Can't Fight a Culture War
news was very bad the day I started writing this speech. Not in the
traditional "Old Media" -- where there's never anything but
bad news (mostly government threats and lies which it's their principal
function to convey to the populace) -- but in the only source of good
news in the Known Galaxy, the internet.
it would appear, is waging war against the people. Here in Arizona, for
example, a woman first impoverished and then terrorized by an
appropriately named "criminal justice system" had no choice
but to plead guilty and to go to prison merely for associating with
other individuals who did nothing more, themselves, than exercise rights
guaranteed to them by the Constitution.
is waging war against the people. In another state, using his own
life-threatening illnesses as a weapon against him, the authorities were
systematically murdering a man in jail (if he isn't dead already; the
sheriff is withholding information on his condition from the public, the
media don't care, and a local judge has illegally refused to issue a
writ of habeas corpus) a man in jail not for growing a single medicinal
marijuana plant on his front porch in plain view of everyone, but for
expressing his politically incorrect ideas and ideals openly, often, and
at inexhaustible length on the internet.
is waging war against the people. In Not-So-Great Britain, a political
regime (which came to power only because people wanted more freedom, but
which has begun jailing them for carrying utility knives in their cars)
announced its decision to outlaw electronic privacy, declaring that from
now on, PGP and other encryption programs would be licensed, and a
decrypting key provided to the selfsame obnoxious bum-sniffers that
these programs were invented to keep out of the individual's private
business in the first place.
is waging war against the people. At the same time, the actor Sean
Connery -- James Bond himself, indomitable hero of dozens of inspiring
adventure films and, in real life, the likeliest leader (some say
president, some say King) of a free Scotland -- was recording vicious,
lying voiceovers for advertisements on behalf of the vile English
equivalent of Sarah Brady, demanding a complete ban on everything that
shoots, right down to .22 single-shot target pistols. In the 90s,
apparently, "007" means a license to kill freedom.
is waging war against the people. Back home, the National Rifle
Association, which calls itself the "world's oldest, largest civil
rights organization" was exposed in an incredibly corrupt and
apparently not unprecedented scam in which they offered to defend an
individual set up and falsely accused by the BATF -- the original
baby-butchers at Waco -- but only if the NRA got all of the publicity
and retained the right to plead the individual guilty (despite his
innocence) whenever they reckoned they'd spent enough money on him.
is waging war against the people. Meanwhile, the distinguished
editor of a high-quality gun magazine wrote an editorial in which he
conceded -- as if he were a tobacco company executive staring down at
the carpet and scuffing it with a guilty toe -- that maybe gun control
isn't such a bad idea after all, and that there are undeniably some
kinds of people (and who might they be, Jan, the Chinese, the Irish, the
Italians, blacks, women?) who probably should be denied free ownership
of firearms, despite the fact that it's been unequivocally guaranteed to
them by the highest law of the land, the Bill of Rights.
is waging war against the people. The Republican Party -- the party that
talks very glibly about individual liberty whenever it wants its
candidates to win elections, but that spends more time and effort
between elections sneaking around behind our backs raping the Bill of
Rights with what Charles Curley has called "Pearl Harbor"
legislation -- the Republican Party lies paralyzed, like a whale
stranded on a beach somewhere. And given their recent record, that may
be a good thing. One by one, GOP leaders that many had counted on to
help fix things were disappointing their constituents: Dick Armey, Trent
Lott (don't forget Ken Starr), maybe even Fred Thompson. And Mr. Spock
was wrong: only Newt Gingrich could go to China, on the arm of Albert
is waging war against the people. All over the country, little kids were
getting busted: for kissing each other at school; for sharing Midol and
Alka-Seltzer; for carrying wee pen knives -- by a public institution
that long ago proved itself utterly incapable of (and uninterested in)
teaching them to read, or of doing much of anything else except
advancing the National Education Association's fascist agenda. At the
same time, American jurors were being threatened for rendering the
fairest verdict they were capable of, and elderly ladies were being
arrested for feeding other people's parking meters.
is waging war against the people. The nation's courts -- more
specifically, its judges -- have begun converting democracy into a
museum of totalitarian horrors. In a state where voters decided that
individuals may determine for themselves whether to live or die, and
under what conditions, a court determined for them that such a decision
was somehow unconstitutional. In another, where voters decided not to
create another politically protected class by granting special
privileges to homosexuals, courts told them they couldn't make that
decision, either. In yet another couple of states, where voters decided
to ease marijuana laws for medical reasons, the government deluged
physicians and the public with threats. And in a state where voters
decided to sweep away 30 years of unconstitutional preferences based on
race, courts again reversed the will of the people, a finding since
invalidated, although the quota-socialists still have at least two
levels of appeals to fall back on.
is waging war against the people. The mass media go easy on
mass-murderers like Deng Xiaoping or Janet Reno because in trade where,
"if it bleeds it leads," they're seen as benefactors. Yet
Amnesty International and the so-called "American" so-called
"Civil" so-called "Liberties" so-called
"Union" maintain their cowardly and hypocritical silence with
regard to Waco -- which, I suppose, is better than the Anti-Defamation
League which actively supports the Clinton massacre and attacks anyone
who criticizes it -- Waco, an infamously historic event regarding which
the so-called "presidential" so-called "candidate"
of the so-called "Libertarian" so-called "Party" had
to be bullied for two solid years before he even mentioned it in his
is waging war against the people. And that was just a single day in the
life of a single individual member of this civilization, the day I
happened to start writing this speech. It all sounds quite thoroughly
insane, doesn't it? In fact it sounds very much like the ergot-induced
mass insanity people suffered from in the Dark Ages. It also sounds like
the "Crazy Years" that Robert A. Heinlein predicted and wrote
about in his outline of future history.
