Archive for November, 2009

Unchaining the Human Heart — A Revolutionary Manifesto: Forbidden Passions

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Unchaining the Human Heart
— A Revolutionary Manifesto
A Book by J. Neil Schulman
Chapter 1: Forbidden Passions

Just what is it in your life that makes it worth getting out of bed in the morning?

For me, my best days are being an explorer.

I don’t have to put on a pith helmet, sling an elephant gun over my shoulder, and trudge into the heart of Africa or through tropical rain forests deep in South America.

What gets me out of bed is finding an idea new to me and following where it leads, whether that journey is writing a new book chapter or story, entrepreneuring a new business, or walking onto a movie set and trying to figure out how I’m supposed to watch other actors in a scene I’m directing while I’m also on camera playing dead.

But what if I wasn’t allowed to write or make movies or pursue new business ideas? What would my life be like then?

I don’t have to time-travel back many years to find authorities that despite a constitutional guarantee of my freedom of speech and freedom of the press would have charged me with a crime because my writing or filmmaking could be interpreted as obscene, blasphemous, seditious, or otherwise contrary to public morals and safety.

The 1961 obscenity trial of novelist Henry Miller is within my lifetime, and had Miller lost I would have had to remove sexually-explicit scenes from my novels Alongside Night, The Rainbow Cadenza, and Escape from Heaven.

The Hays Code for making movies is within my lifetime, and had it not been overturned by free-speech activists the Hays Code would have forbidden me to show my film Lady Magdalene’s in which I portray a house of prostitution as a legal employment opportunity, or the scene in which — playing an al Qaeda trainee — I pull down an American flag and throw it to the ground.

I don’t have to travel very far to find foreign countries that would consider my writing and filmmaking to be libelous to their government or officials, or violating their local laws … and in today’s multinational trade environment could issue an arrest warrant for me that could prevent me from traveling to their country.

But even in the United States, today, my freedom of expression is still controversial.

Recently I wrote a piece for my Facebook friends called “Thank God we still have free speech!”

It read:

Thank God we Americans still have free speech!

You can still say anything you want (unless what you say threatens National Security or public safety, or is hate speech against a protected minority or interest group, or threatens the President of the United States or his family, or reveals the contents of a Grand Jury investigation, or reveals information that might expose the identity of a clandestine field agent or violates insider trading laws or is in opposition to universal health care or is in communication with an extraterrestrial, or is sexual harassment in a workplace, or attempts to fully inform a jury about their right to rule on the law as well as the facts, or violates a non-disclosure agreement, or falsely declares information to the Internal Revenue Service or is crying fire in a crowded theater or is electioneering near a polling place or is a statement in favor of a candidate which hasn’t been declared as a campaign contribution or otherwise violates election laws or threatens the well-being of a minor or incites a riot or reveals information about the location of a person relocated under witness protection or violates a judge’s gag order or is a communication to someone who’s got a restraining order against you or represents an implied threat to a school or its students and teachers or obstructs justice or is deemed to be lying to a federal or police officer during a criminal investigation or promotes the use of tobacco or illegal drugs or is lying to a census taker or is in contempt of court or contempt of Congress or slanders or libels someone or is contemptuous of Muhammad or Allah or is obscene or pornographic or violates someone’s copyright or trademark or is a prayer or statement in favor of a religion within a public school or at an event organized by a public school or violates Facebook’s, Twitter’s, Myspace’s, or YouTube’s terms of service.

So speak up! You have the God-given right of free speech!

(But don’t quote me at a public school.)

For much more of human history than my life — and much more of the world than my country — every time I sat down to write, or tried to make a movie, I’d have to be looking over my shoulder to make sure that some cop or political officer — or some snitch — wasn’t looking for an opportunity to turn me in to the authorities because they disapproved of what I wanted to say.

My creative freedom is one of my passions and is one of the things that makes me libertarian in my views.

Free expression is something I will fight for … and that is not a metaphor. In the extreme necessity I would fight for my right to write.

Yes, it’s that important.

At various times and places other kinds of passions have been outlawed, and only outlaws could express these passions: forbidden love, forbidden sex, forbidden friends, forbidden imagination, forbidden music, forbidden lyrics, forbidden jokes, forbidden words, forbidden poems, forbidden reading, forbidden books, forbidden stories, forbidden movies, forbidden comics, forbidden dancing, forbidden art, forbidden science, forbidden math, forbidden buildings, forbidden faiths, forbidden foods, forbidden drink, forbidden plants, forbidden sports, forbidden travel, forbidden smoke, forbidden games, forbidden toys, forbidden professions, forbidden knowledge, forbidden speeds, forbidden skills, forbidden medicine, forbidden risk, forbidden thoughts, forbidden fantasies, forbidden privacy, and even forbidden colors.

If anything has made someone not willing to do what they were told because something was more important to them, the people to whom the only passion is a death grip on other people’s throats have tried to outlaw, control, or at least tax it. The passion for power over others is one I will not be defending. Nor will I be defending passions which depend on molesting or exploiting the innocent and the powerless.

But for those pleasures which make life beautiful and worth living, whatever they are, someone wants to forbid it. Megalomaniacs are a jealous lot. They want no competition. They want no gods before them. They want all attention on them.

As Groucho Marx sang as Rufus T. Firefly in the 1932 movie Duck Soup, “If any form of pleasure is exhibited, report to me and it will be prohibited! I’ll put my foot down. So shall it be! This is the land of the free!”

Thomas Jefferson wrote in the Declaration of Independence that “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

But what Jefferson didn’t have the space to explain in his wartime requirement for eloquence and brevity was that Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness is a diagram of necessity shaped as a pyramid. Life is at the base of that pyramid and Happiness is at the apex.

Without Life there can be no Liberty.

Without Liberty there can be no Happiness.

Life and Liberty are the rainbow. Happiness is the pot of gold at the rainbow’s end.

#

Next in Unchaining the Human Heart — A Revolutionary Manifesto is Chapter II: Romeo and Juliet

Unchaining the Human Heart — A Revolutionary Manifesto is
Copyright © 2010 The J. Neil Schulman Living Trust. All rights reserved.

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Unchaining the Human Heart — A Revolutionary Manifesto


Unchaining the Human Heart
— A Revolutionary Manifesto
A Book by J. Neil Schulman
Introduction


To Soleil

I’m 56 years old and I’ve been self-consciously libertarian for all but the first eighteen.

I now have an eighteen-year-old daughter, for whom I am writing this, but it’s not my intent to use this essay to convert her to being a libertarian.

Obviously, since I talk about my daughter in the third person, I’m not writing this only to her.

My daughter shares one characteristic with many younger people that made me think of her as the audience for this when the idea of writing it came to me.

My daughter thinks I spend too much of my time ranting about politics. She doesn’t understand why I shout back at the television.

She considers most of what I’ve written — my books, scripts, stories and articles — dominated by my interest in politics, and that discourages her from reading them.

When I say I’m libertarian, I don’t mean that as a partisan affiliation. I’m not a member of the Libertarian Party. Neither do I mean it in the ideological or movement sense. While I’m well-read in what libertarians consider the primary sources for the libertarian movement, and am in debt to many of them for ideas I regularly use, I no longer consider myself part of any organized movement. I’ve come to abhor ideology, itself, as a distraction from my own contemplative thinking.

Years ago I wrote a play titled “Cult of the Individual.” I wasn’t just being ironic.

When, in Monty Python’s Life of Brian, Brian tells a crowd of unwanted acolytes, “You’re all individuals!” — prompting a shout from one voice in the crowd, “I’m not!” — the humor wasn’t only the oxymoron. Adherence even to individualism, because it has become an ideology, prevents one from being a free individual.

The problem with ideology is that it reduces everything to ideas. Oh, my dear daughter, how I spent much of my life being guilty of that!

As I’ve matured, I’ve come to appreciate the more non-cerebral parts of my life. Yes, I still appreciate intellect and wit. That’s how I make my living! Nonetheless I’ve become both more self-aware of, and less alienated from, allowing myself to respond first with feelings, and not instantly shut down those feelings with thought.

I grew up reading science-fiction. So when — also around age 18 — I first met other science-fiction readers, I met many others who, like me, led with our brains. If feelings were even spoken of, they were channeled into trivia.

It’s no accident that emotion-challenged scientists, robots, and aliens are staples of science-fiction. Science-fiction writers knew who their fans were and appealed to us with psychological mirrors.

After I peeled away at layer after layer of politics and ideology, I found an emotional core that explained to me not only why I was attracted to libertarianism, but why this particular ideology — as hostile as its advocates were to using feelings as the means of choosing pursuits — is the one that at its core is devoted to protecting human loves and human dreams.

Paradoxically, the ultra-cerebral philosophy I’ve spent a lot of my life talking about is the one that’s best suited for those who lead with their hearts and care about others’ feelings.

To put it simply: the politics, movements, and ideologies that value and seek liberty for the individual over the interests of all groups — starting with the family — have been attempts to protect those things which make life meaningful and pleasurable. They have tried to protect whatever it is that you love … whatever are your aspirations … whatever you dream about as your passion.

For all my Spock-like arguments — my geekiness and wonkiness — my devotion to liberty is about protecting your hopes, dreams, and passions.

I’ve come to understand that libertarianism as a movement has been a failure not only because we have preached it as a set of abstract ideas, but because when we have shown strong emotion it has primarily been hostility to values strongly felt by others.

We’ve failed because we didn’t get that it’s not about what we’re against but what it is that we’re for.

When we’ve won support it’s because we managed to connect with something specific that people cared about in their own lives. When we lost it’s because we couldn’t connect to people’s lives.

