If you have something …you can bet that
somebody, somewhere is trying to figure out
how to appropriate, expropriate, steal, or
simply take it away from you. And most of those
schemers will be college professors and politicians.
Bernie Sanders Wants You Dead
by L. Neil Smith
Attribute to L. Neil Smith’s The Libertarian Enterprise
Sometime in the late 1950s, when I was ten or twelve years old, there was a program on the radio called “What We Must Know About Communism”, apparently an audio treatment of a book of the same name by Harry and Bonaro Overstreet, covering the entire subject from Hegelian dialecticism through the Korean War. I listened to it faithfully. My father was a career Air Force officer deeply involved in Cold War nuclear deterrent efforts like Strategic Air Command and North East Air Command and it was very important to me to understand the struggle that had become the raison d’etre for my family’s lives.
In time, I learned enough about history and economics to accurately predict the failure and collapse of the Soviet Union, but in some quarters of what we laughingly call our civilization, intellectual interest in and support for communism’s motivating notions has continued exactly as if that failure and collapse had never happened. So here am I, standing on the world’s tiniest soap-box, trying, without much hope, to explain to the next couple of generations what I had learned pretty much on my own by the time I was twelve years old.
Communism was the most aggressive and (up to a point) successful offshoot of an 18th century idea called socialism. A great deal has been written since the middle of the 19th century—especially academically—about socialism (I once attended a seemingly endless lecture on the orthodox Marxist interpretation of Jean Paul Sartre’s excruciatingly boring 1944 existentialist play No Exit.), but in the end, what it all boils down to is nothing more than a fairly shabby and pretentious attempt to make simple theft seem respectable.
If you have something—some money, a car, a house, a plot of land, a factory, a body of literary accomplishments, even things like television sets and devices to play music—you can bet that somebody, somewhere is trying to figure out how to appropriate, expropriate, steal, or simply take it away from you. And most of those schemers will be college professors and politicians.
Under a set of natural laws that can be seen as ethical addenda to the laws of thermodynamics, it is always less effort to destroy than to build, which is what makes war an attractive threat for barbarians and looters to wield, and it is always less effort to steal things than to create or earn them, which is why we have always had thieves of various stripes among us, including ollege professors and politicians.
Within a democracy, socialism is a cynical con-game that, like all con-games everywhere, can’t operate without larceny in the heart of the “victim” or mark. Convince young voters that they can have a free higher education (regardless of how it’s going to get paid for or who’s going to pay for it), and, having been taught nothing useful by the socialist primary and secondary education systems they were compelled by force to attend, they will ignorantly vote you into office. Convince them that you deserve the power to order private businesses to pay them fifteen dollars an hour (whether their labor is actually worth it and it damages the business or not), and they will stupidly make you king.
That, in a nut-shell, and spread out over the entire culture, is what happened to Venezuela and why they’ve had to eat their pets. It’s what’s happened for three generations in North Korea, and why, it’s rumored, that cannibalism is being practiced there. The history of a hundred other countries that have tried socialism and suffered hideously for it informs us that these kinds of developments are inevitable.
Do not be confused by different, apparently competing brands of the stuff; you can call it socialism, or you can call it communism, or you can call it Nazism (“Nazi” is short for “National Socialist”); these are all ethical and practical equivalents of one another. They are all forms of collectivism—including democracy and the Democratic party, a thousand different arguments to make the theft (which is always the central element, the heart and soul of any of these schemes) appear reasonable—or even morally imperative.
Do not be deceived by the packaging. Bernie Sanders, for example, is not the cute, lovable little Muppet he appears to be. He’s an old guy, so he has had enough time to learn that, in the 20th century, somewhere between 100 million and 200 million men, women, and tiny little babies were murdered—whether they were shot outright, their heads caved in with Cambodian shovels, or simply starved to death—by socialist governments (in actions entirely separate from war).
It tells you something that socialism’s greatest romantic hero is Fidel Castro’s buddy, the murderer, torturer, and rapist Ernesto “Che” Guevara. Take a look at Venezuela (or California) again, North Korea or poor, ragged Sweden, all of which operate the way Bernie threatens to impose on us, and understand from what you see—and what history has to teach us—that Bernie is a grim harbinger of misery and death.
Those who consider themselves the libertarian movement’s hippest, “leading edge” thinkers alway claim to wonder why I resist the appropriation, expropriation, the theft of the material, the stories and ideas I’ve created with the sweat of my brow. After all, they falsely assert, Intellectual Property Rights are so last week. Congratulations, cretins, you’ve recreated socialism from inside the anti-socialist movement! But this conceit is not harmless or cute, like the crude little animated propaganda cartoons they generate to justify their thievery. It’s intellectual counterfeiting, conceptual inflation.
Property is life, You give up portions of your life to make or acquire it; it nurtures and supports your life afterward. My Intellectual Property is my life and those who threaten to take it from me are threatening my life.
Like the antis, I don’t much care for the current copyright system—or any of the suggested substitutes—but Intellectual Property needs protecting if any more of it is to be produced. (I’ve often wondered if that’s the real idea behind the socialist anti-Intellectual Property movement—to stifle the evolution of liberty.) For Intellectual Property foes, here’s your choice: the government protects my rights, or, then again, I can always protect them, myself.
Publisher and Senior Columnist L. Neil Smith is the author of over thirty books, mostly science fiction novels, L. Neil Smith has been a libertarian activist since 1962. His many books and those of other pro-gun libertarians may be found (and ordered) at L. Neil Smith’s THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE “Free Radical Book Store” The preceding essays were originally prepared for and appeared in L. Neil Smith’s THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE. Use them to fight the continuing war against tyranny.
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