Narrated by talk show host, Brian Wilson, “Down With Power” a Libertarian
Manifesto, by L. Neil Smith now downloadable as an audiobook!
Number Number 1,125, September 12, 2021

The vision of a better future worth fighting for

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With Thanks
by Harding McFadden

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Attribute to L. Neil Smith’s The Libertarian Enterprise

I wasn’t going to do this. Sit here and write an obit or short remembrance of El Neil, tell how much his work affected me, how reading the Enterprise gave me a weekly safe haven for years. I wasn’t going to do it. In truth, after I’d heard he’d died, I figured that the next half dozen issues of TLE would be filled with just such memories, from people far more articulate than I, who knew him better, and had had an association with this mag for a LOT longer than I had. I wasn’t going to do it.

Yet, here I am, doing just that, because Neil’s words did have an everlasting effect on me, and this little magazine did give me a safe haven, and it would be a crappy thing to do to just let his passing go without at least a few words. It would be villainous of me, and the countless others who look forward to reading TLE each Sunday, to let it all go without at least saying thank you, not only to El Neil, and Mrs. Hoyt, and the many luminaries that’ve brightened up not only out computer screens, but our lives as well.

I was a teenager when my uncle dropped The Probability Broach on me. I don’t even have the copy any more, having passed it off to someone else, but I read that thing cover to cover in a day. Over the following summer, I read every one of his books, up through Bretta Martyn (the newest book at the time), and became an insufferable prick as a result. Heinlein had helped me learn to question everything, to pull that crap apart until I could see its component parts, but it was Smith’s work that helped me put it all together again. Suddenly, everything was politics, and my mind was just too simple to be nice about it. It’s part of the process, I suppose. We kill what comes before us, then spend the rest of our lives rebuilding the wheel. 

From there, it was an easy jaunt over to the Enterprise. As often as it was published, I would sneak copies of each issue off of the printers at work, and throw them into binders, until there were so many of the damned things sitting around that I ran out of room for much else. But, it wasn’t just the articles that I took away from those early days. It was creators that I otherwise might never have found. There were Vic Millan, J. Neil Schulman, and others. Creators who wrote things that not only interested me, but promoted ideas that I could get behind. As I’m sure anyone reading this will remember, it is a breath-giving thing to know that you’re not alone in the world, that not everyone thinks and feels and acts like they share the same mind, that there is still a conscious and a morality out there that isn’t so wrapped up in the collective whole that it’d sacrifice the individual without batting an eye. It saved my soul to know that there were still people out there who hadn’t yet made beasts of themselves.

A few years back, I bit the bullet and submitted an article to TLE, and when it showed up on my computer screen, it made me smile. But, more than that, it made me content to be in some small way associated with not only this magazine that had meant so much to me, but to also be in some way associated with these creators that had done so much for so many.

But, now so many of them are gone. El Neil the most recent, but not alone. Schulman has been gone a few years, Millan a few more. Creators more interesting and passionate than nearly anyone working today. They weren’t the last, true, but I’m an old fart sometimes, and can’t help but wonder if there’ll ever be anyone to fill their shoes. Some folks build on the shoulders of giants, but for me and mine, Smith and Schulman and Heinlein and their brilliant ilk were the giants, and the rest of us just bask in their shade.

It occurs now that in all likelihood the days of the Enterprise are numbered. I can’t condemn anyone for this, as I have little doubt that it’s a thankless job for the most part, stressful with little to no payout for the effort. But it would be sinful of me to not say thank you to all of those involved in this endeavor. What you have done, current and past creators, is something of worth. You’ve saved lives, and shown that there’s good people out there. From the bottom of my heart, I thank you all.

Harding McFadden

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