Again, my dear daughter, this came as a revelation to me. I finally understood that when movements toward liberty have been successful it was because there was something specific and tangible that people loved and were fighting to protect.

This book will be giving examples of that. I’ll detail how other political movements are based on spreading hate and fear — and appealing to the greed of human beings who want to get something for nothing — but neglect to mention that what you have to give up to join them is any possibility of remaining faithful to your own true loves and reaching for your own highest dreams.

What you have to give up to join them is you.

This has led me to a thought that I hope will transform my life as much as it does yours:

Even if I don’t love what other people love — even if their hopes and dreams seem ridiculous or even offensive to me — I must start by respecting what they love, what they hope for, what they dream.

The beginning of liberty is when I respect — and pledge to protect — what others love, if — and this is a big “if” — they also respect and pledge to protect what I love.

For you wise acres reading this, I’m not falling for the tricks I see coming. No, respecting what you love doesn’t mean that if you “love the earth” I can’t put my carbon footprint up your global ass, or if you “love God” I can’t make fun of your end-of-the-world cult, or if you “love animals” I have to sign onto your campaign to get dolphins the right to vote.

But for my daughter, who is reasonably sane, how this can work in practice, and liberate the world, is a journey I hope you’ll take with me.

#

Next in Unchaining the Human Heart — A Revolutionary Manifesto is Chapter I: Forbidden Passions

Unchaining the Human Heart — A Revolutionary Manifesto is
Copyright © 2010 The J. Neil Schulman Living Trust. All rights reserved.

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Are We Alongside Night?

October 16, 1979 was the original publication date for the first-edition hardcover of my novel Alongside Night, and on December 10, 1979 I gave a speech to the Los Angeles Libertarian Supper Club titled, “Are We Alongside Night?” That first speech was included in both the 1982 Ace rack-size paperback and the 20th anniversary Pulpless.com trade paperback edition in 1999.

This past Monday, to celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of both those events, I was invited to give a new speech to the Karl Hess Club in Los Angeles, again by asking the question, “Are We Alongside Night?”

You can listen to the audio of my November 16, 2009 speech “Are We Alongside Night?” by clicking here.

Much thanks to J. Kent Hastings for recording and uploading the MP3!

Below is the original 1979 speech.

You can download a free copy of the 30th anniversary PDF edition of Alongside Night here.

–JNS

Are We Alongside Night?
A Talk the Los Angeles Libertarian Supper Club
December 10, 1979
by J. Neil Schulman

An abridged version of this talk appeared as an afterword in the 1982 Ace paperback edition.—JNS

Let me take you back six years, and three thousand miles east, to the time and place seeds were planted that eventually grew into this skinny little book. For all intents and purposes, you are looking at those six years, when I hold this book up.

You are looking at an obsession worse than heroin to a heroin dependent, worse than a dragon to a knight, worse than Hamlet’s ghost to Hamlet, Junior. You’ve all heard C.S. Lewis’s line—or some variant of it—about the man who lives for others: you can tell the others by their hunted look. That’s the look I got used to from close friends whenever I saw them during the writing of this book…they knew I had another two-and-a-half pages written…and they weren’t getting away alive without reading them.

If this presentation seems a little lopsided at times, it’s because those six years are all crowded together, screaming to get out, and I’m not in any condition to adjudicate among them.

So what you’re getting is a sort of recollective pot luck.

Okay. We’re back six years, in late 1973, when I was a young libertarian writer living in New York City. Nixon was president, the economy was going to the dogs, and a fellow named Harry Browne was going around telling people that Armageddon was on the way—you’d better have your gold, silver, and Swiss Francs and a well-stocked bunker to put them in.

We were going to have a wheelbarrow hyperinflation, by God even Murray Rothbard said so—and anyone who didn’t prepare for it was just plain dense. Just look at the price of gold…Jesus, over a hundred dollars an ounce! You can’t count on the banks—even the safety deposit boxes; they might be confiscated by the government—and there was going to be rampant strikes, looting, vandalism, food riots, New York would be a disaster area…

And damned if that didn’t sound like a pretty good idea for a story.

Something like this. A guy who’s read Harry Browne and has made all the right preparations is somehow still stuck in New York City when the merde hits the ventilateur…pardon my French. This guy has his fallout shelter—excuse me, retreat—all stocked and ready to go in upper New York State, but he keeps his gold, silver, and Swiss Francs in a private lock box on the other side of Manhattan. And before he can go to his retreat, he has to fight his way across town, fending off youth gangs, and food rioters, and traffic is jammed, he can’t get a cabdriver to take his money, the buses are on strike…and I figured the idea was worth about four thousand words and a couple of hundred inflated bucks.

I made some notes on the story but never got excited enough about the idea to bother writing it.

We jump ahead, now, to February, 1974, when Harry Browne’s new book, You Can Profit From a Monetary Crisis, is being released by Macmillan. I manage to wangle myself an invitation to a press luncheon Macmillan is putting on in honor of Browne, and during the question period I ask Browne something related to Austrian economics…I haven’t the slightest idea what it was. Anyway, at the end of the luncheon, Browne’s literary agent, Oscar Collier, comes up to me, hands me his card, and tells me that if I ever decide to do a book, to get in touch with him… and the next thing I know, I’m pitching him the idea I had as a short story and telling him that I’m thinking of doing a novel. By the end of the conversation, we had a sort of understanding that I’d write three chapters and an outline, and he’d give a shot at selling it if they were any good.

Well, about a month later, I gave him the chapters and outline, and Oscar agreed to submit them…which is a statement about Oscar’s ability to develop writers, because looking back now at those first attempted chapters…they’re terrible. Overwritten, wordy, overly detailed. But I should also mention, on Oscar’s behalf, that the chapters that open my novel are the same chapters…after judicious editing that Oscar prompted me into.

Oscar made a number of submissions of the chapters and outline, which was to be a novel called Ice And Ashes. I later changed the title when a science fiction novel named Ice And Iron by Wilson Tucker was released. But not to digress too much, here, the project didn’t sell, so I put the project aside for a while, at that point five chapters and an outline.

Then Sam started spreading the gospel of countereconomics, as we all headed into the depression of 1974—as Murray Rothbard calls it—and I organized a couple of fairly successful conferences on countereconomics called CounterCon. For those of you who have read the novel already, you’ll understand when I mention that these conferences were held at Camp Mohawk, in the Berkshires, a children’s and ski camp owned by relatives of mine, and that Camp Mohawk is the location of the Utopia prison in my story.

And to jump ahead once again, we’re now up to summer of 1975, when Sam and I and a few others moved out here to California. On the way across Sam and I outlined a book called Counter Economics—which he is still going to write one of these days—and as another digression that book can be found on the library shelves of Aurora in my novel, so Sam is committed to writing it so my prophecy will come true. But this digression also has a point: when I decided to resume writing my novel, when I’d gotten settled out here, I redid the outline to include the update in libertarian theory that my experience with countereconomics represented.

The rest of this story involves too many personal details to get into here about finishing the book in May 1976, rewrites, and a sale of the book to Berkley Book’s science fiction paperback line—a deal that was broken off later—and changes in agents because Oscar Collier was out of the agent business…but the bottom line is that it took around eighteen rejections, eight rewrites, and five years to produce this little book. Remember that the next time you go into a bookstore and plunk down a few bucks for a book. That’s what some poor shmuck of a writer had to go through to give you a few diverting hours.

Does this sound like self pity? [Big grin] I sure hope so.

Okay. Now I’m supposed to talk here tonight about a few specifics related to the topic. Let’s see. Romantic Manifesto, arbitration, countereconomics, hyperinflation, what the world of Alongside Night looks like, where my ideas come from … Schenectady…that’s Harlan Ellison’s joke, by the way…How they developed and were dramatized…how publisher interest was developed…and the likelihood of the scenario coming true. [Deep breath] Well, you might as well get comfortable, we’re going to be here until next Thursday. I’ll tell you what. I’ll hit the high points and we can catch what I miss during the question period.

The question that I’m supposed to be addressing tonight is: Are we Alongside Night? I came up with that title in kind of the same way that Rand once asked in an essay; “Is Atlas Shrugging?” to address the question of how much of the events of her novel were coming true. So when I ask, Are We Alongside Night?, I’m asking; how much of the scenario of my novel is already coming to pass…and how much can we realistically expect?

Now this has an assumption in it that I have to make explicit and examine. Why should I ask—why should anyone care—whether a fictional scenario—a story—will come true or not? Does its likelihood of coming true make it more entertaining, or give it more artistic value? Does Lucifer’s Hammer become more entertaining when a comet is about to hit earth? Was Atlas Shrugged a better novel when the lights of New York went out in 1965? Does one have to abuse oneself in the Holland Tunnel to enjoy Portnoy’s Complaint?

No, of course not. A work of fiction finds it validity not in how well it records—or even projects—reality, but in terms of isolating universal experience in terms of metaphors.

So what I was trying to do with Alongside Night was not precisely prophecy. And, though it may be prophetic—since I painted in broad strokes based on long term trends that are almost impossible not to see—it can still be perfectly valid even if none of the specific events it portrays ever come to pass. What was I trying to do, then? Well, let me sneak up on that from a rather oblique direction.

And here’s where I sneak in the The Romantic Manifesto. That book, for any of you who haven’t read it, is a collection of essays by Ayn Rand stating her artistic credo…the artistic methodology she used in writing The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged.

And, since in her introduction to that book, she states that “There is no romantic movement today. If there is to be one in the art of the future, this book will have helped it come into being” let me state for the record that I consider myself part of the romantic movement in fiction today, based on Rand’s criteria as stated in that book.

