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My name is Galt -- I'm a cop.
April 5, 2014 7:56 PM   Subscribe

Years ago, a central banker killed my partner.....

Writer Tom O'Donnell imagines an "L.P.D.: Libertarian Police Department" for The New Yorker.

O'Donnell is also the author of the recent children's book Space Rocks!, and contributes to McSweeney's (from 2011: OK, Maybe Our Apartment is Too Small for a Bald Eagle).

(The Libertarian Party's actual stance on "crime and violence" can be viewed here.)
posted by Iris Gambol (82 comments total) 39 users marked this as a favorite

 
If you want to see the same thing writ large, except deathly serious about the whole thing, I recommend the webcomic Escape from Terra. A thousand pages of forehead-bangingly insane speculative fiction about the glorious Libertaria that is the future of space.
posted by kafziel at 7:59 PM on April 5 [10 favorites]


Did anybody else read the digital comic book Shatter? I got a strong deja vu reading this.
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 8:01 PM on April 5 [2 favorites]


It also reminds me of the hardboiled detective stories Phillipe writes
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 8:07 PM on April 5 [5 favorites]


See also the insanity that is L. Neil Smith's body of work, and quite a few of the recipients of the Prometheus Award for libertarian science fiction novels.
posted by BrotherCaine at 8:21 PM on April 5 [2 favorites]


Guard: Don't fight it son. Confess quickly! If you hold out too long you could jeopardize your credit rating.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:28 PM on April 5 [19 favorites]


Ah, I loved this when I first saw it the other day. This was my favorite bit:
“Not yet. But mark my words: we’re going to figure out who did this and we’re going to take them down … provided someone pays us a fair market rate to do so.”

“Easy, chief,” I said. “Any rate the market offers is, by definition, fair.”

He laughed. “That’s why you’re the best I got, Lisowski. Now you get out there and find those bitcoins.”
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 8:35 PM on April 5 [13 favorites]


Yes. That's part of why I suggested that awful comic: at one point, a youth that wants to become a cop laments that there isn't enough crime for people to pay him to solve for him to be able to make a career as a cop. Except it's actually serious.

O'Donnell did some artful satire here, but Poe's Law is a thing.
posted by kafziel at 8:40 PM on April 5 [2 favorites]


My favorite may have been the sidewalk ax-grinding:

It was a normal office building, strangled on all sides by public sidewalks.

Then, later:

“Stop right there!” I yelled as I ran. He was faster than me because I always try to avoid stepping on public sidewalks. Our country needs a private-sidewalk voucher system, but, thanks to the incestuous interplay between our corrupt federal government and the public-sidewalk lobby, it will never happen.

But I laughed at the first paragraph, so it's not like I'm real difficult to please.
posted by Iris Gambol at 8:44 PM on April 5 [8 favorites]


Any society that lets kids grow up dependent on government welfare, attending government schools that fail to teach, and entering an economy where government policy has crushed opportunity, will be a society that breeds criminals.

Is this part of the satire?
posted by Slothrup at 8:49 PM on April 5 [3 favorites]


Considering the poor to nonexistent track record of privately driven universal education, unregulated economies, and privatized social safetynets, I would say yes.
posted by idiopath at 8:54 PM on April 5 [11 favorites]


Oh dear god. We're arguing semantics while the world burns.
posted by Samuel Farrow at 9:02 PM on April 5 [3 favorites]


Metafilter: arguing semantics while the world burns.
posted by Noms_Tiem at 9:04 PM on April 5 [50 favorites]


This is good. However, most Libertarians (or Objectivists) would say the one reason government exists is to protect rights ie. police, military and judicial services. Though it is a heated source of debate amongst the true believers. I'm pretty sure a purist Ayn Randian would not privatize the police.
posted by stbalbach at 9:23 PM on April 5 [2 favorites]


Well exactly, Rand didn't go far enough.
posted by biffa at 9:37 PM on April 5 [2 favorites]


Well exactly, Rand didn't go far enough.

