L. Neil Smith's
Number 187, August 19, 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 Jay P Hailey

Letter from Carl Bussjaeger

Letter from Gary Bradley

Letter from Joshua Holmes

Letter from Ward Griffiths

Letter from Curt Howland

Letter from Scott Stephens

Letter from Joel Simon

Letter from Joseph S. Bommarito

Exchange between Mark Etanerkist and Curt Howland

In response to Mark Lamoree's letter, I must say that firey bombast and rhetoric occasionally make me uncomfortable, too.

In the specific case of L. Neil Smith, when he calls our government Murderous, Stupid and Evil, I squirm a little bit. For about the same reason. "Boy, if I show this to my more moderate friends, they'll write it off as the rantings of a whacko."

This is important, yes Smith is using bombast, yes he's using shocking language, but if you parse out Smith's statement's carefully, they are always based on a strict and uncompromising moral interpretation of events.

Smith, and many others in the TLE are calling a spade a spade right to our faces.

Lamoree points out that Bush is not Hitler, and that the TIPS is not the STASI. In a very literal sense, this is true, but only in the most literal sense of "They aren't that bad, YET."

I find myself saying "What, I should wait until they are that bad before protesting?"

I believe that Bush's power grabbing tactics are not Good. They are Bad. I believe that the damage to Civil Rights done in the name of "Homeland Security" is not Good, it is Bad.

The differences between what's happening now and what happened in Germany in 1932 and 1933 are not ones of kind but of scale. Most people won't want to look that idea in the face. They shy away, saying "That's a touch extreme, isn't it?" Yes it is. The situation is extreme and will become more so.

Some may compromise on the description to make that bitter pill easier to swallow. What in the world is the point of that? All it does is fail to paint the stark contrast between Liberty and what's happening right now. All that does is allow someone who, in the end can't look the truth in the eye, to make a mealy mouthed and qualified statement of support.

So personally I will keep reading TLE, L. Neil Smith, Carl Bussjaeger and keep right on squirming. It would be dishonest not to.

Jay P Hailey [jayphailey@juno.com]

Mark Lamoree wrote:

"Extreme rhetoric and bombast can be fun, but are hardly effective tools for spreading one's message. Although I enjoy the Libertarian Enterprise, I wonder from time to time what some authors are trying to accomplish. Referring to Bush Jr. as Furher may be satisfying on some level, but ultimately makes the writer look foolish."

Airport security goons shaking down an old man for his medal of honor. The gov recruiting busybodies to spy on citizens. Phone taps. Email taps. Agents planting keystroke sniffers in computers. Agents given free rein to begin investigations without evidence of a crime. Approval to conduct secret military tribunals. Citizens and visitors held without charges, and denied access to legal aid. The INS holds hearing with secret evidence. The administration wants the military to assume a domestic law enforcement role and patrol the streets. You have to present your official gov-issued papers to fly. Administration officials declare that Americans have no birthright to freedom and that anyone who objects to the abuses is a terrorist.

And you say I'm merely indulging in "extreme rhetoric and bombast"? If it's foolish to point out that the current administration, aided and abetted by Congress, is working up a fairly realistic replica of pre- war NAZI Germany, then I prefer foolishness to mental oblivion.

Carl Bussjaeger [bussjaeger@free-market.net]

Dear Editor:

While I support the policy of keeping open TLE to dissenting points of view, not just "politically correct" opinion of the radical libertarian variety, I must object to utter fiction being stated as fact without editorial comment. I refer to Jim Duensing's assertion that "America has never waged an aggressive war...". What then is Mr. Duensing's justification of the utterly defensive nature of the Mexican-American War, the Spanish-American War, US entry into World War I, Korea, Viet Nam, the Dominican Republic, Grenada, and Panama? I'll even defer the argument of when provocation crosses the line of aggression in World War II, numerous Indian wars and that little internal argument we Virginians refer to as the War of Northern Aggression.

