L. Neil Smith’s THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE–A Difference That Makes No Difference

By L.Neil Smith

I have lately been bitterly accused by those closest to me of the libertarian thought-crime of favoring one authoritarian side (conservatism) over the other side (liberalism), in the colossal battle that our once-great civilization has deteriorated into in my lifetime.

I don’t really know what liberals think about me, assuming that they think of me at all; I don’t know any liberals well enough to ask them. Conservatives, who never seem to understand that the differences between what they think and what libertarians think are just as great as those between us and liberals (or between liberals and themselves) tend to regard me as some kind of traitor, knifing my allies in the back.

Or trying to steal “their” votes.

This is distressing, because it means I have wasted fifty-two years and a great deal of effort in an unsuccessful attempt to define libertarianism (and myself) so people can appreciate the profound differences between us and the other two sides. For all that I’ve accomplished, I might as well have spent the time and effort playing golf, which is the greatest waste of time ever conceived by the human mind.

A constant complaint is that I tend to categorize large groups of human beings I don’t (and can’t) know individually, and then insult them _en masse_, as in “all liberals are crazy”. But my whole life’s experience is that the people who choose to characterize themselves as liberals _are_ crazy, to one degree or another, or they wouldn’t be liberals. Liberalism is a crazy substitute for a political or social philosophy. Any person who adopts it is inviting craziness into his life.

Don't sing to long in that shower

Don’t sing too long in that shower

At this point I should be showering you with examples of typical liberal craziness, but we see those every day on the Internet. Just the topic of gun control is a life’s study in craziness. Let one example suffice: California is in the middle of a completely unnecessary drought. Californian voters have avoided or destroyed every means by which they might have avoided or coped with a lack of water. But Governor Jerry Brown is now determined to _fine_ anyone who takes a shower for too long. That is an unarguably crazy idea, from arguably the most liberal public figure in America. Does it prove all liberals are crazy? No, but it’s completely consistent with such an analysis.

Often, I am criticized harshly for listening to people like Rush Limbaugh on the radio and sometimes repeating their observations. As it happens, though, I find it refreshing to disagree with a different half of everything they have to say than was the case with liberal media. And the truth is the truth, whoever expresses it; sometimes they’re right. In the many long decades I spent watching network TV news, I never heard a figure like, say, Peter Jennings, tell a simple truth.

But the most painful and unjust accusation is that I always go easier in my criticism of conservatives than I do with liberals. Mind you, I have no moral obligation to be even-handed, but I deny this charge, and submit the great body of my non-fictional writings since the 1970s as evidence. What I have often said is that any attempt by one human being to control the life of another human being is either stupid, evil, or insane. From there, I’ll leave it to you: exactly how would _you_ describe somebody who wants to re-outlaw marijuana in Colorado?

And is it any better or worse than the liberal/fascist insanity of forcing a highly religious baker to bake a cake for my homosexual wedding?

Looks to me like straitjackets and handcuffs all around.

If I show bias, maybe it’s because I believe that conservatives should know better. The shortcomings of conservatives are more obvious than those of liberals, and, one would think, need less explanation. They certainly are more profound. As I’ve frequently observed, unlike liberals, conservatives and libertarians alike understand well that “There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch”. Conservatives, however, are not above _stealing_ lunch if they think they can get away with it.

Especially in the name of national security.

And that’s the whole trouble with the right wing in a nutshell.

They’re supposed to be allies in our fight for liberty. They’re supposed to be opponents to big government. But whenever you rely on them for assistance in the fight, _poof!_, they’re gone, excusing themselves afterward in a variety of ways, and even calling for _less_ freedom, instead of more, often justifying themselves with mouthings that mean absolutely nothing to the average libertarian. We are expected to tolerate certain kinds of oppression, because it’s God’s will. But I gave up epistemology rooted in faith, when I was in grade school. I live, as much as I can, consistently with the scientific method.

