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A Five-Point Plan to Save America, Haiti, and the World


I’m not an economist, but I have studied economics.

I’ve been described as a science-fiction writer and a futurist.

More than a couple of times I’ve made projections about the future — not only in fiction, but also in business plans — that have turned out close to the mark.

I’ve come up with one or two billion-dollar market cap ideas that made billions of dollars … for someone else.

These are the credentials I’m standing on when I offer a solution to the political and economic crisis that has weakened the economy of that geo-political entity called the United States, but which in reality is comprised of people, what they do, what they have access to, what they count on, and what is expected of them.

The United States of America as a geo-political entity is doomed.

That sector of the American economy tied to the entitlements and obligations of its federal and state governments — and whose capital and obligations are calculated in terms of a dollar issued by its secretive central bank — is “upside down.” Its debt and obligations far exceed the capital owned by and current productive capacity of its people.

The two alternatives, when reduced to essentials, come down to either a bankruptcy involving a repudiation of debts and entitlements — which means some people are going to be thrown to the wolves, and many will actually die — or a bankruptcy involving a reorganization that can lead to a real recovery.

This second plan involves risk and courage. But if it’s put into action, economic salvation lies this way because it relies on the one proven cure for any sort of poverty: the creation of new wealth.

Discussing only currently existing debts, obligations, and entitlements — which are the limits of all mainstream political, economic, and financial debates — is moving around the deck chairs on the Titanic. It’s playing zero-sum or negative-sum games in which the outcomes are already known: chaotic collapse.

Until now the collapse has been put off by a Ponzi scheme in which new marks were found to pay dividends to the older marks.

But the mathematics of all Ponzi schemes reach a point where the number of new victims needed to keep the scam going exceeds the number of new victims available.

We’re there.

The only benevolent solution is to close out the game — so no more new victims are added — and simultaneously to prevent the pyramid collapsing in on itself so rapidly that the victims are thrown to the wolves, to live or die.

I propose here not the anarchistic solution of allowing a full-on rapid collapse with the chaos that would follow starving millions of victims but a minarchistic Five-Point Plan to capitalize the creation of new real wealth with the slow retirement of current debts, obligations, and entitlements.

Here are the essentials of the Five-Point Plan.

1. The free sector of the economy must be immediately capitalized with new real wealth. Much of this wealth exists in exploitable resources currently under the control of the federal and state governments. This includes mineral and energy exploitables that can be developed on land currently claimed by the federal and state governments. This land and these resources need to be devolved to the private sector, but kept out of the hands of economic oligarchs who will continue to keep them unexploited. I propose a national lottery for private ownership of these resources in which only real American citizens — not corporations, foundations, or other fictitious entities — may participate. Then the new, private owners must be given the freedom to develop and exploit these resources.

2. An economy grows when new products are brought to market, but capital is required to invent, develop, and market these new products. Economic action free from the tax of bureaucratic paperwork and entry barriers, burdens of taxes and fees, and the hidden tax of monetary inflation can enable much of this. But much capital is currently tied up in the operation of government, itself. Merely eliminating government jobs creates more unemployed people — and repudiating their pensions creates a counter-revolutionary class that would poison-pill any possibility of economic freedom. I therefore propose that instead of continuing to pay bureaucrats to interfere with progressive capitalization of new products they be given the opportunity to become wealthy themselves by converting the budgets of government departments into prize monies available to current government employees when they entrepreneur new businesses that successfully find customers willing to pay for them.

3. Calculation of wealth must begin to be based on actual market value rather than the bookeeping fictions of the Federal Reserve Banking system, which builds in the hidden theft of having increasing amounts of ledger balances chasing a relatively smaller amount of real goods. A date certain must be set on which only actual commodities such as precious metals may be used as money.

4. The size of government and its operations must be regressive rather than progressive. A two-percent reduction per annum in the real budgets of all government entities — and a devolution of services from the public to the free and competitive private sector — should work. This will require closing foreign military bases and retiring the current policy of foreign wars, world policing, and foreign military entanglements — in other words, a return to the United States operating within the confines of its constitution. National defense must be defensive rather than preemptive. Defense against terrorism must rely on a well-armed and well-regulated militia — that means American civilians like those who stopped al-Qaeda terrorist attacks on United Flight 93 on September 11, 2001 and on Northwest Airlines Flight 253 on December 25, 2009. And, yes, American military personnel must be armed at all times. No more Fort Hoods.

5. It’s necessary to look beyond the earth’s atmosphere to produce sources of new wealth. Some of the current real capital — land and mineralogical wealth currently under the control of the federal government — must be allocated to prize-money for achievements in the fields of lowering the cost to lift payloads into orbit and beyond, produce goods in space that can be sold on earth, and create industrial and colonial habitats in space.

For anyone looking at this Five-Point Plan who thinks it’s undesirable, impractical, or otherwise unachievable, consider the alternative:

Collapse, chaos and violent revolution.

Not just in the United States, but everywhere dependent on the health of the United States economy.

Haiti. Ethiopia. Russia. Saudi Arabia. Japan. China. Malaysia.

Choose your future.


My comic thriller Lady Magdalene’s — a movie I wrote, produced, directed, and acted in it — is now available for sale or rental on Amazon Video. If you like the way I think, I think you’ll like this movie. Check it out!

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No, Not Gay Rights — Individual Rights!

Yahoo News reported yesterday on a custody case almost unthinkable for most of my life, but which I expect will become more common.

A woman named Lisa Miller entered into a civil-union contract in Vermont with another woman named Janet Jenkins. Lisa Miller became pregnant by artificial insemination during this civil union and seven years ago — while the Miller-Jenkins civil union was intact — gave birth to a girl. From what I am able to read about the case, the civil-union contract specified that both women be regarded as parents of the baby.

Now here’s where the case starts really pressing a lot of emotional buttons.

After breaking up with Janet Jenkins, Lisa Miller decided she’s not a Lesbian anymore, moved to Virginia with her biological daughter, and has become an Evangelical Christian. Miller — in contempt of court-ordered custody arrangements which grant parental rights to both women — has now been ordered by Vermont Family Court Judge William Cohen to turn custody of her biological daughter over to the non-biologically-related former partner, Jenkins.

Yikes.

The courts in Vermont, Virginia, and — it seems even the Supreme Court of the United States — are treating the Vermont civil union as legally equivalent to a traditional marriage. There’s a lot of legislation and case law — built up over the years to prevent one biological parent from breaking one state’s custody orders by moving to another state — that’s being used as precedent. The Supreme Court of the United States has refused even to hear this case. That’s a strong indication that SCOTUS regards this case as dealing with settled law.

It seems clear that if Lisa Miller does not comply with this court order to turn her daughter over to Janet Jenkins, she’s going to have the full weight of the law drop on her and squash her like a bug. She runs and she’s a kidnapper, with her face on Post Office walls and her daughter on milk cartons. She’s caught and she’s going to the Big House.

To traditionalists — especially Evangelical Christians — Miller being the child’s biological mother is a strong argument for sole custody. Adding in that the other claimant for parental custody is a Lesbian pretty much finishes off any possibility of escaping adrenaline when viewing such a case. A Christian mother has to give her child to a Lesbian? Have all the judges gone insane?

It doesn’t take much for a science-fiction writer like me to imagine an Underground Railroad of Evangelical Christians hiding Lisa Miller and her daughter, and trying to smuggle them to Canada or Mexico with forged papers.

Here’s the problem for me. Libertarians like me believe the only alternative to a society run by brute force is a society run by the honoring of individual contracts.

Children too young to have legal responsibility for themselves are, in effect, chattel — and always have been. Traditionally parents owned them and could even sell them into apprenticeships or marriages. Modern judges — always wanting as much power transferred away from private individuals to the State as possible — have created a test called “the best interests of the child” that generated laws and legal precedents weakening parental rights, and strengthening powers of government officials to remove children from the custody of an “unfit” biological parent.

That makes libertarians like me nervous as hell when “unfit” could be doing anything considered politically incorrect — smoking, keeping guns in the house, feeding a child veal, or home schooling a child with unapproved books — and that could mean Dianetics by L. Ron Hubbard or Manifesto: Three Classic Essays on How to Change the World by Ernesto Che Guevara, Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, and Rosa Luxemburg as much as In the Beginning: Compelling Evidence for Creation and the Flood (8th Edition) by Walt Brown.

Assuming we’re dealing with two fit parents — individuals with means to provide the child with food, clothing, schooling, medical care — the questions a libertarian judge would ask are: Is that Lisa Miller’s signature on the civil-union contract? Was Lisa Miller of legal age and sound mind when she entered into the contract for custody with Janet Jenkins? Was Miller in any way under duress when she signed that agreement?

If the answer to the first two questions are “yes” and “no” to the third question, an impartial libertarian judge who believes that abiding by contracts is the way responsible adults demonstrate their responsibility in other ways would have to say to Lisa Miller, “If you can’t even be trusted to abide by your contract, why should I regard you as trustworthy enough to raise a child?”

This is the same questions libertarians want asked when a surrogate contracted to carry a baby for a couple decides at the last minute to unilaterally breach the surrogacy contract and keep the child.

Now, speaking personally, I hope Janet Jenkins is being motivated to fight for custody because she loves this child, rather than merely being one more fucking political activist using the child as a football in a political struggle for collectivist class rights.

I think it’s a really bad idea that the question of whether Lisa Miller and Janet Jenkins were Lesbian lovers even has to be raised. I find it highly prejudicial — and I mean that at first blush it prejudices me in favor of Lisa Miller retaining custody of her biological offspring — that the wedge issue of gay rights is shoved into this case.

I can see that if Janet Jenkins is denied parental rights in this case, it’s a legal precedent against all adoptive, non-biologically-related parents — regardless of their gender orientation.

Then we’re back to ownership of children by blood … and it means, also, that 17-year-old Rifqa Bary must be sent back to live with her Muslim parents, Mohamed and Aysha Bary, who Rifqa says consider her an infidel because she’s been baptized as a Christian.

Would Evangelical Christians want a “biological parent wins” precedent in the Miller-Jenkins case to force that to happen?

