Bill of Rights Day, 2003

Submitted by Bill St. Clair on Mon, 15 Dec 2003 13:00:00 GMT
On this day in 1791, the Bill of Rights was ratified. It has since been shredded, but those of us who remember liberty in America, still revere the principles it espouses.

Patrick Henry - The War Inevitable - the "give me liberty or give me death" speech given at a convention in Richmond on March 23, 1775. Worth remembering always, especially in these days when a second American Revolution is bearing down on us at full speed. Lots more good reading on Ken Holder's Important American Documents page.

James Boyd at Faré's Home Page - From Far Right to Far Left -- and Farther -- With Karl Hess - from the December 6, 1970 issue of the New York Times Magazine. Some details of the life of one of the founding fathers of libertarianism, the author of The Death of Politics. Mirrored here.

To this precocious boy, school was a prison; the contrast between his joy in discovery outside and the bored, regimented hours within may have planted in him the seed of contempt for all institutions, and for society's assumption that it knows best. In the first year of high school, he quit and became a permanent truant. He believes his own experience is shared by millions, whether advanced, average or backward.

"At age 5 or 6, a child is introduced to the stupidities of state compulsion. School on these terms is a challenge not to learn anything, and most kids rise to the challenge."

His tactic in quitting school foreshadowed the nonviolent resistance he now advocates as the citizen's proper stance toward the demands of government. Instead of just not showing up, he enrolled in two high schools; then at each school he filed transfer papers to the other. "They never caught on. A bureaucracy is always inefficient; the bigger it gets the more vulnerable it is to clerical sabotage. Instead of learning how to make bombs, revolutionaries should master computer programming."


"We have the illusion of freedom only because so few ever try to exercise it. Try it sometime. Try to save your home from the highway crowd, or to work a trade without the approval of the goons, or to open a little business without a permit, or to grow a crop without a quota, or to educate your child the way you want to, or to not have a child. We all have the freedom of a balloon floating in a pin factory."


Hess crossed over to The Washington Daily News. Ability propelled him to the post of assistant editor before he was 20; but again that gargoyle of the spirit undid it all.

"One day the editor called me up at some ungodly hour to say that Roosevelt was dead and for me to rush in and do the obituary piece. I said Roosevelt's obit wasn't worth getting up for. He canned me."


"I had once edited Washington World, a paper designed to prove that private enterprise could do anything better than government and make a profit to boot. Our chief backer was a Kansas wheat grower who, as it turned out, was getting a huge farm subsidy every year. The subsidies he was against were subsidies to poor people. I saw that conservatism in practice was shot through with that sort of thing. Conservatives reject the state as an instrument of beneficence but revere it as an instrument of chastisement. They would deny the Federal Government certain controls over people at the state level, which they say is more effective. This means that conservatives support the coercion of individuals at the most effective level!"

Management executives no longer seemed to Hess the sacred bearers of progress. "I began to ask, 'What did we really do? What did we create?' We invented nothing, made nothing, improved nothing. All we did was shift people and paper around. I was a managerial featherbedder. I had attended hundreds of meetings, but only at two or three did the subject of product improvement ever come up. The product is only incidental to the real business of business, which is making money for nothing. Next to politicians, the managerial class is the least productive, most parasitic group on earth."


In 1969 Hess's ex-peers in Republican circles came to power. Now and again they would hear stories about their old friend Karl that were puzzling. He seemed to have become some kind of outlaw. For instance, he was a tax evader, was giving people advice on how to break laws, was advocating the appropriation of public and corporate wealth, was an abettor of known felons, a poacher on Federal property. "Karl's gone crazy," they said. It was not his activities, per se, that shocked; after all, such practices are but the traditional pursuits of the politician-corporate lawyer caste; the basic financing of both political parties has always been founded upon them. No, it was not his pursuits that jarred, but his motives. For his declared aim was not to enrich politicians, but to eliminate them.

"We all liked Karl," said one. "We wished him well with his acetylene torch. But this?" Indeed, to the old gang now up at the White House and on the Hill and at G.O.P. headquarters, the reports that filtered back on Hess put people in mind of the former club member taken to drink who is glimpsed occasionally on back streets in successive stages of decline and disrepair.


It is significant that the indictment of American government made by Hess in his writings and speeches is not dissimilar to that of such an establishment figure as John W. Gardner, former Cabinet member and foundation head, now chairman of Common Cause. Gardner stated recently: "State governments are mostly feeble. City government is archaic. The Congress of the United States is in grave need of overhaul. The parties are useless as instruments of the popular will.... Most parts of the system have grown so rigid that they cannot respond to impending disaster. They are so ill-designed for contemporary purposes that they waste taxpayers' money, mangle good programs and frustrate every good man who enters the system."

Mr. Gardner, however, prescribes a liberal cure -- to make government more effective by revitalizing it through pressure exerted by a citizens' lobby. Hess' solution is both radical and reactionary: to eliminate government as far as possible, to throw out the Constitution and go back, for starters, to the Articles of Confederation -- to that government which governs least.


