A PRINCIPLED PRIMER FOR GENUINE CONSERVATIVES
By L. Neil Smith
Attribute to _The Libertarian Enterprise_
Longtime readers will recognize this collection of observations as
deriving from my essay "Tactical Reflections", which I probably first
wrote around 1995. This version has been edited, slightly, to be of
greater use to the new Tea Party Republicans, under pressure by the
Old Guard to give up what they believe in and were elected to carry
Always attack in perpendicular fashion, from an unconventional and
unexpected (but relevant) direction. The enemy will be unprepared; you
can strike him with your full strength while he finds nothing to
America's historic misfortune is that her people have never been
quite equal to the ideals upon which she was established.
Any point of view that fails to assume -- and to accept -- that
males and females will inevitably perceive one another as "sex
objects" is simply deranged.
As much as "sunshine soldiers" or "summer patriots", beware an
ally -- more common than you know -- whose fear of the uncertainties
of success moves him to surrender at the very moment of victory.
The average media personality rises to his level of incompetence
simply by getting up every morning.
Believe what you like about "wasting your vote", nothing will ever
alter a fundamental assumption on the part of Democrats, Republicans,
and the vast bureaucracy they've created together, that even the
slightest manifestation of individuality (let alone individualism) is
a threat that must be dealt with.
Better the "Me" generation than the "Duh" generation.
Beware of geeks bearing GIFs.
Beware those -- in New York, Hollywood, and generally in life --
who would make you a "star" because you're fresh and original, then
spend the rest of your career trying to make you into a carbon copy of
Choose your allies carefully: it's highly unlikely that you'll
ever be held morally, legally, or historically accountable for the
actions of your enemies.
Choose your enemies carefully: you'll probably be known much
better and far longer for who they were, than for anything else you
ever managed to accomplish.
Conservatives are accustomed to being called fascists and are well
prepared to defend themselves on that ground. Liberals are used to
being called socialists. Those labels can be switched, however, and
remain valid and instructive. It also catches them completely
"Credible deniability" is probably more highly esteemed for the
degree of psychological relief it offers its users, than for any
political immunity it affords them.
Don't be disheartened by opinion polls or the outcome of
elections. History has never been made by the majority and it never
Euro-American welfare statism's preoccupation with "the halt and
the lame" isn't an iota healthier than the obsession of ancient
Egypt's priest-kings with death.
Ever notice how those who believe in animal rights generally don't
believe in human rights?
Ever notice that the "Golden Age" of television was when sponsors
had the strongest control over program content?
The fact that nobody asks you to sing is not an indication that
you should sing louder. This sounds obvious until it's applied to
matters like mass transportation. There are virtually no private mass
transit companies. This does not represent the failure of the market
to provide a needed service, it represents the failure of an unneeded
service to go away!
The function of government is to provide you with service; the
function of the media is to supply the Vaseline.
Give the other guy an Angstrom unit, and it'll be reported that
you gave him a parsec.
Go straight to the heart of the enemy's greatest strength. Break
that and you break him. You can always mop up the flanks and
stragglers later, and they may even surrender, saving you a lot of
Great men don't "move to the center" -- great men MOVE the center!
The great secret of life lies in choosing the right woman. It's a
mother's job to tell you not to play with fire. Marry the girl who
tells you, "Go ahead."
Hell hath no fury like the well-nursed resentments of a younger
Hey, Hollywood, what's this throwing the gun down in horror
nonsense? When you see that you've driven a nail, do you throw away
I was surprised to discover that children have to be taught to
tell the truth. Lying, as a path of least resistance, is easier and
comes more naturally. Children also have to be taught that life is
more important than television.
The ideal libertarian society would be one in which an individual,
strolling down the sidewalk dressed like an Eskimo, encounters someone
else who's completely naked, and when they stop to chat, neither of
them thinks about clothes.
If the backside pockets of your jeans are your "hip" pockets, does
that make the ones in front your "un-hip" pockets? Then why is it that
it's the ones in back that are square?
If there were a generic one-word expression for one "whose fear of
the uncertainties of success moves him to surrender at the very moment
of victory", it would be "Republican".
If you can avoid it, never play on the other guy's field, by the
other guy's rules, or with the other guy's ball. He didn't design his
system to give you the advantage. Remember that organisms defending
their own territory are twice as effective as an intruding attacker.