In one of the actual libertarian SF books mentioned above, President Ayn Rand goes to the moon. That would be far enough!

Also, because of the free market the telephone was invited way earlier freeing up Alexander Graham Bell to create a device that allows us to talk to animals, leading to a world (universe, really) in which each species of animal is eventually granted voting rights (I think it starts with gorillas and dolphins and goes from there). You end up having books centered around characters like "the dolphin physicist Ooloorie Eckickeck P'Wheet and her human compatriot, the gorgeous Dr. Dora Jayne Thorens".

The Pterodactyl household has a shocking number of conversations about this series, although we've never read any of the actual books.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 9:41 PM on April 5 [13 favorites]


That Escape from Terra comic reminds me of another example of SciFi libertarianism gone mad: The Unincorporated Man, which is a similarly tone-deaf socioeconomic fable, but one that can't seem to decide if the idea of people being able to own shares of each other is a fantastic idea or a terrible one.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 9:42 PM on April 5 [1 favorite]


If you want an actually pretty good (and satirical) libertarian fiction, I'd suggest Jennifer Government.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 9:53 PM on April 5 [10 favorites]


I actually just had to explain to a libertarian on FB (friend of a friend, I try not to argue with him on my friend's wall out of politeness -- to my friend) that the Outer Space Treaty really had very little to say about private ventures and therefore wasn't state interference with his private property rights should he develop a spaceship, go out to the Moon or an asteroid, and claim it. So he was OK with it.
posted by dhartung at 10:41 PM on April 5 [1 favorite]


So he was OK with it.

More good news if he ever decides to Escape from Terra: when a pressurized libertarian habitation dome is built on Ceres, he'll retain the right to freely purchase and bear firearms within said pressurized dome. In worse news I'll be standing nearby nervously giggling because I still haven't figured out if it's satire or not.
posted by tychotesla at 10:59 PM on April 5


Mrs. Pterodactyl: "In one of the actual libertarian SF books mentioned above, President Ayn Rand goes to the moon. That would be far enough!"

I would also have supported sending Ayn Rand to the moon, preferably on an experimental one-way trip early in her life.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 11:21 PM on April 5 [2 favorites]


Man, Escape From Terra reads too much like Heinlein to be satire. What a bizarre, headache inducing thing that turned out to be.
posted by artof.mulata at 11:22 PM on April 5 [2 favorites]


Just out of curiosity, when did New Yorker comments start getting so heinous? It's a progression I've noticed over the last couple of years.
posted by Phlegmco(tm) at 12:36 AM on April 6


I actually just had to explain to a libertarian on FB (friend of a friend, I try not to argue with him on my friend's wall out of politeness -- to my friend) that the Outer Space Treaty really had very little to say about private ventures and therefore wasn't state interference with his private property rights should he develop a spaceship, go out to the Moon or an asteroid, and claim it. So he was OK with it.

The fun thing about this scenario is that as soon as we start doing it, most precious metals - including that beloved Gold - loses even its theoretical value as currency, because there's just such a ridiculous amount in the asteroid belt.
posted by kafziel at 1:00 AM on April 6 [1 favorite]


The fun thing about this scenario is that as soon as we start doing it, most precious metals - including that beloved Gold - loses even its theoretical value as currency, because there's just such a ridiculous amount in the asteroid belt.

*Invests everything in bitcoin*
posted by crashlanding at 1:46 AM on April 6 [1 favorite]


Escape from Terra is really... something. My favorite part is when the girl spends three panels bartering with her grandmother. Also that everyone pays for everything with gold - except not actually gold, but with their balance at a third-party gold brokerage house (of which there are many, presumably). The list of currencies, one of which was I guess was a speculative options contract kind of thing, was also neat.

Anyway, I'm kind of sad that advocacy for space colonization gets so associated with libertarians. I think settling space is actually really important, and probably the only workable solution to the mess we're in. I'm pretty sure we're either at the carrying capacity for the planet or beyond it, and pretty much running on borrowed time. When a species is confronted with ecological changes, it only has three options - move, adapt, or die. I think the first option would probably be the least painful.

