L. Neil Smith’s The Libertarian Enterprise: THE AMERICAN ZONE

By L. Neil Smith

I’m an idiot.

You’ve probably sat wondering exactly what the hairspray-headed round-heeled media, those news floozies and gentlemen of the evening have been yapping about when they fling political labels around that they, themselves, don’t really understand, have pretty obviously never understood, and have no hope (or the requisite gray cells) of ever understanding.

Their latest favorite catchword is “populist”, a preoperative term that they apply with unfettered glee to Donald Trump and somehow manage to equate with racism and fascism. There’s a lot wrong with populism, but it isn’t that. When you look the term up in Wikipedia, you can see how confused even the so-called “experts” are, pointing both to George Wallace and Henry Wallace (look them up) at the same time.

I’m not about to try to clear up the confusion here and now, because it suddenly occurred to me in a flash of the blindingly obvious that I’ve already been there and done that. As I say, I’m an idiot. In 1999, I wrote the last (so far) Win Bear novel in which the major subjects of his investigation represent the four cornars of the political “diamond”: socialist, conservative, populist, and libertarian. The diamond is intended to replace the old-fashioned right-left spectrum, which places Adolf Hitler (a socialist) at the opposite end from Josef Stalin (another socialist, with oak leaf clusters).

american.zoneThe name of the novel is _The American Zone_. It’s about thousands of Americans who cross the “border” between our history and that of the North American Confederacy, to settle in a truly libertarian society. Owning and controlling their own lives doesn’t turn out to be quite the paradise they imagined. Assailed at the prospect of more freedom than they can presently handle, they “ghetto-up” in a neighborhood of recent other-world immigrants. Hence the name of the book. At one point, an outraged committee forms (for the children, of course), to complain about ammunition (let alone drugs) being sold in vending machines. Unfortunately (for them) there isn’t anybody to complain to. In time, they will get used to being free, or their kids will.

However the main concern (I don’t have a copy of the book handy at the moment, and I’m working from memories seventeen years old, during which I’ve written other books and suffered a couple of semi-mortal illnesses) is a series of crimes that eventully trace back to four individuals who, as I’ve said, represent opposite corners of the diamond. This is basically the diamond of the Marshall Fritz-David Nolan “World’s Smallest Political Quiz”. It differs a little where I had minor technical disagreements with Marshall and Dave. And to avoid a dry political lecture, I created a character for each corner of the diamond.

The top corner of the theoretical diamond is the North American Confederacy itself, the only truly _adult_ form of civilization known to human history. All the rest are different varieties of political childishness.

The left-wing socialist (“liberal Democrat”) corner was occupied by a slimy character that I based on Ohio Democratic Senator Howard M. Metzenbaum, who at the time was America’s foremost spokescommie for victim disarmament. He was accustomed to admitting (“off the record”) that he knew the gun control measures he advocated would not reduce crime a bit, he just didn’t want the middle class to be armed. Old Howard is gone, now, and the world is a better, cleaner place without him.

The right-wing (conservative) socialist corner was occupied by one “Bennett Williams”, the brother of “Buckley F. Williams”, whom we first met in _The Probability Broach_. I had always thought that CIA-stooge Bill Buckley was unintentionally funny, but at the time, I believed that Bill Bennett was the most dangerous political figure in America.

Boy, was I wrong.

The bottom corner of the diamond was occupied by the character that resulted from an attempt to combine the materialism of the left, with the paternalism of the right. One side always wants to nurse you, (with somebody else’s breast) and the other to spank you (with the Seventh Fleet and the Airborne Rangers). He was, according to Marshall and Dave’s theories, a _populist_, and I based him on the creepiest character from TV that the father of a little girl could think of at the time: Fred Rogers, of _Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood_, the apparent closet child-molester of Public Television. I thought of him as a fascist.

Today I’d probably use George W. Bush.

Fascism is actually an economic system, of which “crony capitalism”, an illegitimate partnership between government and business, is an excellent example. Known otherwise as corporate socialism or simply corporatism, other eras (Adam Smith’s for instance, in his book _Wealth oif Nations_) have called it Mercantilism.

“Populism” always puts me in mind of the wonderful Australian movie _Strictly Ballroom_. Politically, its enemies define it as nothing more than a series of “cheap, crowd-pleasing” positions and policies — a pretty odd complaint to make in the democracy we find ourselves living in. Yes, I prefer a Constitutional Republic, too — that’s why I want Barack and Hillary jailed. But if not “the Voice of the People”, whose voice should be heard? Mitt Romney’s? Valerie Jarrett’s?

Somebody recently wrote to me on Facebook, thanking me for whatever education I had given him over the years. I didn’t give him anything, however, he paid for it, not incidentally helping to feed my family. But I was extremely flattered nevertheless, and told him I have always believed that the truth can be conveyed much better by fiction than nonfiction. Think Ayn Rand, Robert Heinlein, and Frank Herbert.

Think of the mileage the left from _The Grapes of Wrath_.

_The American Zone_ is available at Amazon.com. I wrote _Down With Power_ as a political campaign manual, but I think _The American Zone will work pretty well that way, too. In case you’re interested, I have fully exercised my author’s prerogative: the bar inside the Zone is owned and operated by two of the best friends I’ve ever had, and the proprietor of the knife store is my literary lawyer and shooting buddy. In the course of the story, I also manage to include the great Vin Suprynowicz’s colorful description of a genuinely libertarian society.

Look for the little girl with the machine-gun.

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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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