L. Neil Smith's
Number 180, July 1, 2002


[Letters to the editor are welcome on any and all subjects. To ensure their acceptance, please try to keep them under 500 words. Sign your letter in the text body with your name and e-mail address as you wish them to appear.]

Letter from Mimbreno Chiracahua

Letter from Mike Kerner

Letter from Paul Birch

Letter from Scott R. Keszler

Letter from Curt Howland

Letter from Bill Bunn

Letters from Curt Howland, Jan Narveson, John Lopez, Caleb Paul, and Erik Hanson

In TLE #179, Mr. Antle asks, "Can one human being own another?"

Well, lets see. If that ownership grants

1. An absolute right to claim sustenance from another person

2. To claim she provide you a warm safe place to reside, and

3. To demand she live a part of her life for your benefit whether she wants to or not.

Then the answer must be, "Yes!"

If the one is a clump of cells recently implanted in a uterine wall and the other is the woman who otherwise would own that uterus.

Once again Mr. Antle reveals the intellectual bankruptcy of the libertarian philosophy.

Mimbreno Chiracahua

Since September 11, we have seen our freedoms and civil rights melt away at an alarming pace. It is happening so fast that there is no time to object or even gather your thoughts. It has gone all the way to police state disappearances just like they had in Argentina and Germany. How so, you ask? Did I forget to put on my foil hat today?

No, it really is happening. W. and his worthy sidekick Ashcroft have just decided, without bothering Congress for any new laws, that they can decide that someone is an evil dude and declare him an "enemy combatant". Thereafter, he can be kept in a military prison for an indefinite time without trial, without being able to consult a lawyer or anyone else for that matter and with no eligibility for a Habeas Corpus petition.

Now, I don't know anything about Mr. Padilla or whether he is truly evil or just foolish or maybe totally innocent. I do know that he was born in Brooklyn, NY where I was born so we both can claim US citizenship by birth. If the executive branch succeeds in doing this, then what a precedent we have set. There is nothing stopping the DOJ from picking up any citizen and holding him forever without any charge. As for his family, he will have just disappeared. They will have no contact and will learn his status only if John Ashcroft wants to tell them.

Now I have made this argument to my conservative friends and they shrug their shoulders. They trust W. and Ashcroft and see nothing wrong with this. After all, we have to protect the nation from terrorists, don't we! The best argument that I have found to make them rethink this is the specter of such a precedent being in place and a future President Hillary using it to suit her purposes. This really scares them.

For the record, to make this procedure even appear to be legal, Congress would have to pass a law that defines what you have to do to become an enemy combatant or whatever they want to call it. Then you are entitled to a trial with a jury to see if the facts support the designation under this law. Also it would apply only to actions after the law was passed (remember that inconvenient ex poste facto provision).

Mike Kerner
Lenexa, KS


Steven Cousineau complains about the problem of spam. There is, I believe a simple solution, albeit one that will only become practicable once we have a workable micropayment system. Let each email carry a piece of e-cash (around ten pence, say) as payment to the addressee for accepting it. Any emails sent without the embedded cash will simply be bounced. The email should preferably be encrypted with the addressee's public key to prevent the e-cash being stripped out (stolen) along the way.

Ordinary correspondance would not be adversely affected, since the same fee would usually just be batted back and forth. Newsletters and the like might have to make a small subscription charge. Alternatively, recipients could waive the acceptance fee for messages from known sources. And although we might most conveniently start off with a fixed standard payment, protocols could subsequently be developed to enable individual recipients to specify their own acceptance fees. Similar techniques could be used to control junk snail mail and telephone calls.

Paul Birch

<< A special double fudge chocolate chip kudo to TLE contributor Carl Bussjaeger (who busts a cap on the Supremes in this issue). Carl's Net Assets has been picked as Free-Market.net's "Freedom Book of the Month"! >>

Thank you for publishing that plug. I followed that link, then the "buy me" link to [here], where I checked the "Short Stories" page. The instant I saw that Carl was the author of Postage-Due I went back and bought Net Assets. I just finished reading it; my one-word summary is "WOW".

The netassets page is worth a look just for the Russmo cartoon, by the way.

Anyone who liked Victor Koman's Kings of the High Frontier will like Net Assets (and vice-versa). I hope that NA will follow the trail blazed by Kings and and be published in dead-tree format. (Can I reserve a copy now?)