Also, I like the idea of humanity living in closed, self-sustaining space colonies. In such an environment, there are no externalities. You can't just burn your trash on a space station - when every system to support life is engineered and monitored, pollution is really obviously bad and easy to avoid. I don't think you'd have the kind of situation we find ourselves in, where destroying our habitat over the long term is really profitable in the short term, and "short term" means like one or two generations.

I hope we do start mining asteroids and turning them into comfortable habitats. I think society under such circumstances would actually, by necessity, be much more responsible and equitable.
posted by heathkit at 2:30 AM on April 6 [2 favorites]


*Invests everything in bitcoin*
posted by crashlanding


epony-heh-heh-heh
posted by hap_hazard at 2:56 AM on April 6 [8 favorites]


Crime
Crime it's in the streets
posted by indubitable at 3:45 AM on April 6


Eh. John C Wright's Golden Oecumene novels still hold the championship for most soul-crushing appearance of Randite ideology. Because until Ayn Rand's corpse shows up and pukes libertariansim all over the reader they are damn entertaining. Sure, in hindsight you can see it creeping up on you from the start but it's easy enough to ignore if you don't know what's coming.

Such a shame.
posted by Justinian at 4:19 AM on April 6


So Libertarians are basically Ferengi at heart, right?

"Have a seat... that will be three slips of latinum."
"I'll stand."
"That will be one slip."
"I'll give you two for the chair."
posted by Faint of Butt at 4:37 AM on April 6 [12 favorites]


Anyway, I'm kind of sad that advocacy for space colonization gets so associated with libertarians.

It's also fairly ridiculous considering the advances of the space race were brought to us by the planned economies of the Soviet Union and the Military Industrial Complex.
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 4:49 AM on April 6 [11 favorites]


If you want an actually pretty good (and satirical) libertarian fiction, I'd suggest Jennifer Government.

I was about to say this piece read a lot like an amped-up sidebar to Jennifer Government. JG's a great read that passed from being entertaining speculation to scarily prescient in a matter of a few years.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:06 AM on April 6


That's by Max Barry, isn't it? I just finished is most recent, Lexicon, yesterday! It's the only thing of his I've read. Maybe I'll give JG a shot.
posted by Justinian at 5:20 AM on April 6


We're arguing semantics while the world burns.

Well, that depends on what you mean by "arguing". And "semantics".
posted by Benny Andajetz at 6:02 AM on April 6 [17 favorites]


Funy piece. The comments, though, were deeply alienating. I mean like, who the hell thinks that... Well I guess a lot of people. But beyond that or maybe just, further into that, I thought the number of people who mentioned first that they were 'Libertarian' and then went on to laugh about it was - well I kept wondering why do you have to make the statement even? What does that word 'Libertarian' mean to you. I'm not much of a joiner though so that might be the root of my problem but still. What void in the American Psyche is 'Libertarianism' filling?
posted by From Bklyn at 6:08 AM on April 6


Libertarianism comforts people who just cannot accept the fact that life ultimately hinges on things that are outside of anyone's control. They want to believe that talent, drive, and manifest destiny are the totality.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 6:20 AM on April 6 [20 favorites]


I just read this great bit from Žižek's jokes, that the market fundamentalists' excuse that the free market never fails is essentially the same as the joke: "My fiancée is never late for an appointment, because if she is late, she is no longer my fiancée." Other versions: "The people always support the party because any member of the people who opposes party rule automatically excludes himself from the people"; "if you love God, you can do whatever you like, because when you do something evil, this is in itself proof that you do not really love God"; or in general: "I never make a mistake inapplying a rule, since what I do defines the very rule."
posted by Pyrogenesis at 6:22 AM on April 6 [9 favorites]


Tautologies gonna tautologize.