I believe it was Von Clauswitz who called war "the continuation of diplomacy by other means." The government of the United States has never shown much patience or restraint before resorting to other means. The only difference in the present build up to war is that the American people are getting a mild taste of how the US government treats other folks around the world, either directly or by proxy. (Gee, I wonder why they don't all love us?)

Vilify the Shrub's administration all you want. It's well deserved. But don't imply they have the imagination for anything new. They're just up to the same old shit, but now they're bringing some of it home.

Gary Bradley [gbradley@earthlink.net]

In TLE #186, Jim Duensing pens an interesting article entitled "Why Does George W. Bush Hate Saddam Hussein?" I think it's a fairly good article, but in the first paragraph he makes a historical error:

"America has never waged an aggressive war, as it is planning to do against Saddam."

Actually, a brief historical overview reveals that almost every war the United States government has been involved in has been aggressive and imperialist. A short list:

  • Mexican-American War
  • War between the States
  • Spanish-American War
  • World War I
  • World War II (the US didn't fire the first shot but did commit the first act of war)
  • Korean War
  • Vietnam War
  • Gulf War

Non-War Level attacks on:

  • Grenada
  • Somalia
  • Haiti
  • Bosnia
  • Serbia
  • Sudan
  • Afghanistan

All of this, of course, was founded on the slaughter of the American Indians and the theft of much of their property. There are few countries in the world with such a bloody, aggressive, wicked history as the United States. It's an amazing by-product of public schools that most of this is whitewashed.

Joshua Holmes [Joshua.Holmes@veridian.com]

Re: Poltroon

"The problem with BS' thesis is that there's a big difference between the old quotation "To ensure peace, prepare for war" and BS' version, "To ensure peace, start a war". It would be absurd to give credit to either Stalin or Hitler for clear thinking; why couldn't one argue that Hitler invaded Russia because he knew that Stalin was planning to invade Germany, because Stalin knew that Hitler was planning to break the treaty himself? You just can't say with certainty that something is going to happen until it does happen. (Which is not to say that you cannot prepare to defend yourself if you think you're about to be attacked!)

Hitler and Stalin made their mutually dishonest agreement not to invade each other and did so by agreeing to divvy up Poland, which neither of then controlled (yet). Hitler broke their "agreement" first, and killed a million or so people there. When Stalin "liberated" Poland, he killed a million or so almost immediately, then Ghod nose how many more over the next fifty years were killed by Stalin and his successors. I hate to say this, but both Hitler and Stalin seemed to think more clearly than they are given credit for, even if the thinking was purely evil from a libertarian point of view. Both prepared more to attack than to defend, and they made sure that there was an officially uninhabited (no matter how many people lived there) buffer zone to gain momentum.

Ward Griffiths [wdg3rd@comcast.net]

* * *

[John Taylor EditorTLE@triad.rr.com responds:

Yes, yes. The point was that guessing what was in the mind of either is just that -- guessing. Hell, "history" has enough trouble keeping the "facts" straight without speculating on personal motivation behinds historical actions. Even if someone says "This is why I did this", it doesn't mean it's the truth, much less that we will ever be able to divine the truth.

As to "clear thinking" ... well, I suppose we must agree to disagree. Willfully slaughtering millions for the sake of ego, power, ideology, religion, oil, or even love does not pass muster with me as clear thinking. Maybe their tactical thinking was clear (at some points, and even then more often not so), but strategically they both acted as madmen, with a sociopath's-eye view of their own people.

But that's just my opinion -- your mileage may vary. -- ed.]

Mr. Tuma, good sir,

While the rest of your article in TLE#186 was quite fun to read, the comment about a severe depression resulting from the nuking of NYC is in error.

NYC is redundant. Erase it entirely, and the tape-backups in Hartford, Chicago and Huston, Zurich, Hong Kong and Tokyo, would be extracted and utilized. Even the giants like Chase Manhattan and Citibank are functionally distributed. The small-time operators who would be "wiped out" do not effect much beyond their own local area anyway, by definition.

