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L. Neil Smith's
Number 614, April 10, 2011

"Down With Power!"

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Where We Stand Renamed!
by L. Neil Smith

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Special to The Libertarian Enterprise

If you'll pardon a little repetition, here's a behind-the-scenes story for you...

For the past several days, I have been in the throes of a horrible sort of indecision that I am not ordinarily accustomed to. I have become convinced that the current title of my new non-fiction book on libertarian policy, Where We Stand—which has been readable online now for some months—is unsuitable, and so is the first thought I had for a substitute, the title of the book's "flagship" article, "The Plan".

Trust me, this is hardly artistic whimsy. Even the most casual perusal of Google (something I foolishly neglected to attend to before now) demonstrates that both titles are already over-used by various right wing idiots, various left wing idiots, and various religious idiots.

Remember, this is supposed to be a tome (or at least a tomette) that will show folks how to fix everything that's presently wrong with America. I had previously rejected a number of other titles like "What Libertarians Believe" or even "What Real Libertarians Believe", because the book should jump out of rack pockets and leap off of bookshelves across the country. It should be friendly, sort of, but possess at least a modicum of gravitas. This is the book I'd want you to give to your child or your grandchild—or to that obnoxious brother-in-law—to show them all what real libertarian policy would be.

Especially in the year when Atlas Shrugged finally becomes a movie (and a pretty good one, too, judging by the trailers), a new book, written by somebody who considers himself as much a child of Rand as of Heinlein, can't have a title that's already associated with all kinds of vile, slimy, disgusting, irrationalist, and collectivist undertakings.

Not to put too fine a point on it.

Almost every title I thought of in what seemed to be an eternal interim—like American Renaissance—turned out to have been taken. What, then, should "The Little Gold Book of Chairman Me" be called?

Besides "The Little Gold Book of Chairman Me", that is.

I even asked for suggestions from a small circle of friends and colleagues, and got some very good ones—often from individuals I hadn't written to in the first place! None of them seemed to click, however. What I wanted was a title that will make a declaration to the world and issue a challenge to allies and enemies alike. Oddly enough, I've been having similar problems with my current novel, a prequel to Forge of the Elders. I dislike both of the titles that I've used so far.

On the other hand, the sequel to Sweeter Than Wine, provided the market encourages me to write it, will be called Only The Young Die Good. That has long been written in the stars—or at least on a one-sided five and a quarter inch floppy disk using WordStar 3.0 for CP/M.

Which caused me to remember something that solved the problem. When I decided in the late 1970s to give up "honest work" and write books for a living, I undertook two different projects, a novel, and a work of non-fiction. I was determined to permit whichever book sold first to decide the direction of the remainder of my professional life.

The novel was science fiction, an alternative history adventure with the working title of The Constitution Conspiracy. I eventually renamed it The Probability Broach and sold it to the first publisher who read it. I have now been writing science fiction novels for three decades.

Substantial portions of my intended non-fiction work wound up being published, as well, in my 2001 collection of essays Lever Action. But that book (still available at—please go through The Webley Page—and soon to be online as a companion piece to the new book), however fond I have since become of it, wasn't the systematic and prescriptive work—a sort of extended platform—that I'd initially meant to write, so I never used the title I'd decided on for it.

I will use it now.

Let it be known by these presents, then, that I'm retitling Where We Stand (I may retain the essay title "The Plan" or change it to "My Plan") and will publish it under a name I haven't seen so far on Google.

Down With Power

If you know my work, that kinda says it all, I think.

Editor's Note: until the new domain resolves, the book can be had via

First published at the "L. Neil Smith at Random" 'blog

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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