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L. Neil Smith's
THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 742, October 20, 2013

Only the Zero Aggression Principle, and
the freedom it generates, can save us from
the same oblivion that swallowed the Sumerians,
the Babylonians, the Egyptians, the ancient
Greeks, the Romans, and the British


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The River of No Return
by L. Neil Smith
lneil@netzero.com

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Attribute to L. Neil Smith's The Libertarian Enterprise

The Age of Authority, now drawing to a close after ten thousand blood-stained years, has also largely been an age of witlessness and fraud. Stripping history of all of its excuses and rationalizations, it is surpassingly difficult to find a single ruler or leader who was capable of finding his own fundament with both hands and a six-cell Maglite.

Examples would (and do) fill encyclopedias, but one sample will suffice: the way that wise, bewhiskered, august politicians in their distinguished frock coats and top hats insisted on sending their sons and grandsons off to savagely murder one another from 1914 to 1918—for no good reason anyone, from Barbara Tuchman to Bob Dylan has ever been able to discover—and thereby set the tone for the next hundred years, an unbroken century of total war and mass slaughter, through their stupid, hypocritical treatment of Germany following that initial conflict.

The victorious allies of World War I gave birth to Adolf Hitler.

We are all in a boat—the "same boat" you often hear of—swept along by a mighty River of Time, our course set by idiots, maniacs, and looters. By "we", I mean the hapless, hopeless, helpless members of the species Homo sapiens, once the proud pinnacle of four and a half billion years of evolution, whose supremacy ended on the day that Authority was invented—and assumed a higher position on the food chain.

With the exception of an occasional great white shark, crocodile, lion, or leopard, the only natural enemy and predator of humankind is government.

The boat I'm talking about is not the "Ship of State" we all heard about in grade school. Captain Nemo knew exactly how to deal with that, and he was my first boyhood hero (there haven't been that many since).

There was a time when our boat cruised easily and freely up and down the River, crossing from one bank to the other without the slightest difficulty. That was because our boat—the boat of American civilization—had a rudder and an engine. The boat that we all find ourselves in now, this sad, leaky, broken-down derelict, has neither.

There was a time when our rudder consisted of our principles—as manifested in the Bill of Rights—which let us turn in any direction except against the legitimate interests of the people comprising that civilization. This was a set of ideas that almost everyone could agree on, without reference to their religious beliefs or any other such consideration.

But the Bill of Rights—that masterpiece of secular philosophy which guaranteed to the people the right to own and operate their own lives—had enemies, dark entities who wanted control over the people's lives for themselves. Those entities have spent nearly two and a half centuries whittling the Bill of Rights—our rudder—down to nothing. We the people have lost control over where the boat goes.

But, then, so have our enemies.

Some insist that our founding principle, American civilization's lost rudder, consisted of a single religion, something any student of Thomas Paine, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, or Chaim Salomon knows is untrue. The founding principle of a free society must be something that everybody agrees with and takes for granted. While I respect the right of others to believe whatever they desire, I will not exchange my powers of reason for the willful irrationality of faith.

For all that conservatives attempt to anchor themselves in a two thousand year old belief system, they have no observable defining principle. They drift, ideologically, and usually wind up defending the very things their fathers and grandfathers fought passionately against.

Two words: "Social Security"

But a rudder is useless unless the boat it's attached to has sails or an engine, some means of propulsion. For American civilization, the boat we're all in together, the means of propulsion consisted of the incentives offered by unlimited individual liberty. A boy who sold refreshments to passengers on railroad trains could grow up to invent the lightbulb, the phonograph, and 1198 other things. A humble teacher of the deaf could invent the telephone. And they could get rich doing it.

With the exception of cybernetics, this is now almost impossible. Even if you make a fortune, it can be taken from you in a heartbeat. The great engine of America is stopped, and the boat drifts, unpowered and rudderless down the dark, murky, frighteningly powerful River of Time.

Hundreds of idiots, charlatans, and lunatics all claim to have the helm, but they lie. The boat keeps turning end-for-end, drifting, filling with water no one bothers to bail out, heading down the river to rapids that can capsize it, or a great falls that will smash it to splinters.

Killing everyone aboard.

So much for life.

So much for liberty.

So much for property.

