In the days since Ronald Reagan’s death has dominated the news, a number of people have asked me what I thought of the former president. Some fools have even said to me, “He was anti-government and you’re anti-government, too, right?”. I respond that it is true that in some ways I owe a profound debt to Ronald Reagan. It was he who taught me never to believe a word that comes out of a politician’s mouth.
My interest in politics began in my fourth grade American history class, at my Christian fundamentalist day school, when I first heard Thomas Jefferson’s dictum about “life, liberty and pursuit of happiness”, along with the words “liberty and justice for all” from that silly pledge I recited every morning with my hand over my heart ( a pledge that, I later learned, was written a century after the American founding by a leftist cleric who wanted to nationalize most of the means of production right here in the good ol’ U.S. of A.) But the more I learned about the real world US government the more the hyper-patriotic (or pseudo-patriotic) propaganda fed to me by various authority figures seemed to be snake oil.
The first President that I remember was the sinister Richard Nixon, the last real President the Republicans ever elected. A man with ambitions and an agenda beyond the mere partisan interests of his backers and benefactors, he got a little out of control and so the Republicans have been putting forth easily manipulated weaklings, dunces, wimps and retards ever since ( I use these adjectives to describe Presidents Ford, Reagan, Poppy Bush and W., respectively). My main memory of Nixon stems from being put on a bus with a bunch of other elementary schools kids and driven to an outdoor political rally where, on the way through the gate, a group of scary looking older kids would grab each of us by the arm and insist that we had better start chanting, “We want Nixon” when told to do so. Apparently, Nixon was running against some guy with a name that sounded like “Mac-gubon”, a communist in league with the Russians. I remember a helicopter flying over head, an adult chaperone giving a hand signal, and we kids all started with the “we want Nixon” routine. I decided I didn’t like this guy Nixon, whomever he was. Later, I would see him on television, with a bunch guys with cameras saying, “Mr. President! Mr. President!”, announcing he wasn’t going to be President anymore. Someone told he had to quit so he wouldn’t go to jail.
In 1976, I was a ten-year-old who decided Jimmy Carter ought to be President. You see, he was running against Ford, and Ford was a friend of that bad man Nixon. Every kid I knew hated Carter (they called him “Peanut”) even worse than they hated Shaun Cassidy. And, believe you me, that’s hatred! They shunned me mercilessly. Other kids wouldn’t even sit next to me in the school cafeteria. “Don’t sit next to a Carter man!” was the word. Fortunately, all of this was forgotten once the election was over. I remember watching the election returns alone in my room on my portable black and white television while my parents watched on the big color t.v. in the living room. My parents, both staunch Republicans, seemed disappointed that their Party was going to lose. Everytime the t.v. said that Carter had gained an even greater lead over Ford, I would run into the living room and, in the style of a typical 1970s suburban brat, taunt my parents with the fact that I was winning and they were losing, much to their annoyance.
I was fourteen when Reagan ran against Carter in 1980. I was for Reagan. You see, this guy Carter turned out to be not so cool after all. He had recently reinstituted draft registration, which was pretty big news at the time, and being an ever-thoughtful youth, I began to reflect a bit on how I might feel about the prospect of being drafted. What I knew about the draft was that the government had sent a whole bunch of kids over to some part jungle/part rice paddy called Vietnam and got them all killed, maimed, crippled, sprayed with some poisonous chemical called Agent Orange and then, to top it all off, lost the war. Hmm…didn’t sound so good. Plus, my father had been drafted and sent to Korea in the 1950s. The way he talked about it didn’t sound so good, either. But this guy Reagan was cool. He said if only if he got to be President he would put an end to Carter’s ideas about the draft. Then he got elected. And he changed his mind. “For the Good of the Nation”, of course.
Ronald Reagan was a revered figure in the cultural environment that I grew up in. My mother actually cried when he was shot. I didn’t see what the big deal was. If he died, couldn’t they just get a new President? What was the Vice-President for, anyway? The media used to refer to Reagan as “the Teflon President”, meaning he seemed to be able to get away with just about anything politically. He could cut taxes and then raise them again and still have everyone thinking of him as a tax-cutting President. He could promise to balance the budget, all the while federal debts and deficits were spiraling out of control, and yet maintain his image as a fiscal conservative. He could claim to have restored the economy after the wreckage of the Carter years, even with recession and rising unemployment on the horizon, and everyone would still believe him.
