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Author Topic: Galt's Oath, Non-Aggression Principle & The Covenant  (Read 58212 times)
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« on: 2008-November-16 04:51:09 PM »

Galt's Oath, Non-Aggression Principle & The Covenant of Unanimous Consent
Links to this page..: “”
Older link:      

Deutsch.: Der Konvent der Einstimmigen Zustimmung..:
-- Last Update: 2016-07-07
English..: The Covenant of Unanimous Consent..........: -- Last Update:
Español.: El Pacto del Consentimiento Unánime..........: -- Last Update:
Français: Le Pacte du Consentement Unanime............: -- Last Update:

Galt's Oath, the Non-Aggression Principle &
The Covenant of Unanimous Consent

John Galt's Oath in Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand.


The “Non-Aggression Principle” (“NAP”)

also called The “Zero Aggression Principle” (“ZAP”)

(The Non-Aggression Principle is highlighted in red in the following statement.)

   “A libertarian is a person who believes that no one has the right, under any circumstances, to initiate force against another human being, or to advocate or delegate its initiation. Those who act consistently with this principle are libertarians, whether they realize it or not. Those who fail to act consistently with it are not libertarians, regardless of what they may claim.”

    ~ L. Neil Smith

Always uphold the NAP! No exceptions!

 ~ Bevin Chu

Galt’s Oath and the libertarian Non-Aggression Principle  (NAP/ZAP)
are moral/ethical principles.

The Covenant of Unanimous Consent is a political statement of interpersonal relationships explicitly derived from the Non-Aggression Principle, which is a Moral statement.

For an explanation of WHAT a political statement is--and WHY it is needed--go to

To live together peacefully and productively:
    Follow the Precepts of the Covenant and no “government” will be necessary;
    Violate the Precepts of the Covenant and no amount of government will be sufficient.

(For best viewing, expand to full screen)

For details regarding the Covenant of Unanimous Consent:  (also copied below).

  • “They tell us, Sir, that we are weak, unable to cope with so formidable an adversary. But when shall we be stronger? Will it be next week? Will it be next year? Will it be when we are totally disarmed and a guard stationed in every house? Shall we gather strength by irresolution and inaction? Sir, we are not weak if we make proper use of those means which [the Covenant] has placed in our power.”

    [Paraphrased from Patrick Henry]

A New Covenant*
by L. Neil Smith

WE, THE UNDERSIGNED Witnesses to the Lesson of History -- that no Form of political

Governance may be relied upon to secure the individual Rights of Life, Liberty, or Property -- now

therefore establish and provide certain fundamental Precepts measuring our Conduct toward one

another, and toward others:

Individual Sovereignty

FIRST, that we shall henceforward recognize each individual to be the exclusive Proprietor of his or her own

Existence and of all products of that Existence, holding no Obligation binding among Individuals excepting

those to which they voluntarily and explicitly consent;

Freedom from Coercion

SECOND, that under no Circumstances shall we acknowledge any Liberty to initiate Force against another

Person, and shall instead defend the inalienable Right of Individuals to resist Coercion employing whatever

Means prove necessary in their Judgement;

Association and Secession

THIRD, that we shall hold inviolable those Relationships among Individuals which are totally voluntary, but

conversely, any Relationship not thus mutually agreeable shall be considered empty and invalid;

Individuality of Rights

FOURTH, that we shall regard Rights to be neither collective nor additive in Character -- two individuals shall

have no more Rights than one, nor shall two million nor two thousand million -- nor shall any Group possess

Rights in Excess of those belonging to its individual members;

Equality of Liberty

FIFTH, that we shall maintain these Principles without Respect to any person's Race, Nationality, Gender,

sexual Preference, Age, or System of Beliefs, and hold that any Entity or Association, however constituted,

acting to contravene them by initiation of Force -- or Threat of same -- shall have forfeited its Right to exist;


UPON UNANIMOUS CONSENT of the Members or Inhabitants of any Association or Territory, we further

stipulate that this Agreement shall supercede all existing governmental Documents or Usages then pertinent,

that such Constitutions, Charters, Acts, Laws, Statutes, Regulations, or Ordinances contradictory or destructive

to the Ends which it expresses shall be null and void, and that this Covenant, being the Property of its Author

and Signatories, shall not be Subject to Interpretation excepting insofar as it shall please them.
SIGNATORY:                                                    WITNESS:

  _________________________________   _______________________________

  signature      date                                         signature      date  




_________________________________   _______________________________

name (please print)                                      name (please print)


736 Eastdale Drive
Fort Collins, CO 80524 .

PLEASE ENCLOSE TWO DOLLARS to cover processing and archiving. Add SASE for confirmation of receipt.

*Excerpted from Chapter XVII of The Gallatin Divergence by L. Neil Smith, Del Rey Books
(a division of Random House), New York, 1985, as amended by unanimous consent, October, 1986.
« Last Edit: 2016-August-14 04:10:22 PM by DennisLeeWilson » Logged

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Creator of Atlas Shrugged Celebration Day & Artemis Zuna Trading Post
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« Reply #1 on: 2008-November-16 04:53:13 PM »

PIZZACRACY - The Tyranny of Democracy - Majoritarianism Versus Unanimous Consent
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Links to this page: “”

Here is an excellent essay on how Unanimous Consent already works in our every-day world: [broken link]

The article is missing from ISIL but a copy is at with this wonderful introduction:

There are at least two very good reasons to read this short article by Neil Smith. The first is because it contains one of the best analysis of why majoritarian rule is a silly and obnoxious way of taking decisions on a variety of personal and social matters. The second reason is because it puts forward, in a very effective way, an idea, that of unanimous consent, so simple and so appealing to any rational human being. In the age of the Internet, this proposal cannot fail to reach a large number of rational individuals and, like the simple and beautiful idea of religious tolerance in the past, it is likely to gain more and more advocates and supporters in the future. This idea presents a lot of affinities with the practical conception known as panarchy. If we consider the several ways in which panarchy has been called and presented by many writers in recent times (i.e. virtual cantons, multigovernment, non territorial federalism, personarchy, voluntarism, personal law, etc., besides Neil Smith's “unanimous consent”), we can be hopeful that, perhaps, the time for the implementation of this so human aspiration has finally arrived.


Majoritarianism Versus
Unanimous Consent

by L. Neil Smith

L. Neil Smith is many things.  Besides being a longtime friend of mine, he is a science fiction author of not inconsiderable renown whose novels have garnered him three Prometheus Awards.  He is an indefatigable and outspoken warrior in the fight for the right to keep and bear arms. He is also the publisher of The Libertarian Enterprise:

     In recent years he has also become somewhat of a gadfly for political libertarians. In the latter regard, his blistering broadsides against certain LP policies have made him considerably less popular than a skunk at a picnic in some LP circles. One LP luminary angrily declared him unfit to speak before libertarian audiences, and the official party newsletter has on occasion referred to him as a “thug.”

     Excrement flinging aside, Neil has important things to say – things that are on the cutting edge and will surely enrich the movement. Read on and enjoy.

Vince Miller

The copy below contains the Original Title and several paragraphs and sentences that were left out, apparently when it got renamed to “Pizzacracy”. (I have colored the restored sentences in black.)

The Tyranny of Democracy

Majoritarianism Versus Unanimous Consent

By L. Neil Smith

Prepared for the Boulder County Libertarian Party, 1989

    For some time, I've meant to write various legislators, bureaucrats, and other sucklers at the public jugular to say, “Congratulations, bird-brains – beginning with the most decent, livable culture in history, in just two centuries you've managed, with taxation, regulation, and conscription, to turn it into a prison whose best and brightest inmates, whatever disagreements they may cherish among themselves, are of a single mind when it comes to escaping from it.” Everybody wants out: the condition's so uniform and universal hardly anybody sees it, let alone recognizing anything strange about it.

     Even when they do, they miss its central significance.

     Aerobics, alcohol, anorexia, bicycling, bird watching, board games, bulemia, celibacy, communes, communism, coca-cola, cocaine, country-western music, gambling, glue sniffing, gun collecting, hashish, heroin, hiking, horror stories, hunting, manic-depression, marijuana, medievalism, motorcycling, movies, neoNazism, nicotine, opium, overeating, pacifism, paramilitarism, premenstrualism, pornography, prohibitionism, promiscuity, psychotherapy, rock'n'roll, role-playing, romance novels, satanism, science fiction, sexual deviation, soap operas, socialism, space colonies, spouse murder, suicide, survivalism, television, terrorism, tourism, vegetarianism, weird religion, and, as we can see in my 1986 novel The Crystal Empire, even weirder religion.

     These are a few of my favorite things – each with its own advocates and detractors. As an enthusiatic practitioner of several, I'm not knocking any one in particular – at the moment. Each represents, to a greater or lesser degree, an attempt to stop the world and get off, if only for a few days, a few hours, a few minutes, or a few seconds.