Now, what Rand was concerned with was portraying things and characters: as they might be and ought to be. And she is very detailed and explicit about how this is supposed to be done. To restrict myself to the fiction writer, we’re supposed to abstract essential details from the subject being portrayed, then—by a process of deductive logic—put together a model that has the universality of an abstraction but looks like a concrete.

In a character, for example, I would mention only those traits that relate to the essential nature of the kind of person that character is.

The theme of a story—the central proposition—comes about in the same way: a thesis one wants to demonstrate. And the plot is a dramatized series of interconnected events that demonstrate that theme. In terms of theme, plot, characterization, one selects only the essential. Art is a “selective re-creation of reality” and what is selected is metaphysically important merely by its fact of being included. If it weren’t important, the artist wouldn’t have put it in; if it’s not important, it shouldn’t be mentioned in the first place.

Rand uses this analogy: “If one saw, in real life, a beautiful woman wearing an exquisite evening gown, with a cold sore on her lips, the blemish would be nothing but a minor affliction, and one would ignore it. But a painting of such a woman would be a corrupt, obscenely vicious attack on man, on beauty, on all values, and one would experience a feeling of immense disgust and indignation at the artist.”

Now, if Rand were the only writer I considered to be worth a damn, I would have taken that credo and what I would have written—like so many so-called Objectivist writers—would have been imitations of Rand’s style. But that wasn’t the case. I have been a lifelong admirer of Robert Heinlein, for his science fiction, C.S. Lewis for his fantasy, and J.D. Salinger for his slick mainstream writing. And all four writers have a good deal in common, though they span the range of philosophy.

All four are moralists—though their moral codes differ widely— all four write to what Rand would call “an objective psychoepistemology” …which is another way of saying that they give you the details and let you imagine your own pictures…and all four consider themselves entertainers of a sort, as well as having serious things to say.

So armed with Romantic Manifesto, and four different writers whose writing I admired, I set out to write my own story.

And I found that by working from Rand’s basic premises— without attempting to imitate her style—I had some major disagreements with the execution of those principles.

For example. Rand says her goal was the portrayal of an ideal man, first in Howard Roark, later in the heroes of Atlas Shrugged. And she defines the essential characteristic of a man as rationality. So when she portrays John Galt, she portrays a man who is always rational. He always is right on top of it. If he has any weakness of flaw, Rand doesn’t mention it…and therefore it is metaphysically insignificant. He is, by definition and portrayal ideal and perfect.

He is also her least convincing character.

Now this in itself is not a condemnation; Rand could easily argue—and has—that anyone who objected to Galt on that basis would be declaring his own depravity…the desire to see a flaw in Galt is the desire to see perfection itself destroyed.

If one is writing epic myth, then it is perfectly okay to portray gods and goddesses. There is even a usefulness for such models: they give us a standard against which to measure our own behavior.

But human frailty is metaphysically significant. It exists in all of us, even our geniuses and heroes. And they are not made less of because of their flaws; they are made greater by it. All three of the other writers I mentioned understand this; Rand does not. But Heinlein in particular taught me this lesson. Who is more brave: the man who fearlessly charges into battle, or the man who is so afraid that he wets his pants…as he charges in anyway?

John Galt stacks up pretty well as a god. His generator even throws lightning bolts of a sort…enough to knock down an airplane, anyway. But as the portrayal of an ideal man, he falls completely flat…because if he has any weaknesses which he has had to conquer, we are never shown them.

If John Galt had some weakness—some fear—that Mr. Thompson could have used against him when he had Galt prisoner, which Galt had to overcome within himself, then Galt would have been more essentially true to the nature of Man, and the meaning of Atlas Shrugged would have been amplified.

Now, remember that woman in the evening gown with the cold sore?

Literature is not static, like a painting; it is fluid, dynamic. What a fiction writer can do that the painter can not is to portray the beautiful woman with the cold sore, and demonstrate that she regards it “as nothing but a minor affliction” that should be ignored…exactly as one would in real life. Then, the meaning becomes even clearer.

By the way, Rand’s favorite writer, Victor Hugo, did just this in The Hunchback of Notre Dame. The most important thing about Quasimodo is not that he is a hunchback, but that he is a human being in spite of being a hunchback.

Okay, now to tie this up.

The naturalist writer—as Rand talks about it in Romantic Manifesto—is interested in portraying things as they are. Rand is interested in showing things “as they might be and ought to be.” And what I was interested in doing in Alongside Night was showing how things are likely to be, and what we have to do if we don’t want them to be like that. Or to put this in concrete terms: the setting of my story is the crisis that Harry Browne described…only we were ready for it.

I chose as my viewpoint character Elliot Vreeland, the seventeen-year old son of a world famous libertarian economist. His father, Martin Vreeland, is a combination of Murray Rothbard, Milton Friedman, Wilhelm Roepke, and a few others. But the main character is Elliot, not his father; the things that are seen are from Elliot’s vantage point, within the framework of his understanding.

Now, why did I do this? I certainly didn’t make things easy on myself. If I wanted to portray an armed uprising, a soldier would have made a better viewpoint character. If I wanted to show a business collapse, an industrialist would have been at the thick of it. Political turmoil could have best been seen by a government official on the inside, as Ben Stein did in his inflation scenario, On The Brink, or Erdman did with an international banker in Crash of 79…incidentally, both these book came out after I’d finished my own first draft.

So I had to go through a good deal of trouble, in terms of plot twists, to get my seventeen-year old into a position where he could see any of the causes of what was happening.

Now why did I do it this way?

Well, being the son of an economist, he’s had some exposure to what’s going on, so he won’t be a complete ignoramus. But being young, nobody—not even the most ardent Objectivist— could expect him to be a John Galt…to have at his command the resources of a John Galt. He would be vulnerable to the tremendous forces bulleting his world, and so if I cut him off from the only really powerful person he knows—his father— then he’s on his own, and he has to learn to cope with the world without very many resources at his command.

In other words, he’s in much the same position any of us would be in having to deal with economics catastrophe…assuming we aren’t living like a hermit in a retreat somewhere.

Throughout my story, Elliot Vreeland is pushed along by circumstances beyond his control, and very often the only choice he has is who he can trust and who he can’t trust. He has to decide—by loyalty, by friendship, by what people say and what people do—who are the good guys and who are the bad guys. His decisions aren’t made on an ideological basis, but on a personal basis…which is how most people make the choices about their lives.

In essence, his only weapon is his own moral discretion.

And so he is in precisely the position, in my novel, that most people are today when confronted with libertarians. They don’t understand all our fancy theories; all they care about is whether or not we can be trusted. They’re not interested in hearing about how perfect we are and how terrific our ideas are. They got a bellyful of that from the communists and the socialists and the utopians and the technocrats and the fascists, and each of them had the Answer…only it never seemed to work. It doesn’t make any difference that what we’re talking about would work…we have not proved it yet, and so we’re in the same position as all these others. And don’t tell me how our ideas are historically self-evident; if they were self-evident, we’d be living in a libertarian world today.

So what I did in my story was to show them a guy who has to make the same choice. He has to know who he can trust when all these things start coming down.

And here’s the important part: the libertarians in my story aren’t libertarians because they spout all the theories, and demonstrate and go to Supper Club, and read New Libertarian Strategy. They’re libertarians because they’re living their lives in accordance with libertarian principles. They have something concrete to offer: safe areas, free trade zones, communication and transportation immune from the State, ways to beat the system. Not words, but action. Not promises, but results.

And that’s precisely what will have to happen before we can deal with this nightmare that we’re “alongside.”

Shall I get to concretes?

Hyperinflation? I can’t say for sure that it’s coming, but inflation is going to be around for a while, probably in double digit and quite possibly in triple digit. And if you don’t think that’s a volatile situation, ask yourself if we’d be involved in this mess in Iran if David Rockefeller and Jimmy Carter didn’t want to get our minds off the economic problems right here.

You might also ask yourself if any of the Iranian students holding the hostages are as young as seventeen.

The counter-economy? It’s here right now. U.S. News and World Report from October 22nd—seven weeks ago. The I.R.S. already has a quarter of the American economy listed in the underground economy…half a trillion dollars a year. Twenty million Americans. And if those twenty million can’t be gotten to with the message that what they’re doing is, in fact, libertarianism in practice, then you can kiss the future of freedom goodbye: the statists will pull another hat trick and we’ll have another new “ism” to contend with.

It may already be too late on that score: those twenty million may already have libertarians pegged as a group of minor politicians trying to muscle in on the big boys. And to them, politicians are the enemy.

Arbitration? It’s so common it’s probably the only reason the U.S. court system hasn’t collapsed under its own weight. You know how long it takes to get onto a court docket? And how much business bypasses the whole mess through the American Arbitration Association and other groups like the Better Business bureau and Fair Ballot Association? Neither do I; but it’s in the millions of whatever you’re counting.

Private protection? A huge industry. Alternate money? Gold is skyrocketing at the same rate that prices are in general. Decadence and chaos? Did you hear about The Who concert a few days ago? [On December 4, 1979, eleven concert-goers were trampled to death to get through the open doors at a general-admission concert by The Who in Cincinnati.]

All the elements are already here. The revolution is already in progress. It’s simply a matter people identifying who the revolutionaries are…and for the most part, the revolutionaries don’t even know they’re the revolutionaries.

You see, we don’t have a John Galt leading us. We can contemplate him as a literary character—and maybe learn something by doing it—but the function he performs in Atlas Shrugged isn’t being performed in the real world. There’s only us. So if we want to achieve great things—our dream of a free society—we have to do it in spite of our own weaknesses, and fears, and mistakes.

But, maybe we don’t really need a John Galt after all. As libertarians, we know about the efficacy of free trade. When people trade, they parley everyone else’s production, and achieve what they could not achieve acting alone, as individuals.