The real appeal of libertarianism is that our government does a lot of stupid and evil things, so there's lots of low-hanging fruit to attack. The mistake is assuming that since the drug war is evil, fire departments are evil, too.
posted by anotherpanacea at 6:54 AM on April 6 [7 favorites]


You know, Firefly is pretty damned libertarian, but I'm not sure they ever really deal with the fact that without the Alliance, those outer planets would be entirely uninhabitable.
posted by Navelgazer at 7:10 AM on April 6 [2 favorites]


The New Yorker piece was funny and obviously way over the top. As already stated, the #1 thing demonstrated via the comments is that ... wow libertarians are a humourless bunch.

That there are so many self-identifying libertarians, who still cling to the ravings of an overrated sci-fi author as gospel, is a bit sobering.
posted by Artful Codger at 7:15 AM on April 6


I wish more people knew that you could be a libertarian without being a propertarian — that, in fact, if you stop to think about it for more than a minute, you can only be a libertarian if you're not a propertarian.
posted by cthuljew at 7:22 AM on April 6 [2 favorites]


heathkit: Anyway, I'm kind of sad that advocacy for space colonization gets so associated with libertarians. I think settling space is actually really important, and probably the only workable solution to the mess we're in.

I think you've answered your own question there. I see Libertarianism as a failure to come to terms with real problems here on Earth, fueled by watching too much Star Trek. In addition, in spite of all the great stuff NASA's done, the likelihood of space colonization seems to be going down, not up, as we find out that biologically human life in space is hugely problematic and that we have neither the capitol or the political will to invest in serious space exploration by humans. I love the Mars rover stuff, but I think much of the rest is wishful thinking. Technology is not going to save us.
posted by sneebler at 7:46 AM on April 6 [6 favorites]


I enjoyed Libertarian Police Department, but wow, Escape from Terra is just plain awesome. And informative! I never would have known that the 24-hours-in-a-day system is an affront to liberty.
posted by Flunkie at 7:48 AM on April 6


Made me smirk, and nthing that I was reminded of L. Neil Smith. I read one of those when I was a teenager and even then I could tell it was propaganda, long before I figured out the same about other books of my reading acquaintance.
posted by immlass at 8:15 AM on April 6


There is a major plot hole in this story - a Bitcoin thief is identified and caught. That's so improbable it ruins the whole story.
posted by ymgve at 9:20 AM on April 6 [4 favorites]


What void in the American Psyche is 'Libertarianism' filling?

Libertarianism is a childish, foot stomping declaration that they don't need the rest of us. That we're not helping, we're in the way. Every aspect of it pretty much stems from that single failure to appreciate civilization as a concept.

As for space in particular, it's whole pioneer thing - the idea of the self sufficient homestead, independent of the government or any outside interference, all drawing water from their own well, chopping their own firewood, etc. Just... slap a bunch of Jetsons stuff on that, and you probably have a good picture of their understanding of the issues involved.
posted by mordax at 10:43 AM on April 6 [4 favorites]


Also, I like the idea of humanity living in closed, self-sustaining space colonies. In such an environment, there are no externalities. You can't just burn your trash on a space station - when every system to support life is engineered and monitored, pollution is really obviously bad and easy to avoid. I don't think you'd have the kind of situation we find ourselves in, where destroying our habitat over the long term is really profitable in the short term, and "short term" means like one or two generations.--heathkit

Wait a minute. Are you saying that in space everyone has to care about what everyone else is doing? That with every action a person takes they have to consider its effect on the collective whole? So maybe libertarians won't like living in space after all.

Come to think of it, isn't the Earth ultimately a closed, self-sustaining space colony?
posted by eye of newt at 11:27 AM on April 6 [5 favorites]


Firefly is pretty damned libertarian, but I'm not sure they ever really deal with the fact that without the Alliance, those outer planets would be entirely uninhabitable.

But without the Alliance some of the inner planets would be entirely inhabitable.
posted by biffa at 11:35 AM on April 6


What void in the American Psyche is 'Libertarianism' filling?

