L. Neil Smith's
Number 368, May 21, 2006

"Vote For No Incumbent"

Ending The Warfare State
by L. Neil Smith

Presented to the Libertarian Party of Larimer County, May 15, 2006

As I speak to you here this evening, ladies and gentlemen, our libertarian movement—in fact, what I have always referred to as the "general freedom movement"—is in the worst disarray I've ever seen it in, in my 44 years as an active, self-conscious member of it. The traditional American aspiration toward individual liberty is in greater danger at the moment than probably since the War Between the States.

As Dennis Lee Wilson put it last week, in an article in my online editorial journal, The Libertarian Enterprise (which has just begun its 11th year online), we first became divided on the issue of abortion—he failed to mention the original division of the movement over whether, in the future, there ought to be minimal government or no government at all—then we were further subdivided on the issue of the United States' government's initiations of force in Afghanistan and Iraq. And now the few of us struggling to remain consistent with libertarian principle are being divided even further on the issue of immigration.

You can read the rest of Mr. Wilson's extremely interesting essay by visiting The Libertarian Enterprise at www.ncc-1776.org. I'm not here tonight to debate any of these issues. As an adherent to the Zero Aggression Principal, I know which side of each of them is right, exactly as I know that the advocates for the wrong side of each of these issues almost invariably start their arguments by rejecting that Principle.

If an individual wishes to reserve some right he imagines he has to initiate physical force against me, then he is not any kind of libertarian, but something very different, and I will take appropriate precautions.

What I am here to do tonight is to begin a thought—a thinking process—that could solve many of our problems at once. What those libertarians who remain true to principle should be thinking about at this moment is what the world is going to look like after this war is over with, and, more importantly, how can future wars like it be prevented.

I suppose that will require me to make an argument, after all, about an issue that, regrettably—and to me, unbelievably—divides today's freeedom movement. I won't argue the point beyond what's absolutely necessary, and you are perfectly free not to agree with me—although you may not be happy, in the end, about what that makes you.

But to the point: those of us who detest this insane, evil, and stupid war—and the insane, evil, and stupid creatures who perpetrate it—may rest assured that there are many other people, besides libertarians, who want to see it end as quickly as possible. There are national figures of various kinds, movie stars like Richard Dreyfuss, war mothers like Cindy Sheehan, musicians like Neil Young and Natalie Maines, and a great many ordinary individuals, as well, struggling every day to end this war. As a child of the 60s, and an opponent of the war in Vietnam, it feels very much like where I came in.

I won't say that these people don't need our help. I will say that I see very little evidence that anybody's thinking about how to undo the damage that's been done—to America, I mean, and the things this country was always supposed to stand for—and how to keep more of the same kind of damage from being done in the future. Mostly what I see is what Ayn Rand called "range of the moment" behavior—which is not entirely inappropriate. A rational individual may keep his eyes on the future and to some extent live in it, but he has to act in the now.

But most of the anti-war folks I hear from aren't thinking beyond the election of Hillary Clinton, and that's bad news, because Hillary—or for that matter any other political "liberal" who gains power—will simply continue what's happening now and merely call it something different.

People on the Left desperately need to get this straight: this war is as much the Democrats' baby as it is the Republicans'. Over the past century or so, it was their irrational foreign policies, their imperialistic interventions, their political assassinations, and their irrational bombings, quite fully as much the Republicans', that the attack on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001 was intended to avenge.

And so my first prescription for libertarians—and for everybody else—is that both the Republicans and the Democrats must never hold office again. They must be thrown on the proverbial ashheap of history.

To accomplish this, I'm not going to demand that everybody should vote for libertarians—we have some housecleaning of our own to do before we're truly worthy of that once again. And besides, for the 35 years the Libertarian Party has existed, that tactic has been an utter failure.

What I do advocate, from now through the foreseeable future, is a national movement urging people to vote for no incumbent. For now, I don't care who they vote for instead—Ralph Nader, Peewee Herman, Spongebob Squarepants—how could it possibly be any worse than it is now?

If you'll excuse my language, every one of the sons of bitches in Congress got us into this mess, rubber-stamping Bush's illegal war and ratifying the Patriot Act without reading it. If anyone is responsible for the government pruriently watching every move we make, reading every word we write, eavesdropping on every phrase we utter, it's the Congress.

Government spying on people is hardly a new idea, after all—take a good, hard look at The Da Vinci Code author Dan Brown's unintentionally surrealistic novel Digital Fortress, where the individuals trying to stop government snooping are the badguys (in effect, Phil Zimmerman is the book's off-camera villain), and the worst disaster that could possibly befall civilization is a computer program that is capable of guaranteeing absolute privacy in all of our communications.

True, Bush and his little Fascist playmates may eventually take some kind of fall for the current spate of NSA voyeurism, but they're just the pointy end of a long stick. With the single exception of the Beltway's one true Constitutionalist, Ron "Dr. No" Paul, every sitting senator and congressman deserves to be out shivering on some miserable street corner in the cold, freezing rain, selling pencils from a tin cup.

