Speech Before the Arizona Libertarian Party
In November, 1995, I sat down and wrote the words, "America
is at that awkward stage; it's too late to work within
the system, but too early to shoot the bastards." That's
a line a lot of you have become familiar with, and to
the extent that other people have also become familiar
with it, it has a lot to do with Arizona libertarians
pushing that message.
Well, I wrote that a year and a half ago, the book was
published about six months ago, and now here we are, April
19, 1997. Is it time to "shoot the bastards" yet? This
is a question a lot of us have been pondering.
We signed our oath, most of us, we signed our pledge
not to initiate violence. We're the good guys. We know
that. But I have heard so many people -- good, responsible,
ordinary people -- talking about whether we might be reaching
the time that we should "shoot the bastards".
I think one of the best comments on this came from Vin
Suprynowicz, who interviewed me when the book was published.
Actually, of all the things said in the interview Vin
made the best comment; he said that we have reached the
time when it is morally right to "shoot the bastards",
but it is not yet practical to do so.
I do believe that a fight is inevitable, whether that's
a fight in the streets or the trenches, or whether that
is some sort of confrontation that may not involve arms
but may nevertheless involve violence and head-to-head
action. I think that's inevitable, and I think more and
more people are coming to the conclusion that it is.
April 19th, as you all know, is a day in history when
many people have taken up arms, when they have
been forced to take up arms. Peaceable people in
Lexington and Concord, desperate people in the Warsaw
ghetto. Even when they had no hope, or little hope, they
took up arms. But here we stand, and although a lot of
us have arms with us, or not far from us, we're not ready
to "take up arms" yet.
But I hope we're preparing ourselves. I hope we're at
least thinking about it.
In the last year and a half, since I originally wrote
those frustrated, angry words, things have gotten a hell
of a lot worse. And it's almost scary how little the disaster
that we're in the middle of has been acknowledged.
For instance, just four -- I don't want to call them
laws or acts of legislation -- four abominations that
Congress has come up with in the time since I originally
wrote those words. We've got a federal database of all
employed people, or, that is, all people who get conventional
jobs. That's been done in the name of "tracking deadbeat
dads". However, you might be a single mother with five
kids you're taking good care of; you might be a single
guy who never intends to get married. You're going in
that database. Why? What does that have to do with "deadbeat
dads"? I don't know. I can't figure it out.
Along those same lines, we now have pilot projects being
started, under which you cannot get a job unless your
employer first gets permission from the Social Security
Administration by scanning your card through a reader
connected to a database in Washington, DC. Isn't that
cute? Some Social Security bureaucrat decides whether
or not you can ever get a job in this country.
We've also got a medical health care database that will
be on line in about a year. This was part of the "moderate"
Kennedy-Kassebaum health care act -- you'll be pleased
to know that this is "moderate". Everything about your
medical history will go into this database, including
speculation on the part of your doctor, who may observe
that you're an "armed and dangerous wacko". He's not going
to tell you that, but it goes in your records and goes
in the database. (NOTE: Please see comment at the end
of this transcript.)
The fourth one that is really for me the "line in the
sand" issue is the national ID card that we have just
begun to hear about in the last couple of months. Has
everybody heard something about that? Well, for the few
who haven't I'll just review quickly.
At the end of the 104th Congress there were about two
paragraphs added into several hundred pages of legislation
that requires that by October, 2000, all states will be
issuing driver's licenses that you must have your Social
Security card to get one, and they will have certain "security
features". These are not defined in the law, but they
may include: retinal scans; fingerprint scans; other data
on your driving history, health history, criminal history,
so on. (NOTE: The U.S. Secretary of Transportation is
currently in the process of writing the regulation on
And by October 2006, you will not be able to get any
government service at any level without having
one of these driver's licenses. You will not be able to
get a passport. If your local utility company is the government
you will not be able to get water to your house, or electricity
to your house, and so on. My Christian friends, of course,
are calling this the "Mark of the Beast", and I don't
think they're wrong. I think they're right.