A lot of it is tied up in America's frontier mythology. There's probably an FPP's worth...
posted by the man of twists and turns at 11:48 AM on April 6 [2 favorites]


see Libertarianism as a failure to come to terms with real problems here on Earth, fueled by watching too much Star Trek.

Bro, do you even Trek?
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 12:16 PM on April 6 [5 favorites]


I see from Escape From Terra that libertarian freedom is once again portrayed as being able to smoke cigarettes, drink alcohol and hate the government.
posted by telstar at 12:31 PM on April 6 [1 favorite]


Oh man, John C. Wright. His wikipedia picture really speaks for itself. I see that his homophobic screeds have been pretty well scrubbed from the net, as has his wife's mindboggingly clueless racism.

I made the mistake of picking up his novels once (but it was from the PUBLIC LIBRARY, so there) after seeing praises for it and assuming it was going to be a setup for a clever takedown of everything, that, well, it wasn't. About halfway through it finally dawned on me that no, this dude is 100% sincere. (Also I seem to remember there were like 3 chapters where the main story element was Dude Climbs Down A Staircase, which, even if it was a very very long staircase it still was mindnumbingly boring to read.)

It's funny just how bad true believer libertarian novelists are, doubly so for SF which already has a pretty strong anarchist-libertarian bent (well, that or fascist/monarchist).
posted by aspo at 12:32 PM on April 6 [1 favorite]


Escape from Terra is weirdly similar to Chick tracts
posted by Luddite at 1:04 PM on April 6 [2 favorites]


Bro, do you even Trek?

I was going to say that. The Trek universe seems pretty socialist to me. They seem to tolerate free enterprise (no pun intended) but mostly for comic relief (Mud, Ferengi, etc).
posted by octothorpe at 1:24 PM on April 6


I can't stop reading "Escape from Terra", which probably represents the first time in the history of mines that there is not a management class that oppresses the laborers. How exactly this works is not explained. There's just some snark about people not letting themselves get trodden. Fascinating, as I cannot imagine a better scenario for exploitation than an extraterrestrial colony where resources are very limited, and consumers of those resources have no choice but to pay whatever is asked. If that means that you have to sell your freedom to pay for air and heat and water, well, that's the price the market will bear, right?
posted by wintermind at 1:27 PM on April 6 [2 favorites]


Gotta love the swift judicial system in Escape from Terra, having a traumatized young girl shoot the guys responsible for her family's death while they're tied up in chairs - surely there will be no psychological repercussions for her, because grit! and determination!
posted by jason_steakums at 1:47 PM on April 6 [2 favorites]


Also, protip: make sure your impressive military ships can shoot in, you know, more than one direction, lest you fall prey to a ragtag group of miners.
posted by jason_steakums at 1:49 PM on April 6


reminds me of another example of SciFi libertarianism gone mad: The Unincorporated Man, which is a similarly tone-deaf socioeconomic fable, but one that can't seem to decide if the idea of people being able to own shares of each other is a fantastic idea or a terrible one.

There was an artist who did this, and let his investors vote on his life decisions. It was kind of hilarious. I wonder if he's still doing it.
posted by bradbane at 1:53 PM on April 6


Wait, is Escape from Terra real or a parody? I'm having trouble telling.
posted by octothorpe at 1:53 PM on April 6


It's addictive in that old-time sci-fi serial way, where the dumb-as-a-rock worldbuilding was part of the charm.
posted by jason_steakums at 1:55 PM on April 6 [1 favorite]


Come to think of it, isn't the Earth ultimately a closed, self-sustaining space colony?

That was my point. It is, but it's also incomprehensibly huge and wasn't built, we just kind of lucked into it. So we don't understand exactly how it works and the consequences of our actions. The Earth is so big, it's easy for people to believe nothing humanity could do could ever cause permanent damage to our ability to live here. Burning trash or dumping waste in the ocean doesn't, at the individual level, seem like it could do any harm, and that's how we end up with plastic islands in the ocean. My hope was that when we get to the point of building our own habitats, we'll be much more careful about what we do to it. I admit there's a parallel between this idea and the libertarian naive idolization of small-town communities where no one cheats each other because reputation is so important.