     Psychologist Nathaniel Branden speaks of a benevolent sense of life possible to those with rational, productive values, vividly contrasted with the coercive parasitic group-culture of mystics and altruists we live in, where people all around you seem a burdensome annoyance, a threat to your survival. Having been told from childhood that life is a zero-sum game in which you owe everything to others, at some level you worry all the time that someday the bastards will collect. And collect they do, every April 15th. Why do you think they call it collectivism?

     My experience with groups is much the same as yours, grade school, high school, the Air Force I grew up in, the Boy Scouts of America, the National Rifle Association, Students for a Democratic Society, Young Americans for Freedom, the Libertarian Party, every one seething with bickering and power struggles. Nobody ever seemed happy, but there were always plenty of excuses to fall back on to account for it: the inherent stupidity of mankind; the metaphysical futility of hope. Dumbest of all, although extremely popular in the military, the claim that, if people aren't complaining, that's when you should worry.

     Another novelist once told me he spends half his life wanting to throw something through the TV. I can sympathize. Judging by what we see at the bottom of that “blue hole,” the productive class is expected to show up at work, keep its mouth shut, accept what it's told, and tolerate being herded, milked and slaughtered by a parasitic overclass and its freelance symbiotes. Yet as I showed in my first novel, The Probability Broach, all that's necessary to achieve a kind of practical, open-ended utopia is to understand that civilization is a machine whose purpose, like that of any machine, is to give back just a bit more than we put into it. In a technological society, that would be possible a thousand times over if it weren't for groups like the IRS whose function is to deny the average individual the benefits of the industrial revolution.

     We've all taken a vow of poverty. It begins, “I pledge allegiance to the flag ...”

     As it still is at times, my progress toward something better than group culture, with all of its failures and excuses, was clumsy and faltering. Like the North American Confederacy to my fictional detective Win Bear, or the act of “detectiving” itself to Agot Edmoot Mav, of Their Majesties' Bucketeers,  it was all new territory, where nothing was self-evident but the shortcomings of every other system of human organization. Puzzling out the answers one painful piece at a time, I often felt dim and stupid. Quantum leaps were few and far between. Time and again I overlooked Sherlock Holmes' excellent advice that, once you've eliminated everything else, you must consider the impossible.

     Nothing subject to majoritarianism ever gets better. “If voting could change things,” goes an old anarchist saying, “it would be illegal.” Set aside the fact that a voting majority always means a minority of the people. Set aside the fact that elections amount to no more than choosing between the scum that floats to the top of the barrel and the dregs that settle to the bottom. Even at majoritarianism's self-advertised best, there are always losers. Sometimes they constitute as many as just one less than half. As an individualist, it's hard for me to see even one percent as insignificant, especially since that one percent always seems to include me. Rather than accepting majority will, once the voting's over, a minority is inclined to skulk off, plotting to get even next time. In a culture where taxation, conscription, self-defense, capital punishment, and private lifestyles are considered legitimate public issues, where mental aberrations like religion and liberalism are given serious respect, it's even harder to view such a reaction as unreasonable.

     Majoritarianism, as I argued in my novel Tom Paine Maru, rests on two false assumptions and a cynical threat. It first assumes that two people are smarter than one person. Strength is additive, two people are stronger than one person, and this has been the primary source of tragedy throughout human history. Even stupidity seems additive somehow, possibly it's a phenomenon of interference which would explain a lot of that history. People, in fact, do possess certain attributes which are additive, and many which are not at all. Decency, kindness, integrity are all individual characteristics. Time is additive only in a limited sense: two women can't have a baby in four and a half months. If you've ever observed a committee, you know that the highest intelligence in a room isn't the sum of its occupants' IQs, but simply that of the brightest individual – divided by the number of other people in the room. Just as gravity arises from the nature of space and mass, rights arise from our inherent nature as individual human beings. Rights aren't additive. Systems which assume that they are, labor under the false and dangerous assumption that two people have more rights than one.

     Some claim that majoritarianism, despite its faults, is an alternative preferable to physical conflict. They're wrong: majoritarianism is physical conflict. Elections are a process of counting fists, rather than noses, and saying, “We outnumber you – we could beat you up and kill you – you might as well give in and save everyone a lot of trouble.” Majoritarianism, to put it straightforwardly, possesses the full measure of nobility manifested by any other form of extortion.

     Based in fallacy and threat, majoritarianism is troubled by certain characteristic malfunctions. The lowest common denominator – Chelsea Bradford in The WarDove, Ron Paul representing himself as libertarian, any of the Democrats or Republicans running for president, their sharpened screwdrivers raised on high – the lowest common denominator is elevated to the most exalted position, a serious mistake in an ecology governed by natural selection. The multiple choices of the market are swept aside for the single coerced choice of politics. Less becomes more. “Might” is transubstantiated into “must.” Winning votes and losing votes turns friends into enemies. Political and personal feuds arise of their own accord, to achieve the status of art for art's sake.

     During my tenure in the Libertarian Party, when these malfunctions began occurring, I went so far as to write to other prominent libertarians, ask what was going on, and couldn't we stay friends? It didn't work. I don't mean to single out the LP, it's simply the place where I gained the bulk of my sad experience. It doesn't differ significantly from any other majoritarian group. If you think me unduly harsh, it's because you're hearing about ten years of mistakes that the LP failed to learn from, in about as many minutes. I'm determined that those presently investing their time, energy, and money in it, their hopes and dreams, learn from those mistakes sometime, somehow. If you know nothing of the LP, or don't care, think about any organization you ever belonged to where people vote on what to do, what not to do, what's right, and what's wrong, instead of looking and deciding for themselves as individuals.

     Part of the problem was the LP's underwhelming political track record. Frustration inevitably became recrimination and soon afterward, pointless acrimony. Avoiding painful reminders of a real world they had aspired – and failed – to change, hearts and minds began to shrink, like Lando and Vuffi Raa in The MindHarp of Sharu, to fit an increasingly closed and microscopic subculture.

     But more was going on than this could account for. The LP's majority-driven hierarchy was inappropriate to – incompatible with – any independent-minded individualist striving to maximize liberty. As my favorite character, Lucy Kropotkin might put it, “It's hard t'ride an escalator in elevator shoes.”

     The LP's structure had been copied, without thought, from the Young Republicans, another group with its share of factionalism. Individual values soon became secondary to those of the organization. For our logo, we'd chosen the porcupine, a symbol of non-aggressive self-defense. But if it looks like an elephant, walks like an elephant, trumpets like an elephant, and smells like an elephant, it's an elephant, no matter how much you want to believe it's something else. Before long, people were jockeying to become “King of the Libertarians” simply, tragically, because a throne had been built into the structure by accident.

     For me, the crowning blow came with the 1979 convention. Philosophers, educators, writers with their brains on Hold, led moronic floor demonstrations around the ballroom with plastic straw hats, personality cult posters, New Year's Eve tooters, behaving exactly like the majority parties ours had been patterned after. Not only was the porcupine trumpeting like an elephant, it was braying like a jackass.

     A nasty feeling of collectivism filled the air. Noise and motion had replaced thought and purposeful action. It was as if my little freenies from The Nagasaki Vector, forgetting that caffeine had turned them into intelligent beings, had sworn off coffee. And, as I feared, the spectacle warned of personal, political, and philosophical betrayals which became a hallmark of the subsequent Ed Clark campaign.

     Not wanting to give up, believing that this was the one and only chance I had to be free, I kept thinking. Structure appeared to be paramount. What ethically acceptable alternative existed which might replace this majoritarian mess?

     I'd first become aware of “hyper-democratic” or “Unanimous Consent” theory during a 1972 seminar with Robert LeFevre. This is the familiar “blackball” system where a group accepts new recruits only if no current member objects. Egalitarians detest this “no objection” system, but, far from being elitist as they claim, it takes all opinions into account better than majoritarianism, and can be used in making other decisions, as well. Helping the LP struggle for permanent ballot status, which, under the law, required admitting anyone – liberals, conservatives, Larouche types who didn't give a damn what we were supposed to stand for – I started thinking more and more about Unanimous Consent.

     LeFevre had pointed out that the Declaration of Independence wasn't written for approval by one-over-half of the voters. My liberal college professors had regarded its failure to denounce slavery as a fatal weakness – [and these were] the same clowns who supported the progressive income tax and compulsory national service. LeFevre claimed it was evidence of strength: the delegates at Liberty Hall were divided on the issue of slavery, yet they went ahead with what they did agree on, an unprecedented expression of individual sovereignty which even promised an eventual solution to the one problem they couldn't solve themselves.

     Unanimous Consent was so important to them that they even faked it with the Constitution.

     The free market, LeFevre proclaimed proudly, runs on Unanimous Consent. The canned pears “issue” gets solved every day without debate, without TV pundits, without elections. If you don't like canned pears, you don't buy them. If you do, your choice isn't limited by political bosses in smoke-filled rooms. If your concern is cost, you buy generic. If you want savings and colorful pictures on the can, you buy house brands. If you like a company because it has funny advertising or doesn't make its workers take urine tests, you buy name products. If you consider yourself above the common herd, you buy specialties – canned pears in garlic sauce – at specialty prices which don't penalize anybody else. Everyone, manufacturer, distributor, retailer, and consumer gets what he wants. Unanimous Consent. Hyperdemocracy. Even crippled by taxation and regulation, quality steadily increases, while prices, in terms of real wealth, continuously fall. Satisfaction guaranteed or your money back.