it's clear that government is waging war against the people. But if you
haven't given up altogether -- given up on civilization, given up on
humanity, given up on yourself, given up on the future of any of those
things -- if you haven't given up, then the next questions that
naturally arise are these:
is government waging war against the people?"
is all of this insanity happening?"
what, if anything, can we do about it?".
first thing you need to know, in order to establish some perspective and
avoid panic, is that the violent government excesses we're seeing today
are far from unprecedented. They don't represent a new pattern at all,
but one that's very old indeed -- even in "the land of the free and
the home of the brave".
In World War I (just to begin in the 20th century, and as a single example out of thousands from that era) a young Hutterite -- Hutterites are a German pacifist sect who immigrated to America to avoid conscription by the Kaiser and settled principally in the Dakotas -- a young Hutterite boy who refused military service for reasons of religious conviction, neverthless agreed to do everything required of him by the Army except put on its uniform. Taken to the prison at Fort Leavenworth in the dead of Kansas winter, he was suspended for weeks by wrist-manacles from a pipe in a cellar with a foot of water on the floor. When he caught pneumonia and died, before his grief-stricken mother could arrive by train to claim her dead son's body, the Army buried it...
World War II, Japanese-Americans were confined in concentrations camps
illegally, while the homes and farms they'd labored all their lives to
build were stolen from them by neighbors or local governments, often
never to be returned.
the 1950s, federal agencies invaded a community of Mormon polygamists,
sorted the families out like herds of animals and made humiliating
photographs of them, while the husbands and fathers were held in prison
until they signed written statements denouncing plural marriages and
rendering their children illegitimate.
all know how tax-resistor Gordon Kahl was ambushed, publicly defamed,
hunted down, and finally gassed, machinegunned, and incinerated (and
where have we heard that before?), while his daughter was found
mysteriously shot to death in her car on a lonely country road a year
later. Most of us also remember how a group of people in Philadelphia,
accused of nothing more serious than disturbing the peace, was bombed by
a police helicopter. The resulting fire killed 11 and destroyed 60
homes, and the mayor who ordered the bombing was reelected.
it all means is that you can't let anybody get away with claiming that
today's horrors are rare, regrettable exceptions, aberrations, the acts
of isolated renegades within the government. What they are -- what
they've always been -- are expressions of policy, a policy that
invariably places every consideration before that one indivisible value
the United States was created to cherish above all others, the life,
liberty, and property of the individual.
Since 1750, human lifespan has been lengthened 3 1/2-fold by science and capitalism. But how much, on average, has it been shortened by governments which, in just this century alone have murdered a quarter of a billion people? There can be no net benefit from government. The worst thing about the Nanny State is that Nanny needs babies to mind, and if she can't find them, she'll make them out of the materials at hand. And if the potential babies resist -- well, you can't have Hillary's healthcare without Hitler's Holocaust. They arise from exactly the same source, the power of the state to use brute force against the individual to get whatever it is they -- Hillary and Hitler -- decide they want.
few years ago, my good friend and esteemed colleague, Alan Bock of the
Orange County Register, wrote a book called The Fourth American
Revolution: Reviving the Dream (still unpublished, which is significant
in and of itself) in which he asked the question of our age. The Cold
War, Alan observed, the most prolonged and terrible conflict between
good and evil in the history of mankind, is over. We won it. Now think
about what Times Square looked like at the end of World War II, the
famous photo of the sailor kissing the girl -- how come we aren't all
out dancing in the streets?
answer of course is that, no matter what the hagiographers of Saint
Ronald Wilson Reagan would have us believe, "we" didn't win
the Cold War, at all. Any society based on central planning and a
command economy is untenable, against the laws of nature, and bound
sooner or later to collapse of its own weight, whether acted upon by an
outside force or not. And the dismal historic truth is that most of the
"outside force" that came from us was meant not to defeat the
Evil Empire, but to prop it up. "We" didn't win the Cold War.
"They" lost it.
more importantly in the present context, a surprising number of that
"they" who lost the Cold War still make up a majority of those
by whom we find ourselves governed, in what we naively once believed was
the Free World. I'll repeat that, since it's central to everything else
I'll say tonight. Some of that "they" who lost the Cold War
are those by whom we now find ourselves governed.
once said -- or I will; I get confused when I'm writing more than one
book at a time as I am now; it's almost as bad as time-travel -- that if
you put a "little" man in a position to say "no", he
inevitably will. Robert A. Heinlein spoke more to the point: "Don't
frighten a little man. He'll kill you."
domestic foes of individual liberty -- those by whom we find ourselves
governed -- are "little men", deep down inside. They see
themselves that way, exactly as they were bred to do. Exactly as they
were indoctrinated to do. Otherwise, they'd be doing something else,
something genuinely productive for a living. Otherwise, they'd leave us
the hell alone. Otherwise, they'd be us.