In a rare truthful moment Richard Nixon described Reagan as “just an uncomfortable man to be around. Strange.” His public persona was one of a good-humored grandfatherly type, full of folksy wit that seemed to mesh perfectly with good old fashioned, small town American values. But the real Ronald Reagan was as President the same thing he was in private life: a professional actor. He had been a sportscaster, a war propagandist during WW2, the star of a number of forgettable B-movies, and President of the Screen Actors Guild. During Reagan’s first term, “Saturday Night Live” used to regularly run skits where Reagan was depicted as an incompetent nincompoop who thought he was making a movie where he played the President of the United States while his aides fed him his lines and pulled strings from behind the scenes. At one point in one of these skits, the Reagan character tells Edwin Meese, played by James Belushi, that “if we do any more shooting scenes, I want a stunt-double, like in that other movie where I played the governor of California.” A crude exaggeration, of course, but not without some accurracy. Norman Mailer says of meeting Ronald Reagan at the 1972 Republican convention:
“…I don’t think Reagan ever had an original idea in his life…he had about as much human specific density as, let’s say, a sales manager for a medium-sized corporation in the Midwest…An instinctive climber who scaled the face of success with great skill: that was his gift, if you will.”
That’s who Reagan really was. An outstanding mid-level executive type whose skills as a corporate yes man eventually brought him the position of CEO. Whether he was a yes man for Jack Warner and President of the Screen Actors Guild or a yes man for the military-industrial complex and President of the United States, it was all one and the same for him.
As the 1980s progressed and Ronald Reagan got deeper into his business of making speeches, shaking hands and appearing at public ceremonies, so did those for whom he served as a figurehead get deeper into their own business as well. His ambassador to the United Nations, Jeanne Kirkpatrick, voted, against most of the rest of the world, to recognize the insane Khmer Rouge, recently dislodged by the Vietnamese, as the legitimate government of Cambodia. It was indeed a great irony that the one Communist regime anywhere on Earth aligned with the staunchly anti-Communist Reagan administration was the single one more genocidal that Stalin himself. Meanwhile, Reagan’s cronies escalated the bloodbath in Central America, sending millions of dollars a day to the bloody regimes in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras and to the terrorist mercenary “contra” insurgents in Nicaragua. These civil wars were needlessly prolonged, with a result of hundreds of thousands of casualties, hideous massacres and brute repression. Were it not for the support of the Reagan regime, these elements would have been forced to negotiate terms of peace with their rivals, as indeed they did once Reagan disappeared from the scene.
Then there was Reagan’s arming of Saddam Hussein in his war against Iran. I remember watching television network news coverage of the Iran-Iraq war twenty years ago where Saddam was depicted as a faithful friend of freedom, democracy and peace. There was the loopy attempt at bombing Libya’s Qadaffi’s house, which resulted in the bombing of a residential neighborhood in Tripoli instead. I actually agreed, and still agree, with Reagan’s description of the Soviet Union as an “evil empire”. It was an evil empire. Unfortunately, Ronnie was the elective figurehead monarch of an evil empire of his own. He is now praised for the arms control agreement he arranged with Mikhail Gorbachev in 1987, but the fact remains that the Soviets had undertaken a unilateral cessation of nuclear testing for nearly two years before Reagan responded to Gorbachev’s overtures.
The Reagan years were my so-called “coming of age” years. I was fourteen when Reagan was elected and twenty-two when he left office. When he came up for reelection in 1984, I had undergone some significant changes in my own life. I had progressed from spoiled brat to juvenile delinquent to aspiring professional criminal. Growing up in a conservative, religious, upper-middle class environment, I never comfortable in that world. I admired the poor kids, the white trash and rednecks who inhabited the nearby trailer parks and hung out at the pool halls, drank Jack Daniels like water and for whom domestic violence was an accepted norm. These kids were tough, mean, street-wise and worldly. I was a bourgeoise brat. I drifted more and more into their world and this eventually brought me into contact with the motorcycle gang subculture. I totally reinvented myself. I renounced school, work, church, adult authority of any kind. School was a place to hang out, meet girls, smoke, drink, buy and sell drugs. Weed, blow, crank, crystal, acid, shrooms, mesc, dust, reds, ludes, opium, hash, those were the fashionable drugs in those days.