He leads you down the wharf to a boat called the Tranquil. Below, in the cabin, a rifle occupies the place of honor on the fore bulkhead; a symbol of the anarchist belief in the right of self-defense against government. The interior is awash with books, pamphlets and unfinished drafts, for Hess has mastered anarchism just as methodically as he did Republicanism. He can tell you about a tractor factory in England, run on anarchist principles; about the solar cell, which transforms sunlight into electricity and may one day make us independent of Con Edison and continental power grids; about how there are now 42 neighborhood steel plants in the United States employing under 300 men each, doing a thriving business because they're efficient -- the wave of the future, he says. He can tell you how Ireland had an anarchist society for centuries, how it avoided crime without a police force, how it took the English hundreds of years to subjugate Ireland because the people had no Government to surrender for them. And he's watching the experiments in Sweden to train the average citizen in methods of personal resistance and sabotage as a possible substitute for armies and air forces; and keeping track of how even the poorest ghetto neighborhoods pay out more in taxes than they receive in benefits and how the Black Panthers and their drive for local autonomy could be the salvation of the inner cities -- if the Panthers aren't exterminated and don't turn Marxist in deed as they have in rhetoric.

"Anarchy is merely the lack of institutional authority," he says. "There will always be 'government' in terms of voluntary, social organizations formed to do specific things -- putting out fires, protection against thieves, different kinds of schools. If you want the service, you support it and participate; if you don't want it, nobody can make you use it or pay for it. Why should anyone have permanent authority over you and your kids merely because they provide certain services?"

Liz Michael - The Bushy Knoll - Liz also maintains a Clinton Death List.

The following is a partial list of deaths of persons connected to the family of current President George W. Bush and his father, George Herbert Walker Bush.

Garry Reed, The Loose Cannon Libertarian - FutureNews - entertaining fictional twists to some of this year's news stories.

From Reuters (October, 2003):
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said in an interview that the United States needs to sell its message more effectively and that a new "21st-century information agency in the government" would help fight a "War of Ideas" against international terrorism.

2004 FutureNews Item:
"Creating yet another tax money-wasting government agency is not a War of Ideas," an unidentified libertarian stated today. "It just proves that knee-jerk politicians never have any new ideas. This one is as old as the 1st century. To paraphrase a much parroted phrase, we should refuse to engage in a war of ideas with unarmed politicos."

William Stone, III at The Libertarian Enterprise - Review: The Adventures of Pluto Nash - he liked it. Looks like I've got a video to rent sometime soon. [tle]

Last week, in a fit of nostalgia (I was renting the National Lampoon "Vacation" movies), I rented the movie. Two days later, I purchased a pre-viewed copy of the DVD for a song.

This is a GREAT movie.

Don't get me wrong: there's nothing technologically ground-breaking about it. It doesn't have a brilliant script. It's not extraordinarily well-acted. It is no Matrix, no Lawrence of Arabia or even Star Trek.
It is, however, the best filmed libertarian science fiction since the late, lamented Firefly (DVD Collection).

The Adventures of Pluto Nash chronicles the adventures of Pluto Nash (Murphy): smuggler-cum-nightclub owner whose club has been targeted for acquisition by less than savory characters. The twist: the nightclub is on the moon, in a settlement known as "Little America." Within the first fifteen minutes, Club Pluto has been bombed, and Murphy alternates between being on the run with his bodyguard robot, Bruno (Randy Quaid) and love interest Dina (Rosario Dawson, who went on to co-star in Men in Black II).

The movie is a breath of fresh, capitalistic air in an otherwise Statist genre. Government is mentioned only briefly as a plot point: Earth, having outlawed gambling worldwide, has driven organized crime to the moon. Pluto Nash is a former smuggler whose inventory consists largely of clothing and cryogenically frozen Chihuahuas--luxury items unattainable on the moon, apparently due to government taxation.

Jeff Quinn at GunBlast - Bushmaster Carbon 15 Lightweight 5.56mm Pistol - 48 ounces, 20 inch overall length, 7.25 inch barrel, suggested retail: $892. A blast to shoot, literally and figuratively. [gunblast]

There is also another place where this pistol excels, and it became apparent to me during the testing of the Carbon 15. Without a doubt, this pistol is one of the most downright fun guns to shoot that I have ever tried. Loading a GI surplus magazine with thirty rounds of ball ammo and blasting away at rocks and steel plates is, for some reason, extremely enjoyable! The lack of recoil and bright muzzle flash in rapid fire is a real hoot, and has to be experienced to be fully appreciated. There are times when a gun means the difference between life and death, and the Carbon 15 can fulfill that role if needed. There are also times when shooting should be relaxing and entertaining, without thinking about tactical drills and exercises. This pistol is very entertaining, for the shooter and observer alike. It is lightweight, handy, reliable, and just plain fun.

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