An Anarchist's 2003 Holiday Gift Guide

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its utter folly and futility," wrote the great Mencken, "we
still cling to the custom of exchanging Christmas presents, just
as we cling absurdly to the stiff-bosomed shirt, the backless piano-stool,
the novels of Charles Dickens, the loose rug…political oratory…and
all the other lingering relics of an extinct and inferior civilization."

it is with some sense of folly and futility that I offer my second
annual list of gift-giving suggestions to help you shop for that
lovable anti-statist in your life.

the Videophile

best film nobody saw last year was Equilibrium,
writer-director Kurt Wimmer's science fiction paean to freedom-fighters
everywhere. When it was quietly released into a handful of theaters
last Christmas, one critic charged the movie with being "brazenly
pillaged from Fahrenheit
, 1984,
and Brave
New World
." Maybe so. But featuring terrific performances
from Christian Bale (recently signed to play Hollywood's newest
Batman), Emily Watson (Red
), and Taye Diggs (Chicago),
this movie uniquely mixes its smart dystopian story with extraordinary
action sequences, making it an underground libertarian classic.
Dimension Home Video's DVD release offers a brief "making of"
documentary and entertaining feature-length commentary from director
Wimmer and producer Lucas Foster. And the promotional slogan on
the box is irresistible: "In A Future Where Freedom Is Outlawed,
Outlaws Will Become Heroes."

best TV series nobody saw last year was Firefly,
which lasted 10 weeks on Fox before it was yanked by the same executives
who later brought you Joe Millionaire. Created by Joss Whedon
the Vampire Slayer
), Firefly was a rousing antidote
to the old collectivist Star Trek universe. The series is
set 500 years from now, shortly after a galaxy-wide civil war ends
in victory for the totalitarian Alliance. Mal Reynolds, who fought
as an Independent against unification of the planets, now captains
a Firefly-class spaceship dubbed Serenity, and his motley
crew includes a preacher, a prostitute, a soldier-of-fortune, a
renegade doctor, and a young girl who was victim to mysterious government
experiments. Their mission: to dodge Alliance authorities while
earning a living smuggling illegal cargo and occasionally sheltering
rebel fugitives. After watching just two episodes, I was captivated
by Firefly's freedom philosophy, its clever writing, and
its characters. And I was humming its catchy theme song: "Take
my love, take my land, take me where I cannot stand. But I don't
care…I'm still free. You can't take the skies from me…"

TV series cancelled midseason usually disappears without notice.
Firefly seems an exception. Several websites dedicated to
the show have sprung up. Whedon is contemplating a movie based on
the show. But best of all right now, Twentieth Century Fox Home
Video is releasing the complete series of 13 episodes on DVD before
Christmas. You heard me right. I said 13 episodes. The program
ran only 10 weeks, but the four-disc set includes three unaired
programs. This package also features commentary on more than half
the shows, deleted scenes, a gag reel, three documentaries, auditions,
and other extras.

the Audiophile

Ochs has been on my CD-changer continually since George W. rattled
his first saber against Saddam. As an anti-war troubadour, Seeger
and Dylan may have been there first, but Ochs always trumped

it u2018Peace' or call it u2018Treason,'
Call it u2018Love' or call it u2018Reason,'
But I ain't marchin' anymore.

a lot of Ochs available on CD, and every lick is worth buying. But
for the sake of gift-giving, the best all-round compilation now
available is There
But For Fortune
(Elektra/Asylum Records). Sure, it's
missing some of Ochs' best work, but what's here is dynamite.

for the sound and listen for the noise,
Listen for the thunder of the marching boys,
A few years ago their guns were only toys,
Here comes the Big Parade…

Ochs was no libertarian. But his stirring anthems against war, government
oppression, empire, and even hypocrisies of the Left certainly qualified
him as a valuable ally.

that I feel now beatin' in my heart?
I've felt that beat before…
Hey now, what's that I feel now beatin' in my heart?
I feel it more and more…

the rumble of freedom callin',
Climbin' up to the sky…
It's the rumble of the old ways a' fallin'…
You can feel it if you try…

Phil Ochs died in 1976 at age 35, an extraordinary voice of protest
was lost. We're lucky that so much of his music is still readily

the Joyful Curmudgeon

some heroic soul gathers all of Murray Rothbard's journalism u2014 all
of it, everything from Left and Right, Libertarian Forum,
New Libertarian, New Individualist Review, Inquiry,
etc. u2014 into a beautiful, fully indexed, umpteen-volume anthology,
the best collection of his non-academic political and cultural essays
remains The
Irrepressible Rothbard
(Center for Libertarian Studies,
$29), edited by Lew Rockwell. This book offers Murray in his last
years (1990–94), some might say his best years, skewering
neoconservatives, Clinton liberals, gun-grabbers, imperialists,
warmongers, and other statist riffraff. These essays all come from
The Rothbard-Rockwell Report, a journal I still miss desperately,
and I can't find a weak one in the bunch. They're biting, irascible,
and always quotable. Of particular note are Murray's pieces
on political strategy, which make up the book's first section, and
his brilliant coverage of the 1991 Gulf War (remember that
one?). Nine years after his death, Rothbard remains not just irrepressible.
He's indispensable.

the Second Amendment Devotee

the gun-control geeks who mindlessly applauded Michael Moore's dishonest
for Columbine
should be duct-taped to metal folding chairs
and forced to watch Innocents
, a powerful new DVD documentary produced by
Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership (
Will this film change their minds? Well, if it doesn't make
them squirm at some point, you can bet they're too far entrenched
in their dogma for any sort of conversion.

58 minutes, Innocents Betrayed shows how, in the last century,
civilian disarmament led to the slaughter of more than 100 million
people at the hands of their own governments. Russia, Germany, Cambodia,
Uganda…the numbers are staggering and the photos, the faces are
heartbreaking. "It can't happen here," you say? Maybe
Rosie O'Donnell believes that. After watching this documentary,
most common-sense Americans won't. This may seem a grisly Christmas
gift, but it's the perfect tool for that gun-rights activist in
your family whose biggest challenge is getting his gun-toting pals
to join the fight against gun-confiscation.

a happy shopping season.

27, 2003

Conger [send him mail] is a
marketing consultant and writer living on California's central coast.
He has a website,


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