Of course we also need to ask the question: at the age most courts would regard a child as old enough to be tried for a crime as an adult — and, yes, that’s already happened to children as young as seven, the current age of Lisa Miller’s biological daughter — shouldn’t the child at that age get to have major say in who she has to live with?


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Recent Controversies

I’ve been engaged in some high-energy debates over the past few days, which have stimulated me to write mini-essays on various topics of my own interest.

On Boxing Day 2009 I pull some excerpts of what I’ve written off the various pages I have been debating them on and put them on my own front page. I have newly edited some of these to eliminate extraneous matter and focus them.

On Whether I’m Reasonably Intelligent or Fucking Stupid

Speaking of science, I have a question about your temper. Is it possessed of infinite energy, or is it living disproof of special relativity? It seems that it must be one or the other, as it appears to take you from Reasonably Intelligent to Goddamn, This Guy Is Fucking Stupid at faster than 186,000 miles per second.
– Thomas L. Knapp, Publisher, Rational Review

A man does not get to judge himself intelligent or stupid. That’s for somebody else to judge. One could hope for an objective judge but the truth is that most people think someone is smart when they say something they agree with, and stupid when they say something they disagree with.

I’m a writer. I lay myself open to have what I write judged every day I publish my thoughts here.

Am I smart? Isn’t that the last question that needs to be asked?

How about:

Am I just saying things to make me popular among a set of people with fixed ideas? That would make me seem smart to those people. It works for Bill O’Reilly and Glenn Beck and Bill Maher.

Do I care about the truth of what I write or am I just writing to win debating points?

Do I care about being clever more than I care about discovering truth?

When I write something short and to the point, am I being merely pithy or insightful?

Am I a simpleton or can I boil the complex down to its essentials?

I’ve been a published writer for close to four decades. An awful lot of my stuff can be found just by Googling what I’ve written as a guest columnist on Rational Review for years. Or reading my books, several of which I’ve made available to be read free on the web. Or just reading what I’ve posted daily for close to two months here.

I’ll let my readers decide.

On Global Warming

The proof that Global Warming is not science but a scam can come down to two easy to understand points:

1) The major greenhouse gas on planet earth — 95% of greenhouse gas — is water vapor. Carbon dioxide — which comes out of our mouths when we exhale — and methane — which comes out our asses when we fart — are a tiny fraction of the atmosphere compared to water vapor. Yet these con artists have gotten away with the idea that fractional increases in fractional gasses which living things make will destroy the environment. It’s an obvious lie which anyone with an IQ above room temperature can understand.

2. Climate change on earth tracks closely with measurements astronomers have made of climate change on other planets in the solar system, where human beings don’t exist, where living things don’t exist, where capitalism and industry don’t exist. That makes it obvious that the sun controls the major climate changes on this planet, not human beings, living things, or capitalist industry.

Either one of these is a proof that man-made capitalist global warming is horse shit. You don’t need to know more science than this to understand that they’re lying for reasons of seizing political power.

And when they cripple the energy supplies human beings need to survive and suggest the cure for global warming is reducing the population, you understand the object of the fraud is totalitarian control.

#

To come to the conclusion that fractional changes in the amount of a single gas — carbon dioxide — in the earth’s atmosphere could create a catastrophic change sufficient to flood continental lowlands one has to be able to make a firm statement that “all other things will remain equal.”

No scientist could ever make such a firm statement. The human biosphere is pretty much a closed system. Solar weather and rare impacts of large extraterrestrial objects are the only major external factors from outside the atmosphere, and eruptions from underneath the earth’s crust entering our biosphere are the other major external factors.

Leaving those aside for a moment, and concentrating just on human-caused factors, we’re already having to account for the impact of 6.7 billion humans going about their daily lives before you could focus on the changes of a single factor such as carbon-dioxide emissions.

Every time someone made a fire, you have to account not only for the release of carbon dioxide — which theoretically could have a warming effect — but the fire releasing particulate matter into the atmosphere, which would have a cooling effect.

Every time someone put a pot on the stove to boil water the release of the major greenhouse gas — water vapor — would have to be accounted for.

Every time someone changed the tiles on their roof from a dark, solar-absorbing color to a light solar-reflective color one would have to account for the difference.

Is your swimming pool full or empty? Do you have a cover on it? Major factors that would to be accounted for.

A water desalination plant removes salt from sea water and it’s released back into the ecosystem as fresh water. Major changes that need to be accounted for.

A city switches from diesel buses that release particulate matter into the atmosphere — blocking sunlight — to a fleet of Clean Natural Gas — “greenhouse gas” methane — buses. Has to be accounted for.

A heavy snowfall at the sources of rivers can change the saline content of the bays they empty into — has to be accounted for.

Now you have those extra-bubble events for which human beings have no control: meteor impacts, volcanic eruptions, changes in solar weather. A single volcanic eruption can shoot more sunlight-blocking particulate matter into the atmosphere in a few days than is contained in the entire history of human industrial pollution.

Is this enough? Anyone who lives in the world and has an elementary-school understanding of earth sciences — or at least when I was in school a half century ago — could figure out pretty quickly that for anyone to claim that minor changes in a single fractional gas — carbon dioxide — to be able to be claimed as causing global warming, you would first have to be able to account for all these millions and millions of other independent factors.

It’s obviously false. To state the obvious isn’t arrogant. To call people who state as even possible such an absurdity anything less than liars or dupes is to doubt one’s own sanity, one’s entire understanding that we live in an ecosystem far too complex for any real scientist to make categorical predictions worthy of crippling the production and supply of plentiful human sources of energy in favor of this crackpot Big Lie.

#

Even if we were to concede, as a thought experiment, that Al Gore’s worst-case scenario were true — and the addition of carbon dioxide and methane into earth’s atmosphere was going to cause massive flooding of coastal lowlands — why should anyone assume that trying to limit industrial release of greenhouse gases is the most cost-effective or even achievable solution?

How about paying to move human settlements to higher ground? Or building seawalls for lowlanders, like in Holland? What about new floating cities with people living in houseboats and working on floating platforms? Or just really big floating platforms, like oil-drilling rigs or aircraft carriers.

Surely global warming makes polar-adjacent lands currently uninhabitable due to cold more attractive for new migration, development, and industrialization?

The neat thing about having alternative solutions not dependent on crippling current industry — as my friend Brad Linaweaver points out — is that it costs far less to makes plans for a global catastrophe in case it ever happens than to blow trillions of dollars — and destroy economic growth — on the dubious premise that God and Al Gore have ordained it as a future certainty.

And why assume polar bears can’t stand warmer weather? They have heat reflective white fur, and might be far more comfortable in warmer climes than their brown and black-furred relatives.

Isn’t the first lesson of Darwin and Spencer that adaptability to a changing environment is a necessary survival trait? Since when did the human species exempt itself from the necessity of adapting to changing environmental conditions, and instead demand that we air-condition the earth to our chosen comfort zone?

I don’t know who asked it first — I’ve heard it attributed to Dennis Miller — but would someone please tell me the exact ideal temperature to which we’re supposed to set the Global Thermostat?

Information Objects as Property

You go into a Waldenbooks and plunk down cash for a book that says on the cover “ATLAS SHRUGGED by Ayn Rand.” You get it home … and the first sentence is, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”

Now, what you bought is a book and this book has got everything that makes a book a book: a binding, hundreds of sheets of paper with printed ink impressions on it, and a cover. Let’s even pretend that the book you took home has the same number of pages, the same dimensions and weight, the same binding and style of printing as the book with the composition called ATLAS SHRUGGED. Do you have any just cause of complaint if the composition of words inside the book turns out to be something other than what the cover says? If you answer no, then you got everything you paid for. But if you answer yes, then you are saying that the composition of words makes this book a different commodity from the book you thought you were buying, and therefore you are rightfully entitled to a copy of the composition of words labelled ATLAS SHRUGGED.”
–J. Neil Schulman, Informational Property: Logorights

Does the difference in composition of words make an otherwise identical physical object a different thing — yes or no?

Did the buyer who expected to get a copy of Atlas Shrugged and who got a copy of A Tale of Two Cities get what they paid for — yes or no?

If the answer is yes to the first of these questions or no to the second, then you have conceded that the composition of words — the logos — is the sole differentia between two physical objects — and therefore the logos is what makes it a different thing.

If the logos makes these two otherwise identical objects different things then that which makes them different things is what gives them their value — and the property rights case for the logos is made.

#

The real-world difference between two otherwise identical books — one with the composed text of Atlas Shrugged and one with the composed text of A Tale of Two Cities — is the composition of words. These are objective differentia that can be discovered by either human readers or even machine intelligence. The compositions, as information, have different mathematical values that can be calculated.

It is a true statement that there are minute differences in every single object that exists. But the word “duplicate” is a meaningful term in that the essential utility of a book is to be read (yes, I know books can be used by interior decorators and also be used to hold up a broken table leg or as a paper weight) but the essential quality of a book — why human beings go to the trouble of manufacturing them — is that they are convenient means of recording and transporting the printed words, symbols, and art work on the pages.

Atlas Shrugged is identified as a distinct commodity by its words, whether they exist printed in a hardcover book, or a paperback book, or read aloud as a recording, or as bits of data stored or transmitted digitally. The entity that is Atlas Shrugged is an information object — a real-world thing — separate, distinguishable by man or machine, and valued apart from the multiplicity of physical forms on which it may be recorded or performed.

The usefulness — utility — which human beings have for this objectively and observably distinct information object — this thing — is based on the presence, intactness, completeness, and availability of that objectively and observably distinct information object.

The subjective value which any human being will or will not assign to this objectively and observably distinct information object will be based on the objectively and observably distinct identity.

A human being will take action with respect to acquiring, using, keeping, or discarding that objectively and observably distinct information object because no matter how many different objects, forms, or transformations it goes through it’s identity is the same and therefore it’s the same thing.

That which makes it a distinct thing — that which gives it distinct utility — that which makes it distinctly an object of desire by a human being’s subjective perceptions and choice — is its material identity.

That which makes it a thing makes it ownable.

He who creates it is its first owner.

Those who respect property rights must respect that if a thing can be identified as unique and different –- and can be recognized as a thing created by someone — that its creator owns it.

