Here’s an uncomfortable topic that I’m sure will make you squirm. Don’t worry, that’s just years and years of social conditioning making you feel that way about even talking about this topic. 🙂
Personally, I find one of the core tenents of free-thought to be that no idea is off limits for discussion. The moment you arbitrarily decide that even simply discussing an idea is taboo you’re practicing censorship and censorship is the enemy of freedom. Ideas need to be discussed and allowed to stand and fall on their own merits, not suppressed by some well-meaning (or not so well-meaning) nanny.
One of my biggest problems with modern liberalism is the dogmatic insistence on non-violence. By flatly rejecting violence in all forms they have effectively castrated themselves and insured perpetual victim status.
Indeed, much of liberal strategy revolves around being seen as a victim in the hopes that other people will do something about the state of affairs.
“Look at these people being oppressed on the front page of the newspaper! Please! Somebody do something about it!”
Newsflash: Appealing to the moral inclinations of your oppressors never works. If they had similar moral inclinations, they wouldn’t be oppressing you in the first place.
They surrender their agency and responsibility to somebody else, much the same way they would like to happily surrender any rights to violence to the state in the form of banning citizen’s access to weapons and relying solely on the State’s monopoly on violence as exercised through a police force.
Here is the sickening and uncomfortable truth about our reality:
Violence = Power
You can put lipstick on a pig however you want, but the fact is, the ability to deploy violence efficiently and effectively is the basis for all laws and governments.
We put layers and layers of formalities and bureaucracy over it, but at the end of the day, if you disobey the government, there will be a man with a gun to make you obey.
It can be as simple as refusing to pay a parking ticket. If you refuse to pay it the punishments will slowly become more and more severe the longer you resist. They may take your license. If you resist and continue to drive, someone with a gun (in the form of a police officer) might use physical force to restrain (arrest) you. If you resist that, the physical force used against you will escalate the more you resist. Ultimately, if you resist strongly enough, the police officer will draw his gun, the thing upon which all law rests.
Don’t confuse power with legitimacy. They’re two different things. Legitimacy is the moral right to use that power. One can have power, but no legitimacy, just as much as one can have legitimacy, but no power.
There’s a lot of debate and confusion over the 2nd Amendment in the US. The fact is, the 2nd Amendment was written to ensure that the populace had weapons in order to kill government officials and overthrow the government.
Sounds pretty fucking shocking right? It’s not when you remember that killing government officials and overthrowing the government was exactly what the Americans did just prior to writing the constitution.
The 2nd Amendment is there to ensure that civilians would have the power (violence) needed to overthrow the government again if it became tyrannical.
And here’s the great sticking point:
When is a government tyrannical? When is it ok to start shooting?
People don’t like ambiguity, and you’re never going to get 100% consensus that the government has become tyrannical and thus it’s time to start killing people.
Hell, the colonists at the time of the American revolution didn’t have 100% consensus among themselves that they should start violently fighting against their king. A large enough group just decided to do it. The responsibility that rested on their shoulders is almost unimaginable. They were starting a war in which many people were going to die, but they were doing it because they believed the end result would make the world a better place.
That kind of responsibility makes people very, very uncomfortable.
It made them uncomfortable then, and it makes them uncomfortable now. Honestly, people like being told what to do. They don’t like the possibility that they could be making a serious mistake. As long as someone else is taking the responsibility (See Milgram Experiment) then people are fine going along with anything, no matter how horrible.
All I can say is thank goodness the timid people in the Age of Enlightenment lost and society was dragged kicking and screaming to concepts like democracy and human rights.
I don’t want to give the impression that there is no way to tell if an idea is good or bad and the only thing to do is have everyone start killing for their idea and let history sort it out.
Some ideas are morally objectively better than others. (Again, another statement that will make people super uncomfortable!) If you have no idea how something can be objectively more moral than something else (a topic that seems endlessly subjective) check out Sam Harris’ thoughts on “The Moral Landscape.” As crazy as that sounds, I’m really just saying things like equality and freedom are good and oppressing other people is bad. (It’s hard to say those words with a straight face now because they’ve been so twisted and corrupted over the past decade and a half by people who mean exactly the opposite of what those words used to stand for)
So now we have a situation in the United States where the government could very well be objectively called hostile to the people’s human rights, but anyone who advocates violently overthrowing the government (in the American tradition) is not only committing a criminal act in doing so, but will be labeled as crazy by the vast majority of the populace.
Those advocating non-violence are helping their oppressors by insuring that nothing will ever seriously be done to challenge their power, and furthermore, ingraining in the public psyche this knee-jerk disgust at the idea of resisting power with power. Remember that uncomfortable squirming feeling you felt when you started reading this? 😉
Writing letters, marching in the street, and voting in a corrupt and rigged system are laughably naive ways of trying to effect change. They’re pressure release valves to make you feel like you’re having an impact. You’re cows on a farm. You can be mad all you want; as long as you’re generating revenue for the farmer and not burning down the farm, he doesn’t care what you do.
There’s one major problem with the 2nd Amendment.
At the time it was written, a government’s power was limited to a bunch of guys on a boat with muzzle loading guns. It’d take the boat months to get anywhere and then the guys could only effectively inflict violence as far and fast as they could march and their muskets would shoot. A similarly armed populace could repel this force within reason.
This is not the case today. The government has a planet wide surveillance apparatus, flying robots with missiles, nuclear bombs, tanks, aircraft carriers, a 24hr news/propaganda spin machine, you name it.
The 2nd Amendment is now useless. There is no way a civilian populace, even if everybody had a machine gun, could repel the full might of the government. The arms gap is just too great and the technology is so advanced and dangerous that it’s impractical to just give everyone a tank.
Nonetheless, I support owning guns and learning how to shoot on the principle of it. Just because your rights are now irrelevant and useless doesn’t mean you should just abandon them.
It’s always funny to me just how alien this concept is to my European friends. I enjoy shocking them with my conceal carry license and telling them that it allows me to carry a hidden pistol in public in several states in the US.
I think there’s a big cultural divided here with regards to trust of the government. They very much see the government as their protector whereas I very much see the US government as an oppressive and criminal force. I think they also feel that their governments are more responsive to the will of the people whereas I see the US government as an oligarchy and deaf to the needs of the population. Perhaps there’s a difference in political systems. Perhaps their systems make it harder for special interest groups to buy politicians and influence the government like what happens in the US.
However, should their governments become corrupt, tyrannical, and unresponsive to the people, they don’t really have a way of fighting back. (But then again, nobody really does given the power imbalance between people and governments all over the world)
Regardless, the “non-violence at all costs” people are delusional. Oppressors don’t stop oppressing their victims because you asked nicely or stood out in the street in the cold holding a sign. Violence is how they’re oppressing you. It’s the only language they know.
The really difficult question for humanity is when is it right to use violence to defend yourself? There’s a lot of responsibility wrapped up in that, and you’re always going to have people who vehemently disagree with you, but it’s necessary to ask yourself if you’re to remain free from oppressors.