Interview with Sam Wells
Former researcher and assistant to writer and lecturer Gary Allen, and originator of this web site, Sam Wells (Master's Degree in Political Science from Louisiana State University and contributor to several magazines, newsletters, and other publications in the pro-freedom patriot cause) was recently interviewed on a wide variety of topics, with special emphasis on his work with colleague Gary Allen.
Although power-structure researcher Gary Allen died in late 1986 from complications arising from diabetes, his work is carried on by Sam Wells and others today who share his concerns about the socialistic New World Order agenda against which he warned and who also share his vision of a strong, independent United States of America based on less government intervention and more individual freedom and responsibility.
Some of the topics and issues touched on in this interview include:
My Work with Gary Allen
The Council on Foreign Relations
None Dare Call It Conspiracy
The Trilateral Commission
Conspiracy Theories: Good & Bad
Gary Allen's Staunch Anti-Statism
The Reality of the Communist Threat
Lyndon Larouche & Other Phonies
Far-Left Rotten Ideas Have Consequences, Inspire Violence
The Ultimate Antidote to Coercive Monopolies & NWO Conspiracies
Galambos & Definitions of Freedom
The Definition of "Coercion" or Violence
Bob LeFevre's Position on Violence
The Concept of Freedom
The Three Criteria for Coercion
Galambos & "Primary Property"
Galambos & Crime Prevention
The Laissez-Faire Republic
The Non-Alternative of Anarcho-Statism
The Founders & "Checks and Balances"
The Rights of Self-Ownership & Private Property as Sacred Principles
President Bush (43)
The Return of Kissinger
A New Agenda to Demand of Congress & the President
Most libertarians favor the proper and legitimate use of
EW: Sam, when did you work for Gary Allen?
SW: I worked for Gary as his researcher and assistant from February 1980 until his death in 1986 and continued for some time after that helping his widow to continue to publish his newsletter of political and economic analysis -- and since then have gone into the computer field to make ends meet; but, I still carry on his work of exposing various aspects of monopolistic conspiracies and power politics.
EW: How did you come to work for Mr. Allen? What brought you two together?
SW: In 1979, I was asked by James Blanchard to plan, set up, and run the book tables at his National Committee for Monetary Reform conference in New Orleans. I was able to sell over $20,000 worth of books in four days at that event at which many financial experts and freedom patriots were in enthusiastic attendance. Gary Allen was not at that event, but one of Gary's colleagues -- a representative of 76 Press -- was there, and since I had sold all of his supply of copies of Crisis Investing by Doug Casey and knowing of my desire to work in a research job, he agreed to see if Gary needed an assistant for his current and future projects. As it turned out, he did, and I was soon on a 'plane to California.
EW: Were there any serious disagreements between you and Gary?
SW: No, except for minor differences of emphasis, we shared the same basic outlook on politics. In fact, Gary and I saw eye to eye on our political views generally and how we saw the proper function of government. Ideologically, we were essentially alter egos, although we sometimes expressed ourselves in somewhat different ways. And I still hold the same perspective today.
EW: Could you elaborate a little on those views and conclusions?
SW: Well, you have to consider that before I even came to work for Gary, I had read many of his books and articles in American Opinion magazine and had been strongly influenced by his writings before I ever met him in person. I had also read many of the same economists, philosophers, and other writers that he had read and researched -- from Bastiat, Galambos, and Rand to Hazlitt, Mises, and Rothbard. In history, we had both read -- to greater or lesser extent -- Will Durant and Carroll Quigley and William Domhoff and others. We had done our homework on socialism and communism, and had read Louis Budenz, Herb Philbrick, Ayn Rand, Rose L. Martin, Dan Smoot, John T. Flynn, Cleon Skousen, and Robert Welch. We had each come to the conclusion, separately before we ever met one another, that the best, or least bad, policy for government was one of laissez faire -- which means government is to use its powers to protect peaceful people from violence and fraud but not to intervene in, either to help or to hinder, any of the voluntary enterprises or private affairs of peaceful people.
Our researches had revealed to us that it was Big Government -- interventionism and socialism -- which was the favored tool of would-be monopolists and oligopolists, It was the only way would-be monopolists or oligopolists could manipulate markets for their own advantage legally and with impunity in the long run.
EW: You are referring to those business interests who want to dominate their otherwise peaceful markets by bringing government in to run interference for them with special laws, regulations, and taxes, etc.
SW: Yes! When government is permitted to intervene in the marketplace -- whether for good intentions or otherwise -- it tends to become a legal tool of wealthy special interest groups in industry (especially the financial industry) to keep down their competitors or potential competitors. This means that Big Government -- and the socialists and others on the Left who support Big Government -- are not the friends of the average guy, but in fact are witting or unwitting allies supporting the power structure of the corporate socialist elite and other vested special interests in Big Government. I have seen nothing since those days when I worked as Gary's colleague to doubt the truth of that conclusion and much evidence to further confirm it. But Gary's researches revealed even more -- the existence of the Special Interest Group of special interest groups -- and its agenda of growing government toward more and more socialism, and doing it through Fabian means, with nothing less than global control as its ultimate objective.
Before I came to work for him, Gary had already written and published several books on communism and powerful political personalities such as David Rockefeller, Henry Kissinger, Richard Nixon, and Jimmy Carter. After graduating from Stanford University in history, Gary began to challenge some of what he had been taught and his researches about communist subversion and the State Department took him to other levels of investigation and he began focusing in on certain banking and corporate elites and their influence in shaping and manipulating U.S. political and economic policies during the 20th Century, and especially the role played by such high-level semi-secret Establishment organizations as the Council on Foreign Relations and the Trilateral Commission.
EW: What significance did you and Gary see in organizations like the Council on Foreign Relations?
SW: Gary and I saw the CFR, as we called it, as very elitist and internationalist in the political sense and very much Establishment "liberal" and left-wing in ideological orientation, and as pushing policies which would move the U.S. toward submergence within a world socialist super State. Since Gary and I -- and, we would hope and imagine, most thinking Americans -- do not favor such policies and instead support America's national interest and sovereign independence, we looked with deep suspicion on the Council and its programs, and rightly so.
EW: So, you saw the Council on Foreign Relations and the Trilateral Commission as elitist special interest groups which lobbied for government to intervene on behalf of the banking and corporate socialist Establishment clique and push for a New World Order.
SW: Yes, and more than that, these organizations were used as recruitment centers -- in addition to certain "liberal"-left Ivy League universities, think tanks, and tax-exempt foundations -- from which key government appointees and agency heads would be selected. Gary put it this way: he said that the CFR is sort of like a "secretarial pool" -- Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense, Secretary of the Treasury, etc., etc. The Council is one of the important institutions of the limousine "liberal" Establishment, and it includes "liberal" Republicans as well as Democrats in its membership.
Let me say here that just because a person either has been or is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations should not be taken as proof that he is necessarily disloyal to the United States or supports a socialistic world government. The mere fact of membership alone is not enough to establish that. But the key players who control the overall policy direction of the organization have been generally pushing issues and policies which go that way.
EW: Who have been some of the important CFR members?
SW: Well, some of the more well-known Council members include or have included David Rockefeller, John J. McCloy, Peter G. Peterson, Winston Lord, John Temple Swing, Leslie H. Gelb, Richard N. Cooper, Paul Volcker, Alan Greenspan, Adlai Stevenson, W. Michael Blumenthal, William P. Bundy, Cyrus Vance, Robert S. McNamara, Paul Warnke, Warren Christopher, Sol Linowitz, Strobe Talbott, Madeleine Albright, Les Aspen, George Pratt Shultz, Colin Powell, Donna Shalala, Bruce Babbitt, Henry Kissinger, George Stephanopoulos, Condoleezza Rice, Donald Rumsfeld, Goerge Will, Dan Rather, and Bill Moyers to name only a few.
EW: Alan Greenspan is a member of this group?
SW: Yep! And even though many Republicans -- including some conservative Republicans -- seem to think Greenspan is the best thing to come along since sliced bread, he has done nothing that I can see in public office to increase our economic freedom or promote any kind of plan or transition to a sound system of money and banking, and his policies as head of the Federal Reserve System have created more new fiat money than all the previous Fed chairmen put together! If the Austrian theory of the boom-bust cycle is correct, this inflationary policy only puts off the economic washout that is to come; it does not prevent it at all. In fact, it is this deliberate policy of inflation that generates the "cycle" in the first place. Yet, Greenspan is still popular among many who see themselves as conservative Republicans.
EW: The Council membership seems to cut across party lines to a certain extent.
SW: Members have included such Republicans as Illinois Senator John Anderson, Howard Baker of Tennessee, and John H. Chafee (R-RI), as well as Democrat Senators Christopher J. Dodd (D-CT), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Joseph I. Lieberman (D-CT), George J. Mitchell (D-ME), Charles S. Robb (D-VA), John D. Rockefeller, IV (D-WV) and presidential advisors James A. Baker III and Anthony Lake, as well as Democrat bankster Felix Rohatyn and Armand Hammer's buddy Dwayne O. Andreas (CEO of Archer Daniels Midland).