     Understanding that majoritarianism guarantees only dissatisfaction, I sat down to devise a new structure for the LP and wrote another letter to as many of its leaders as I could. The few who replied objected that nothing could get done under my plan. A common response was, “ever see fifty people agree on anything?”

     So, with the fresh insight that people who have to be persuaded to be free don't deserve to be, I finally gave up on the LP. Realizing also that intelligence is non-collective, I put everything I had into the kind of work that didn't depend quite so much on cooperation from others. Today, thanks to its majoritarian structure, a diminished LP is reduced to running a clone of Pat Robertson for president. Meanwhile, I've introduced a million readers to libertarianism, and receive letters and phone calls almost every day, thanking me, telling me I've managed to change the lives of countless individuals for the better.

[Pizzacracy Discovered]

    Writing politically experimental books like, The Probability Broach, Tom Paine Maru, and especially, The Gallatin Divergence, I began acquiring the final puzzle pieces, although the picture is by no means complete even now. The most important piece arrived (as puzzle pieces often do) in a colorful cardboard box – steaming hot on a thick crust, with black olives, mushrooms, onions, sausage, pepperoni, green peppers, and extra cheese. Sitting in a room full of friends, I noticed how such a group makes decisions by the process of Unanimous Consent. They were hungry. Something got done because that's the way everybody wanted it. The idea of pizza met with unanimous approval, but the earth wouldn't have stopped if it hadn't. Whoever didn't want pizza wouldn't have to eat it. Or pay for it. Among libertarians, the individual is free, limited only by a non-aggression principle forbidding initiation of force, to do whatever he wishes, including going out for a hamburger. The crisis always centers on anchovies, but “pizzacracy,” as I began to call it, seemed to be up even to that. Pizza could be had with anchovies on half its surface, although anchovies do tend to make their influence more widely felt than their little bodies are distributed. Two pizzas could be ordered, with and without, common practice even among non-libertarians.

     But something else was happening. An anchovy-lover might consider his friends more important than dead fish on toast. His friends, seeing how he'd been deprived of anchovies since the McKinley administration, might decide, just this once, to suffer for the pleasure of his company. Nobody was campaigning, voting, or skulking off to plot revenge. Instead – and entirely unlike the majoritarian process – individual feelings seemed genuinely important to everyone. The Ordering of the Pizza had become among the most festive of American rituals.

     As I demonstrated in The Probability Broach, the one principle that makes all of this possible is that an individual may opt out of group activity at any time, without negative sanctions. Without having to pay for what the rest of the group wants. As I discovered later, if this principle is stringently observed, there are rewards. The remainder of the group, thus “reconstituted,” becomes unanimous all over again. The individual who opted out will likely rejoin for another, later reconstitution. Even if he doesn't, everybody stays friends. The process is natural to human beings, if you wake them up in the middle of the night before they put on their majoritarian pretensions. It may resemble 60s-style consensus, it's also a transfer of the ethical processes inherent in the free market system to all social endeavors. If it sounds simple, the best ideas are. How many moving parts are there in a lightbulb?

     Some folks have an impression that, under Unanimous Consent, nobody does anything without everybody else's permission. On the contrary, no group does anything without the Unanimous Consent of its members, which is a different thing, indeed. But, I pretend to hear you asking, what about the claim that nothing can ever get done? To be absolutely truthful, with respect to the government, I wish to Hell it were true. As my wife Cathy points out, when this objection is raised, it's a clear warning that something is about to happen that deserves scrutiny by everyone who values his life, liberty, and property.

     The objection is also unfounded. As I tried to show in The Venus Belt, people live their everyday lives by Unanimous Consent. Yet I found that the process is so natural that it's transparent – invisible – in fiction unless you focus on its most political (and therefore least natural) aspects. Under the most absurd political handicaps, the Unanimous Consent system produces and distributes goods and services more broadly, more efficiently, and much more cheaply than any other economic system in human experience, giving us the highest standard of living anywhere in history, anywhere on earth. The Declaration of Independence was written and ratified under Unanimous Consent. The Covenant of Unanimous Consent, centerpiece of my novel The Gallatin Divergence, was amended by its real-life Signatories to its present form by the same process.

    [Read Covenant here..: ]

     Fundamentally, all rights are property rights, beginning with the right to control and dispose of your own life – as long as it doesn't conflict with anybody else's equal and identical right to control and dispose of his or her own life.

     All rights are individual. Groups are simple aggregations of two or more human beings – like yourself, no more, no less – whose rights begin, as yours do, with a claim to ownership of their lives. Their rights cannot be any greater than your own.

     Human rights are an aspect of natural law, a consequence of the way the universe works, as solid and as real as photons or the concept of pi. The idea of self-ownership is the equivalent of Pythagoras' theorem, of evolution by natural selection, of general relativity, and of quantum theory. Before humankind discovered any of these, it suffered, to varying degrees, in misery and ignorance. Where they are suppressed or disregarded today, people still suffer. When Pythagoras, Darwin, Einstein, Bohr, and Rand each made his or her uniquely valuable discovery about the way the universe works, mankind took another step away from savagery, toward lasting safety, comfort, pleasure, and convenience.

     I explored the potential of Hyperdemocracy to see what weapons, if any, it might lend to those who wish to be free. So far, I've “discovered” one, the Covenant of Unanimous Consent. If it seems small, remember it's only the first, and may be more powerful than it appears. At this moment it's being circulated in 40 countries, has signatories in over 30 states, several Canadian provinces, and the number doubles every year. I wrote the Covenant to restore the machinery of civilization to the hands that built it and the uses it was intended for. I wrote it to start something which, like my books, didn't depend on others, progressed when I had the energy and could wait when I hadn't, didn't involve the stop-start-hurry-wait of politics, was effective whether the media were kind to it or not, and, although it was perfectly legal, operated outside the rules constructed by an establishment anxious to prevent change.

     It wasn't my aim to create another faction in the struggle for liberty, but to eradicate the causes of factionalism. Without compromising anything I personally believe, I wrote the Covenant for natural rightists and non-natural rightists, religious libertarians and the non-religious, anarchists and non-anarchists – since the former can assume, accurately, that it's a first step toward abolishing government, whereas the latter can see, with the same degree of accuracy, an explicit contract establishing the systematic, non-coercive order they desire. Under the terms of the Covenant, they amount to the same thing.

     Whenever there's an election coming, especially a referendum, especially on taxes which are not only a monkey wrench in the machinery of civilization – rent we're forced to pay on our own lives – but the very fuel of war itself, try suggesting – try demanding – of local Democrats and Republicans that it be settled in the only decent, moral, civilized way, by Unanimous Consent.


Sure, they'll laugh at first. Later they'll scream and tear their hair. Never stop making their lives as miserable as they've made yours. If history demonstrates anything, it's that every lasting victory which the cause of liberty ever achieved was won for it by radicals. Every humiliation it ever suffered was inflicted, not by kings, dictators, or opposing parties, but by its own moderates and gradualists.

Permission to redistribute this article is herewith granted by the author, provided that it is reproduced unedited, in its entirety, and appropriate credit given.

L. Neil Smith's books include: The Probability Broach, Pallas, Henry Martyn, Bretta Martyn and 15 other novels. You may order his books from via his home site “The Webley Page” or from Laissez Faire Books.

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« Last Edit: 2016-August-08 10:48:29 PM by DennisLeeWilson » Logged

Objectivist & Sovereign Individual
Creator of Atlas Shrugged Celebration Day & Artemis Zuna Trading Post
Signatory: Covenant of Unanimous Consent
Creator of this site
Forum/Blog Owner
Posts: 1331

Existence exists & Man's mind can know it.

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« Reply #2 on: 2008-November-16 04:55:01 PM »

Unanimous Consent and the Utopian Vision
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Transcript of a speech given at the December 1987 Future of Freedom Conference held at the Pacifica Hotel in Culver City, California.

Unanimous Consent and the Utopian Vision
I Dreamed I Was a Signatory In My Maidenform Bra

by L. Neil Smith

Maidenform Bra ad - September 26, 1963

            The relative invisibility of Libertarianism after 40 years of backbreaking, heartbreaking labor, has little to do with any lack of money, ideas, personnel, or anything else Libertarians may occasionally whine about. It isn't the fault of an evil northeastern Liberal conspiracy. Nor, as the more timid among us often recommend, is it reason to tone down Libertarian rhetoric, to soften principle or its expression, to make it more conservative or “practical” in approach. All of that has been tried, again & again.

             What Libertarians lack, in their hearts and minds, what they fail to communicate to others, is a vision of the new civilization they intend creating. It may be sufficient motivation, for Libertarians, that America today, politically, economically, socially, is repulsive. It may be enough, for Libertarians, that what they propose is morally right. It is not enough for others. Most people require a fairly concrete picture of the future which will motivate them to learn what Libertarians mean by “right” and “wrong”, and inspire them to work toward its fulfillment.