If you lose, go down fighting. It costs nothing extra, and now and
If you're not a little bit uncomfortable with your position, it
isn't radical enough. How can you be too principled? Take the most
extreme position you can -- you're claiming territory you won't have
to fight for later, mostly against your "allies".
In this world we live in, there are good ideas and there are bad
ideas; those who can't tell the difference conduct opinion polls.
It is moral weakness, rather than villainy, that accounts for most
of the evil in the universe -- and feeble-hearted allies, far rather
than your most powerful enemies, who are likeliest to do you an injury
you cannot recover from. (From Bretta Martyn)
It is not the purpose of education to produce good citizens, but
to help children become successful human beings. The former is
properly identified as "indoctrination" and, when undertaken at the
taxpayers' expense, should be illegal.
It is unlikely that your opponent thinks of himself as the badguy.
Of course he may be wrong ...
Know, down to the last cell in your body, that the other guy
started it. He's the one who put things in an ethical context where
considerations like decency and mercy have no referent. The less pity
moves you now, the sooner you can go back to being a nice guy.
Know, otherhandwise, that the easiest, most humiliating path to
defeat is thinking that to beat the enemy you must be like him. Avoid
the temptation to set your values aside "for the duration". What's the
point of fighting if you give up what you're fighting for? If
remaining consistent with your values leads to defeat, you chose the
wrong values to begin with.
Know when to give up a lost cause. Anyone who needs to be
persuaded to be free, doesn't deserve to be.
The late 20th century Left fawns obsessively over animals because
an animal has no intellect, is incapable of challenging their
discredited ideas, and can't say, "Leave me the hell alone and get a
Let the other guy offer compromises. Think of them as rungs on a
ladder. Keep your own goals fixed firmly in your mind and make sure
you never move any direction but upward. That's how the other side got
where they are. It works.
Lies can be custom-tailored; truth comes straight off the rack --
one size fits all. (This gem by my wife, Cathy L.Z. Smith.)
"Little" people finding themselves in a position to say "No",
Manned spaceflight versus robotics? Let's see ... on your wedding
night, would you be satisfied to send in a remote, and receive
telemetered progress reports?
"Manx" is the noise a cat makes when you cut its tail off.
Money, first and foremost, is a medium of communication, conveying
the information we call "price". Government control of the money
supply is censorship, a violation of the First Amendment. Inflation is
The more fundamental position is the highest ground, allowing the
most "perpendicular" attack. If he argues politics, argue ethics --
things seldom go beyond this stage. If he argues ethics, argue
epistemology (look it up). If he argues epistemology, argue
metaphysics. If he argues metaphysics, you're up against Darth Vader
and you're in trouble. Switch back to politics and accuse him of being
out of touch with everyday reality. Or ask him if he's stopped beating
The most dangerous and successful conspiracies take place in
public, in plain sight, under the clear, bright light of day --
usually with TV cameras focused on them.
Never aim at anything but total achievement of your goal: the
utter capitulation of the enemy. Every effort involves inertia and
mechanical losses, so adopting any lesser objective means partial
defeat. Total victory means you don't have to fight the same battle
Never look down your nose at the popular culture, or
self-righteously shun contact with it. How can you hope to change
something you know nothing about?
Never soft-pedal the truth. It's seldom self-evident and almost
never sells itself, because there's less sales resistance to a glib
and comforting lie.
No process, event, or situation has ever improved under media
One of the sadder facts of human existence is that power will get
you through times of no brains better than brains will get you through
times of no power.
Once you've taken a public stand you know is right, never back
down; anything less than a rock-hard stance will allow your enemies to
nibble you to death.
The only way to beat the government is to become the government.
Over two centuries, American democracy has acquired something
analogous to an immune system to protect it from the merest threat of
wisdom, intelligence, honor, decency, individuality, or courage.
Anyone entering the system who exhibits any of those undesirable
attributes sooner or later finds himself broken and cast aside -- if
he is fortunate -- or, far worse, assimilated.
The people who worry most about "controlling their appetites" are
the very people who least need to. And the people who need to most --
"The perfect is the enemy of the good", you say? I say that if
nobody ever insisted on the perfect, there'd never be any good.
Politicians, bureaucrats, and cops all see the Constitution in
about the same light in which your great-grandmother saw the
Sears-Roebuck catalog: a fine useful thing to have around -- although
its principal application may be somewhat different than its authors
"Question Authority"? To hell with that -- hang it up by its
thumbs, cut off its toes, and let it drip dry!