The effects of erasing NYC can be seen in the effects of the erasure of the WTC last fall (fall! Ha! unintentional humor), very little. Those few companies and organizations who didn't have contingencies in place were abandoned by their investors, other organizations who stepped in to fill the gaps gained investment. Spontaneous order worked very well indeed, instability allowed for quick reactions to solve problems.

The great depression was great because of great government interference after the establishment of the Federal Reserve, most notably by tariffs and printing money, followed by the institution of socialist controls over the economy. These interventions were designed not to allow prices and wages to fluctuate, on the false idea that "stability" solves problems. I am not so stupid as to believe that this cannot be repeated, since politically expedient actions by the Fed are what caused the .COM boom of the late 1990's.

Were NYC erased, and reactions to this were prevented by intervention, then yes there would likely be a mild recession. However, it would not be caused by the erasure. The cause would be for the same reason that all such depressions have been caused: Intervention.

Curt Howland [Howland@Priss.com]

in re: "JAMES DOBSON: FLAMING LIBERAL?" by Doug Newman

Sometimes libertarians, like Christians, can suffer from a profound lack of common sense, neglecting to frame issues in context. If you exploit an activity, substance or phenomena that has costs associated with it such as gambling, drugs, pollution, etc. you are surely responsible for warning your victims of the known hazards involved, and paying for the negative consequences of your exploitation. To the extent you don't clean up the mess, but leave a mess for others and society, you are initiating violence and are deserving of retribution. Class-action litigation is a fine means.

"Conservatives, who make up about 90 percent of Dobson's constituency, like to say they believe in individual responsibility. ... They are always ready to blame girlie mags or MTV or a plant that may well grow wild by the reservoir that is a mile or so from my house. However, they can be just as puerile as liberals when it comes to blaming others for their problems."

In the name of 'individual responsibility' many libertarians and Christians alike excuse the exploitation and predation of weak, stupid people.

Some puerile, bleeding-heart liberals are at least wise enough to understand we all are stupid (occasionaly), we have a breaking point, we can be tempted beyond our capacity to bear it, as the endless supply of drug-dealers and corupt politicians demonstrates.

Predatory fundamentalists quote such Bible verses as: 'No temptation has taken you but is common...God makes a way of escape that you can bear it'. But it is obvious some are more susceptible to smoking, some alcohol, some gambling, some sex; Dobson even agrees with that. We are not all equally susceptible to temptation, just as we are not all athletes, yet predatory Christians declare we should mount up with wings as eagles, run and not grow weary, in the Holy Spirit's power. They have an unrealistic expectation of perfection. They say those that fail are not really saved, or faith would work, just as they might say to the sick in a cancer ward the prayer of faith would heal them if their faith wasn't so weak. Funny how that works. Predatory fundamentalists give God credit for the lucky (those few that recover from cancer), and count the rest of us damned for dying, or getting off the straight and narrow with diverse vices, and falling into the abyss. The church population is dwindling, as luck doesn't hold out forever. I found enough pain causes one to wise up.

Predatory Christians, conservatives and libertarians alike believe that you should be able to:

  • absorb endless assault, endlessly turn the other cheek, endlessly forgive those who do not repent of offenses (according to Jerry Falwell) and count forgiving virtue a weakness to be exploited
  • endlessly watch your politicians, employers and authority figures/role models lie, cheat and steal
  • be raised and abused in a slum with sick, evil predators

and after all, role models and object lessons, be flawlessly moral and successful.

"...cost of doing business" for casino owners. Well, if we are going to initiate class action lawsuits against casino owners, let us do likewise with any group of people whom we might blame for our problems. Hmm. Let's see. We could go after the IRS, breweries and distilleries, employers who overwork employees, Ozzy Osbourne, Marilyn Manson, etc. Let's get serious.

