L. Neil Smith’s THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 902, December 11, 2016
by Jim Davidson
Attribute to L. Neil Smith’s The Libertarian Enterprise
“Unless this clear distinction between vices and crimes be made and recognized by the laws, there can be on earth no such thing as individual right, liberty, or property—no such things as the right of one man to the control of his own person and property, and the corresponding and coequal rights of another man to the control of his own person and property.&rdquo
“When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive—to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.”
One of the most important things that L. Neil Smith has written about, extensively, repeatedly, and thoroughly, is the idea that we are engaged in a culture war. We who wish to abolish all forms of initiatory force, who wish to end government, who seek to live free and free the slaves, stop the wars, and end the oppression, are fighting a culture of control, domination, abuse, and people who are in love with their abusers. We are, in part, fighting Stockholm Syndrome, or what Harriet Tubman described as the fact that slaves cannot be helped to freedom unless they first perceive that they are indeed slaves.
Again and again in my encounters on social media, going back in the 1990s on such now antiquated sites as Yahoo Groups and MySpace, I have noticed a number of persistent themes. One that I find especially abhorrent is the law and order enthusiast who is always against anyone who has been killed, or beaten, by police, is always gushing enthusiasm for forceful discipline even to the point of killing.
Some years back, a friend of mine who is a hockey enthusiast pointed out that there were long periods when the Anaheim Ducks were not doing well in the standings. During those times, when they would play the Detroit Red Wings, the stands in the arena would be filled with red shirts and enthusiastic fans of the Red Wings – a team that has frequently done well in the National Hockey League. These people are exhibiting a behaviour that is useful to understand: they want to be on the side that is winning.
In other words, they have no particular concern for their local team. Given that Anaheim and much of suburban Los Angeles has a huge population from other parts of the country, and other parts of the continent, and few locally born people, and hardly any with more than two generations of local origin, it is no great surprise that many people, wanting to root for a winning team, would see no problem in rooting for the Red Wings.
This matter of individual mobility, both in terms of where a person chooses to live, as well as in where a person chooses to work, or operate their business, is actually a very good thing. In his books Snow Crash and The Diamond Age, Neal Stephenson writes about the idea of privately organised groups, some of which he calls “phyles.” My friend Doug Casey has commented extensively on this idea.
So, rather than seeing people rooting for an out-of-town team because they want to be on the side that is winning as a bad thing, I suspect it is part of a broader trend of people being less rooted in the ground. And, given the long history of share croppers, chattel slavery, and serfs or peasants in various cultures being bought and sold with the land, I think this uprootedness is a good thing.
Beyond not having any particular regard for the place I am living, or the place quite far from here where I was born, I don’t have any particular reason to identify with the people who are my neighbours. The old couple across the street who use pesticides and herbicides on their manicured lawn, fly the American flag day and night, and drive an enormous SUV are anathema to me on many levels. I really do not like them, and make no effort to disguise this fact.
Consider, for example, the cultural imperative of the lawn. What does a large amount of close-cropped grass represent, historically? It represents sheep. In Ireland, England, Scotland, France, and much of Northern Europe, people who had money had big pastures where sheep grazed. In times like the 13th and 14th Centuries when popular culture was developing many important themes, the presence of a lawn implied the existence of sheep. After all, there were no lawn mowers, only scythes and sickles. Nobody was stupid enough to cut grass close to the ground, so if you saw a big field of close-cropped grass, you knew there were sheep nearby. Maybe behind a hill, or in another field, but near enough to have eaten the grass you see. A huge lawn came to mean wealth, and persists in having that meaning despite the fact that the “weekend squire” has to mow and edge and weed and water and work to generate this illusion of prosperity.
Given the incredible pointlessness of only appearing to have wealth, combined with the fact that pesticides and herbicides are involved in the habitat changes that seem to be threatening the monarch butterfly and other desirable species, I prefer a natural yard. I happen to live in a city where the local ordinances provide for a natural yard, and, despite having explained my choices repeatedly, and following the actual rules, I get a visit from some government bureau-rat from “code enforcement” about every other year. People who live across town in the wealthier parts look for reasons to get code enforcement to make me stop having a natural yard. Most recently the question was whether every plant on my property was there deliberately, or was I allowing the yard to “run wild.” Of course, I can not only identify every plant on my property (woe betide the home owner who has natural hemp show up unnoticed), but I can generally explain where each is in the local ecology, how, say, the goldenrod and milkweed are encouraging monarch butterflies, and the ways the trumpet flower is great for hummingbirds. So, yes, it is all deliberate. Good answer, the bureau-rat went away. Whew.
Part of Stockholm Syndrome is the persistent view of those with property that following the rules is good for them, enhances property values. Part of that syndrome is believing that telling the overseers about someone else getting out of line is good for the snitch. Part of the culture I would rather live in is to regard snitches as evil and worthless, and to object to laws being enforced with billy clubs, tasers, and gunfire. I find the people I encounter who gush enthusiastically about police being brutal are some of the most disgusting people on Earth. And I’ve travelled quite a bit, so I have some basis for judging disgusting behaviour.
There are a large number of other cultural choices we have before us. One of them has to do with language. For example, words like “fuck” and “shit” are earthy, human, short, and widely used. The culture which says that such words are improper is itself a disgusting culture. People in that culture ignore child slavery, call PizzaGate “fake news” and worship the state. The aristocracy that seeks to rule all of us wants to pretend that using “foul language” is bad, but profiting from wars in foreign countries by selling one side, or several sides, arms and munitions, is good. For my part, I would much rather live in a peaceful society where everyone uses “fuck” in every sentence, than live in a war society where everyone is enslaved.
Jim Davidson is an author, entrepreneur, space enthusiast, extropian, raconteur, and bon vivant. He took Heinlein’s admonition to be capable of many things to heart a long time ago, and can kill a beast, prepare a carcass for cooking, tan the hide, use the small bones for sewing, gather herbs, make fine sauces, clean a house, programme a computer, build a database, populate a spreadsheet, engage in forensic accounting, and read at blinding speed. He currently is a principal at EldarCapital.com and is planning a spectacular conference in June 2017 and an affordable one in October 2017. You can read his essays on Being Sovereign in his book by that name from Amazon.com, where it was briefly among the million best sellers. You can read his essays on Being Libertarian from Lulu.com. And if you are very nice to him, he might make available copies of his book The Atlantis Papers.
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