             It may appear contradictory that the achievement of practical ends relies on fantasy. Nothing could be further from the truth. What Libertarians need is a foot in the door. There's no conflict between imagination and realism, any more than there is between “radical abolitionist” and “moderate gradualism”. Each has a role in the creation of progress. Neither can afford to try operating without the other. Division-of-labor is more than an abstract economic principle, it's a matter of life or death for the cause of individual liberty. Utopianism, far from being a hindrance or embarrassment, is a vital, effective means toward that goal.

             Libertarians take their own philosophy too much for granted. Their concept of what it can accomplish is too abstract. They wrongly assume others can see its potential as clearly as they do. They often fail to see it themselves. As a remedy, they must ask themselves, each day for the rest of their lives, certain fundamental questions. Why are we Libertarians? What do we wish to accomplish? What constitutes success? By what signs will we know we've won? What's in it for us? What's in it for me? What do I really want?

             Their present answers range from the negative to the obscure. “Well, you know ...” “Because I want to see that bastard (the idea's to insert the bastard of your choice) get what's coming to him!” “Because what's going on now is wrong and I want to stop it” “Because I'm afraid civilization's gonna collapse unless we do something”. A common variation noted by Dave Nolan is, “Because I know civilization is going to collapse -- and I wanna be around to say 'I told you so'!” The best of this rather unsatisfactory lot I first heard from English Libertarians who said, “Because, even if I were convinced my efforts would come to nothing, I can't honestly imagine doing anything else.”

             I'd like to share with you some of my answers. Before I began spreading them around through my novels, they were somewhat different from those of most Libertarians. To the extent that I'm a fanatic, they're responsible. They're what drive and motivate me. They're the reason I'll keep disturbing the peace until I'm hauled off to some 21st Century Super-Dachau and lasered to death, or the pigeons are paying respects to my statue in some private city park.

             One, of course, comes from years of filling my head with “garbage”, pulp science fiction in which I watched cultures, societies, whole galactic empires created, tinkered with, torn down, and built all over again by talented (and some not-so-talented) yarn-spinners who, like me, were obsessed with finding out what makes civilizations tick. They taught me that the future is malleable, mutable, sometimes even by one person standing at a sensitive-enough leverage point. I've been looking for that leverage-point ever since. I have an idea what I want the future to look like. I want a principal role in its making. In short, I have my own Utopian dream, rooted in the Libertarian philosophy of Unanimous Consent. I want to see it come true soon enough to enjoy it myself. That's what I really want.

             Many years ago, Joan Baez commented smugly that there are no right-wing folk songs. I'd noticed the same thing, but as a professional guitar player busily compromising his new-fledged Objectivist principles to the Goldwater campaign, I was disinclined to gloat about it.

             There are no right-wing Utopias, either, no novels of the colorful Buckleyite future. The conservative view of heaven is the status quo ante—a dead, flat, black-and-white daguerreotype of a past that never existed. Any status quo will do, as long as it ain't Red. If people are tortured in banana republic jails, it's acceptable as long as they're not Communist jails. If a long train of abuses and usurpations are visited upon individual freedom in this country, it's fine, as long as they're not left-wing abuses & usurpations, and even better, if they're in the name of National Security.

             Traditionally, Utopia is the territory of the left. Imaginative stories gave ordinary people images of what had previously been abstractions, and this had more to do with the progress of socialism than anything Marx, Engels, Lenin or Geraldo Rivera ever did. The dictionary, in a burst of candor, defines Utopia as “the ideal state where all is ordered for the best, for mankind as a whole, and evils such as poverty and misery do not exist”: not only self-contradictory in practice, but more than sufficient reason why Utopia is a province populated, almost exclusively, by the enemies of freedom.

             However, the word “Utopia” only became synonymous with '“impossible dream” when the internal inconsistencies, the inherent cynicism, the utter failure of socialism became unmistakable to everyone. In some instances, its sterile, no-exit character was already visible in the pages of otherwise optimistic Victorian novels before it became political reality, and Utopia bored itself to death. Socialist victories in the real world became disasters, creating economic, social, and military devastation, smashing the Utopian promise along the way.

             Thus Utopian novels fell out of print when idealists on the left stopped believing their own fairy tales. Dispirited, disoriented, beaten in a way they never understood, reduced to petulant nihilism, they couldn't dream any more. Rather than being exceptions, today's few, sad, threadbare left-Utopias make the case. Read B.F. Skinner's Walden Two, for its constipated lack of scope. Examine Ursula LeGuin's The Dispossessed for its injured socialist perplexity. Try Arthur Clarke's The Songs of Distant Earth. He's peddling shopworn goods & he knows it. He ought to, he lives in Mrs. Bandaranaika's Sri Lanka!

             The great tragedy is that, when Left Utopia fell into dishonor, it took all the rest with it. Shattered socialist dreams have discredited any dreams at all of a rational, humane, social order. Libertarianism was born an orphan in an age of disUtopias like Brave New World, 1984, and Eugene Zamiatin's We. Ayn Rand wrote disUtopias, Anthem, Atlas Shrugged, We The Living, admirably showing us the dirty, bloodstained underside of collectivism's brilliant promises. But she and others like her made too few promises of their own. She pointed out a great deal to avoid, but very little to aspire to, which, I submit, is piss-poor motivational psychology.

             Before I began writing, there were semi-Libertarian Utopias, glimmers in the works of Robert Heinlein and Poul Anderson, the short stories of Eric Frank Russell, brighter, more explicit pictures drawn by H. Beam Piper and Jerome Tuccille. But somehow they failed to stick to my philosophical ribs.

             Nor were our “basic” Libertarian works much better. Where most Utopian fiction failed to be Libertarian enough, Libertarian non-fiction failed to be Utopian at all. Where was the glowing promise in John Hospers' Libertarianism, Murray Rothbard's For A New Liberty, Roger MacBride's A New Dawn, or David Friedman's The Machinery of Freedom? Where was the excitement in Paul Lepanto's Return to Reason, Harry Brown's How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World, or Bob Lefevre's This Bread Is Mine? Where was the color in Hazlitt's Economics in One Lesson? Where was the fire in any of them? Was it enough merely to be satisfied that most of our “beginner's books” weren't too boring?

             If Rand had written The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress, or edited its pessimistic ending, if Heinlein had written Atlas Shrugged, pacing it like Door Into Summer, Dave Bergland would be in the White House right now, auctioning off the furniture, because we'd have captured people's imaginations. Their hearts and minds, money and votes would have followed faithfully behind.

             People want Utopia. They've watched Star Trek until the emulsion wore off the celluloid and helped Star Wars outgross World War II, because Kirk, Spock, and Luke Skywalker assure them that there is a future, one worth looking forward to, in which human beings (and other critters) will still be doing fascinating, dangerous things. Having a good time.

             It says here 84% of us got hooked reading Atlas Shrugged, which I've described as anti-Utopian. But it wasn't just to watch civilization crumbling around my ears that I waded through that kilopage. Its fascination was in an all-too-brief glimpse of a small, working, slightly kinky Libertarian society. Atlas Shrugged is mainly disUtopian, but, in the end, every bit as cheery as Piper's A Planet For Texans, and almost as delightfully bloodthirsty.

             Those of you who haven't read my novels may well ask what kind of Utopian vision I think Libertarians ought to communicate. Once, in a moment of mixed premises and moral depravity, I defined it in terms of “freedom, immortality, the stars”. No, I didn't dig that out of the pages of The National Enquirer, I meant freedom in the Libertarian sense of society without coercion, immortality as a foreseeable extension of individual freedom into time, and the stars as an equally logical extension of that freedom into space, as human beings reach for what seems to me to be their evolutionary Manifest Destiny. For our purposes, Utopia might just be a place where people look forward to getting up in the morning.

             I do have more specific desires, a more detailed dream. It's expressed in the Covenant of Unanimous Consent which I first wrote as a kind of substitute for the Constitution and the Bill of Rights and later included in my science fiction novel of the Whiskey Rebellion, The Gallatin Divergence. The Covenant now circulates in more than forty countries, thanks, among others, to Dagny Sharon and Libertarian International. It has Signatories in a majority of the states and provinces of North America. I wouldn't be surprised if the desire and dreams expressed in the Covenant are similar to your own. If we differ, it's because I don't believe it pays to be bashful about it. We must share the dream with others, so they'll begin to work toward fulfilling it, too.

             For practice, let's try building a Utopia right now. You already know the rules. Morally, in this future society, each individual is free to live his or her life as an end in itself, and to defend it against anyone who would compel otherwise. Ethically, this is accomplished by adopting a single custom: individuals are forbidden (the specific mechanism, you'll appreciate, is still being debated) to initiate force against others. Socially and economically, a voluntary exchange of values, rather than force, is the customary basis for human relationships.

             H.G. Wells used to start with the premise “What if ...?” What if you could travel to the Moon in a gravity-proof ball? What if you fell asleep and woke up 200 years later? What if you found a way to become invisible? I have a what if for you. What if one Commandment, “Thou shalt not initiate force”, became the fundamental operating principle of society, soon enough for all of us to see it?