The next item it's important for libertarians to consider—brace yourself, folks—is abandoning further attempts to get our own hogs to the trough. Over the past 35 years, we've managed to get only a very few individuals into office of any kind, and this killing, mostly futile effort has drained us utteroly of our time, our energy, and other resources. It has eaten us alive. On several occasions I know of, elections have been illegally stolen from libertarians. On other occasions, libertarians, once they achieved office, have proven as insane, evil, and stupid as anyone else. Lord Acton was right: power corrupts.

Ironically, in my experience, it's the least power that corrupts most. Just consider the average city council, school board, or student government.

Instead of continuing with electoral politics, I propose that we libertarians break with an honorable tradition (but only in a single, extremely limited way) and agree that, for once, "There ought to be a law". There ought to be a number of laws, in fact, and each and every one of them would affect and control only those who work for the government.

Consider the relative success that the movement has enjoyed, thanks mostly to Larry Dodge, with the Fully Informed Jury Amendment movement. We've made the badguys squeal at 200 decibels and, recently, thanks especially to Vin Suprynowicz, exposed the farce of the jury selection process. As Vin says, "voir dire" is French for "jury tampering".

Libertarians, as individuals, as a movement, and as a party, should begin to campaign for other federal and state amendments that would alter the political landscape more effectively—totally and permanently, in fact—than winning any number of elections ever could.

I will present a few examples now. If you feel that they're "too radical" or "going too far", take a look at the police state that's been constructed around you and ask yourself what's "too radical". If you feel that you'd be embarrassed talking to the public about these proposed Constitutional changes, then perhaps you belong in some other party.

But if you remember nothing else from this talk, do remember this: exactly like the Fully Informed Jury Amendment, none of these measures has actually to pass to become effective. I cannot stress this enough. None of these measures has to pass to be effective. That's good, since there is nothing wrong with democracy, in truth, that democracy can fix.

All of our real working solutions will be cultural and social, in any case. That's why I chose, like Edward Bellamy, H.G. Wells, Robert Heinlein, and Ayn Rand, to write novels, most of which attempt to show what living in a free society would be like. Judging from my mail and phone calls over the past 25 years, I've been reasonably effective at bringing new people into the general freedom movement. You can find a list of all of my books on my personal website, "The Webley Page" at www.lneilsmith.org.

And you can see two of my current projects—The Probability Broach: the Graphic Novel and the webcomic Roswell, Texas—at www.BigHeadPress.com

But once again, I have digressed.

The cultural approach works for may reasons, but in this instance, it's chiefly because the enemies of liberty are slinkers and cowards at heart. We don't have to win a single election. When they see which way the wind blows, overnight they'll become Heroes of the Libertarian Revolution. Our bandwagon could collapse with the sudden addition of adipose.

So where to start?

First and foremost, the Bill of Rights must be given the teeth it's lacked—by Hamiltonian design, I fear—since 1789. We must offer a change to the Constitution making it a felony to deny rights protected by the first ten amendments. Equally, I believe it should be illegal—a jailing offense—for a sitting politician to knowingly propose, sponsor, or vote for a law that violates those rights, as well.

Second only to that, it must be a crime for a President to engage in a conflict overseas without a Congressional declaration of war. "Start a war, go to jail." And in the case of a lawfully declared war, the instant the bill passes, every representative who voted for it—regardless of age, sex, or physical condition—will leave his desk to receive a uniform and a weapon in the hall outside, and be among the first shipped to the front. The power to send other people's kids off to kill and be killed must come with a price—a price Presidents will pay, as well, the very instant they sign the declaration of war, themselves.

The mess we find ourselves in today, and practically every other mess we've ever found ourselves in as a nation, began with lies. Those lies—just the recent ones, mind you—have gotten tens, perhaps even hundreds of thousands of innocent individuals maimed and killed in the last five years. They have cost Productive Class Americans countless billions of dollars, wrecked the Constitution, and deeply endangered an better future we might once have thought was ahead of us.

Elsewhere, in a speech I made a couple of years ago in New Mexico, entitled "No More Secrets, No More Lies", I proposed that any employee of the government duly convicted of lying to any member of the public for any reason should be hanged by the neck until he—or she—is dead. Such hangings would be shown on network TV, as an example to others. It would be forbidden to cover the criminal's head with a bag—potential government liars need to see those eyes bulging, lifeless and clouded over. I want them to see that lying tongue blackened and protruding.

Keeping a secret would be treated the same as telling a lie.

This measure, by itself—or even the serious public discussion of it—could alter the course of 8000 years of human history forever.

There are other remedies I could discuss with you if I had the time. Sooner or later, we must disarm all federal employees, as such. (If they wish to be armed off duty, like any individual, that's fine, although they'd be forbidden to "enforce the law" on their own time.) If the FBI had "business", say with someone here in Larimer county, then they would have to go through the Sheriff and be escorted by a deputy.

