AN ENEMY OF THE STATE
The year was 1979. I had written and sold Healer and Wheels Within Wheels, both patchwork novels extrapolated and expanded from shorter works previously published in Analog. Now I was ready to write a novel from scratch. I decided to stick with the LaNague Federation future history, but this time I'd write about the roots of the Federation, about its founder, the reluctant revolutionary Peter LaNague.
I saw LaNague as a non-violent man trying to bring down a repressive government without bloodshed – or at least with very little. But how to go about that?
At the time I was pursuing a personal radicalism based on the anarchocapitalist writings of Ludwig von Mises and Murray Rothbard and others. They contend that the soul of a free society is a free economy: if individuals are not allowed to deal freely with each other, then they are not free. I became fascinated with the Weimar hyperinflation during the early 1920s (a well into which I'd dip again decades later for Aryans and Absinthe, the novella I wrote for the anthology Revelations, edited by Douglas E. Winter, 1997). I began to wonder: if a government can manipulate the economy to further its own ends, why couldn't a clever revolutionary do the same to bring down a government?
And when I realized that Peter LaNague's target and weapon could be one and the same, the story clattered into place.
All this dovetailed perfectly with my long-term disdain for that hoary SF cliché, the galactic empire. Really, even with a faster-than-light drive, the idea of an ironfisted centralized power micromanaging a collection of worlds spanning dozens of light years is absurd. My concept was a little more practical: a loose confederation of colonized worlds left pretty much to their own devices with a centralized Big Stick hanging over them to dampen any aggressive or acquisitive tendencies. In other words: Hands Off. Laissez Faire.