Freedom's Phoenix – "Uncovering the Secrets and Exposing the Lies"


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By: L. Neil Smith

People are inclined to believe that history repeats itself.
    I was never fond of this idea. A single individual is complicated
enough. Human nature is governed by billions of variables rooted in
genetic inheritance, life experience, and unanticipated acts of free
    Now multiply all of those variables by the billions of individuals
living in the world today, and what you wind up with is so many
equally-likely outcomes, truly an uncountable number of them, that
it's easy to see why the basic -- and wisest -- tenet of Austrian
economics is that nobody can quantify (or successfully predict) human
    Nevertheless, people remain fond of comparing whatever age they
happen to live in with other ages, attempting to wring some useful
information -- if only a dire warning -- out of the process. Ancient
Roman writings are full of such comparisons, as are those of Niccolo
Machiavelli and others like him, as well as many of the Founding
    Lately, we've seen books and heard speakers comparing our times
to the years just preceding Hitler's takeover of Germany. It's an easy
comparison to make, with politicians and pundits on every street
corner insisting the only way to save America is to take away more
    Others suggest that our times are more like the buildup to the War
between the States (inaccurately referred to as a "civil war", rather
than a war of secession), because this government, like the federal
government in those days, secretly wants something to happen that will
justify declaring martial law and casting off the last tattered rags
of a democratic republic that would otherwise prove inconvenient to
    In the mid-19th century, Southerners, who were only 25 percent of
the population, were paying 80 percent of the taxes, and Republicans
were threatening to triple that burden, knowing the South would start
shooting if that happened. Today, Americans have endured one damaging
insult after another to their accustomed liberties and independence,
until it has become impossible to believe that the government isn't
trying to provoke an armed rebellion it believes it can handily put
    But for my money, more than any other period, I believe our own
resembles the Italian Renaissance, and that's actually pretty good
news, maybe even something to feel grateful for, in this season of
    America is dominated today, exactly as Renaissance Italy was in
its day, by rich, powerful families (either literally or figuratively)
grimly determined to buy, intimidate, or murder their way into power.
In Italy, in addition to the Medici and Borgias, major players also
included the Pazzi and Salviati families, who conspired to assassinate
Lorenzo de Medici in the Renaissance equivalent of the Battle at the
O.K. Corral (another family affair between the Earps and the Clantons
and their retainers on both sides), the Orsini family, and the Sforza
    It's really strange, sometimes, how little things change with
time. Today, the Democratic party is torn between the Clintons, whose
only interest is in power for its own sake, and their supporters on
the one hand, and the Marxist owners and operators of the Obamas on
the other, principally George Soros, in my opinion. Both factions pay
lip service, for their own purposes, to the United Nations and the
genocidal Luddite environmentalists who run it, just as the competing
Renaissance gangs did to the Catholic Church. Off on the sidelines,
shoved there by ruthless individuals and cataclysmic events, are true
liberals in the semi-honorable mold of Hubert Humphrey and George
    Republicans are in more or less the same shape. Corporate bullies
represented by cookie-cutter candidate Mitt Romney are presently in
the driver's seat, but they had to lie, cheat, and steal openly, in
broad daylight, to get where they are, and their hold on power is
    Genuine conservatives, less willing to play along than they once
were -- and spurred on by libertarians who have always held the moral
high ground over them -- will spend the next four years sharpening
their knives against their nominal allies and watching the Democrats
    Good times. I hope somebody remembers to bring popcorn.
    But the most important resemblance that today's America bears to
Renaissance Italy lies in the astonishing contrast between their ugly,
dangerous political ambience (Florence had Savonarola, we have Janet
Napolitano) and the flowering of human culture that both periods have
    Just as Italy had its Leonardo and Michelangelo, to mention only
two of hundreds of great painters, sculptors, and thinkers, America
today has some of the greatest communications, architecture, music,
drama, art, science, and philosophy the world has ever seen. No doubt
it also has the worst; we just don't remember the garbage from the
Renaissance. I always say our times have the prettiest cars (just as
an example) -- and the crappiest politics -- ever seen on the planet
    "May you live in interesting times" is more than the Chinese curse
it was meant to be. It's a sincere blessing. I follow science, I know
what's going on at the leading edge and all the fringes. Humanity is
going to leap to the stars in _this_ century, possibly within our
lifetimes -- if we don't let ourselves be enslaved, sink back into the
Dark Ages, or allow the idiots who think they own us to blow the world to
    That's more than anybody in any other times has ever had to hope

L. Neil Smith is the award-winning author of 33 freedom-oriented books, including The Probability Broach, Ceres, Sweeter Than Wine, and  DOWN WITH POWER: Libertarian Policy In A Time Of Crisis.


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