more, these "little men" by whom we find ourselves governed,
who were unable or unwilling to learn a lesson from the fatal flaws
spreading within its foundation like cracks caused by the settling
earth, have watched the world of their fondest, most cherished hopes and
dreams collapse with the demolition of the Berlin Wall and the demise of
the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
them, because they were unwilling or unable to learn the fundamental
laws of nature, it must have seemed an inexplicable nightmare. What we
all witnessed in those heady days was a rebirth of long-suppressed
freedom. What the "little men" by whom we find ourselves
governed were forced to witness was the humiliating and -- to them --
mysterious fall of their counterparts, their alter-egos, people they
admired, people to whom they offered as much political and economic
support as they dared, people with whom they attended glittering
cocktail parties and diplomatic receptions. People with whom they
knocked back vintage champagne and beluga caviar as if somebody else
were paying for it...
of course, these "little men" by whom we find ourselves
governed always claimed there was a universe of difference between the
collectivized East and the particularized West.
they know their own thoughts.
know that there isn't a microgram of difference between their innermost
philosophy of governance and that of their sadly fallen comrades. They
hate, loathe, and despise the free market system. They hate, loathe, and
despise private industrial capitalism. They hate, loathe, and despise
the Bill of Rights. What's more -- and if you doubt me or think I
exaggerate, just have a conversation with any cop, any judge, or any
city councilman -- they perceive even the slightest manifestation of
individuality (let alone of individualism) as an administrative
inconvenience and a potential police problem.
the "little men" by whom we find ourselves governed fear that
a disaster similar to that which consumed their Soviet colleagues may
they are terribly, terribly afraid.
what Heinlein said: "Don't frighten a little man. He'll kill
you'd like an idea of what the "little men" by whom we find
ourselves governed are most afraid of -- and of how far gone they are in
terms of mental and moral health -- consider that for decades we've been
handed a line of guff about how policemen are a "thin blue
line" keeping us from being overwhelmed by the barbarian criminal
hordes. Uncountable billions of dollars -- extracted from us at gunpoint
by the very institution that claims to be protecting us -- have been
spent because of that line of guff, while we've been compelled to
surrender more and more individual rights the Founding Fathers believed
were inalienable and essential.
now we learn (although it may be buried on page D-143 of the local fish
wrapper) that although civilians are attacked by violent criminals three
times as often as policemen, policemen kill the wrong individual five
times as often as armed civilians. Allow me to reiterate that
astonishing statistic: although civilians are attacked by violent
criminals three times as often as policemen, policemen kill the wrong
individual five times as often as armed civilians.
over the past few years -- motivated by the threat of pending victim
disarmament statutes originally proposed by Republican theorists like
William Bennett and enacted by regimes like the Clinton Administration
in collusion with prostitutes like Bob Dole -- ordinary individuals have
purchased weapons in unprecedented numbers. Americans are better armed
at present than at any other period in history. At the same time -- also
in unprecedented numbers -- they are carrying those weapons, whether
legally or illegally, about their persons.
those two things are going on, violent crime rates have plummetted,
calling into doubt the entire concept of government peacekeeping and
delegated self-defense. Policemen prevent crime the way a crowing
rooster brings the sunrise.
-- who's actually stated publicly that the Founding
Fathers were too radical and gave us too many rights and that it's time
some of them were taken back -- has tried claiming that
diminishing crime is a result of the limits he constantly imposes on our
liberties, citing crime rates that have not fallen in places that
already had stringent victim disarmament. The trouble with this lie
(which nobody on either side actually believes in any case) is that real
deterrents, gun ownership and concealed carry, have never been allowed
to work their not-too-terribly-mysterious wonders in such places. And
now we discover why. Too many cops and bureaucrats stand to lose secure
jobs and fat pensions. Better to let women and children die in the
streets ... than to give up money and power.
doesn't help to allay their fears that President Jed Klampetsky the
hillbilly Marxist has been telling anyone who'll listen that "the
era of big government is over". Because even they can't tell when
he's lying and to whom, and because it's bad news to them (and they are
human, we must concede, and therefore more inclined to take bad news
seriously than good) the "little men" by whom we find
ourselves governed are more inclined to believe him about its being the
end of the era of big government than we ever were.
all over again, they are terribly, terribly afraid -- for one thing,
because not one of them believes he can find employment in the
productive sector of the economy.
that for the most part I don't think any of this represents a fully
conscious awareness on the part of the "little men" by whom we
find ourselves governed. To a greater extent than many of us realize,
perhaps, they aren't capable of a fully conscious awareness of anything.
Otherwise, as I say, they'd be doing something productive, they'd leave
us alone, and they'd be us.
it's more like the desperate mindset of a trapped animal. The pursuit of
coercive power over others will someday be universally recognized as a
symptom of profound mental illness. In individuals who already have such
power in small or large amounts, the earth- shattering political events
of the last decade have given rise to what I was trained to call a
"psychotic break". To put it in technical terms, the
"little men" by whom we find ourselves governed are all
"going postal". Whenever something happens -- whenever anybody
does anything -- that they interpret as a threat to their authority,
their reflex is to overreact hysterically...
you take nothing else from my speech tonight, take this, and understand
it clearly: this is not the firm, confident hand of a triumphant
conqueror we're seeing at work here -- and certainly not the signature
of an enemy too powerful or deeply-entrenched to be dislodged -- but the
bloodless, trembling, uncertain fingers (although they still lay across
the triggers of a million terrible weapons) of the defeated
representatives of a rapidly dying way of life.
so in the long run, as absurd, as ironic, and as horrifying as it may
seem, all of the government atrocities that we've been witnessing are
hallmarks of good news yet to come. However before we begin to
celebrate, before I get to what we can do to rid ourselves of the
terrified "little men" by whom we find ourselves governed,
before I begin discussing how to pry the guns out of their quaking,
white-knuckled grasp, we must face one final unpleasant fact together.
