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L. Neil Smith's
Number 523, June 14, 2009

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Whatever They Do Out of Fear, We Overcome with Love
by Jim Davidson

Special to The Libertarian Enterprise

There are two things you must understand about the war on terror. First, it is very, very profitable. Second it is the last gasp of a dying culture.

To understand how profitable one has only to look at the budget for "defense" and "justice." Trillions of dollars have been spent enriching defense contractors and their shareholders.

My friend Richard Maybury came to the 2000 International Society for Individual Liberty world congress (see to speak. He believes in two very libertarian laws—do what you say you'll do and don't touch the property or person of others. He has advised his clients in the years since to buy defense stocks. And his clients have profited—but at what price?

If you invest in something, you want more of it. If enough money is invested you get more of it. So one of the obvious places to counter-attack for freedom is divestiture. It worked for civil rights, it worked for apartheid and it can work now.

I'd like to take you back to the 1920s. Think for a time about the period from 1920 to 1933 in this country. Peace. Prosperity for most of those years. But hard times for war profiteers. No war. World War One had been a bonanza and they wanted more. The authoritarians were very unhappy. The stock market was crashed and the authorities acted to aggregate power. They haven't given it up since.

Then foreign enemies were raised up like hobgoblins and shaken in the faces of Americans. Often there was direct financial support. Jacob Schiff bought the Japanese a new navy, for crying out loud, and directly supported the Bolshevik revolution. Prescott Bush directly supported Hitler and Mussolini. Why?

You can't have much weapons buildup without a foreign threat. You can't make huge war-time profits without oversight without a real threat, real war, real attacks.

After WW2 there was a permanent enemy. Global communism.

Was there a real threat? No. Stalin was terrified of an invasion by the USA. In 1960 the missile gap was alleged to be 500 nuclear tipped Russian missiles pointed at USA cities. The reality was six.

The cold war was very profitable to the bomb makers and missile builders. The hot wars in Vietnam and elsewhere were lies, but even more profitable.

Then what happened? The Russians gave perma-war a try in Afghanistan and lost. Within a few years, the Soviet government collapsed. Nobody could believe in global communism as an enemy any longer.

For ten years there really was no global enemy. There still isn't. Oh, there was Saddam, but he wasn't much threat. No one could convince a court to keep an American like Hamdi in the brig forever without evidence or trial on the minor threat of Saddam in 1998.

So imagine the relief of the death merchants when 9-11 happened. Imagine their delight at the new lie—weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Why, they could even produce receipts for chemical weapons sold to Saddam, if they wanted.

The floodgates opened. Profits roared up. See for yourself. Check Halliburton or KBR or Bechtel. Halliburton's 1992 stock price was about $7 and their 2008 peak was over $50 per share. They were founded in 1919. Check traditional death merchants like duPont, Boeing, Lockheed. "The peace dividend" was nearly their end.

So we know that to win for anti-war we must make war unprofitable. Refuse to fight. Expose the corruption. Demand answers. But also remember their fear.

Their culture is dying. When was the tallest building in the USA built. 1971 was the completion of the World Trade Center. 1973 the Sears Tower. That was 36 years ago, two full human generations.

They say "We can put a man on the Moon but we can't..." Well, it turns out they can't put a man on the Moon. Really. They stopped in December 1972. Their culture had peaked.

They used to fly passengers supersonic. That ability was developed in 1969. They stopped SST flights in 2003 or so.

They designed a space shuttle with their death merchants building it. The design is from 1969 the technology choices were frozen in 1977. Everyone knows it's broken. Has been since 1986.

Their culture is dying. It was the decision of their "leaders" to close the Antarctic frontier in 1957. Close the space frontier to national sovereignty in 1967. Internationalise property in space with the 1974 Moon Treaty. No lunar colonies. But I can show you maps of the lunar landing sites that define territories for the USA and USSR.

They closed the deep ocean frontiers in 1982 with the law of the sea. No deep sea bed mining.

Cultures without frontiers fester and calcify. They don't stabilise, they decay.

Frederick Jackson Turner wrote about this fact in 1893. The closing of the American frontier.

Whereas in the 1850s an unhappy factory work could put down his tools, gather his belongings, and walk to the frontier in a few weeks time, no longer. Anyone had been able to get away from the authorities with simple distance. No longer.

Within one generation of the closing of the frontier, the Federal Reserve, income tax, and first World War were upon us. Within two generations, Prohibition and the New Deal.

I believe closed frontiers are a deliberate policy. But they failed.

We built the Internet. We built public key cryptography and kept it open source. We built open source software. We built peer to peer networks.

They attacked centralised file sharing and centralised digital gold. So we built bitTorrent and eCache. Loom shows we can build anything—cyberspace becomes a new frontier for commerce and technology—of sorts. We've even built a thriving space tourism industry, if only government would get out of its way.

So our culture is winning. Our culture will predominate. Our networks rose up on 14 May 2009 and beat down the sheriff in Jones County, Mississippi and got the Motorhome Diaries team out of jail within a matter of hours. And we're going to keep doing that, do it for ever more people, make highway robbery unprofitable.

If I can see these patterns, so can they. And all we need to close the circle of our felicities is the knowledge that whatever they do out of fear we overcome with love.


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