I was sixteen years old and six foot five, two hundred pounds, hair to my waist, black motorcycle boots, sheath knives, gold chains, colorful scarfs, shades, denim and leather outfits adorned with satanic pentagrams and swastikas. I finished high school with a “D-” average. I was allowed to graduate without passing all of the required courses because the school system was so unhappy with the prospect of having me back for another year. After leaving school, I went through a rapid succession of jobs, was quickly terminated from each for absenteeism or insubordination. So I enrolled in a local community college, which was basically high school for the over eighteen crowd. Just another place to hang out, meet girls, buy and sell drugs. Meanwhile, I took my first permanent job as a courier and body guard for a drug dealer.
I voted for the first time in the 1984 Presidential election, having turned eighteen only a few days earlier. I voted for Walter Mondale. Why? Because it was the unfashionable thing to do. Mondale carried only one state, his home state of Minnesota. When I told someone I voted for Mondale, they replied, “Yeah, you voted for Mondale, and Mondale voted for himself, and everyone else in America voted for Reagan.” That was about right. I remember driving up to the polling place that day in November 1984, out of my mind on pot, pills, crank and cheap wine. There were church folks out front urging people to vote against some local pro-liquor referendum. I gave them the finger and went into the booth, muttering “fuck that boring old fart Reagan” as I pulled the lever for Mondale. Of course, I didn’t take any of it seriously. I had other shit to do. A few days later I was arrested for a variety of felonies and so as Reagan began his second term as President I began my first term as an inmate in Virginia’s penal system.
I played it smart in the system. I stayed to myself, avoided the race gangs, hung out mostly with the bikers, dopers and rednecks. My system moniker was “Wild Man Slim”. The satanic drawings and portrait of Charles Manson on my cell wall scared other inmates away. Most prisoners are from the lower classes where religion is taken seriously. Someone believed to dabble in the occult arts is someone you avoid. You can be a thief, a dope peddler, a pimp, or even a murderer, but you don’t screw around with someone in league with Mr. D.
A funny thing happened during my “period of incarceration”. I actually began to read books. I never had any interest in books before. I identifed books with school and that was enough for me. Books were things that only nerd kids took seriously. But reading was one of the few pastimes available where I was. I read a number of books, fiction and non-fiction, but it was the political books I came across that I found to be the most fascinating. Books about conspiracies and intrique. Watergate. The Vietnam War. Iran. Radical literature from the sixties started coming my way. Some black dudes who fancied themselves Black Panthers gave me Eldridge Cleaver’s “Soul on Ice”. I liked Cleaver’s violence and militancy, but he lost me when he mentioned raping white women as payback for racism. Abbie Hoffman I found hilarious, but silly. I was most impressed with the Weathermen, mad bombers that they were.
In 1986, I was a parolee facing the option of either getting a job or going back to community college. So college it was. For the first time, I found myself taking an interest in some of my classes. Not all of them. I still bombed out in math and the sciences, but in psyche, sociology, history and literature, I actually started doing an occasional assignment and reading an occasional textbook. One day I saw an ad posted on a bulletin board for a film to be shown in the student center about the war in Central America. Some antiwar group was putting it all together. Geez, this sounds like the sixties, I thought. I remembered all the radical literature I had read in jail. I was interested. So I went to the meeting. The people there were mostly middle-aged hippies, religious peacenik-types and student intellectuals. Nerds. But the film was interesting. All about atrocities committed by the US backed death squads in El Salvador and Nicaragua.
My career in organized crime was going nowhere. I was now moving into my twenties. I was on parole and had to keep a low profile. Meanwhile, a new phenomenon came into being. Crack cocaine. That shit made you crazy. People I knew who had been doing drugs with no problem for years suddenly became craven addicts. Total fucking losers. Fortunately, crack really hadn’t hit the small city I was living in at the time. You had to go to Roanoke or Richmond to get it. And get it people did. Meanwhile, my old associates started falling one by one. Some died drinking and driving. Some were murdered. Others were taken down for years-armed robbery, drug trafficking, murder. Just about everyone that I knew in those days is now either dead, in prison or a down and out drunk or addict.