Names on the CFR roster include prominent members of presidential administrations, Republican as well as Democrat, going back over six decades. Labor union bosses who have been CFR members include Jay Mazur, International Ladies' Garment Workers Union, Jack Sheinkman, Amalgamated Clothing & Textile Workers Union, Albert Shanker, Pres., American Federation Of Teachers, and Glen E. Watts, Communication Of Workers Of America, to name a few.
Nearly two-thirds of the CFR's membership is from either the New York or Washington,D.C. areas. There are between 3000 and 4000 members in all.
Since 1949, every U.S. secretary of state (except for Gov. James Byrnes of South Carolina) has been a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and/or its younger offshoot, the Trilateral Commission. Since 1940, every Secretary of Defense has been a CFR member. During most of its existence, the Central Intelligence Agency has been headed by CFR members, beginning with CFR founding member Allen Dulles. Almost every major presidential national security and foreign policy adviser has been a CFR member since World War II.
There was even a Samuel F. or Samuel R. Wells listed on the official CFR membership roster back in the 1980s, I believe.
EW: No relation?
SW: No. No relation to me.
Anyway, ever since Eisenhower, every man who has won the presidential nomination of either major political party (except Barry Goldwater in 1964, Ronald Reagan in 1980, and George W. Bush in 2000) has been a member of the CFR And, of course, Goerge H. W. Bush, the father of current U.S. President George W. Bush, was a Director of the CFR from 1977 through 1979. You may recall that Bush 41 was the President who used the phrase "New World Order" in his public speeches as the goal of his internationalist foreign policies.
EW: Ah, this brings us to Gary's famous little introduction to conspiratorial analysis. Probably Gary's most well-known work was None Dare Call It Conspiracy. It sold in the millions and was sort of an underground bestseller for years -- even decades.
SW: Yes, that controversial little book was a powerful tool and opened the eyes of many people to the way the game is played -- how socialism and Big Government (so-called "liberalism") are the royal roads to monopoly power for certain elements of the unscrupulous super rich. It was undoubtedly the single most successful recrutiting tool for the John Birch Society in those days.
EW: What gave rise to the book None Dare Call It Conspiracy?
SW: It was the result of a great deal of reading and research by Gary and others, and it was organized and typed up on an old Adler typewriter by his secretary Evelyn Davis, and then it was published in 1972 in time for that election year. The only other book which had had more impact than NDCC was None Dare Call It Treason by John Stormer in 1964. Gary published 10 books, but NDCC was his most popular. It told enough of the story and put enough of the pieces of the puzzle together for the reader to begin to see the outline of conspiracy and some details about how the game is played.
EW: You mentioned the Trilateral Commission earlier. Briefly go over Gary Allen's role in exposing the significance of this group to the American people.
SW: Well, the Trilateral Commission was founded in 1972-1973 by David Rockefeller and his lieutenant Zbigniew Bzrezinski, who was also a CFR member and who later became President Carter's primary foreign policy advisor.
Gary sounded the alarm by calling attention to the draconian plans of the Trilats, some of which were made fairly explicit in a rather candid report entitled "The Crisis of Democracy" the Commission published in 1974. The report expressed alarm at "the increased popular participation in and control over" established social, political, and economic institutions and especially "a reaction against the concentration of power of Congress and of state and local government."
EW: In other words, the Trilateralists were concerned that ordinary people might interfere with the way their technocratic experts were trying to run things?
SW: That appeared to be the case. The same document bemoaned increased citizen participation in public affairs because the government, "short of a cataclysmic crisis," now possesses "little ability to impose on its people the sacrifices which may be necessary to deal with foreign-policy problems and defense," at least from their point of view.
EW: So, one of their tactics is to use crises, genuine or created, to impose sacrifices on us ordinary folk while they further centralize power for themselves.
SW: Right. They want a free hand to run things their way without citizen participation or Constitutional limitations interfering.
Some of the goals and agenda items recommended by the Trilateral report include the following measures to quell popular control and mitigate Constitutional restraints on their authority. I quote:
*centralized economic and social planning;
*centralization of power within Congress . . . ;
*a program . . . to lower the job expectations of those who receive a college education;
*such limitations of freedom of the press as "prior restraint" of what newspapers may publish in unspecified "unusual circumstances" and the establishment of "press councils" to enforce "standards of professionalism," the alternative to which "could well be regulation by the government.";
*and other methods for controlling journalists and reporters.
It became clear to Gary that what the CFR and the Trilateral Commission were pushing for was nothing less than their own version of socialism -- state control over various industries and broad areas of peoples lives which we now take for granted as matters of personal freedom and individual choice.
EW: So, this Establishment is essentially left-wing in orientation?
SW: Yes, as Gary pointed out many times, the big boys of this club know that socialism is not a humanitarian system for redistributing wealth, but a power system for concentrating wealth and controlling people. The big banking insiders and corporate socialist elitists do not favor market competition. The last thing they want is laissez faire. They want government to intervene on their behalf to form cartels and monopolies so they can control industries, finance, and natural resources. Socialism is the ultimate system of monopoly power. And they want a world socialist government so they can gain control over world finance and global resources.
EW: And the Trilateralists and allied organizations have been working somewhat like Fabian socialists to get their people and their programs into the United States Government?
SW: That's right. In 1975 Gary published a book entitled Jimmy Carter, Jimmy Carter in which he warned that the Carter presidential campaign was a David Rockefeller/Trilateralist project from the start and predicted that Carter, if elected, would pack his administration with special-interest Trilateralists. Rockefeller himself hand-picked this relatively obscure Southern governor out of the pack early on. The major Establishment media, especially Time magazine, promoted Carter's candidacy shamelessly even at early critical stages. Time's "news" reports on Carter were so adulatory in fact that they could scarcely be distinguished from Carter's official campaign literature -- and this heavy Establishment promotion took place at a time when polls indicated that only five percent of registered Democrats favored Carter for the nomination.
EW: What made Jimmy Carter so acceptable to Rockefeller and the Trilateralists over other viable contenders?
SW: Carter was favored by the Eastern "liberal" Establishment over other possible candidates, such as Reubin Askew and Terry Sanford, because Carter was a "progressive" Southern Governor who could project an image that could be used to fool many voters by appearing "conservative" or "moderate" while in fact favoring the most left-wing of agendas. The idea was to use Carter to court both White and Black voters who could be delivered by the Democrat Party's big urban political machines.
So, he could be sold politically. Beyond that, Carter was the kind of ruthless, corrupt politician that David Rockefeller and his Trilat buddies understood. They picked Carter for much the same reason Bill Clinton picked many of his Cabinet heads, such as Janet Reno. As Gary himself put it, "Carter's overwhelming ambition and corruptibility made him vulnerable. It included conniving with his own personal banker Bert Lance to funnel bank depositors' money into Carter's peanut business and into the bank accounts of Lance associates and family members to finance Carter's campaign while waiting for federal matching funds. The illegalities involved were enough to send the whole gang to jail. And the key to exposure was in the hands of David Rockefeller and his fellow banking insiders."
EW: So, Carter did not appeal to the Trilateralists because of his independence.
SW: Hardly. He was reliable for their purposes. And, as Gary had predicted, Carter appointed a score or more of Trilateralists to top posts in his administration. Even his Vice President, Walter Mondale, was a member of the Trilateral Commission, a group whose North American membership numbered less than 100 at that time. The situation became so obvious that it couldn't be ignored even by the most skeptical -- and neither could Gary's books and articles on the subject.
By the election year of 1980, the Trilateral Commission and its controversial plans had become a political issue, thanks to the researches, writings, and warnings of Gary Allen and others. A major news magazine even noted that George H. W. Bush's membership in the Trilateral Commission and his close ties to David Rockefeller might disqualify him in the minds of many grass-roots Republicans. Presidential candidates John Connally and Ronald Reagan had made a point of attacking the Trilateral Commission at least when questioned about it during their campaign appearances.
The same Establishment media outlets which had built up Carter in 1975-76 began promoting Bush (and Carter as well) while trying to discourage interest in such candidates as Phil Crane and Ronald Reagan. The powers that be were trying to stack the deck. The "liberal" Rockefeller Establishment was especially scared of Ronald Reagan because of his anti-communist rhetoric and relative independence (he owed them nothing and they had nothing on him they could use). These CFR and Trilateral corporate-socialist types would rather get government to cut taxpayer-underwritten "trade" deals with the Communists than to launch a crusade against them as Reagan seemed to advocate. They were afraid at the very least that Reagan might call an end to "detente" and halt the lucrative government-fostered deals they had with the Soviet Evil Empire. So, the Rockefeller strategists held a secret meeting to discuss ways to keep Reagan from getting the GOP nomination. They were unsuccessful in that, but managed to get Trilateralist George Bush on the ticket as Reagan's running mate after some rather bizarre negotiations finally broke down between Henry Kissinger and Gerald Ford in which Ford would have come onto the ticket as Reagan's "co-President"! The Insiders were obviously worried about a possible Reagan Presidency and were trying desperately to surround him with their own agents or team players.
