"Whatever danger evil human beings represent as individuals is nothing as compared to the dangers of evil human beings in charge of governments."
"The true choice is not individualism versus cooperation but voluntary (free) human relations versus involuntary (coerced) relations."
"... there are no rightful obligations that are not individually chosen... An obligation imposed on someone else is tyrannical because it substitutes the moral sentiments of one person for another."
SELF CONTROL Not Gun Control
The following article appeared in the Winter, 1996 issue (Vol. 14, No. 1) of Prometheus, Journal of the Libertarian Futurist Society. Copyright (c) 1996 by the Libertarian Futurist Society. Reprinted by permission. Info on the LFS can be obtained from firstname.lastname@example.org or at http://www.libertarian.com/LFS/.
A Review by Bill Howell of Self Control Not Gun Control
J.Neil Schulman believes in truth in advertising; he wants you to know up front what you're getting into. That's why he plainly states in the Introduction that Self Control Not Gun Control is not a diet book.
Whew! That's a load off my mind. I don't think the world is ready yet for a libertarian diet book. Nor is his new book exclusively about firearms issues; if that's what you're looking for, Schulman directs you to his previous work, Stopping Power. Okay, so if it's neither a diet book nor a right to bear arms polemic, what the heck is it?
Simply put, this latest book is an exposition of Mr. Schulman's philosophy of life, as it relates to everything from God and religion to the O.J. trial, with lots of stops in between. I've been a fan of J. Neil Schulman's since I first read Alongside Night a dozen years ago, so it was fascinating for me to get a look inside his head and read his personal beliefs without them being "filtered" through his characters.
While not autobiographical in the strict sense, Self Control Not Gun Control is deeply personal and revealing. Each section in the book begins with a poem that captures the essence of what Schulman is trying to say. As you would expect from the author of Alongside Night and The Rainbow Cadenza, his message is very individualistic and very hopeful for the future.
The first section, titled "The Politics of Gun Control," is a continuation of the discussion begun in Stopping Power. Schulman puts forward additional strong arguments against the constitutional legality and effectiveness of gun control, past the Republican sweep of November, 1994 and the Oklahoma City bombing of April, 1995. He demolishes the arguments of President Clinton, Representative Charles Schumer, and their ilk, while also pointing out that there still is hope for freedom in this country if the American people are willing to stand up and be heard. If you believe in the inalienable human right to bear arms in self-defense and in defense of others, you will find these essays by Schulman invigorating and inspiring; if you oppose this right, you'll find these essays very difficult to refute.
In the second section, "The Politics of Self Control," Schulman broadens his focus to encompass the complete political landscape. Free speech, drugs, the draft, crime, race, and the O.J. Trial--all the hot button issues of today--are addressed in his witty and free-wheeling style. Schulman even "proposes" a re-writing of the Bill of Rights, reminiscent of H.L. Mencken's proposed constitution for the state of Maryland, to demonstrate how the basic freedoms delineated by the Framers have been eroded in recent years. My personal favorite is "A Reply to (Sir Henry?) Clinton," which compares our current Commander-in-Chief with his namesake, the British C-in-C during the American Revolution; fabulous stuff!
The third section is easily the most deeply personal part of this book. In "Rethinking Freethinking" Schulman discusses his own personal beliefs about God and the meaning of existence. I won't do him the injustice of trying to sum up his complex feeling in a few words, but this section chronicles his progress from Judaism, through atheism, to a personal belief in God but not religion. You may not find yourself totally agreeing with Schulman's beliefs (I know I didn't; I'm afraid I'm a materialist from way back), but you'll still find his exposition of those beliefs fascinating.
The final three sections each explore different aspects of the contemporary commercial world. "Economic Freedom" deals with the general superiority of free market and contains a couple of proposals for documentaries (unfortunately never produced) which would have extolled this superiority of the free market and contains a couple of proposals for documentaries (unfortunately never produced) which would have extolled this superiority.
"Power Tools" describes the current state and future possibilities of the publishing business, including the near certainty of 'paperless publishing' as the Internet and modems become near universal. "Power Writing" discusses the writer's craft and takes some well-aimed shots at critics and reviewers (ouch!).
Brad Linaweaver, author and Prometheus Award winner, contributes a humorous Afterword, concerning a quest he and Schulman embarked on to deliver a truckload of copies of Stopping Power to various locations around the nation during a truckers' strike.
Like all the best books, Self Control Not Gun Control leaves you wishing there were more to it; it's over way too soon. Though it isn't really science fiction, it is filled with a positive futurist attitude toward space and technology. I heartily recommend it to any libertarian who would like to sharpen his or her wits and load some more large caliber ammo into their intellectual guns.
I hope J. Neil Schulman will take time out soon from his busy schedule to give us a new SF novel or two; his clarion clear-eyed visions of a free future are as needed today as they were a decade ago.
Return to Dustjacket: SELF CONTROL Not Gun Control.