sad fact is that none of this tragedy was necessary. If you want to know
how to wage the most successful presidential campaign in the history of
the Libertarian Party -- and spend almost no money doing it -- I can
tell you how in a handful of sentences. At the same time, I can also
tell you how to prove to your own satisfaction that I'm right, and the
national LP is dead.
announce, in a speech more or less like the one I'm giving here that you
will run for the presidency, say in the year 2000, if those individuals
who want you to run can collect at least 2,000,000 certifiably
legitimate pledges to vote for you. That's how Tory Aquino came to be
president of the Philippines. Tell them if they want to see your
political "platform", they can find it in every almanac and
encyclopedia, and almost every dictionary, in libraries and bookstores
called the Bill of Rights.
them to read it carefully, and not to take the word, concerning what it
means, of anyone who collects a government paycheck, because if it's
properly enforced -- stringently enforced -- it'll shut down 95 percent
of that government, and eradicate every last remaining trace of
socialism in American civilization.
that you don't want anyone to send you any money! (That thump! you just
heard was probably the late, great macho mastermind of the Browne-Cloud
campaign passing out cold.) No money, just those formal promises to vote
for you. I guarantee that as those promises begin to pile up, you'll get
all of the free publicity -- TV, newspapers, radio -- that you could
ever possibly desire.
I'm sure you can see that an enterprise like this has many advantages.
For one thing, it isn't a political campaign at all, but simply one
individual in the process of being persuaded by his friends -- all two
million of them -- that he has some chance of making an impact, and
therefore ought to run. As such, it isn't subject to the tangled laws
and regulations governing political campaigns.
another, the pledges don't have to conform to any standard imposed by
the "liitle men" by whom we find ourselves governed. All they
have to do is satisfy the potential candidate that they represent real
voters and are sincere.
may want to retain the LP's 50-state ballot status. Frankly, I've always
been amazed at the accomplishment it represents. But everything else --
everything the LP has ever done to participate in any national election
-- is a complete waste of motion and money. The League of Women Voters
still won't let you into their presidential debates, not because you
don't qualify, but because they don't want you in their phoney baloney
debates, under any circumstances.
the way you'll know that the LP is dead is that, when you walk into the
national convention with those 2,000,000 pledges in your pocket, more
than twice the number of votes ever earned by any LP presidential
candidate -- and no way to extract the fillings out of the teeth of
anybody who gave you those pledges -- the LP, so putrescent with
corruption at its uppermost levels that it shines in the dark like fish
rotting on a beach, will nominate somebody else.
140 years ago, the officers and cadets of the United States Military
Academy are said to have assembled in a field just outside of West Point
to salute each other one last time and ride their separate ways upon the
even of the War between the States.
30 years ago, Libertarians who had owned no other home, politically, but
would not lower themselves to endorse conscription or the war in
Vietnam, walked out of the Young Americans for Freedom convention in St.
Louis and met beneath the great arch to create the Society for
we have reached another historic crossroad, another parting of the ways.
The time has come to separate the cowards, the cretins, and the con-men
of the national Libertarian Party from the people of principle and
friends and comrades, the national LP is dead, and even if we loved it
once, as deeply as the poor mother dolphin did her dead baby, we must be
wise enough, and strong enough, and faithful to the truth enough to let
people -- the entire Libertarian Party National Committee, for example
-- will refuse to believe that all of that was hard for me to say. But
this has been a rough couple of years for me in many ways, characterized
by blinding flashes of insight of the kind that are usually accompanied
with a slap to the forehead and the Homeric -- no, let's make that
Simpsonian -- expletive, "Dohh!"
case in point -- and almost the only reason I'm standing here now -- is
David Brock's strange and strangely compelling book The Seduction of
you haven't read it -- and I recommend highly that you do for a reason
I'll get into shortly -- on the surface, it's the more or less
straightforward political biography of the most thoroughly detested
woman of our times, written by an investigative journalist who displays
a novelist's inclination to become enamored of the character he has
created no matter how sick and disgusting she may happen to be. I tend
to do this myself, and I understand the impulse very well. Whatever
other readers may get out of Brock's fascinating book, whatever he meant
them to get out of it, something else entirely leapt off its pages at
me, something he probably didn't give much thought to beyond its use as
the setting in which his principal character acted out her role.
Revealing it to you now, I feel embarrassed and ashamed that I haven't
been fully aware of it for each of the 35 years I've considered myself a
Libertarian activist. Even now it's difficult to wrench myself around to
discussing how naive I've been. (See, I'm stalling now!) My only
consolation is that, if you're honest with yourself, you're going to
feel exactly the same way in a moment, and we'll all spend some time, at
least figuratively, slapping our foreheads and exclaiming, "Dohh!"
it all comes down to is that I've been belatedly impressed -- if not to
say, humbled -- by the length, breadth, depth, and -- for want of a
better expression -- the complexly interwoven "density" of the
left wing's cultural and organizational "infrastructure".