The rest of my logorights argument uses commonly accepted theories of ownership and history of property rights transactions in the real world — to show how ownership rights in material identity can be claimed, recognized, traded, and protected — just like all other naturally occurring property rights — without the existence of the State.

On Economics as Science

Translating supposedly complex ideas into simple English:

The labor theory and cost principle are logically entailed in man’s nature as a being who maximizes utility and (more to the point) minimizes disutility. [...]

Translation: Men tend to be lazy.

A producer will continue to bring his goods to market only if he receives a price necessary, in his subjective evaluation, to compensate him for the disutility involved in producing them. And he will be unable to charge a price greater than this necessary amount, for a very long time, if market entry is free and supply is elastic, because competitors will enter the field until price equals the disutility of producing the final increment of the commodity.

Translation: Nobody’s going to sell anything if it’s not worth his while, and it might not be for a while because of competition.

Such statements require no verification beyond an a priori understanding of human nature. Mises himself wrote on the self-evident character of the axioms of praxeology, repeatedly and at length…

Translation: This is obvious to anyone with two brain lobes to rub together.

Similarly, the labor theory of value is based, not on an inductive generalization from the observed movement of prices, but on an a priori assumption about why price approximates cost, except to the extent to which some natural or artificial scarcity causes deviations from this relationship.”

Translation: If the author thinks the cost of production has anything to do with the value of a good to a buyer, the author has never been to a liquidation auction.

#

Economics has been called the dismal science, but that is using the word “science” only in the most generous way, where the epistemological rigors of the scientific method are nowhere to be found.

Economics is a soft science because it attempts to make generally true statements about the behaviors of billions of individual volitional actors, and neither experiment nor real-world testing of a premise is possible because all predictions require a ceteris paribus never possible in the real world.

But then again — in the day when astronomers have to take a vote in a latter-day Nicene Conclave as to whether Pluto is a planet — even traditionally “hard” sciences have gotten quite fuzzy.

When one reads through the major works of the Austrian School of Economics — as I have done — one does indeed have to crawl on one’s belly over a stinking corpse-filled battlefield of dead ideas to get to a few fresh ideas that have provided some useful analytic tools to the arsenal of the social sciences. The assumptions of Austrian extreme a priorism — as von Mises well understood — are as arbitrary as the rules of Chess. Like math, some of them can be applied within specific contexts to answer certain real-world questions. They are maps, not the territory.

The usefulness of Austrian Economics is that it denies all attempts to treat human beings and human transactions collectively. It recognizes that economics is a study of unpredictable actors. It understands by its first assumptions that it rests on the assumption of individual free will.

On Being an Anarchist

If Zen has any lesson to teach, it’s the same ones Alfred Korzybski’s General Semantics try to teach: labels lie, categories lie.

So what if I am or am not an “anarchist”? What the fuck difference does it make? Is there some Board of Anarchists who’s going to censure me if I don’t stick to the Anarchist Party Line and recite the Anarchist Catechism?

I want individual freedom … as much as is offered on the menu. Everything else is debating strategy and tactics.

#

I’ve called myself an anarchist frequently. What I’ve always meant by that is that I do not see the State, or coercive government, as a good way for human beings to organize their affairs. It is inefficient, encourages and rewards bad behavior, tends to demented analysis and consequently solutions with harsh unintended consequences, legitimizes criminal behavior and outlaws decent and benevolent behavior.

But I have also been awake on Earth for over 56 years in this lifetime, and except for the first dozen or so I’ve had a pretty good chance to get a sense of how things work on this planet.

There are no societies on this planet which have no government. There are territories in constant states of war between contending factions to form a government, but they are violent places with even less respect for rights than places with functioning monopolistic governments.

As a practical man I note that I live in a world which does not offer me the possibility of living in anything close to what I would consider a reasonable or benevolent social order.

Every place on this planet — including the high seas — is within the reach of powers representing governments that I think should not exist.

I also think that there is nothing in the nature of the human species that precludes achieving better forms of organization.

But I also note that achieving any sort of approach to reorganization of human affairs along the lines of recognizing individual human rights and forgoing violence and coercion in dealing with others is — despite several centuries of trying — beyond the reach of those who have tried.

I am therefore left two alternatives. Live a life of pure protest and have nothing to do with the rest of the world, or make accommodations with the rest of my species who to one extent or another approve of and participate in State- and government-related activities.

I choose the latter.

I regard the federal government of the United States of America as a severely degraded version of the Republican principles of the Constitution of the United States, particularly the Bill of Rights. But at least those documents give us a lofty standard by which to judge its lack of fidelity to its founding principles.

That, to me, makes American government — as shitty as it is — superior to governments throughout the rest of planet earth with no such history of documentary idealism.

I am proud to be an American because of the ideals of the American Revolution and the love the American people have expressed for those ideals — often with “our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.”

But I find that a lot of anarchists and libertarians are unable to make distinctions and relative judgments between and among one government and another. They are binary rather than textured in their cognition and analysis of politics.

America bad.

Not America good.

It’s downright Animal Farm.

Not playing that game anymore, and I have little use for those who still do.


My comic thriller Lady Magdalene’s — a movie I wrote, produced, directed, and acted in it — is now available for sale or rental on Amazon.com Video On Demand. If you like the way I think, I think you’ll like this movie. Check it out!

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The Legend of Anarcho Claus by Samuel Edward Konkin III


Reprinted from New Libertarian Weekly No. 4,
December 26, 1976

“Suddenly there arose such a clatter …”

Janie White awoke with a start. She found herself on the chesterfield in front of the fireplace. She couldn’t have been asleep long for her cheeks were still wet.

Janie had been crying.

Wait! Another sound. Up on the roof? Yes, a muffled voice could be heard.

“Cool it, Rudy. Enough of the clatter of hooves from you eight tiny reindeer already. Keep watch for patrols with your ultra-violet vision, Rudy.”

That didn’t sound like the white-bearded, red-suited fellow she was waiting for. Now she remembered. It was Christmas Eve and she had been hoping to get to the gift-giver before her parents could change what she asked for, what she was supposed to really want.

What to her wondering eyes did appear? Well, one moment she was looking at the fireplace (trying to figure out how fire worked) and the next minute a somewhat rotund, sardonic elf blocked her view.

“Gosh, how did you do that?” Janie was very inquisitive.

“Simple teleportation device, kid,” said the white-bearded gent in a black suit with ermine trimmings. He stepped gingerly away from the fire. “Where did you stash your socks?”

“My stockings?” asked Janie.

“Come on, kid, we haven’t all night. My old man’s patrol could be around any minute.”

“Is your father San–”

“He ain’t the Big Red Cheese. How do you think I got these elvish abilities? Rolled them in a D&D game?”

“Gosh, Mr. Claus, are you helping out your father? Just a minute. I’ll be back with a stocking.” She ran into her bedroom. Then she remembered some of the rules of the game, and thoughtfully brought out one for her little brother as well.

“Here you are, Mr. Claus. Here’s one for my brother, Bobby, too.”

The not-so-old fellow was stoking a meerschaum pipe with various carvings on the bowl. He unslung his sack when Janie presented the sacks.

“Call me Anarcho, kid.” The ebony-clad character seemed to go into a trance.

“Okay, Anarcho Claus. And you can call me Janie, instead of “kid.” She decided he probably wasn’t doing TM. “Are you checking to see if I was naughty or nice?”

Anarcho Claus came out of it. “You’re clean, kid. Naw, I just see whether you ripped anyone off lately. No point in giving somebody property if they don’t believe in it.”

Janie felt as if she were getting away with something. “Well, there was the time when I pushed Bobby away from my construction …”

“That’s okay, Janie. Your parents shoved him on you and told you to share!” He spat out the last word as if it would cause your mouth to be soaped. “Now that was wicked. Nothing for them this Christmas.”

“How do you know all that?” said Janie.

“You mean ‘Read Morality at a Distance’? An esper-related ability, natural to high elves. I inherited it, of course.” He snorted and reached into his sack. “Don’t you read SF?”

“Oh, every chance I can sneak it under my covers!” bubbled Janie. Then downcast, she added, “But my parents say girls don’t make good scientists or starship pilots.”

“Ah, that’s it,” said Anarcho Claus. He pulled out a Deluxe Model Chemistry set. “Groove on this and next year I’ll run in some acids they won’t sell with this to kids.”

Janie was overjoyed. Her wish had come true. “But … but what will my parents say?” She hid the set as they were talking.

“They should know? Kids are entitled to privacy, just like other people.” He dug around in his sack again.

“You mean parents can be wrong?”

“You better believe it, Janie. You know something, I’ve been smuggling in forbidden toys to hard-core girls and boys since I read Tucker in the 1880′s. And I’ve never been finked on.”

“That’s why nobody’s heard of you!”

“Right. OK, mind you, don’t go making bombs or lasers for the State with that.”

“Oh, golly, Anarcho Claus, I’d never make War! My parents don’t believe in it.”

That’s no reason, Janie. You do something ’cause it’s right, not because your parents tell you. Or even ’cause I tell you.” He pulled out a realistic-looking model submachine gun. “And this is for Bobby.”

“Wow!” jumped Janie. “Mom and Dad are pacifists. They’d kill him if they found him with a gun!”

“Breaker 77 for the one-A-C!” A faint crackling voice could be heard around Anarcho Claus.

“Say, Anarcho Claus, I thought you didn’t believe in war? So how come you’re encouraging Bobby’s gun trip?”

“Hey, pretty good, Janie. I bet you sound just like your mother! Actually, a fair question, if not well put. Let me ask you one, Janie. Do you think you should decide for your brother whether or not he should use his new gun to practice for war?”

“Well …,” said Janie, “if it’s so wrong …”

“And should he decide whether or not you should have the chemistry set …?”

“No!” shouted Janie, then put her hand over her mouth. Did she wake her parents?

Again the faint, crackling voice was heard in the silence. This time Anarcho Claus answered. “I read you, C.B. Double score down here. How’s up top?”

Janie leaned close to Anarcho Claus to hear the voice. It was awfully deep.

“Another sleigh sighted by Black Nose on Ultra-Vision. The Redcoat is coming!”

“10-4. C.B. Pull me up and out. Over.”

