A Novel by J. Neil Schulman
To Samuel Edward Konkin III
Mentor, Co-conspirator, and Friend
I would like to thank those who generously lent me ideas, criticisms, reactions, technical expertise, encouragement, discouragement, and other valuable considerations throughout the various stages of this effort. A listing of this kind can never be quite complete, but particular thanks go to Steven Axelrod, Don Balluck, Nikki Carlino, Oscar Collier, Charles Curley, Dan Deckert, John Douglas, David Friedman, Milton Friedman, Joel Gotler, Drew Hart, David Hartwell, Virginia Heinlein, Victor Koman, Sam Konkin, Robert LeFevre, Mark Merlino, John J. Pierce, Jerry Pournelle, Murray Rothbard, Gloria Rotunno, Thomas Scozzafava, Thomas Szasz, Andy Thornton, and my sister, Marggy.
Most of all, I thank the most generous Mr. and Mrs. Herman Geller; and with love, my parents.
The final product is, of course, solely my responsibility.
The Independent Arbitration Group is an actual organization founded by attorney Ralph Fucetola, and the author thanks him for permission to quote from his organization’s General Submission to Arbitration agreement. Though the Independent Arbitration Group pioneered the General Submission service contract, all other references to the organization within the body of this novel, or to its clients, are purely fictional.
“God Here And Now: An Introduction to Gloamingerism” by Reverend Virgil Moore; and “The Last, True Hope” by Bishop Alam Kimar Whyte are included with the Pulpless.Comtm edition courtesy of the Church of the Human God.
Excepting the above, the characters, organizations, and firms portrayed in this novel are fictional, any similarity to actual persons, organizations, or firms, past or present, being purely coincidental. Though the names of some actual locations, institutions, and businesses have been included as cultural referents, this should not be construed as reflecting in any way upon past or present owners or management.
In particular, let me make clear that there is no correspondence between the Dr. Martin Vreeland of my novel and the real-life Milton Friedman, though Dr. Friedman was kind enough to read my novel’s manuscript to critique it for me. In fact the first draft manuscript of my novel awarded the Nobel Prize in economics to Dr. Vreeland over a year before Dr. Friedman well-deservedly received his . . .
Any reference to actual government bureaus, agencies, departments, or protectees is purely malicious.
By fearful flight
In garish gray
Will dawn alight
And not decay
The result was that on February 28, 1793, at eight o’clock in the evening, a mob of men and women in disguise began plundering the stores and shops of Paris. At first they demanded only bread; soon they insisted on coffee and rice and sugar; at last they seized everything on which they could lay their hands — cloth, clothing, groceries, and luxuries of every kind. Two hundred such places were plundered. This was endured for six hours, and finally order was restored only by a grant of seven million francs to buy off the mob. The new political economy was beginning to bear its fruits luxuriantly.
- ANDREW DICKSON WHITE
Fiat Money Inflation in France
The ruling ideas of each age have ever been the ideas of its ruling class.
- KARL MARX
Manifesto of the Communist Party
- MAURICE RAVEL
Elliot Vreeland felt uneasy the moment he entered his classroom.
Everything seemed perfectly normal. Though in an old brownstone building, the classroom held several late-model teaching systems including a video wallscreen that was also used as an intercom, but it also contained a traditional chalkboard, teacher’s front desk, and a dozen tablet armchairs. All but one of Elliot’s seven classmates had attended Ansonia Preparatory with him since freshman year; by this February in his final semester their faces were loathsomely familiar.
The exception was at the window, gazing out to Central Park West, New York.
The two did not look as if they should have had anything in common — at least by the standards of previous generations. Son of the Nobel-laureate economist, Elliot Vreeland was archetypically Aryan — tall, blond, and blue-eyed — though with the slightest facial softening that precluded stereotyped Aryan imperiousness. Phillip Gross, shorter than Elliot, wirier, with black hair and silent eyes, had emigrated to Israel from the United States as an infant, being shipped back to an uncle in New York when four years later his parents had been machine-gunned by Palestinian guerrillas. The two boys had been close friends since Phillip had enrolled at Ansonia in their junior year.
Phillip spoke without turning as soon as Elliot drew near. “You didn’t do it, did you, Ell?”
“I told you I wouldn’t.”
Phillip faced his friend. “Well, you just may get away with it.”