The rest, as they say, is history. Reagan was elected President, but the Bush operatives, led by James Baker III and Richard Darman, soon won out over the true-believing "Reaganauts" in the game of office politics and forced them out one by one.
EW: So, no matter how good President Reagan's own "instincts" may have been in what policies to pursue, he had to rely increasingly on Bush careerists, who did not share Reagan's professed principles, to implement those policies?
SW: That's right. That's one of the main reasons there was such a disappointing disparity between the Reagan conservative rhetoric and the Reagan Administration's actual accomplishments. Overall federal spending was never really cut, contrary to the anguished cries of the Democrats, for example. Instead of being "slashed" to the bone and rolled back to its proper functions, Big Government -- with its bloated regulatory welfare state -- continues to live on and on and on.
And, of course, there continues to be this struggle within the Republican Party -- between rank-and-file conservatives and libertarians on the one hand and the Rockefeller corporate "liberal" Establishment types on the other -- for the soul of the GOP. That struggle continues to this day.
EW: Sam, you soon became Gary's right-hand man, didn't you?
SW: Yes, Gary early on saw my usefulness as a researcher and summarizer of economic and political data. I began updating his research files and organized them for easier access and use as an information base for Gary's articles in American Opinion magazine, which I also typed up on his old Adler. The way I set up his files allowed them to be used easily for book projects as well. I spent a great deal of my working day reading over newspaper clippings, magazines, newsletters of many times, And I would file the articles or clippings or excerpts in trhe relevant folders for future use. Although I have had to get rid of many of those old files and notes as I moved several times over the past several years, I still have some of the imporant ones . . . stored in boxes.
EW: What did you learn in your years with Gary Allen?
SW: Well, I learned many things, too numerous to recount all here. I learned that what most people get on their TV network news is pretty superficial at best, and that the more significant decisions and events take place behind the scenes, generally unreported by the Establishment television networks. Nowadays, we have the Internet and talk radio, but in those days about the only way to get alternative news and analysis was through subscribing to sometimes obscure newsletters, which generally relied on predicting gloom and doom scenarios to scare up subscribers, or special intelligence briefings.
But, we used a variety of sources. It is always a mistake to rely on only one or two sources -- especially if they are house organs of the Establishment Media which generally parot each other the authoritarian "liberal" line of the moment.
EW: What were some of the newsletters you kept up with?
SW: Well we received many newsletters. Some of the best included Don McAlvany's Advisory, Dr. Gary North's Remnant Review, the Don Bell Report, Antony Sutton's Phoenix Letter, Johnny Johnson's Daily News Digest, and For Your Eyes Only. There were several others.
Gary also had contacts all over the world among various foreign policy and military experts, economists (such as Murray Rothbard and George Reisman), and various scholars of the Left as well as from the Right, and Gary or I would interview these individuals with special inside knowledge in their various areas of expertise. In this way we could often put together a picture of what was happening in certain current events that no one person who was too close to the situation could perceive as a whole.
EW: Then it was this research ability and Gary's special contacts in many fields which gave him special insights and sometimes unique perspectives on the news and the background machinations of the power elites?
SW: Yes, but also his essentially libertarian/conservative framework of basic principles gave him a sound basis for analysis to view conspiracies and power elites and how they operate in the real world. He had been influenced by individualist thinkers such as Ayn Rand and Murray Rothbard and Hans Sennholz, and he was aware of the thorough refutation of the Marxian and other interventionist fallacies which were still being propagated in America's colleges and universities. Because of this sound framework of principles, Gary was able to avoid the errors of some other conspiracy theorists and speculators, especially those who had absorbed various left-wing economic myths and fallacies. This was in contrast to many, if not most, previous conspiratorialists who had a definite "leftish" ideological template through which they viewed power structures and which template caused them wrongly to blame "multinational corporations" or certain ethnic groups (Jewish bankers) as such rather than finding the real locus of power in the interventionist state.
EW: So, you are saying that Gary was one of the few who brought to conspiratology and power structure analysis a philosophical perspective which allowed him to explain and understand things which had baffled or misled others . . . especially the left-wing conspiracy theorists of populism and Marxism?
SW: Yes. For example, he was able to explain in None Dare why certain super-wealthy heirs of capitalistic fortunes had allied themselves with the socialist cause and had promoted and financed various parts of the socialist and even communist cult movements. This was something that did not square with the Left's class warfare theories, and many of the left-wing conspiracy theorists either systematically ignored this obvious problem with their ruling class theories or remained baffled by the discrepancies they allowed themselves to see (if they could) through their faulty templates.
Neither history nor current events are self-explaining. To understand the nature of the importance or significance or relevance of an event or series of events, one must have, either implicitly or explicitly, some kind of theory of importance or significance to use as a standard for what facts will be selected out and why they are relevant and to what are they relevant. This is where ideology and philosophy come into the picture. It is ideology and (more fundamentally) philosophy which provides the template through which history and current events are seen, facts selected or ignored, and on which explanations are based.
Gary was not the absolute first writer on the pro-freedom end of the spectrum to write about conspiracy. Among the most notable were Dan Smoot, Don Bell, Cleon Skousen, and Robert Welch. But it is widely acknowledged that Gary Allen brought it to "the masses" as never before, especially with None Dare Call It Conspiracy being read by people in the millions. He made little or no money out of it, but the book made publishing history.
EW: So, one of Gary's great contributions to conspiracy theory was to bring a fresh right-wing (pro-freedom, pro-American) individualist perspective which allowed him to perceive and explain certain phenomena that left-wing conspiracists could not.
SW: Correct, and Gary's grass-roots, down-to-earth way of expressing both history and current events in terms the average American could appreciate without having to constantly look up various polysyllabic profundities or wading through somewhat humorous but time-and-space-consuming jokes or anecdotes which some writers stick in for filler. In my opinion, Gary's American Opinion articles were among the very best analyses in one of the most under-rated magazines of the Twentieth Century. And his books put "conspiracy" on the map of American consciousness.
Gary Allen's Staunch Anti-Statism
EW: In one of his American Opinion articles Gary says he was converted to an aware anti-Communist conservative when a friend of his got him to read some "controversial" books.
SW: True. John O. Miller, a member of the John Birch Society in Orange County, had challenged Gary to read and refute several books about communism and allegations of treason in the U.S. State Department and other high offices. He went to the public library in hopes of finding "liberal" reviews which would rebut these allegations. Instead he found these books, often written by important former officials, were either attacked superficially or ignored altogether as if they never existed! Bottom line: Gary was forced from evidence he gathered from his own further research to come to the conclusion that the claims of these books were substantially if not entirely true and that there had been an on-going program of subversion of American national interests within top levels of the U.S. Government in favor of Soviet Russia and communist revolutions and regimes in general. This was the beginning of Gary's search for still more answers concerning the true nature of communism.
EW: So, Gary became aware that Communism was not just something "over there" in a far distant part of the globe in another country, but a network of often very high-level agents and operatives inside America's own institutions.
SW: Yes. Although Gary came to be known for his writings on conspiracy and treason in high places -- and especially for his warnings against the piecemeal selling out of American national security and independence to a socialistic New World Order -- he started out focusing on Communism and the Soviet threat. His first published book was Communist Revolution in the Streets. Gary was a staunch anti-Communist of course, as am I, and I continue to be. The international cult movement known as communism was a real threat to America despite the economic failures of its socialist system.
Like the late Antony Sutton, Gary woke many of his fellow Americans up to the way the Soviet military-industrial complex had been built up by the West in general and the United States Government in particular through taxpayer-underwritten and taxpayer-subsidized technological transfers of military weapon systems and dual-use technologies. Although often difficult to gauge accurately, the resulting Soviet military threat was very real and by no means just a "paper tiger" with which to scare Americans into paying taxes to support our own admittedly bloated but necessary military-industrial complex. As Gary had pointed out many times, if this technological aid and government-forced trade with the Soviets had not taken place over the decades, Soviet Communism would have collapsed long ago -- and the American taxpayers would not have had the burden of supporting such a huge military defense establishment.
We have seen a similar pattern with our buildup of the military capabilities of Red China, especially during the Clinton-Gore years when such technical assistance and transfers has put Beijing as many as 15 to 20 years ahead of where they would have been otherwise in nuclear missile and satellite weapon systems capability. This is no doubt going to come back and bite us in the ass increasingly over the next decade or two as Beijing will likely demand more and more concessions from the West through nuclear blackmail. Americans should expect increasingly to be threatened over the next few years. Our major enemies in the world will be hard-core socialist (communist) regimes and terrorists killing in the name of Islam and the Environment. This sellout of American national security is the major legacy of Bill Clinton's Presidency.
EW: Communism has been the most statist system in human history, and as an anti-statist with conservative-libertarian political leanings, Gary was a staunch anti-Communist on the opposite end of the spectrum from Communism and socialism.