The great socialist utopia has been here all along: it’s the marketplace. Or—as the ancient Greeks called it—and I picked up from Sam who picked it up from 1960’s libertarian activists— the agora.

In The Romantic Manifesto, Rand states that she writes solely for the enjoyment of living, for a while, in a universe that is “as it might be and ought to be.” Her intent is not the didactic one of teaching people how they should do things, but for the feeling of the experience of having them done. A psychological breather…soul food.

Rand used the analogy that it is not the purpose of a novel to teach its readers how to live anymore than it is the function of an airplane to teach its passengers the principles of aerodynamics.

But Atlas Shrugged—and Alongside Night, for that matter— is not a world, but a book. You can’t live in it. It is a portrait, not the thing itself—the map, not the territory. And when you come to page 1168 in Atlas Shrugged, the story is finished and you‘re stuck back in this mess which we have to live in.

So I set out, like Rand, to portray things “as they might be and ought to be” but not as an end in itself, the way it is for her.

You see, if things “might be and ought to be,” then I won’t be satisfied until they are.

My intent with Alongside Night was to show, by dramatic example, the major preconditions for the achievement of the free society.

My theme: freedom works.

My context: the political economic mess that the theories of Austria economics say must end in collapse…the sort of economic collapse that historically had led to a Man on Horseback taking over. Napoleon after the 1790s’ hyperinflation in France; Hitler after the crack-up in 1923 Weimar Germany.

My plot: the events leading up to and culminating in the collapse of the American economy, and the arising of the underground economy given conscious identity by libertarian revolutionaries.

And that’s where you all come in. On one level, I wrote my book as an adventure story—self-contained, self-satisfying, enjoyable whether or not it can actually happen.

On another level, I wrote it for you…as a teaching aid. All of us have argued endlessly, trying to tell others how libertarian ideas would work in practice and how we can achieve them. What I set out to do was give some of the fundamental necessities— the preconditions—in a form that makes it obvious what we’re talking about. Now, some of these topics are best handled in the question period. Let me just run through some of them and you can hit me about them if you‘re interested.

The idea of the General Submissions to Arbitration as a precondition to a civilized society.

Technology as a neutral element in the set…neither pro-state nor anti-state.

A centralized libertarian Cadre as a danger to liberty.

The necessity for a separation of courts and protection agencies.

Is the Revolutionary Agorist Cadre, in my novel, a libertarian protection agency or a government?

You see, I’m leaving these sorts of things out of my formal presentation, because they are the sorts of things that libertarians are going to have to debate among themselves. When you get to Page 181 (Page 255, Pulpless.com edition) of Alongside Night, and close the book, you’ll have read a road map to a libertarian society…but you’re going to have to do the driving yourself. All I was able to give you was shadows of the libertarian story that each of you can write.

Thank you.

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My 100 Most Important Books

I put together this list in response to a Facebook posting tagging me and asking for my 100 top most important books.

Apparently this sort of thing had been going around the web since April 2003, when the BBC’s Big Read began the search for Britain’s best-loved novel, and asked Britons to nominate their favorite books.

The truth is that at different times in my life I’d have different books on the list.

If you’d asked me when I was in my teens and 20′s The Catcher in the Rye would have been in the top five. Also most of my books are currently still packed in boxes from my last move and if I went through them I could easily add another hundred titles. How about The Illuminatus! trilogy, or Hitchhiker’s Guide books? They easily could have been on my list.

I did an interview years ago for Science Fiction Review where I listed a whole bunch of other authors I love who influenced me.

Then there’s the books I mentioned in my Facebook profile.

Honestly, I can’t remember half of what I’ve read over the course of a lifetime so how can I remember what my favorites are?

But here’s the list I put together. I didn’t follow the BBC protocol and included both fiction and nonfiction.

First of all, my own books (11 books):
FICTION:
Alongside Night
The Rainbow Cadenza
Escape from Heaven
Nasty, Brutish, and Short Stories
Profile in Silver and Other Screenwritings

NONFICTION/OMNIBUS:
I Met God (audiobook)
Stopping Power: Why 70 Million Americans Own Guns
The Robert Heinlein Interview and Other Heinleiniana
Self Control Not Gun Control
Book Publishing in the 21st Century
The Frame of the Century

C.S. Lewis (17 Books):
FICTION:
The Chronicles of Narnia:

The Magician’s Nephew
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
The Horse and His Boy
Prince Caspian
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
The Silver Chair
The Last Battle

The Space Trilogy:

Out of the Silent Planet
Perelandra
That Hideous Strength

The Great Divorce
The Screwtape Letters

NONFICTION:
The Abolition of Man
Miracles
Mere Christianity
The Problem of Pain
The Weight of Glory
An Experiment in Criticism

Ayn Rand (8 books)
FICTION:
Atlas Shrugged
The Fountainhead
Anthem

NONFICTION:
Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal
The Virtue of Selfishness
Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology
The Romantic Manifesto
The New Left: The Anti-Industrial Revolution

Robert A. Heinlein (26 books)
FICTION:
Stranger in a Strange Land
The Moon is a Harsh Mistress
Job: A Comedy of Justice
Have Space Suit — Will Travel
Citizen of the Galaxy
Glory Road
The Past Through Tomorrow
Farnham’s Freehold
Between Planets
The Puppet Masters
The Door Into Summer
Double Star
Starman Jones
Red Planet
Starship Troopers
Tunnel in the Sky
Beyond This Horizon
Friday
Time Enough For Love
Podkayne of Mars
The Rolling Stones
The Star Beast
Farmer in the Sky

NONFICTION/OMNIBUS:
Expanded Universe
Tramp Royale
Grumbles from the Grave

Aldous Huxley
Brave New World

George Orwell (2 books)
Nineteen-eighty-four
Animal Farm

Brad Linaweaver (5 books)
Moon of Ice
The Land Beyond Summer
ClownFace
Anarquia
(with J. Kent Hastings)
Free Space (co-editor with Ed Kramer)

L. Neil Smith
The Probability Broach

Victor Koman (3 books)
The Jehovah Contract
Solomon’s Knife
Kings of the High Frontier

Colin Wilson (3 books)
FICTION:
The Philosopher’s Stone
NONFICTION:
The Outsider
A Criminal History of Mankind

Franz Kafka
The Trial

Mark Twain (3 books)
A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court
Huckleberry Finn
Letters from the Earth

Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol

H.G. Wells (2 books)
The Time Machine
War of the Worlds

Anthony Burgess
A Clockwork Orange

Viktor Frankl
Man’s Search for Meaning

Carl Jung
Man and His Symbols

Dale Carnegie
How to Win Friends and Influence People

S.I. Hawakaya
Language in Thought and Action

Ludwig von Mises
Human Action

F.A. Hayek
The Road to Serfdom

Murray Rothbard (2 books)
Power and Market
For a New Liberty

Samuel Edward Konkin III (2 books)
The New Libertarian Manifesto
An Agorist Primer

Harry Browne
How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World

Ken Grimwood
Replay

Arthur Hailey
Airport

Robert LeFevre
The Philosophy of Ownership

Lysander Spooner:
No Treason: The Constitution of No Authority

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The Problem of Liberty

Wouldn’t it be funny if the rulers of the earth actually wanted pretty much the same sort of government as most of the world’s people?

I think it’s actually true.

If you have a very long perspective the twentieth century was, as President Obama might well put it, a teachable moment. By its end everyone pretty well understood Lord Acton’s point that absolute power corrupts absolutely, and that in the long run dictatorship is impractical even for the dictator. World domination proved a chimera even to the totally committed dictator willing to spill any amount of blood in the attempt.

So the powers that be — billionaire bankers, heads of state, generalissimos — rethought and retooled.

People everywhere have a reasonable fear and loathing of government gone wild with their wars and planned famines, concentration camps and exterminations, lost families and broken lives. But libertarians sometimes conclude from this that in escaping from Big Brother people are also seeking freedom.

Occasionally that’s true. A bad experience with government can leave one quite cynical about it.

But as soon as most people get away from the jackboots as often as not they miss the softer side of tyranny: the guaranteed jobs, room and board, the socialized medicine, the lowered expectations.

So if one belongs to a power elite seeking global government, the first lesson learned from the twentieth century was different strokes for different folks.

In the parts of the world still run by dictators, a globalist seeking a worldwide democracy might come across as a liberator.

In a third world overrun by warlords who commandeer any relief brought in for their own uses, a globalist might well be seen as a bringer of food, medicine, and order.

In Europe a globalist might advocate lifestyle changes so small as to be seen as an advocate of business as usual.

But in the United States of America, whose people have not completely forgotten the uncompromising libertarian challenges of the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights, a globalist needs to be a chameleon advocating whatever policy is necessary to move institutions away from true liberty.

A globalist in the U.S. might be seen as a secular liberal, a compassionate conservative, a post-9/11 patriot, an environmentalist, even an Ayn-Rand-spouting capitalist.

Globalism is populist government. Most of the world’s people are even more afraid of living without the safety net of a nanny state than they are of a Hitler, Stalin or Osama bin Laden.

What the power elite want — a “kinder, gentler” world nanny state with themselves as the nannies — is what the vast majority of the world’s people also want.

There is one, and only one, fly in this prescribed ointment. Americans with long memories.

Americans who read Jefferson, Paine, and Franklin, Spooner and Mencken, Rand, Rothbard, and Konkin.

Americans who know that while the United States was never free all the way, we got close enough that the flavor of liberty is still on our tongues, and the aroma of freedom is burnt into our nostrils.

America is and always has been the square peg in a round world. What we want is not what they want. What we dream about is not what they dream about.

But they have a problem. They need us.

Individualists are the geese laying golden eggs.

They don’t want us dead. They want us compliant.