Wherever leading Democrats happen to go, whatever they happen to require
to advance their agenda, there already exists some well-heeled, well-
oiled, well-organized instrumentality, from various "public
interest research groups" or the Jane Jeffersons, at the
grassroots, to the Children's Defense Fund or the Legal Services
Corporation at a higher level -- and everything you can possibly imagine
in between -- to make it happen.
think these observations explain certain phenomena that -- at least to
the right wing -- remain mysteries even deeper than the first ten
amendments to the Constitution. They tell us, for example, why the left
seems to own the media. Not only do they run the public schools, where
they pound their lying propaganda into helpless children for 13 years,
not only do they run the journalism schools where they teach their
former victims to do the same thing to others, they've created or
control hundreds of fraternal organizations, clubs, professional
associations, and honorary societies that no journalist is likely to
avoid belonging to if he wishes to advance and be respected by his
... not only were we Libertarians naive in the extreme to think that the
Libertarian Party could achieve success without this kind of ... well,
I've actually been thinking of calling it "infraculture" ...
the fact is that even the Republicans don't have anything like it. They
have a few political action committees here and there, a scattered
handful of think-tanks, even a couple of newspapers whose J-school
graduate news personnel smirk at them behind their backs. They have
nothing like the Democrats in terms of length, breadth, depth, and
complexly interwoven density. Which explains the very narrow range of
circumstances under which they can gain and hold power. They can never
have the Presidency, for instance, unless the Democrats field a
singularly inept candidate like George McGovern, Walter Mondale, or
can win local elections, because they are capable of creating small,
effective, local organizations. And since Congressional elections are
all local, they can win and even hold onto Congress -- although it's a
toss-up whether they took the Senate through Democratic ineptitude or
Republican ... well, "eptitide". Ironically, this makes the
GOP rather like the Communists in Italy, who've traditionally been most
effective at the municipal level. It also explains why Newt Gingrich --
whatever his real faults from a Libertarian standpoint -- had to be
attacked and destroyed. He'd found a way of linking all those effective
purely local Republican efforts into an effective national one.
fun to listen to Republicans whimper, "But you'll give the election
to the Democrats!" That part they understand, although why they
think that's worse than Republicans being elected, especially on the
basis of their recent cowardly, stupid, morally repulsive performance,
I'll never know. What they never get -- what we must make them get -- is
that all they have to do to prevent it is to be better than we are,
principally by enforcing the Bill of Rights. If they'd do that -- repeal
taxes, regulations, 20,000 gun laws, and the War on Drugs -- we wouldn't
be a threat to them at all, now, would we?
elements hold the leftist infraculture together. The first is pure
power-hunger, as I said earlier, a form of mental illness characterized
by a need to influence the behavior of others through the initiation of
force or the threat of force. The second is greed, which in this context
I define as a desire for the unearned wealth that only political power
can obtain. The third is the actual content of the infraculture,
consisting of literature, music, dance, graphics, drama, and other forms
of expression which convey its values to each new generation, and
reaffirm them in those who already share them.
of those elements are forbidden to Libertarians -- although this may
comes as news to the Libertarian National Committee and their henchmen
at the Watergate -- power-hunger and greed as I define it here. What
remains is the third, and I believe strongest, most effective element of
the three: shared culture. Even if it weren't the strongest, most
effective element of the three, it remains the only one that's ethically
available to us, and the one that -- having failed to change America
politically -- we must now begin to emphasize.
would be more correct to say "begin again". When the
Libertarian movement got its real start in the 1960s, it was almost
exclusively cultural in character. This was a time when 80-odd percent
of the people who called themselves Libertarians said that they'd joined
the movement (if they admitted to having joined anything at all) because
of the works of two novelists, one who didn't know she was writing
science fiction and one who knew perfectly well that he was. This was a
time when most of us learned everything we know today about philosophy,
politics, ethics, and economics by sitting around in each other's living
rooms listening to big black vinyl disks of a little old lady speaking
in a heavy Russian accent.
importantly, it was a time when nobody within the movement would have
said that the Non-Aggression Principle is outdated, irrelevant, or
excessively limiting, because they understood perfectly what principles
are and why they are vitally important. It was a time when nobody would
ever have suggested that a "little bit" of aggression -- oh,
say, a 10% flat income tax or a 5% national sales tax -- was acceptable,
because they all knew better than that. Because they were all better
Libertarians -- and better human beings -- than that.
"pragmatists" -- whose "pragmatism" has earned us
fewer votes than the average Flat Earther candidate,
"pragmatists" who, for all intents and purposes, have finished
off the national LP -- sneer at those among us who sat around listening
to Ayn Rand and Nathaniel Branden. They sneer at those among us who were
inspired by the novels of Robert A. Heinlein and Poul Anderson and H.
Beam Piper. All they're capable of doing is sneering at others because
they have nothing real of their own to be proud of. All they have is a
lot of hype and noise and big promises, and when none of them come true,
lame excuses and baldfaced lies.
was, I believe, Newt Gingrich who, taking a look at TV, the movies,
popular music, and so forth, identified what was going on inside and
outside of those media as a "culture war", one which his side
-- and ours no less than his -- was losing. I tried telling the same
thing to my book editor at Random House -- a self-described conservative
-- 20 years ago, and he laughed me off, just as he did when I predicted
the collapse of the Soviet Union 10 years before it happened. I say now
that Gingrich was right, and furthermore, that you can't fight a culture
war if you ain't got any culture. Which is where 20 years of
monomaniacal focus on nothing but electoral politics has left our
say it again: you can't fight a culture war if you ain't got any
now, let me offer you an idea -- just a single idea out of thousands of
potential ideas -- of how we might fight that culture war effectively.