Scott R. Keszler [keszler@srkconsulting.com]

Dear John,

The text of the proposed California constitutional amendment to "guarantee" the right of armed self defense is as follows:

The Proposition:

The inalienable right to defend life and liberty as set forth in Article I, Section 1 of the California Constitution includes the fundamental right of each person to keep and bear arms for the defense of self, family and home. This right shall not be infringed.

1. All State government action regulating the right of law-abiding persons to acquire and possess arms for the defense of self, family and home, shall be subject to strict scrutiny, in the same respect as the freedoms of speech and of the press. All county, city and local government action on this subject is preempted by state law and this Amendment.

2. This Amendment does not limit the State from regulating the acquisition and possession of arms by: felons, minors, the mentally incompetent, and any person subject to restraining orders based upon their own violent conduct.

Two years ago when radio personality and commentator Geoff Metcaff first started pushing this idea, I objected to the second clause. It's redundant, since Federal law already covers every variation on prohibited persons. It's dangerous, because it gives prohibitionists even more leverage that "a well regulated militia" has already given for the language to be twisted to evil purposes.

Further, if the unconstitutional blanket prohibition of "felons" (and children!) is ever overturned, we would then have to re-ammend the California constitution to remove what we would have fought so hard to put in place.

The reason for clause 2, as stated then and in response to my objection to an email promoting it just today, is that without it the prohibitionists will lie and say that "Blood will run in the streets as violent felons and children go out and buy guns".

So here's a question to the Libertarian Enterprise audience: What do you think? Is appeasement something to try in this case? Might it work this time?

Thinking of the Nolan chart, the Libertarians will support this without the second clause. The conservatives will support it with the clause, and neither the authoritarians or liberals will support it either way.

In 2000, with clause 2, it didn't get enough signatures to get on the ballot. My opinion that it is better to stand on firm ground and lose, rather than get all compromised and still loose, doesn't carry much weight with the supporters of this proposition who do think it can win.

Curt Howland [Howland@Priss.com]

in re: Vin Suprynowicz's "Picking the Deepest Pocket: Ohio's High Court Allows Liability Lottery to Proceed"

(1) Vin Suprynowicz () writes:

<<... most of those perceived "costs" are actually incurred when cities exceed their constitutional authority, adopting sundry socialized welfare schemes in which taxpayers pony up for the medical care of the indigent ...>>

While I am happy to agree that the US constitution is a charter of limited, enumerated powers, and that the Feds regularly exceed those legitimate powers; and I'm happy to agree that the states regularly do really, really stupid things with our money, and that they really ought to be restricted to a much narrower scope of action, But I fear I have never been shown that the states are prohibited by the US constitution, nor by the state constitutions from doing most of this stupid stuff. (Note, the reference is *not* to suing gun manufacturers, but to operating a welfare system.) And if Mr Suprynowicz can show us where the states are so prohibited, I'd be much obliged. (If, on the other hand, he cannot, maybe he ought to refrain from implying that these actions are unconstitutional, and just leave it that they are immoral and stupid.)

And in much the same way, In a letter, L. Neil Smith writes, in reference to certain actions of a city council in Colorado:

<<Moreover, demanding that elected officials behave consistently with the oath to uphold and defend the Constitution that the law requires them to take -- no matter what a majority of the electorate thinks -- ...>>

An agreeable comment, except that it also implies that the actions were, aside from immoral and stupid, unconstitutional as well. Perhaps Mr. Smith could point out just what constitution prohibits those particular actions?

While I share the gentlemens' distaste for the particular "unconstitutional" actions, perhaps we ought to be careful to avoid weak arguments, and ought not kid ourselves about the constitution.

- - -

(2) Vin Suprynowicz () writes:

<<... there's little "down side" even for plaintiffs who roll the liability dice and lose -- while in fact most such suits are settled long before they ever reach a jury, as even innocent defendants find little choice but to "cut their losses" and pay these hyenas to go away ...>>

As Mr Suprynowicz notes, Clearly our tort system is badly in need of reform. (And Loser-Pays may be an appropriate start on reform.) But excluding certain classes of defendants is hardly an appropriate response to the problem of predatory lawsuits (no matter how appropriate it may be as a response to other considerations -- which was of course the main thrust of his article). Or did he mean to argue that gun manufacturers are somehow more vulnerable to unwarranted tort suits than a whole range of other victims? If so, he seems to have given that argument short shrift.

Bill Bunn [billbunn@free-market.net]

in re: Manuel Miles' "Right Wing Anarchy: A Dead End"

- - -

Dear John,

In TLE#179, Manuel Miles makes the following assertions:

"The catch is that in those areas for which libertarians insist that some government is needed, the free market never has and never will function properly."