“Who’s C.B., Anarcho Claus?” asked Janie. She tugged on his sleeve and …

She was standing in the snow on a roof! And there were nine reindeer, a sleigh full of toys, and a white polar bear on the sleigh with a radio set … or whatever it was.

“Oh, oh! Another kid snagged on to you during beam-up,” said the polar bear in a not-unfriendly growl. The ninth reindeer, with a glowing black nose, was not attached to the sleigh, and he was making sounds to the bear.

“And Rudy says we haven’t time to beam her down, or Redcoat’ll see us.”

“Gosh, Anarcho Claus,” volunteered Janie. “I’ll get down somehow. You get away and keep doing your good things. Maybe Santa will help me down … but don’t worry, I won’t tell him about you!”

“Janie, I wouldn’t let you fall into that phony junk-dealer’s hands. Tell you what, how would you like a ride in our sleigh? Make a few stops with us? And I’ll give you a Revisionist History of Christmas.”

“Oh, wonderful!” exclaimed Janie, jumping up and down and clapping her hands. She hopped up on the sleigh, then slowed down as she approached the polar bear, who had put down the set and was scanning the sky where the black-nosed reindeer was pointing. Anarcho Claus jumped in after her, and his bulk pushed her right up into the warm, white fur of the bear.

“Let’s go, team!” called Anarcho Claus, and the reindeer began walking motions … right up into the air. “They’re a telekinetic breed,” said Anarcho Claus to Janie.

The lead reindeer, still not attached, flew back. “Rudy has an ultra-violet projector/detector in his nose,” explained Anarcho Claus helpfully. “You know, black light? C.B. here watches out for the other kind of bear — the Smokey kind.”

“What’s so bad if San–er, Redcoat catches us, Anarcho Claus?” asked Janie, now trusting the black-suited gentleman not to leave her in mystery.

“Let’s begin with the Elvish Economy of the North Pole,” said Anarcho Claus. “You see, objects of human amusement are a waste product in our industry, damaging to our ecology.”

“Objects of …” wondered Janie. “You mean toys?”

“Sure, the old geezer dumps our waste on you, and gets you kids to toe his line, follow his altruistic policies and serve the establishment parents he’s backing. Simple imperialism.”

“Rudy said he’s spotted us. Now what, A-C?” broke in the polar bear.

“Keep her warm, C.B. Only one chance, we’ll have to outrun him to the Pole and hope we can get behind our anti-detection systems. Hold on!”

And that’s how Janie got to see the Other Side of the North Pole. But that’s another story for next Christmas.

–Samuel Edward Konkin III


My comic thriller Lady Magdalene’s — a movie I wrote, produced, directed, and acted in it — is now available for sale or rental on Amazon.com Video On Demand. If you like the way I think when I’m not publishing an old friend, I think you’ll like this movie. Check it out!

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The Great Ideas are Simple


I almost titled this article “Cut the Crap,” but I decided at the last minute it was just a bit too undignified.

I found myself in an Internet flame war yesterday with Kevin Carson who had written a blog called “Libertarians for Junk Science.” Carson and I had crossed swords in the past when he attended a Yahoo Group I moderated for the Movement for the Libertarian Left.

The MLL had been started by Samuel Edward Konkin III who thought there could be libertarian outreach to leftists by teaching them how their revolutionary anti-ruling-class values could best be achieved by first understanding how the Austrian School of Economics, through Konkin’s theories of counter-economics and Agorism, destroyed what they called Capitalism and what Sam called State Capitalism.

After Sam passed away in 2004 J. Kent Hastings took over as list moderator, and got to a point where he wanted me to take over the moderator’s duties. What I found when I started paying attention to the list was that instead of being an outreach of libertarian ideas to the left, the list had become doctrinaire leftist and any attempts to reintroduce libertarian ideas resulted in typical leftist tantrums.

So I set up rules to keep posts courteous and on topic, deleting posts which failed to meet those standards … and a war started against me, calling me an authoritarian fascist. As I said, typical leftist tactics, and the reason Sam — who observed how the SDS had been taken over by doctrinaire Marxists during the Vietnam War — had set the MLL list up to be moderated in the first place.

Kevin Carson was one of those unhappy with the way I was moderating the list. Apparently allowing libertarian ideas on a libertarian list was displeasing to the leftists who had — when Kent was simply allowing anything to be posted — taken the list over.

It’s not my purpose here to reignite those flame wars — either the one on MLL or the one that took place yesterday in the comment section of Carson’s blog.

But I did find in that discussion yesterday a theme worth coming back to my own turf to write about.

It’s this. If an idea can’t be expressed simply and elegantly, it’s bullshit.

Take, for example, the central theme of Christianity: “Love thy neighbor as thyself.” Five words. If you need to make it a bit more explicit, it doesn’t add very many more words: “Whatever excuses you make for your own faults, give those same breaks to everyone else.”

Or how about Marxism: “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.” It’s an easily understandable idea. Of course that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea — but you need to understand the simple idea that “People won’t work if they don’t feel they’re getting the benefits of working” before you understand why putting it into practice has severe unintended consequences.

The ideas that Kevin Carson and I were flaming each other over had to do with the source of “value” — a fairly abstract concept to begin with.

Adam Smith and Karl Marx held to the idea that the value of a thing was dependent on how much labor went into making it. That idea is called the labor theory of value. That simple idea is the basis of both classical economics and Marxism.

A later economist, Ludwig von Mises, contended that the value of a thing comes from an individual’s desire for it at a particular instant in time, as compared to other objects of desire. That’s called the subjective theory of value. It’s the basis for the laissez-faire economics promoted by libertarians.

Kevin Carson has a theory which attempts to “subjectivize” labor theory of value. To me, that’s like trying to go north and south at the same time. Two simple ideas that lead in different directions can’t be combined, and the trick of making it look as if you have done so requires a magician’s sleight of hand.

We live today in a country filled with sleight-of-hand artists selling bullshit.

The President and Congress of the United States are trying to put forth an improvement on health care, by moving funding and control of it from health-care-providers to the government. In doing so they are trying to replace one simple idea — health care is a marketplace good just like food or clothing — with another simple idea: something as important as your health is too important to be left to the marketplace. The assumption of this second idea is also simple: the government is better at making important decisions than you are.

The thousands of words of argument and the legislation being debated all depends on these simple ideas, but special interests — both private like pharmaceutical manufacturers and insurance companies, and public like politicians addicted to aggrandizing wealth and power for themselves — work hard at hiding how simple the real questions are.

Or take global warming. It’s a simple idea: What human beings exhale — carbon dioxide — is a poison that is destroying the earth.

Makes it real easy to take sides on that one once you realize that the fact that you’re alive is their problem, doesn’t it?

Or even more directly, “Having babies is destroying the earth.”

Sort of starts to make a pattern, doesn’t it?

How about, “Being rich is unfair to the poor — so make the rich poor and the poor rich.”

How’s that again?

Yes, it comes down to ideas that when you peel away the layers are that simple.

The people who want to run your life want you to feel stupid. They want you to regard them as the experts.

If they can make you feel stupid enough to regard them as experts, they’ve won — and winning in this case means they’re the master and you’re their flunkie. When they whistle, you’d better hop to.

I don’t trust anyone who can’t express their “great” idea in a few words. That, to me, is the signature of a bullshit artist.

And we’re up to our waist in such waste these days, aren’t we?


My comic thriller Lady Magdalene’s — a movie I wrote, produced, directed, and acted in it — is now available for sale or rental on Amazon.com Video On Demand. If you like the way I think, I think you’ll like this movie. Check it out!

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Anyone Have $6.6 Million to Produce the Great Libertarian Movie?

I. Top Ten Reasons Why Alongside Night is a Better Libertarian Novel Than Atlas Shrugged

Humor by the author of Alongside Night

(With acknowledgments to David Letterman.)

10. Reading the paperback of Alongside Night won’t give you eyestrain.

9. No, dammit, you don’t “drive” an airplane … and it wouldn’t have been called Rearden Metal – it would have been called “Reardenite.”

8. Ayn Rand wasn’t able to read Atlas Shrugged before she wrote Atlas Shrugged. The author of Alongside Night did.

7. Carrying Alongside Night around won’t give you back problems.

6. Jesus H. Galt – Atlas Shrugged is over a thousand pages of small type!

5. I mean, come on, romantic realism is one thing, but at least in Alongside Night, New York City has Jews.

4. Honest to God, I think John Galt had to be a virgin before he met Dagny.

3. In Alongside Night just because you’re fat doesn’t mean you’re a moocher.

2. Atlas Shrugged ends with the U.S. constitution being amended; Alongside Night ends with the Revolutionary Agorist Cadre declining diplomatic recognition as the “legitimate government of the United States.”

1. In Alongside Night, John Galt’s speech is in a German Opera … and you don’t have to listen to it.


II. Three-Decade-Old Milton-Friedman-Endorsed Novel Projecting Economic Meltdown Goes Viral on Web

(OPENPRESS) October 3, 2009 — In 1979 J. Neil Schulman’s first novel, Alongside Night, was released in hardcover by Crown Publishers, with endorsements from Nobel-laureate-in-economics, Milton Friedman and literary lion Anthony Burgess. The novel projected a future when the United States is in a final state of collapse due to the federal government overspending and hyper-inflating the dollar to pay its foreign creditors.

Now, three decades after its original publication — and with many of the novel’s projections eerily reflecting reality — Alongside Night has become a viral phenomenon on the World Wide Web.

On June 13, 2009, the novel’s current publisher — Pulpless.com — released a new 30th Anniversary PDF eBook edition of Alongside Night as a free download on the web from http://www.alongsidenight.net. On September 30, 2009 the number of Alongside Night eBook downloads passed 50,000 copies. This number of downloads was accomplished without a dime of advertising, and with no publicity coverage whatsoever from any major media outlet — no television, talk radio, magazine, newspaper, or major media website. It was a completely viral Internet phenomenon driven by bloggers, podcasters, and one YouTube interview with the author.

In a June 22, 2009 article by Rachel Deahl on PublishersWeekly.com, Mundania Press president and publisher Daniel J. Reitz –whose publishing firm houses a number of imprints that publish romance, sci-fi, mystery and YA, among other genres, and has some 600 authors on its list– reported “that his house’s e-books sell, on average, 100 to 200 copies in their first month. There are exceptions, however. Marie Rochelle, one of Mundania’s biggest sellers, who specializes in interracial romances, moved 4,000 to 5,000 copies in her first month in the e-book format and several thousand print copies.”