But the globalists are smart enough to know that they need to maintain the illusion of liberty in order to keep the golden eggs coming.

For Americans, unlike the rest of the world, the globalist strategy is akin to stage magic: distraction with one hand while they trick us with the other.

The most important component of this strategy is their domination of entertainment.

They’ve had only limited success with controlling public education and universities, defining public agendas for people whose ideology overcomes common sense.

In America, it’s even more important to control the late-night comic’s monologue than it is to control the cable news network. You only need one or two well-launched jokes to effect more of a political impact than a dozen books, editorials, or blogged rants.

I don’t know whether planet earth will ever be free. But I do think America is still the best hope for freedom on this planet.

The anthem of the American nation might not be found so much at the beginning of baseball games as in the song lyrics of an old British rock band: we won’t get fooled again.

So keep paying attention. Look where they don’t want you to look. There’s where those of us who want freedom stand a chance of finding it.

But keep in mind: the world might not thank you if you find it.

Freedom is an acquired taste.

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The Laughskeller

Warning: ADULT CONTENT ahead including hard-core profanity and hate speech.


The Laughskeller


A short story by J. Neil Schulman

Jerry always looked at the parking lot before each show. He scanned past license plates from New Jersey, Idaho, Arizona, Wyoming, New York, Florida, California, Vermont, Minnesota, Utah – Nevada, of course – and even some plates from BC and Alberta. There were a lot fewer pick-up trucks than anyone might have expected and a lot more Mercedes, BMW’s, and Hummers. A special parking section just for Harley Davidsons. Always stretch limos with the driver smoking, eating gourmet pizza sent out from the bar, and watching satellite TV. The helipad, which tonight had a Robinson R66 and a Bell 206 BIII JetRanger – in addition to the usual Mercy Air ‘copter.

Jerry had even — swear-to-God — seen an M1A1 tank parked on occasion.

He paid attention to clues like this. Jerry had to know who his audience was. When Gino first offered Jerry this gig Jerry thought he’d be playing to the Blue Collar Comedy Tour crowd, but he was quickly disabused of that notion. This wasn’t your Jeff Foxworthy or Larry the Cable Guy audience. These people were serious as a heart attack. He often wondered why a lot of them even bothered coming to a comedy club much less make it a de rigueur vacation stopover. Some of them looked like their other nights out were spent watching public executions and dog fights, or playing Xtreme Komando – not paintball, but with full-auto AK-47’s and body armor.

Crystal, Nevada was a nowhere town previously a tourist destination for only one reason: it had two legal brothels within a two-hour drive from Las Vegas. Heidi Fleiss had once had the idea to open a third brothel in Crystal with male prostitutes and female clients, but that dumb idea had gone nowhere fast. The closest Heidi had come to her dream establishment was a coin-op launderette in nearby Pahrump with the appropriate name Dirty Laundry.

The Laughskeller didn’t open its doors until eight PM. There was no point. It was so far off the beaten track few people were going to drive there just to drink and play the slots. But even so, precisely at ten PM, the management cleared out the few locals, the regular dinner patrons from Area 51 recognizable by their no-insignia desert camo, and any stragglers from the nearby brothels.

The team of bouncers and topless girls who took the door for the eleven o’clock first show – and again at one AM for the 2 AM second show — weren’t there just to collect the if-you-have-to-ask-you-can’t-afford-it cover charge. They operated the magnetometers and X-ray units and checked guests’ personal items. The Door Team weren’t checking weapons, but cameras, recorders, phones, handhelds, electronics of any kind – even one guy’s fake eye with a video camera built into it. But when it came to calling heads or tails on who got in, The Giant who commanded the Door Team was God.

There she was again. That cool blonde in the little black dress and string of pearls who looked as if she should be one of the Fox News babes, or the female lead in an old Hitchcock movie.

On her first night Jerry had tagged her in his mind as Superbabe. He would have been a lot less nervous if Superbabe was with some guy in an Armani suit and a Rolex, bait for some guy in an Armani suit and a Rolex, or even sitting with her arm around another spectacularly gorgeous woman. But this was Superbabe’s fifth night here and not only was she once again sitting alone at a back table eating fugu sashimi with chopsticks but she made it clear to anyone who sent over a drink that she wasn’t interested. Superbabe had snoop written all over her. But five nights in a row The Giant had taken Superbabe’s money – for both shows – and passed her in.

When Gino had first offered the gig he’d asked Jerry if he wanted to perform behind bulletproof glass. Jerry had declined, despite the previous two stand-ups ending their Laughskeller runs in the ER of Desert View Medical Center – one with a gunshot wound and the other badly lacerated from a thrown broken beer bottle. Jerry felt it was disrespectful to an audience to treat them as criminals – despite the evidence that some of them were armed-to-the-teeth maniacs. Comedians talked all the time about a joke killing the audience, but this was a metaphor. Aside from anything else, Jerry got a buzz from knowing that at any moment if a joke flopped it could really kill him.

Jerry thought of himself as the Evel Knievel of stand-up. The self-flattery was not unjustified. One of the bartenders had stolen a dry-erasable compliance sign from a construction job he worked at and put it up in Jerry’s dressing room. It now read, “258 Nights Without A Comedian Being Injured On This Job Site.”

Nevertheless, Jerry wore Kevlar, as did the bouncers, bartenders, parking valets, and Gino, himself. The female personnel’s skimpy dress didn’t allow for such body armor, but Gino being “old-school” Nevada he considered women easily replaceable anyway.

Jerry finished off the one Glengoyne 28-year-old Single Malt Scotch Whisky he allowed himself before each show, and waited just offstage for Gino to make his intro. He took a look at tonight’s first-show crowd. It was, as always, a full house. Some of them wore masks.

Lots of men in tuxedos and jackboots with their elegant women wearing designer dresses and jackpradas. The usual number of leather-and-chains-clad bikers. The skinheads – though they had to meet Gino’s upscale dress code. The Skull & Bones guys. The leatherboy Nazis with their black skull-and-barbwire-embroidered cowhide vests and swastika armbands. Lots of exotic tattoos and body piercings in the house. And, yes, there were the usual SS wannabes with their black uniforms seated well away from the white-hooded KKK wannabes – those two groups just never got along.

Just before Gino walked onstage, the house lights went down and the wallscreens came on with their montages of Nazi rallies, KKK marches, anti-Semitic cartoons, lynchings.

Then the stage lights came up, the medley of “Horst-Wessel-Lied,” and “Nigger Necktie” blended seamlessly into “Tomorrow Belongs To Me” from Cabaret, and Gino walked out to welcome the audience and introduce Jerry.

Jerry didn’t pay attention to what Gino was saying. He was watching Superbabe, who was lighting a Sobranie cigarette. Just what is her deal? he wondered.

Then Jerry heard Gino’s wind-up, “So please put your hands together for America’s most fearless comedian, Jerry Rhymus!”

Jerry walked onstage to thunderous applause.

He took the hand-held mike off the stool where Gino had left it, took a swig from a bottle of Smart Water, and waited for the applause and cheers to die down just enough that the audience could hear him.

Then he started his routine the same way he always did at the Laughskeller.

“Who wants to kill that kike-loving commie nigger motherfucker in the White House?”

The crowd went wild again.

#

The crowd from the first show was gone and the second show audience was just arriving. Jerry smoked a Monte Cristo cigar and watched a few of them pull into the parking lot. He always paid attention when a vehicle announced itself as green. A Volvo with the flex-fuel logo. A Tesla Roadster. A half-a-million-bucks CNG motor home.

Jerry went back in. The Laughskeller was cleared between the first and second show except for patrons who had paid in advance for both. Tonight that was only one person. Superbabe.

Superbabe saw Jerry walk in and gave him a shy wave. He strolled over.

“I doubt you’d remember me,” she said, leaning back against the leather-padded bench.

“Since Chaminade High School is an all-boys parochial school I know you weren’t one of my classmates,” Jerry said, stealing a chair from another table, “and I’m pretty sure you’re not one of my ex wives.”

“May I buy you a drink?” she asked. “I’m told it softens having been excommunicated.”

“My parents faked my baptismal certificate to get me out of public school and it’s an open bar for me,” Jerry said. “What are you having?”

“First of the night,” Superbabe said. “Whatever you’re drinking.”

Jerry made a quick hand gesture to Charlie behind the bar and put up two fingers. “This cigar bother you?”

“Hardly,” she said, taking out a Sobrani. Jerry struck a wooden match from the box on the table and lit it for her.

“So where don’t I remember you from?”

“I used to work for The Tonight Show,” she said. “I booked you for Jay Leno. Three times.”

“Before I started doing my own stand-up,” Jerry said, “I once met Sid Caesar at a huge book fair where both of us had new books out. I was introduced to Sid for about twenty seconds on day one of the convention. On day four of the convention we ran into each other on the floor and he remembered me by name. Sid had to have met hundreds of thousands of people over the course of his lifetime … and he was able to remember me by name after one brief introduction. I envy that memory for names and faces and realize it’s one of the many reasons Sid Caesar became a superstar and I didn’t.”

“You weren’t doing all that badly,” Superbabe said. “Three movies that grossed over a hundred million and co-star on a sitcom that went four seasons. A top-five syndicated radio talk show. Three Grammy Awards for Best Spoken Comedy Album.”

“You’ve done your homework on me,” Jerry said. “I might not have remembered us meeting but I did have you pegged.”

Charlie sent over a girl with their drinks. Jerry tipped her a twenty.

“You an agent now?” Jerry asked. “Is that what this is about?”

Superbabe shook her head. “And even if I were, you’d be too radioactive for me to handle.”