And to avoid any accusation that I'm advancing my own career here (like
a certain former presidential candidate) while pretending to lecture on
politics and culture, I'll talk about somebody else. When I'm through,
I'll talk about myself.
the best case in point that I can think of is Victor Koman's wonderful
novel Kings of the High Frontier, a broad, hot, healthy ray of
unfiltered sunlight shining into the dark, moldering dungeon that
America's space program has become. And, we must acknowledge sadly,
always was. The shadowy creatures who lurk within that musty darkness
know this bright light for exactly what it is and apparently their
allies in New York have done everything they can to help them avoid the
healing radiation Kings of the High Frontier represents. Koman proves
that America doesn't need a space program. It needs a hundred space
programs, a thousand space programs, ten thousand space programs. And
the idea that drives this book -- this book itself -- is the only way we
can get them. Our culture -- and our culture war -- needs Kings of the
I pretend to hear you say, what can I do about a book that can't seem to
find its way into print? More importantly, what can I do with it? To
begin with -- believe it or not -- thanks to the myriad wonders of the
internet, you can buy it. Tell your search engine to find , download
Kings of the High Frontier for the princely sum of $3.50, help feed Vic
Koman's family, keep him writing, and sooner or later your efforts in
this connection, coupled with those of others, will help force the book
happy to tell you that since I began writing this speech, something has
already happened. Claire Wolf reviewed Kings of the High Frontier very
favorably in The Libertarian Enterprise, and then The Magazine of
Fantasy & Science Fiction gave it a rave review, as well. (This is
an unpublished book being reviewed here.) As a direct consequence, the
manuscript is back in the hands of at least three publishers that I know
of, and with a much better chance at getting a fair reading than it ever
once it's been published in the conventional sense, your mission in the
culture war -- should you decide to accept it -- will be to help make it
a best seller. Buy the book yourself, bestow it as a treasured gift upon
your family, friends, and enemies whose lives you want to see shortened
by stroke or heart attack. Talk about it on the radio. Write letters to
the editor about it. Invite the author to come to conventions, pay him a
lot of money so he won't have to sell real estate for a living, and get
him on the radio and TV.
short, treat the author exactly as if he were your candidate running for
the highest office in the land. Invest all of the time, energy, and
money in promoting his work that you used to invest -- with no
measurable effect -- in the national LP. You'll get real results this
way. You'll begin to alter the culture around you far more effectively,
far more profoundly than you ever did politically. You'll know where
every dime of your money is going, and you'll be getting something
tangible for it: a book in your hand that you would have written
yourself if you were a book writer; a book that you chose to speak for
you can help make Kings of the High Frontier a bestseller, not only will
you be broadcasting Koman's ideas to a wider audience than any of our
presidential candidates ever reached -- certainly more than ever watch
the debates -- you'll be elevating his prestige as a writer and a
spokesman for individual liberty. He'll wind up talking to Letterman and
Leno, and you can count on Victor never to geek out or soft-pedal the
ideas he's suffered so much adversity to champion. He'll be a
"candidate" you can "campaign" for proudly, and for
more than just a year or two, but for a lifetime and even beyond.
you'll embolden other writers who've been cautious about expressing
the advantages of this process -- commonly known as the free market
system (pardon me for sounding like an infomercial) -- don't stop there.
Unlike the collectivist, zero-sum process by which we choose our
political candidates, you can promote the author of your choice without
cancelling out somebody else's choice. If Koman's Kings of the High
Frontier is too blatant or noisy for you, you can help Robert Boardman
get his novel Savior of Fire (which only seems gentler on the surface)
into wider circulation than it's previously enjoyed, and get his second
novel, The Trashers into print. You can invite Bob to your conventions
(where he can appear on a panel with Victor), talk about him on the
radio, and write letters to the editor about him.
where, you ask, does all this get us? Science fiction is fun, but in a
broader sense, what is it for? Well, so far, we've all been
"preaching to the choir". Now it's time to "play the
Palace", to take our message out and begin altering society with
it. There are many, many possible approaches. I offer this idea merely
as one example. I call it "Project Zola", referring to the way
French author Emile Zola was able to rally overwhelming public support
in 1898 for Captain Alfred Dreyfus, a Jewish military officer framed,
railroaded, court-martialed, and sent to Devil's Island for the crime of
treason -- which had actually been committed by one of his accusers. It
required 12 long years to vindicate Dreyfus -- but then Emile Zola
didn't have the internet to work with!
lack of a better name, there is a need to establish something we might
call "Artists and Writers for Enforcment of the Bill of
Rights", a coterie of individuals with respectable credentials, and
of every political stripe, who could begin immediately, by sending a
petition over their signatures -- echoed in full page newspaper ads --
to whatever Executive has authority in the matter, demanding clemency in
the case our comrades Dean Pleasant, Wally Sanvil, and their friends the
so-called "Viper Militia" who are clearly guilty of nothing
more than exercising their rights under clear Constitutional guarantees
that, increasingly, are being illegally ignored or swept aside by a pack
of power-hungry politicians -- the "little men" (and women) by
whom we find ourselves governed -- and who are apparently unconcerned
about turning America into a fascist dictatorship as long as it will
sufficiently advance their despicable careers.
general, this group (maybe scientists and scholars would form a sister
organization later on, and there are even a few pro-freedom educators
and lawyers out there) would stand publicly against the violent hysteria
of the BATF, the FBI, and other agencies, demand real justice with
regard to Waco and similar atrocities, an end to RICO and the War on
Drugs, and advocate stringent enforcement of the first ten Amendments to
the Constitution as the only viable alternative to our becoming the
world's largest banana republic. I can think of many relatively
well-known writers -- right, left, and libertarian -- who would probably
be willing to help, at least by going on record, and there will be many
more as they persuade their friends and colleagues. If we had even a
hundred such outspoken individuals to begin with, this could become an
extremely effective effort.