So those four things, among many, many others, have all
been snuck in on us lately. But the reason I pick these
four is something that a friend pointed out to me. This
friend says, "These four are slave laws." Many other laws
that have been imposed upon us recently are bad laws,
but these are slave laws. They all enable the federal
government to track its property -- you, and you, and
you, and me -- its property.
They can monitor our health just the way that farmers
monitor the health of their cattle. If they don't think
we're being properly productive they can deny us the jobs,
or they can make sure that we're in a job that they like.
It's here, now, that we have to stop this. I hope we
can stop it without violence, but we do HAVE to stop it.
What I'd like to focus on today are some things that
I think we as individuals can do, and some of the things
that I think that libertarian party organizations can,
or perhaps should, do to prepare for the hard times that
are going to come when the day arises that we say, "No!
It stops here! It stops now!"
I wish for just this little moment that we were all a
bunch of Marxists, or Democrats, or something, because
then I could say, "Comrades! You must do this!
Comrades! You shall do that!" But we're libertarians,
and it's only, "Hey! You'll do what you want to do; I'll
do what I want to do. You'll do what fits your personality;
I'll do what fits my personality." And that is the way
it has to be. That's our strength and our weakness.
But there are a couple of things that I would say that
I think everybody here, and everybody who professes to
be a libertarian should do. One is to get the income
tax out of your own life, however you have to do it. Get
it out!In every other presentation I've ever given before
I've said, "Oh I understand that if you have a regular
job, or if you have children, or if you have a lot of
nice possessions it's riskier for you to do it. But I'm
coming to the point where, I'm sorry, we can't feed the
beast. We've got to stop feeding it. That's all there
is to it. All of our great professions of principle in
the world are nothing if we don't stop paying the ATF,
paying the FBI, paying the IRS.
The other thing that I hope everyone will do is resist
this national ID in some way or another. Refuse to get
the driver's license, drive without it, whatever you have
to do. Refuse to give the information, protest, scream,
rescind your social security number, whatever.
Rescinding your social security number is another thing
that I would have said a year ago, "OK, it's an option,
but it's a grandstanding option. It's waving and saying,
'Hey, hey, I'm a troublemaker. Put me on a list.'" But
I am going to be rescinding my social security number
formally, writing to the Social Security Administration
and saying, "Nope. Not my number, folks." It may
be a grandstanding gesture, but that number is a slave's
number, and I'm getting rid of it, pure and simple.
Now a lot of people -- a lot of people here --
are doing these things already. I know people right here
in this group who haven't paid taxes in years. I know
people in this group who don't have a driver's license,
who have rescinded their social security numbers,
or whatever, and I think that's great.
In fact Rick White came up with a really good term the
other day when we were talking. He talked about "individual
secession" as a means of combating the government. We
were talking about ways of avoiding violence, and he suggested
"individual secession" as a means of accomplishing that.
I think it's great, and I think we all need to do it.
But I also think that the result of quiet secession --
of just quietly withdrawing your consent, your support,
your participation in the system -- the result of that
is something like what happened in the Soviet Union. Eventually
the system collapses, but what's left? You have black
markets. We like black markets, because they're free markets.
But they are corrupt markets that are run by gangsters,
eventually. We need free, open markets. We need to declare
freedom and live it publicly, instead of by hiding.
I think individual secession is good, but we need to
make noise doing it. And not polite noise. We libertarians
are very polite people, very well-mannered. We sign our
little pledge, and we do the right thing, because that's
the kind of people we are. But we need to make noise.
We need to say, "I'm withdrawing. I'm withdrawing, and
here's why, and come get me."
And that goes against everything I personally believe.
One reason you never heard of Claire Wolfe until six months
ago was that although I've been an activist, I have tried
to keep a low profile and tried to be really quiet, because
I didn't want the IRS knocking on my door, or kicking
it down as the case may be. I didn't want the ATF coming
in to say hello at four in the morning. But I don't care
any more. I do not care any more, and I think we're
coming to a confrontation point anyway, and if that's
what happens, so be it.