The Pulpless.com PDF eBook edition of Alongside Night had, by comparison, 22,645 downloads in its first two weeks of availability from first release on June 13, 2009 through June 30, 2009 — to repeat, without any advertising or major media publicity.

A Wikipedia article on Alongside Night describes it as “a Prometheus Award winning libertarian and anarchist dystopian novel by science fiction writer J. Neil Schulman first published in 1979 by Crown Publishers. Subsequent paperback editions have been released by Ace Books in 1982, Avon Books in 1987, Pulpless.com in 1999, and Amazon Kindle in 2009. The book focuses on the character of Elliot, the son of a fictional economist and Nobel Laureate, and his experiences in a police state United States in the near future. The novel’s economic projections of the United States in economic meltdown have recently been noted as eerily reflecting current real-world developments.”

Wikipedia also reports, “The author has recently completed a screenplay adaptation and in addition to a feature film production a new graphic novel, audiobook, and Massively Multiplayer Online Game are being planned.”

Alongside Night‘s honors include being inducted into the Libertarian Futurist Society’s Prometheus Hall of Fame in 1989 — its first year of eligibility — and its selection as Freedom Book of the Month for May, 2009 by the Freedom Book Club.

No personal information from the downloader is requested by Pulpless.com’s website in order to download the novel for free. The free PDF edition of Alongside Night includes pages of display advertising in between chapters — mostly of books, films, products, and services of interest to libertarians.

Milton Friedman’s letter of endorsement on Alongside Night reads, “An absorbing novel–science fiction, yet also a cautionary tale with a disturbing resemblance to past history and future possibilities.”

Anthony Burgess’s endorsement reads, “I received Alongside Night at noon today. It is now eight in the evening and I just finished it. I think I am entitled to some dinner now as I had no lunch. The unputdownability of the book ensured that. It is a remarkable and original story, and the picture it presents of an inflation- crippled America on the verge of revolution is all too acceptable. I wish, and so will many novelists, that I, or they, had thought of the idea first. A thrilling novel, crisply written, that fires the imagination as effectively as it stimulates the feelings.”

Congressman Ron Paul endorsed Alongside Night in 2009, saying, “J. Neil Schulman’s Alongside Night may be even more relevant today than it was in 1979. Hopefully, the special thirtieth anniversary edition of this landmark work of libertarian science fiction will inspire a new generation of readers to learn more about the ideas of liberty and become active in the freedom movement.”

Full information on Alongside Night is available on its official website at http://www.alongsidenight.com. The Alongside Night Facebook Group also updates Facebook members on the novel.

Full information on J. Neil Schulman and his subsequent career as a novelist, screenwriter, journalist, publisher, and filmmaker are on his personal website at http://www.jneilschulman.com, on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/jneilschulman, on LinkedIn at http://www.linkedin.com/in/jneilschulman, and on Wikipedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/J._Neil_Schulman .

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Professional Free Press Release News Wire


III. Update: December 5, 2009

Our server at http://www.alongsidenight.net reports 63,551 downloads of the free 30th anniversary PDF of Alongside Night from launch at noon PDT on Saturday June 13 to my last stats check, December 4, 2009.

This was accomplished without a dime of advertising or professional publicity and solely by viral web action — mostly bloggers, a few podcasts, our Facebook group, a Motorhome Diaries interview with me. Not a single major media mention of me or the book — no TV, talk radio, magazine, newspaper, columnist, or major website — since the PDF was made available on June 13, 2009.

Over 63,000 copies of a three-decade-old novel downloaded in a little over five months without a major publisher pushing it.

Psst! Alongside Night. Pass it ON!


IV. Milton-Friedman-Endorsed Book Predicting Current Financial Crisis Adapted as Screenplay

(OPENPRESS) October 11, 2008 — Author/filmmaker, J. Neil Schulman, who in 1989 won the Prometheus Hall of Fame Award for his 1979 novel of America in financial meltdown, Alongside Night — and who on October 1, 2008, accepted the Audience Choice award from the Cinema City International Film Festival for Lady Magdalene’s, the suspense-comedy feature film he wrote, produced, and directed — has just completed a screenplay adaptation of Alongside Night that he’s been working on for 27 years.

“I don’t think I spent as much time working on this screenplay as J.R.R. Tolkien spent writing his Lord of the Rings trilogy,” Schulman said, “but it took the current world financial crisis catching up to projections I made in my novel three decades ago for me to decide that I finally needed to get my story of how our country can be rescued from government policies that take us to the brink of catastrophe as an action movie that’s at once chilling, funny, and hopeful.”

Alongside Night won high-profile praise when it was released in hardcover by Crown Publishers in 1979.

Milton Friedman, the first American to win the Nobel Prize for economics, wrote about Alongside Night, “An absorbing novel–science fiction, yet also a cautionary tale with a disturbing resemblance to past history and future possibilities.”

The Los Angeles Times Book Review wrote, “High Drama … A story of high adventure, close escapes, mistaken identities, and thrilling rescues. … A fast-moving tale of a future which is uncomfortably close at hand.”

And Anthony Burgess, author of the dystopian novel A Clockwork Orange, wrote, “I received Alongside Night at noon today. It is now eight in the evening and I just finished it. I think I am entitled to some dinner now as I had no lunch. The unputdownability of the book ensured that. It is a remarkable and original story, and the picture it presents of an inflation- crippled America on the verge of revolution is all too acceptable. I wish, and so will many novelists, that I, or they, had thought of the idea first. A thrilling novel, crisply written, that fires the imagination as effectively as it stimulates the feelings.”

As described by the Wikipedia entry on Alongside Night, “The book focuses on the character of Elliot, the son of a fictional economist and Nobel Laureate … set in a United States on the brink of economic collapse, where inflation is spiraling out of control and the government struggles to keep hold of its power. Trading in foreign currency has become illegal and many shops are subject to rationing; as a result there is a sprawling black market for almost all conceivable goods. Other nations have not fared so grimly, and organisations such as EUCOMTO (European Common Market Treaty Organization – the novel’s prophetic vision of the future EU) issue stable gold standard currencies.”

In an email of October 8, 2008, Schulman stated that it was his intent to “sell the script to a production company or get it financed so I can begin pre-production through my own company [Jesulu Productions].”

Following its 1979 Crown hardcover release, Alongside Night’s publishing history has included mass-market paperback editions from Ace Books in 1981 and from Avon Books in 1987. It’s currently available both in a Pulpless.com web-downloadable eBook edition from http://www.alongsidenight.com and in the trade-paperback edition available on Amazon.com and most other book retailers.

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Professional Free Press Release News Wire


V. 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.

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!

You can read the transcript of the original 1979 speech here.

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

–JNS


VI. Alongside Night Can Be My Next Feature Film as Writer/Director — Here’s Info on my First

My comic thriller Lady Magdalene’s — a movie I wrote, produced, directed, and acted in it — is now available for sale or rental on Amazon.com Video On Demand.

Its current Amazon.com rankings as of today are:

#11 in Amazon Video On Demand > Movies > Action & Adventure > Romantic Adventure
#22 in Amazon Video On Demand > Movies > Mystery & Thrillers > Crime
#37 in Amazon Video On Demand > Movies > Action & Adventure > Comic Action

Our first Amazon.com customer review:

4.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining, November 30, 2009
By Bill St. Clair
Amazon Verified Purchase
I watched Lady Magdalene’s, while recovering from the flu. Amazon’s streaming player worked flawlessly on my Mac over my 150 kbyte/sec DSL line. It was entertaining, non-political, humorous, had good music, and was definitely low-budget.

I didn’t know that Nichelle Nichols could sing. She was good. And the violin playing was excellent.

I was surprised at the mainstream 9/11 theme, but it was used in a non-political, and humorous, manner.

The Star Trek references were amusing.

All-in-all a pleasant use of two hours and three dollars (Amazon’s 7-day rental price).

DESCRIPTION

Start with Star Trek’s original “Uhura,” Nichelle Nichols, in the title role as a New Orleans madam who after the hurricanes moves to Pahrump, Nevada — where brothels are legal — and who — behind the camera — exec produced, wrote and performed original songs on the soundtrack, and did the film’s choreography.

Add in a plot-twisty screenplay by award-winning novelist, libertarian journalist, and Twilight Zone screenwriter, J. Neil Schulman, who not only directed the film and wrote original songs for the soundtrack but played the supporting role of an American al Qaeda terrorist.

Mix well with a fresh cast of talented actors including alumni of the Groundlings and the London Drama Centre; a gorgeous Shakespearean actress whose hobbies include collecting swords; a stunning Persian pop superstar; a Calvin Klein male model who did all his own stunts; a Miss Teen All American (a title previously held by Halle Berry), and an actual Nevada “working girl” …

And you end up with a one-of-a-kind independent film, defying all genre classification, which the producers have referred to as “a Jerry Bruckheimer tentpole made on an Ed Wood budget.”

Following its February 2008 world premiere at the San Diego Black Film Festival Lady Magdalene’s won the festival’s award for “Best Cutting Edge Film.” After its September 2008 screening at Universal City’s Cinema City International Film Festival Lady Magdalene’s producers walked away with the statuette for Audience Choice.

If you’re looking for a movie with a topsy-turvy plot you haven’t seen a million times before, dialogue you might actually have to think about before you laugh, and an eclectic musical score, this might be the movie for you.

