L. Neil Smith's

Number 13, September 1, 1996

Vichy Libertarianism

By L. Neil Smith

Exclusive to The Libertarian Enterprise

         Well, I finally got around to seeing Swing Kids, a sort of Disnified musical version of The White Rose, about a handful of German teenagers resisting the Nazi regime using Artie Shaw, Count Basie, and Benny Goodman records.
         Yes, it's a pretty unlikely scenario, although the movie maintains that it actually happened. Personally, when fighting the Third Reich, I think I'd want something a bit more effective than a Glen Miller 78 -- say an M1 Garand or a B-17. But the essence of the film is loyalty and integrity. It's about having the guts to stay true to the creed -- in this case, the values of the "Swing Kids" -- as opposed to betraying it by allowing oneself to be forced into enlisting in the Hitler Youth and persecuting your former friends and comrades.
         It's also about looking the other way (or not) when your Jewish friends and neighbors begin disappearing and their belongings show up in the homes of girlfriends of neighborhood Nazi block leaders. It's about saying to yourself and others, "They must have been up to something or they wouldn't be in trouble."
         Or not.
         In short, Swing Kids is about having the gumption to stand, no matter what, for what you know is right, instead of going along with what you think will "fly". Not a comfortable lesson in the context of Germany in the 1930s (nor in America of the 1990s), but it defines the difference between slavery and freedom, between human and subhuman, between being a man (in the gender nonspecific sense -- my wife and the managing editor of this publication are better "men" than most mere males I'm acquainted with) and being something else that leaves a slimetrack crawling back under its rock whenever the heat's on.
         As such, it's a lesson the majority of the members of today's Libertarian Party desperately need to absorb if the party is to survive into the 21st Century.
         Three years ago, Bill Clinton's stormtroopers terrorized and tortured a congregation of innocent individuals for 51 days because they refused to come out of their home when the Gestapo ordered it. Finally growing weary of this resistance to his power and majesty, Bill had them poison-gassed and burned horribly to death. There is evidence that snipers with high-powered rifles murdered several individuals attempting to come out as they'd been ordered to by authorities, and that later, machinegunners were posted outside the burning building to keep the 81 victims -- 22 of them children -- from escaping the flames.
         The crimes Bill Clinton committed at Waco don't differ in any respect from crimes Hitler committed at Dachau, Belsen, and Buchenwald. What's more, it was just the most conspicuous of many violations of human and Constitutional rights Clinton's evil regime has committed with the collusion and approval of what was supposed to be an opposition political party and the adversary media. "They were just religious fanatics," is the popular cant. "They had too many guns. They must have been up to something or they wouldn't have been in trouble." As a consequence, not only has this murderous thuggery continued unpunished, but the surviving victims were tried, acquitted -- and jailed anyway. Uniformed perpetrators in a previous incident were actually given medals.
         Now, what an individual says or believes is one thing; he has a right to be exactly as stupid, ignorant, lazy, or evil as he likes, just as we have a right to judge him by his attitudes and actions and to associate with him or not.
         However, what a presidential candidate says or believes is something else altogether -- especially a candidate who calls himself a Libertarian. If he fails to make the Waco holocaust a central issue of his campaign, if it takes two years of screaming by his opponents within the party to pressure him into giving Waco a moment's lip service, then he makes himself an accessory to that holocaust, no different from those who willingly collaborated with the Nazis.
         This kind of wimpiness on pivotal issues is epidemic throughout the party. Caught faking evidence in Georgia, the BATF which acquitted itself so nobly at Waco arrests some folks in Arizona, labels them "Viper Militia", identifies some as Libertarians, and makes a huge splash the week of the LP's Washington convention. LP National Director Bill Winter (already suffering conflict of interest problems over his simultaneous employment by the LP and the Browne- Cloud campaign) pusillanimously scurries to distance the LP from activities clearly protected by the Constitution and "necessary to the security of a free state", while Pima County (Arizona) chairman Peter Schmerl (whose wrists have recently been judicially slapped for acts against his fellow Libertarians bordering on the criminal) publicly describes Libertarian militia members as "scum".
         Through the whole embarrassing routine, the echoes are unmistakable, of George Orwell's brainwashed Winston Smith pusillanimously whimpering "Do it to Julia!"
         The supreme irony is that these Vichy Libertarians (look it up), and the faction they typify, reject the LP's "Non-Aggression Pledge" -- a solemn promise, often made in writing, "not to intitiate force against another human being for any reason" -- as "an undesirable litmus test", while those most likely to join militias are the most determined to keep the pledge (which makes anything but self-defense unthinkable) as a requirement of joining the LP.
         It is this pledge -- and the ideal it represents -- that separates the LP from other political institutions. It guarantess that real Libertarians will not commit acts like the Oklahoma City bombing. It is this pledge which, with disgustingly typical timing, Browne-Cloud followers would eliminate just when it could grant Libertarians a measure of protection from "terrorist" witch hunters.
         Libertarians -- who traditionally reject the moral cowardice of ordinary politics to become what they are -- have long been accustomed to referring to Republicans as the "Me Too Party". The irony is that, in nominating their present candidate, they have permitted him to turn theirs into the "Me Three Party".

L. Neil Smith's award-winning first novel, The Probability Broach, which has long been out of print, will be republished by TOR Books this October.

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