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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Reading List: Môlon Labé

Royce, Kenneth W. Môlon Labé. Ignacio, CO: Javelin Press, [1997] 2004. ISBN 978-1-888766-07-3.
Legend has it that when, in 480 B.C. at Thermopylae, Emperor Xerxes I of Persia made an offer to the hopelessly outnumbered Greek defenders that they would be allowed to leave unharmed if they surrendered their weapons, King Leonidas I of Sparta responded “μολὼν λαβέ” (molōn labe!)—“Come and take them!” Ever since, this laconic phrase has been a classic (as well as classical) expression of defiance, even in the face of overwhelming enemy superiority. It took almost twenty-five centuries until an American general uttered an even more succinct reply to a demand for capitulation.

In this novel, the author, who uses the nom de plume “Boston T. Party”, sketches a scenario as to how an island of liberty might be established within a United States which is spiraling into collectivism; authoritarian rule over a docile, disarmed, and indoctrinated population; and economic collapse. The premise is essentially that of the Free State Project, before they beclowned themselves by choosing New Hampshire as their target state. Here, Wyoming is the destination of choice, and the author documents how it meets all criteria for an electoral coup d'état by a relatively small group of dedicated “relocators” and how the established population is likely to be receptive to individual liberty oriented policies once it's demonstrated that a state can actually implement them.

Libertarians are big thinkers, but when it comes to actually doing something which requires tedious and patient toil, not so much. They love to concentrate on grand scenarios of taking over the federal government of the United States and reversing a century of usurpation of liberty, but when it comes to organising at the county level, electing school boards, sheriffs, and justices of the peace, and then working up to state legislature members, they quickly get bored and retreat into ethereal arguments about this or that theoretical detail, or dreaming about how some bolt from the blue might bring them to power nationwide. Just as Stalin rescoped the Communist project from global revolution to “socialism in one country”, this book narrows the libertarian agenda to “liberty in one state”, with the hope that its success will be the spark which causes like-minded people in adjacent states to learn from the example and adopt similar policies themselves.

This is an optimistic view of a future which plausibly could happen. Regular readers of this chronicle know that my own estimation of the prospects for the United States on its present course is bleak—that's why I left in 1991 and have not returned except for family emergencies since then. I have taken to using the oracular phrase “Think Pinochet, not Reagan” when describing the prospects for the U.S. Let me now explain what I mean by that. Many conservatives assume that the economic circumstances in the U.S. are so self-evidently dire that all that is needed is a new “great communicator” like Ronald Reagan to explain them to the electorate in plain language to begin to turn the situation around. But they forget that Reagan, notwithstanding his world-historic achievements, only slowed the growth of the federal beast on his watch and, in fact, presided over the greatest peacetime expansion of the national debt in history (although, by present-day standards, the numbers look like pocket change). Further, Reagan did nothing to arrest the “long march through the institutions” which has now resulted in near-total collectivist/statist hegemony in the legacy media, academia from kindergarten to graduate and professional education, government bureaucracies at all levels, and even management of large corporations who are dependent upon government for their prosperity.

In an environment where the tax eaters will soon, if they don't already, outnumber and outvote the taxpayers, the tipping point has arrived, and the way to bet is on a sudden and complete economic collapse due to a “debt spiral”, possibly accompanied by hyperinflation as the Federal Reserve becomes the only buyer of U.S. Treasury debt left in the market.

When the reality of twenty dollar a gallon gasoline (rising a dollar a day as the hyperinflation exponential starts to kick in, then tens, hundreds, etc.) hits home; when three and four hour waits to fill up the tank become the norm after “temporary and emergency” price controls are imposed, and those who have provided for their own retirement see the fruits of their lifetime of labour and saving wiped out in a matter of weeks by runaway inflation, people will be looking for a way out. That's when the Man on the White Horse will appear.

I do not know who he will be—in all likelihood it's somebody entirely beneath the radar at the moment. “When it's steam engine time, it steam engines.” When it's Pinochet time, it Pinochets.

I do not know how this authoritarian ruler will come to power. Given the traditions of the United States, I doubt it will be by a military coup, but rather the election of a charismatic figure as President, along with a compliant legislature willing to rubber-stamp his agenda and enact whatever “enabling acts” he requests. Think something like Come Nineveh, Come Tyre (December 2008). But afterward the agenda will be clear: “clean out” the media, educators, judiciary, and bureaucrats who are disloyal. Defund the culturally destructive apparatus of the state. Sunset all of the programs which turn self-reliant citizens into wards of the state. Adjust the institutions of democracy to weight political influence according to contribution to the commonwealth. And then, one hopes (although that's not the way to bet), retire and turn the whole mess over to a new bunch of politicians who will proceed to foul things up again, but probably sufficiently slowly there will be fifty years or so of prosperity before the need to do it all over again.

When I talk about an “American Pinochet” I'm not implying that such an outcome would involve “disappeared people” or other sequelæ of authoritarian tyranny. But it would involve, at the bare minimum, revocation of tenure at all state-supported educational institutions, review of educators, media figures, judges, and government personnel by loyalty boards empowered to fire them and force them to seek employment in the productive sector of the economy, and a comprehensive review of the actions of all government agents who may have violated the natural rights of citizens.

I do not want this to happen! For my friends in the United States who have not heeded my advice over the last 15 years to get out while they can, I can say only that this is the best case scenario I can envision given the present circumstances. You don't want to know about my darker views of the future there—really, you don't.

This novel points to a better way—an alternative which, although improbable is not impossible, in which a small cadre of lovers of liberty might create a haven which attracts like-minded people, compounding the effect and mounting a challenge to the illegitimate national government. Along with the price of admission, you'll get tutorials in the essentials of individual liberty such as main battle rifles, jury nullification, hard money, strong encryption, and the balancing act between liberty and life-affirming morality.

What more can I say? Read this book.

Posted at March 22, 2011 23:42