People and their livestock are a large fraction of the biosphere, to a ridiculous degree. Space settlement is an ambitious pursuit, but it's not scientifically unrealistic (like FTL travel would be), and the engineering knowledge needed to keep people alive in space could well prove useful to keep people alive on Earth in the next couple hundred years or so.

Also I stayed up super late last night reading Escape from Terra in a weird "can't look away" sort of way. I kind of want that hour back.
posted by heathkit at 2:51 PM on April 6 [1 favorite]


I read a fair amount of Escape From Terra in a rather horrified daze. And I think Luddite has the best take, it truly is reminiscent of Chick tracts. The same un-selfconscious over the top nuttiness, the same competent but generic and bland art style.

I also counted two explicit Heinlein riffs/homages/whatevers in the first few hundred comics. The "confused tourists shocked at a young girl being a tour guide" bit is right out of The Menace From Earth. And the bit in the tunnel/tube slowly losing pressure while a guy's ass cheek saves them is copied right from Gentlemen Be Seated.

The worst part is that I'm not entirely sure either was a deliberate and acknowledged homage to Heinlein by the author, or if he just absorbed the Heinlein stuff so deeply that he never noticed he was copying it.
posted by sotonohito at 2:54 PM on April 6


From the comments: Libertarian Taxi
posted by homunculus at 3:02 PM on April 6


Isn't that basically Uber or Lyft?
posted by octothorpe at 3:34 PM on April 6


There was an artist who did this, and let his investors vote on his life decisions. It was kind of hilarious. I wonder if he's still doing it.

It's still going on.
posted by Faint of Butt at 4:22 PM on April 6


Wait, is Escape from Terra real or a parody? I'm having trouble telling.

Poe's law, man. As Wikipedia puts it, "without a clear indication of the author's intent, it is difficult or impossible to tell the difference between an expression of sincere extremism and a parody of extremism." But rest assured, friend, Escape from Terra is 100% sincere. The same creative team has produced a lot of material along the same themes, and the publisher, Big Head Press, has ties to the Free State Project and deals pretty much entirely in libertarian agitprop.

I like how the major threat of the first story arc, the dire possibility of revenuers showing up, is entirely foiled by the brave Belters trading labor for gold rather than being paid in dollars, and thus technically earning non-taxable barter instead of taxable income. Somehow. Don't think too hard.
posted by kafziel at 4:24 PM on April 6


Bro, do you even Trek?

I guess not - I'm not much of a tv watcher, and I more or less stopped reading sf 20 years ago*. Nevertheless, I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest that too much SF, particularly of the tv variety, is responsible for people's general acceptance of human space exploration as a technological fait accompli.

*I did watch a bit of Voyager for a while. Does that count?
posted by sneebler at 4:28 PM on April 6


Oh how I love the last panel of episode 279.
posted by Flunkie at 5:26 PM on April 6 [3 favorites]


I want a retelling of the Fantastic Four with Doom cast as explicitly Libertarian and Latveria as a Silicon Valley-style Techno-Libertarian utopia with shades of Rapture. In this version, Doom's animosity towards Richards stems from a tragic accident during a TED talk.
posted by jason_steakums at 5:31 PM on April 6 [7 favorites]


I guess not - I'm not much of a tv watcher, and I more or less stopped reading sf 20 years ago*. Nevertheless, I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest that too much SF, particularly of the tv variety, is responsible for people's general acceptance of human space exploration as a technological fait accompli.

I was objecting to your statement that Star Trek fueled a libertarian anything, but I really don't think people generally have accepted space exploration as a fait accompli at all. Maybe a small minority of libertopian nerds, but I'll bet they never liked Star Trek much.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 6:14 PM on April 6


There has been at least one Star Trek reference in Escape from Terra that I've seen so far. Lots of general sci fi references.

