Big Head Press

L. Neil Smith's
Number 707, February 3, 2013

Government kills. Government steals.
Government kidnaps. Government enslaves.
Government lies. Government is vastly
worse than anything or anybody it was
created to protect us from.

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Message to a Mini-Statist
by L. Neil Smith

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Attribute to L. Neil Smith's The Libertarian Enterprise

I butted into a conversation earlier today that was being held on a Facebook page dedicated to defining the principles and practices of a free society. Despite the tenor of our times (or likelier because if it), I think this sort of thing is more important than it's ever been.

I wrote my first novel, The Probability Broach, because I thought (and still do) that people will find it easier to create a free society—and persuade others to help—if somebody lays out a rough outline of what that society might be like. Because there are probably several billion different ideas about what an ideal society consists of, I wrote other novels—Forge of the Elders, Pallas, TimePeeper, The WarDove—where civilization looked different, but in which people were still free to own and operate their own lives.

A concept I once called "Propertarianism".

Certain basic principles apply everywhere and at all times. One of them is that, throughout its gory, dismal six to eight thousand year history, government, as an idea and as an institution hasn't worked out terribly well. Nevertheless, there are people—whole nations of them—who still swallow the same old guff that we need government or we will die because without its constant nagging, we might forget to breath, or we might all wander around stark naked, or get leprosy or something.

You can usually tell who they are: they think Alexander of Macedon and Abraham Lincoln were great men, instead of what they actually were, an itinerant looter and thug, and a syphilitic mass-murdering megalomaniac.

This guy on Facebook was whining the same old whine I've been hearing for fifty-one years, now, about how, absent government, nobody could ever agree on anything and we would all wind up shooting each other in the streets. I guess somehow he's never heard of Detroit, which suffers that very problem—and has more government per square whatever than anyplace with the possible exception of Chicago, the toddling town that convinced its Mayor Rahm Emanuel that victim disarmament doesn't work, and therefore we must have more victim disarmament.

Or maybe he got that idea from Michael Bloomberg.

That's when (against my better judgment; I had other things to do) I took keyboard in hand and with a few additions I thought of later, wrote:

Permit me to state this very clearly (I said), for everyone, once and for all. Government kills. Government steals. Government kidnaps. Government enslaves. Government lies. Government is vastly worse than anything or anybody it was created to protect us from. Government is a disease, proclaimed my mentor, Robert LeFevre, masquerading as its own cure.

Just for starters, government murdered what now appears to be a quarter of a billion innocent human beings in the 20th century alone, in acts entirely separate from the other people it murdered in war. I assume that you've heard about the Holocaust. Ever hear of Operation Keelhaul?

Look it up.

Since government cannot exist without initiating physical force every day—every nanosecond—no real libertarian can advocate even the smallest amount of it. Nor do I give a damn about contemplating or explaining what we will "replace" it with (a lot of nothing would be my choice, if pressed) or how things are going to "work" without it. Been there, done that. Please consult any of the 30-odd books I've written.

Regardless of any of that, we all have a positive and imperative moral obligation never to initiate physical force against one another—ultimately, that's what civilization is all about—and that moral obligation absolutely precludes the existence and operation of any government.

Now, if you reject the idea that nobody has a right to initiate physical force against another human being for any reason—what we call the "Zero Aggression Principle" or the "ZAP"—that's another matter. It amounts to a statement that you imagine you have a right to initiate force against anybody else, any time you feel it might be convenient.

This is not what civilization is all about.

But it's certainly a warning to the rest of us, exactly like the buzzing of a rattlesnake or the threat-display of a scorpion, never to turn our backs toward you, and to keep the thongs flipped off our hammers.

You may have to ask somebody what that means.

L. Neil Smith is the Publisher and Senior Columnist of L. Neil Smith's THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE, as well as the author of 33 freedom-oriented books, the most recent of which is DOWN WITH POWER: Libertarian Policy in a Time of Crisis:
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[ dead tree and Nook]
DOWN WITH POWER was selected as the Freedom Book Club Book-of-the-Month for August 2012

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