A committee of five presents the first draft of the Declaration of Independence (John Trumbull painting).
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."
So says the Declaration of Independence, which evokes natural law (i.e. in the previous paragraph it mentions "the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God.") Natural law posits that there are "values intrinsic to human nature," as this Wikipedia article explains. These notions are what Robert Anton Wilson is taking on in his essay.
I wonder if my American readers think it is "natural" to drive on the right side of the road, and my British readers think it is "natural" to drive on the left side? Here is something interesting: "In the UK and Australia, people tend to turn left when entering a building. In the US, they turn right. It’s important to remember if you’re booking a trade show booth." (Source, third item).
A few annotations:
Loompanics, Page 3. Boy, did this publisher push the envelope. "According to Gia Cosindas, Amazon.com, eBay, and Google refused to allow Loompanics to advertise on their sites, since some of the books' content violates their editorial guidelines. Specifically, Google wrote, "At this time, Google policy does not permit the advertisement of websites that contain 'the promotion of violence [and] drugs or drug paraphernalia."
New Libertarian, Page 3. The Samuel E. Konkin III magazine. For back issues, including the "Natural Law debate" issue, Vol. IV, No. 13, that Wilson cites, go here. And I quite liked The Fractal Man, J. Neil Schuman's novel about Konkin.
Samuel Konkin III
"politics remains such a depressing paleolithic and murderous spectacle," page 9. See also Gene Healy on how politics makes everyone dumber.
For a New Liberty, Page 10. For a New Liberty: The Libertarian Manifesto by Murray Rothbard, an anarcho-capitalist tract, was a big part of the libertarian surge in the 1970s. I had a hardcover copy, when I discovered libertarianism while in college from Illuminatus! and other sources, and it was very influential. I would guess that many serious libertarians have read it; I'd be surprised, for example, if Jesse Walker or Chad Nelson said they had not read it. Rothbard, by the way, was a strong peacenik, like RAW (he was a big influence on the late Justin Raimondo, the founder of Antiwar.com), and that allows many of us to overlook his other sins. (In fact, Raimondo wrote a book about Rothbard.)
"all three at once," Page 17. This business about "the hide of the Easter Bunny" is really funny; did you catch that RAW also is making a joke about the doctrine of the Trinity?
Simon Newcomb, Page 22 -- Simon Newcomb (1835-1909) was an accomplished mathematician and a very smart guy, but just as RAW mentions, he did argue that airplanes are not possible. (The Wikipedia article, buttressed by footnote 23, says that "When Newcomb heard about the Wrights' flight in 1908, he was quick to accept it," so in Wilson's terms he behaved like a scientist, not as a dogmatist: When he received new evidence he accepted that he was wrong. (I cannot resist repeating the famous saying of Arthur C. Clarke: "When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong."
"Doubt everything. Find your own light." Page 23. This seems like a rather free translation. In What the Buddha Taught by Walpola Rahula, the last words are given as, "Transient are conditioned things. Try to accomplish your aim with diligence." The Fake Buddha Quotes website also wonders where this version of the the Buddha's last words came from.
The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, Page 53. One of Robert Heinlein's most famous novels, published in 1966, is a favorite of science fiction fans (it won the Best Novel Hugo) but also is a favorite of libertarians (it was the first novel to win the the Prometheus Hall of Fame Award, from the Libertarian Futurist Society, in a tie with Atlas Shrugged (Nineteen Eighty-Four and Fahrenheit 451 had to wait another year). I read it as a teenager and am overdue to read it again; Tyler Cowen re-read it in 2017 and found that despite his low expectations " it nonetheless holds up very well and in fact has aged gracefully."
Arthur Hlavaty, Page 56. The prominent science fiction fan and critic, read his fanzines! And here are some top quotes, and here is a useful biography. Arthur also founded The Golden APA, which had both Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea as members, see my interesting interview with him about it.
"I am writing in defense of personal choice here (if you haven't guessed that already); I merely object to having personal choices proclaimed as new religious revelations which we all must share or be damned," Page 57. RAW's version of libertarianism, and also another comment on what he sees as the irony of debating natural law with libertarians.
John 8:7, Page 63, the "admirable remark" which Wilson says "ought to be burned into the backside of every moralist, with a branding iron," is (in one translation), " So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her."
psittacine, Page 68, birds of the parrot family.
Next week: More on the Natural Law essay, featuring guest blogger Chad Nelson.