Big Head Press

L. Neil Smith's
Number 512, March 29, 2009

"Maybe it's not such a bad thing to be thought a barbarian.
People usually don't mess with barbarians, after all."

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What If?
by Ron Beatty
bearfreeliberty -+at+-

Attribute to The Libertarian Enterprise

I am a writer. I have a couple of screenplays to my credit and I'm working on a novel, which will probably never find a publisher because the premise of it is unabashedly libertarian. When I start on a project, the first thing that comes to mind is ...what if?

What if... Everyone stopped paying taxes?

What if... The economy totally collapses and the feds can't fix it?

What if... We faced a total societal collapse as a result of some economic, social or natural disaster?

What if... Politicians were required to be personally and physically responsible for their actions, as outlined in Lone Star Planet, by H. Beam Piper?

What if... An efficient star drive was invented and pro-freedom activists set up a colony governed solely by the principles of the ZAP and Covenant of Unanimous Consent?

What if... An American president and Congress, feeling overwhelmed and threatened by massive civil disobedience, were to issue a call for UN "peacekeepers" to 'restore order?'

What if... The move towards state sovereignty were to result in another Civil War?

What if... It came out that the government WAS responsible for the falling of the twin towers that September morning?

What if.... well, you get my point.

As a writer, I spend a LOT of time going over news sites and researching a wide variety of topics, especially history, government, sociology and almost any other 'ology' that seems to cover the ways that people interact with each other, especially in times of crisis.

Broadly and generally speaking, there seems to be only two points of view represented in our government. The first is that all people are generally evil and need to be controlled for their own good. The second is that all people are generally stupid and need to be taken care of for their own good. (Considering the sheer number of idiots that have been voted into office, there might be some slight shred of truth in that last one! Just joking, people!)

I hold a third view. I think that most people are basically good at heart, and will try to help those in need, if they can. I think that most people will do what is right, in the sense that right involves not harming others unnecessarily, if they can. Instead of blaming people in general for the ills of our society, I can honestly say that I believe that well over 90% of all our societal problems are not only government caused, but also government exacerbated.

Let me tell you what I believe, even though in this case, I can't honestly point to a specific proof that is scientifically acceptable.

My personal belief is that most of our societal ills are caused by a lack of hope. How can you hope if you see half your income or more confiscated through taxes, fees, permits, regulatory costs, etc.?Looking at history, what happens when people lose hope; hope for a better life, hope for a brighter tomorrow, hope for something beyond day to day existence?

Generally, a series of events happens. There is usually a rise in religious observance, at least for a while. Then, when conventional religion doesn't seem to help, or is suppressed, there is the formation of what might be considered cults or alternative religions. Finally, there comes civil disobedience and/or revolution. Please note that this is not a hard and fast rule, neither is it intended to describe a logical progression. There may be, and often is, considerable overlap in these areas, and the total progression might take decades, or even centuries to come to fruition. On the other hand, in extreme cases, just a few years can see the whole cycle come to fruition, especially if some demagogue who promises to cure all the evils of society comes to power.

After the Treaty of Versailles was signed, effectively ending World War I, the Allied powers, with the exception of the United States (one of the few government actions I'm actually proud of, by the way), enforced massive and extremely cruel reparations on the defeated government and people of Germany. Not only did the treaty require that Germany not be armed anymore, it involved the confiscation of almost all the means of production and food production. Thousands upon thousands of heads of cattle were confiscated and given to the victors, just as one example. The German economy was so totally crippled by the war reparations that the government began to issue more and more paper money, with nothing to back it, to be seen to be 'doing something' about the economy. It got so bad that people were taking wheelbarrows full of money to the store to buy a loaf of bread or a jug of milk.

The ordinary German citizen became ever more fanatical in following their religion, while we also saw the rebirth of some of the bloodier traditions of the ancient Germanic religions, especially in the high level followers of Hitler. When it seemed as if there was no hope left, a demagogue rose up, an extremely charismatic speaker, who used the beliefs and prejudices of the people against them, promising a brighter future and new hope for tomorrow, if they would just give him power and follow him.

Well, we all know what happened, don't we? Adolf Hitler, a man who was legally and legitimately elected to the office he held, used circumstances and bigotry, charisma and conniving, to seize total power of the German state. He used the xenophobia of the people to blame Jews, homosexuals, gypsies and the 'godless Communists' for the economic ills besetting his country. Before it was over, more than 20 million people would die, some in warfare, some in concentration camps, and some in the squalor and disease of the aftermath of the war.

Now, I know that any time someone mentions Hitler or the Nazi party, a significant element of the populous immediately turns their brains off with the mantra: It Can't Happen Here! That is complete and total BULLSHIT! It can happen anywhere, and at anytime a people begin to lose hope, and has, numerous times throughout history! It happened in Imperial Rome. It happened in the Soviet Union. It happened in France. It has happened over and over again, and almost without exception, the result has been the fall of that society. (Please note that I do NOT claim that loss of hope is the ONLY contributing factor in each of these instances, just one of the significant ones.) One of the greatest and truest statements regarding history is that by George Santayana; "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

That statement, in and of itself, bears repeating, especially among libertarians. Libertarians, as a general rule, know and care more about history than most. Sometimes, however, they don't seem to know the best way to spread that knowledge to the people who need it. Somehow, someway, we have to find a way to open the minds of those who have been brainwashed into not thinking by the public school system. I've said it before, and I'll say it again, and again, and again, I think the best way to do this is with entertainment. By that measure, Neil, Heinlein, and other libertarian artists and entertainers may be the most effective weapon we have against a coming dark age.

So, for those who can, please continue entertaining and educating us. For those who can't, please point out the works of those who can to your friends and acquaintances. Above all, please keep living and working for the ideal.

What if... America was truly free again?


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