"A free market only works in the arena of the creation and sale of goods and services. It isn't designed to protect citizens from fraud, coercion and violence, and it did not arise from such (preventive) activity."

I hope Mr. Miles does not take this as an attack on his position. I would greatly enjoy understanding "why?"

Why is defense against fraud, coercion and violence not a market force? There certainly is demand for such services, and the number of private firearms, private police and security organizations, and private arbitration agents seems to me to be the direct antithisis to his assertion.

An axiom: The state is the monopoly on the legitimate initiation of force. So while Lon Horiuchi is a murderer, and his actions "wrong", since he was acting as an agent of the state he is not prosecutable. The reason a rapee is not guity of murder in killing the raper is because the rapee did not initiate force. Same result (death), different initiation.

I am left to conclude that Mr. Miles believes it is right for force to be initiated against individuals. I would greatly appreciate it if Mr. Miles would write a follow-up article to TLE to explain why the initiation of force is required, what specifics if any he sees justifying the initiation of force, and how he rationalizes that this initiation of force against someone or something does not violate the priciple of non-initiation of force.

Let me say for the record that I am an anarchist only because I cannot imagine any function of government that cannot be dealt with more efficiently and more effectively by cooperation. Even a lack of cooperation is fine, combined with self defense and the fact that I don't have to deal with you, either.

Curt Howland [Howland@Priss.com]

- - -

Was your item, "Right Wing Anarchy: A Dead End" by Manuel Miles included as a joke?

Jan Narveson [jnarveso@watarts.uwaterloo.ca]

[No. - ed.]

- - -

Now, I am but a humble product of public education. As such, I don't quite have the in-depth knowledge of history, sociodynamics, and constructive criticisim that Manual Miles has. I would summarize Mr. Miles' objections to anarcism as "anarchists are stupid, anarchy is impractical/unworkable/stupid, and anarchists are stupid". Mr. Miles has not given us reasons why minarchy(?) is superior to anarchy, so I will attempt an analysis.

"A proper government's only responsibility is to protect the rights of the individual, by banning the initiation of force." I am assuming that this statement would meet Mr. Miles' approval.

Let's begin with statism (from capitalism.org): "the... fundamental collectivist ethical principle: man is not an end to himself, but is only a tool to serve the ends of others." At what point does the wise, noble, and just government become an evil statist regime? Certainly a government cannot be just a little bit statist -- it is or it ain't. The moment a government collects a tax, silences a dissident, or confiscates property, it becomes different *only in degree* from a Stalinist regime.

What do you do if your government turns statist? In a nutshell, you're screwed. Since the government writes, interprets, and enforces the rules, small acts of statism (a tariff here, a prohibition there) quickly grow, each previous transgression justifying the next. The road into statism is well-mapped, and my superficial knowledge of history indicates that it leads to one destination: the grave (usually yours, but you might get to share it, too...).

So how do we libertarians prevent our government from turning statist? The usual answers seem to be in the form of written rules that the government promises (cross it's heart) to obey. These rules are to be administered, defined, and enforced by the same entity they apply to. And who guards those selfsame guardians? In theory, the people that live under the government are "Eternally vigilant" against transgression. But vigilance is nothing without action. If my guard dog is vigilant, but doesn't bark, what good is it? "Vigilance" against statism usually takes the form of torches, pitchforks, and rope -- "Shooting every politician with whom one disagrees", as Mr. Miles said. What sort of goverment would suffer that willingly?

The only "service" that the government would provide is the "problem of violent agression". How, exactly, would government solve this problem? Imprison violent people? Conscript them into the government police? Slave labor, perhaps? Nationwide disarmament? Certainly we have quite an abundance of government at present, which mostly seems to *permit, encourage, and endorse* violence (after all, more violence means more government power...).

How, exactly, is the *hope* that a government will obey it's own Constitution and the *hope* that its policies will be effective any different that the *hope* of a Communist that someday soon the State will fade away into a Socialist Utopia and the *hope* that the Agricultural Planning Cooperative will have bread for him to eat this week? "One more five-year plan, comrade...One more election...Write to your Member of Parliament, he'll listen...We must put up with these hardships to defeat the Imperialists...We must put up with these measures to defeat Terrorisim". Sounds like the same broken record to me.

Socialism makes grand claims, but it's primary product is corpses. Libertarianism won't solve everything, but it's a whole lot better than being a slave. Libertarianism carried to its logical end is anarchism. Please explain, Mr. Miles, how anarchy could be *worse* than government.