PRAISE FOR LADY MAGDALENE’S

“Hilarious entertainment!”
“Nichelle Nichols, the original Lt. Uhura from the very first Star Trek television series, was in town for the Backlot festival in Culver City. Her latest feature, entered in the Festival competition, was Lady Magdalene’s, which was directed by J. Neil Schulman, who co-produced it with Ms. Nichols. It is a blend of Comedy Sitcoms of the 50′s and 60′s, with a ‘Cold War’ aura, which has been given a ‘terrorist’ slant. Its convoluted plotline, combined with outrageous dialogue, results in a hilarious entertainment.”
–Robin Rosenzweig, Beverly Hills Outlook

“An offbeat, sexy comedy!”
“Notable entries [at the Backlot Film Festival] included J. Neil Schulman’s Lady Magdalene’s, starring the ever-beautiful Nichelle Nichols of Star Trek fame. Schulman’s first feature is an offbeat, sexy comedy set in a Nevada brothel that lampoons the IRS, Homeland Security, and Al-Qaeda, among others.”
–Lee Michael Cohn, Santa Monica Mirror

A fun, fast-paced action comedy…populated by likable characters …built like the classic comedies of the 1940s-1960s, complete with a musical number…that deserves a wide audience. If writers of the modern thrillers could come up with twists and misdirections even a quarter as clever as Schulman does here, I wouldn’t find myself wondering if the thriller is a dead genre. …[T]here are far more instances where the film is equal to counterparts with budgets ten times the size of what this movie was made for. Even at its weakest, the film is far better than most of the product in a similar budget and production-value range. [Nichelle Nichols] gives a performance that is worthy of an actress of her veteran status. She is delightful in this film … [Alexander Wraith] shows himself to be a very talented actor … Despite the high quality of the film, I fear that Schulman faces an uphill battle when it comes to placing it with a distributor, because no attempt is made to make the film “politically correct” or do anything but call a spade a spade. By simply portraying Federal law enforcement agencies and American politicians accurately (even to the point of getting details about the Internal Revenue Service’s CID correct), he points out the flaws with the domestic “war on terror.” Similarly, Schulman’s portrayal of terrorists as primarily moronic dupes or self-centered, hypocritical sociopaths who blame everyone but themselves for their own shortcomings is far closer to the truth that is acceptable to say in the current popular culture. This is not to say that Lady Magdalene’s is overtly political–in fact, I think Schulman takes steps to keep it neutral as far as that goes–but in an age where common sense and even basic facts seem to have been politicized, I’m sure there are those out there who will say that it is a political movie. Unfortunately, it’s not the kind of politics that will go ever well with many in the film biz.
–Steve Miller, Rotten Tomatoes

“Action-humor reminiscent of a Bob Hope movie …”
The casting is outstanding… The script had all the twists in the right places…powerful and so subtly written… It is purely character driven — and that’s what I loved about it. Definitely one that will etch itself into memory. I like it a lot better than Firefly. It grows on you after you finish seeing it. I was still thinking about it a week later.”
–Bestselling Author Jacqueline Lichtenberg, [...]

“I saw this film at DragonCon last year, and it is a wonderful mix of comedy, mystery, singing and dancing.”
–Graham H. Green, Director, The Man Who Spoke to Himself, The Torturer, September 19, 2008, Slice of SciFi

“What a hoot your Lady Magdalene’s movie is: Terrorists, patriotism, government stupidity, love, murder, sex, wonderful classical violin playing, a Madam singing blues jazz!” –Dave Schwartz, Lead Violist, Glenn Miller’s Army Air Force Band, Principal Violist, Cleveland Orchestra

“Thanks for inviting me to tonight’s premiere…. I really enjoyed the movie. Congratulations on getting it made. Lady Magdalene’s is a combination of humor, wit, political observation and sexiness. Nichelle Nichols provides an excellent center for all of the hijinks that swirl around her. Her performance reminded me a lot of Ruby Dee, actually – charm, wisdom, love, experience – all held together by grit, determination and professionalism. It was a nice role for her, and she did a lot with it. Ethan Keogh I thought was really solid. Deadpan – believable – strong – natural. Where’d you find him? Susan Smythe was also quite good – had a kind of Carrie Fisher/Candy Clark quality. She also looked natural handling a gun (which most actresses do not). Where did you find Claudia Lynx? Absolutely smoking hot. Plus she was good. I really bought her fear of Yassin. I enjoyed the way the whole thing came together at the end…quite funny. I hope you get good distribution for it. Congratulations again.”
–Charles Robert Carner, Writer/Director, Witless Protection, The Fixer, Louis L’Amour’s Crossfire Trail

“You gave me a DVD of your film at the Backlot Film Festival. I wanted to let you know how I enjoyed it! Great job, and I hope you have continued festival success!”
–James Kerwin, Writer/Director, Yesterday Was A Lie, Midsummer

“Lady Magdalene’s is a solid story and very entertaining.”
–Phil Bransom, Writer/Director, Train Master

“There were many funny moments of the film that made it enjoyable, coupled with the enthusiasm and passion brought to the project which is evident in almost every frame. The film is an impressive achievement.”
–Lauren Freeman, Coordinator, Acquisitions, Lionsgate

“Unique and well done.”
–David Laub, Acquisitions Manager, THINKFilm

“A very creative action-comedy.”
–Merideth Finn, VP Production & Acquisition, New Line Cinema

“Witty, inventive indy film with a sparkling cast! Lady Magdalene’s combines an inventive story with a cast and crew (and a writer – director – producer – supporting actor – composer – lyricist) who are clearly having the time and delight of their lives. It sorely deserves a theatrical distributor, cable exposure, and a DVD release. The plot of this “suspense/comedy” has an IRS investigator, on inter-agency exchange duty as a federal air marshal, being called out for making a misstep in apprehending a suspected terrorist. He’s actually right in his suspicions, though he doesn’t know that. Yet his supposed screw-up gets him sent to one of the oddest corners of IRS purgatory: He’s made the latest government receiver and manager of a legal brothel, long troubled and owing back taxes, outside Pahrump, Nevada. (Inspired by an actual case in the news.) The lovely, erhm, working women all around him may be hiding a few surprises, including links to the case that put him in career limbo. And is the pleasure-fulfillment engineer he’s falling for exactly who she seems? He’s determined to track these mysteries, and his chase goes from a shooting range to Hoover Dam to a mysterious medical research facility. Oh, and importantly, to a Pahrump casino with two-for-one dinner buffets! Nichelle Nichols is the determined, beset, but always sexy madam of this establishment, trying to clean up after her late lover (its former owner) and his losses at the craps table. She has the girls join her in a stab at gaining local respectability that’s too pleasing and unexpected – especially in their singing! – to be spoiled here. The tracing-the-terrorists action, weaving through the silken curtains of Lady Magdalene’s pleasure dome, does gets a bit too intricate in the last half-hour, though the story leaves no loose ends. Presenting all the detail without confusion finally gets somewhat beyond the acting confidence of some of the undeniably lovely working girls – though not at all for Nichols, nor for fellow leads Ethan Keogh and Susan Smythe. They’re all game for the effort, though, and their enthusiasm ends up winning the day, right up to and through the closing credits. I saw this last night at the Cinema City Film Festival in Los Angeles, after several years of hearing about it in detail from protean creator Neil Schulman himself at a local libertarian supper club. It’s not a high-polish studio production. Yet it makes far more out of a half-million dollars than most big-studio “high concepts” have done with fifty times the budget. It did save money to have Neil’s mother, his daughter, and even his late father (!) manage to take part in the proceedings, as well as some other libertarian friends who add anti-authoritarian asides that never lose the comic beat. Well worth your attention, and watch for news of occasional showings in the Los Angeles area. (To borrow from an inside Discordian joke of the movie, I’d gladly drive my “Fnord” to any of them.) If there’s any esthetic or comedic justice, of course, we’ll also soon be seeing this on, say, the Sundance Channel. (To borrow from the career-definer of the still-stunning, talented leading lady, beam it up to those satellites, Scotty.) Rating: 9/10″
–Steve Reed, IMDb user comment, October 1, 2008

“Wonderful Movie! Laugh-out-loud comedy, not in the rude sense, but in the old way it’s made — to be funny, not vulgar. With the unsurpassed talents of Nichelle Nichols this movie shines. Bravo! Miss Nichols still has got it in abundance — and I am a witness to that. Although the title might suggest something else, this movie is very family friendly. I see this movie becoming a cult classic. Those who see it will want it for their movie library. Someone who can distribute this movie needs to see it. Rating: 10/10.”
–Don Shackleford, IMDb user comment, August 11, 2008

“Funny and very entertaining! Nichelle Nichols is an international treasure. The story flowed and was logical for me to follow, yet I couldn’t predict the end. I think it will have a good run at the box office. Lady Magdalene’s reminded me of the Monty Python series blended with current-day American politics. I really liked the Star Trek references buried in the film. All of the Star Trek fans will come out to support Ms. Nichols. Technically, I found the transitions and clips smooth and easy on my eyes. The sound design and musical selections were appropriate. In summary, I can’t wait to take my wife to see it.”
–Donald L. McCoy, Program Manager, STEM Multicultural Project
Commenting on the San Diego Black Film Festival screening

“I love seeing Nichelle in a more textured role.”
–Tay Zonday, Singer/Songwriter, “Chocolate Rain”

“The film is sheer brilliance, and highlights Nichelle at her finest! In a world where a Michael Moore rant can win
a Palme d’Or, Lady Magdalene’s is too good for Cannes!” –Edward E. Kramer, Film Director, Book Editor, Founder, Dragon*Con

“Six genres in a head-on collision!”
–Brad Linaweaver, publisher, Mondo Cult

“In 2011 they’ll call it the ‘cult classic of 2008′ … If you’re looking for a conventional movie, Lady Magdalene’s isn’t it. This genre-bending film is a quirky mixture of pop culture parody, politically incorrect humor, and action adventure thriller. It’s high concept camp, with Star Trek’s Nichelle Nichols in the title role as a singing, dancing operator of a Nevada brothel who helps foil an al-Qa’ida plot. Like those films that become cult favorites, some people won’t get it but others will find Lady Magdalene’s to be more engaging and entertaining every time they see it.”
–Robert Schneider, author, Shylock the Roman

AWARD-WINNING COMIC THRILLER, LADY MAGDALENE’S, RELEASED BY AMAZON.COM VIDEO ON DEMAND

(OPENPRESS) November 28, 2009 — Lady Magdalene’s — the comic thriller starring Star Trek’s original Uhura, Nichelle Nichols, that won “Best Cutting Edge Film” and “Audience Choice” awards in its film-festival play — has just been released by Amazon.com Video On Demand.

