Down With Power Audiobook!

L. Neil Smith's

Number 833, August 9, 2015

While the battle for equality before the
law was one of the most important political
revolutions in history, we were a nicer people
when we were free to offend one another.

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The Most Admirable Insect
by Paul Bonneau
(email witheld by request)

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Attribute to L. Neil Smith's The Libertarian Enterprise

One can admire the honey bee, for obvious reasons; industrious, driven, concerned (even if only instinctually) for the good of the hive and willing to die for it, brave. When one opens a hive and sees them all lined up on the top bars trying to decide what is happening and what they should do about it, before the first bit of smoke reaches them to help them decide, they can be positively endearing. But an even more admirable insect is the termite.

Think about it. Some structure of wood is standing somewhere. The termites start working on it. There is little evidence of the work, because they undermine from within, chewing and tunneling. Then some fine day the whole gigantic structure, apparently with its original strength, comes crashing down in an instant!

How could we emulate such a wonderful insect?

Think of the empire as such a structure. It looks very strong, and has been there a long time. But what is the structure built of? Not wood, but belief. The belief of the average peon, a religious belief in "legitimacy" and of his place in the structure. What else? Lies. The structure would not exist without euphemism and outright lie; they are the screws and nails and bolts that hold it all together. The structure is built up over the decades, always taller and larger.

How can we act as termites? Two things: by discovering truth, and by telling it. This way we start chewing and tunneling through the "wood", through the simple faithful belief of the peons in legitimacy. The lies holding it all together are defeated. It is not necessary to consume and tunnel through all the wood. Indeed, the empire has built and built so much that it will inevitably fall of its own weight; perhaps the termites merely hasten it a bit.

Well, I suppose this parable has been stretched about as far as it will go. But yes, sometimes I feel like a termite, just chewing away in the dark, not knowing if I am doing any good but plugging away just the same.

No doubt someone will quibble with the word "truth", and claim there are many truths, or that the one truth is hard to figure out. Probably it's not that difficult after all, but it certainly seems hard to get around all the lies to find it. But no good termite spends too much time worrying about such quibbles. He just keeps chewing and tunneling. "This cop shot that old man for no good reason except for a thrill." "That politician took a bribe from an arms manufacturer or a drug company." "The voters evicted one party and installed the other, but nothing changed."

Just speak the truth as well as you can. Be a good termite. Chew, and chew, and chew.

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