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The Greatest Enemy


They’re out to get me — the most relentless, implacable foe a human being ever had.

They’ve been after me all my life. On the day I was born, they demanded to know who I was and where I was so that they could put me on their list. Their spies and now their huge computers have kept track of me ever since.

They know everything about me: where I live, where I work, how much I make, how much I save and how much I give to charity. They’ve posted thousands of guards to make sure I don’t flee the country without their written permission. There’s no escape.

When I was a toddler, they determined who could treat my whooping cough, who could fix my baby teeth and even who could inoculate my puppy. When I was five, they demanded that my parents turn me over for their forced indoctrination. What could my parents do? If they refused, they would be seized and taken away.

For the next thirteen years, I slaved in their child-labor institutions as they drummed their dogma into me. I learned to fear whom they feared and hate whom they hated. Free speech wasn’t tolerated. Any misdeed led to a brainwashing session in which I was compelled to confess my error and pledge over and over in writing never to commit it again.

When I was eighteen, they came for me. Either I joined their gang of hired killers or they would put me away. I joined. They took me off to a camp where they did their utmost to destroy my individuality. They shaved the inmates’ heads, dressed us alike, trained us to stand and walk in a precisely prescribed manner and brooked no deviation from their orders. When they had taught us how best to kill for their purposes, they sent us out to kill or be killed.

I survived. When I was twenty-one, they let me go. I thought I was free. Free? Do you know how they finance their vast criminal empire? Extortion. They take a huge chunk out of every dollar I earn by employing threats. They make no bones about it. If I don’t tell the truth and cough up, they’ll kidnap me and lock me up. Oh, they know to instill fear all right.

Not only do they take my money but they watch my every move. I can’t drive a car, shoot a duck, fly a plane, dig up a clam or get married without their written consent. And if I don’t like the wife they allowed me, I can’t divorce her without their permission.

They tell me what I can smoke, when I can drink and what substances I can inject under my skin. They’ll also allow me to have only certain kinds of sex, and they refuse to let me read books or look at pictures that don’t conform to their view of what’s proper behavior.

While constantly terrorizing me, they make crude attempts to mother me. They force me to wear seat belts and motorcycle helmets. They determine how fast I can safely drive my car and what I can safely eat. For my own good, they say, they decide how much I must save for my old age and in what manner I may bring electricity to my toaster.

Even in death, there’s no deliverance. When I die, they must be notified immediately. I must be buried in a manner they approve of, and they will, of course, seize their share of any poor pittance I leave behind.

Each year, they grow more tyrannical. Each year, they adopt hundreds of new restrictions on our freedoms. Each year, their forces grow. Their spies, guards and enforcers now number in the millions. They are everywhere.

So rise up, my fellow Americans. Sic semper tyrannis ! And please hurry. April 15 is just around the corner.

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    Mr. Hoppe is a syndicated columnist for The San Francisco Chronicle . This article originally appeared in the June 6, 1990, issue of The Chronicle . Copyright 1990 Chronicle Publishing Company. Reprinted by permission of the author.