             For the moment, we'll skip over how we got to Utopia from disUtopia, although it is the critical question. That's not quite the cop-out it seems. We're trying to envision a new society uncontaminated by a previous social order. In science, this is called a controlled experiment. In writing, this is called poetic license. On the other hand, our Utopian vision, what it says to us and to others, can be a major force, in itself, in getting us from here to there. So I guess that makes things even.

             We'll also skip over the possibility, some say inevitability, of thermonuclear war or a spectacularly unpleasant economic and civil collapse. There are reasons, as you'll see later, why I'm unconvinced of the inevitability of it all. In any case, it'll either happen or it won't. If it does, we'll either live through it or we won't, and we'll succeed in carrying off the Millennium, with or without an introductory catastrophe, or, in the long run, like John Maynard Keynes, we'll all be dead.

             A frequent error Utopia-builders make, understandably, is leaving items they're unaware of out of their extrapolation. In the surviving Utopian mutation of the leftist repertoire, Doomsday predicting, Paul Ehrlich, the Club of Rome, the Ozone boys, and most science fiction writers make a mistake amidst their orgasmic cries of disaster: they aren't figuring on Signatories to the Covenant in particular or Libertarians in general.

             Before we get smug, remember I said this is our fault. Look how it happened: think of all those “Buy Gold, Buy Silver, Buy Irradiated Garbanzo Beans” ads, pamphlets, and seminars we're so fond of. In our projections of the future, we've made the same mistake -- we forgot about us! Aren't we gonna affect the future? You bet your dried war-surplus fruit preserves we are!

             The shape of the future is always determined, just like the present was, by two factors, almost exclusively. The first is the virtually unlimited power of the individual human mind, and of the free market system which is its most monumental achievement. The second factor, often forgotten, is no less important: the inefficacy of evil.

             It won't surprise anyone at this conference to hear of the power of mind and market. The human mind may inhabit what one cynic called “a sort of skin disease on a ball of dirt”, but its grasp encompasses the span from subatomic particles to the intergalactic void. The mind alone is the reason our species became dominant on this planet in a microsecond of geologic time. Yet, aren't we confronted every day with the victories and gloatings of evil? How can it be inefficacious when it owns the world?

             Let's ask what condition humanity, its culture, technology, and economy would be in, if villains always won. Hasn't there been overall progress in the human condition over the last several thousand years? Would there have been Scientific Method, an Industrial Revolution, a Declaration of Independence, a Non- Aggression Principle, or a Covenant of Unanimous Consent if evil were all that omnipotent? Despite the most hyperthyroid governments, the most pointlessly murderous wars, and the most disgustingly despicable badguys in all of history, 20th Century America offers the highest standard of living and the greatest individual liberty that has ever been available.

             None of this any testimony to government, war, or badguys, but to the human mind and the ineptitude of its enemies. The mind and market always find a way. The point liberals, conservatives, and many Libertarians always miss is that this isn't any reason not to ask what kind of world a truly uninhibited human mind would create, economically, socially, technologically. The three areas overlap, but we'll begin with economics.

             The economic future will be as different from our times as ours are from pre-industrial eras. No one in 1687 could imagine freedom from the constant threat of death by starvation, exposure, or disease, which characterized those times. Few in 1987 can visualize a future of vastly greater wealth, world peace, and no bureaucrats to pry into every moment of their daily lives. Historical blindness works both ways, of course. Those born in the future will react with a mixture of embarrassment and amusement when we try explaining to them. The insane were once beaten, tortured, and chained, a practice that seems ludicrous and terrible to us. The IRS will seem equally barbaric to our grandchildren. We'll try to tell them, but they'll attribute it to senile dementia and never really believe us.

             With taxation gone, not only will we have twice as much money to spend, but it will go twice as far, since those who produce goods and services won't have to pay taxes, either. In one stroke we'll be effectively four times as rich. There's no simple way to estimate the cost of regulation. Truckers say they could ship goods for one-fifth the present price without it. Many businesses spend a third of their overhead complying with stupid rules and filling out forms. The worst damage it does is to planning. Since you don't know what next year's whim of Congress will be, how can you plan? Plans that require ten, twenty, fifty years to mature? Might as well forget them.

             Let's figure that deregulation will cut prices, once again, by half. Now our actual purchasing power, already quadrupled by deTAXification, is doubled again. We now have eight times our former wealth! What kind of world will that result in? Future generations won't remotely grasp the concept of inflation, or that the State once imprisoned people for competing with its own counterfeiting operation. They'll be used to a stable diversity of competing trade commodities, gold, uranium, cotton, wheat, cowrie shells, which will not only flatten a lot of wildly swinging economic curves, but give newspapers something to print besides government handouts: “Cowries sold late on the market today at 84. Oats and barley at 42. Uranium at 87.” 87 what? Sheep, gold grams, kilowatts, gallons of oil, who cares, as long as they're free market rates, determined by uncoerced bidding, buying, and selling?

             Hardly anyone, of course, will carry sheep, seashells, or barrels of oil around with them. 21st Century barter will be carried out on ferromagnetic media in electrical impulses. But I suspect a few of us surly old curmudgeons, having spent our lives being swindled with paper and plastic, will insist on something in our pockets that jingles. Young folks will look knowingly at us and wink.

             The future, as I see it, comes in segments: first, continuation, for however long, of things as they are, counterpointed by our increasing success at convincing people of the necessity and desirability of Unanimous Consent.

             Having sold people on freedom, we'll make changes from whatever's left of what we have now to a truly free society: degovernmentalization of culture and the economy characterized by an eight-fold increase in individual purchasing power, and an end to the importance of the State in our lives. Eight times richer, we'll be free to do whatever we wish with our new wealth. Why stick with black and white when you can have color TV in every room? Why drive a '77 Ford when you can afford a brand-new Excalibur? Why eat hamburger when you can have steak and lobster every night?

             Increased spending appears in the economy as increased demand, leading, despite government economists, not to shortages, but increased production -- somebody's gotta make all those TVs, Excaliburs, steaks and lobsters -- which creates other delightful consequences. With all that loose money, there's new investment in established companies and zillions of new ones trying to satisfy everyone's newfound consumer greed. New factories will spring up, old ones expand, obsolete machinery will be junked and new installed. More people will be working, producing goods and services demanded by a newly-rich population.

             As labor becomes scarcer, wages will skyrocket, hours shorten, work-weeks truncate. “Headhunters” will flourish, not only stealing managerial talent, but bribing assembly workers to desert for even better wages, conditions, and benefits. Unable to figure out what happened, unions will dry up and blow away. Despite increased wages and benefits (leading to more buying, demand, production, and jobs), prices will plummet as demand drives industry to greater efficiency. Plants now standing idle half the time will operate fullblast around the clock. Society will be geared to operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

             Against a chronic labor shortage, capitalists will take measures like free training, day-care, occupational therapy. Everything socialism expected from government, the market will provide, as companies compete ruthlessly for workers. Companies desperate for our talents will have to change their petty, coercive manners. Restraints on your freedom, insults to your intelligence, will disappear, simply because, for once, they need you, not some anonymous, numbered, plug-in module, but you.

             Oh, they'll resist. They'll try imports and foreign labor, but it'll be their undoing, as living and working standards—and expectations—arise abroad. And free world trade will have another effect: increased demand, increased production, more jobs and lower prices. Monotonous, isn't it?

             They'll try more automation, but that's another trap because it always results in more—not less—employment. For every quill-pushing 19th Century clerk perched at his desk, how many computer designers, engineers, manufacturers, assemblers, installers, repairmen, number jockeys, and key-punchers are there today? For every buggy-whip maker, how many folks involved in automotive ignitions? And automation has another side-effect: it increases production, which lowers prices.

             In a free society, the availability and quality of goods and services increases constantly while prices drop. Wages and living standards improve continuously. What we now call a “boom” is normal and permanent, and, with no government around bloating the currency, good times have nothing to do with inflation. The “forced draft” advances in technology we associate with war are a snail's pace, when an entire people is free to pursue the buck with all ten greedy little fingers. Which is why them future whippersnappers'll think we're hallucinating about the bad old days of price-control, strikes, inflation, tariffs, and the IRS. And they'll want to know why we didn't buy out those pestiferous oil-sheiks with our lunch money.

             Most problems are trivial, viewed in the proper perspective. The high-tech solution to our strange desire for flat clothes wasn't a bigger, more complicated automated ironing-board, but simply clothes that stayed flat. The wrong perspective can lead to disaster. In the 1890s, according to Bob LeFevre, the government decided, Club of Rome fashion, that mere private corporations would never withstand the costs of prospecting, drilling, extracting, refining, and distributing petroleum. Therefore, oil should be a State monopoly. A book I have from the 50s opines that no single government could finance an expedition to the Moon and it would be done by the United Nations. (If you think Challenger was a mess, think what that would have been like.) These predictions should be kept in mind whenever we contemplate the inevitability of disaster or the impossibility of our dreams. The only prediction we can make safely about the future is that it will be far more fantastic than we can safely predict.