In any case, yeah, Star Trek's a pretty poor choice to lay the blame for Libertarianism on. The Federation is, at least internally and with the exception of some fringes, pretty much a socialist utopia.
posted by Flunkie at 6:23 PM on April 6


Hmm, shortly after "SHOW YOURSELVES, GHOSTS OF MARS!" Escape from Terra gets to the point where the boringness overwhelms the novelty.
posted by jason_steakums at 7:15 PM on April 6


Yeah. I made it as far as the blatant fanservice before I finally gave up.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 7:22 PM on April 6


Bear with it! You have to make your way to the story of Pilgrim Boner.
posted by kafziel at 7:46 PM on April 6


Hmm, shortly after "SHOW YOURSELVES, GHOSTS OF MARS!" Escape from Terra gets to the point where the boringness overwhelms the novelty.

Well, it does have the classic "I never bought into that Jimmy Carter, 'It's a sin if you lust in your mind' crap." I had no idea Carter said that - I'm learning so much.

It was like when the weenie frenchie socialist used 'Hitchens' as an epithet, so I had to look up why libertarians hate Christopher Hitchens. According to wikipedia, he was a socialist, then he was all "yay capitalism", then he said he wasn't a socialist but he was actually still a Marxist, apparently.

Also, the comparison to Chick tracts is spot on. If only they'd adopted the brevity of that material, as well.

Now I kind of want someone with more time and artistic ability than sense to produce a set of sartorial, libertarian themed Chick tracts. "Debbie used food stamps, now she's a Satanist!" kind of stuff.
posted by heathkit at 7:59 PM on April 6


I don't want to be Elfstar any more, I want to be a sovereign citizen!
posted by jason_steakums at 8:05 PM on April 6 [5 favorites]


This is a pet peeve of mine. Carter was quoting Jesus, and in fact he was explicit that he was quoting Jesus. And he wasn't just randomly, bizarrely blurting out "I have lusted in my heart!"; he was making a point: We all have failings, and we shouldn't judge.

Here's what he said in context:
I try not to commit a deliberate sin. I recognize that I'm going to do it anyhow, because I'm human and I'm tempted. And Christ set some almost impossible standards for us. Christ said, "I tell you that anyone who looks on a woman with lust has in his heart already committed adultery."

I've looked on a lot of women with lust. I've committed adultery in my heart many times. This is something that God recognizes I will do—and I have done it—and God forgives me for it. But that doesn't mean that I condemn someone who not only looks on a woman with lust but who leaves his wife and shacks up with somebody out of wedlock.

Christ says, Don't consider yourself better than someone else because one guy screws a whole bunch of women while the other guy is loyal to his wife. The guy who's loyal to his wife ought not to be condescending or proud because of the relative degree of sinfulness.
posted by Flunkie at 8:45 PM on April 6 [7 favorites]


One thing I've noticed is that libertarians seem to have a massive thing for Norman Borlaug, for the green revolution. However, I have yet to see Fritz Haber, who arguably saved even more lives with the development of artificial nitrogen fixation equally praised. And if we're simply praising someone for saving lives and not the impact of their work, then that pesky father of chemical warfare thing shouldn't matter about Haber. (This is a massive derail, but I first ran into Borlaug's name in Escape from Terra and have since seen him lauded in many libertarian writings.)

What void in the American Psyche is 'Libertarianism' filling?
America can attribute its success to wiping out populations and taking their stuff. Or taking the population as stuff. The myth of the American frontier states that white people did not actually steal anything or profit from the unpaid labor of others. This is impossible in today's society, as our attempts to bomb brown people and take their stuff has resulted in problems (cf. Vietnam and Iraq). Libertarians embrace the thought that the white people moving out into native owned lands did all the work and were not moving into land that had previously been cared for in anyway. By moving into space, they think they can do that again, not realizing that without little green men to help maintain the prairie and then get wiped out by disease, they will be unsuccessful as farmers and without a massive governmental subsidy, there will be no low-cost method of shipping whatever they mine back to earth.

