THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 704, January 6, 2013
"It is perhaps a bit late, but individuals
who value civilization are beginning to act."
Attribute to L. Neil Smith's The Libertarian Enterprise
We are living in a bizarre historical period—the "Crazy Years", Robert Heinlein called them—when those who imagine themselves to be in some kind of authority or another, also imagine that they can tell us what emotions are appropriate to any particular circumstance or occasion.
I think this may have started back in the 1960s, when it was declared "uncool" to feel out of sorts when you discovered that the girl you thought was yours was enjoying intimate relations with somebody else. "Lose your love when you say the word 'mine'", as Linda Ronstadt put it, or was it Neil Young? Unfortunately, Heinlein contributed to this nonsense when he wrote Stranger in a Strange Land.
As a friend of mine puts it, when confronted with a new idea, or re-assessing an old one, he always runs it through two filters, the Zero Aggression Principle, and the musings of Darwin. Usually if there's something there—jealousy, as an example—there's a good reason.
Consider the squid. These molluscs generally mate in swarms at a particular time of the year. I've fished for them at that time of year, without a pole, but with a cord ending with three bare hooks on a lead weight. The squid mass together so solidly and are presumably so preoccupied, that if you lower the hooks to the right depth (sonar helps) you can't miss hooking something and hauling it up. It's called "jigging" and a couple of guys can fill a big boat that way in a short time.
But when they're not being painfully abducted by aliens (which is what—with the movie Cowboys & Aliens in mind—getting jigged must feel like), a male squid will detect the running lights of a female he likes, jet right over to her, and wrestle her away from other suitors. The first thing he does is blast out her sexual cavity with the same siphon that carried him to her, to eliminate any sperm from her body that belongs to some other squid. Only then will he mate with her.
Now a squid is smart for a mollusc, but it doesn't have enough brains to be petty, and neither do the thousands of other species that, one way or another, act "jealously" in much the same way. (Think of a pair of bull elk, locked in what sometimes turns out to be mortal combat over a harem of cows.) So exactly what the hell is going on here?
Simply this: females are the conservators of the gene pool. In most species, they are only interested in champions. The winner of such a contest gets to pass his genes on. The loser does not. Slowly, the species gets tougher, smarter, faster, or, in the case of grouse, sillier.
Remember what Jessica told Eddie when he asked what she saw in Roger? "He makes me laugh." I am convinced to the last cell in my body that this is how Homo whatever became Homo sapiens. Once frontal copulation—driven by evolving bipedalism—culminated in language, intimacy, and a greater sense of individualism, the smart guy with the funniest jokes got the girl. And more generations of descendants. Letting just any old Lar, Gog, or Tonda mate with the female your cleverness had won was at the very least, evolutionarily counterproductive.
And it still is.
Another thing you're not supposed to feel is possessive about what you have made or earned. You usually hear this from political types, academics, or that special variety of parasite, the intellectual property rights denier, who can't do what you've done, but have much better ideas about what to do with what you've accrued than you could possibly ever have. Epithets like "selfish", "miser" "hoarder", and "skinflint" arise (there are many others), reminding us that Scrooge was much more likable before he let four ghosts intimidate him into acting altruistically. Nowadays the ghost of Ayn Rand could set him straight.
But as usual, I have digressed. I was discussing those who think they know how you should feel about whatever happens to you or you have done. More than anything, they fear anger, I suspect, because it could mean that they are about to get what they truly and richly deserve.
A woman correspondent recently informed me, via Facebook, that I "sound" like an angry man. (My friend Sean Gabb said something very like that in his generous introduction to my book Down With Power, but Sean's as angry as I am, and largely for the same reasons.) I had intended to ask the Facebook woman why, for heaven's sake, should I be angry?
After all, government only steals half of what, one written word at a time, I have managed to wring out of the fabric of a recalcitrant universe.
Why should I be angry, when government has only deprived me—so far—of approximately two thirds of the fundamental rights that were guaranteed to me at birth, or that were written into a Constitution that has turned out to be nothing more than an elaborate and cruel joke?
Why should I be angry when government only seizes, altogether, about seven eighths of what this culture produces, forcing us to live on an eighth of our potential, and consuming the future before it gets here?
Why should I be angry, when a fraudulent usurper in the White House, who has deliberately destroyed the most powerful economy on the planet, is illegally building himself a private army and maintaining concentration camps, while attempting to strip Americans of their weapons?
Government and its voracious supporters, greedily drooling after the accomplishments of others, only keep me up about half the night, wondering how and why they should have taken the most admirable, brilliant, and, well, civilized civilization in the history of humanity ...
One that, in the 19th century, sacrificed more than 620,000 individual human lives in what most of them believed—falsely, as it turned out—was a noble effort to end the ancient and unspeakable evil of slavery ...
One that, a century later, turned itself inside out all over again, vainly trying to eliminate racism, in ignorance of the fact that it takes two to tango ...
One that elevated women to the highest places—barring the occasional Hatshepsut or Cleopaetra—anywhere by women in human history ...
One that, even so, has seen its language raped by vandals and halfwits who claim offense at every noun and verb that actually conveys meaning ...
One that, despite the calumny of non-achievers, has engendered the most even distribution of food, clothing, shelter, and general wealth anywhere, at any time ...
One that remains today, unexceeded in its charity, its generosity, its general kindness and warm inclusiveness, not to mention its amazing inventiveness and the progress it has made over the last 250 years ...
Yes, it keeps me up at night, wondering how and why these vile, despicable creatures should have taken the most civilized civilization in history—and done their very goddamnedest to smash it into splinters.
It is perhaps a bit late, but individuals who value civilization are beginning to act. Thanks to the other side's stupidity, insanity, and corruption, it is against the law to warn these destroyers of civilization of the mortal peril in which they stand, and which is their only achievement.
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