THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 625, June 26, 2011
"What can possibly be worse than a politician?"
Attribute to L. Neil Smith's The Libertarian Enterprise
Once upon a time, not so long ago, there was a large, peaceful, free, very prosperous village. One day, a horde of quite brutal and even smellier barbarians rode into the village, stole some of the girls and gold, and otherwise made merry by killing and destroying, then rode away.
The villagers fought back, only not that well, and did kill some of the barbarians, but lost more than they slew.
After the attack, battered and bruised and bleeding and wondering how to meet this new menace, the villagers held a meeting and asked for suggestions.
The Wise Old Man of the village, who was pretty smart, and had traveled far and wide, and thought a lot and learned much, made one suggestion: "We have to kill every one of them."
A murmur ran though the villagers. "Many of us will die!" one cried.
"Indeed," said the Wise Old Man. "But I will tell you what will happen if we don't rub out all of them. Sooner or later, these barbarians will get tired of raiding us and losing their body parts. So what they will do is conquer us."
The villagers fell silent, waiting.
"They'll enslave everyone," the Wise Old Man continued. "We'll spend our lives working for them until we drop dead. They'll rape our daughters, sometimes our sons, occasionally our dogs, and they'll build castles with prisons and torture chambers. We'll spend our lives being tortured and impoverished."
"How can you be so sure this will happen?" one villager asked.
"If you've been around as much as I have," the Wise Old Man said ominously, "and seen what I've seen, you wouldn't ask that question."
"What will happen next?" another villager wondered.
"These thugs will set themselves up as royalty," the Wise Old Man explained, "and we'll be their slaves. They'll tell us they are our protectors, as tyrants always do (as Plato and Aesop and Jesus noticed), but in reality they're just cruel, blood-thirsty, power-mad tyrants. They'll even tell us God put them in power."
"Blasphemers!" blurted a villager.
"You got that right," said the Wise Old Man wryly.
"It sounds just awful," a villager said. "How long will it last?"
"Until we rise up," said the Wise Old Man, "and vlad them on sharpened poles. If we don't do that, our enslavement will last forever."
"This is terrible!" chorused the villagers.
"It's even worse than it sounds," explained the Wise Old Man. "Someday, people will even rationalize their slavery as a good thing. The naïve ones will call it 'patriotism' and the big mouths that support our enslavers will be called 'court intellectuals.'"
"You sure do know a lot," said a villager admiringly.
"Someday," the Wise Old Man said, "I'll tell you about the difference between the Economic Means and the Political Means, or why the growth of 'government' always destroys the culture and the country and always leads to collapse. But what really works best is telling stories like what I'm doing now. Show, don't tell, I always say."
"What did you say these people call themselves?" a villager asked. "Royalty?"
"At first," said the Wise Old Man, "but in the long run they'll call themselves politicians."
"What an awful name!" the villagers gasped in horror, some clapping their hands over their ears. Even some children started crying.
"The worst name there is," the Wise Old Man said. "Mass murderers, warmongers, torturers, liars, thieves, counterfeiters, cowards, traitors, sex pervertsand they always claim they're doing good things for us. What can possibly be worse than a politician?"
"Uh..." said the villagers. "Well, if you put it that way... nothing."
So the villagers armed themselves, and practiced and practiced, and next time the barbarians rode into the village the villagers slew every one of them, losing many of their own in the fight. But they won.
So the village continued on, large and peaceful and prosperous, and every time a barbarian horde got it into their heads to raid the village, the people of the village, armed to the teeth, killed every one of them.
And so the villagers lived peaceful and free and happy and rich forever after.