L. Neil Smith’s The Libertarian Enterprise | Why I am a Libertarian and not a Conservative


By L. Neil Smith

This essay is based on notes I made three years ago and never did  anything else with. I have tons of material like this which will keep  graduate students occupied and happy well into the next century.

I was surprised the see that, after everything that’s happened  since, they’re still relevant. It all started when a local radio talk  show host, Michael D. Brown, a former federal bureaucrat with whom I  happen to agree more frequently than with many another right-wing  pundit, launched into an hour-long rant, for reasons I only found out  later, about the American atomic bombing of Hiroshima, and Nagasaki,  Japan, some seventy-three years ago, in 1945, a year before I was born.  I had no idea what had triggered this tirade. Unconsciously, I assumed  it was an anniversary of some kind, but that’s in August: “Little Boy  was dropped on Hiroshima on August 7th, “Fat Man” fell on Nagasaki on my  late mother’s birthday, August 9th.

Later on, I learned that His Supreme Cheesiness, Barack I, was on  another of his expensive sojourns abroad to apologize abjectly to the  world — for us — for being the most successful and humane society ever  conceived.  Brown and his lot were primarily concerned that it was going  to be all about those nukes again (which it wasn’t, this time), and were  loaded up with justifications for the bombings. Only a crazy, liberal  revisionist, Brown maintained, at enormous length, would question that  they were the right thing to have done.

Unlike this whippersnapper Brown, I was born and grew up in the  shadow of World War II.  My dad  flew B-17s for the 8th Air Force, where  he was a bombardier in Europe. Although he was shot down and was a  prisoner of war in Germany for a year, for the rest of his life he  pondered the ethics of what he had done, and never came to a conclusion  that satisfied him.

I inherited the question from him and finally found an answer of  sorts in another question: of the quarter-million individuals who died  in those two Japanese cities, how many were active in the attack on  Pearl Harbor or any other Imperial effort against the US? Probable  answer: next to none, which means that we were deliberately initiating  force against hundreds of thousands of innocent human beings. It also  means that, despite Brown’s vehement protestations to the contrary,  Harry Truman  was a war criminal, for ordering those attacks.

Of course Brown pulled out all of the ancient, threadbare excuses  for waging our ten-second Holocaust against the Japanese people. Given  the well-known fanaticism the Japanese military exhibited in the Pacific  Island War, it may have saved the lives, he maintained, of thousands  more, Americans and Japanese alike — perhaps as many as a million — who might have died in a physical invasion of the Home Islands. Perhaps.  To tell the truth, I have never seen that number presented as anything  more than a politically-motivated speculation made after the fact. At  the time, some thinkers wanted to demonstrate the power of the A-bomb in  some way — on an uninhabited island, for example — that wouldn’t cause  thousands of deaths.

What I have heard is that most Japanese were eager to surrender  before the two atomic bombings (maybe Antiwar.com can back me up on  this), and were desperate to surrender after the first, but had no way  of communicating with Washington that couldn’t be deliberately buried the same way that warnings in advance of Pearl Harbor were in their day.  I have also been given to understand that the reason we dropped two bombs was because the nauseatingly pro-Soviet Democrat administration  didn’t want to be seen by Uncle Joe Stalin and his Commie Band as  building an atomic arsenal against them.

Whatever the sordid details, and whatever the cost in human lives,  this episode is useful in illustrating the critical ethical differences  between libertarians and our erstwhile allies the conservatives. First  and foremost, as the great Libertarian philosopher and teacher Robert  LeFevre taught us, conservatives are collectivists — right-wing  socialists — to whom there are many issues (national security, for one)  more important than the health, well-being, and rights of the  individual. He denied it later, but I once heard Newt Gingrich advocate  suspending the Bill of Rights “for the duration” of the War on Drugs.

Conservative commentator Michelle Malkin is a splendid example of  this; she thinks that rounding up and imprisoning thousands of innocent  Japanese-Americans in concentration camps was just swell. If a “mere”  quarter million more of them had to die in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, many  of them horribly, to give the Democrats and Republicans their historic  victory, then small price — what the hell, they didn’t vote, anyway.

To a real libertarian, though, there are no groups, in any moral  sense, and only individuals have rights. No group, no matter how many  kittens or puppies it is comprised of, no matter how many blue-eyed  babies or crippled newsboys, has any more rights, to life, liberty, or property, than a single random human being. All else is suicidal sentiment and explains everything we’re going through right now.

Make no mistake, I’m enjoying the hell out of the Donald,  his  family and his cohorts, and even enjoy listening to right wing talking  heads on TV. But I know (and so do you, now) that this will never be the  free country the Founding Fathers intended until conservatives really  learn to respect individual rights.

L. Neil Smith

Award-winning novelist and essayist L. Neil Smith is a retired gunsmith, Publisher and Senior Columnist of L. Neil Smith’s The Libertarian Enterprise and the author of over thirty books. Look him up on Google, Wikipedia, and Amazon.com and watch for the forthcoming ONLY THE YOUNG DIE GOOD and ARES. He is available, at professional rates, to write columns, articles, and speeches for your organization, event, or publication, fiercely defending your rights, as he has done since the mid-1960s. His writings (and e-mail address) may also be found at L. Neil Smith’s The Libertarian Enterprise, at JPFO.org or at https://www.patreon.com/lneilsmith, to which you can contribute, directly. His many books and those of other pro-gun libertarians may also be found (and ordered) at L. Neil Smith’s THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE “Free Radical Book Store” The preceding essay was originally prepared for and appeared in L. Neil Smith’s THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE. Use it to fight the continuing war against tyranny.

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