“The decision to release Lady Magdalene’s for Video on Demand wasn’t an easy one,” said Lady Magdalene’s writer/producer/director, J. Neil Schulman. “I still feel Lady Magdalene’s has theatrical box-office potential, and after the $11,000-unknown-actors thriller Paranormal Activity’s gross of over $100 million at the box office I don’t think any quality indie feature should be written off as unreleasable, no matter how low its budget or its lack of so-called A-list stars. But I need to build audience-support for our movie and along with film festival play I see Video on Demand as another way of doing that so distributors can recognize our broad commercial potential both in theatrical release and later on DVD/Blu-Ray.”

Lady Magdalene’s tells the story of Jack Goldwater, a federal agent who gets in trouble when, on a jetliner, he searches the violin case of a young Arab-American he suspects is an al Qaeda operative, and as punishment for racial profiling is assigned to be the federal receiver in charge of running a Nevada brothel in tax default. There he meets the brothel’s colorful owner, Lady Magdalene — played by the iconic Nichelle Nichols — and his assignment takes a left turn when, with her help, they discover that one of the working girls is part of a domestic al Qaeda cell with plans to smuggle in a crate from Mexico that’s supposed to be unloaded at Hoover Dam. It’s a plot-driven suspense thriller with lots of comic relief and strong character interplay.

Why hasn’t Lady Magdalene’s found a commercial distributor to put it into brick-and-mortar venues yet?

“Some studios won’t even look at an indie film not headlined by stars on their white-list,” said Schulman. “Other studios won’t consider distributing indie films anymore, period. I think the problem is that a lot of indie films are made for specialized audiences, whereas — even with our budget limitations — I wrote, directed, and cut Lady Magdalene’s to entertain as wide an audience as we could get in front of. But studios have gotten into the mindset of thinking that if they don’t have an above the line of $20 million and a special-effects budget of $40 million then audiences won’t buy tickets. Steven Spielberg — by releasing Paranormal Activity — has once again proved why he knows more than all the rest of Hollywood’s heads put together. I’m just hoping that we’ll catch the attention of some studio execs who want to prove themselves as smart as Spielberg.”

“Then again,” Schulman says, “these days, any time you make a movie that has al Qaeda characters in it, you’re accused of being either left-wing anti-American or a right-wing NeoCon. It’s hard for a filmmaker like me to convince the studios that I was just trying to tell a good story with contemporary topics that are in the news every day.”

“Reviewers have called Lady Magdalene’s a comedy,” Schulman continues, “but it’s really more in the genre of a 50’s Hitchcock movie like North by Northwest where you have a straight suspense plot with frequent comic relief. This formula was continued in the 60’s with the Bond films. Of course I was shooting a movie for a half million instead of studio-level budgets, so I had to be particularly creative in how to give audiences the impression they’re seeing lots of action. I’ve been telling people that I made a Jerry Bruckheimer tent pole on an Ed Wood budget. It helped a lot that I had access to great Nevada locations. The point is, despite my low budget, I was trying to tell the best story I could with the best actors I could get, and use every trick in the book to make the audience forget that I couldn’t afford to crash or blow something up every five minutes. But in addition to some great performances I also think we have a kick-ass musical soundtrack — with original songs and performances, including three by Nichelle Nichols — that can rival movies made for fifty times what ours cost.”

Full information on Lady Magdalene’s — including trailer, buzz, reviews, photos, and music videos — are on the movie’s official website at http://www.ladymagdalenes.com.

Lady Magdalene’s can be found on Amazon.com Video on Demand as either a sale or rental.

Lady Magdalene’s: The Musical Soundtrack can also be found on Amazon.com as either a two-CD set or as MP3 downloads.

If you like the way I think, I think you’ll like this movie. Check it out!

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Let’s Not Make a Federal Case Out of It!

I’m not a big one for practical jokes, nor am I a particularly big fan of that sub-genre of the TV game show called reality TV. My favorite shows are scripted — even if it’s just the opening monologue.

Don’t misunderstand. I’m not such a snob that I’ll claim I never watch the stuff. I do. Probably enough to be embarrassing.

I’ve watched The Apprentice, Joe Millionaire, Project Greenlight, and American Idol.

I also like more ordinary game shows. I watch Jeopardy a lot. And Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader?

I watch a lot of older stuff on Game Show Network, like Hollywood Squares, Lingo, The Weakest Link, Russian Roulette and Friend or Foe. That last show — where the best liar won — you practically had to have a criminal record to have been a contestant on.

I really love the old black-and-white panel shows they occasionally show late-night on GSN from the 50′s and early 60′s — I’ve Got A Secret, To Tell the Truth, What’s My Line? My God, some of those old panel shows were what I imagine it would have been like to attend an Algonquin Club salon. What’s My Line? with Bennett Cerf sitting there in a tuxedo next to Dorothy Kilgallen in an evening gown — at other times David Niven, Woody Allen, Johnny Carson, or Steve Allen. How cool is that?

Then there are all the court shows. I love watching Marilyn Milian on The People’s Court pretending to be a real judge, sitting behind the big wooden bench in robes, swearing in the contestants, and her verbally abusing the “litigants” as if she has real power. Why, the woman is so good a method actress I think she actually believes she’s a real judge instead what she really is, Wink Martindale in black robes! They send ropers out to court house halls to recruit contestants. I don’t know if they actually tell the “litigants,” when they get them to dismiss their small-claims suits and go on the show, that win or lose they’ll make money. But you do realize that her “judgment” on each “case” is merely dividing her game show’s prize money between the competing contestants? They work hard at keeping that little fact on the down low in quickly disappearing closing credits.

In the old days the way ordinary people could get on national TV was either to have enough talent that they could make it onto the Ted Mack’s Original Amateur Hour or Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts, or get picked as a contestant on a quiz show, or have an unusual occupation or secret for one of the panel shows, or maybe have Allen Funt pull a gag on them on the original reality show, Candid Camera.

Maybe it’s not so different today. Instead of Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts there’s American Idol. Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? and Wheel of Fortune still need ordinary people as contestants. Instead of panels of celebrities bantering with each other in black and white we got to see celebrities bantering on The Hollywood Squares. Since that was too tame, we more recently got to see Joan Rivers and Annie Duke try to tear each other’s livers out on The Celebrity Apprentice. Then instead of Candid Camera invading someone’s privacy for a few minutes, the TV crew moved in with them for weeks or months, as they dated, or tried to lose weight, or competed to be a supermodel, or one-upped each other in what disgusting things they would swallow on some deserted island — just a few feet away from the lavish craft services and catering the crew was chowing down on.

Andy Warhol said in 1968, “In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes.”

Reality TV is an entire genre of mass entertainment based on Warhol’s premise. Warhol’s estate should be paid royalties.

Maybe so should Jimmy Durante’s estate. Durante was famous for saying, “Everybody wants to get into the act!”

Art Linkletter had a show called Art Linkletter’s House Party in which he made famous the phrase, “Kids say the darndest things!” Still alive at 97, maybe Linkletter should be phoned up to tell us what we already know — that to get on TV, “Grown-ups will do the darndest things!

On October 15th, 2009, a Fort Collins, Colorado actor, stand-up comic, and producer named Richard Heene — who had appeared with his wife Mayumi on the ABC network reality TV series Wife Swap — attempted what he obviously thought was a brilliant publicity stunt to try to sell his own reality series, The Science Detectives, to The Learning Channel. He had a large balloon that looked like a UFO, and launched it. But Richard and Mayumi went a step too far and called 911, telling them their six-year-old son, Falcon, had climbed aboard the balloon and was adrift in the air. As a publicity stunt it worked perfectly. The cable news networks and other news shows followed the balloon’s flight live for hours, as rescue crews attempted to determine if there was a child at risk of falling to his death.

Eventually, the balloon landed. No boy aboard. Then Falcon was found safe, and Falcon offered up a cover story — he’d been hiding. Then Falcon threw up during an interview on national TV, the threads of the kid’s parentally coached cover story came apart, and a few weeks later Richard Heene pled guilty to a felony charge of attempting to influence a public servant, while Mayumi still faces a misdemeanor charge of false reporting to authorities.

Now to listen to the TV pundits and radio talk shows, the Heene’s were the Manson Family. How dare these wannabes pull a stunt that gave the networks through-the-roof ratings when it wasn’t even Sweeps Week? Excuse me, but we have our own people to come up with publicity stunts and don’t appreciate the competition from rank amateurs!

But look, if we can get our cameras into prison with you, are you interested?

Tiger Woods isn’t a celebrity wannabe but a world-class celebrity. His problem isn’t too little publicity but too much. When the golf legend recently got into a single-car accident that scraped him up — ultimately it cost him a $164 traffic ticket and four points on his driver’s license (I wonder if Tiger can dump the points by attending traffic school?) — the tabloid media treated it like the Phil Spector murder case. Then it came out that a tabloid had earlier blackmailed Tiger into giving a sister publication a cover photo of the sports great by threatening to reveal an affair. Er, isn’t that legally extortion — an actual felony? Who’s dogging them about that? Then they even broke the blackmail deal and revealed the affair anyway. But, of course, whenever anyone asks the tabloids about their moral failings they’re all, “But that’s private!” The tabloid media can get into everyone else’s private shit but their private shit is sacred. What bogus hypocrites.

Then we have the case of Michaele and Tareq Salahi, from Virginia, who allegedly gate-crashed a White House state dinner between President Barack Obama and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on November 24, 2009. They even got onto the receiving line and got their picture taken shaking President Obama’s hand!

Michaele Salahi was a reality TV hopeful trying to get on Bravo’s The Real Housewives of D.C.. Maybe they thought this would help … or at least get them a fat check from The Inquirer. But Michaele and Tareq’s story is they showed up at the White House not knowing whether their request to be on the guest list had been granted or not, and the Secret Service let them in.

Now, of course, that it’s a big news story, the Secret Service — being shown up as somewhat less than stellar in keeping out people who aren’t supposed to get within miles of the President — are all huffy and puffy that this guy with the Arabic name should be charged with violating federal Homeland Security laws.

Hey, guys. News flash. Michaele and Tareq didn’t pull a gun on the President. Tareq wasn’t wearing a suicide belt. They got some free food. The President is reported as being pissed. Sure thing. The Democratic Party got rooked out of its usual five- or six-figure “contribution” for buying a fancy photo-op with the Prez. I’d love to see them try to collect their graft.