SW: Absolutely right. He favored limited constitutional government and free markets and a policy of peace through strength militarily for America. Moreover, Gary realized that communism is not a movement of the poor, downtrodden masses but rather a scam for super-wealthy special interest elitists to grab political power over the rest of society. He saw communism and socialism as tools of certain powerful and wealthy interests for concentrating and consolidating power in the hands of a few -- not one that disperses power among the regular people in society. Communists may revolt in the name of the people and rule in the name of the people, but "the people" have no say in a Communist regime. Look at North Korea or the Castro regime in Cuba. Everyone is forced to get what they need from the monopoly government store -- and no market alternatives are allowed. Peoples' choices are severely limited.
EW: You mentioned talk radio earlier. What are some of your favorite talk shows?
SW: I personally like libertarian talk show personalities like Neal Boortz and Larry Elder, and I like good conservatives such as Rush Limbaugh, Michael Reagan, Gordon Liddy, Marlin Maddoux, Michael Savage, Laura Igraham, Roger Hedgecock. In my opinion, they're beginning to make a big difference. There are many other good ones as well that are local and not nationally syndicated. I can remember when about the only nationally syndicated radio talk show host was ultra-"liberal" Democrat Larry King! We've come a long way, baby!
EW: What about television?
SW: Forget it. Today's TV programming is very poor overall -- mostly garbage. Anyone who judges the U.S. and American culture by watching such sleezy human-zoo TV shows as Jerry Springer or Ricki Lake would be making a big mistake. About the only good thing on regular TV worth watching is John Stossel. Otherwise, I think the country would be a whole lot better off if people never turned on their TVs or, even better, unplugged the nasty things and threw them in a dumpster somewhere. Along with public schools and mind-altering drugs, TV will be the ruination of America's youth.
EW: What web sites do you recommend?
SW: I like WorldNetDaily.com, Townhall.com, RushLimbaugh.com, Capitalism.net, EnterStageRight.com, Reagan.com, InsightMag.com, FreeRepublic.com, Frank Gaffney's CenterForSecurityPolicy.org, Howard Phillip's Conservativeusa.org, IntellectualActivist.com, David Horowitz's FrontPageMag.com, and it is good to keep an eye on DrudgeReport.com and Lucianne.com as well. These are just a few, of course. There are many other good sites, too numerous to list or even remember.
But, I warn anyone and everyone not to take anything they read on the Internet as gospel without getting some strong verification. Remember: there are good conspiracy theories and there are flaky conspiracy speculations out there. Beware of the disinformation campaigns by such groups as the Cristic Institute or the cult followers of crypto-Trotskyite Lyndon Larouche or those who just want to obfuscate and confuse rather than clearly define the issues and clarify what's going on. Always watch for the hidden agenda, especially of leftists pretending to be flag-waving pro-American patriots. Is what they are advocating something that would hurt American free enterprise and individual freedom and our national security -- or further jeopardize our freedoms and increase the tax burden? Do they favor American unilateral independence -- or the submergence of the U.S. into a collectivist New World Order?
EW: Isn't LaRouche the fellow who went to prison for mail fraud or credit card theft?
SW: Yes, but some of his indoctrinated minions still are out there, bilking good Americans out of their hard-earned money while promoting Lyndon's lunatic left-wing agenda. The Larouchites who hang out in front of Post Offices give the unwary passerby the impression that they are good Americans; after all, they have small American flags on their tables and sometimes a bumper sticker reads "Feed Jane Fonda to the whales!" To those of us who remember the treasonous acts of Hanoi Jane, that sounds good. But the LaRouchites are as left-wing as Jane Fonda, and they work through several front groups to deceive the public. Two of their main front groups have been the National Democratic Policy Committee and the U.S. Labor Party, a group that promotes LaRouche's fascistic brand of socialism.
EW: So, you are saying people have to be careful not to be taken in by phony patriots.
SW: That's right. Also, remember to be selective and discriminating in what and whom to believe. Just because the Establishment talking heads like Peter Jennings and Dan Rather are against it doesn't mean you should reflexively be for whatever it is, or if they ignore it altogether, that does not necessarily mean it is true news. The Internet is full of information, disinformation and misinformation, but it is a powerful tool which people can use to keep abreast of issues and with which to communicate with like-minded patriots.
The JFK Assassination
EW: Many books have been written propagating many conspiracy theories concernning the assassination of President Kennedy. Several movies have been created in Hollywood such as Oliver Stone's JFK. What's your view?
SW: Some folks may find it ironic that I have gradually changed my view over the years. Early on I was quite open-minded to the idea that there was a vast conspiracy behind the JFK assassination, but I began to realize that the authors whose books propounded the various conspiracy views often had their own ideological axes to grind and that they were quite selective in the facts they cited -- and sometimes conjured up entire scenarios without any evidence at all.
This impression was confirmed for me when I heard a speech on the JFK assassination by former prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi (the man who successfully prosecuted Charles Manson and his gang of murderers back in the 1970s), and the logical and persuasive way he handled himself in the spirited question-and-answer session. Bugliosi's talk, and the non-evasive way he answered all questions, especially the hostile ones, impressed me very much, even though I often disagree with Bugliosi politically. He put to rest, in my opinion, several nagging issues which had been advanced by Mark Lane and others on the subject. After that, Mark Lane, a left-leaning lawyer who had early on published books on his conspiracy theories about the assassination, became less and less credible to me because of the way he twisted the facts to make them fit his preconceived scenarios.
As far as Oliver Stone's movie JFK, it is almost pure fiction. There are occasional facts in it, but if you didn't know what they were you'd have to be sitting with someone who knows them to be able to pick them out of all of the made-up stuff. No one should come away from that movie thinking they have learned much real history. There is no evidence, for example, of any memo by Kennedy indicating he wanted to bring the troops home from Vietnam and stop the war.
EW: So, you don't believe JFK was assassinated because he was planning to stop the war in Vietnam as some on the Left have tried to suggest.
SW: No. I doubt the assassination had anything to do with Vietnam, which at that time was not yet a major issue in the American political consciousness.
EW: Who killed Kennedy and why did they do it?
SW: I have come to believe, based on the hard evidence, that Kennedy was murdered by a self-styled "Marxist-anarchist" named Lee Harvey Oswald in retaliation for Kennedy's attempts to assassinate socialist dictator Fidel Castro. Oswald was an extreme left-wing activist who believed fervently in Castro's brand of socialism and he had strong disagreements with American foreign policy in Latin America, especially the policies of the Kennedy administration, which he saw as very anti-Communist. Before he shot JFK, Oswald had tried to assassinate General Edwin A. Walker -- an outspoken anti-Communist and critic of the Castro regime -- but his bullet was deflected by Walker's windshield.
EW: So, do you think Oswald was the only one involved?
SW: Probably, but not necessarily. He was at least the primary trigger man. I believe that much of the propaganda that seeks to defend the notion that Oswald was just a "patsy" and had nothing to do with the assassination is disinformation intended to distract the American public from remembering that the assassin was a hard-core reactionary leftist who hated capitalism and hated Kennedy because of his anti-Communist policies vis-a-vis Castro. As long as the left can make it seem that "we don't know" who killed JFK or that some nebulous, mysterious conspiratorial group was responsible, they hope they can avoid the huge PR setback for socialism and Marxism that would ensue if more people clearly understood the truth.
EW: So, you don't think Conspiracy was involved?
SW: I think Ockham's Razor makes any elaborate conspiratorial explanation unnecessary in the case of the JFK assassination. I think the real conspiracy is the Left-Wing Establishment's propaganda coverup for Oswald, a devoted leftist, being involved because of the embarrassment and discredit that would mean for their ideology and fanatic cause of global socialism and New World Order. And some good conservatives and libertarians have been sucked in by this left-wing strategy of conspiracy weavers -- propounding a web of Evil so mysterious that it seduces and fires up the imaginations of those whose minds are drawn to such spurious speculations. The real conspiracy is the conspiracy to divert peoples' attention from Lee Harvey Oswald as culprit and as the Castro-loving, America-hating left winger that he was. And that the roots of this kind of violence are in the many-times-refuted, putrid anti-capitalist Marxist ideology in which he believed and which motivated him -- and which still to this day continues to drive many college-indoctrinated leftists to commit irrational acts of violence against America and mankind.
Rotten Ideas Have Consequences
EW: So, Oswald and nuts like the "Unabomber" Theodore Kaczynski were ultimately driven by a religious-like devotion to certain Far Left ideas which caused them to hate American freedom and capitlaism, and this hatred culminated in their violent acts.
SW: Yes, the Twentieth Century saw the most violent, statist regimes on the face of the Earth, committing the most horrible acts of torture, mass murder, and enslavement of hundreds of millions of human beings by Communism and Naziism. All of this misery had its roots in bad ideas -- the false notions of hard-core socialism -- the crackpot anti-individualist, anti-capitalist cults of Marxism, Leninism, Trotskyism, etc. and their theoretical roots in the philosophies of Kant, Hegel, Nietzsche, and Sartre.
EW: You seem to be suggesting that overturning these wrong-headed ideas from the reactionary Left would go a long way to helping to achieve less government, more individual responsibility, and a better world.
SW: Yes. The most important battle in the war against the Eastern "liberal" (welfare-state fascist) Establishment and the socialistic New World Order is the battle of ideas and winning over the minds of more people to the cause of freedom -- making more and more people aware of the fact that the fallacies of Marxism, Mercantilism, Keynesianism, Social Creditism and other left-wing ideologies have been thoroughly refuted, and then persuasively making the case for freedom, private property, and free-market capitalism.
