Pan Fascism: Mussolini was a Piker

English: Benito Mussolini and Fascist blackshi...
English: Benito Mussolini and Fascist blackshirts in 1920 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

California’s Senate unanimously approved a bill proffered by Sacramento Democrat Richard Pan on May 18. The bill “would allow so-called beer bikes to operate on streets, but leaves cities to decide if alcohol is allowed on board.”

Why are “beer bikes” so important to Senator Pan?  If you guessed “because he likes freedom,” you’re wrong. According to the Associated Press, he’s concerned that “current state law does not include a definition for this type of vehicle, creating legal uncertainties.” Pan may or may not like beer bikes, but he’s deeply worried that something, somewhere, might be happening sans the supervision of Richard Pan.

This is just today’s example. I come across stories like it on a daily basis. A kid cited for running a lemonade stand without a permit. A traveler robbed of his cash by “law enforcement” on the claim that unless he can explain it to their satisfaction, some crime must be involved. And so on, and so forth.

Somewhere, some politician gets a bee in his bonnet and a law gets passed. Not in response to some clear, present, actual danger, but to ensure seamless regulation of all matters, large and small, such that nothing, anything, ever goes unaddressed by the political process.

This attitude, which drives modern American politics, stems from the doctrines of Italian dictator Benito Mussolini, founder of the political ideology known as fascism. As he put it: “All within the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state.”

Mussolini only had a couple of decades to implement his ideas before World War Two and death interrupted him. Unfortunately, a more slowly moving version of those ideas took root in America around the same time under other names (“progressivism” being the most popular and enduring).

Today’s politicians surpassed Mussolini’s control fetishism long ago. We’re fast approaching the “progressive” ideal embodied by the ant colony in T.H. White’s The Once and Future King: Ubiquitous signposts reminding us that “EVERYTHING NOT FORBIDDEN IS COMPULSORY.”

Not that today’s “conservatives” are any better. They’re every bit as keen on controlling others as “progressives” are; they just have different notions concerning which strings to pull on their puppets (all of us who aren’t politicians, that is). As Richard Nixon might say, were he still alive, “we’re all progressives now.”

Well, maybe not all of us. If you prefer freedom, look for the “Libertarian” label when next you vote.

Thomas L. Knapp is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism ( He lives and works in north central Florida.



There’s No Such Thing as an Illegal Knife

RGBStock Sword

“Nationwide, knife laws vary in neighboring towns, counties, cities and states,” writes Jesse J. Holland for the Associated Press. “This mishmash makes it difficult for citizens to comply.”

The AP’s interest in knife laws stems from the recent death, in police custody in Baltimore, of Freddie Gray. Police justified Gray’s arrest by claiming he was carrying an “illegal”  switchblade knife. It turned out that the knife was a perfectly “legal” blade.

That aside, Holland is wrong in any case. Knife laws don’t vary from town to town, county to county, state to state. There’s one federal knife law. It applies to all levels of government in the United States, and unlike most laws these days it is simply written and impossible to misunderstand:

“[T]he right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

You may recognize that as the operant clause of the 2nd Amendment to the US Constitution. And you should recall that the US Constitution proclaims itself the “supreme law of the land,” superseding all others which conflict with it in any way. As Chief Justice John Marshall wrote in Madison v. Marbury, “an act of the legislature repugnant to the constitution is void.”

Freddie Gray’s knife was not illegal, because in valid US law there is no such thing as an illegal knife (or gun). State, county and local ordinances which infringe on the right to own or carry any weapon are plainly unconstitutional and therefore void. They are also indescribably stupid and evil.

Stupid, because laws are only effective  if they are obeyed. Since criminals don’t obey laws, the sole effect of laws prohibiting possession of weapons is to disarm victims.

Evil, because in the priority of rights — life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness — life comes first. You can’t be free, nor can you seek happiness, if you’re dead.

Indisputably corollary to the right to life is the right to defend that life against any and all threats. Lacking the anatomical defenses found in other animals (claws, poison glands, etc.), we must instead rely on wit and invention. To forbid us possession of the tools of self-defense is to preemptively deny us the exercise of our primary right.

There’s no such thing as an illegal knife. There’s no such thing as an illegal gun. That claim, made explicit in the 2nd Amendment, is implicit in the laws of nature.

Thomas L. Knapp is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism ( He lives and works in north central Florida.




In 2016, Let’s Have Real Presidential Debates Vote Pencil

Every four years, the Commission on Presidential Debates puts on a series of campaign commercials disguised as presidential and vice-presidential debates.

The CPD is, in theory, a non-profit organization “established in 1987 to ensure that debates, as a permanent part of every general election, provide the best possible information to viewers and listeners.”

But the CPD is really just a scam the Republican and Democratic Parties use to funnel illegally large “in kind” campaign donations, in the form of tens of millions of dollars’ worth of free media exposure, exclusively to their own candidates.

A real non-partisan, non-profit debate organization would use objective criteria for deciding which candidates may participate in debates. The CPD continuously refines its criteria with an eye toward ensuring  that no third party or independent candidates qualify for a microphone at a CPD “debate.”

Billionaire independent/Reform Party candidate Ross Perot managed to jump through their hoops in 1992, afterward polling 19% in the general election. CPD excluded him in 1996, cutting his vote percentage down to 8%. Since then, CPD has successfully excluded additional candidates from their Democrat/Republican campaign infomercials.

Libertarians aren’t fans of laws limiting the people’s ability to give their money — as much of it as they want — to the candidates they support. But if there are going to be such rules, they should apply across the board.

That’s why the Libertarian Party, the Green Party, both parties’ 2012 presidential and vice-presidential candidates, and 2012 Justice Party presidential nominee Rocky Anderson are suing CPD. The Our America Initiative, headed up by 2012 Libertarian Party presidential nominee Gary Johnson, is coordinating the legal challenge.

The relief the plaintiffs seek is simple: That if the CPD is going to pretend to be a non-profit, non-partisan debate organization, it be required to start acting like one. Instead of giving the Republicans and Democrats a free series of campaign infomercials, CPD  must put on real debates,  open to all candidates who are legally qualified for the office they seek and whose names appear on enough state ballots for them to hypothetically win the election.

Would victory in this suit make a real difference for third party and independent candidates? Absolutely. Exposure in the debates might or might not put Libertarians or Greens over the top, but it would at least expose the American public to the real panoply of choices instead of to one pre-selected pair.

Thomas L. Knapp is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism ( He lives and works in north central Florida.