after a dozen such effective efforts, or a hundred, or a thousand -- or
how ever many it takes -- in the same way that we all put an end to the
war in Vietnam a generation and a half ago, we will teach this culture
to laugh at and reject the "little men" by whom we'll finally
find ourselves left the hell alone.
all because you helped a deserving writer get published and become a
haven't even scratched the surface of the advantages of the cultural
approach. The possibilities are endless. We typically get stuck with one
candidate who usually can't resist the temptation to try to be "all
things to all men" by watering down principled Libertarian
positions on the issues until they're almost undistinguishable from
those of Republican or even Democratic candidates. By contrast, somebody
who can't be reached by one of our writers may be accessible to another,
without the ideas we stand for being diluted at all.
I'm only going to address the cultural area I'm familiar with. I won't
even try to begin talking about the backbone of the movement, thousands
of books by hundreds of philosophers, historians, and social
commentators from Lysander Spooner to Murray Rothbard to Jeffrey Rogers
Hummel (whose august ranks I plan to join in a small way with my own
collection of essays, Lever Action). What I know best is fiction -- with
an emphasis on practically the only "literature of ideas" that
remains in human civilization, science fiction.
understand that we have others practicing in other areas, some of them
famous, like humorists Dave Barry and P.J. O'Rourke, screen writer,
producer and director John Milius, Clint Eastwood, Orson Bean, Michael
Moriarty, and the unclassifiable Dr. Demento. (I won't discuss the
critics here, useless parasites I have difficulty considering human, let
alone Libertarian.) We do have non-fiction writers who specialize
honorably in cultural matters, supreme recognition -- with oak leaf
clusters -- going to Wendy McElroy, who began her tenure in the movement
as a poet. And where would any of us be without an individual I'm proud
to call my friend, and happy to have on my side in this brawl we call
the marketplace of ideas, Andrea Millen Rich of Laissez Faire Books?
to get back: if your prospect for "conversion" to
Libertarianism is of a traditionalist frame of mind, then the
"proto-Libertarians" like Robert A. Heinlein, Poul Anderson,
H. Beam Piper, or Eric Frank Russell may be just the ticket.
how about "classic" Libertarian novelists like: Robert Anton
Wilson, co-author (with the late Bob Shea) of Illuminatus!; F. Paul
Wilson, author of An Enemy of the State and the forthcoming Deep As the
Marrow; Vernor Vinge, author of Across Realtime; Melinda Snodgrass,
formerly of The Next Generation and author of the Circuit trilogy; J.
Neil Schulman, author not only of two fiction works, Alongside Night and
The Rainbow Cadenza, but of two important non-fiction efforts, Stopping
Power and Self Control Not Gun Control; Victor Milan, author of The
Cybernetic Samurai; Brad Linaweaver, author of Moon of Ice; Ken MacLeod,
author of The Star Fraction, The Stone Canal, and, forthcoming, The
Cassini Division; Victor Koman, who gave us The Jehovah Contract and
Solomon's Knife long before Kings; James P. Hogan, author of The Gentle
Giants of Ganymede and Voyage from Yesteryear; Glen Cook, author of A
Matter of Time, and (he mumbled modestly), yours truly, the author of
some 20 books including The Probability Broach and Pallas. Watch for
Bretta Martyn in August followed later by The American Zone.
feed my family; keep me writing.
mentioned the late Robert Shea, author on his own of Shike. He's not the
only classical Libertarian novelist we've lost. There's also the late,
and very greatly missed Kay Nolte Smith, author of The Watcher and
Venetian Song, and my friend Brian Daley (author of the Star Wars Han
Solo trilogy, the "Coramonde" books, and my personal favorite,
Brian's Hobart Floyt-Alacrity Fitzhugh trilogy). Brian never understood,
I think, why I insisted that he was a Libertarian, but he never
advocated the initiation of force in any of his novels, and stood up for
the freedom of the individual at every turn. These brilliant,
hardworking people passed away before they could see any cultural result
from their many labors. They'll be remembered fondly by Libertarians
until they're celebrated by everyone as the courageous and hardy
pioneers they were.
we have many newcomers to take their places. I mentioned Robert Boardman,
who, interestingly enough is the second cousin by marriage (I think) to
my managing editor at The Libertarian Enterprise, Yiing Boardman.
There's also W.T. Quick, not exactly a newcomer, but whom I recently met
thanks to the internet. Wendy McElroy informs me that she just sent her
first SF novel off to her agent. And last but not least, your own
formidable Fran van Cleave who has penetrated the statist inner sanctum
of Analog with her story, "Second Chance".
we have the even newer comers, those who've completed novels but not yet
sold them: my old comrade David Anderson (the fellow who "piped me
in" to the address I delivered at the 1993 national LP convention
in Salt Lake City), distinguished former USA Today columnist Patrick
Cox, and my friend John Cornell.
of them all as your perpetual presidential candidates. They will help
you to accomplish many wonderful things you thought were impossible. By
spending your money elsewhere for the next several years, you'll be able
to starve the Watergate and National Headquarters parasites in exactly
the same way you'd cut off its blood supply in order to kill a tumor.
When the money's gone at national, they'll go away to work some other
flim-flam on some other suckers.
