L. Neil Smith's
Number 135, August 20, 2001


In the recent TLE #133 there was discussion about 2 things that I have always had an interest in. The Libertarian injunction against the initiation of force and voting as a legitimate act of democracy.

While I share many of the feelings of those that disparage voting, I can not think of a better way to run a government. Can they?

Unless humanity evolves in the direction of being able to forgo the need for power over others, or our technology evolves to the point where people can just up and leave for another planet, voting seems to be the best way to do things. Any other system I am familiar with leaves too many dead bodies lying around.

The single biggest problem I have seen with any system that allows decisions to be made, and force used, by result of a vote, is that those who do not vote are not counted.

In the case of our now former republic, we have things such as referendums on the issuance of bonds and public questions and amendments to so-called constitutions, and of course, elections of office seekers. In all of these cases only the votes of those that cast a vote are counted.

Yet in many cases less than half of those eligible to vote do so.

So we have as a result, elections where decisions are made with as little as 50 percent plus 1 vote, of a minority of the population.

I suggest that the non-votes should be counted as being against any change in whatever is being voted upon, or as non-of-the-above.

So in the case of a referendum on a tax or bond, unless those voting for the tax/bond are able to muster enough votes to surpass the total of those voting against it, plus those not voting, the issue fails.

In the case of public offices, the office remains vacant.

This should apply to all elections. After all, if the issue being decided is not of enough interest to get people out to scratch a mark on a piece of paper, or to de-chad a card, it is not of enough importance to consider the use of force that voting inherently is.

Which brings us to the subject of the initiation of force.

I have always understood that non-initiation of force means you don't start a fight, but you can prevent it, stop it, or finish it. So do I assault someone walking down the street because I think they look odd? No. What if they are armed? No. What if they are swinging a gun or blade around? Maybe.

What if they are pointing that weapon at someone? Yes. They have initiated force. You do not need to wait for the first drop of blood to be shed, or the first blow to be struck, before acting. That is the fantasy of some loony Hollywood screen writer having fantasies about Gary Cooper. You also do not stand by and watch just because it is not you or your family that is being assaulted.

What if you are a prisoner in a concentration camp? The guards did not arrest you or put you there. The staff in the administration offices are only stamping forms and keeping the books. They are only doing their jobs. Are you justified in using force against them? Yes, because they are actively supporting and helping in the use of force against you.

What about the wives and children of those guards and accountants? can you use force against them? No. They may benefit from it, but they are not perpetrating it.

So as far as I am concerned, the use of force is justified against almost anyone that gets a paycheck from any person or organization that initiates the use of force against others. Whether that is a crime syndicate or a government makes not a bit difference in this argument.

In reality of course, (a Bothersome Thing, I know), it does make a difference. Just ask the survivors of Waco, Ruby Ridge, Kent State, Move, or the American Indian Genocide of the 1800's.

Sometimes, no, most all of the time, all you can do is survive, and hope to win another day.

Just ask Geronimo.

Tom Wright <timetrial@worldnet.att.net>

Dear John,

Michael S.
--rest snip--

Michael [Lorrey ] has a nice and good thought
-- except for one big, and very important thing:
The US Constitution's Art. IV, § 3.

The State of New Hampshire would kick serious butt in the USSC, were the matter to make it that far. And, those who spent their hard earn FedBucks® to facilitate that move would loose their arses in the process.

Consider: The State of NH signed the US Constitution, not the counties. The counties merely gave their 'collective' okay to the deal, way back when. Collectivism lives in the body of the US Constitution, and the only way to get rid of it permanently is to make a new constitution. Nothing less will suffice.

So, now you want to back out?

Well, first things first, as the old saying goes!

First you MUST disestablish as a state of the 'Union'.

Then you can play that game of what you seek, and you can divide up the current state into so many subdivisions as to make Delaware look like Alaska!

Care to guess how many socialists (of which my own parents have become believers of) will scream for the FEDS to come and rescue them from the freedom seekers?

The old saying that you get 'religion' when you get older has some truth to it. But someone left out the truism that a 'free handout' is part of the 'religion' idiom, if you happen to believe in big government.

Sheeeit! If it took a few years for the communists under Bro' Lincoln to kick serious butt in the south, why heck, you NH boys will be like the icing on the cake! They'll kick butt so fast that they WILL be home for supper, and complain the beer is too warm.

Miller Time(c) will happen so fast that the ice won't have a chance to melt around the cheap beer the fed boys like to guzzle!

Understand here, that I was born in Taxachussetts, and was a resident of NH from 1965 until 1980.

