"It [the State] has taken on a vast mass of new duties and responsibilities; it has spread out its powers until they penetrate to every act of the citizen, however secret; it has begun to throw around its operations the high dignity and impeccability of a State religion; its agents become a separate and superior caste, with authority to bind and loose, and their thumbs in every pot. But it still remains, as it was in the beginning, the common enemy of all well-disposed, industrious and decent men." ~ H.L. Mencken
Government Steve, This Will Not Pass
Column by Alex R. Knight III.
Exclusive to STR
There was a pretty good article back in June published at Slate.com by David Weigel. The title was “Live Free or Move: Hanging Out With the Young Kids Who Want to Turn New Hampshire into a Libertarian Paradise.”
It’s a trite label for what was otherwise, in my opinion, a pretty good write-up. Not all Free-Staters (an oxymoronic term in my die-hard anarchist view) are “young kids.” And no one I know is suggesting that New Hampshire (or anywhere else) is going to ever be a “paradise.” All of that said, I think the biggest misconception comes perhaps from one of Weigel’s interview subjects, and not the author of the piece.
Steve Lindsey, apparently a Democrat “state representative” in the New Hampshire legislature – and to whom some “Keeniacs” refer to as “Government Steve” (a monicker he deems “somewhat affectionate”) – was quoted as saying of the FSP, “My theory is that this, too, shall pass, just like the hippies came here, and that passed.”
Government Steve would do well to read an essay written some time in the 1990s by frequent STR contributor Jim Davies, “Where Have All the Flower Kids Gone?” In this, Jim targets two essential and fundamental flaws in the 1960s “counter-culture” movement that invariably led to its demise. First, that hippies, instead of distinguishing government-infested crony capitalism from true laissez-faire free-market activity, painted all capitalistic activity with a broad Marxist brush, denouncing as evil any profit motive whatsoever. As is quite easy to ascertain, this is antithetical to the kind of freedom hippies paid lip service to, and by no means complimentary towards it. Secondly, many young college grads of the era decided to take their degrees and enter the political arena, in a foolhardy and vain attempt to “change the system from the inside.” I need to add little to demonstrate just how that ploy worked out.
In short, the 21st century libertarian movement is something of a wholly different order. The hippies, for all of their panache, had no consistent philosophy. Some Marxist philosophy here, some psychedelic drugs there, a burned draft card and some back-to-nature panhandling to cork the bottle. Nothing that works in the real world. Libertarianism, on the other hand, is both rational and practical. It operates on very uncomplicated principles that are ultimately moral. And it is the only philosophy I have found that operates in accordance with human nature, and not in opposition to it. One must simply renounce the initiation of force, theft, and fraud. The rest of the universe neatly falls into place. So long as human activity is both peaceful and voluntary, it’s okay. No matter what it is. Period. And no evil is ever “necessary.” It’s just evil, and has no place in a free world.
Thus, I submit to Government Steve, if he’s reading this, that this movement will not pass – unlike the hippies of the ‘60s. Libertarianism challenges the irrational, rather than contributing to it. It seeks to eradicate immorality – rather than compounding it by force. It adheres to justice and market forces instead of seeking to distort these natural elements of existence.
And this is why, I am sure, that liberty will both prevail and endure, long after the first part of Steve’s nickname has passed into nothing but dust.