Remain the judge of your own actions. Never surrender that
position by default. When the enemy screams "Foul!" the loudest, you
know you're doing him the most damage. Those who help him scream are
also the enemy.
Sarah Brady is no lady -- and Diane Feinstein is no Einstein.
Second thoughts, failures of confidence, nervous last-minute
course-changes are all detours and recipes for defeat. The time to
think is before the battle -- if possible, before the war -- not in
the heat of it.
She never said a word during labor, but four and a half years
later, as we stood in my daughter's bedroom, hip-deep in toys and
trying to clean the place up, my wife glared at me and said, "You did
this to me, you sonofabitch!
The shortest path to victory is a straight line. He who remains
most consistent wins.
The simple-minded credo of the dirt-worshipper goes, "Four legs
good, two legs bad". Otherhandwise, "Two wheels good, four wheels
bad". The abysmal self-hatred thus revealed sends the imagination
reeling in shock, disgust, and pity.
Tell me what you think, not what you think other people think. If
you voted in terms of what you're ready for, instead of what you've
convinced yourself others are ready for, we'd have had Constitutional
government, a Libertarian society, and eradicated socialism half a
Sometimes stereotypes are 180 degrees off-course and common sense
isn't worth the paper it wasn't written on. For example, see who goes
on longer having a good time -- and who, by contrast, is the first to
get tight-lipped with indignant outrage -- an individual secure and
unbending in his principles, or a compromise-prone "moderate".
Stereotypes can be a would-be objective observer's undoing: in
terms of surface area alone, for example, is it human males or females
There are two kinds of people in the world, those who say, "There
are two kinds of people in the world," and those who do not.
There is no AWAY? Then where are Barack and Michelle going to go?
Those who lead through authority have rivals on whom they must
expend as much energy and attention as they do on their enemies. Those
who lead by example have enemies, but no rivals.
Those who sell their liberty for security are understandable, if
pitiable, creatures. Those who sell the liberty of others for wealth,
power, or even a moment's respite, deserve only the end of a rope.
To be human is to live by means of the artifacts that humans
devise. To build a home, and scorn a weapon, is hypocrisy. It's also a
good way to lose the home.
Truth is a valuable commodity which you don't automatically owe to
anyone. Remember, however, that lies are even more expensive --
they're tiring and costly to maintain -- and even a tiny one can
utterly destroy you.
Try never to speak of your enemies by name. Any publicity is still
publicity -- and there are those for whom your disapproval constitutes
Understand from the minute the fight begins that you're going to
take damage. Accept it. (You'll always suffer more from the idiots and
cowards on your own side than from any enemy.) Keep your overall goal
in mind above all. Those who swerve to avoid a few cuts and bruises
There is indeed some justice in the universe. Simply say "I'm not
a crook" enough times, and everybody will start believing that you
"Wake up America", you demand? America doesn't need to "wake up"
-- by which, of course, you mean pay attention to whatever you think
is important. If America weren't already awake, paying attention to
what each individual thinks is important, your milk wouldn't have
gotten delivered this morning, and you wouldn't have any electricity
Want a clear indication of what the welfare state is really all
about? Note that the barest necessities of life -- food, clothing and
shelter -- are all taxed.
Washington, D.C: where they took a perfectly good swamp and turned
it into a sewer.
Well-timed silence is an effective bargainer. Most people fear
silence at a level below conscious analysis, and rush to fill the
emptiness with accommodation. A difficult tactic to learn and use, but
What about GATT and NAFTA? If an agreement is more than a
paragraph long -- and it's between two governments -- then it ain't
about free trade!
When you boil it down, all group behavior is about eating, and all
individual behavior is about sex.
Why is it so hard to understand that the reason the first ten
Amendments -- commonly known as the Bill of Rights -- are trampled
underfoot by politicos and bureaucrats is that the Founding Fathers
failed to provide a suitably harsh penalty for it?
You cannot force me to agree with you. You can force me to act as
though I agree with you -- but then you'll have to watch your back.
All the time.
You may never convince the other guy, but it's often worthwhile to
keep arguing for the effect it has on bystanders, especially his
BILL OF RIGHTS PENALTY CLAUSE
“Any official, appointed or elected, at any level of government,
who attempts, through legislative act or other means, to nullify,
evade, or avoid the provisions of the first ten amendments to this
Constitution, or of the Thirteenth Amendment, shall be summarily
removed from office, and, upon conviction, deprived of all pay and
benefits including pension, and sentenced to imprisonment for life.”