I returned to the LP in 1993, following an absence of some 13 years, I
was shocked to see the way it had "grayed". Where were all the
young people to pick up the torch of liberty when we drop it and carry
it into the future? Well you see, young people don't have much money to
contribute to campaigns and to the "consultants" who feed off
them, so the LP's future had been abandoned. If we let that trend go on,
it won't be just the LP that's dead, but the movement. And I can
guarantee that we'll attract and win and hold many more young people
with Anthem, Red Planet, The Starfox, The Great Explosion, and, dare I
say, The Probability Broach, than we ever will with Why Government
Rand was well known for her negative opinion of Libertarians and the
Libertarian Party. Part of it was merely an understandable (if not
entirely forgivable) conflict of time and place. Rand was the greatest
philosopher, advocate of reason, and champion of liberty of her time.
She was also a little old immigrant lady, not unlike my wife's Bohemian
grandmother, who couldn't accept the logical conclusion -- anarchism, as
Roy Childs pointedly informed her -- that her philosophy of
uncompromising individualism inevitably leads to, who didn't like men to
wear long hair and beards (I'm sure earrings would have blown her mind
completely) and who was disgusted by certain expressions of
uncompromising individualism such as homosexuality and recreational drug
we know that she was right. Not only can't you fight a culture war, you
can't fight a political war if you ain't got any culture. The political
payoff -- provided you do things right -- comes later, and I might add,
even if a Libertarian president were elected by a miraculous fluke this
very minute, he'd be able to accomplish absolutely nothing. Like Newt
Gingrich, he'd be forced to waste every minute of the next four years
fighting for his political life. Maybe even for his literal life. At the
very least he'd be impeached for the "high crime and
misdemeanor" of attempting to enforce the Bill of Rights.
the culture and you won't be able to stop people from voting
Libertarian, or from bringing about the political changes we've fought
for all our lives.
sure many of you must have noticed that until this moment, I haven't
mentioned today's date, April 19th, and the many historical events
associated with it. April 19th was first marked by the "shot heard
'round the world", the battles of Lexington and Concord and the
start of the American Revolution. April 19th is the date associated with
resistance to the Nazis at the Jewish Alamo, the Warsaw ghetto. In 1993
the "little men" by whom we find ourselves governed got their
revenge at the Waco ghetto. Two years later, in Oklahoma City, they
bulldozed the evidence as fast as they could, just as they had in Texas.
saved mentioning it until last because I want to make a promise to you.
Someday, April 19th will be everything it should have been for the past
two centuries, a holiday that surpasses the Fourth of July. It will
become a day when, by tradition, laughing children will burn the
"little men" by whom we find ourselves no longer governed in
effigy, and the land will echo with the ringing of bells and the rattle
and bang of fireworks bought and set off by individuals.
the immortal words of Elvis Presley, "Thank you very much."
I finished composing this speech, I wrote to various individuals on the
'net, requesting names of Libertarian "culture- warriors" I
may have overlooked. Although the appointed day came and went, data kept
coming in. I felt much of it was important enough to pass on in this
addendum to the "as-delivered" version of my speech.
begin with, Tibor Machan (if philosophers were treated like rock stars
he'd be at least the Mick Jagger of the movement) endorses the works of
David Karp, author of One and The Last Believers. According to Wendy
McElroy, among others, David Brin, author of Startide Rising, deserves
mention, and I'm prepared to say that anybody who puts talking porpoises
in his novels is all right by me. Andrea Millen Rich wrote me about
Shelly Reuben and Richard Uberto.
works people mentioned include Dean Koontz's Dark Rivers of the Heart,
Ira Levin's This Perfect Day, and The Girl Who Owned a City by O.T.
Nelson. Henry Hazlitt also wrote a novel, although I believe it's been
out of print a long while. My vote in this category (I'm not kidding)
goes to Dr. Suess for Thidwick the Big-Hearted Moose and Yertle the
Turtle and Other Stories, which concern themselves with the evils of
altruism and power-hunger.
summer will see publication -- at long last -- of Free Space, an amazing
collection of (A) stories by Libertarian writers and (B) Libertarian
stories by "civilians" (a mixture of established names and
newcomers) all set in the same universe and edited by Brad Linaweaver
and Ed Kramer. The trials involved in getting this pioneer work into
print -- consisting of a bitter struggle against ideological bias and
political "correctness" -- comprise an adventure tale in
themselves and will be told here when it becomes practical to do so.
only fair to add that Brad's been doing novelizations and original print
stories for the TV series Sliders and informs me that what they love him
for most is the Libertarian content of his writing.
else? Emil Franzi, who interviewed me on the radio in Tucson certainly
deserves to be noted as a veteran combatant in the culture war. And the
title of Patrick Cox's (temporarily) unpublished novel is //Mechanical.Solstice:Dark_cycle~.
Anders Monsen, prime mover-and-shaker at the Libertarian Futurist
Society and editor of its wonderful newsletter, Prometheus, put me onto
Zach Smith, author of the novels Cloth, The Bot Who Wept, Man-Like, and
numerous short stories. Anders also mentioned Michael Flynn, Steven
Burgauer, Titus Stauffer, and Karen Michaelson, writer and leader of the
Libertarian rock band "Point of Ares".
is probably the best person to alert whenever you discover another
Libertarian writer. It's important in this connection to say that you
can enlist immediately in the culture war by joining the Libertarian
Futurist Society and helping to choose the winners of the annual
Prometheus Award. Write Anders at firstname.lastname@example.org.