Planet Of The Slaves
Mendax News Service
I must be one of the very few people who has never seen any of the Planet of the Apes movies, but around the same time of the first one there was a commercial failure made called Planet of the Slaves.
If I remember correctly it was produced by Milton Mayer, with a screenplay by Lysander Spooner and starred a B-grade actor named Robert Nozick who plays the protagonist W. L “Bill” Garrison.
Garrison and his band land on a planet that is governed by a kakistocracy of omnicompetent – or so they think – men. The people seem happy and brag to the visitors about their freedom and how they have all kinds of rights that are protected and enumerated by their foundational charter. The visitors discover that the people of the planet are known as the Snacirema and that they are hospitable to strangers, but easily herded into a sort of unanimity of thought. There are a few independent thinkers, but they are derided as “Nockites” or “Remnantists.”
After a few days of intermingling, Garrison becomes convinced that all the supposed rights and freedoms the Snacirema brag about are illusory, in fact he becomes convinced that they are slaves.
His first inkling is when Ollie Holmes, one of the people he has befriended mentions that he has to send the government part of his wages or he will be jailed or have his property seized. Garrison is incredulous, but Holmes explains that it's only one percent and that it is the price of civilization. Garrison tries to explain that it isn't the amount that makes him a slave, it's the fact that the government has a superior claim to the fruits of his labor. Holmes is unconvinced.
A few days later, Garrison discovers that the people are compelled to send their children to school and that the government operates a huge network of schools that teach many things that the parents find repugnant. There are some people who teach their children at home and there are a few private schools, but they aren't free like the government schools.
The Snacirema maintain an enormous military with land, sea and air forces in which boys are required to register for service in if called. The chances of actually being called are very small since the whole apparatus is for defense, not aggression, and they haven't been attacked in over seventy years. Still, Garrison doesn't see how compulsory service is compatible with the freedom he keeps hearing about.
One day, as Holmes is taking Garrison to see the Thomas W. Wilson Memorial, they are stopped by a Compliance Officer – sort of like police – for not paying alimony and not having insurance. Garrison asks the officer how he knew that Holmes hadn't paid alimony and the officer explains that there are tag reading cameras everywhere that alert the officer if someone is “out of compliance.” After they are on their way again Garrison tells Holmes that he doesn't see how mass surveillance is compatible with freedom. Holmes explains that it's no big deal if you have nothing to hide and that he'll get matter resolved.
The next day Garrison finds that there is a meeting of Nockites at the Horatio Bunce Auditorium that night. He decides to go and see what their opinions are, but he can't persuade Holmes to accompany him since they are viewed as kooks, so he has to go alone.
When he gets there he sees that it's a very small group and they all seem to know each other and suspect he's some kind of spy or agent provocateur. He explains that he is from another planet and is only studying their beliefs and customs. A man named Fishel Chodorovic introduces himself as one of the group's founders and launches into a litany of objections to the way the planet is run and explains that the people are slaves without chains.
Garrison doesn't contradict Chodorovic, but asks him why he thinks as he does since most of the people seem to be perfectly happy or at least accepting of the situation.
Chodorovic responds that the people are bound with mental chains almost from birth and that they are firmly fastened by the compulsory school system which those in charge style “education.”
Garrison: Why don't the people just refuse to send their children to be indoctrinated?
Chodorovic: Most of the people not only don't object, they think it's a good idea to have compulsory schooling and if the parents don't send the children the children will be taken away and become wards of the state. The people are inured to control by everything they see and hear. Is something harmful? Outlaw it, or license it. There is a license for everything. Do you want to get married? You need a license. Do you want to braid hair? You need a license. Do you want to grow tobacco or peanuts? You need a license. You need a license to do everything: sell real estate, carry a gun, practice medicine, operate a motor vehicle, fly a plane, operate a business, practice law, sell used cars, cash checks, put up a sign, hold a garage sale, hunt or fish, dance in a strip club, sell alcohol, operate a boiler, sell firearms, sell insurance, ad infinitum. Then there are permits which are licenses by another name, building permits, electrical permits, plumbing permits, tree-cutting permits, etc. There are also requirements that you do as you're told: wear your seat belt, buy insurance on your car, buy medical insurance, keep your grass cut below a designated height, tag your car and your dog. The people have accepted control over everything.
The control is so complete that politicians seeking office promise to cut income taxes or “reform” the code, but never to eliminate and forbid income taxation. It is taken for granted that government has first claim on all income and can raise or lower its share at will.
There are prohibitions against having certain plants because somebody thinks you might do something harmful with them. Imagine that, outlawing plants! There are also certain drugs and treatments you aren't allowed to use because they are “unapproved.” The great god government has decreed that you can't use them, so needless to say they aren't covered under your mandatory insurance.
Garrison: That does sound like government is more intrusive than I had heard, but how does it keep track of who's doing what?
Chodorovic: Everybody is required to send in a tax return with their address and an identifying number unless they didn't have any “taxable income.” To claim dependents, each one also has to have a number.
To open a bank account you need a number and the banks have to report any “suspicious activity.”
It's considered suspicious if you structure you banking transactions to avoid being reported.
There are tag readers that record your location and time. All of your mail is photographed front and back. All of your electronic communications are intercepted and stored. It's not known if it's being done, but you could be tracked and recorded continuously by having a phone on you.
Garrison: Do you think it's possible to reverse this?
Chodorovic: It's an uphill battle, but if I could do one thing with the wave of a magic wand it would be to forbid government involvement of any kind in schooling. No compulsion, no certification, no textbook advice, no grants of money or property, no teacher licensing, no tax credits, no nothing. And if I had a second wave of the wand I would utterly forbid any taxation of income from whatever source derived. Without funding there can be no tyranny.
Garrison: Well, I've got to be leaving for home tomorrow, but if I ever get back to Earth I'm going to see how you're progressing – or regressing – with your program of deconstruction.
Chodorovic: It's at least a fifty-year project.