Before Elliot could inquire further, the assistant headmaster entered the room.
Benjamin Harper dropped an attaché case onto the teacher’s desk, then began erasing the chalkboard while the students, for lack of any other ideas, took their seats. “Tobias is out sick?” Elliot whispered to Phillip as they took seats in the back. Phillip smiled secretively but did not answer.
“I have several announcements to make,” said Harper, shelving the eraser. He was a thin-boned, impeccably attired black man in his late thirties, sporting mustache, short au naturel hair, and glasses. Waiting for the students to quiet, he continued: “First. Mrs. Tobias has left Ansonia permanently. Consequently, she will no longer be teaching Contemporary Civilization.”
Elliot glanced at Phillip sharply. “You saw her walking out?” he whispered. Phillip shrugged noncommittally.
“Second,” the assistant head went on,” as it is too late in the term for Dr. Fischer and me to hire a replacement, I personally will be taking over this class.”
“I’ll bet Tobias was canned,” Elliot stage-whispered to Phillip. Several students giggled.
Mr. Harper eyed Elliot sharply. “‘Dismissed,’ ‘discharged,’ ‘fired,’ ‘removed,’ ‘let go’ — perhaps even ‘ousted.’ But not ‘canned,’ Mr. Vreeland. I dislike hearing the language maltreated.” Elliot flushed slightly. “Shall we continue?”
Mason Langley, the one-in-every-class teacher’s pet, raised his hand. Harper recognized him. “Mrs. Tobias assigned us a three-hundred-word essay last week,” he said in a nasal voice. “It’s due today. Do you want it turned in?”
Several students groaned, looked disgusted, and blew raspberries at Langley, who seemed to gain great satisfaction from all this negative attention. Elliot glared at Langley and thought, I’ll kill him. Harper looked as if he shared the students’ opinions but seemed to control his feelings. “What was the assigned topic?” he asked.
“The Self-Destruction of the Capitalist System,” said Langley.
Harper unsuccessfully concealed his disgust at the propagandistic title. “Very well. Pass them forward.”
As each student — with the single exception of Elliot — passed forward a composition, it became evident to Harper why Elliot had looked more angrily at Langley than had all the others.
After collecting seven essays, Harper said, “Your essay, Mr. Vreeland?” Elliot answered resignedly, “I didn’t do one, Mr. Harper.”
“Surely you must have some feelings on the topic?”
Elliot nodded. “I disagree with the premise.”
“Did you express this disagreement to Mrs. Tobias when she assigned the topic?” Elliot nodded again. “What was her reply?”
“She said that I can start handing out the topics when I become a teacher.”
“I see,” Harper said slowly. “All right. You may present your rebuttal in a composition due the day after tomorrow — this Friday. Let’s make it a thousand words. Is that satisfactory?”
“I guess so. If I can manage a thousand words.”
“I myself have that problem,” Harper said brightly. “Few editorial pages will buy anything longer.”
Releasing spring latches, Harper opened his attaché case and removed a New York Times, which he waved in front of the class. “Enough time wasted,” he continued. “We have few enough weeks until graduation and — heaven help you — you’ll need them. I assume you’re all expecting to start college this fall?” He did not wait for replies. “Of course you are, or you wouldn’t be here. Well, here’s some advance warning: Don’t count on it. There’s the extreme possibility that there won’t even be necessities this fall, much less operating colleges.”
All of the students — with the exception of an attractive friend of Elliot’s, Marilyn Danforth — were now turning their eyes intently forward. Harper was a good dramatist, a good teacher.
Harper waved the newspaper again. “Top of page one, today’s paper. Let’s just see what we find.
“WASHINGTON, Feb. 20 — The President today vowed, in a televised address at 8:30 E.T. this evening that he will order the Federal Reserve Bank to keep the printing presses running day and night, if necessary, to ease the shortage of New Dollars.
“The President further stated that the country’s present economic difficulties are well within the government’s ability to control, charging, ‘They stem from loss of confidence in our governmental institutions due to the reckless predictions of socially irresponsible, doomsday economists.’”
Elliot noticed several students looking at him pointedly, during the reference to economists, but he pretended not to notice. Harper did notice, however, and quickly discarded the first section of the newspaper. “All right, on to the financial page,” he continued. “This dateline is official from the Office of Public Information:
“WASHINGTON, Feb. 21, (OPI) — The cost-of-living index rose 2012 percent in the final quarter of last year, the Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed today.”