John Lopez

- - -

The summary in Manuel Miles' article seems extremely suspect to me as little of it has anything to do with the body of his article. He wrote:

"Individual anarcho- capitalists embrace racist and social Darwinist nonsense. A majority are atheists, abortionists and evolutionists. Some even quote from the vicious, satanic fool, Friedrich Nietzche. In addition, a majority of them feel obliged to militantly oppose religion, too."

Not only does the author make the common mistake of associating "non- believers" with a vacuum of morality, he makes a number of other grave errors.

The second sentence seems to have no relevance at all. With talk of Satanism and so forth, I assume that he believes libertarians should be theists, anti-abortionists and creationists (or at least that they shouldn't be atheists, abortionists and evolutionists). Actually, perhaps libertarianism is at odds with theism and maybe creationism (although there are, of course, other possibilities to evolution and creation) as well, but that's a whole article in itself. I won't open the abortion can of worms, as that seems to have been flogged to death in recent months, but frankly, what does being an atheist or evolutionist have to do with being or not being a libertarian? I thought it was about living one's life based upon the non-aggression principle. Likewise, what's wrong with militantly opposing something so long as it is done in accordance with the non-aggression principle, ie. the non-initiation of force? The last I heard, freedom of speech wasn't initiating force.

Of course, Nietzsche (note the s) was no angel (although in person he was a meek and mild recluse), but I think denigrating him in favour of theism is a bit hypocritical. If we are to talk about racism (and other forms of discrimination), then we need look no further than the Bible, wherein one group of people, being divinely chosen, were given carte blanche to more-or-less butcher their way through the Old Testament. Very libertarian of them. Much less vicious than Nietzsche and his followers of course. Furthermore, there's homophobia and misogyny. Dismissing that as just the Old Testament doesn't wash either as there's more of it in the New Testament, even if it's less bloody. Likewise, there's plenty of intolerance in most major religions and their associated texts.

As for Nietzsche, once again, it seems he has been misinterpreted and misappropriated. The Nazis had a go. The communists too. Why not anarcho-capitalists and so-called libertarians as well?

Whilst Nietzsche could at times be convoluted, contradictary, confusing and couched in nineteenth century symbolism, fundamentally, he did not believe there was no morality. Saying we need to go "beyond good and evil" does not mean an absence of such things. This was a social critique of not only Christianity, but also of, believe it or not, the social Darwinism that was taking hold at the time. Nietzsche was critical of traditional Christian concepts of morality, but he was equally critical of throwing them away without replacing them. Nietzsche's Zarathustra was not Dostoyevsky's Raskolnikov, to whom anything was permitted (although Raskonikov realised the error of his ways eventually).

An example of this (from here), and also my favourite passage of his, can be found in the section "The Tree on the Hill" in the first part of Zarathustra:

"Ah! I have known noble ones who lost their highest hope. And then they disparaged all high hopes.

"Then lived they shamelessly in temporary pleasures, and beyond the day had hardly an aim.

"'Spirit is also voluptuousness,' said they. Then broke the wings of their spirit; and now it creepeth about, and defileth where it gnaweth.

"Once they thought of becoming heroes; but sensualists are they now. A trouble and a terror is the hero to them.

"But by my love and hope I conjure thee: cast not away the hero in thy soul! Maintain holy thy highest hope!"

There lies a subtle point often missed about Nietzsche - he was essentially on about Platonic forms. Of course, this is one of many areas where Nietzsche often seemed to be at odds with himself, but he did not prescribe pure subjectivism. In Twighlight of the Idols, Nietzsche did offer his "maxims and arrows". Generally though, whilst he ranted on, he tried to avoid offering hard and fast rules as such. (Indeed, he didn't even want followers - at one point, in Zarathustra, his character says, "... do not make an idol of me, lest the statue fall on you and crush you.")

It doesn't follow that just because he leaves you to figure it out that he doesn't believe there's nothing to be figured out. Nietzsche himself was perhaps too busy struggling with this issue himself (which is both his greatest strength and weakness). You need no more evidence of this than the very ending of Thus Spake Zarathustra itself, which is a huge play on Plato's analogy of the cave.

Then again, Nietzsche also wrote: "I am a railing alongside the torrent; whoever is able to grasp me may grasp me! Your crutch, however, I am not."

Finally, writing "Nietzchean elitism has its intrinsic rewards, no doubt, but it's repulsive to decent human beings" seems somewhat bizarre to me. With all its Zionism, sexism and homophobia, genocide and so forth, I'd hardly hold the Bible up as the paragon of what is decent. Actually, considering the bizarre psycho-sexual hangups of Jesus' conception to his grissly end, and the subsequent cult of the crucifix (an instrument of death after all), I'd say Nietzsche pales in comparison when talking of what is, or should be, repulsive to decent human beings.