             We now live in a cramped, narrow, depressed culture, largely unaware of its limitations simply because there's never been anything better. Faced with sizeable problems, we mistakenly view them from the level to which we're limited by this society. Solving our problems demands a vastly wider scope. We have to learn to think big, bigger than we've ever dreamed or dared.

             Take the objection that firing 15 million bureaucrats would cause a depression. They're unlikely to support us if it means doing away with their own jobs. LP candidates keep a low profile on this subject. But think big: as Hospers pointed out, millions of GIs were absorbed into the post-WW II economy without a ripple, despite less than free market conditions. We can get the Utopian message across, even to government workers, with a slogan like Australian John Zube's “Vote Yourself Rich”. A booming free market has chronic labor shortages. No one will have to persuade bureaucrats to enter the private sector. They'll desert in hordes. The State will shrink like the little dot when you turn off your TV, and vanish.

             Other crises are amenable to the same sort of reasoning. I'm not a very enthusiastic catastrophist, although current government liabilities seem to spell doom for Western civilization. Social Security is short several trillion bucks, and it now looks like the early 21st Century will go down in a flourish of Molotov cocktails. In 1666, a great London fire wiped out a third of the total wealth of England, a catastrophic loss amounting to 10 million dollars. Could it be we're using the wrong scale to assess our problems? Trillions seems like about as much money as there'll ever be, but “seems” is a pretty conditional word. We still have enough time to create a market so vast and strong that several trillion dollars seems trivial by comparison. The Utopian vision will buy us time and hasten the day when a free economy straightens out the messes left by our predecessors.

             Trade and automation will shoot living standards up dizzily. Those prone to Future Shock are in for a rough ride. New materials, production methods, life-styles and opportunities will arise by the myriad every day. Every hour. Already in our times, a manufacturing counter-revolution is occurring. Investment casting, laser and electron discharge cutting, detonic welding, computer-controlled machining, are decreasing the plastic and cardboard in our lives, increasing titanium, steel, and glass. There may be fewer stampings and spotwelds over the coming decades, more solid forgings. At the same time, plastics seem more like steel and glass every day, while cardboard gets stronger and longer lasting. As uranium was once thrown aside to get at lead and tin, we're stumbling over untold sources of wealth, energy, and comfort. Nations won't just emerge, they'll splash like the over-ripe melons Marx mentioned, but in a different way than he intended, into the 21st Century. Marshall McCluhan's one-horse Global Village will turn into Times Squared.

             New territories opened by the free market will make over-population one of the future's biggest jokes. Antarctica, Greenland, Northern Canada will feel the plow and deliver up their wealth. The floor, surface, and cubic volume of the sea, the Moon, Mars, the Asteroids, the rest of the Solar System, and open space itself will be subdivided. Even if total population reaches 40 billion—or 400 billion—we'll have more elbow- room than we do now.

             In the coming century, poverty and unemployment will be a dark, half-believed nightmare of the remote past. Elaborate discussion of private charity will be academic in a world where any basketcase who twitches once for yes and twice for no is desperately needed for production quality control. They'll put chimps and gorillas on the payroll. Killer whales and dolphins will be buying split-level aquariums on the installment plan.

             Pollution will be another dead issue. No competing industry can afford the waste of energy and materials. Without an EPA to “protect” us, individuals will sue polluters, because every square inch of the Earth will be private property. Not that there won't be wilderness—when they auction off the National Forests, I'll be right there, bidding with the other hunters and fishermen. Heaven is being able to fire a rifle in any direction from my front porch and not hit anyone but trespassers.

             As with charity, our concern with police and security is a waste of breath. Peace will break out uncontrollably. Cops will be re-trained for office-jobs. With victimless crime laws repealed, cities populous and prosperous again, 99% of the crime we endure will vanish. Our descendents won't understand how it became an issue. Middle-class values are market values. Wider respect for property, education, and long-range planning will mean less crime. A single mugging in Central Park will get four-inch headlines in New York's several dozen newsplastics. In the absence of laws against duelling, people will be more polite to each other, less inclined to offer unwanted advice. Either that or, thanks to natural selection, they'll soon have faster reflexes.

             Lacking gun control to protect them, the few criminals left won't live long enough to transmit their stupid-genes. The next century will give us a welcome look at the other side of a familiar paradox: people free to carry weapons usually don't need them. Prisons will be abandoned when those who never did anything to hurt anyone are released. The rest will be out working to restore their victims' property or health. Crimes against persons and property, including murder, will be civil offenses, with volunteer agencies acting for those without relatives or friends to “avenge” them. Restitution may even be possible for murder, given techniques of freezing corpses for later repair. Those who commit irrevocable murder will suffer the cruelest punishment of all: exile to a place where there's a government!

             Our opponents' concern with conglomerates and monopolies is as misplaced as ours with charity and crime. Before the 19th Century government invasion of the market, super-companies had reached optimum size and were beginning to shrink. Today, although government keeps competition off their backs, huge companies must divide themselves into dozens of competing subsidiaries in order to survive. Increased competition will doom these dinosaurs, break up concentrations of wealth and paper frozen by securities and tax laws, and produce companies smaller than today's. Survivors will be stuck with the boring old laissez-faire task of pleasing as many customers with the best quality goods and services possible at the lowest possible prices.

             It's possible you're way ahead of me by now, and you may have noticed I haven't been following my own advice. All these predictions have been pretty abstract and impersonal. Now it's time to answer the question “What's in it for me?” Basically, we're all going to have our cake and get to say “I told you so”, too. Right off, the free market boosts our purchasing-power eightfold, and this, of course, is only the beginning, although I hesitate to risk your willing suspension of disbelief by estimating wages and prices several decades into a Unanimous Consent boom. So let's just say we now have eight times as much disposable wealth. Even this modest multiplier offers us a range and choice of goods and services unimaginable today.

             Your basic material well-being will be easier to maintain when a loaf of Grandma's Automated Bread goes for a nickel and steak for 20 cents a pound. $2 shoes? Wristwatches at a dime a dozen? How about suits and dresses for ten bucks, disposable outfits for a dollar? The toughest decision may be durability versus disposability: an imposing 2087 Rolls- Rolex Fusionmobile good for generations, or a plastic Mattel-Yugo easily discarded when you're tired of it; a Saville Row three-piece ironclad business suit, or a toilet-paper toga. Increased leisure-time and lots of loose money will mean what it always has, more emphasis on expensive, hand-crafted, one-of-a-kind items. We all may wind up running second, third, or fourth businesses on the side, which means more jobs, more buying, and so forth.

             How about spending two to four grand on a home that's built to last, helped out by the slump in land prices when government holdings hit the market? The trend will be back to single private dwellings, on substantially larger lots, paid for in full out of this month's paycheck. If you can afford a home in the city and another in the mountains or at the beach, why not? An unhappy note for Howard Roark. Higher Living-standards will encourage a most unRandish human vice for embellishment. They'll bring back the Baroque, Roccoco, Victorian gingerbread, medieval gargoyles, and the new times will bring their own elaborate forms, as well. Aztec Modern, anyone?

             Choose between a $500 automobile, a $2000 airplane, or some combination. Without government support for highways, we may all be soaring to work on rocket-belts, and Laissez-Faire Airlines will fly you anywhere in the world for twenty bucks. Highways an railroads will benefit from a free market. Speed, safety, and efficiency will improve. 60-lane, 300 mile-per-hour ribbons of plastic will power your electric car by induction, provide guidance if you want to read or watch TV, dissipate rain, fog, ice and snow. Or, as I predicted in The Probability Broach, highways may evolve into contoured swaths of grass for steam-powered hovercraft. Or both. Or something entirely different.

             Our grandchildren will have a good laugh over the “Energy Crisis” of the last decade, which diehard Carterites are presently trying to revive, not just because the shortage was purely political in nature (which will puzzle them) but because free market technology will ultimately make fossil fuels obsolete. Fusion, using water for fuel, lasers or particle accelerators for sparkplugs, and producing, as its only by-product, clean, inert, useful, helium, will be running our civilization the day after government gets out of the way. Fusion is the thermonuclear reaction that powers the stars. Quasars are billions of times more energetic, and we don't know what powers them. When science and industry are free of interference, we may find out, and energy will be practically limitless, virtually free.

             I could go on for hours discussing miracles you can read about in Popular Science, Analog, or any of the 15 novels I've written. I've elaborated on them to this extent because I believe they're only possible under free market conditions, which explains why we never got the picture-phones and flying automobiles which science fiction promised us in the 30s and 40s. Read those other publications with that caveat in mind, you'll get the idea.

             More important are the social, psychological effects of liberty. I can't tell you what it's like to be free, having never had a chance to try. I'd be up against the unpredictability of human action any Austrian economist or quantum physicist delights in lecturing about. Those few leftists who still believe in a static notion of how things ought to be, which they're willing to impose at bayonet-point, work their butts off making society dull and boring. In Unanimous Consent Utopia, the one rule is that no one imposes his views on anyone else, which makes for an open-ended culture, impossible to describe in detail. There's no single Libertarian future, but as many different futures as there are individuals to create them. For each Sunday-supplement guess I could make about who'll take care of the street lights or paint the stripes down the middle of the road, coming generations will produce thousands of answers not even remotely similar to mine. Our future may be weird and confusing, but it'll never be dull and boring.