“Yeah.” Jerry took a sip of his scotch. “That’s not exactly breaking news. The guy with the videophone made sure of that. Then Jesse and Al. Then the 24-hour news cycle and the supermarket tabloids. Did you know Michael Richards, Mel Gibson, Don Imus, and Alec Baldwin all phoned to give me advice?”

“They all made public apologies,” Superbabe said. “You didn’t. What did you expect the media would do with that?”

“I didn’t expect anything from them. But I knew what they should have done. Stand up for the First Amendment. Lenny Bruce, George Carlin, Richard Pryor, and Andy Kaufman died for our sins.”

Superbabe asked, “Aren’t you worried that one of these nut jobs is going to take you seriously and shoot at the President?”

“The President and I both wear Kevlar,” Jerry said. “If he listens to his Secret Service detail and stays out of open-top limos he should be just fine. Did you know I campaigned for him? Obama, I mean. People think I’m older than I am. I wasn’t born yet when JFK died.”

“A nice New York Jewish liberal and now you do this?”

Jerry grinned for the first time. “So you did know I wasn’t Catholic.”

“Guilty,” Superbabe said.

“So why didn’t you send me a note? I would have comped you in.”

“The Bell helicopter sitting outside is mine,” Superbabe said. “I married for money. Twice.”

“Well maybe I can marry for money next time,” Jerry said. “Can you wait for me after the show?”

“I thought you’d never ask,” Superbabe said.

#

It was time for the Laughskeller’s second show. Jerry saw in the audience several Che Guevara wannabes, some North Korean Army uniforms, every sort of Arab and Muslim apparel, and more than a few anarchists. The video wall screens were showing their montages of anti-war demonstrations, a burning American flag, U.S. bombing runs in Afghanistan, Christians bombing an abortion clinic, homophobes attacking a Gay Pride march, Israeli tanks knocking over Palestinian homes, Hugo Chavez embracing Fidel Castro to cheering crowds waving red flags.

Then the stage lights came up, the medley of “The Internationale” and “Joe Hill” blended seamlessly into “The Star Spangled Banner” sung in a minor key, and Gino walked out to welcome the audience and introduce Jerry.

Jerry didn’t pay attention to what Gino was saying. He was again watching Superbabe. He hadn’t realized how isolated and lonely he’d become. He made a vow to himself not to screw it up this time and leave his outrage on stage where it belonged.

Then Jerry heard Gino’s wind-up, “So please put your hands together for America’s most fearless comedian, Jerry Rhymus!”

Jerry walked onstage to thunderous applause.

He took the hand-held mike off the stool where Gino had left it, took a swig from a bottle of Smart Water, and waited for the applause and cheers to die down just enough that the audience could hear him.

Then he started his second-show routine the same way he always did at the Laughskeller.

“Who wants to kill that Zionist-loving fascist fake-nigger motherfucker in the White House?”

30

April 12, 2009. 9:15 PM
Revised April 16, 2009. 10:47 AM

Copyright © 2009 by The J. Neil Schulman Living Trust. All rights reserved.


Winner of the Special Jury Prize for Libertarian Ideals from the 2011 Anthem Film Festival! My comic thriller Lady Magdalene’s — a movie I wrote, produced, directed, and acted in it — is now available free on the web linked from the official movie website. If you like the way I think, I think you’ll like this movie. Check it out!

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J. Nostradamus Schulman? (Part II of II)

Part II

Read Part I here.

Here Come the Paperless Books!, 1987

The inability of my literary agent to sell my already-sold-to-the-movies novel-outline-and-chapters to a New York publisher to be my third published novel — and a six-month-long Writers Guild strike that killed a movie deal I had in development with a production company for CBS — left me frustrated that my chosen career as a writer was entirely subject to the whims of major corporate-owned media. I observed that the bottleneck was always distribution. The distributors — book publishers and book-store chains in printed media, and movie studios, TV networks, and theater chains for movies and television productions — were in between me and the audience I wanted to reach. What if — I asked myself, not as a plot device but as a real-world business model — I could find a way to take out the middle-men and be able to offer myself as a writer directly to readers?

In 1987 there was not yet a World Wide Web, but there were home computers that could transfer files to each other by using telephone modems. There were many “bulletin boards” — which were computers set up to receive incoming calls from other computers — and there were several large companies — The Source, Compuserve, and GEnie among them — which had thousands of subscribers who logged on to share files with each other. File transfer speeds were slow as molasses and usage both of telephone lines and of the commercial computer services were expensive –so file-sizes had to be kept extremely small. But using new file-compression techniques, a book-length text file could be transferred relatively cheaply.

I saw an entry point into a market whereby instead of having to sell my book to a publisher who would attempt to get it shelved in bookstores where readers might consider buying it, authors such as myself could offer our books directly to readers as compressed text files, and readers could then print them out and read them at home or in their offices.

But, being an experienced science-fiction writer, I was able to use the same techniques I’d used to build fictional futures to extrapolate what a developed market for what I called “paperless books” would look like in a few years, as all phases of computer technology and data transfer progressed.

In doing so — beginning in 1987 with a self-published booklet I handed out at the American Booksellers Convention, titled Here Come the Paperless Books! — and in comprehensive detail in a course I gave in 1989 through the New School/Connected Education — I outlined what in just a few years would become today’s World-Wide-Web-based Amazon.com, utilizing online catalogs with browsing, samples, and reader reviews of downloadable text-and-graphics books, music, and movies — Kindles and iPhones to download them onto — and easy direct access from creative author/producer to readers and audiences.

Nothing supernatural about it.

I did found and operate two companies to implement these ideas. But that’s an article for another day.

The Frame of the Century?, 1999

Beginning with his criminal trial then closely studying new evidence brought out in his civil trial, I became convinced that all that might have been proven in two trials was that at some time after the murders and before the police arrived, O.J. Simpson had driven to the murder scene of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown, and an unfortunate waiter, Ronald Goldman, and transferred a few drops of blood to his Bronco and from there to his Brentwood home. To me everyone was always asking the wrong question about O.J. Simpson’s claim that he was framed. His defense team accused a racist and corrupt LAPD of framing Simpson — never an implausible scenario if you’re familiar with LAPD history — but the question that had never been asked nor answered was whether the killer — or an accomplice — could have diverted suspicion away from himself by planting evidence against Simpson.

In my book I examined a number of Brown-Goldman murder scenarios, but the one which has become the most prophetic is where I suggested that even the DNA blood evidence against O.J. Simpson could have been manufactured in a laboratory, really needing only the knowledge that it was possible.

I wrote,

But there was one additional possibility I discovered. If you didn’t have enough of O.J.’s blood, Dr. Frankenstein could make more for you.

Dr. Frankenstein, as it turns out, could be anyone with a high school diploma and a job in a biochemistry lab. Any lab doing criminalistics would do. So would most university labs. It just required a device called a thermal cycler used for PCR testing of DNA, and common lab equipment such as a blood centrifuge.

Five thousand bucks worth of lab equipment that could be ordered on an 800 line, paid for by credit card, and delivered by mail, anonymously—and another couple of hundred dollars in chemicals. The techniques had been in use for a decade, and everybody who worked in the field knew it could be done.

Any policeman who’d ever spent any time talking to a lab technician, or had to be briefed on DNA procedures for a criminal case, would know about it, too.

He’d need a drop of O.J.’s blood, as a reference sample. Type the red blood cells for ABO and enzymes. Do PCR on the white blood cells to clone the DNA—as much as you need. Shipp wouldn’t even necessarily need a drop of O.J.’s blood as a reference sample. If he had a lab blood report giving O.J.’s ABO type, ESD, and PGM subtype—used in case O.J. needed a blood transfusion— then all he would need is a sample of O.J.’s DNA—and he could get that from a used Kleenex, or a fingernail clipping, or a follicle from O.J.’s hair.

Now you get a test tube of blood of the same ABO type. Centrifuge the blood to separate the red and white blood cells. Heat the red blood cells carefully to destroy the enzymes, while preserving the ABO typing, and pour in enzymes matching your reference sample. Then take the white blood cells and subject them to X-rays or short-length ultraviolet to destroy the DNA. Do PCR testing on the white blood cells to make sure none of the DNA is left. If it is, give them more radiation.

Then take the DNA you’ve cloned using PCR and mix well with the now DNA-free white blood cells, and mix it back with the red blood cells.

Voila. Instant O.J., suitable for use at the crime scene of your choice.

–J. Neil Schulman, The Frame of the Century,
Pages 93-94, Pulpless.Com, June, 1999

Nobody at the time I wrote this took it seriously. Crazy Neil.

Nobody, that is, until August of this year when Forensic Science International: Genetics — reported on in The New York Times described in detail precisely how DNA blood evidence could be created in a laboratory and planted at a crime scene.

According to The New York Times article,

Scientists in Israel have demonstrated that it is possible to fabricate DNA evidence, undermining the credibility of what has been considered the gold standard of proof in criminal cases.

The scientists fabricated blood and saliva samples containing DNA from a person other than the donor of the blood and saliva. They also showed that if they had access to a DNA profile in a database, they could construct a sample of DNA to match that profile without obtaining any tissue from that person.

“You can just engineer a crime scene,” said Dan Frumkin, lead author of the paper, which has been published online by the journal Forensic Science International: Genetics. “Any biology undergraduate could perform this.”

Supernatural? Nopers. I was just being thorough — exploring all possibilities — and my training as a science-fiction writer cut in again.

I’m not even the first writer to get this idea of planted DNA produced. Next Wednesday’s episode of Law and Order: Special Victims Unit is titled “Perverted” and you can see a preview of the episode here.

So if not in my novels and non-fiction writings, where are my supernatural prophecies?

I talk about them in my audiobook, I Met God.