Observe reality, form an hypothesis about the way things work, experiment — or observe some more, and revise your hypothesis accordingly.

Some prominent conservatives would have us give up everything we’ve learned since Charles Darwin, and accept the myth that the world was created by the will of a mere phantasm only six thousand years ago. That’s just embarrassing. I say, “Tell it to the rocks!” If liberals are crazy, then conservatives are nothing but infantile. It’s a scientifically demonstrable fact that the human species has slowly and gradually descended from simpler life forms that arose themselves from nonliving chemistry an unimaginable four billion years ago. Like it or not, that’s the way it is. You’re a monkey’s nephew — get over it.

The hallmark of conservatism, however — and what will keep them out of power — is their desire to prohibit abortion, which I’m not going to argue against here (although I can, and often do turn it into chopped liver.) Suffice it to say that, regardless of your intentions, if you treat a woman as if her body is your property — or the property of the state or church — she’s going to assume you think she’s your property. She will resent that, and fight it. Don’t pretend you don’t understand.

I guess there are some differences here and there between liberalism and conservatism that motivate me to treat them somewhat differently. Not more or less gently, just differently. They are different things, after all. Liberalism (just the name treats it too
gently) is born of a blatantly criminal desire to legitimize theft from the productive. Conservatism is born of a backward religiosity that drives a pathological need to control people and things. Both are severe problems of the human psyche that I won’t live long enough to solve.

There is, however, an effective interim solution. The nation’s Founders held a mixture of views and were unusually cognizant of a need to respect the rights — if not the views — of others. Despite what less truthful conservatives may say lately, the First Amendment represents our agreement that we will not make public policy on the basis of religious beliefs. Other Amendments hold similar solutions to many of today’s seemingly unsolvable problems. We must rededicate ourselves to observing the highest law of the land, the first ten amendments to the Constitution, most commonly known as the Bill of Rights.

Buttressed by the uniquely libertarian Zero Aggression Principle, that nobody has a right to initiate force against another human being for any reason, that is all the law that any nation needs or will ever need.



L. Neil Smith

L. Neil Smith

Celebrated and award-winning author of over 30 books and countless shorter pieces, L. Neil Smith is available, at professional rates, to write articles and speeches for you or your organization, providing that our principles are compatible. Contact him at [email protected].


“Any official, appointed or elected, at any level of government, who attempts, through legislative act or other means, to nullify, evade, or avoid the provisions of the first ten amendments to this Constitution, or of the Thirteenth Amendment, shall be summarily removed from office, and, upon conviction, deprived of all pay and benefits including pension, and sentenced to imprisonment for life.”


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One Response to L. Neil Smith’s THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE–A Difference That Makes No Difference

  1. Bruce Boyer April 15, 2015 at 11:03 am

    While I can sympathize with the author on many points, being accused o fsuppoprting the authoritarian State if one espouses andy kind of a ‘conservative’ position is taxing.. and golf is a complete waste of time, to then turn around and attack ‘all’ conservatives after making the point of not gropuping people make me wonder if he rereads what he writes.
    Liberty is that. Why people wish to do or believe is their business, not anyone elses. I need not convince Mr. Smith or Mr. Jones of the correctness ( assuming I have any) of my positions nor they need prove anything to Mr. Boyer. They are free to believe that they are a monkey’s nephew, to quote Gen George Pickett,”you may assert that you are a monkey’s nephew but no man who knows him would assert that Robert E. Lee is one”. I am free to believe that they are not a monkey’s nephew.

    The point should be to stress that political alignment is not horizontal, two dimensional as in Left or Right, Liberal or Conservative, but that it is a vertical line, Liberty as opposed to tyranny. The tyranny of the left and the Tryanny of the Right are but two different edges of tyranny, that arguably may circle around and connect. Wher do we stand on liberty, should be the question. A Libertarian is one who stands up high for liberty. Our founding Patriots were libertarian in their ideals and application of liberty. I stand with them.


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