Liberty’s One Percent — or — Pushing the Buttons of Liberty

by L. Neil Smith
[email protected]

Special to L. Neil Smith’s The Libertarian Enterprise

It’s getting so that I dread downloading my e-mail.

Bad enough that, cold-bloodedly capitalizing on the atrocities of September 11, the worst elements within the government are doing their damnedest to convert this country into a replica of Nazi Germany or Soviet Russia. What bothers me most is that advocates of liberty all the way across the traditional political spectrum and beyond it, are running around like chickens with their heads chopped off, clearly without a clue as to what needs to be done in the current regrettable circumstances.

They send me messages begging me to tell them what to do now, or wailing at me that there’s nothing anybody can do; they send messages to one another on mailing lists, attempting to hatch one meaningless irrelevant scheme after another, reinventing the wheel square and then spinning it to no effect while adding to my own burden of despair and uncertainty.

But whether for good or ill, having spent most of my childhood as the littlest kid in class, I taught myself — one black eye and split lip at a time — whenever I feel afraid, not to whistle a happy tune, but to ball my fists up and take a step forward. That’s what I’m doing now.

Let me start by telling you what this is not a time for. This is not a time for comparing notes with your buddies — over an Internet being spied on more and more every day by the sworn enemies of liberty — about what weapons are best for taking out tanks and helicopters. On the contrary, that’s the most efficient way that I can think of to find yourself defined as a terrorist under current unconstitutional law and made to disappear as surely as if this were Argentina in the 1980s.

Which it increasingly resembles.

This is not a time to debate the best ways to hide your money or other assets or to encrypt your little conversations with one another. Openness is our most powerful weapon. We are not criminals. We are the children of Thomas Paine, Thomas Jefferson, and yes, even that bastard Alexander Hamilton. We are the goddamned inheritors of the American Revolution.

We are the goodguys and we have no need to skulk around in the virtual baseboards of the Internet like cockroaches. Let the vile minions of the current regime do that. It’s where they belong and what they are. We will stand tall in the light of liberty, let others see us doing it, and encourage them, one by one if need be, to stand with us.

It’s the only path to victory.

Those of us who embrace traditional American ideas about freedom, and oppose what the current regime is doing, comprise less than one percent of the population. Most of us get whimpery about an ingrown toenail, let alone bullet wounds. If we had to fight a revolution, it would be over in less than an eye-blink. We’d be no more than a tiny grease-stain on a footnote in the history books. And if the public were ever allowed to hear about it, they’d applaud our demise as troublemakers.

The fact is that, at the present rate, by the time most of the public realize that they shouldn’t have supported this regime in its naked grab for absolute power, it’ll be too late to do anything about it.

Therefore it’s up to us, to liberty’s one percent, to change that, and in that kind of undertaking, we are particularly gifted. Our martial virtues and numbers (or pathetic lack thereof) don’t matter. We are first and foremost communicators, and that’s what counts. The task ahead, while certainly formidable, is far from impossible to accomplish.

I just received two e-mail messages this morning that I find very encouraging. One was from one of the organizations that want Texas to be an independent nation. These groups range from intelligent, sober, and respectable to just plain lock-me-up-crazy. I don’t know which this is. They complain that the FBI has begun leaning on providers to dump their website. They’re not happy about it, but they’re not very intimidated, either. They’re determined to get back up into cyberspace again.

The other message was a magazine story in which the producer of a leftist TV series was saying that the old-time Hollywood blacklist was back, and that if you express opinions unacceptable to those currently in power — Bill Maher’s view on the dishonorable way America wages war was the example — you’re going to find it harder and harder to work.

Why do I find this encouraging? Because the current regime has managed to offend and alienate both ends of the traditional political spectrum. Even better, while it’s true neither group was favorably disposed toward the Bush Administration in the first place (it’s a tossup which despised it more), they now perceive it clearly as an enemy. Our job must be to get them to perceive each other as allies — and then encourage them to start working on the middle, from both ends.

The means? The one thing any of us, right, left, and above the center still have in common, the one thing traditional enough that few will challenge its legitimacy, the one thing radical enough to do the job.

The Bill of Rights.

Or more to the point, enforcement of the Bill of Rights.

September 11 was a terrible thing for any nation to have to live through. And, as I say, it’s callously being used as an excuse by evil politicians to do things to America that will prove to be even more terrible. But September 11 also makes the best case that can be made for imposing limits on what politicians do — limits of the kind the Founding Fathers meant to impose by enacting the Bill of Rights into law.

If limits like those had been stringently observed over the last century or so, regarding the power of the government to interfere in the affairs of other nations, and of the President to start and wage wars without following proper Constitutional procedure, the people of the world wouldn’t hate our guts and want to kill as many of us as possible. And no, it isn’t our wealth and freedom they hate us for. Most of them want wealth and freedom themselves. It’s our bombs, stupid.