EW: So, you are saying that merely "exposing conspiracy" or evil motives is not enough.
SW: Exactly right. The road to socialism is often paved with the "best" of intentions. As long as people continue to sanction as legitimate and acceptable the idea that the political state may intervene to take from some and give to others -- that the government may meddle in the peaceful affairs of the marketplace for any reason -- then special interests and would-be monopolists will continue to cluster around Congress and the regulatory agencies to obtain special privileges and favors. Conspiratorial elites are inevitable as long as government is permitted to engage in what Frederic Bastiat called "legal plunder" in his famous essay The Law. Even if you could somehow imprison or kill off everyone in the CFR, the Trilateral Commission, and the Bilderberg conferences, it wouldn't solve the problem: As long as the regulatory powers of the interventionist state remained intact, there would be plenty of people waiting in the wings to take their places in the power structure of the Establishment and continue to serve the same goals of world government and collectivism.
If government were constitutionally prohibited from meddling in the private affairs and voluntary (market) exchanges of peaceful people, and restricted to protecting the persons and properties of peaceful folks from criminal violation and foreign aggression, no conspiracy of would-be monopolists or special-interest hustlers could use political power to obtain special privileges, exploitative monopolies, or subsidies at the expense of the taxpayers. Without government intervention, the chain of conspiracy could be broken forever! It is no wonder that the real Insiders of the New World Order fear and oppose laissez faire like Count Dracula dreads garlic and silver crosses!
Only when the scope of government is limited to its proper functions, and the machinery of bureaucratic interventionism is dismantled, can we put an end to any and all monopolistic conspiracies or plots to take over the world politically. And only when the false ideas behind legal plunder and the interventionist regulatory welfare state are completely discredited in the minds of enough people can we succeed in getting control over "our" government and bind it down to its proper functions by a policy of strict laissez faire.
Those who naively believe that Establishment Insiders and their New World Order conspiracies can ever be defeated permanently without first overturning the myths and fallacies of collectivism are only kidding themselves.
It is the socialist and interventionist fallacies -- which have already been refuted by scholars on the pro-freedom side of the spectrum -- which are still believed by many and which still keep millions of people in misery as a result. I figure there are fewer than two or three dozen main myths, fallacies, and cliches of statism which, if refuted in the minds of enough people, would not only spell the doom for the forces of evil, but pave the way for a return to the principles and ideas that once made this country great. Without the widespread belief in these fallacies, and the popular sanctioning of the use of government power as legitimate to intervene in the peaceful affairs of the marketplace to take from some to give to others, no conspiracy of would-be monopolists or political internationalists would be able to use the legal tool of government to cash in on special privileges and subsidies at the forced expense of other citizens. A policy of laissez faire would mean it would be illegal and unconstitutional for government officials to intervene, either to help or to hinder, any firm or business interest; so, politicians and government officials could no longer peddle interventionist privileges in exchange for campaign contributions (bribes) from the special interests. There would no longer be an incentive, as there is now, for special-interest lobbies and pressure groups to cluster around government like flies around a garbage can.
EW: Wouldn't that mean that campaign finance corruption would be a thing of the past also?
SW: Yes, essentially. It would certainly be reduced considerably. With no special privileges to peddle, politicians running for office would no longer get offers of big money, either under the table or above board, by special interests since they would have nothing to gain from such contributions (bribes).
"What We Are For Must Be More Important Than What We Are Against" -- Robert Welch
EW: You have described the political system you advocate as the Laissez-Faire Republic..
SW: That's right. . . .
EW: How is your system, and your concept of freedom, different from other libertarians? How is it different from the views of the late Andrrew Galambos or Murray Rothbard?
SW: My view of freedom is essentially the same as those of most other libertarians. A person is free when he (or she) has the right of exclusive control over that which is his (or her) own -- his or her body and property. It is the absence of coercive interference from other people, including government. And I advocate this freedom be respected and protected for all peaceful people.
EW: Isn't this what Galambos advocated?
SW: No, not at all. Before he died Prof. Galambos published his own definition of freedom as involving 100% total control over one's property. This would require each owner to have omnipotent (god-like) control over every atom and every molecule of his or her property. Since each owner would have to be a God, I don't expect to see this definition of freedom coming into fruition any time soon! My definition of freedom in a social context is much less ambitious and does not require that each peaceful owner have TOTAL (omnipotent) control over his property but only the EXCLUSIVE right of control. What is excluded is OTHER HUMAN BEINGS. If a meteor falls on your property and puts a hole in your roof, your freedom has not been violated at all by my definition. The meteor is not a human being. For your freedom to be violated, an act of "violence" or "coercion" must be committed against you and this must be committed by another human being, NOT by a meteor, the aging process, wild animals, or any other non-volitionally-directed entity or force of nature. So, a person is free when his exclusive right of control over that which is his is not interfered with by other humans. If another human being does something with or to your property or your body without your permission or against your will, that is a violation of your freedom -- BUT if a meteor crashes through your roof, that may be unfortunate but it is not relevant to my definition of freedom.
What is Coercion?
EW: Could you give a succinct definition of "coercion" or "violence" and illustrate it by examples?
SW: Yes, certainly. ."Coercion" (or "violent force") is an act by a human or humans against the will or without the permission of another human being with respect to that which is his own (his own person or property). It means for someone to take, use, meddle with or otherwise do something to the body or property of another human being without the permission or against the will of that other human being. This includes fraud and embezzlement and other indirect uses of force as well as direct physical violence.
If someone does something to the body or property of
someone else without their permission or against their
will, that is what I mean by coercion, coercive force, or
violence in this context. There are two kinds of
coercion: initiatory coercion (using coercive force
against someone who has not committed a coercive act
against anyone), and retaliatory coercion (the use of
coercive force in retaliation against someone who has
initiated the use of coercion against someone).
It is the initiation of the use of coercion that all libertarians (by definition) oppose on principle. It is only initiatory coercion (violent force or fraud) which involves the violation of the self-ownership or private property rights of innocent human beings (those who have not initiated the use of violence against anyone). There may be a very few gray areas or possible exceptions to this general "non-aggression" rule over which libertarians sometimes disagree, but this is the basic principle which sets libertarians off from other political viewpoints and upon which they base their other positions.
EW: So, libertarians are not just "conservatives on steroids" or "conservatives who believe in having fun"?
SW: Technically, they take a hard-core, principled position in limiting government in the use of its powers. But I should point out that libertarianism is a political position only. It does not seek to address matters of personal morality -- how people should behave in their personal lives or in their voluntary (market) relations with others; it only proscribes the initiation of the use of force and stands for a strong defense of the rights of person and property of peaceful citizens from criminal violation and foreign threat as proper functions of government. There are many differences among libertarians, just as there are various differences among Americans in general. Some are religious; others are not. Some have a background as students of Objectivism and the moral base it extols; others do not. But, the non-aggression rule, as variously and sometimes very broadly interpreted, and the desire to roll back statism in order to free the adult peaceful individual to use his or her property as he or she sees fit, is what all libertarians have in common.
EW: What do you mean by a "voluntary relationship" or a market exchange?
SW: A voluntary relationship is a relationship in which the wills of all the participants coincide (agree) with respect to the terms of the relationship. A voluntary relationship does not (necessarily) mean one in which a person "volunteers" in the sense of performing some work for no material compensation (such as donating ones time and energies to working for a charity or on civic activities). It includes any mutually agreed-upon exchange (such as working as an employee for a company in exchange for a salary or wages.) Libertarians oppose any coercive interference -- either by government or by criminals -- with such voluntary exchanges. This is why libertarians oppose government controls on prices, wages, rents, and interest rates -- since such controls represent coercive interference with the terms of voluntary exchanges and relationships.
These definitions imply 1) a social context, 2) a volitional context, and an 3) ownership context. The definitions assume that human beings have wills (desires, says-sos, wishes) over which they have at least some control and that there is more than one human living in the same area. (An individual human being living on an otherwise deserted island would be outside our context since he would not be able to coerce anyone or be coerced by anyone; nor would he be able to engage in any voluntary relationship since that would require at least one other person with whom to interact.)
A Concept of Freedom
We say someone is (or theoretically would be) "free" or enjoys "civil liberty" if there is an absence of coercion in his life while living in a social context. In other words, a man is free or "has freedom" to the extent that, in a social context, he retains exclusive right of control over that which belongs to him (his person and his legitimately acquired property). All true freedom is expressed in terms of the rights of Self-Ownership and Private Property.
If I tie my shoes in a way that you do not like, I am meeting only the first two of the three criteria – that is, I am a human being and I am doing something against someone else's will; however, I am not doing anything against someone else's will with respect to that which is their own (their person or property). Notice that I am performing the action on my own shoes, not someone else's. If, however, I were to go over and tie your shoes against your will or without your permission, that would be an act of coercion. This is a simple, and somewhat silly, hypothetical example to illustrate the point of distinction.
