L. Neil Smith's

Number 6, March 1996

Right Wing Socialism

By L. Neil Smith

Exclusive to The Libertarian Enterprise

         For most of its overly-prolonged history, the late, unlamented Soviet Empire had to rely on five percent of its farmland to produce eighty percent of the food its subjects subsisted on. What made that five percent so different? Well, it was the only agricultural land that the Dictatorship of the Proletariate allowed -- under strict and complicated regulations -- to be farmed by private individuals for a profit.
         In these enlightened times we chuckle smugly to ourselves over a Marxist system of centrally planned destitution in which a "command economy" generated everything from bread to shoes, the bread tasted like the shoes, and the shoes (all of them left ones) possessed the enduring properties of bread. Even certain elements of the American Left are beginning to contemplate eliminating state coercion in areas like the heavily collectivized industry of education. These days, "everybody knows" -- except maybe Castro and the Communist Chinese -- that everything that the government touches immediately turns into something considerably less valuable than the proverbial agricultural byproduct.
         Everybody, to all appearances, except that celebrated bastion of rugged individualism and unfettered free enterprise, the Republican Party.
         Consider the following: for just about a century, we've relied on government-supplied expertism to protect our rights, property, and lives in America's cities. Over that same century, slowly in the beginning, but with frighteningly increasing velocity every decade, those cities have been getting deadlier to live in and easier to die in.
         Every collectivist remedy imaginable (New York's 1917 Sullivan Act comes to mind) has been given a try -- more prisons, harsher penalties, sterner judges, capital punishment, midnight basketball, always more restrictions on individual rights -- and nothing ever produces changes greater than the random statistical noise associated with such phenomena (although that never stopped any administration from puffing itself up over a one percent fluctuation in the crime rate).
         Until Florida.
         In Florida, following events in Orlando that led up to easing the restrictions on concealed weapons (after 20 years of bitter, fighting retreat on the part of expertists still stuck in the 19th Century), one percent of the citizenry endured the unconstitutional hassles and personal insults involved in obtaining a carry permit, and violent crime (depending on who performs the calculation) plummeted 20 to 40 percent.
         Now, of course, legislators in two thirds of the states are trying to achieve the same result by the same means, at every turn with an hysterical emphasis on retaining rigid control over something the Bill of Rights (to which they've all sworn undying loyalty -- but then, what good are the promises of politicians?) says will not be controlled: the unalienable individual, civil, Constitutional, and human right of every man, woman, and responsible child to obtain, own, and carry, openly or concealed, any weapon -- rifle, shotgun, handgun, machinegun, anything -- any time, any place, without asking anyone's permission.
         In this respect, they resemble the former -- and observe: extinct -- Soviet planners who believed they were being progressive and openhanded whenever they generously consented to increase privatized farmland another percent under the latest glorious Five Year Plan.
         The truth is, they have no choice. American cities have become gangrenous abcesses on the fundament of what was once the most advanced civilization in history. We've gone from densely populated 19th Century cities that didn't see a single rape or murder over the span of a decade, to neighborhoods that can't make that claim for two nights running. Collectivist policies in force over the last century -- foisted off on Americans by both parties -- are directly to blame, and this has become embarrassingly obvious to everybody, even mass media.
         Now they want us to clean their mess up -- the mess they couldn't handle -- while continuing to labor under exactly the kind of idiotic and illegal policies that created it. No matter that they often call themselves Republicans, they still demand an effect without a cause. They want a free lunch just like every other two-bit socialist on the planet.
         Part of this is attributable to an honest (if appalling) state of ignorance tenderly passed on by universities and law schools from one generation unto the next. There's a story, for example, that a state attorney general was pondering, a couple of years ago, the question of at what age the Bill of Rights begins to apply to juveniles. (Sad to say, this represented an improvement: the overwhelming tendency has been to deny that its guarantees of protection apply to juveniles at all.)
         Apparently nobody -- in high school, college, or in law school -- ever bothered to inform the future attorney general that the Bill of Rights, per se, doesn't apply at all to juveniles, and never will, even if they live to be 100. It doesn't apply to you or me. It only applies to government; it's irrelevant what anybody's age happens to be. The document is nothing more (and nothing less) than a list of things government can't do no matter what, and, as such, it's been misnamed. (It's worth pointing out that it doesn't call itself "Bill of Rights" in the Constitution.) It should be called the "Bill of Limitations".
         But I digress.
         The point is that, while Republicans claim they've carried off a revolution, they're peddling the same shopworn socialist goods as their left wing Democratic counterparts, and there's no conceivable excuse.
         Not after Florida.
         Decency -- and the Constitution -- demand immediate repeal of Clinton's illegal semiautomatic and magazine ban and Republicans offer more prisons. Decency -- and the Constitution -- demand immediate repeal of the vile Brady Bill and Republicans offer more executions. Prisons and executions are a right wing socialist substitute -- no sorrier or sillier than midnight basketball -- for the proper course of action, removing every remaining legal barrier to individual self-defense.
         Decency -- and the Constitution -- demand immediate repeal of laws hindering the right to own and carry weapons and Republicans in state legislatures everwhere offer a tangle of strict and complicated regulations that would make a Soviet planner's latest glorious Five Year Plan for agriculture appear progressive and openhanded by comparison.
         So much for the revolution.

L. Neil Smith's celebrated first novel, The Probability Broach, will be republished, in unexpurgated form, by TOR Books in October, 1996.

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