Big Head Press

L. Neil Smith's
Number 745, November 17, 2013

The most common threat to individual liberty in the
United States of America is "local law enforcement."

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The Silver Circle
Reviewed by L. Neil Smith

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Attribute to L. Neil Smith's The Libertarian Enterprise

I know people who make movies.

When I was in high school, if anyone had told me that someday I would be able to write that, I would have been skeptical, to say the least. And if anyone had told me, in the heyday of Walter Cronkite, Chet Huntley, and David Brinkley (I don't recall who was on ABC) that the movies these movie-makers made would be radically libertarian, even propertarian anarchist in character, I would have called him a liar,

But it turns out I am not a liar—I've always believed it's too much work—and such movie-makers, and their movies, do exist. The example before us now is an animated offering (something else I'd never have believed was possible) called The Silver Circle, by Pasha Roberts and his merry band of cinematic swashbucklers at LinePlot Productions.

You may have heard of a form of human organization called "hydraulic despotism", in which political and military power was vested in a class of individuals who held monopoly control of water. Ancient China was like that. To an extent, so was the 19th century American West. Toe the line, do everything that's demanded of you by the authorities, avoid doing anything that they find offensive, and you might get enough water to grow your crops, keep your cattle and sheep alive, give the kids a bath on Saturday night, and dilute your whiskey.

Various cultures have tried a number of other commodities to base their despotism on, most recently gasoline, and I believe electricity may be next. The production and distribution of sheep hides (used, among other things, as a medium to write on) was supervised by Her Majesty's government and taxed in Shakespeare's day—his father got in trouble and was kicked off the city council for sheep hide tax evasion.

The last I heard, the French government still maintains a monopoly on salt and matches, although healthy living may drive them into bankruptcy.

The only source of revenue for the Federated States of Texas, in the graphic novel Roswell, Texas, is its monopoly on the collection and recycling of garbage. It's as serious a crime in that world to steal, damage, or destroy a garbage can, as it is here to molest a mailbox.

Speaking of government monopolies.

Clearly, the worst despotism possible—because it effectively seizes and controls all other commodities, as well—is based on a monopoly on the production and distribution of money. Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson both understood this from their opposing viewpoints.

If the money is no good, that is, if it isn't backed up by—meaning, immediately exchangeable for—something with genuine value in and of itself, then owing to a greedy propensity governments have exhibited in all their forms since the days of Sumeria and Babylon, all sorts of dislocations and damage are a result, in the "boom and bust" roller coaster ride commonly called the "business cycle" but which is, in fact, the government cycle, caused by monetary policies tied to whim and political expedience, rather than anything resembling reality.

Double the amount of funny-money in circulation, clay tablets, wooden nickels, federal reserve notes, halve the value of people's salaries and savings accounts, while the price of goods and services—rent and groceries among them—races to make up for government mismanagement.

Which brings us back to The Silver Circle. The story might as well be set tomorrow afternoon at about 3:30. The U.S. economy has collapsed, and the whole country looks like Various scenes from The Grapes of Wrath. Having destroyed the value of money, the Federal Reserve (the source of infinite amounts of worthless counterfeit paper) has taken to seizing things of real worth, including entire housing subdivisions, forcibly evicting the current occupants, while claiming to be establishing a "bank" of homes against some future need.

All that stands between the American people and the state that's raping their civilization is a semi-secret organization that tries, among other things, to teach rational monetary policies. However its principal mission is to establish an alternative currency based on silver.

Attracted, in the beginning, by a bright and pretty rebel, our hero, a young government bureaucrat in the home-stealing division of the Federal Reserve system, becomes disillusioned, and must discover for himself whose words and actions he can trust, and where the actual truth lies. We are off, in a flurry of running, gunning, jumping, and blowing shit up, with just a little tasteful sex to provide the extra sparkle.

Sorry about that, Mr. Corsi.

I don't want to say much more. The plot is full of surprising twists and turns and delightful conceits that you should be allowed to enjoy as much as I did, The characters are engaging and the story is absorbing. That it's all libertarian and a yard wide only makes it sweeter.

A word about the style of art and animation: they were not what I expected, and they take some getting used to, but so did Mickey Mouse in Steamboat Willy. I remember the culture shock I experienced when UPA cartoons—Mr. Magoo, Gerald McBoingboing, and a wonderful tale about a little boy who raises his own Loch Ness monster—made their debut. Pasha, who reminds me, by turns, of Joss Whedon and the young Orson Wells, does things his own way, and it invariably turns out swell.

So let your fingers do the running—not walking—over to and discover the several different ways you can experience this magnificent undertaking. You'll end up a fan.

Like I am.

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