EW: But let's take up some real-world, everyday examples to see how the definition applies. What about TV and radio commercials or advertising in general? Is that coercive of human rights? Do toilet paper commercials compel us to "squeeze the Charmin"? And what about companies like Microsoft, which are so big? Are they not monopolistic?
The Three Criteria for Coercion
SW: OK. Keep in mind my definition involves three criteria to qualify an act as "coercive" or "violent": 1) it must be committed by a human being (not a meteor or a wild animal or any other non-volitionally-directed entity or force of nature); 2) it must be against someone's will or without their permission; and 3) it must be a violation of someone's will with respect to their body or property. Let's look at advertising. The advertiser is a human being, so the first criterion is fulfilled, but the second and third criteria are not fulfilled. The advertiser is not doing anything against the will of the onlooker. If that were so, the onlooker could turn to a different channel or turn off the TV. And even if the TV commercial is something the viewer or listener does not like, it does not come out of the radio or TV set and grab his or her body or do anything to his or her property. All an advertisement seeks to do, whether it is a radio spot, TV commercial or a newspaper ad, is to try to change the will of the viewer or listener to concide with the will of the advertiser, and this attempt in no way involves the use of violence.
You asked about Microsoft. If a software manufacturer offers his product at a lower price, does this constitute violence against the rights of his competitors or anyone else? Not at all. It is merely the offering of a deal, which people may take or leave as they choose. Microsoft's competitors may not like the deals it offers to consumers, but as long as Bill Gates does not order goon squads to go over and shoot up or otherwise physically trash the headquarters or operations of his competitors, he is doing nothing whatsoever to those competitors' bodies or properties. It is the consumers who choose to accept or reject the offered deals -- and the competitors who are indirectly affected; but that is not violence according to my definition. And as long as Microsoft or other businesses confine themselves to using only market means (persuasion to induce voluntary exchange) and not coercive violence, we say the government should not interfere. This is the meaning of laissez faire. It is only when someone initiates the use of violence against the person or property of someone else that government has a legitimate role in steppiing in and either trying to prevent that act of initiatory coercion or retaliating against it in the pursuit of some form of justice.
EW: What if a representative of "the Mafia" tells a storekeeper that his place of business will be hit by a bomb or riddled with bullets if he does not fork over a certain amount of "protection money" every week, is this a threat of violence?
SW: Clearly, it certainly is. And if an organized group of people called "the government" confiscate a man's bank account because, they say, he "owes" back taxes, is this coercion? The answer is clearly yes. If agents of the government take or use a man's land for "public use" or if they regulate him concerning how he may use his own land, does this constitute violence? Of course, it does.
EW: How does one know when his or her rights have been violated in any given situation?
SW: Has violence or "coercion" been initiated or not? If someone does something to the body or property of someone else without their permission or against their will, that is what we mean by coercion, coercive force, or violence in this context, according to the tripartite definition I gave before. I believe there are relatively few if any "grey areas" in answering these questions if one consistently adheres to the three-part definition of "coercion" or "violent force" above.
EW: That definition of coercion certainly seems to make things pretty clear-cut. Speaking of definitions, what do you think about the idea of "primary property" as advanced by some followers of Dr. Galambos?
SW: I want to point out that I am not a student of Dr. Galambos and am not familiar with the details of his particular formulation of this notion. I have mixed feelings about what I've heard from his followers. While I certainly favor rewarding those who invent and discover, I am yet to be persuaded that inventions and discoveries come under what I consider to be property. This is especially true of discoveries, it seems to me. How can you "own" the Law of Gravity? The idea of and even the term "primary property" itself goes back at least as far as the late 18th century, but my understanding is that Dr. Galambos has developed it in a more refined manner and his followers will develop the concept still further as new technologies become available. My mind is not closed to persuasion on this issue, but at present I am taking a wait-and-see attitude. This is a complex matter. My mind is open and optimistic.
I Favor Crime Prevention & Deterence
EW: What other differences do your views have with those of Professor Galambos?
SW: Let me say I am a great admirer of the late Professor Galambos and have few differences with what I know of his views. But I do disagree on some points. The Natural Republic which Dr. Galambos advocated involves the use of purely prophylactic (non-violent, non-political) mechanisms for protecting property boundaries from criminal tresspass. I enthusiastically support and encourage the development of such defense-in-advance mechanisms to prevent crime -- better locks, stronger doors, more effective burglar alarms, perhaps perimeter force fields in the future . . . . but I contend that for every new kind of lock invented, some criminal or potential criminal can eventually figure out how to "pick" that lock using the same technology on which it is based. As such technological defenses against crime become more sophisticated, the criminals learn to become more sophisticated in undoing them or getting past them. Of course, if such defense-in-advance mechanisms as locks on doors, burglar alarms, night watchmen, force fields, etc. could deter crime 100 percent, and the technology on which they depended was not accessible by the criminal element, then (theoretically at least) there would never be any crime -- and, presumably, no need for political government or any other criminal justice system. But, as I said before, the problem is that criminals eventually learn to "pick" each new lock that comes along from the mind of inventors. Beyond that, moreover, is that human beings have freedom of will so that a man may be a good citizen and respect the property of his neighbors one day and yet decide to act in a criminal manner the next by resorting to theft if he thinks he can get away with it.
It is mainly for these two reasons that I see the need for some kind of political government to provide after-the-fact attention to crime, imperfect though that approach admittedly is. The fact that it is imperfect does not argue convincingly against the need for it.
So, this takes us back to the big question of political philosophy: how are peaceful citizens to be protected against their protectors (government agents) if and when those agents become corrupted and become criminals themselves or allies with the criminals -- as they have done? This is where the idea of the Laissez-Faire Republic comes in. For it is only by restricting government to a policy of laissez faire that we can prevent violent force being used to favor some special interests at the expense of others, and it is only through such a policy that individual freedom may flourish within a social context, based on the rule of law of a constitutional republic.
EW: What hope do we have for freedom in the future? For the actual achievement of such a Republic? Is it practical?
SW: Well, we know what has worked in the past -- at least what worked quite well compared to other systems -- the Anglo-American Constitutional Republic as it has evolved in fits and spurts from the narrow class demands in the Magna Carta of 1215 to the idea of the universal rights of peaceful adult humans as expressed in the American Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Bill of Rights, and as refined by the modern libertarian scholars. On my website I include a section on the major historical documents which comprise the (mainly) Anglo-American tradition of limiting the scope of government (originally the King and his agents) by constitutional law and bills of rights to carve out enclaves of freedom for peaceful, self-responsible individuals. But when a person ceases to be peaceful, and initiates the use of violence, coercion, force, or fraud against the life, liberty, or property of others, he forfeits the right to be left alone uncoerced by government.
What I mean by the Laissez-Faire Republic would be the culmination of that development toward liberty and is the ideal republic toward which the original American Constitutional Republic was the most important step in history. For this to work in practice, there must be a whole body of reasonable, settled law -- such as the English Common Law and evolved Roman civil law -- and a general willingness to abide by the principles expressed therein in the settlement of disputes. Mainly, this means a well-developed system of law defining, recognizing, and protecting private property rights. Private property rights provide a legal framework within which disputes may be settled and problems solved without the arbitrariness of might-makes-right violence. In other words, the idea behind a republic -- as opposed to a monarchy, or an oligarchy, or a democracy -- is that government will be bound down by Principle rather than guided by changing arbitrary Whims, whether it be the whim of one man, a small group of men, or a majority of voters of the moment.
The ultimate choice is between Government by Principle or Government by Whim. Ah, but what principle, you may ask. The Laissez-Faire Republic would be based on and restricted by the principle of indiviudal rights of self and property of peaceful adult citizens, and rules of the game that would not be easily changed so that some players could not gain an artificial advantage over other players by such change. In short, I believe the Glorious Revolution of 1688 in England and the American founding fathers were on the right track, and the Laissez-Faire Republic would build on their relative success, learning from these experiences -- and perfect what they started and put into motion. I believe the founders were on the right track with the idea of limiting government by law and Constitution and checks and balances. Instead of abandoning their path, we should learn from and build on their partial success and make it better.
EW: So, Dr. Galambos or Robert LeFevre would try to deal with the problem of crime without using any political retaliation or police apparatus, but you yourself still see the need for political government in the area of local police, national defense, and a law court system or at least a Supreme Court. . . .
SW: Yes, although I do agree with the Rothbardians in the need for retaliatory justice, I maintain there is no such thing as a "market court"; I make a distinction between such market services as marriage counselling agencies and arbitration agencies -- which have no authority at all to enforce their recommendations on anyone and depend wholly on the voluntary consent of those clients who go to them for advice -- and true government courts which have the police power at their disposal to enforce their judgements and penalties on those convicted of crimes. And I see the need for a Supreme Court of some sort for the ultimate adjudication of disputes that have for whatever reason not been resolved in either market arbitration or lower courts in the government's jurisdiction.
Keep in mind that as soon as any actor uses coercion or violence, for whatever reason, he or she ceases to be a purely market agent and becomes instead a "coercive entity" at least in the instant in which he or she acts coercively. This may sometimes be necessary -- as in the case of someone running down and tackling a robber trying to get away and holding him under Citizen's Arrest for the authorities; but, market entities are those characterized by non-coercive activities of voluntary exchange, and someone becomes something else when he or she goes beyond that and uses coercion for any reason.