             So instead, try an experiment with me, one that'll give you a clearer picture of the future than I could draw in another hour or another hundred hours. Lean back in your chair. Relax. Imagine now that you'll never have to worry about money again. Never again for the rest of your life. You'll never waste another golden moment of your precious time tearing your hair, biting your fingernails, or shredding the inside of your mouth over paying the bills. There is no limit to what you can afford. It's no longer a significant factor in your plans.

             Now say quietly to yourself: “All my life, I always really wanted ______ ”. Fill in the blank. Finish the sentence yourself. Only you know what it is you always really wanted. “All my life, I always really wanted ______ ”.

             You may be surprised. How many things have you denied yourself, never even acknowledged, because there wasn't enough money? Because your dreams were consumed to feed the bureaucrats, build bombs, atomic submarines, and government office buildings? Unanimous Consent will change all that. Everything you always really wanted could be yours, if you were free. Retirement? Save it out of pocket change. Kid's education? New home, car, boat, plane? All of the above? Nothing more than ordinary, easily-accessible dreams which will hardly dent the family budget. If you were free.

             “All my life, I always really wanted ______ ”.

             Is it illegal? A machine gun to mow down beer cans on a lazy country afternoon? A nickel bag that really costs a nickel? An android sex- slave? A dynamite collection? A date with a one-legged jockey? Driving your car at 185? It's yours, as long as you don't hurt anyone. If you were free.

             “All my life, I always really wanted ______ ”.

             The number of Signatories to the Covenant of Unanimous Consent is doubling every year. Everything you always really wanted can be yours before the 21st Century is three decades old. The only thing the Covenant can't give you, the only goods it can't deliver, is power. And through that one “failure”, that single “sacrifice”, we achieve everything else.

             “All my life, I always really wanted ______ ”.

             That, my fellow Libertarians, is the promise of Unanimous Consent, an invention so fundamental, so potent, revolutionary and unstoppable, that Scientific Method and the Industrial Revolution pale by comparison. Now you understand why I'm a fanatic, why I must make you a fanatic, why, doubling our number every year, we must create an entire nation, a whole world of fanatics. I'm fighting for everything I always really wanted! That's what's in it for me! That's what Unanimous Consent is all about!

             Everything. You. Always. Really. Wanted.

             To the traditional strategies of our movement, education and politics, add a third, Unanimous Consent Utopianism, which will break trails for the other two. While others teach and run for office, I'll continue writing science fiction. Educators and candidates will find, as they're already finding, that their students and voters came to them because of promises I made them.

             That's the only way our future's going to happen. We're going to win as soon as we recognize, as soon as we communicate, as soon as we act on one simple fact. In order to “capture the hearts and minds” of America and the world, in order to have the major part in determining what the future is going to be, we must first pull off a coup d'etat in the Province of Utopia.

             “All my life, I always really wanted ______ ”.

             It's as simple as that. It really is.

The proceeding is the transcript of a speech given at the December 1987 Future of Freedom Conference held at the Pacifica Hotel in Culver City, California.

    Copyright © 1987 by L. Neil Smith. All rights reserved.

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« Last Edit: 2016-August-08 11:05:41 PM by DennisLeeWilson » Logged

Objectivist & Sovereign Individual
Creator of Atlas Shrugged Celebration Day & Artemis Zuna Trading Post
Signatory: Covenant of Unanimous Consent
Creator of this site
Forum/Blog Owner
Posts: 1331

Existence exists & Man's mind can know it.

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« Reply #3 on: 2008-November-16 04:56:24 PM »

The following are copied from this discussion thread when it was still hosted on MSN/Groups. Some formatting has been lost but none of the text was lost.

  Sent: 3/9/2004 8:42 PM
The case for the Covenant of Unanimous Consent as foundation for Western Free State
The following is a composite of discussions of the Covenant on the FreeWestProject site
> I'm willing to pledge (and have) non-aggression, so you
> can trust me to do what I can to protect your right even if I
> consider it to be ill-advised.
> How many FSPers are willing to pledge non-aggression?
> Dave Dawson

You make an interesting point about the non-aggression pledge.
Perhaps those of us who have so pledged should add it to our
signature line so we may recognize each other. I have attached a link
where one can sign such a pledge, known as the Covenant of Unanimous

Dennis Wilson
Signatory to the Covenant of Unanimous Consent

From:  "Paul and Wai Yee Bonneau" <bonneau@E...>
Date:  Sun Oct 12, 2003  9:38 pm
Subject:  Re: [FreeWestProject] Re: What is Liberty?

Dennis, I'm a big fan of L. Neil Smith ("Pallas" is the one I like

However, past experience has made me somewhat a skeptic.
Libertarianism does have it's religious aspects, and I'm not religious
by nature.

Let's look at an example.

Say I'm in the legislature. Say I've already signed this Covenant.
Now, there is a bill that, for example, provides a tax credit for
anyone who does not use the government schools to "educate" his
children. Can I vote for it?

It doesn't appear so. With the Covenant, apparently the only thing
that suffices is the absolute end of government schooling. Forcing
citizens to apply to government (and presumably, providing some proof)
to keep from getting some of their money stolen, doesn't cut it. It
still implies that government is in a position to tell people what to
do, and to put them in a position of begging for relief.

Personally, I'd have a hard time signing on to something that did not
let me vote for tax credits, even if I don't like certain negative
aspects of them. I want people to find their way out of the government
schools, and tax credits arguably is one way out.

Legislation is very often not clear-cut between free and not-free.

Perhaps you can show me I'm mistaken about this. (I don't want to
argue tax credits per se, but the notion that this Covenant may
prevent useful steps toward freedom, in the real world.)

Paul B.

> I can understand why Paul B. might not sign because he expresses how
> difficult it is for him to figure out how to apply such principles in
> some real life situations.
> Dennis Wilson
> Signatory to the Covenant of Unanimous Consent

Are you sure you want to leave it at that, Dennis? If so, then how can
you hope to convince anyone else to sign on? I thought libertarianism
was all about persuasion, since we don't have coercion as a tool.
Where's the persuasion?

I gave one small example. Tell me how you would handle it.

Paul B.

I can't answer for Dennis, but I know how I always answer those kinds of situations.  I use them as opportunities to educate the other people involved.  I would explain that I couldn't abandon my principles just because it appeared to be in my short term best interests.
Actually, the case you cited is easy for me, because even tax credits leads to more government control over educational situations which don't currently have government oversight.
Dave Dawson

Thanks for answering my question, Dave. A follow on, though.
Why do you think it "leads to more government control"? I don't see that. Currently, everyone, including those who take responsibility for educating their own, have to pay into the government schools. With tax credits in place, the situation would be unchanged - except for those who want to apply and use them. These people would be able to choose (where there now is no choice) to decide which is the lesser of two evils - slaving away some more for the state, or asking the state to get out of doing that. Now, you may think it better for them to have no choice - to be stuck with slaving away some more for the state, but are you sure you want to make that decision for them?
Somehow, I don't *necessarily* see asking to keep my money as leading to more government control than simply forking it over is. I sort of see what you are getting at - government uses such things to worm their way in further. But it's already in, it seems to me.
You can educate all you want about separation of school and state, but as a legislator you have only to vote yes or no on this thing. Either choice has certain bad aspects to it. Does the covenant mandate a yes or a no vote? Or does the covenant mandate you shouldn't even be a legislator?
Paul B.

Basically because some parents who are currently just minding their own business and being actually responsible for the education of their children will be sucked in by the thought of getting some of their money back from the government, will apply for it, and then have the government telling them HOW to educate their children.
It's kind of like wanting a tax credit for your part of the social welfare picture, because you are feeding your own kids, and the government then tells you what to feed them.
I know it's not right that the government takes the money for edu-welfare in the first place, but it's not right that they take money for social welfare either, and I don't think you are looking for tax credits for that.

>Paul Bonneau <bonneau@E...> wrote:

>Are you sure you want to leave it at that, Dennis?

Ok, I'll make an effort to explain my view.

>If so, then how can you hope to convince anyone else to sign on?

I never said I want to convince anyone else to sign. I suggested that
it would be a way for those of us who HAVE signed to know each other.

>I thought libertarianism was all about persuasion, since we don't
>have coercion as a tool. Where's the persuasion?

I do not accept the implication that I am obliged to educate or
persuade anyone about anything. I am NOT so obliged.

>I gave one small example. Tell me how you would handle it.

I refuse. I will not be dragged into nit picking every little
possible application of the Non-aggression principle with someone who
has demonstrated his own inability to understand let alone apply a
very simple and very basic principle. My view is that a person is
solely responsible for correcting any deficiencies in his education.
I cannot think for another person. If a person is unable to
understand and apply the Non-aggression principle, that person has no
business running for a political office or pretending to ask
political questions. If a person running for political office is
unable to explain TO ME how offensive laws should be removed, I, for
one, will not vote for him. I want to vote for a person who knows and
can explain how to apply the principle consistently. If he is unable
to do so, he is not qualified to represent me in whatever political
office he is pursuing.