I found myself continuing to go back to meetings of the antiwar group. There people actually talked about ideas, world events, history, important stuff. I didn’t participate much in those days and I’m sure the people there probably thought I was an undercover informant. I finished up my time at the community college and decided to go on to a four-year university for the same reason I went to college in the first place. To avoid getting a job. My academic advisor asked me what I wanted to major in and I joked, “I dunno, maybe drug abuse studies. Like they say, study something you know, right.” She was somewhat irritated with my obvious lack of seriousness, but told me if I was interested in that field I should go to Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond. So one day in the spring of 1987 I drove to Richmond, smoking a joint along the way, to see what this VCU place was all about. I liked the campus when I saw it. Nothing like the usual college campus. A cluster of offices in old building on inner-city streets forming a ring around the unusual campus structures like libraries and dorms.
I moved to Richmond for good in August, 1987. It was interesting being a twenty-one year old ex-convict living in a dorm with a bunch of bratty punk rock, hippie, stoner and frat kids from the Washington, D.C. suburbs. Soon I discovered a number of left-wing radical groups were active on campus. Most of them focused on antiwar issues along with ecology, animal rights and other things that were then becoming fashionable. Ronald Reagan was still President, the war in Central America was still raging, and the Iran-Contra scandal was in full blossom. I started becoming more politically aware and active, feeling like I was living out my earlier daydreams of being a sixties revolutionary-a Yippie, and SDSer, a Weatherperson. Problem was, then as now, I hated liberals and commies, who seemed to dominate the local radical scene. So I fell in with an anarchist group, Libertarian Socialist Alliance, under the leadership of a film student who was also a member of the legendary Industrial Workers of the World, the “Wobblies”.
At that point, my radical activism took off. I dropped out of school, took a job in the library at the Medical College of Virginia, and devoted nearly all of my spare time to the cause. I became the protege of a long time, career radical, a former organizer for the old Students for a Democratic Society during the Vietnam era. Every night, there were meetings, forums, strategy sessions, fundraising events and so on. Every weekend, there was a journey out of town to plan or participate in radical activities in other communities. Often, I would be away for weeks at a time. I helped put together several local radical groups, particularly the Coalition for Student Awareness and the Richmond Anarchist Workshop. I became the regional delegate for the IWW and made it onto the National Committee of the anarcho-syndicalist Workers Solidarity Alliance. I wrote for a variety of radical publications as well as local media. For three years, my life was nothing but revolutionary leftist politics. I traveled all over North America, hooking up with anarchists and other radicals wherever I went, participating in demonstrations, workshops and conferences.
I camped out with striking miners in the hills of Kentucky and the coalfields of southwest Virginia, helped organize and anarchist monthly periodical in Chicago (which later evolved into the Love and Rage Revolutionary Anarchist Federation), picketed with striking airlines and Greyhound bus workers, taught a class on alternative politics at an experimental high school, held forums on anarchism on college campuses, spoke to high school and college students about the dangers of fascism and organized racism, protested CIA recruitment on campuses, helped defend abortion clinics during the course of militant pro-life demonstrations, marched against the Klan with the Stalinist Workers World Party in D.C., organized benefit concerts for the homeless and various environmental causes, did volunteer work at a shelter, protested the war on drugs, attempted (unsuccessfully) to organize a student union, helped bring all sorts of radical speakers to town, attended anarchist conferences attended by thousands in San Francisco and Toronto, went to the annual Wobbly campout in upstate New York, and many other activities that I can no longer recall.
I also met many luminaries of the leftist subculture. These included the anarchists Sam Dolgoff and Mel Moss-Most, both of them associates of Emma Goldman in their early years, Murray Bookchin, Alex Cockburn, CIA defector Phillip Agee, Chicago Seven Defendant David Dellinger, Michael Parenti, folk singer Utah Phillips, Daniel Ellsberg, Lenora Fulani, Timothy Leary, and, most important to me personally, the masters themselves, Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin, about a year before Hoffman’s death. Looking back on it, I wonder where I ever found the time or energy to do all of this. But I was young, enthusiastic to the point of cultism, sincere and certain that I was fighting the good fight. And through it all, it was the regime of Ronald Reagan that motivated me. I met refugees from Central America who told me about watching their entire families, sometimes their entire village, slaughtered by death squads organized and funded by the Reagan regime. I reviewed the reports of international human rights organizations that described the torture-rapes and torture-murders of young girls from families who opposed the ruling elites of the pro-U.S. regimes in that region.
