Big Head Press

L. Neil Smith's
Number 707, February 3, 2013

Government kills. Government steals.
Government kidnaps. Government enslaves.
Government lies. Government is vastly
worse than anything or anybody it was
created to protect us from.

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"And That's the Way It Is..."
by L. Neil Smith

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Attribute to L. Neil Smith's The Libertarian Enterprise

The other day I saw somebody* complaining that long-respectable, often revered institutions are collapsing all around us. Government for one: governors, state legislators, judges, senators, representatives, presidents, generals, and admirals are all turning out to have feet of clay, right up to their navels. The police are nothing more now than another urban gang to avoid or, in the worst case, defend yourself from.

Mass media for another: newspapers and magazines are finished as sources of information. Where once we had the estimable Edward R. Murrow and "the most trusted man in America" Walter Cronkite, we now have Chris Matthews, Anderson Cooper, Katie Couric, and an openly biased circus of clowns, to whom the Communist Party is too far to the right.

Everything Karl Marx, or Pretty Boy Floyd, or whoever it was, ever said about banks is turning out to be true. So far, these "banksters", as they're appropriately being called, and their government-pampered accomplices in corporate America, have put us through the most massive sucker-plucking in all of recorded history, to the tune, now, of about forty-three trillion dollars (was the whole of ancient Egypt even worth forty-three million dollars? The Great London Fire in 1666 only consumed about ten million.) that we won't see again until we strip them down to the skin. The average individual is a hell of a lot more likely to be robbed by some criminal with a fountain pen (or a mainframe computer) than with a sixgun. Your money is great deal safer under your mattress, after all, especially if it isn't printed on paper.

My apologies to Woody Guthrie—and my grandmother.

As for the Church (the The, itself) allow me to misquote the Dixie Chicks: I'm embarrassed to be living on the same planet with it. Monty Python was only partially correct: "No one ever expects the Spanish Inquisition"—unless you're a sweet-voiced, curly-haired little acolyte.

The conversation—so I guess this must have been on Facebook— eventually turned to a question: is all of this degeneracy a new development, or has it always been this way and we just didn't know it?

My vote is for the latter. Politicians everywhere, in all of history, have been as crooked, as my mom used to say, as a dog's hind leg. Black people in any American era could have told you the cops are nobody's friend. Edward R. Murrow was a grandstanding fraud: when the KGB's records came to light, on an occasion very much like Bastille Day, it turns out that the greatly reviled Senator Joseph R. McCarthy, whom the sainted Murrow effectively hounded to his death, had been right all along—the Roosevelt and Truman governments were riddled with communists. Alger Hiss was one of them, and the Rosenbergs were guilty.

The "most trusted man in America" never uttered a truthful word about the Second Amendment in his career, and he lied to us about the Gulf of Tonkin "Incident", too, directly resulting in the unnecessary and stupid deaths of about sixty thousand Americans and two million Vietnamese. It's another of those situations in which I almost wish I were religious, so I'd know Cronkite is riding a spit somewhere in hell.

But I guess I have digressed.

I myself have often said that the Age of Authority (which lasted for about 8,000 years) is over. We are seeing its death struggles now, and they aren't pretty. From the Boy Scouts of America, the National Rifle Association, and the officiating at the only sports that I can directly attest to, hockey and baseball, and the International Skating Union, to academia in general, which has basically sold out Western Civilization, especially those members of it who foisted the global warming hoax on us (and how many more trillions has that cost?), not a single historic institution in our culture seems immune to some kind of well-deserved external pressure or internal rot that is destroying it.

Is this, as Pat Buchanan and others would hasten to tell us, The End?

Take heart. There are reasons for all this, mostly good ones. The fact is that people do not naturally play well in groups. Observing human and animal behavior, I have come to believe that, perhaps as early as the time of Homo erectus, our ancestors mostly hunted solitarily, or in mated pairs, like wolves, rather than in packs like dogs.

Lacking the myriad incentives of a genuine free market system, human beings must be bound together with pervasive and unceasing collectivist propaganda ("Remember, there is no 'I' in TEAM!), and an array of brute force and cheap tricks, from the whips of slavedrivers, the bludgeons of thugs with badges, and the bayonets of uniformed killers, to the often mythical and invariably exaggerated threats from outside the group, by turns in American history, the Catholics, the Freemasons, Southern rebels, Chinese immigrants, bomb-throwing anarchists, communists, and the splendiferously idiotic coinage "Islamofascists".

The only one of those I've ever seen lives at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

For those reasons, I believe that authority, rooted as it is in the dual immorality of force and fraud, has always been brutal and corrupt, and always will be for as long as it's permitted to continue to exist, and that what seems to have made the difference recently is this:

For all of those thousands of years, most important communication in civilization has been vertical, and almost always from the top down.

Think of a church bell (or before that, and in other places, a drum or a gong): a means of communication far too expensive in a primitive society for an individual to own, one with extremely low bandwidth, conveying simple imperatives that individuals had been conditioned from earliest childhood to obey: wake up, serf! Come to prayer, serf! Go to work, serf! Come back to prayer, serf! Go to bed, serf!

There was no talking back to the commanding bells.

Over the centuries, nothing changed except the bandwidth. By turns we had Big Ben, Rudy Valee, D.W. Griffith, Arthur Godfrey, I Love Lucy; but there was no way to talk back to them, either. Nor to the "news" thrust upon us by media controlled or even owned outright by authority.

Then, suddenly, the whole situation, the entire 8000-year-old structure of human interaction, was pitched on its ear. The Internet landed with a crash and knocked communications sideways, making it an egalitarian—"peer-to-peer"—undertaking. Information traveled uncontrollably, in both directions, to the anger and distress of those who still believed that they were in authority. (One politician, a wealthy former governor and senator has recently announced that he's leaving politics, having previously claimed society would be better off had the Internet never been invented.) And all the pus, 8000 years of dictatorial threats and dirty lies, burst out with the fall of power.

Humanity will never be the same again. This is change at the most fundamental level conceivable, barring the evolution of new limbs or individuals developing gills. As a student of history, I believe it to be more significant than Gutenberg's invention of the printing press, possibly more important than the invention of writing itself. And authority, as it disintegrates, is striving hysterically to bring it all back under control. But it's too late by at least a decade. We have the idea of laterality now, and it cannot be disinvented or unlearned.

Yes, Obama yearns with whatever heart and soul he possesses to become a dictator, but unfortunately for Barry, in this technical epoch of word-processors, fewer and fewer of us are trained to take dictation.

And that's the best news our species has had in 8,000 years.

* I can't remember who it was or where I saw it, so if it was you, please write to me and I'll see that you get proper credit.

L. Neil Smith is the Publisher and Senior Columnist of L. Neil Smith's THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE, as well as the author of 33 freedom-oriented books, the most recent of which is DOWN WITH POWER: Libertarian Policy in a Time of Crisis:
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[ dead tree and Nook]
DOWN WITH POWER was selected as the Freedom Book Club Book-of-the-Month for August 2012

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