I think there are a lot of other things that you can
all do and probably all are doing; probably a lot
of you are ahead of me. That's why I like coming down
to Arizona; I learn from what people in Arizona are doing.
But certainly, withdraw to the extent that you can from
the banking system.
Set your political priorities -- don't waste your time
on things that aren't working. Like for me, I was always
always sitting down writing stupid letters to my congressperson,
as if my congressperson cared. I felt like I was doing
something. But one of the things I've learned since those
days is to do is prioritize. And that means don't even
bother any more. Don't even talk to them any more.
I think everybody should be studying warfare, in one
way or another. Whether that's the personal warfare of
going up to Gunsite and learning how to shoot in combat
situations or whether that's studying The Art of War,
reading books by Mao, or Che Guevara, or Sun-Tzu. I think
we all need to be doing that, even if we don't want the
confrontation. None of us want the confrontation,
but I think we'd better be prepared for it in those ways.
I think we should all be getting out of government jobs
-- with one exception. With one exception, and this is
something I've just been thinking about. I've decided
that over the last thirty years some wonderful
libertarian has been running the IRS' computer system.
And I say, "Thank you out there, whoever you are, and
keep it up! Good job!" So anybody who's in a position
to do unto the ATF or unto the EPA what has been done
to the IRS, definitely go for it.
One of the things that we can do, whether we're looking
for confrontation or not, is to establish some virtual
communities. And here's where Michael Voth comes in. Michael
of the Coconino libertarians, and Kevin Burt of the Laramie
County libertarians of Cheyenne Wyoming, cooked up this
notion of "cousin counties".
You know how we have "sister cities" all around the world?
Well, we now have a "cousin countyship" between Laramie
and Coconino libertarians. We don't exactly know what
we're going to do with it yet, but we have our own "virtual
community", and it is somewhat of an act of...well I don't
think we care enough to defy the national hierarchy,
but we're going to make connections despite the hierarchy.
Some day we may need a "safe house" in Coconino; some
day they may need a "safe house" in Laramie County. Some
day we may need to be stations on an underground railroad
for getting patriots to safety. We may need to be stations
on a supply line, and we have that connection established.
We have a relationship with each other already, and we'll
do what seems appropriate with it.
That, unfortunately, brings us to the national party,
or higher-up-the-line parties. I think -- and this is
just a personal viewpoint -- that the best thing that
the state party could be, or the best thing that the national
party could be for individual libertarians is a support
group to help us establish networks with each other; to
help us keep connections with each other; to help us learn
from each other; what works and what doesn't work; what
did they try over in Alabama that might work in Nevada,
or that was a disaster and might not work anywhere?
Your state organization is great for that, I think, to
the extent that I know it. Unfortunately you're one of
the few that is. And unfortunately, of course, we have
National. The national party. The commissariat of Washington,
What is the national party? It is a top-down fund-raising
organization that is into telling us what we should do,
not learning from us and helping to spread it around.
And certainly some of the things that we should not
do, according to National...we should not have people
like L. Neil Smith at our gatherings. He has been declared
"unfit" by the national party. And I hope you all recognize
that. [Applause for Smith, who was sitting in the audience.]
Also, a year or so ago, those of us who got the "Libertarian
Volunteer" got an issue that listed the "twelve most terrible
things" that have ever been done at local party meetings.
One of them was to discuss "Should There Be A Libertarian
Party?" I mean, that's shocking. How dare we talk
about such a thing?
So here we are at a time when we need individualism,
autonomy, quick action and networking, being saddled with
this sort of dinosaur with the little pea-brain up here
in Washington, DC, trying to communicate down to us, thinking
we're its tail or something. Yhey are so busy trying to
be like the other folks in Washington, D.C. that they
are very quickly forgetting that they are libertarians.