Similarly, we must demilitarize the police. I've written about this elsewhere, as well—you can find it in The Libertarian Enterprise archives—and, as you might expect, it got me a couple of mild death threats and a lot of other uninentionally humorous correspondence.

Eventually, you'll be able to read about these and other reforms I believe desperately need to be made (for example, a Constitutional amendment formally separating science—especially medicine—and state) in a book that I seem to be writing a little bit at a time (this speech will become a part of it) to be titled How to Fix America.

But in the end, if you really want to prevent war, then you must do three things. If you blow any one of them—no matter how worthy you think your reasons may be—then you will have blown them all. And you will have sentenced your children and your grandchildren to yet another century of slaughter like the one we've just left behind us.

The first thing, no matter how hard it may seem, is that we must do away with taxes. With the very concept of taxation. This effort should be looked upon as an extension of the worldwide movement that in the 19th century put an end to thousands of years of chattel slavery. (Of course in the United States and elsewhere, despite the claims of Lincoln idolators, slavery wasn't abolished, it was simply nationalized.)

It should be enough that taxation is theft, and damn poor example to give our kids of what a civilization is based on: "Sure, Suzie, if enough of us want something badly enough, we get together and steal it—and if the owner objects, we beat him up, kidnap him, or just kill him."

No matter what you've been taught, anything you get from the state was taken—usually at the threat of deadly force—from somebody else. When some new, trendier client comes along, you'll be its next victim.

Government is not your friend and it can never be. Its interests can never run parallel to yours. In the end, all group behavior is ultimately about eating. All individual behavior is ultimately about sex. All government behavior is about eating, too—eating the individual.

But more pertinent to this discussion, taxation is the fuel of war. Government can only do two things: beat people up and kill them, or threaten to do so. The more money government steals from us, the more beating up, killing, and threatening it can do. If it doesn't do it to people in other countries, it'll do it to us—see the War on Drugs.

Collecting taxes from the populace should be construed by other countries as an act of war. The libertarian objective is not to reduce taxes, not to repeal or abolish them, but to outlaw them immediately, totally, and permanently.

But how, I pretend to hear whining, can goverment operate without taxes?

Ask somebody who gives a rat's ass.

Heinlein—a former military man himself—once said that any country that requires a slave army to defend it, doesn't deserve to be defended. Certainly, as the Bush Administration is now discovering, it's harder to fight wars of imperialism without conscript troops—whereas if the country really needs defending, there's never a lack of volunteers.

There's no way around it: conscription, for military or any other purpose, is slavery, which is forbidden—and was deliberatly meant to be according to at least one historical scholar I know—as "involuntary servitude of any kind" by the 13th Amendment. As with taxation, other countries should regard starting a draft as an act of war.

If you truly wish to put an end to war, then you must outlaw conscription.

The third thing may be the hardest for some individuals who are unknowing victims of decades of relentless propaganda in the public schools and the whorish mass media. If you would truly end war, then you must arm the people—which is to say, make certain there are no impediments to their arming themselves—and you must disarm the government.

Let me say that again: you must arm the people and disarm the government.

None of this is easy. I never said it would be. I just said it's necessary.

There is a tiny little town in Pennsylvania called Nuremberg. It has a population of about 300 people, and very little else to boast about, but it does have that wonderful, almost magical name. A name that in the minds of many people stands for the ultimate triumph of justice.

Nuremberg, 18241.


In the future, I dream of a Great Hall built in Nuremberg (let Halliburton and other war profiteers pay for it—after they've repaid us for a war largely fought for their benefit), where, exactly like the Nazi criminals who are their moral and spiritual ancestors, the villains of our age—the Bushes and Clintons and Cheneys and Schumers—can be placed on trial for their crimes against the Constitution.

I think that's a worthy dream, don't you?

Help me make it come true.

Four-time Prometheus Award-winner L. Neil Smith has been called one of the world's foremost authorities on the ethics of self-defense. He is the author of 25 books, including The American Zone, Forge of the Elders, Pallas, The Probability Broach, Hope (with Aaron Zelman), and his collected articles and speeches, Lever Action, all of which may be purchased through his website "The Webley Page" at lneilsmith.org.

Ceres, an exciting sequel to Neil's 1993 Ngu family novel Pallas was recently completed and is presently looking for a literary home.

A decensored, e-published version of Neil's 1984 novel, TOM PAINE MARU is available at: http://payloadz.com/go/sip?id=137991. Neil is presently working on Ares, the middle volume of the epic Ngu Family Cycle, and on Roswell, Texas, with Rex F. "Baloo" May.

The stunning 185-page full-color graphic-novelized version of The Probability Broach, which features the art of Scott Bieser and was published by BigHead Press www.bigheadpress.com has recently won a Special Prometheus Award. It may be had through the publisher, at www.Amazon.com, or at BillOfRightsPress.com.


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