When I look back on that time of my life, some of it seems over the top, silly, and a waste of time. For all of my activism, much of my time was spent fighting in the left’s typical sectarian wars between the leftoids, Marxoids, anarchoids, Stalinoids, Trotskyoids, libertoids, Mao Maos, greenweenies, peace creeps and liberal do-gooders. And many of the people I encountered and interacted with in those days fit the leftist stereotype mocked by the likes of Rush Limbaugh perfectly. But when trying to view it in some sort of perspective, I still maintain that if I was able, in some miniscule and feeble way, to make even the tiniest contribution to the prevention of the bayonet-rape of a single Latin American peasant girl, it was all worth it.
Despite the horrors inflicted on the world by the Reagan regime, I always tended to agree with Noam Chomsky’s claim that “it is quite unfair to assign to Ronald Reagan, the person, much responsibility for the policies enacted in his name.” Reagan was an actor and his job was to recite his lines and entertain his audience. Even Reagan himself seemed at times to at least subconsciously realize this. When unable to answer questions posed by Iran-Contra prosecutor Lawrence Walsh, Reagan remarked in a 1990 deposition: “I’m very embarrassed…I’m sorry. I’m like I wasn’t President at all”. No, Ronnie, you weren’t. As Chomsky says: “For eight years, the US government functioned virtually without a chief executive.” I could never understand how such an obviously mediocre man could inspire so much emotion, whether reverence or hatred. To the Right, he was the Second Coming. To the Left, he was a step below Charles Manson and half a step above Hitler.When he left office, I figured it was a good thing Presidents are constitutionally prohibited from holding more than two terms in office. Otherwise, the Republicans would have continued to elect him until his death and then they would have stuffed him like Lenin and made his remains into a ventriloquist’s dummy. When I heard Reagan had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, I thought, “You mean, he hadn’t already?”
The outpouring of state-worship that has accompanied Reagan’s death has been a pathetic spectacle to behold. I am reminded of the death of North Korea’s Stalin, Kim Il Sung, and the footage I saw of North Korean soldiers hugging a statue of Kim and crying as they said, “He took care of me since I was a baby!” I have no idea what Ronald Reagan, the private man, was really like, or what I would have thought of him if I had engaged him in conversation from across the dinner table or side-by-side on a park bench. But I do know that his regime was operated largely by the kinds of people who don’t deserve to breathe the air or enjoy their meals.
When I was a gangster and a convict, we had a certain code. Don’t hurt women. Don’t hurt kids. If you do, we’re gonna fuck you up real bad. This is why rapists and child molesters get no mercy in the system. Then as now, those seem to me to be a good system of ethics. Those were largely the values I ultimately brought to my radical activism. It’s all about retribution. Revolution is just one big gang fight. And if you system pigs break the code we’re gonna enact righteous vengeance.
Now the very worst elements of the Reagan regime have been recycled into the present administration. In fact, many of them, like Elliot Abrams and Richard Perle, are rejects from the Reagan era. John Negroponte, the chief butcher of Honduras, has now been appointed chief butcher of Iraq. Donnie Rumsfeld, the Reaganites liasion to Saddam Hussein, is now running the Pentagon. Paul Wolfowitz, the Strangelovian disciple of the Zionazi Leo Strauss, is his chief lieutenant. And compared the current President, Reagan seems almost like a Voltarian philosophe and an Albert Schweitzerian humanitarian. George W. Bush resembles nothing quite so much as a medieval monarch who was the product of generations of in-breeding in order to maintain a certain dynasty. Eventually, a drooling retard would end up on the throne.
I believe the American nation is moving into a newer and darker era. It’s interesting to note that each of the major changes in American government have occurred at seventy year intervals. The 1790s saw the establishment of a mercantilist republic following the coup against the populist and decentralist Articles of Confederation by the Hamiltonians. The 1860s saw the consolidation of a centralist, nationalist regime following the destruction of the southern independence movement. The 1930s saw the rise of the current welfare-warfare state organized on the corporatist model of Fascist Italy and National Socialist Germany. The 2000s may well be the decade where the last remants of the Old Republic, such as free speech and due process, were finally eliminated, and full blown dictatorship emerged, in the tradition of Julius Caesar’s destruction of Republican Rome.