So far they aren’t earth shattering prophecies that will rock the world.

Two quick examples.

In 1970 I got psychic inklings that my paternal grandfather was going to die half a day early. He was old but was in great health and robust spirits the last time I’d seen him at a family gathering several weeks earlier. All day — starting around eight in the morning — I was anticipating every time the phone rang that it was a phone call telling me my grandfather was dead. That call came around four in the afternoon — and he’d died around one in the afternoon, hours after my first premonition.

And in 1982 during a Halloween party at a friend’s, I saw a woman dancing when a clear Voice in my head said, “If you ask her to dance, you will marry her.”

I asked her to dance and twenty-one months later I married her.

The Voice hadn’t mentioned anything about our divorce eight years later.

Just as well. If I’d known, I might not have a brilliant and talented daughter in college today.

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J. Nostradamus Schulman? (Part I of II)


Part I

(Part II continues here tomorrow.)

If you look at my official bio I list “unemployed prophet” as one of my professions.

I wrote my own bio and obviously my tongue is firmly in my cheek there. I’ve written science-fiction set in the future and to create the thought experiments our profession’s literature requires we need to engage in futurism so detailed that, often enough, it’s actually of concern to security analysts, and of use to think tanks like the Rand Corporation. One of the famous stories of our profession is how Astounding Science Fiction editor, John W. Campbell, was paid a visit by FBI agents in 1944 because the short story “Deadline” by Cleve Cartmill was perilously close to outing atomic-bomb research being conducted by the ultra-secret Manhattan Project. And, of course, in 1945, Arthur C. Clarke described the deployment of geosynchronous orbital communication satellites in such detail, years before Echo and Telstar, that if he had but published on a patent application, rather than in the magazine Wireless World, he might have ended up richer than Bill Gates.

To the best of my knowledge, I’m the only high-profile published-and-produced science-fiction writer who admits that he has supernatural psychic powers including precognition, mediumship with the dead, OBE/astral travel, and the Big One — direct communication with God.

Writing science-fiction using the literary techniques of speculation and extrapolation puts me firmly in the tradition of nineteenth and twentieth century authors like H.G. Wells, Robert A. Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, and the aforementioned Arthur C. Clarke.

Claiming I have foreseen the future puts me in the literary tradition of the sixteenth century author, Michel de Nostredame, better known today as Nostradamus, whose 1555 book The Prophecies has been a bestseller in the subsequent four-and-a-half centuries. Al Gore, eat your heart out!

Crossing back and forth as I do between rationalist authors whose projections of the future claim no supernatural basis, and those who do, I thought it was time I took a look at my prophetic writings and separate the technical from the psychic.

Alongside Night, 1979

This relates to the 1979 edition. I did some updates in the 1999 trade-paperback re-issue — and that’s the text used in the current 30th anniversary PDF edition — so I’m only discussing the 1979 original.

In Alongside Night I portrayed a “near future” in which the U.S. dollar has been inflated to the point of near-worthlessness. As a consequence, economic and political chaos have followed. Foreigners have bought up much of the real assets in the United States. The United States has dropped out of NATO and the remainder of the NATO allies have combined with the European Common Market to form the European Common Market Treaty Organization — EUCOMTO — which has issued a gold-backed currency called the Eurofranc. Possession of gold bullion has once again been prohibited in the United States, as it was from May 1, 1933 to December 31, 1974. The real-estate market has collapsed and abandoned buildings are being lived in by squatters. Street crime is rampant. An organization called Citizens for a Free Society is staging mass rallies in favor of a return to hard money and free markets. Radicals are being secretly arrested without charges or warrants and sent to hidden federal prisons. And the underground Revolutionary Agorist Cadre is using the inability of the United States government to pay its troops with money that anyone will accept to recruit them to protect its own hidden merchant trade routes and marketplaces. At the time of my story the Soviet Union still exists. The technological advances I portray in the book are very modest. I portrayed videophones, video-intercoms, video-capable notebook computers and the use of electronic documents and identification, computer banking, digital movies and music stored on small discs, plus the use of lasers and masers for communications that can’t be intercepted … but nobody carries cell phones or iPods.

None of this required any supernatural precognitive powers. All of it — no matter how much it resembles current situations and news stories — is based on nothing more than looking at existing historical cases of what happens when nations hyper-inflate their paper money. I didn’t do anything that a political think tank couldn’t do. The only difference is that, as a fiction writer, I took the history and theoretical projections and applied them to the country I was then living in.

And that’s what makes Alongside Night so scary — that it didn’t take any supernatural powers to write it.

The Rainbow Cadenza, 1983

The Rainbow Cadenza takes place approximately two centuries in the future from when I wrote it. I created a “future history” (a concept John W. Campbell applied to a cycle of stories Robert A. Heinlein was writing for Astounding Science Fiction in the late 1930′s and early 1940′s) then started writing the events of my story having established a history of prior events. In the story, as I begin it, due to cheap drugs that allow males to select for male children, planet Earth has a population of males that outnumber the female population by seven males for every female. Affordable space flight has made it possible for millions of people to live off the earth — mostly in immense space habitats based on the theoretical designs of physicist Gerard K. O’Neill in his 1978 book The High Frontier — but the bulk of the human race still lives on earth. The United States in my future has combined with Mexico, Canada, and Cuba into a North American Concord, but by the time my story begins the earth has a one-world government. Because of the relative scarcity of women, rape was a major social problem in the future history I’d created. To “solve” the problem the government drafts young women for a three-year term of service in government-run brothels — but it’s not prostitution because, like universal health care — it’s a free government service available to all men on a rationed basis. Men who are exclusively gay and don’t partake of that universal service have become politically powerful — and have allied with women who are veterans of the service — plus the most politically powerful social group, Lesbians — to form a major element of the governing class. Gay marriage is not only legal, it’s encouraged — it takes men off the roster needing to be “serviced.”

Christianity — being intolerant of this social institution — has either fled off earth to the space colonies or has gone underground. Both female draft evaders and male rapists share the common fate of having their “immunity” to the rape laws stripped away, and they live in ghettos where during the night they are “Touchables” subject to legal rape by hunters known as “Marnies.”

To implement the technology of distinguishing legal citizens from Touchables, everyone has been implanted with body-heat-powered RFID chips that can be scanned from miles away. Other technological advances portrayed in the novel are satellite TV with DVRs and videophones, household robots, flying cars and flying belts (the latter used by Marnies who fly in packs like motorcycle gangs), printed books being replaced by digital books, and of course the aforementioned space flight and space colonies.

The future history and social institutions I portrayed in The Rainbow Cadenza weren’t even intended as necessary extrapolations from current trends, though I was well aware that the availability of a cheap gender-selection birth-control pill — if men could control its use — would be used to create more male babies in patriarchal cultures that don’t value females. But this was, for me, just working backwards to create a logical reason why a future society would draft women into public brothels instead of drafting young men into armies. I was trying to highlight the evil of utilitarian ends-justify-the-means thinking trampling individual rights by taking the emotional issue of national defense out of the equation. All the other social projections I made were simply logical extrapolations of the history I’d created to be able to tell that story.

Nothing supernaturally precognitive there, even when China started having villages with many more males than females for many of the same reasons I’d used to build my future history. And half my technological predictions were so mild that they’ve come to pass in less than three decades, much less twenty.

All the Kings Horses, 1983

This was intended to be my third novel but it was sold first as a treatment to Vista Films, a production company that had made movies including Time After Time, The Wind and the Lion, Demon Seed, and Motel Hell.

This was in 1983, just two years after the biggest television and tabloid event ever — the royal marriage of Charles, Prince of Wales, to Lady Diana Spencer. At a time when all the supermarket tabloids were still writing fairy tale stories about their perfect marriage and the birth of their first son, I wrote and sold to a movie company a story about the future separation and divorce of the Prince and Princess of Wales.

I’m told that the reason you never got to see it was that when the project got submitted to the studios, the Royal family found out about it and used leverage to bury it. No studio picked up the rights. No New York publisher would touch the manuscript. By the time the rights had reverted back to me, my projections had already become fact. This may well be the first time I was black-listed. I know of black-lists I got put on further forward in my career.

Was this some sort of supernatural crystal-ball-looking on my part?

Hardly. I simply thought it would be a funny way to make fun of the tabloid media to write a story in which the British Royal Family had to put up with the divorce of the Prince and Princess of Wales — and custody of the future heir to the British throne — played out in a Los Angeles courtroom.

Part II continues here tomorrow!

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The American Humiliation Buried at Fort Hood

It’s now been seven full days following Thursday November 5, 2009, when U.S. Army Major Nidal Malik Hasan, using only unremarkable handguns, murdered 12 fellow American soldiers and a civilian, and wounding 30-odd others, including combat veterans. Hasan — an American-born-and-bred Muslim who initiated his attack by jumping on a table and in Arabic shouting the Muslim affirmation “God is Great!” — continued to shoot unarmed soldiers and civilians unopposed by any armed military personnel, and was finally stopped only when — after ten-minutes — two civilian police officers with no previous combat experience arrived on the scene to return his fire.

These days have allowed the commanding officers at Fort Hood — America’s largest army base with a population the size of a small city, and their superiors at the Pentagon and the Department of Defense — to make official statements and answer reporters’ questions.

These seven days allowed the current President and Vice President of the United States, Barack Obama and Joe Biden — and the White House press secretary and communications office — plus former living U.S. presidents Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush, the most recent U.S. presidential and vice presidential candidates, John McCain and Sarah Palin, past and present United States Senators and Members of Congress too numerous to mention, and all other official voices who have debated and shaped our national life, all to go on the record with both their immediate gut-reactions and, later, more considered reactions.

