L. Neil Smith’s The Libertarian Enterprise
Yesterday, I received in my Inbox, a message from a well-meaning individual whose mailings I generally enjoy. He sends me many jokes, funny pictures, and the occasional right wing rant appropriate to one who clings to his guns and his religion. To me—as one who clings to his guns and Atlas Shrugged—this makes him a goodguy, a fellow traveler.
He also occasionally sends me messages—and he is far from the only one—like the one reproduced in part below. Usually, I let them pass—he probably doesn’t care what I think about intellectual property rights, or other controversies within the libertarian movement. But on this occasion, he sent me some ideas I need to talk about.
Before I start, I should mention that my grandfather died in an Army camp near Waco, Texas, in 1918, a volunteer for Woodrow Wilson’s “war to end war … and make the world safe for democracy” who never got a chance to fight, thanks to what was then called the “Spanish Influenza”.
In 1944, my father, who never got a chance to meet his father, was a bombardier, a young Army Air Corps lieutenant in the nose of a B-17 who flew something like 29 missions over Europe before being shot down over Germany. He was taken as a prisoner to Stalag Luft Drei for about a year, had many horrible adventures both before and after he was captured, and was rescued, with his fellow inmates, after the D-Day landing.
After the war, Dad tried civilian life, discovering that some corporations—United Airlines, for one—are worse than government. He re-enlisted in the brand new shiny Air Force as a staff sergeant, and, owing to the Korean War, was then recalled to his commissioned rank and ultimately assigned to Strategic Air Command. The war in Asia ended before his training did, so he never had to go “over there”, but he went on to achieve the rank of Major and retired as a 30-year veteran.
I grew up on and around Air Force bases all over North America from the time I was five years old until I graduated from high school. As a kid, I agreed with my father that he was helping to keep America safe and free from communist aggression, by flying a B-52 with a belly full of fusion bombs up over the North Pole two or three times a week, and hanging around at the edge of Soviet airspace, just to let the badguys know what they were up against. Who the hell knows? Maybe it worked.
For the most part, I liked life as a military dependent, I liked growing up within the military community, and I actually pitied the civilian people I met who weren’t a part of that warm world. But as time went on, Dad began to question a culture that somehow, by mere coincidence, managed to provide a war—or two—for each and every generation. And by the time he had retired, in 1965, and had two sons of military age in the middle of the murderously futile exercise in Vietnam, he was certain. He never read Smedley Darlington Butler’s War Is A Racket, but he managed to figure out what the score really was.
I still like and get along with military people, of all branches of service. They tend to like me, and what I do. I was told once that my first novel, The Probability Broach was, in popularity aboard our nuclear submarine fleet, second only toGarfield comics, and I felt highly complimented. If there had been a Navy R.O.T.C. program when I was at Colorado State University, my life would have turned out very differently. Air Force brat or not, I desperately wanted to be a sub-driver.
But thanks to the Vietnam War, which I successfully avoided, I never had any illusions. I was not about to sacrifice a minute of my life to enhance the power of that giant ball of mucus, Lyndon Baines Johnson, who represented a vastly greater threat to my life, liberty, and property than Ho Chi Minh or anybody like him ever did. He was the fat, lying, murderous bastard who accused Barry Goldwater of wanting to fight a land war in Asia, and stuck us with the 1968 Gun Control Act.
So with all that in mind, let’s consider the Memorial Day claims my friend sent to me, and I can only hope he’ll be my friend after this.
“It is the veteran, not the preacher, who has given us freedom of religion.”
The truth is that neither the veteran nor the preacher ever gave us such a right, it is ours, under natural law, the very moment we are born. It can certainly be suppressed, and has been other places in the world, and here, as well—ask any Mormon—but this government hasn’t fought a war to defend any American’s rights since the Revolution.
“It is the veteran, not the reporter, who has given us freedom of the press.”
Once again, not so. When the War of 1812 “broke out”—the U.S. was attempting to bestow the blessings of American life upon Canada whether Canada wanted them or not—and people objected (New England nearly seceded over it) people were accused of “sedition”, a charge that should be impossible under the First Amendment, and thrown in jail.
Later, Abraham Lincoln used the Army to smash the printing presses of his political opposition and intimidate voters during the 1864 election.
“It is the veteran, not the poet, who has given us freedom of speech.”
Freedom of speech and of the press are natural rights, as well, which governments in general, and the American government in particular, have always regarded as a threat. If any single individual can be thanked for it, that honor belongs to John Peter Zenger (look him up). At some point, the establishment press became so corrupt, concealing or excusing government atrocities, that they became a part of government, and a new press—the Internet—had to evolve in its place.
“It is the veteran, not the campus organizer, who has given us freedom to assemble.”
Having once been a “campus organizer” myself, I am well aware how little we had to do with defending the right to assemble, and how very badly it was done. But please, don’t be ridiculous. Two words: Kent State.
“It is the veteran, not the lawyer, who has given us the right to a fair trial.”
Actually, to the extent that any human institution is responsible for the right to a fair trial, it’s a thousand years of English Common Law.
“It is the veteran, not the politician, Who has given us the right to vote.”
A dubious gift, at best, but it didn’t come from any politicians or veterans. Thank the Greeks, and don’t forget the Basques, whose methods of self-government were consciously imitated by the Founding Fathers.
I like and admire veterans, My dad was a vet and his dad before him. But name any war the United States ever fought to defend American rights.
As I said, the War of 1812 was a failed attempt to conquer Canada. What legitimate American interests were threatened by the British in 1812?
The Mexican War was declared on us by a crazy military dictator who couldn’t believe he had been humiliated by an Army of farmers and ranchers. What legitimate American interests were threatened by the Mexicans?
The War Between the States was fought to consolidate an empire forged out of the shattered remnants of a confederation of free republics. Many northern soldiers thought they were fighting slavery, but the slaves who labored though the war on the Capitol dome might disagree. The South was tired of paying 80% of the taxes being collected. What legitimate American interests were threatened by the South?
The Spanish-American War was an attempt by idiots like William McKinley and William Randolph Hearst to extend Lincoln’s Empire overseas. What legitimate American interests were threatened by the Spaniards?
World War I had nothing to do with America, but Americans were sent “Over There” by the evil Wilson to establish us as a global power. What legitimate American interests were threatened by the Kaiser?
Even World War II had nothing to do with us, although it’s easy to understand—and difficult to resist—the impulse to destroy a monster like Hitler. It’s important to remember that Hitler was created by the incredible stupidity of the victorious allies in the First World War. The sad thing about it all is that it was not a conflict between good and evil, but between differing brands of fascism.
Korea was an exercise in absolute insanity. I’m glad that the south remains prosperous and free, but the price for us was far too high. There was no reason whatever for Americans to be involved on the peninsula. What legitimate American interests were threatened by North Korea?
To this day, nobody is absolutely sure what Vietnam was all about. There’s even a movie, Twilight’s Last Gleaming, in which an Army officer hijacks a missile silo to force the President to tell the world the terrible truth of the thing. We killed 60,000 of our own— possibly including someone who, later in life, might have found a cure for cancer or Alzheimer’s disease—and two million Vietnamese who are among the finest, bravest, most admirable human beings on this planet. What legitimate American interests were threatened by the Vietnmese?
And now Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, and whatever else is to follow. What legitimate American interests are threatened by any of those nations?
Nothing about individual rights, property, or American life except their further destruction by the only government close enough to do us harm. Both major U.S. parties are controlled by warmongers who want to keep the government money flowing at any cost—to you and me, that is. Every legitimate American interest is threatened by the current government.
There are ways to stop it, if you’re interested.