Caleb Paul [shorbe@rocketmail.com]

- - -

Alright, I admit it. I've been deleting the TLE from my inbox for a few months now. I'm sorry, and confused about socks - but that's another story. What I really want to write about is this issue of anarcho-capitalism. The fact of the matter is that calling anarcho- capitalism "ideologically bankrupt... and is, at bottom, just a confused attempt to repackage the essence of rightist philosophy" is quite a bit of an oversimplification. In fact, a good deal of the 'logic' of "Right Wing Anarchy: A Dead End" (issue 179) was oddly reminiscent of Aristotle, in that there seemed to be a good deal of confusion as to the importance and constitution of a majority is. (For the record, I did like one thing Aristotle had to say - people who work with nature are generally good people... or at least better people.)

For starters, the very notion of trying to divine a consensus from any group of anarchists is pretty wrong-headed... unless, of course, you are looking to see if there's a problem of herd mentality in the 'group'. Furthermore, and probably more importantly, even if a lot of the self-labeled adherents to any ideology are wrong or have any amount of misunderstanding, that does not at all preclude the possibility for good ideas to exist within the ideology.

For example, 'the analysis of the problem' is, according to those anarcho-capitalists I know (myself included), more along the lines of the historical, and ostensibly natural, progression of all government towards infringement on the rights and liberties of human beings (citizens and otherwise). Quite frankly, a good deal of anarchists from both ends of the political spectrum (or loop, if you prefer) are very much opposed to statism (although some in the more "as long as I don't get directly effected, they can all follow the flock, I don't care" sort of manner). In fact, anarchists (REAL anarchists, not pre-teens with factory-produced 'anarchist' clothing and stationary) tend to spend a large portion of their time and energy seeking out and perpetrating acts designed, to borrow a Dada, and later Beat and hippie term, to 'freak out the squares' - to make people stop and question their lives. What makes the term 'anarchist' appropriate is the notion that there can be no good government. That does not mean they go around burning government buildings, however. It means that they realize that man is everywhere in chains, and there's always going to be something there to keep it that way - be it government or a neighbor with an AK.

The solution then becomes a more complicated matter - possibly with a more simple answer. Seeing as there is no way of avoiding being ruled over unless one is the ruler himself, the best answer may be to just live with the system that is, or strive to make it as best as it can be. The right-wing anarchist sees the government as an enemy, a huge baby that continually grows, leaving a huge mess in its wake. They've given up on the government being what Jefferson (or even Hamilton) had hoped. They gave up because of practicality. Who's dirty word was that, again?

The question becomes: "Which is preferable, this disfigured beast of a 'service industry' (as SEC Chair Harvey Pitt calls it), or competition of security companies?" As a classic liberal to another, I won't tell you which to choose. Like Nietzsche, anarcho-capitalism is much more focused on opposing the old and the misguided than focused on creating a philosophy to replace it. Utopia? Anyone with enough smarts to want freedom ought to know that the word itself stipulates its own non- existence. It can't be created. Thus, anyone trying to make a utopia, through means violent or otherwise, is a fool. I will admit it - there are a lot of foolish 'anarchists' out there, but there are foolish people everywhere.

Now that that's settled, Nietzsche was a great man, worth quoting. He never really got around to establishing his own philosophy in order to replace all the old stuff he tore apart (Will to Power is well known to be a bastardized collection of things he may have said, used by his Nazi sister to endorse National Socialism). I'd quite frankly prefer the Existentialism that he (along with Kierkegaard) is credited as paving the way for over Kantian good intentions any day.

Thanks for reading,

Erik Hanson [ehanson@midway.uchicago.edu]

- - -

[See also Carl Bussjaeger's article "Right Wing What?" below. - ed.]


The State vs. The People, by Claire Wolfe and Aaron Zelman

Is America becoming a police state? Friends of liberty need to know.

Some say the U.S. is already a police state. Others watch the news for signs that their country is about to cross an indefinable line. Since September 11, 2001, the question has become more urgent. When do roving wiretaps, random checkpoints, mysterious "detentions," and military tribunals cross over from being emergency measures to being the tools of a government permanently and irrevocably out of control?

The State vs. the People examines these crucial issues. But first, it answers this fundamental question: "What is a police state?"

Order from JPFO NOW!

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