Liberty is an inherently offensive lifestyle. Living in a free society guarantees that each one of us will see our most cherished principles and beliefs questioned and in some cases mocked. That psychic discomfort is the price we pay for basic civic peace. It's worth it. It's a pragmatic principle. Defend everyone else's rights, because if you don't there is no one to defend yours. -- MaxedOutMama

I don't just want gun rights... I want individual liberty, a culture of self-reliance....I want the whole bloody thing. -- Kim du Toit

The most glaring example of the cognitive dissonance on the left is the concept that human beings are inherently good, yet at the same time cannot be trusted with any kind of weapon, unless the magic fairy dust of government authority gets sprinkled upon them.-- Moshe Ben-David

The cult of the left believes that it is engaged in a great apocalyptic battle with corporations and industrialists for the ownership of the unthinking masses. Its acolytes see themselves as the individuals who have been "liberated" to think for themselves. They make choices. You however are just a member of the unthinking masses. You are not really a person, but only respond to the agendas of your corporate overlords. If you eat too much, it's because corporations make you eat. If you kill, it's because corporations encourage you to buy guns. You are not an individual. You are a social problem. -- Sultan Knish

All politics in this country now is just dress rehearsal for civil war. -- Billy Beck

Thursday, June 16, 2005

In Re: "A Pack, Not a Herd."

Billy Beck of Two-Four has been commenting here concerning the prospect of armed reprisals by individuals due to government overreach (real or perceived). He's got two recent posts on the topic, Coming Distractions and today, "A Pack, Not a Herd". I asked his permission to quote the latter, because it's directed largely at me and I have some (more) things to say on the topic. In Coming Distractions Billy said:
Here is the central problem surrounding what you people are talking about:

There is no coherent and cohesive philosophy underpinning it. Everybody's pissed off, but you all have your varying degrees of what you'll settle for. Someone like me comes along to suggest something like starving the Beast out of existence by not paying for it, or withdrawing the overt political sanction by not bloody voting -- like I've been doing for years to general laughter -- and, suddenly, nobody is so pissed off anymore. There is something everyone can agree on: "Beck's a kook."
I certainly acknowledge that there's not a coherent and cohesive philosophy underpinning our beliefs. There's a vague head-nod towards "freedom," or "individual rights," or "personal liberty," but a philosophy? No.

Philosophies are learned, and that's not something - wait, that's not right. I was going to say "that's not something being taught these days," but that would be wrong. The public schools are teaching a philosophy. The media; print, film, television, are teaching a philosophy. And we're seeing the effects of that philosophy in everything from college(!) students who "don't DO math!" to Senators who compare the physical discomfort of being too hot or too cold to treatment at the hands of Stalin's gulag guards or Pol-Pot's torturers.

Philosophical indoctrination is going on, but not in any overt, open, honest manner. And it's been going on for decades. Billy said, in "A Pack, Not a Herd":
Carol Ann Rand, of the Georgia Libertarian Party, once pointed out to me that the commies have it all over us when it comes to organization, because they're the ones who are built for "unity". "Trying to organize libertarians," she said, "is like trying to herd cats."
Trying to organize any group of individualists of any (or no) political stripe is the same.

Then Billy points out what I see as the inherent flaw in his complaint:
(O)nce each individual inclined to these affairs properly understood the importance of clean concepts, there would be no "leadership" required. This is the point to which I alluded with my remark about why people don't "lead themselves". The very first task is to think clearly, and this simply is not happening. However, it's the crucial difference between -- in the apt comparison -- a "herd" and a "pack". This whole issue is what led Ayn Rand to conclude: "It's earlier than you think." She was pointing out that the intellectual ground-work simply was not in place.

There simply isn't anything to "lead", now. But everybody in the joint thinks they know how to do it.
I'm in complete agreement with the sentiment "The very first task is to think clearly, and this simply is not happening." But I don't think I know how to do it, nor have I said that I do. I've simply been observing what's going on and noting what I think is going to happen.

There are others who believe that, at some point, the People will rise up in righteous anger and set things to right. I don't. I think that by the time enough people are pissed off enough to be willing to risk everything they have, it will be far too late to do anything (successfully) about it.

Billy says:
I don't know how to solve this problem. I have often pointed out: nobody can reach into someone else's head and bolt the concepts together for them. "In the end, we are all our own teachers."

I have, in recent times, begun to think that the internet in general, and (now), the rise of blogs in particular, are only working to exacerbate this problem. That's because the echo-chamber effect out there is reinforcing all kinds of bloody nonsense among the mutually nonsensical. This is part of why I view the recent discussions of violence with a fishy eye. I would be hard-put to come up with a more potentially disastrous circumstance than people who are not thinking, talking about guns.

It's like I keep saying: this is The Endarkenment, and the rocket-sled to hell is running right on time.
On the topic of not knowing how to solve the problem, we are in complete agreement. On the topic of the internet providing echo-chambers for the various members of the chattering class I am less pessimistic about. It is here, I hope, that someone with voice and vision might find a forum from which to educate. But I'll admit that, too, could be a pipe-dream.

Billy's commentary on "the recent discussions of violence" has been primarily disdainful of the idea that such violence will be constructive - and on that we also agree. But I think there will be more Carl Dregas, just not enough of them, and not soon enough. As I said, Claire Wolfe was wrong. It's not too early to shoot the bastards, it's too late. They have the power now, and won't be frightened into relinquishing it. Scaring them now will only make their grasp tighter and their reach longer.

I, too see the rocket-sled to hell. I, too see that there is no coherent philosophy underpinning American society. But I see humanity differently than Billy does, I think. Billy believes that it's possible to educate the majority in a libertarian philosophy, and I don't. The Geek with a .45 put it well:
A truly enlightened society must ultimately be composed of 95%+ enlightened individuals...and the bell curve just doesn't support that premise.
Perhaps not 95%, but certainly over half, because there are competing philosophies out there - Communism being just one of them - that are far more attractive to people who'd rather not work (or think) for a living. And it appears to me that that philosophy, and various and sundry perversions of it, are what are fueling that rocket-sled.

I'm not sure what Billy's purpose behind blogging (and commenting) is, exactly. Perhaps he has or will explain it, but I'm here to advocate. I'm here to advocate an understanding of the Constitution of the United States that says "What's yours is yours, what's his is his, and the Constitution is there to protect that. To the extent that we need to contribute to a society that protects that ideal, great, but let's not get carried away." I do this with the full understanding that human nature means we'll get carried away.

The Libertarian Philosophy, just like the Marxist Philosophy, just like the Constitutional Philosophy requires a "New Man" to work as envisioned - that "enlightened society." John Adams said
Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.
And he was right. But I'm willing to try a holding action, maybe even try to roll the rock back up the hill a bit, rather than just ride the rocket-sled, so I'm doing what I can to try to get people's attention and show them what it is they're gleefully throwing away.

Yes, I have a little echo-chamber here and the effort may be futile, but I am trying. And the point may come where I pull a Carl Drega in the full knowledge of the futility of the act because, come right down to it, it is better to perish than to live as slaves.

But I have to ask, Billy: What will you do if the IRS decides that it's time to enforce the rules on you?

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