Ignoring the space aspect of things, they believe that monopoly only comes to exist because of government support. That if government would simply get out of everyone's way, the invisible hand would somehow give everyone an equal opportunity so that they could succeed and fail by their own merits. At the same time, inheritance would not be taxed, but because there would be no government in the way, there would be no reason why those born with nothing could not reach the same places as those born with everything. As Mieville put it, and I believe him, libertarianism is a bourgeoisie political philosophy. Those who are the monied elites do no desire a truly open market, as the crony capitalist system is one they are thriving in. They desire less regulation, but do not want to disrupt the massive cashflow from public to private pockets. The libertarians (there are some very rich libertarians, but they are all new money, coming from a bourgeoisie background) realize that they are working in a system that is fixed against them and blame the fix on the government and those who are poorer than them, somehow enabling the lower classes with a political might that they do not have.

Yeah, this could easily be a FPP.

As a final note, I will point out the role-playing game Eclipse Phase has a libertarian asteroid belt, a mutualist anarchist outer system among it's various post-singularity governments. (Jupiter is a version of a South American banana republic under the worst of US influence, with a jingoistic American propaganda as a veneer, Titan is a Scandinavian socialist-democracy, Mars and the Moon are run by Hyper-corporations, Venus is similar to a Western Europe style system and the Earth is a smoking ruin that no one dares to venture onto.) If you read their books (online free through creative commons), you see a better (although still somewhat distorted and idealized) vision of a libertarian community IN SPACE. (The asteroid is owned entirely by a corporation who take in tax payments in the form of fees for things like air and docking. Non-payment can land one in indentured servitude, but this is all governed by contracts, not laws, which somehow makes it better.)
posted by Hactar at 9:59 PM on April 6 [1 favorite]


One of the things that makes Escape from Terra seem so fascinatingly weird to me, even ignoring the glib over the top libertarianism, is that it's so oddly pedagogical. It's like the author knows some things, and wants to make damn sure that the reader learns about them, or at the very least learns that the author knows about them. So the characters talk to each other in weird ways, more or less randomly explaining to each other who Norman Borlaug is, or that Flight of the Bumblebee is a distinctive piece of music by Rimsky-Korsakov, or that the Red Baron was a German fighter pilot.

But I just got to one that I think takes the cake: A girl gets in big trouble with the government because, as a prank, she put chewing gum over a photocell on a train's door, thus keeping the door open, thus making the train unable to leave the station until the gum is discovered and removed.

While telling this story to other characters, this teenager from who knows how far in the future incidentally adds the comment that her gum-on-train-door-sensor trick is "taking advantage of a design flaw dating back to the 1980s".
posted by Flunkie at 10:56 PM on April 6


I also counted two explicit Heinlein riffs/homages/whatevers in the first few hundred comics. The "confused tourists shocked at a young girl being a tour guide" bit is right out of The Menace From Earth. And the bit in the tunnel/tube slowly losing pressure while a guy's ass cheek saves them is copied right from Gentlemen Be Seated.

He reused the bit in Farmer in the Sky, too.

What I sort of wonder is why the Escape from Terra people hate fat people, especially fat women, so much.
posted by gingerest at 11:09 PM on April 6


Oh man, John C. Wright. His wikipedia picture really speaks for itself.

Manly beard? Check. Manly hat? Check. Dashing pose? Check. Non-soft, pudgy face? Er, um...
posted by Mental Wimp at 9:47 AM on April 7


N.L.P.D.: Non-Libertarian Police Department.
posted by grobstein at 11:05 AM on April 7 [1 favorite]


N.L.P.D.: Non-Libertarian Police Department.

The problem is that every one of the things in that article could happen under a Libertarian system as well. None of them had anything to do with Libertarian/non-Libertarianness. You can still have pensions, corruption, abuse of power, and just plain bad behavior, which all find their way into Libertarian and "socialistic" utopias alike.
posted by Mental Wimp at 2:45 PM on April 7 [1 favorite]


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