But a federal crime for attending a party without being on the guest list?

If this had been World War II and a well-dressed couple had crashed a reception with President Roosevelt, the only thing that would have happened is FDR asking the Secret Service if they had let in a Republican couple. Otherwise, FDR would have gotten a nice laugh out of it on an otherwise depressing day.

I’ll bet Richard Nixon, at the height of the Vietnam War protests, would have told the Secret Service to let it slide, too.

If President Obama is truly angry, he has no sense of proportion about what’s presidential-level important.

Listen, we have to lighten the fuck up. Times are tough right now. People are out of work, looking for ways to pay their bills, and will do lots of strange things to try to make a buck.

It’s an example of what’s gone wrong with this country when even the most minor infraction against the Almighty Government and its hypersensitive, arrogant, officious public servants is blown all out of proportion, and government-worshiping pundits in the tabloid media blow every minor thing up into what we used to call a Federal Case. We used to say “Don’t make a federal case out of it” because not everything was. People had a sense of proportion and some common sense. They understood the difference between a crime and people just being stupid or luckless.

As Brian Shoemake most cogently wrote at American Thinker, maybe we should just call Michaele and Tareq “undocumented guests” and put them on the welfare rolls.

And perhaps even more cogently, I’d like to suggest that there are all sorts of other things we shouldn’t make a federal case out of: car companies, health care, and the production of energy. Overall I’d like to make a whole lot fewer things federal cases.

Yes, it was bad for the Heene’s to send rescue authorities on a wild goose chase after their kid. So the reasonable response in a free society would have been for the rescue authorities whose time and resources were wasted to file a civil suit against the Heene’s for their damages, and if the Heene’s couldn’t afford to pay the bill, have Richard do his stand-up comedy act to raise money for the police and firefighters’ widows and orphans fund. But a felony conviction? That’s what you give people who rape, murder, or rob armored cars.

Michaele and Tareq should get off scot-free. Whether or not they thought they were on the guest list or whether it was a publicity stunt, it was harmless. The only thing they actually did was alert Secret Service to a hole in the security around the President.

Given that the threats on the current Oval Office inhabitant are up 400% from the previous one, maybe the President should even invite Michaele and Tareq back to the White House for a beer. Michaele and Tareq may actually have saved President Obama’s life from future gate-crashers who do have mayhem on their minds.


My comic thriller Lady Magdalene’s — a movie I wrote, produced, directed, and acted in it — is now available for sale or rental on Amazon.com Video On Demand. If you like the way I think, I think you’ll like this movie. Check it out!

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Now Obama’s Got His Own Phony War


With his Tuesday, December 1, 2009, speech at West Point, President Barack Obama finally took the American War in Afghanistan away from the Republican side of the aisle where it’s been living for the past eight years, despite Republican Congressman Ron Paul being the only U.S. Senator or Representative to vote against the Tuesday, September 18, 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Terrorists.

One of the men I most respect on this planet, L. Neil Smith, still hasn’t forgiven me for the conditional support my writings lent to President Bush’s invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq.

I’ve been on the record since well before the end of the Bush administration calling for all U.S. troops to be withdrawn from Iraq and Afghanistan.

But tonight I came close to again giving another President of the United States my conditional support for sending more troops to Afghanistan.

Luckily I came to my senses in time.

You see, Obama sounded — in his speech at West Point tonight — almost like Ronald Reagan.

President Obama said what the mission was — to tromp down on the Taliban and round up Al Qaeda — then promised the American people what true conservatives promise when sending American troops to war: when the mission is accomplished I’ll bring the troops home.

Obama even gave a timetable for the mission and homecoming — troops back home by 2011 — as Reagan would have done.

Which of course got President Obama all the attacks from the Neocons on Fox and CNN for promising precisely what Ronald Reagan would have.

The problem is that the Afghanistan mission President Obama outlined makes no sense.

Therefore President Obama — unlike Reagan, when he sent troops into war for limited objectives — had to be lying.

While he was running for President, Barack Obama was all over John McCain for not being as strong as he was in his commitment to move the war out of Iraq and back into Afghanistan, for the purpose of catching the man responsible for the 9/11 attacks, Osama bin Laden. I liked the “hunting Osama bin Laden” section of Obama’s speech at the 2008 Democratic National Convention so much that I even used it in the background of a scene in my movie, Lady Magdalene’s, where a federal agent is on the heels of an American he suspects of running an al Qaeda cell domestically in the United States.

So, of course, in Tuesday’s speech at West Point, President Obama was once again pledging to bring Osama bin Laden to justice, right?

Nope. There was no mention in the speech of Osama bin Laden.

And, of course, the Commander in Chief — speaking for the first time at the United States Military Academy since the mass shootings at Fort Hood — laid out his plans for his military audience to make sure this would never happen again.

No, there was no mention of Fort Hood in the speech.

The President did say that the object of sending an additional 30,000 troops to Afghanistan was to combat an insurgency by the Taliban.

Excuse me? The Taliban didn’t launch the 9/11 attacks — and President Bush punished them eight years ago for hiding Osama bin Laden. The Taliban are not still hiding Osama bin Laden, so what the fuck?

President Obama also admitted that what remaining al Qaeda there still are in Afghanistan camp out close to the border of Pakistan, and cross over into Pakistani territory our troops aren’t allowed to follow them into whenever they’re pursued.

So adding 100, or 1000, or 100,000 more American troops to this bug hunt won’t bring us any closer to capturing or killing Obama bin Laden and his merry men because they still have a safe haven: Pakistan.

Barack Obama is not willing to enforce the Bush Doctrine — he who shields a terrorist will be treated like a terrorist — on Pakistan, any more than President Bush was willing to enforce the Bush Doctrine on Pakistan. The reason is that — unlike Iran, which is just a nuclear wannabe — Pakistan actually has nukes.

So what’s the actual mission?

Afghanistan has nothing of economic value — except Opium — that the United States wants as a trade good. Is Obama’s universal health-care plan going to be to make Opium the opiate of the masses?

Afghanistan’s terrain is so rugged it’s not a good staging area for the United States to attack anywhere else.

And we’re not going to get the sons of bitches who attacked America on 9/11 by sending more troops into Afghanistan because they’ll scurry away to safer turf.

If the mission is what Senator Obama promised in the 2008 presidential campaign, he would have been talking tonight about how he would pull all American troops out of the region and send the CIA after Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda.

But, of course, Obama’s Attorney General, Eric Holder, is busy pissing off the CIA rank-and-file by blaming them for following the policies of their previous commander-in-chief to use torture — excuse me, “enhanced interrogation” — on captured enemy.

If President Obama knows of a reason why a single American soldier needs to remain in Afghanistan, he did not give it to us in his Tuesday speech at West Point — nor in any other communication.

The speech — and the war — have yet to be justified to the American people in any honest way.

And since the reasons the President gave us for continuing to prosecute this war are phony, how can we believe this President when he promises to bring the troops home?


My comic thriller Lady Magdalene’s — a movie I wrote, produced, directed, and acted in it — is now available for sale or rental on Amazon.com Video On Demand. If you like the way I think, I think you’ll like this movie. Check it out!

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The Silence of Sarah Palin

Sarah Palin’s new autobiography Going Rogue is going gangbusters in sales, and Sarah Palin has been even more ubiquitous on the interview circuit than Taylor Lautner has been plugging The Twilight Saga: New Moon.

Look, I was one of Sarah Palin’s first fans when she was nominated to be John McCain’s running mate. I even put up a website called “Obama-Palin” in which I quixotically suggested that since they were the fresh voices in American politics — as opposed to the politically stale John McCain and Joe Biden — the two of them would have been the ticket to beat.

So I’m hardly a Sarah Palin hater from either the left or the right.

But listening to Sarah Palin in interview after interview since her book was released on November 17th — speaking with Oprah, Hannity, and O’Reilly in particular — what has struck me is how little of political substance Sarah Palin has had to say when finally given an opportunity to speak her mind to America without being censored by John McCain’s political operatives.

Yes, we know that Sarah Palin is against abortion. That’s not breaking news.

But why in the three weeks since the mass shootings at Ford Hood has this supposed Scion of both Anti-Terrorism and the Second Amendment — the hope of many Republicans to be the next Commander in Chief — not had a single word to say about America’s largest military base being a demilitarized zone?

A few days ago whistle-blowers released thousands of emails stored on computers at the University of East Anglia in Great Britain, proving that the core scientists pushing global warming have been deliberately falsifying data such that not only is there no global warming but that, since 1961, the global temperature has actually cooled by one percent. The dead weight of this Global Fraud on the American economy — restrictions on producing fossil-fuel energy to heat our homes, light our schools, and power our transportation due to the fiction of carbon footprints — can now be lifted off the backs of the American people.

Why has the great Alaskan advocate of American energy independence — Sarah Palin — not used her access to microphones to say Word One about this?

But even if Sarah Palin wanted to use her media access to talk about a single issue in the news cycle while she has another quarter hour of fame, why has she not said a word about the evil in the health-care legislation now before Congress of the federal government fining or even imprisoning Americans who choose not to become customers of the health insurance companies?

These issues are less important to a possible future candidate for President of the United States than Newsweek running a flattering photo of her in running shorts? If this offended her, where was she when Barack Obama was on magazine covers shirtless on the beach? Or why is her precious media time being spent on David Letterman telling a joke which “knocked up” the wrong unmarried daughter? If she can’t stand the heat why’s she in the kitchen?

Wait a second. She quit her “chef’s” job, didn’t she?

Is the message she wants to give out about how much of a rugged hunter she is that she was freaked out by her father’s holding moose eyes in his hand? Would she have been such a shrinking violet that she would have swooned if it had been moose testicles? Is she a pit bull with lipstick … or is she just a girl?

Is the impression we are to be left with of Sarah Palin — when she finally gets her moment in the sun not shadowed by John McCain — that this former beauty queen who parlayed her sass into a political career is actually less politically contentious than Carrie Prejean?


My comic thriller Lady Magdalene’s — a movie I wrote, produced, directed, and acted in it — is now available for sale or rental on Amazon.com Video On Demand. If you like the way I think, I think you’ll like this movie. Check it out!

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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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