I feel for you, I really do. But playing the secessionist game will only spill blood that can be used much later to win even more freedom.

The Suthron's have an old saying too: "Biding time".

The very best you can do is expose the utter lies and deceits pawned off on the population as a whole, and fight on a daily basis to win the heart (if not the minds) of your fellow citizens.

Not many people will believe me when I say that "Only you can prevent tyranny", and actually make a difference yourself.

If charity begins in the home, then so doesn't liberty.

One man can't do it alone, but one man can definitely make a difference. Proof: This list, Vin Suprynowicz, JFPO, WorldnetDaily, The Feed, Announce (Libertarian Party), FreeMatt alerts, LewRockwell, and many others.

For my money, the very best that you NH people ought do is play the game for all its worth: Get the people of the counties affected to refuse to pay ANY money to the state -- period. Have your counties spend all the money locally, and send no representatives to the state assembly, save one person who speaks for all of you in a united voice.

If, and when, they send troops or other harbingers of tyranny to take eke out your sustenance, then you have the right to use as much force as you can muster. Until then, you are left to play THEIR game, and until then my guns shall remain silent as well.

In Liberty,

E.J. Totty <echeghlon@seanet.com>

At the top of your publication, you most prominently display a definition of libertarianism:

"A libertarian is a person who believes that no one has the right, under any circumstances, to initiate force against another human being, or to advocate or delegate its initiation. Those who act consistently with this principle are libertarians, whether they realize it or not. Those who fail to act consistently with it are not libertarians, regardless of what they may claim." -- L. Neil Smith

Maybe so. But I fear such a stiff libertarianism is a bit too much for many of us who would like to call ourselves libertarians.

David Friedman has criticized this simple and stiff natural rights view of libertarianism in his book "The Machinery of Freedom", Chapter 41, "Problems". (Selected chapters are on the web. [see http://www.best.com/~ddfr/Libertarian/Libertarian.html; click on "Some Chapters from The Machinery of Freedom" - ed.] His chapter is online, it's short, and I would not presume to adequately summarize his argument, so I leave you to read it at his web site. You may wish to call his conclusion unlibertarian, but I find his argument quite compelling.

You may also wish to argue that he cannot be right, because he cuts away the moral principle underlying libertarianism (or at least your understanding of it), leaving us morally adrift. But perhaps we have an alternative principle to which we might cling for moral guidance: "I will pay restitution for any harm I have done to any other person". This principle is the basis of the libertarianism of "The Pragmatist". Their argument for it is at http://www.thepragmatist.com/stand.htm (Their home page is at http://www.thepragmatist.com/ I regret I cannot give much of an endorsement to their web site, as I don't think much of their approach to posting on the web (and I've told them in detail why). But maybe they got the basis of libertarianism right.)

Mike Huben, in his "Critiques of Libertarianism" web site makes a somewhat different criticism of the non-initiation of force principle http://www.world.std.com/~mhuben/faq.html#initiation: Most of us libertarians (if I may presume to include myself) think it's OK to enforce contracts and deter fraud, not to mention punishing trespass. In order to then reconcile these with the non-initiation of force principle, we define trespass, fraud, and contract breaking as "initiation of force". Now I certainly agree that these are bad things, and they should be punished, but when we thusly redefine "initiation of force", perhaps we approach the caterpillar of Alice in Wonderland who said "The word means just whatever I choose it to mean" (or something very like that), and the communist propagandists, who arrogate to themselves the right to assign whatever evil meaning they like to whatever nice-sounding word they choose. I think that's rather poor rhetorical company in which to place ourselves.

If "initiation of force" means just anything we think is bad, and "self-defense" means just anything we think is justified, then does libertarianism really mean anything different than statism -- after all, they too say don't do bad things, and that we have a right to protect ourselves from folks doing bad things -- or have we rather resolved our differences from the statists to nothing more than a difference of opinion over just what is good and bad? And thereby cut any discernable principle from underneath our libertarianism?

But then, on the other hand, maybe I'm just not a real libertarian. Perhaps you will enlighten me?

Bill Bunn <billbunn@reninet.com>

Thought this would interest you guys!
American Constitutional Research Service
Seminole, FL

The answer was in your oath Mr. President !
John William Kurowski
August, 2001

Was the President’s decision on government funded stem cell research and regulation a difficult one? Not really! All that was necessary for the President to do was to have confidence in, and abide by, the oath he took to support the Constitution of the United States. Being limited by the intent of those who framed and ratified that document, his proper choice was to return this question to the People, and ask them to express their will via Article V of the Constitution, and, either provided or refuse the necessary power to Congress to allow government funding and regulation of stem cell research.

