Big Head Press

L. Neil Smith's
Number 536, September 13, 2009

"Spirits crushed so badly that the victims
have no way of knowing they've been crushed."

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Two Items of Interest
by L. Neil Smith

Attribute to The Libertarian Enterprise

I guess this has been my week to reconsider some judgments I've made about a couple of people over the last few years, and to point out work they've done that may ultimately prove to be extremely important in the cause of individual liberty.

The first of these people is Rick Steves, whose travelogues of Europe appear on the Public Broadcasting System. The productions themselves are usually very interesting, but I've always been deeply put off by the way the man embraces European socialism, going into embarrassing raptures over the public transportation systems and other collectivized institutions, and never considering the real cost of such things in lost opportunities, social regimentation, flat economies, no future worth striving for, and spirits crushed so badly that the victims have no way of knowing they've been crushed. No civilization composed of such domesticated animals can realistically dream of reaching the stars or doing anything else that's remarkable.

On the other hand, thanks to, I've just had a chance to see a special program Steves recently put together about Iran. I've known quite a few Iranians, but I never knew much about their country aside from the fact that it's one of the cradles of civilization on this planet, and it's about the size of Alaska. I know what everybody else knows, about their kings and dictators—some of whom westerners installed over the wishes of the people in order to keep the oil flowing—their Islamic fundamentalist revolution and the taking of American hostages back during the Carter Administration, and their apparent quest to become a nuclear power.

When you have an hour to spare, go to (the URL address for Steves' program about Iran on and see a different side of Iran, with its ambitious and progressive young population whose personal goals—a better life for themselves and their children—are the same as ours.

As Steves tells you up front, the Iranian government imposed rules on him and his company, and dedicated Muslim-haters may see this as a sort of Potemkin tour. But his contact with real, everyday people felt genuine to me, and I found Iran to be populated with the same sorts of warm, kind, generous folks as the Muslims I went to school with.

The documentary doesn't mention Iran's drive for nuclear power and, possibly, nuclear weapons. My view is that, as long as they're in the hands of the likes of Putin, Obama, Bush, or Cheney—not to mention China, India, Pakistan, and France—little or no increased danger is involved in leaving Iran alone to set its own course.

* * * * **

At you'll find a column by Fred Reed that Manuel "Kaptain Kanada" Miles put me onto. I've never had much use for Fred, hunkering down in Mexico and sniping over the border at his native country. But I understand him a little better now, having read this recent article from I won't try to describe it, just read it, please. Someday it will be considered a history-altering classic.

I believe this so strongly that I'm going to try to get it nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. Look at the following document; I think Category 4 would be about right. You're welcome to join me in the process.

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 more than 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 is currently running as a free weekly serial at

Neil is presently at work on Ares, the middle volume of the epic Ngu Family Cycle, and on Where We Stand: Libertarian Policy in a Time of Crisis with his daughter, Rylla.

See stunning full-color graphic-novelizations of The Probability Broach and Roswell, Texas which feature the art of Scott Bieser at Dead-tree versions may be had through the publisher, or at where you will also find Phoenix Pick editions of some of Neil's earlier novels. Links to Neil's books at are on his website


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