But I'm sure they're quite good at fund-raising; I've
hear wonderful tales about their fund-raising. In fact,
something quite interesting that I heard the other day
indirectly from Neil: Harry Browne is criticizing me
as one of the people who was damning him for his fund-raising
and odd campaign spending practices. Well, I never did.
I would have. I would have been happy to, because of what
I have heard from Vin Suprynowicz and Neil Smith and other
people. But it didn't happen.
So, National is giving us enemies lists and fund-raising
corruption, among other pleasures of politics. Heck, they're
headquartered in the Watergate, after all! What are we
going to do with these people? They think that success
is raising a lot of money whether it goes to any good
cause or not. They think that success is being invited
to the cocktail parties with the Democrats and the Republicans.
They think that success is having libertarianism favorably
mentioned in the Washington Post.
OK, if I were favorably mentioned in the Washington Post,
I would do everything I could to change my ways! Wouldn't
you? Who wants to be favorably mentioned by people who
think that every bit of dissent is hate speech?
Who think that anyone who is not a Republican or a Democrat
or in the mainstream is some sort of crazy? No. No thank
you. Hunh-unh. No thanks.
We try very hard to be acceptable. The national party
is trying to be acceptable and there's nothing wrong with
that. It's human. I mean we want to be accepted from the
moment we're born. But the question is, to whom do we
want to be acceptable?
I don't want to be acceptable to the same people that
the national party wants to be acceptable to. I want to
be acceptable to you guys. And I want you to be acceptable
to me, because we are going to need each other some day.
I want to be with you when we prepare.
I don't care whether you're preparing even for the same
eventuality that I'm preparing for. I don't care if you're
a pacifist. There is room for many differences. But we've
got a role to play, and it's we, not national, who are
going to play that role.
Something is going to happen. I wish I could tell you
what it was. I've been talking to people and everybody's
going through the same thing -- "Well, I think it might
be this", "I think it might be that", "I think it might
be the other" -- we don't know. But it's coming. Whether
it breaks with the suddenness of an earthquake, or whether
it comes like a storm that you can see rolling toward
you for hours, it is coming.
And the big question for all of us, when this hits, is,
"Do I want to be polite and acceptable or do I want
to be FREE?"
Free, of course! I mean, it's easy, right? It's easy!
So let's do it! I have absolute confidence you guys are
going to be able to do it. And when it all comes
down, I want to be here, if not physically in Arizona,
I want to be in your virtual community.
So thank you for your guts. And thank you for having
me here. And thank you for being brave enough to talk
about things that National doesn't want you to talk about,
and to do things that National doesn't want you to do.
My congratulations and gratitude to all of you.
NOTE on the health care database: I have since
been fiercely corrected on this point. I may have been
overstating the present danger of such a database, though
I believe the danger remains grave for the near future.
The health care bill (available from the Library of
Congress' Thomas web site as HR 3101 or Public Law 104-191)
establishes a federal database for reporting medical
fraud and abuse. I don't believe this is the problem,
however it was part of the confusion. Later, in Sections
1171-1175, the bill outlines a plan for the Secretary
of Health and Human Services to set standards for the
electronic transmission of all health care data. These
"standards" do not constitute a database, and I thank
the critic who corrected me on that issue. However,
the secretary is directed to set one standard by
which all medical data will be electronically communicated.
The standard must include a "unique identifier" for
every individual whose medical information is ever transmitted
(Sec. 1173). In doing that, Congress is clearly allowing
the Clinton administration to create a de facto single,
nationwide system to which federal (and other) bureaucrats
will have easy access, almost certainly via our social
security numbers. If this does not rapidly become the
feared federal database, it will nevertheless allow
the government, researchers and others to run rampant
through the various private or state databases that
will use the federally defined standard. I regret any
confusion. But I urge you to keep your eyes open and
your heads up...not that it will do you much good when
bureaucrats are secretly slurping your medical data
-- law or no law -- into their computers.