Insurance to compensate victims, rather than government taxation would work much better for alcohol and tobacco. For predatory corporations, there are predatory unions. Even though it has been demonstrated that music and TV degrades culture, it is an expression of a disaffected, cheated, degraded, angry, cynical and bitter culture. It has a market. I will pay to hear Ozzy. Mary Poppins and Sandy Patty make me ill. Give artists and youth hope, moral leadership, respect, honor and honorable pay, and they won't sing about rebellion, alienation, materialism and death, they will sing about life and hope, and kids will buy it. If they weren't degraded, dominated and dumbed-down with perfectionist standards in Jesus name, more artists would be singing about Jesus and not Satan.

"But when the chips are down (please forgive the gambling metaphor), they carry on just like liberals lobbying for more laws and less freedom, and, in Dobson's case, applauding frivolous lawsuits."

Yes, predatory Christianity looks for excuses to condemn and to claim moral authority and power. Predatory fundamentalists steal freedom. A Moslem woman wearing a burkha is not modest if she is obeying a law in fear, her Imam has stolen her freedom to choose modesty. Thus, the war on drugs is immoral. Those determined to abuse drugs, prostitutes or gamble can be allowed to harm themselves safely, away from the general public. Those that attempt to exploit and abuse character flaws and systemic weaknesses (such as gambling, pollution, et.) can be stopped by regulation and suits that do not profit the regulators and lawyers, but those harmed.

The cultural war and regulation of gambling, alcohol and tobacco is really about the predatory ruling class on both left and the right fighting over moral authority to degrade, dominate and exploit the public in the middle. How ironic, absurd and atrocious is this 'cultural war' over who has the moral authority to be evil!

As Jesus said, we know a tree by its fruit, and we see government that has a heart full of pride and greed, not love. The letter of their law implements the spirit of predation, causing injustice.

Scott Stephens [scottxs@attbi.com]

While listening to the news on the radio the past few days, I've learned that U.S. Air has augered in - as it were - and that UAL and American aren't far behind. It seems nobody wants to fly.

As I ponder with shocked horror the implications of these developments for the financial and travel industries, all I can think to say is ...

"WAAAHHHahahahahaaaaa! Take THAT, you goose-stepping, cavity-searching morons!"

Say, I haven't watched the TV news in maybe 10 years. Could somebody tell me whether Dan or Tom or Pete are still pretending it's all because of terrorism?

Joel Simon [joel_simon@hotmail.com]

To the Editor:

In his letter to TLE #186, Mr. James J. Odle made the following reference:

"Professor of Mental Masturbation [Philosophy] and former drug czar Bennett: There is right and there is wrong!"

While I do not disagree with Mr. Odle's statements or conclusions regarding the so-called war on drugs, I must disagree with his denigration of philosophy. In defining philosophy as mental masturbation, Mr. Odle implies that philosophy is a waste of effort and that the result of philosophy is wasted resource.

Many adherents to the principles of libertarianism came to them through the process of reason and critical thinking. Although I was a business student in college, I was exposed to a wide array of studies in the humanities: art, history, and philosophy. The very first lesson I learned in my first philosophy class was this: Philosophy is critical thinking. American philosopher Walter Kauffman stated in his book, "Critique of Religion and Philosophy", that philosophers are those who examine their own lives, ideas, and assumptions on a regular basis. I suspect that most libertarians are philosophers. I would hope so.

Where would we, as modern libertarians, be without the philosophers? Rather than discussing their accomplishments, I simply name a few, many of whom are quoted regularly by libertarians: John Locke, Adam Smith, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, George Mason, James Madison.

More currently, Milton Friedman and the late Robert Nozick come to mind. Anyone who has read Nozick's "Anarchy, State, and Utopia" can deny neither its philosophical structure nor its value to libertarian thought. I would hardly classify Nozick, who came to the conclusion that "the state may not use its coercive apparatus for the purpose of getting some citizens to aid others, or in order to prohibit activities to people for their own good or protection," as a mental masturbator.

