Volume 2, Number 3, July 1984

An Enemy of The State

By F. Paul Wilson

Berkley, 1980, 27O pg. $2.50.
Reviewed by Neal Wilgus
July 1984

If any book by F. Paul Wilson deserved to win the Prometheus Award it was this one. Wheels Within Wheels, which did win the award, and Healer are both in the same "LaNague Federation" series, but both deal with events which follow those in An Enemy of the State and both are only marginally libertarian in my view.

Enemy is the story of how Peter LaNague planned and carried out the overthrow of the Outworld Imperium in an attempt to establish a truly libertarian civilization. LaNague, from the anarcho-libertarian planet Tolive, is aided in his conspiracy by his wife Mora, by two quasi-libertarians from the planet Flint, by a crazed revolutionary named Broohnin and a number of other libertarians—and by the fiscal and political stupidity of the Imperial government, personified by the vain and inept Metep VII. Calling himself Robin Hood and restricting his attacks to non-violent subversion and redistribution of wealth, LaNague manages to bring the Imperium to its knees primarily by speeding up inflation to a revolutionary point.

The story of LaNague's revolution is a good one and shows just how far Wilson has come since Wheels, but there are some glitches. LaNague and Broohnin make a trip to Earth, for instance: that is interesting but not really necessary to the story and seems to have been included only so Wilson could spring a novel idea on us—photosynthetic cattle. Similarly, there is a subplot about making contact with a hostile alien race that is irrelevant to the story of the revolution and is left as a dangling loose end that should have been tied up.

A major problem, however, is in Wilson's solution to the problem of The State. It's pretty obvious that Wilson belongs to the school of economic thinkers who blame all social evils on mismanagement of the money supply so we have an Imperium plagued with deficit spending, high interest rates, high unemployment, economic stagnation, and a growing sense of helplessness on the part of the people in the street. And all LaNague has to do is accentuate the negative, emphasize the importance cf the gold standard and try not to get buried when the imperium comes tumbling down.

Unfortunately there's more to the problem of statism than deficit spending, the money supply, or anything else merely economic. There are also the vast complexities of human psychology, sociology, politics, and philosophy, not to mention the immeasurable impact of science and technology—all working together to produce economic behavior and being influenced by economic factors in turn. The fallacy in An Enemy of the State is easy to see—the Imperium rules an empire of star systems thousands of years in the future. yet the economic situation described is essentially that of present day America.

In an epilogue, where we see LaNague depressed and disillusioned by the mess people are making of their new-found freedom, Wilson hints at some of the problems that lie beyond economics, but he only hints. To my mind the 264 pages that came before the epilogue were actually a prologue to the real story of the abolition of statism. The real meat of the tale is yet to come.

Nonetheless, Enemy is easy to recommend to anyone interested in anarcho-libertarianism, and certainly points in the direction we want libertarian science-fiction to go. Despite a few flaws it is an engrossing story that will carry your interest all the way through, and it clearly comes to grips with the problems anarcho-libertarians face.

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