In short, if we had stuck with absolute political and military “isolationism” and we simultaneously took government entirely out of matters of free trade between individuals, September 11 wouldn’t have happened.

Similarly, if the Second Amendment rights of every man, woman, and responsible child in America had been thoroughly and energetically enforced, it would never even have occurred to the homicidal religious zealots in question to hijack an airplane carrying a leavening of heavily armed passengers — and again, September 11 would never have happened.

Supporters of the current regime and the ongoing Nazification of America hate those facts, although they can make no argument against them, and can only shove their fingers in their ears and scream, “No! No! No!”, whenever they’re presented. They are facts; nothing can be done about that. Eventually they hope to kill the people who present them.

The same facts also smash to bits any contention that our rights weren’t meant to be absolute. They’ve been held non-absolute for more than a century — since the War Between the States — and look where it’s taken us: six thousand dead because the Bill of Rights was not enforced.

Okay, so what can we do now?

A few years ago, I designed and Scott Bieser drew a graphic logo representing the concept of Bill of Rights enforcement. It consists of a European-style “forbidden” sign, with the diagonal center bar broken out by the emergence of a scroll on which the Bill of Rights is inscribed.

You can see a some very nice renderings, in a couple of different sizes, starting at

What I propose now is that thousands upon thousands of pin-backed buttons be made up on that design, and those of us who value freedom and oppose the police state wear them wherever we go, as one might wear the button of a favored political candidate, or those of us wore buttons in the 1960s with slogans opposing the draft and the war in Vietnam.

Those who wish to help, with money or manufacturing, contact me at the e-mail address above. Then wear your button wherever you go, at home, in church, or on the street. Wear it to work or to school until “they” demand that you take it off — and then make them explain why in public. Wear it especially if you’re compelled to fly commercially, make them force you to take it off, and, once again, to explain why publicly.

Make them explain exactly how the Bill of Rights endangers public safety.

The all-important difference is that each of these buttons will be accompanied by a card, three by five inches, containing an annotated copy of the Bill of Rights, a brief explanation of how Bill of Rights enforcement might have prevented the hideous events of September 11, and how, even now, it might restore America to peace, freedom, and prosperity. I’ll start to work on that as soon as I mail this to the world.

Another difference is that those who participate fully in this effort will carry a pocketful of these cards and another pocketful of buttons to give anyone who shows an interest in enforcing the Bill of Rights. Cards can also be given to people who hesitate. They can even be left in library books, in magazines on airliners, and on restaurant tables.

Of course many will refuse us, at first, some of them angrily, some even violently. Of others who join us, some will give up after a while. But if we one percenters keep it up persistently enough, sooner or later, more and more individuals will come to wear our buttons, carry our cards, and persuade friends, families, and coworkers to do so.

At first this may seem like a feeble tactic in the face of forces we confront today. It may seem trivial or lame. It is not. What it is is simple, inexpensive, and effective. The more that the government does to make people afraid or angry, and the more BoRe buttons they see around them, the easier it will be for them to start wearing one themselves.

At the same time, our enemies are abject cowards. They derive what meager principles they possess from moment to moment, from opinion polls and Madison Avenue focus groups. When BoRe buttons and cards show up all over America by the thousands, let alone by the millions, they’ll begin to falter. Any jackbooted move they try to make against the movement will damage them in the public eye. And when our BoRe buttons show up on the lapels of their own bureaucrats, they’ll collapse.

Right now we’re only one percent. Make it ten and the war at home and abroad is over. Even if I’m wrong, at the very least, this modest undertaking will give us one percenters some practice with a kind of cross-spectrum cooperation that doesn’t need hierarchies, debate, voting, or the giving or taking of orders that are fatal to so many efforts.

Persuading those on the right and the left, respectively, to join us presents its own peculiar difficulties. Some on the right will jump at absolutely any excuse to humiliate, injure, and kill anybody whose pigmentation, accent, and religious practices they disapprove of. The cost, the utter obliteration of every principle that ever made America the home of the brave and the land of the free, doesn’t matter even a bit.

If you discover that this is what you’re dealing with, stop immediately and move on to somebody else. There isn’t time to do otherwise.

It is the left — Hollywood, Nashville, and the ACLU — who will eventually win or lose this war for us. When you find yourself among those who call themselves liberals, ask them point blank if they’d be willing to embrace a libertarian reading of the Bill of Rights — the whole Bill of Rights — if it meant putting an end to this war and the Nazification of America this war was created to serve as an excuse for.

If they say yes, give them a button.

If they say anything else, give them a card.

Be implacable, be unrelenting, and we will have our country back. It beats hell out of being a grease-stain on a footnote in the history books.


Reprinted from The Libertarian Enterprise for Number 146, November 5, 2001

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