Coercion, even when used in a rightful manner in retaliation against initiatory coercion, is not a market means or mechanism. There is, therefore, no such thing as a free-market policeman. There are free-market watchmen and guards -- but not market police officers. It is the failure of some libertarians to make the distinction between market entities and coercive (criminal or political) entities that has led some to embrace what the late great economist Murray Rothbard dubbed "anarcho capitalism"....
EW: This was the system Murray Rothbard described briefly in the first chapter of his later edition of Power and Market and other writings?
SW: Yes. But a gang is not a market agency just because one calls it a market agency. If it uses coercion -- violence of any kind, either initiatory or retaliatory -- it is not a market activity of bilateral voluntarism. It is not a market agency, even though Dr. Rothbard, as brilliant though he was, tried to present such competing vigilante committees and coercive gangs as an economic (market) alternative to political states. States by any other name still smell the same. And, indeed, what he advocated and called "anarcho-capitalism" -- and what I call "polyarchal vigilantism" or competing governments -- actually exists already in the world as a whole -- and always has existed. Since there is no ONE single world government, what we see in the real world are several "competing" political states, each controlling different geographical territories. I should point out that there is nothing in this political competition which benefits the citizen by producing more freedom; generally, the reverse is true: war -- the ultimnate political competition -- destroys individual rights and allows governments to usurp more power over their citizens. The point is that there is nothing in what Dr. Rothbard advocated that would cause his (supposedly) "market" retaliation agencies to restrict themselves to the proper function of violence (to protect rights and not violate them). Competition in the political arena does not work the same way that market alternatives in the economic marketplace operate to serve consumers. Competing governments or vigilante gangs are not market agencies. They are coercive entities. This means that Rothbardian "anarchism" is not really anarchism at all since, in the real world, what he advocated would be whart we already have now, and have always had: political strife on different levels vying for power.
We don't really have any choice of whether we shall have government or no government, but only in what kind of government it will be -- a government restrained by Principle (some kind of republic) or a statist tyranny which has no limits to the whims which direct it.
EW: But could not the Rothbardian libertarians say the same thing about your Laissez-Faire Republic -- that it would not necessarily restrain itself to its proper duties as well?
SW: They might -- but I'd point out that it is much easier to exercise eternal vigilance over one, fairly local system of government than to have to worry about a dozen or a hundred during a situation of constant civil wars. Ask yourself: isn't it hard enough to keep an eye on the shenanigans of Clinton and the Congress here in the United States -- let alone 150 some odd political regimes around the world?
Those who advocate "anarchy" (competing states) don't offer a better way or any alternative to statism at all. The "competition" (war) between the United States of America and the Confederate States of America did not result in more freedom and less statism for most people. Even though the slaves (in only the seceding states) were freed, the states lost most of their sovereignty as the consequence of the War Between the States and this centralized power in the national government began increasingly to intervene in the economy as never before and in the decades following the U.S. system was changed by adding such statist fixtures as the Interstate Commerce Commission, a national graduated income tax, the Federal Reserve central banking scheme, and other "populist" or "progressive" measures of the socialistic Left.
Obviously, there is no system made up of human beings that will automatically restrict itself to its proper functions (that proper role having been well-described in Bastiat's The Law, or Ayn Rand's Textbook of Americanism or Benson's On the Proper Role of Government). But using rational laws, due process, and written constitutions to bind government down from "mischief" (tyranny) helps a great deal. The reverence for the Constitution and the general respect for law among the populace can be a powerful force in this effort. By contrast, there is no such thing as a constitutional anarchy. (I went into much more analytical detail on this subject of Rothbardian "anarchy" in a manuscript I wrote in 1978, a small portion of which was published in the February 1979 issue of Reason Frontlines.)
EW: Sam, what advice would you give to those possible constitution writers of the future in their attempt to limit the scope of government to the policy of laissez faire? What could they do that the American Founders of the U.S. failed to accomplish?
SW: I salute the great genius James Madison and his noble endeavors as Father of the Constitution. I salute George Mason, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and the other Founders. I think they were on the right track. Constitutional checks and balances are essential aids to keeping government in its proper place. These constitutional mechanisms are among the most important means used to help limit government to its proper role in order to achieve and maintain the end of freedom for peaceful citizens. They seek to stop or at least slow down an overall statist impulse by pitting the interests and natures of human beings in the political arena against one another in such a way as to avoid any one man or group of men centralizing enough political power to tyrannize over the rest of society. Sometimes these schemes work and sometimes they don't, but the idea behind them was and still is a great one that we should not abandon.
Perhaps we can come up with even better checks and balances to better limit government and keep corruption and tyranny at bay. Perhaps someone will invent an ingenious system of checks and balances so carefully keyed to the government's revenue devices that whenever public officials tended to go beyond their proper functions and would begin to encroach on the liberties of the people, the revenue to those officials would quickly and sharply decline in response. In other words, wouldn't it be great if the revenue to government was somehow made to be inversely proportional to the extent that the government tried to go beyond its proper authority, and would drop off dramatically if and when government officials usurped powers they had no right to claim? Of course, it would! But, how would one set up a system to work like that, a system made up of human beings, with all their various drives and ambitions and intentions?
No system of checks and balances is likely to be perfect. The Constitution does not enforce itself; it is writing on parchment. Whether the system works or not depends on the people in it, and their reverence for the rule of law and loyalty in upholding the Constitution and Bill of Rights. I would like to believe that today we have a clearer idea of what laissez faire is and what it requires, and that clarity of goal on the part of a sufficient number of people is our greatest hope and assurance of success. If enough people can keep their eyes on the real "eight ball" which is at the core of freedom for all peaceful adult citizens, namely, the proper recognition and protection of the true rights of Self-Ownership and Private Property as the sacred principles on which individual liberty rests, then they will not lose sight of that precious goal for which constitutional checks and balances are among the means for achieving.
Ultimately, the price of liberty is eternal vigilance to keep government in its proper place -- and this requires a sufficient number of people who understand what that is and what it requires. Ayn Rand showed us the way to make this possible by explaining that politics does not exist or evolve in a philosophical vacuum -- that the kind of political system a culture has will tend to depend on the kind of philosophical and moral foundations which dominate that culture. A culture mired in the soil substrate of irrationalism and the ethics of human sacrifice will almost certainly sprout a collectivist tree with tyrannical, statist branches. On the other hand, a culture with a sound foundation and topsoil of reason and individual rights will more naturally support the Tree of Liberty and constitutional government -- one that CAN be monitored with vigilance so that freedom can be jealously guarded from usurpation. Such a system would be the Laissez-Faire Republic which I advocate and which I believe is doable in the real world. Unlike socialistic central-planning oligarchies or the unlimited statism of anarcho-whimarchy, the Laissez-Faire Republic is based on and is consistent with the nature of reality and the nature of man, and is therefore approachable in the real world and ultimately practicable.
What about Driver's Licenses?
EW: Some well-intentioned patriots and "state citizens" claim that they do not need a driver's license. Do people really have an absolute right to drive on any and all roads and highways without a driver's license? What's your opinion?
SW: I think people have a natural right to do anything they want with THEIR OWN STUFF -- their own person and properties -- as long as they do not violate the rights of others by doing something to the persons or properties of others against the wills of the owners or without their permission. It is the ownership boundaries of the properties involved in any given situation which determine who decides what.
If you own a thousand acres of land and make a little road that goes around on that land, you can drive on that road as much as you want and at any speed you want since it's YOUR road and what you are doing does not involve the person or property of anyone else. You don't need a license to drive on your own road. You give yourself permission to do so. You are not a threat to the person, liberty, or property of anyone but yourself.
If, on the other hand, you drive on SOMEONE ELSE'S road, you drive by the permission of that road's owner and under conditions set by that owner. The owner of the road has a right to set the conditions under which people may drive on his or her road. This may include speed limits or driver's licensing or toll fees. Obviously, if the company that owns a road makes the conditions for driving on it too restrictive or the toll too high, not very many folks will choose to drive on it if they can find alternate routes and the company will lose revenue instead of making profits. It will be in the self-interest of the road company to maximize traffic on its road consistent with safety and maintenance considerations. But I think that reasonable requirements in terms of safe driving, speed limitations, etc. may be set by whoever owns or manages a road or highway. There is no absolute right to drive on someone else's property.
EW: So, if the government owns a thoroughfare, it reasonably has the authority to set contractual requirements for the use of that highway by requiring driver's licenses, speed limit observance, the avoidance of reckless driving (with the purpose of achieving wreckless driving), etc.
SW: Yes, that's my view at present.
EW: Though not himself a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, President George W. Bush has at least a few members of the CFR or Trilateral Commission in his administration. What do you make of this President?