Mr. Harper chuckled. “Good of them to let us in on the secret.” He set the paper down. “Now, I realize this must sound rather dry, but I cannot stress too strongly how such events affect your daily lives. We are looking at a crisis that will make the Great Depression look tame by comparison. I assume Mrs. Tobias had started discussing this in class?” There were several murmured affirmatives and a nod or two. “Good. Marilyn Danforth.”
“Huh?” The class joined in laughter as the pretty brunette was roused from her daydream.
“Please describe for us the antecedents of inflation.”
“Uh — do you mean what Mrs. Tobias told us?”
“If you have nothing original to say,” Harper said backhandedly, “yes.”
“Well,” she started hesitantly. “Uh — inflation — you know, — has a lot of different causes, depending, you know, on just when you’re talking about. F’rinstance, you might have a war somewhere and that will cause inflation, and just when you’re expecting it’s over, there might be a crop failure, you know?” She looked thoughtful for a moment. “At least I think that’s what she said.”
“I’m certain you remembered it perfectly. Does anyone wish to add anything?”
He recognized Mason Langley. “She left out about the greedy businessmen.”
“We mustn’t miss that, Mr. Langley. Proceed.”
“Inflation,” Langley said, drawing himself up, “is caused by greedy businessmen who force higher prices by producing less than consumer demand. They also create artificial demand by planning obsolescence into their manufactured goods so they have to be prematurely replaced.” He smiled smugly.
Harper ignored him and answered politely. “Thank you. Anyone else?”
Cal Ackerman, the class yahoo, raised his hand. Harper called on him. Looking backward directly at Elliot, Ackerman made each word a deliberate insult: “I agree with what the President said last night. All our troubles are caused by brownies” — he almost tasted the word — “following economists like Elliot Vreeland’s old man.”
Elliot’s eyes flared at Ackerman. Mr. Harper intervened quickly before a fight could start. “I think you owe Elliot an apology, Cal. Dr Vreeland’s views — while admittedly radical — are respected in many quarters. Aside from that, I do not allow name-calling in my classes.”
Ackerman stayed mute.
Elliot said, “That’s okay, Mr. Harper. Ackerman is much too fascistic to have read any of my father’s books.”
“Now stop this, both of you,” Harper said. “Elliot, do you have anything constructive to add?”
“Nothing I haven’t said a million times before.”
“Very well.” Harper noticed — gratefully — Bernard Rothman’s hand was raised. “Yes, Mr. Rothman?”
“I don’t understand any of this, Mr. Harper.”
Before Harper could reply, the video wallscreen activated with its speaker crackling. A petite but imposing woman in her sixties — silver-haired with large, piercing eyes — appeared on the screen. “Excuse me, Mr. Harper.” She spoke with a polyglot European accent. “Is Elliot Vreeland there?”
Elliot raised his head as he heard his name.
“Yes, Dr. Fischer,” Harper answered the screen.
“Would you please have him report to my office immediately?”
“He’s on his way.”
The screen cleared. Mr. Harper waved Elliot to the door with an underhand gesture.
Elliot picked up his books — nodding to Phillip Gross and Marilyn Danforth on his way out — and traced the 45-degree bend around the still-busy school cafeteria on his route to the stairs; the headmaster’s office was on the first floor, a flight down. He wondered what could be important enough for Dr. Fischer to pull him out of class. Perhaps his college applications?
He did not have to wait long before finding out. When Elliot entered the headmaster’s reception area, he found his sister seated inside with Dr. Fischer. Denise Vreeland was sixteen, a year younger than Elliot, with a strong resemblance, only at the moment she looked even younger and extremely vulnerable. Her strawberry-blonde hair was disarrayed; she looked as if she had been crying. Dr. Fischer was sitting next to her — frowning.
“Denise, what’s wrong? What are you doing here? Why aren’t you at school?”
Dr. Fischer stood. “Elliot,” she said softly, “you must leave with your sister immediately.”
“What for?” he asked. “What’s all this about?”
Denise took a sharp intake of breath, looked Elliot straight in the eye, then whispered:
Next in Alongside Night is Chapter II.
Copyright © 1979 J. Neil Schulman &
Copyright © 2010 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!