L. Neil Smith’s The Libertarian Enterprise — YESTERDAY’S MASHED POTATOES

By L. Neil Smith 

As I have said and written on many occasions, I don’t mind so much that relative newcomers to the Libertarian Party and movement insist on reinventing the wheel, as much as that they keep reinventing it _square_. Regrettably, ours is a community with absolutely no provision for recording its own history or for educating its latest initiates.

Development of a cogent, coherent philosophy of liberty represents intellectual progress that constantly replaying the dead past deprives us of. Issues and policies long settled between and among libertarians keep getting exhumed and rehashed, preventing the movement’s advancement.

Case in point: a would-be Libertarian Party Presidential candidate named Austin Wade Petersen (I would refrain from mentioning his name at all, but it’s important to put a warning label on this particular vial of poison) criticizes his rival, former New Mexican Republican Governor and previous Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson, over his tax policy. Johnson wants, says this Petersen, a national sales tax, whereas he, Petersen, simply wants to reduce taxes across the board.

Austin Wade Petersen

Austin Wade Petersen

Gary Johnson

Gary Johnson









This is the kind of non-argument libertarians have been having since the mid-1970s. Given the choice, would you rather be shot or hanged? How about “None Of The Above”? It’s long past time we adopted positions consistent with the moral principles that we claim to adhere to.

Consider: taxation is theft: taking wealth away from unwilling individuals using threatened violence. Very few individuals would object to that definition, and those who would object, have to screw themselves into bizarre, laughable intellectual pretzel-shapes to do so. Those who would keep the fruits of their labor understandably have little interest in a political party that condones _some_ robbery at gunpoint.

Consider: taxation is slavery. Each of us is forced by government minions to labor from January to Tax Freedom Day each year (this year, April 21) just to pay the taxes they calculate we owe them. That’s called involuntary servitude, and it violates the Thirteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which outlawed such practices in the 19th century. If you believe you have some moral obligation to financially support the parasites at the top of the pyramid, feel free to chip in.

Me, I’m tired of paying for Barack and Michelle’s multi-miliion dollar vacations. (His interest in golf confirms everything I ever thought of it.)

Consider: taxation is the fuel of war. It was only in the 20th century, when governments discovered they could steal unlimited wealth from the Productive Class as long as they convinced them they were doing it to themselves, that so-called “world wars” killing tens of millions of innocent individuals became horrifyingly possible. If governments were limited to what they could collect on street-corners in tin cups, and from bake sales, we could enjoy peace forever. If levying 20th century-style taxes (as well as conscription) were seen by other states as an act of war-preparation, that peace would be assured.

Taxation is an ancient, evil vice, as ancient, in fact,  as government itself. The first written records made (clay tablets from Babylon) were tax rolls. Humanity would be a thousand years more advanced — possibly ten thousand — if resources hadn’t been stolen from us to feed the ambitions, the swollen bellies, of politicians, bureaucrats, inbred aristocracies, and their genetically impoverished spawn.

So why are Gary Johnson and Austin Petersen fighting over how much of this vile social disease is acceptable?  No amount of theft, no amount of slavery, none of the fuel of war is acceptable to genuine libertarians. It ought to be the official position of the Libertarian Party (and _is_ the official position of the libertarian wing of the libertarian movement) that even if it takes hundreds of years, as it did Queen Isabella and her fellow anti-slavery advocates — we are nonetheless committed to putting an end to this millennia-old atrocity.

zero.agressionPetersen is reported to disdain the “Non-Aggression Principle” which others regard as the very heart and soul of the movement. We would maintain, however, that once an individual becomes aware of what we call the Zero-Aggression Principle — and explicitly rejects it — he is announcing to the world around him that he can’t be trusted, and that all those in his vicinity must be on high defensive alert at all times.


Never forget the following; tattoo it on your stomach upside-down so you can read it any time you need to: the only reason somebody would avoid the Zero Aggression Principle is that he’s planning to exercise a right he falsely imagines he has to do something to you he wouldn’t be able to do in the presence of the Zero Aggression Principle.

Because it’s important, I repeat: the only reason somebody avoids the Zero Aggression Principle is that he plans to do something to you he wouldn’t be able to do in the presence of the Zero Aggression Principle.

Petersen claims not to be a Republican in libertarian clothing.

But, judging from the faux-libertarian positions he takes, if it disgustingly quacks like a duck, and waddles like a duck … He says, in a brief fawning interview with the El Paso County (Colorado Springs) Libertarian Party — in which he deliberately misinterprets to suit his purposes the ideas of Party Founder David F. Nolan — that he plans to teach his children not to hit others and take their stuff.

On what principle?, we would like to know. If you reject the ZAP, then what keeps you from being a Stirnerite and doing anything to anybody you want? You sound very much like a Republican to us, Austin, of the kind we’ve been contending with for four endless decades. Perhaps you should withdraw from the race and study your Rand, Rothbard, and LeFevre.

Get back to us when you’ve learned something.

To other libertarians, to _real_ libertarians, I would say, show this essay, this issue of _The Libertarian Enterprise_ to your friends and comrades. We were sadly unable to stop the bought-and-paid-for candidacy of Bob Barr, but perhaps we can stop this particular little travesty.

Get the word out.



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.”


Get Citizensjournal.us Headlines free  SUBSCRIPTION. Keep us publishing – DONATE

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments