Big Head Press

L. Neil Smith's
Number 430, August 12, 2007

"What could be worse?"


Big Bother Is Watching
by L. Neil Smith

Attribute to The Libertarian Enterprise

Click on any news-oriented website, open any paper, turn on the damn television if you're desperate and still living in the age of stone knives and bearskins, and you'll see a story or twelve about surveillance. Nineeleven (pronounced "ninny-leaven") and the Terrorist Under the Bed are the excuses nowadays, but any old excuse would have served. It was coming, sooner or later, whether there was an excuse or not.

Robert LeFevre said it best: left-wing socialists believe we're all a little bit stupid and must be helped (to death, if necessary); right-wing socialists believe we're all a little bit evil and must be watched. The majority in the militant middle believe that we're all stupid and evil and must be locked down—if not simply executed outright.

Why call them "moderates" when fascists says it so much better?

As a result, at this point in history, there are cameras, cameras everywhere, and more and more otherwise unemployable gutter-sweepings (like the perverts who molest you at the airport) hired to watch us, while technostrumpets betray their geekly class in a mad scramble to write software that can do a better job of spying on us than minimum wage voyeurs. The object, as always, is to reduce us under absolute cyberdespotism.

It says here something like 70% of voters support the brownshirts aiming all these lenses at us. It all depends, of course, how you ask the question. Pollsters used to ask how you'd feel about gun control if it brought the Millennium, the Second Coming of Linda Lovelace, and a good five cent cigar. I don't believe 70% for a minute, not after the way motorists honked and cheered (I forget where it was, but I'll find out) when some intrepid freedom-fighter set a couple of traffic cameras ablaze last month. It should have started with the cameras in ATMs.

We have other problems, too, of course, parallel problems. Half our lovely new technology has been lowjacked, our phones, our cars—I'm surprised they haven't put GPS transponders in our iPods—yet. Corporations are putting RFID chips into the stuff we buy from them whether we want them to or not. Some idiots even want them put in bullets.

It would just make their bodies easier to find.

Something has to be done before each end every move we make is monitored by listening and watching (and scratching and sniffing) devices fed into supercomputers tended by nosepicking government drones, and the assault on privacy becomes the end of personal sovereignty.

Before no personal act, no private moment, nothing is left to us.

Before each instant that we live is medicalized and examined minutely by wretched inorgasmic subcreatures with no lives of their own.

Before everything we say or do—and eventually everything that we think, as well—is displayed on YouTube or put up for sale on eBay.

When I was a youngster growing up in the libertarian movement, the worst thing any libertarian could say (in a broader non-libertarian culture where you heard it said all too often) was "There oughta be a law".

Lately, however, I have found myself thinking more and more often about writing a book with that "forbidden" expression as a title. The difference is that the laws I would propose would apply only to people in the government, limiting or totally abolishing their power over our lives. For the most part, it would consist of suggested Constitutional amendments.

Let's try one for size:


To the Constitution of the United States of America

It shall be unlawful for any official, elected or appointed, at any level of government, or for any government employee, or for the employee of any company working for the government, to take the likeness—photographic, or by any other means—of any individual, without that individual's explicit, written permission.

The yielding of such permission may not be made a condition of exercising any right, or receiving any service otherwise due to that individual.

Any attempt to violate or evade this measure on the part of any official, elected or appointed, at any level of government, or for any government employee, or the employee of any company working for the government, shall be punishable by no less than 25 years at hard labor, without possibility of parole, in that prison which currently has the worst record for deadly criminal violence.


Remember what I've said so often: it isn't necessary for such an amendment actually to pass in order for it to have the desired effect. All it takes is enough people talking about it in the right places: letters to the editor, radio shows, Internet mailing lists, blogs. The enemies of liberty are cowards. When they see which way the wind is blowing, they'll have an epiphany and the cameras will start coming down.

America will have survived its brief, ugly Age of Surveillance.

They'll scream bloody murder, of course. I suggest you sit back and enjoy the music of it. They'll tell lies about how many desperate criminals they've caught with their nasty toys, and about how many lives they've saved from the bloodthirsty vicious commun—I mean, terrorists under each and every one of America's precious, endangered beds.

Just tell them that a 70% statistic you do believe in is the 70% of individuals in prison who never harmed anybody and who are there for crimes (no doubt ferreted out by wonderful government technology) that would never even be on the books of any truly free and decent country.

Tell they have no choice: take down the cameras now.

Don't say it can't be done—don't ever say it. If the Japanese people could be talked into "giving up the gun" several centuries ago, then politicians, bureaucrats, and cops can be forced to give up the camera.

Another place to start? Ask Ron Paul as loudly and publicly as possible, to tell America where he stands on matters of surveillance. I'll bet he'll welcome the opportunity to make the other guys look bad.


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

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: 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 has recently won a Special Prometheus Award. It may be had through the publisher, at, or at


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