These seven days have been filled with coverage on the twenty-four-hour-news-cycle cable news networks, on network and syndicated talk radio, on newspaper editorial and Op-Ed pages, and in web-based forums such as this one.

These seven days included both Veterans Day — a day for honoring those who have defended the United States wearing its military uniforms — and a memorial service, attended by the President and First Lady of the United States, held for the fallen at Fort Hood.

These seven days have resulted in thirteen counts of murder, to be tried in a military court martial, against Major Hasan, with debate over whether his murder of a pregnant woman might result in a 14th murder count. There has been no charge of treason.

So I have been watching, listening, and reading my prominent countrymen for a week, now, waiting for a reaction I have never found.

I have found sorrow for the dead and wounded victims.

I have found praise for the military at Fort Hood as caregivers and rescuers.

I have found bewilderment, apologetics, and even pity for the minority attacker, on the one hand, and frustration at his not being regarded by the political establishment as part of a more widespread ideologically-driven enemy on the other.

I have heard angry questioning of why neither the FBI nor Army intelligence — both of which were aware of Hasan’s conflicted loyalties for over a year before his attack — left him in a position of military authority, and unwatched.

I have even seen echoes of my discovery of a Clinton-era Army regulation which I disclosed in the article I published here this past Monday — and which the magnificent John R. Lott, Jr., put on his own web page — reverberate to the editorial page of the Washington Times — without, of course, any credit to my copyrighted article, because doing so would have foiled the Washington Times‘ editorial redaction of that part of my article where I pointed out that the Bush administration had left this Clinton administration policy untouched for its eight years.

After the unannounced December 7, 1941 Imperial Japanese attack on American naval and army bases at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, which resulted in 2,402 killed and 1,282 wounded, the American commanding officers of the bases at Pearl Harbor, Admiral Husband Kimmel and Army Lieutenant General Walter Short, quickly saw their long and distinguished military careers ended. They spent the rest of their lives defending their reputations to a generation of angry Americans who held them accountable for their unpreparedness to defend their bases against attack. To the World War II generation, Pearl Harbor wasn’t just a military defeat; it was a humiliating defeat.

The Japanese knew what they were doing. Little, despised Japan — the Yellow Peril on American radio shows, in dime novels, in Hollywood movies, and in comic books — had taken their revenge by making the mighty United States of America lose face.

What I have been looking for this week and have not found — except in private telephone conversations with my friend, fellow libertarian author Brad Linaweaver and several of our friends — is a seething anger that a lone man armed only with a couple of smuggled-in handguns was able to engage in an unopposed ten-minute attack of murder and mayhem on the largest Army base of the United States of America, and even combat veterans were unarmed and unable to fight back because their superiors had deemed that regular carrying of handguns was too dangerous to be trusted to officers and enlisted personnel of the United States Army.

That the snake-oil security of gun control has become so dominant that our own army can’t ordinarily be trusted with a gun — that soldiers on an American army base need to dial 911 to call civilian cops for rescue from a lone gunman on an unabated rampage — is the single-most humiliating, despicable, evil, dishonorable, and disheartening loss of face in the entire history of the United States military … and nobody but Brad and myself seem to have felt it.

That’s far, far worse than the insanity of continuing a broken policy … that none of the people who speak from the American heart even notice that it’s broken.

Bill Clinton apparently doesn’t feel the shame that imposing gun control on the Army got them killed. If George W. Bush feels awful about leaving that policy in place after 9/11 so that our soldiers were sitting ducks for an attack by a lone gunman on American soil we have not heard his apology. I heard no indication of humiliation about making American soldiers scamper away for the lives in the voice of President Barack Obama. I have no sense from those who have beaten the drums of the War on Terror since September 11, 2001, that they feel ashamed.

Here was Sarah Palin’s only public reaction, posted to Facebook at 4:05 PM on the day of the attack: “Todd and I would like to offer our condolences to the families of the victims of the tragic shooting today at Fort Hood. Our thoughts and prayers will be with them.”

Where was the gnashing of teeth and rending of garments we would have been led to expect from the rugged Alaskan moose-hunter many Republicans still hope will become a future Commander-in-Chief of the United States Army?

Where were tough guys Dick Cheney or Rudy Giuliani’s lamentations about how far we have fallen that a single pistol-toting turncoat can run rampant on a U.S. army base?

Where is anyone calling for a charge of treason against the son-of-a-bitch army officer with the gun … and court martials and Congressional investigations for Defense Department and Pentagon post-9/11 dereliction of duty that let this happen?

Why is it that it takes two American science-fiction writers — J. Neil Schulman, whose only quasi-military experience was as a teenager wearing a U.S. Air Force uniform in the Massachusetts Civil Air Patrol, and Brad Linaweaver who did a year of Air Force ROTC — neither of us military veterans — to feel this disgrace?

Is there a science-fictional explanation behind this emotional non-reaction? Has my country been taken over by Jack Finney’s pod people or Heinlein’s puppet masters or the Invaders from Mars and we just haven’t noticed? Are reptilian invaders from V running things, or has the United States turned into Stepford? Have our leaders and pundits had their memories wiped like everyone except Julianne Moore in 2004′s The Forgotten?

If Senate and House Democratic Party leaders want to haul post-9/11 Bush administration officials into hearings to explain why they never contemplated the need to arm American soldiers against a possible terrorist attack on their own bases, they have my full support.

You can be sure that Osama bin Laden, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Fidel Castro, and Hugo Chavez feel America’s humiliation, and they are laughing their asses off about it.

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Karl Marx versus Political Correctness

Karl Marx is the most influential economist in human history. Since the publication of The Communist Manifesto, co-written with Friedrich Engels, in 1848, and Marx’s magnum opus, Capital (Das Kapital, in its original German) the first volume of which was published in 1867, Marxist scientific theories regarding the exploitation of workers have motivated revolutions throughout the globe. Marxism has been the primary force behind the ideological hostility to free-market economics, which Marxist theory argues allows non-productive classes to rob and dominate productive classes.

Karl Marx didn’t pull his scientific theory of working-class exploitation out of a hat. It was a logical extrapolation from the “labor” theory of value. This originates with the second-most influential economist in human history, Adam Smith — generally considered the father of capitalism and of economics as a science, itself — with publication in 1776 of Smith’s book, An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations.

Adam Smith argued that a product’s value comes from how much labor went into making it. Marx took that a step further and postulated, therefore, that if someone other than the person who made a thing was getting more back for selling it than the person whose labor went into making it, there was a gap which Marx termed “surplus labor value” — and the difference between a sale price and how much went back to the laborer was “exploitation” of the worker — a systematic robbery.

It was to close this exploitation gap and restore equity to the worker that Marx developed his class theories and divided the world into productive exploited classes and non-productive exploiter classes.

Now, it’s not at all uncommon throughout human history for a scientific theory to become widely adopted even if it’s dead wrong. The classic example is the cosmological theory that the earth was the center of the universe (because it was created by God) and therefore the rest of the universe rotated around the earth. Those who made astronomical observations which disproved this theory took a lot of heat for suggesting what is now regarded as scientific orthodoxy: that the earth is but one planet revolving around a star, one of many stars in a galaxy made up of billions and billions of stars, one of a universe made up of billions and billions of galaxies … and don’t even get me started about whether there might be billions and billions of universes.

The counter of Marxist theory comes from more-modern economists who started from scratch and decided that Adam Smith’s theory of value was obviously wrong — that you could spend years as a laborer making a grandfather clock that is worth less to you than a bottle of water if you happen to be dying of thirst — and came up with the idea that a thing’s value is only what you’re willing to trade for it at an exact moment in time. Deductive logic follows from there and ends up with a holistic argument for unfettered free trade so everyone gets precisely what they want most.

But that’s actually a side-argument for me at the moment.

Regardless of going about it all the wrong way because everything they were doing was based on what today can be regarded as outmoded crackpot science, Marxism has its heart in the right place: justice for the productive class. When Marxism identifies freeloaders on the backs of the productive worker, it sees it as its job to free the worker from the freeloader … not burden the worker with more freeloaders.

That is the exact opposite of what’s going on in what is seen as left-wing politics today, which claims to be the workers’ friend but burdens their productivity with taxes, regulations, and setting up workers to go to war against each other by dividing them into “unionized” workers and “scab workers.”

Scab workers are independent workers willing to work for less than the government-protected price for labor the unions have negotiated for themselves. Businesses like to hire the cheaper guys because if they don’t, other businesses elsewhere (like China) who don’t have to pay union rates can undersell them and drive them out of business.

With most U.S. manufacturing now having gone elsewhere, keeping labor prices artificially high creates a new ex-working class that now organizes to tax workers so they can get their food, rent, and healthcare paid for.

If Marx were alive to see this, he’d have to go back to the drawing board and ask himself if ex-workers are now the biggest burden on the diminishing working class.

Marx wasn’t nearly as hostile to capitalism as most Marxists. Marx saw capitalism, exploitation of the worker and all, as a necessary evolutionary phase on the way to a stateless utopia in which nobody had to exploit anybody else. Once again, if Marx had managed to live long enough to see how his theories worked out in practice — Marx died in 1883, 34 years before the first Marxist revolution in Russia — he might have gone back to the drawing board.

Regardless, when conservatives and Republicans — Glenn Beck being the best example — constantly harp on members of the American Democratic/progressive movement being Marxists, they’re giving far less credit to Marx than Marx deserves, and far too much honor to the American Democratic/progressives than they deserve. They should be so Marxist as actually to care about productive people and want to get the free riders off their asses.

Marxist or Capitalist: it’s time to cut the crap and for leftists to admit that anything that enslaves productive people under the thumb of the non-productive and exploitative special interests is counterrevolutionary … and needs to be denounced and opposed.

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