come true in any respect.

Like my prediction regarding Russia, it's made up of many little bits and pieces. For example, the People's Republic of China has been a nuclear power since the 1960s. Over the past few years, however, she has undertaken an enormous military buildup, especially with regard to her navy. Lately, she's said to be moving troops into North Korea where they can swoop down on South Korea in a heartbeat. Taking South Korea—and, inevitably, Taiwan—would leave Japan isolated and trapped.

Setting aside the question of whether it would be a good thing to do, I can't see anyone in either major American party coming to the aid of South Korea, Taiwan, or even Japan. We only fight insanely irrelevant wars against weak, backward cultures. Confronted by someone big and modern and powerful, our glorious leaders will soil their linens.

China has also leapt forward in aerospace, apparently buying up parts of a US F-117 stealth fighter shot down over Serbia in 1999 and reverse-engineering it so they'll eventually have swarms of the damn things themselves. What's more, she can already launch objects into orbit with relative ease, and it's believed that if she gets to the Moon, she'll do what America failed to do, build a permanent base there.

This would be bad.

It would be very, very bad.

Remember Luis and Walter Alvarez, who demonstrated to the whole wide world how a Manhattan-sized asteroid, falling onto the Yucatan, wiped out the dinosaurs and burned every plant above ground on the planet?

Remember Robert A. Heinlein's novel of the revolution, The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress where the inmates of a Lunar prison colony won their independence from Earth by using electrical launchers to drop rocks the size of a railroad boxcar on some of the Earth's major cities?

Did you notice that the US Navy has experimentally launched planes from the deck of an aircraft carrier using more or less the same technology?

The back of the American economy has been broken by vermin I can't help but to regard as traitors (although it could be restored easily, virtually overnight, following the simple precepts in my essay "The Plan"). Its ability to manufacture anything significant has been all but destroyed by many of the same criminals. Whatever advantage of production this country enjoyed in both World Wars is gone. At this point in history, we suffer under the most cowardly and obsequious—and domestically, the most totalitarian—administration in our history.

Forget Iran's nukes. If China has a lunar monopoly she will rule the Earth. "Confiscate all personal weapons," she'll demand, "or lose San Diego." "Send us 100,000 female 'guest workers' or say goodbye to Baltimore."

So what happens now?

Well, I'd like to think that the American military is capable of ignoring Presidential trendiness—including the dismantling of NASA which many libertarians cheered, but I never felt quite right about—and has some plan to defend this country from the Chinese or anybody else who wants a piece of us. But then I remember the wars in Korea and Vietnam where incompetence, corruption, and hysterical insanity ruled the day. And I think, too, about Iraq and Afghanistan, where no thought has ever been given to who our real enemies might be, and no hope exists that the application of military force can improve anything.

The frail box-kites and gossamer wings of our nascent civilian spacefleet aren't up to the job yet and won't be for a long, long time. So I'd like very much to think that NASA's extremely conspicuous secret launches earlier this year have something to do with actually defending this country. And what was up with all those dead birds, anyway? And yet this is an agency that officially believes in the bad science fiction of Global Warm—pardon me, make that "climate change".

Given China's announcement of its brand new shiny anti-carrier missiles, I'd like to think the tactical lasers the Navy has developed will protect the great ships as the Phalanx system did a generation ago.

What would I do?

In the absence of any other immediate action, a decent, rational, intelligent administration (yeah, I know that's asking a lot) will get those 800,000 Garand rifles and 200,000 M1 Carbines Barack Obama was going to wantonly and profligately destroy back over here from South Korea as quickly as possible and distributed widely and anonymously among the populace. Put the production of .30-06 and .30 Carbine ammunition on the front burner. Make it cheap and easy to re-engineer the Garands so that they work with 20-round box magazines like the Italian BM-59. (Whether to change the chambering from .30-06 to .308 is something we could debate all day.) That policy alone will send a message to the world that the free people of this country plan to stay free.

It can't hurt the situation on the Mexican border, either.

The truth, however, is that we're seeing a senescent culture, as deeply rooted in authority as the British monarchy at the time of our Revolution, with all of the mythology it has acquired over 250 years (Franklin Delano Roosevelt saved capitalism; gun control reduces crime), beginning to crumble around the edges as a vital new culture of freedom and individual responsibility struggles to arise in its place.

The question: is there enough time left before China owns the Moon?

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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