Novel Response to LRC
by J. L. Bryan
by J.L. Bryan
What if America,
that little agrarian republic of 200 years ago, developed into a
world-straddling empire? What if Americans found themselves repeatedly
dragged into distant wars for vague reasons, sold by a flood of
propaganda in the mass media, even in religious institutions? What
if we had a mandatory school system designed to make us stupid and
obedient? What if all our communications were subject to constant
surveillance, while government agents infiltrated any opposition?
What if state police could assault and murder citizens with little
fear of reprimand, much less criminal charges? What if the state
controlled the economy?
LewRockwell.com and Mises.org
will find nothing new in these ideas – they've been unfolding around
us for a long time, accelerating in recent years. The actions of
the state, and the effects of these actions, including the current
economic disaster, rarely surprise those who study Austrian economics.
Jay Nock asked in response to reports of atrocities by world
powers: "What would you expect? – look at the record!"
course, from the PATRIOT Act, to the endless wars, to the blatant
control of the Treasury and Fed by Wall Street, could take us into
a total state on the scale of the Soviet Union. But it would not
be Soviet Russia, which took up the reins from the Czar. Nor would
it be Orwell's 1984,
imagined from the viewpoint of postwar Britain.
I wrote my
trying to envision a 21st-century totalitarian America,
built on a combination of history and current trends. There are
other dystopias, but I don't know of any specifically built on Austro-libertarian
thought. In fact, I'm not aware of much fiction specifically built
on Austrian ideas, thought there are some good science fiction writers
who explore libertarian and anarcho-capitalist ideas (Neal
Stephenson is a personal favorite). The Mises Institute offers
wonderful free-market fiction by Garet
Garrett and Henry Hazlitt. (Please write if you know of more.)
portrayed in Dominion owes much to the insights offered by
LRC. Laurence Vance's writings about relationship between religion
and war helped shape the state's use of religion in the story. Linda
Schrock Taylor and Vin
Suprynowicz pointed me to the life-changing (and free) Underground
History of American Education, from which I learned to design
a crushingly oppressive school system. Paul
Craig Roberts charts the decline of civil liberties, while Michael
Gaddy looks at the state's dark underbelly. William
Lind and Eric
Margolis give a better picture of foreign policy and war than
any 24-hour news network.
and Leviathan makes it clear that a major national emergency,
real or manufactured, is the most expedient way for the state to
expand and grab new powers. In Dominion, a nuclear bomb destroys
a major American city a few years from today, and the state leaps
at the opportunity, seizing direct control of communications, opening
massive prison camps, launching a slew of wars, and generally putting
its boot everywhere. The story takes place twenty years after that
The book focuses
on ideological control, thanks to Austrian insights like those expressed
by Lew Rockwell in his introduction to The
Left, the Right, and the State:
of the state is that it is a looting and killing machine. So why
do so many people cheer for its expansion?...The very idea of
the state is so implausible on its face that the state must wear
an ideological garb as means of compelling popular support. Ancient
states had one or two: they would protect you from enemies and/or
they were ordained by the gods.
Because a state
feeds off the market, it must consist of a minority of the society
or else grow too large to support financially. The state does not
rule only by force or threat of force, but also (and perhaps primarily)
For this reason,
I chose for the main character in Dominion a "news" reporter
who never knows whether he is reporting truth or not. While working
as a propaganda conduit, he suffers a growing obsession with finding
the truth, though any actual research will eventually land him in
prison, or worse.
Orwell leaves us with the impression that the Party system could
rule forever, breaking down any opposition through surveillance,
propaganda and brainwashing. Economic activity is planned by the
Ministry of Plenty.
by Ludwig von Mises explains that a centrally planned economy cannot
last, but must collapse. The command economy is unable to coordinate
and calculate – only a market price system is capable of that. Mises
correctly predicted the economic collapse of the Soviet Union decades
that, I realized the state portrayed in Dominion was on an
ultimately self-destructive course. Its aggression, domestic and
internationally, must be the desperate clawing of a giant beast
struggling to survive, even as it crushes the economy beneath it
with state control and runaway inflation. This led me to conclusions
different from those reached by Orwell.
Tucker's recent live
blogging of Against
Intellectual Monopoly inspired me to release the entire book
under a Creative Commons license.
It is also
available on demand as an Amazon paperback
e-text – I guess I'm avoiding the "100-year
sentence" for now. I also felt a strong desire to get this one
out to people as quickly and easily as possible.
fiscally unsustainable growth of the state and its empire endangers
our future. I've attempted to find what that might look like down
the road, based on what I've learned from a few years of studying
Austrian economics (and a lifetime of being American). I thought
it was a subject worth exploring, and the results seemed worth sharing
[send him mail] lives
in Atlanta. His novel Dominion
is free at his website.
A Novel Response to LRC by JL
Bryan is licensed under a Creative
Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License.