Many libertarians first came to their political home through the writings of Ayn Rand, whose "Atlas Shrugged" is on the one hand a piece of atrocious writing, but on the other hand is a philosophical quest.

The Non-aggression Axiom is a moral precept of the highest kind, and morality is a province of philosophy. Adam Smith was, after all, a moral philosopher and "Wealth of Nations" itself is a book of moral philosophy.

I would rather see an individual lose his belief in libertarianism through reason and critical thinking, i.e., philosophy, than maintain it through blind repetition of those quotations and catch-phrases that we have all come to love and to repeat so automatically.

If philosophy is mental masturbation, it is still better than knee- jerk sentiment.

Joseph S. Bommarito [jbommarito@aol.com]

Last week Curt Howland had these things to say:

"Were the target 'state' and its people living in peaceful anarchy, his statement that the FSP seeks to 'impose' a minimal state on people who don't want it might have validity."

Just because some thugs have established an obsessive government, it doesn't make it okay for less violent people to come in and establish a smaller government in place of the thugs. All government by necessity initiates force, no matter how small the government. Reducing the initiation of force is a good thing, but not when it involves the initiation of force itself.

"The repeal and retreat of government force does not 'force' anyone to participate, by definition."

You're right. If one puts a bullet in the heads of the right politicians, government will retreat and no one is forced to participate in the killings. However, voting and attempting to repeal government through legislative and government action does force people to participate. How are the legislatures being paid? How are the judges and police that are enforcing the new reduced government being paid? They are being paid with taxes that are forcefully taken from people who do not consent to it.

Yes, voting can be used to kick the current scum from power and replace them with better people, but the fact remains that the new people are claiming power over people who do not want to be governed. If I happen to be living within the claimed boundaries of the "free" state, then they are holding power over me without my consent. This is an initiation of force. Just because the freestaters want to kick the current statists out of power, it doesn't make their claim to power any more moral. If I stop a woman from being gang raped, and then proceed to rape her, I am initiating force! It does not matter that I stopped her from being raped by five guys, what matters is that I am raping her now. It doesn't matter that the freestaters want to kick the current scum from power, what matters is that they want to put their people in a position of unjust power.

"What I find amazing is that with one hand he objects to peaceful change because he doesn't believe it can work, and with the other hand promotes violent change."

Even if I did think it would work, I'd still be opposed to the Freestate Project. Their aim is to initiate significantly less force than the current people in power. That is not a moral goal. There is no virtue in agreeing to back the claim of a slave holder if he reduces his held slaves from a hundred to one. There is, however, a virtue in putting a bullet into the slave holder unless he gives up all slaves and pays them proper restitution.

But I think John Lopez put it best last week, "[M]y life is not something to be voted on."

Mark Etanerkist [mark_etanerkist@yahoo.com]

* * *

Mark Etanerkist wrote:

"Even if I did think it would work, I'd still be opposed to the Freestate Project. Their aim is to initiate significantly less force than the current people in power. That is not a moral goal."

False. Their aim is to repeal and reduce the initiation of force as much as possible, by peaceful means. If you were to ask, rather than simply assert, you migh also find that a complete rejection of the "state", if possible, would be gladly attempted.

"There is no virtue in agreeing to back the claim of a slave holder if he reduces his held slaves from a hundred to one. There is, however, a virtue in putting a bullet into the slave holder unless he gives up all slaves and pays them proper restitution."

No one here is stopping you. If you believe that is the only moral choice, then stand up for your convictions and proceed. Otherwise, get out of the way.

Since I have not read in the news of a flurry of dead judges and politicians, I must conclude that you do not have the power of your convictions, or you have so far been unsuccessful.

"But I think John Lopez put it best last week, '[M]y life is not something to be voted on.'"

Your life is not in question. You are free to participate or not, as you wish.

And that is, in the end, the difference between coercion and liberty.

Curt Howland [Howland@Priss.com]


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