If I explain how the Non-aggression principle applies to one
concocted "example", there will be no end, as indeed you have already
demonstrated with Dave's explanation--you asked for (just one more
small question) "A follow on, though". It leads to a never ending
series of "what about this one, and what about that one". No thanks,
I'm too old. Been there, done that, got old in the process and have
no desire to start all over again at first grade level. Perhaps Dave
is up for it, but I am not.

There are more "laws" to be "exampled" than there is life time left
for either of us, there are more than 20,000 laws just about guns,
all of which violate the Non-aggression principle as well as the
Constitution. (Well, yeah, but how about the ones that govern
toilets, how does it apply there? .....) The purpose of a principle
is to be able to judge whole classes of laws instead of having to
laboriously go thru each of them one at a time. The statists have
been passing laws that violate the Non-aggression principle for more
than 100 years. How long will it take to go thru them and judge them
one by one?

And finally, I did not join this site to educate people about such
obvious things as the virtue and value of Non-aggression nor to
debate with them about the principle. I assume that they understand
it or they wouldn't be here. I joined to network with people who were
orphaned by the FSP vote and who have something to share about living
in the 3 western states that have the most freedom. Some of the
things that you have posted fit pretty close with that objective. I
encourage you to continue in that manner while you learn about
principles and how to apply them to every day life. I have no
argument with you and want none. If you want to understand more about
principles and how to apply them, I recommend Atlas Shrugged by Ayn

Dennis Wilson
Signatory to the Covenant of Unanimous Consent

Or pick up a copy of "Lever Action" by L. Neil Smith.

Alan R. Weiss in Austin

From:  "Paul and Wai Yee Bonneau" <bonneau@E...>
Date:  Tue Oct 14, 2003  2:25 am
Subject:  Re: [FreeWestProject] Re: What is Liberty?

OK, Dennis. You're too old and tired to explain how your principle
applies to real life situations (not just a concocted example, but one
strategy that will likely be considered for helping bring about
separation of school and state). I'm too old and tired to argue with
someone who wants to play coy. Some principle, that can't stand up to
a little discussion! Just saying that it's obvious, effectively what
you are doing, is for people with a religious bent of mind, and I
don't have that.

If I'm going to sign on to something like this, I want to know where
it will take me. I want to know how we get from where we are now, to
L. Neil Smith's libertarian paradise. That means questions and
discussion, something usually not frowned upon in libertarian circles.
I thank Dave at least for bothering to discuss it.

Paul B.
Not Yet Convinced about the Covenant of Unanimous Consent

Perhaps what he's saying is that you're relying a bit too much on the
good graces of others to educate you, when you might spend just a bit
of your own time doing some reading (which would answer a lot of your

I'm hopping in here late, Paul, and since Dennis is weary of
answering questions for free, endlessly, I'll take up your request if
you'd like.

What do you want to know again?

Alan in Austin

From:  "Alan R. Weiss" <alan@e...>
Date:  Tue Oct 14, 2003  12:53 pm
Subject:  Re: What is Liberty?
--- In, "David Boykin" <rowso@y...>
> What is the purpose of the Covenant of Unanimous Consent? Is it
> supposed to eventually serve as sort kind of declaration of
> independence? The principles are fine, but I don't see how this is
> useful or even practical.

In some sense you're correct: after all, the Bill of Rights hasn't
prevented cryptofascism from taking hold in the USA. Its just a
piece of paper, after all. And as Lysander Spooner would point out,
its not even a social contract since YOU didn't sign it, nor were
asked to.

The Covenant of Unanimous Consent FIXES the second problem. You SIGN
it, and if your word is a sacred honor, you are bound to it as best
as possible.

The purpose is to provide a way for like-minded people to share in a
set of convictions, and amongst them enforce them with peer pressure
and encouragement. The purpose is to also share what Liberty really

Alan in Austin

Furthermore, at the end of the Covenant is a section titled
Supersedure. It reads:


    UPON UNANIMOUS CONSENT of the Members or Inhabitants of any
    Association or Territory, we further stipulate that this Agreement
    shall supercede all existing governmental Documents or Usages then
    pertinent, that such Constitutions, Charters, Acts, Laws, Statutes,
    Regulations, or Ordinances contradictory or destructive to the Ends
    which it expresses shall be null and void, and that this Covenant,
    being the Property of its Author and Signatories, shall not be
    Subject to Interpretation excepting insofar as it shall please them.

The importance of knowing who is a signatory on the Covenant is
knowing if or when a particular territory (village, town, city,
county...)is completely populated by signatories. At that time, the
Covenant can be expected to completely override conflicting laws
(which could then be formally repealed).

Dennis Wilson
Signatory to the Covenant of Unanimous Consent

When I copied the Covenant of Unanimous Consent in message #180, I
included a link to an article about it, and a link to the Covenant
itself was embedded in the article. Here is the direct link:

Also the address at the bottom of message 180 should be corrected to:

736 Eastdale Drive
Fort Collins, CO 80524

Dennis Wilson
Signatory to the Covenant of Unanimous Consent
Objectivist and Jeffersonian
« Last Edit: 2009-September-16 12:21:44 PM by DennisLeeWilson » Logged

Objectivist & Sovereign Individual
Creator of Atlas Shrugged Celebration Day & Artemis Zuna Trading Post
Signatory: Covenant of Unanimous Consent
Creator of this site
Forum/Blog Owner
Posts: 1331

Existence exists & Man's mind can know it.

WWW Email
« Reply #4 on: 2008-November-16 04:57:25 PM »

Why I “abandoned” Judge Narragansett's New Constitution Project
Links to this page: “”

 Sent: 7/3/2006 12:57 PM
A personal note: Why I “abandoned” Judge Narragansett's New Constitution Project
The Letters of Ayn Rand, The Later Years (1960-1981) page 626   May 2, 1964

  • “I must mention that Galt's Gulch is not an organized society, but a private club whose members share the same philosophy. It exemplifies the basic moral principles of social relationships among rational men, the principles on which a proper political system should be built.
    “It does not deal with questions of political organization, with the details of a legal framework needed to establish and maintain a free society open to all, including dissenters. It does not deal with specifically political principles, only with their moral base. (I indicate that the proper political framework is to be found in the Constitution, with its contradictions removed.)”


Why I “abandoned” Judge Narragansett's New Constitution Project

After spending considerable time creating and working the Judge Narragansett's New Constitution Project and then reading “The Real Lincoln” and “Hologram of Liberty”, I concluded that, without nullification by secession, the Constitution is unenforceable and that the best way to remove the contradictions in the Constitution is to abandon it, restart with the Declaration of Independence and fulfill the promise of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness found therein by understanding and adopting—on a personal level— L. Neil Smith's Covenant of Unanimous Consent.

If you study these same items and reflect on the nature of Galt’s Gulch, you may also come to that same conclusion.

Dennis Wilson

From: MSN Nickname danneskjold_ragnar   Sent: 7/8/2006 8:30 AM
Hi Dennis,
How have you been?
With all due repect I think you, and any person involved in honest and active attempts to start a free society based on objectivist's principles, are still going about it all wrong. The way I illuded to still to me makes much more scence and can function without the total concent of others living with in a system. Plus the advancement of the idea would continue to be feed by profits not asking for donations.
It is nearly impossible to find people of like enough minds to start any project - much lessa successful one. My own difficulty in financing to lies in my cronic unemployment and marginal emoployment. But I think finally I have I chance to end that! So in a few years after I get caught back up and running I'll be able with or without investors to being something. Of cource I have been saying that for quite a while
   Sent: 7/22/2006 1:56 PM
Another personal note: If someone claims to be a Signatory, I am willing to take that individual's word--until and unless that person prove not to be serious about the Covenant. Even a document as clearly written as the Covenant still has people who sign but do not understand or willfully ignore its provisions.

I have discovered one “proud signer of the Covenant”--who uses the pseudonym “NorthGunner” and claims to live in Arizona--who has no reservations about using force to prevent me from associating with people from Mexico.

As in all matters, the proof is in the person, not the act of signing, i.e. deeds, not words.

In spite of occasional disappointments, signing, and announcing such (as in wearing badges at freedom seminars), has worked as a nice “filter” for meeting the kind of people I would like for my neighbors. That is also why I was passing out “badges” from my Cafe Press site at the last Freedom Summit in Phoenix, Arizona.


P.S. I have a (free) badge for any Signatory who sends me an email with their postal address.
DennisLeeWilson (at)

   Sent: 1/18/2007 10:18 AM
As a follow up to Why I “abandoned” Judge Narragansett's New Constitution Project above, I have written two articles about Objectivism and the Covenant. The first is the logical precursor to the second. They are titled

As can be seen by the strike thrus, it has been an extended journey--and it ends at Autarchy!!

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