And so much for the pursuit of happiness, which, in the absence of anything resembling real freedom, has degenerated into nothing more than watching oversized men being paid outrageous amounts of money to play children's games on television, rioting in the streets and beating up innocent passers-by, or reeling from one drug-saturated, alcohol-soaked sensation to the next, usually in a fast, expensive car.

Meanwhile, in the background you can hear the roar of the falls.

Who put us here? Not just Woodrow Wilson, Herbert Hoover, Franklin Roosevelt, Lyndon Johnson, and Bill Clinton, but vile creatures like Prescott Bush, whose Union Banking Corporation, accused of holding gold and laundering money for the Nazis, was seized in 1942 under the Trading with the Enemy Act. Now his nasty sons and grandsons want to establish an entire dynasty of Bushian clumsiness, irrationality, and cupidity.

Men like George Soros, who collaborated with the Nazis as a teenager and now makes obscene amounts of money by destroying whole nations.

Men like the Duke of New York ("He's A Number One!"), Michael Bloomberg who, in whatever sickness of the soul he suffers, would make all of the "little people" under his thumb do whatever he decides is good for them, even if he has to have them killed in the process—which is why he is afraid to let them own guns. A Puritan in the Menckenesqe sense that he almost certainly wakes up, trembling and sweating in the night in the secret fear that somewhere, someone is happy, Bloomberg clearly wishes to take away anything and everything that gives people pleasure. The proper word for such a creature is "Notsie".

Don't forget women like Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, and Dianne Feinstein.

And it is tragically ironic that the once-beloved symbol for a new hope—which quickly turned into a resurgence of the old disease of Nazism—should be black, reportedly gay, and with a Semitic background.

And what about the soft, shrinking, fearful, cowardly, gutless, craven, dastardly, timorous, weak-kneed, yellow-bellied, lily-livered, pigeon-hearted, jelly-spined, base, pusillanimous Republicans who will do anything, abrogate any principle, betray any constituency, for a glass of white wine at the right cocktail party, and a slice of runny cheese?

Including Rand Paul, who has endorsed Mitch McConnell.

The question sort of answers itself, doesn't it?

Who keeps us here, drifting toward the chasm?

Before I answer that question, allow me to let you in on a little secret: some Americans (beginning with Thomas Jefferson, in whose writings you will find this Great Idea) have discovered a formulation that can sum up the Bill of Rights in a single sentence, a principle well suited (never abandoning the Bill of Rights) to become America's new rudder, without offending anyone—except for self-announced villains.

The Great Idea is the Zero Aggression Principle, which holds that nobody—and this most especially includes government—has a right to initiate physical force against another human being under any circumstances; nor will an adherent to the "ZAP" (as it's abbreviated) advocate or delegate such an initiation of physical force for any reason.

Or, in the words of Will Smith's fighter pilot character in Independence Day, as he makes "first contact" with an aggressive alien species, "Like my mama says, don't start nothin', won't be nothin'!"

None of this has anything to do with pacifism. Libertarians are among the strongest advocates of private weapons ownership on the planet, and have largely driven the current trend toward armed self-defense.

The ZAP is practically all there is to political libertarianism. (The central tenet of ethical libertarianism is that each of us is the owner and sole proprietor of his own life and all the products of that life.) These ideas are the only things that make libertarians any different from conservatives, or liberals, or even communists and Nazis.

As a tacit philosophical foundation, these ideas are also what has made America different from and better than, any other civilization in history.

So who keeps us here, irrevocably drifting toward disaster? How about the lunatics, halfwits, and outright monsters who reject the ZAP, the very definition of libertarianism, and the basis for American civilization?

Why do they do it? My guess: because they reckon they just might want to injure, kill, or steal from me someday, so they keep this "right" they imagine they have—to initiate force—in their hip pocket.

Sort of handy—like I keep my .45.

Because of them, nothing is safe, not life, not liberty, and especially not property. And so the giant engine of American peace, progress, and prosperity grinds to a halt as the deadly falls draw nearer.

Only the Zero Aggression Principle, and the freedom it generates, can save us from the same oblivion that swallowed the Sumerians, the Babylonians, the Egyptians, the ancient Greeks, the Romans, and the British.

We have a way to stop all that from happening.

Do we have the will?


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