SW: Well, I have tried to give "Dubya" the benefit of the doubt. He did, after all, come through on his promise of a tax cut, meagre though it was. Still, $300 or $600 is a significant amount for many people these days. Gore would not have done that at all. And, no matter what others may say, I admit to giving a big sigh of relief when Bush won out in the 2000 elections over Albert Gore. What Bush really thinks down in his heart of hearts, and what he will do in the future, is relatively unknown -- but we know the direction Gore would have taken America given how far left he is. If you read Gore's book and check his candid positions, you will find they are pretty similar to the notions of Ted Kaczynski, the Unabomber nutball who murdered several people. So, for several reasons, I am glad it was Bush and not Gore who won the election. I have to disagree with those who sat back cynically with the claim there was not a dime's worth of difference in 2000. There was a difference. Not as much of a difference as I'd like, but a real difference in my judgement. I know Bush is not a real conservative, much less a libertarian, but neither is he as far to the left as Albert Gore. Gore would have had no problem signing the Kyoto Treaty which Bush refused.
I have tried to give President Bush the benefit of the doubt, as I say, and I don't automatically assume his views are identical to those of his father just because he is his son. But Bush's picking Henry Kissinger to head the commission to investigate the intelligence failures which led to 9/11/01 is kind of like picking the fox to investigate chicken abductions at the hen house! I have never trusted Kissinger. He loves power too much and has been corrupted by "The Ring" -- and, like the nasty little Gollum character in Lord of the Rings, he would love to have it back. With Kissinger heading up that investigation, we may never know the real truth about what happened. When I heard the news that Bush had appointed Kissinger to head that commission, it made me sick because I knew the fix was in.
We all know Lord Acton's Syndrome: "Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely." Some individuals are more corruptible than others. The Clintons naturally come to mind, of course. And Daschle. But Kissinger should not be trusted with any power and should be kept as far away from the levers of government as is possible, in my opinion. Kissinger was David Rockefeller's left-hand man at Chase Manhattan and served as National Security Advisor and later as Secretary of State under Presidents Nixon and Ford. He sold us out in his various treaty negotiations and abandoned Southeast Asia to communism. Kissinger was a terrible choice for Bush to make for any position.
The problem is: how do we punish Bush for his leftward lurches without helping the Democrats and thereby hurting our own country? We don't want to return to the days when Daschle and the Democrats controlled Congress, and we don't want to see a Democrat become President because none of the possible Democrat contenders are even as good as what we have now in Bush 43. These days there are very few if any conservative Democrats anymore. The Democrat Party has become America's Socialist Party. Voting third party (i.e., Libertarian Party or the Taxpayer's Party) as a protest against the Republicans is one possibility, but again we run the risk of hurting ourselves by helping the Democrats in so doing -- winding up with more Big Government statism and even less freedom as a result.
I don't have any easy solution except to point out that we need more pressure from the Right (conservatives, libertarians, constitutionalists, patriots) on Congress and the President to do the right things and refrain from doing the wrong things. We must take the time to communicate with Congress regularly and frequently, not just by voting in elections every two or four years. We must lobby for less government and more freedom in order to counteract the constant pressure from the Left on Capitol Hill. Politicians who want to stay in office will respond accordingly.
EW: Sam, what are some of the right things you'd like to see President Bush and the Congress do?
SW: What I'd really like to see and what is possible to accomplish politically are two very different things, because the American people are not yet ready for the strong medicine the nation needs to rid itself of the addiction to Big Government and its programs. But, given his popularity, there are some reforms and actions which President Bush could advocate and fight for with some chance they could actually get through Congress. My wish list is as follows, in no particular order. They would at least be a step in the right direction:
A Few Proposed Agenda Items for Congress and the President to Consider:
*Appoint and approve strict constructionist honest judges into the federal judiciary that Clinton tried to pack;
* Make President Bush's tax cuts permanent and call for still more cuts in both federal spending and taxes;
* Repeal of all death taxes across the board (as Republicans and Libertarians promised to do);
* Abolish the Capital Gains Tax to strengthen the economy;
* Deregulation of domestic energy, including ANWR oil; abolish all political controls and regulations on prices of oil and other sources of energy; Abolish the Dept of Energy as quickly as possible, saving tens of billions of dollars and decreasing our dependency on imported oil from the Middle East;
* Repeal of "environmentalist" regulations which violate private property rights while doing little or nothing to protect anyone's ecology; legalize and deregulate Freon; put the brakes on the EPA and require an Economic Impact Study (showing how many American jobs will be lost, etc.) be made whenever any "environmental" regulation or law is proposed or any executive or judicial action contemplated in the name of protecting the environment or an "endangered" species;
* Defund the Left by abolishing Federal subsidies to anti-American left-wing propaganda outfits and lobbying groups such as the Legal Services Corporation;
* Repeal Campaign Finance Reform which restricts freedom of speech;
* Repeal or at least reform the so-called Forfeiture Laws and RICO; take away the current built-in incentive for law enforcement to seize property arbitrarily (and the corrupting influence such power has on them);
* Replace Tenant with someone competent as CIA Director; get rid of the Clinton holdovers;
* Begin controlling our national borders to keep out those who would harm the U.S. and its citizens. Use the military to patrol our borders if that's what it takes. Make heads roll at INS and start enforcing border controls to protect American citizens. Those responsible for letting sniper John Lee Malvo in, contrary to law, should be fired and investigated;
* Repeal Affirmative Action and end all government-mandated racial quotas and preferences in hiring;
* Manage to get through Congress a genuine reform of Social Security giving more control to people over their earnings and phasing out the compulsory aspects for those not dependent on it;
* Foster a spirit more of independence and personal responsibility rather than the one of dependency on Big Government that Democrats and Socialists and Greens have been trying to addict Americans with. It is time more Americans were weaned off of the gangrenous teat of the bloated American welfare state.
* Make real slashes in federal spending, especially in the so-called social spending categories. Phase out New Deal and Great Society programs. Use a nuclear-powered meat ax!
* Appoint Dr. Mary Ruwart head of the FDA;
* Abolish the Dept of Education and all its functions, and return education to local control and to the American people as responsive members of the private, non-political sector of society; do away with all federal subsidies and privileges going to the NEA and AFT and other left-wing educrat unions;
* Get rid of useless gun control laws and repeal the Brady bill which has been ineffective in preventing snipings or other violent crimes;
* Curtail the so-called War on Drugs, which is just an excuse to violate private property rights and constitutional freedoms in the name of "fighting drug abuse"; this would be the most effective way to disempower the street gangs and punks;
* Conduct a congressional investigation of the Clinton-Gore administration's involvement with sending military technology to the Peoples' Republik of China and helping that regime's military-industrial complex leap ahead several decades as a nuclear threat to world peace and American security. This must not be forgot. It is naive to believe that we can just assume that Communist China will somehow "mellow" as a result of trade relations. It didn't happen with Germany and Japan before World War II. Placing American citizens at increasing risk to nuclear blackmail in exchange for illegal campaign contributions from the Chinese Red Army is a crime bordering on treason and must not be let go. If Clinton and the Democrats get away with it, our nation deserves what it will get;
* Initiate a thorough investigation of Terrie McAuliffe's Global Crossing shenanigans; also investigate Goldman Sachs;
* Repeal or rescind the steel tariff hike made earlier this year. Bust the steel workers union and the reactionary leftist Longshoreman's Union! President Bush foolishly went the extra mile to appease the unions and they turned on him like a vicious dog; it's time to stop the special privileges.
* Have Gail Norton auction off federal lands to private bidders. Putting more land in the hands of private people and taking it out of the hands of federal bureaucrats would be a big step in the right direction since private stewardship is superior to government mismanagement.
* Instead of Henry Kissinger heading up the investigation into the security and intelligence lapses that led to the attacks of 9/11, replace him with someone like Bill Gertz who will see that the job is done and not turned into a coverup.
* And, if the Republicans are really going to do something serious in the Senate, they ought to replace Trent Lott with someone younger and more radical (preferably a libertarian or hard-core conservative if such could be found in the U.S. Senate) as the Senate Majority Leader. Lott has disappointed us too many times.
* It would also be great if we had a Congress and an Administration so strongly committed to U.S. independence that they would get us out of the United Nations and get the UN out of the U.S.! It is time we withdrew our moral and financial sanction from that evil anti-American council of criminal regimes. To demonstrate and proclaim America's sovereign unilateral independence, President Bush should do whatever he decides to do militarily to Saddam Hussein without consulting the United Nations or waiting around for either UN or European approval. And, also, Congress should pass the Bricker Amendment to restore the full authority of the U.S. Constitution and protect the constitutional rights of Americans from being over-ridden by treaties or other executive agreements.
I realize that some of these goals may not be politically doable at the present time, given the lack of sufficient understanding of the issues among a sufficient number of poeople at this time, but it is possible that the climate of opinion may change one of these days and there will be enough support for all these reforms. In the meantime, there is no excuse for not trying to get as many of these agenda items accomplished as possible, which will in turn buy us more time to fulfill the rest later on.
See also my website http://AmericanBacklash.com, partly under construction.
EW: Thank you!
John Rees Interviews Gary Allen in The Review of the News 2/27/1980
Cliches of Politics
Laissez Faire Books (and Taoes)
(c) December 2002 by Committee for Economic Freedom