L. Neil Smith’s The Libertarian Enterprise | No Coke, Pepsi!


by L. Neil Smith

It says here that David Koch is retiring. In case you don’t know, he is the younger of two oil billionaire brothers associated with the libertarian movement who bankrolled the Cato Institute, and whom “progressives” love to hate, automatically blaming them for what little they don’t blame Donald Trump for.

Genuine libertarians and conservatives don’t like them much, either, for a variety of reasons. My own first is that I served on the 1977 Libertarian Party National Platform Committee with Charlie, David’s older brother and found him to be a timid, unimaginative soul, more concerned with credibility and respectability than with truth or principle. At the time, the think-tank he and his brother created was attempting to turn the LP into a wholly-owned subsidiary (David ran in 1980 for Vice President with Ed Clark) , and I didn’t like that, either.

The Koch brothers are also open-borderists, siding with establishment Republicans like that smirk-weasel Paul Ryan who want an imported servant-class they can abuse. I’ve changed my mind on that issue for good and sufficient reasons, and they ought to be good and sufficient for the Koch Brothers, too, if they were really libertarians. American culture is unique and wonderful; I do not want to see it changed or destroyed as the cultures of Sweden and England are being, by uncontrolled mass immigration. Letting a lot of Third Worlders into the United States of America is like letting a lot of Californians into Colorado. Pretty soon it’ll be just like the mess they made and left behind.

We have a saying here: “Don’t Californicate Colorado”.

David is retiring, it says here, due to an extremely long bout with prostate cancer. It does not say what his prognosis is. My own father, whom I miss every day, fought prostate cancer for six ghastly years and died. I’m sorry David has it now; I would not wish that fate on anybody.

But the reason I’m writing this is to speak the truth, to a great big pile of money, if not to power. The Kochs don’t have power because they don’t have a clue how to spend money politically, and, among other counter-productive follies, they threw their dough away with all four hands, supporting a think-tank incapable of reaching the people by the millions the way Donald Trump has. I have never known anyone who read a paper produced by the Cato Institute or listened to a lecture given by one of their wonks — except other wonks.

In this, they are a lot like H.L. Hunt, another oil billionaire from the 1960s and 1970s who didn’t know how to spend his money politically. He sponsored a national radio show that was mostly right 
about the issues of the day, but so unutterably boring and pedantic that you wanted to throttle whoever was at the mike. Hunt was later accused of having bankrolled the John Kennedy assassination, but I don’t believe he was bright enough, even for that. Two of his sons (he had fifteen children) were a lot like him: they went broke trying to corner the market on silver.

H.L. Hunt, National Portrait Gallery, Photo Credit Diane Arbus, Neil Selkirk

I’ve always thought (after studying Hunt) that I do know how to spend money to alter the course of history and put an end, once and for all, to collectivism of every kind. My books and essays have helped create tens of thousands of new libertarians. I even stopped a Libertarian Presidential candidate I believed was a crook (in his own opinion: “If it wasn’t for L. Neil Smith and that Libertarian Enterprise of his … “) twice, and I’ve never had a dime to spend on politics. These days, if I had any money to spend, I’d spend it promoting my own books.

My “secret”? Nothing abstruse or mysterious, “but you’ve got to know the territory”. Politics (as Ayn Rand observed, although not in so many words and she never got the credit for it) really is downstream from culture. To change a nation’s politics you have to change its culture — or at least communicate with that country in its own native language.

That’s precisely why The Simpsons and Roseanne succeeded.

Think tanks fail to do that. They’re like a big rock in a stream: the water just slips around them. If I were to create an “institution”, instead of a troop of post-academic desk-monkeys, I’d hire successful comedy and gag writers and action-adventure authors. That’s why my first novel, The Probability Broach is still in print after forty years: it entertains; it’s written humorously. The idea is to tell your readers something funny, tell them something funny again, then while they’re waiting, wide-open, for the third funny thing, tell them something serious — then follow with something funny before they notice the were “preached at”. I never saw any evidence that the Koch brothers possess a sense of humor, a trait they seem to share with today’s left.

Those who would alter history would do well to observe and learn from those who are actually doing it. You may not like the Donald (I do; he reminds me of my dad) but there is a lot he can teach even haughty billionaires if they would simply look and listen.

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].

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