The framers and ratifiers wisely provided Article V, the amendment process -- a lawful means to effect change to accommodate changing times -- and to do so by reason and choice of the people, and not by the arbitrary acts of a national legislature or a presidential edict! This amendment process is one of the important distinguishing characteristics of our constitutional limited republic, as opposed to a representative democracy in which folks in government are free to impose their will upon the people without the peoples consent.

As Hamilton states in Federalists 78:

"until the people have by some solemn and authoritative act [a constitutional amendment] annulled or changed the established form, it is binding upon themselves collectively, as well as individually; and no presumption, or even knowledge of their sentiments, can warrant their representatives in a departure from it, prior to such an act." [see Federalists 78, Hamilton]

Those who pretend Congress has constitutional authority to fund and regulate stem cell research are far removed from historical fact.

In general, the founding fathers agreed free enterprise to be the best depository in the advancement of science, and intentionally sought to promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts by granting a limited power to Congress to protect the work of authors and inventors by issuing patents and copyrights only!

Madison's Notes on the convention of 1787 reveals that Charles Pickney, on August 18th, of the federal convention, proposed a power to be vested in Congress "To establish seminaries for the promotion of literature and the arts and sciences", but this proposal, as many other proposals, was rejected by the Convention, and the only power agreed upon by the Framers and Ratifiers relating to the advancement of science, was the limited power "To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, [How?] by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries."

This prohibition against government involvement in the promotion of science is again confirmed on February 7th 1792 by Representative John Page speaking before the House of Representatives:

"The framers of the Constitution guarded so much against a possibility of such partial preferences as might be given, if Congress had the right to grant them, that, even to encourage learning and useful arts, the granting of patents is the extent of their power. And surely nothing could be less dangerous to the sovereignty or interest of the individual States than the encouragement which might be given to ingenious inventors or promoters of valuable inventions in the arts and sciences. The encouragement which the General Government might give to the fine arts, to commerce, to manufactures, and agriculture, might, if judiciously applied, redound to the honor of Congress, and the splendor, magnificence, and real advantage of the United States; but the wise framers of our Constitution saw that, if Congress had the power of exerting what has been called a royal munificence for these purposes, Congress might, like many royal benefactors, misplace their munificence; might elevate sycophants, and be inattentive to men unfriendly to the views of Government; might reward the ingenuity of the citizens of one State, and neglect a much greater genius of another. A citizen of a powerful State it might be said, was attended to, whilst that of one of less weight in the Federal scale was totally neglected. It is not sufficient, to remove these objections, to say, as some gentlemen have said, that Congress in incapable of partiality or absurdities, and that they are as far from committing them as my colleagues or myself. I tell them the Constitution was formed on a supposition of human frailty, and to restrain abuses of mistaken powers.”

Annals of Congress Feb 1792 Rep Page

Unfortunately, judging from the President’s decision, we have learned he is not a friend of our constitutional limited republic, but a friend of those who are engaging in an ongoing subjugation of our nation by supplanting a government by the rule of man, rather than abide by the rule of law…our constitution, which has once again been wounded and left crippled by those who took an oath to preserve and protect it.

John William Kurowski <2001@verizon.net>
American Constitutional Research Service
Seminole, FL

Dear Neil and Aaron: Your article "A Blueprint for Ending Gun Control" is very well done. [see article #2 below - ed.] I agree with you and have been stressing for years that the only strategy that makes sense is to push for the repeal of all gun laws. It is also an easier strategy to sell because it's the only one that's consistent.

I was on a panel last year with the NRA's Wayne R. LaPierre and several Republicans at a gun-rights rally in Arkansas. In an answer to a question, LaPierre said we needed no new laws but must have better enforcement of the existing laws; he cited the Constitution and the destructive nature of gun laws and got a big hand. Each of the other panelists said pretty much the same thing and also got applause for saying it. I was the last panelist to respond. I said that if gun laws are unconstitutional and destructive, why would we want the existing laws better enforced? The only sensible solution is to repeal all the existing gun laws. I got by far the biggest hand of all. The solution is obvious and appealing once it's presented; it is just so rarely presented.

Next time some socialist complains that "only America allows people to own guns", tell him that's because only America has a Bill of Rights to keep us from being slaves.

Very well said. And, as you point out elsewhere in the article, you can't expect the 2nd amendment to be honored while all the other parts of the Bill of Rights are ignored. Our American Liberty Foundation will start airing a series of three gun ads before the end of the year. I hope they will help to shed some light for a few million Americans.

With best wishes,


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