Plato understood that mass democracy is the final stage in the political degeneration of a civilization before tyranny creeps in. The fatal flaw in democracy is the fact that most people are just too preoccupied, ignorant or just plain stupid to exercise sound political judgement, thereby becoming susceptible to any demagogue that comes along. As the late, great cultural radical Frank Zappa remarked: “Thanks to democracy, we now have a freely elected fascist government, elected by the kinds of people you went to high school with.” At the time of the American founding, the Scottish historian Alexander Tytler noted that democracies typically last about two hundred years before slipping into outright tyranny. America is right on time. Alexis de Tocqueville and John Stuart Mill largely seconded Tytler a half century later. Jefferson remarked that eternal vigilance is the price of liberty. No vigilance, no liberty. It’s as simple as that.
With these points in mind, we are prepared to examine the true legacy of Ronald Reagan. The mainstream media has been zealously trying to compare him to other historic American Presidents-JFK, FDR and Lincoln, to name a few. But there was another twentieth century President to whom Reagan bears a much greater resemblance. That is, President Paul von Hindenburg, the last President of Weimar Germany, who appointed Adolf Hitler to the Chancellory. Hindenburg was a senile old fool, who fell under the influence of opportunistic, aspiring tyrants. The historian of Nazi Germany, William L. Shirer, described the events of the evening of Hindenburg’s fateful appointment:
“…Nazi stormtroopers marched in a massive torchlight parade to celebrate the victory. By the tens of thousands, they emerged in disciplined columns…their bands blaring the old martial airs to the thunderous beating of the drums, their voices bawling the new Horst Wessel song and other tunes that were as old as Germany, their jack boots beating a mighty rhythm on the pavement, their torches held high and forming a ribbon of flame that illuminated the night and kindled the hurrahs of the onlookers massed on the sidewalks. From a window in the palace Hindenburg looked down upon the marching throng, beating time to the military marches with his cane, apparently pleased that at last he had picked a Chancellor who could arouse the people in a traditionally German way. Whether, the old man, in his dotage, had any inkling of what he had unleashed that day is doubtful. A story…soon spread over Berlin than in the midst of the parade he had turned to an old general and said, “I didn’t know we had taken so many Russian prisoners.”
How typically Reaganesque!! I no longer consider myself to be a leftist. The historic class struggle between proletarians and bourgeosie is irrelevant to modern systems of political economy. And the countercultural left that emerged in the1960s has failed to adapt to a contemporary world that it was highly instrumental in bringing about. Instead, the same old cliches continue to be repeated. What is needed is a whole new type of radicalism, accompanied by entirely new ideological paradigms and fresh intellectual leadership, suitable for the struggle at hand. The nature of that struggle was summarized presciently in a 1965 speech by Bertrand Russell, one of my all-time intellectual heroes, then in his ninety-third year, who insisted “the world is in grave danger, the danger of subjection to the United States”. Russell was a former Cold Warrior who, a little more than a decade earlier, had urged a preemptive war against the Soviet Union to prevent the Soviets from obtaining nuclear weapons technology. But Russell came to see, like other prophetical heretics of the era (for example, Lawrence Dennis and Murray Rothbard), that Soviet Communism would wither away in a few decades and the United States would emerge with a vast reservoir of power lacking any historical parallel and the likelihood that such power would be used in an imminently destructive manner.
While I am no longer a leftist, I am as convinced of the truth of the traditional anarchist critique of the state as ever. The development of modern states, with their unprecedented power, has been a monstrous error on the part of mankind. I regard the struggle against the state as the contemporary equivalent of the historic struggle against chattel slavery, a “peculiar institution” that existed on all continents at most times throughout history but then disappeared in the space of only a few centuries, remaining today only in a handful of African countries. May the state suffer a similar fate. I have no idea what will eventually replace modern state systems. In recent years, I’ve come to a favorable view of Hans-Hermann Hoppe’s paleo-anarchism, an interesting European movement called national-anarchism, and the efforts of Kevin Carson and Larry Gambone to apply the ideas of the anarchist godfather Proudhon to the contemporary world. But let the lessons of the American Empire of Nixon, Reagan, Bush the Elder, Clinton and Bush the Younger join the lessons provided to us by the legacies of Ramses and Alexander, Diocletian and Ferdinand and Isabella, King George III and Napolean, Hitler and Stalin, the lessons summarized so eloquently by H. L. Mencken:
“The ideal Government of all reflective men, from Aristotle onward, is one which lets the individual alone-one which barely escapes being no government at all. This ideal, I believe, will be realized in the world twenty or thirty centuries after I have passed from these scenes and taken up my public duties in Hell.”