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

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Philosophy, Revolution, and the Restoration of the Constitution


Vanderboegh is at it again.

Oldsmoblogger is convinced that Mike Vanderboegh is the Thomas Paine of modern times. I'm not so sure.

He's not shy, though.

The latest excrement-storm stems from an op-ed penned by Jeff Knox, or "Knox the Younger" as characterized by Mr. Vanderboegh. That op-ed, entitled "Mutual Assured Destruction" spells out the situation as Knox the Younger sees it. I'll excerpt, but you really should read the whole thing:
Don’t expect average Americans to rise up in revolution because the government is playing fast and loose with the Bill of Rights or because taxes get too high. That's not the way modern Americans think, nor is it the way the world works today. Armed revolt in America would not lead to a renaissance of Jeffersonian liberalism; it would lead to the destruction of our nation and the guarantee that whatever replaced it would be worse than what it replaced.

Like nuclear deterrence, it is the threat that saves the world, not the execution.


While this is all accurate and works well on paper, just like Marxism and Amway networks, the whole thing falls apart in practice because people never do what you want them to do or what they ought to do – even when doing so is clearly in their own best interests. During the Revolutionary war, a full 40 to 45% of Americans actively supported the revolt. Today, less than 6% of gunowners are even minimally active in political activism. Gunowners turn out for elections at about the same rate as the non-gun owning public.

If gunowners and supporters of liberty can't even agree on a presidential candidate, what makes any of them think that they will be able to agree on a revolution? The threat of armed revolt must be maintained, but like the mutual assured destruction of nuclear war, its implementation must be avoided at all costs. If we have the numbers and the commitment to win a revolution then we should easily be able to win an election.
Mr. Vanderboegh of course disagrees. His piece is printed at Western Rifle Shooters Association and is entitled "An Open Letter to Jeff Knox: Destruction? Yes. Mutually Assured? No!" Again, read the whole thing (I'll be saying a lot of that), but here's some pertinent excerpts:
"Armed revolt" will come about because the leviathan will one day pick on the wrong guy, and a large number of them will be killed by this one guy. They will be shocked, they will be horrified and they will want blood. This individual case of resistance will cause a violent reaction on their part, lead to more onerous laws, confiscation, etc., which in turn will lead to even more incidents, and again, and again, until you get your "Red Dawn" or the ATF equivalent of it. As to whether it would lead to the destruction of our nation or the restoration of our republic is a matter of military argument. Don't wave your white flag just yet - you might be embarrassed.


(Y)ou're saying we have the ability but not the will. If we begin shooting, won't we run out of targets before they will? Oh, I forgot, you and yours aren't going to come to the party, so sad. One other thing. We're not talking about nuclear weapons, Jeff, we're talking about aimed rifle shots. Nothing indiscriminate about that. Which ought to make the gun-grabbers even more queasy, unless of course they're falsely reassured by your cowardly pap. One wonders indeed which audience you are writing this for.


We don't even need 6%. All we need is 3% -- less than that really -- to provoke the response that forces you, Knox the Younger, and your ilk to submit, or fight.


You fool. You don't have to agree with us. In fact, we're counting on your type folding at the first shock. People don't AGREE on revolution, they are FORCED into it by events. And there are enough of my kind, the three percent, to create the events. Have you learned nothing from history? It is made by determined minorities. We may be a minority but we are determined. If you want to hang onto ANY of your guns or other liberties, you will HAVE to fight. We will make sure of that.
It goes on like that.

Knox responded in another piece entitled "Philosophical Wars." (Yes, read the whole thing.) Excerpt:
It is mind boggling to me that intelligent people could be so short sighted and misguided as to think that killing people and blowing things up is somehow going to make things better for our grandchildren. They seem to think that because only about 5% of the populace supported the idea of seceding from the English Empire back in 1776, that their "magic number" is 3% and they think they have that because some survey suggested that 3% of the population thinks violence against the government is justified or could be justified today. What they fail to take into account is the "bluster factor" of people who will agree with such a statement, but who don't really mean it, and the radical other side - the people who support the terrorist tactics of the Animal Liberation Front and radical Leftists like Bernadine Dohrn and Bill Ayers.

What I want to know is, where are the Washingtons, Jeffersons, Adamses and Hancocks? Who do these Bozos think is going to lead the new America out of the ashes and back to its Constitutional glory, and why arent these giants running for public office and leading the political revolution? What do they think China, Russia, Iran, Cuba, Venezuela, and North Korea are going to be doing while their merry little band of terrorists is busy crippling our nation and trying to foment rebellion? What exactly do they expect the "end" of their rebellion to look like? How are our children and grandchildren going to be better off?

Revolution is like cannibalism; it can be justified, but only when there is absolutely no other choice for survival.
And, of course, Vanderboegh rebutted, in a piece he titled "Reply to Knox the Younger." (You know the drill by now.)
The first sentence of his counterpoint deliberately mischaracterizes the reality we face. I say deliberately because he is otherwise a reasonably intelligent chip off the old Knox. (And I daresay that if his daddy ain't rolling over in his grave, he is at least restive at his son's latest foray.)


The predicate for armed conflict in this country will be made not by us, but by our would-be tyrants, who will pass more laws stealing our traditional liberties and seizing our property. It will be our enemies who, having read Knox's soothing missive, 'Let's get real, no one's going to resist the Leviathan,' will take it as evidence -- a professional opinion from 'one of them' -- that they can plunder us and, if necessary, kill us, without risk of retaliatory violence.


Knox spends much of his rebuttal belittling the number who he thinks would resist. Again, he offers no statistics, merely gratuitous opinions which may be as easily refuted.

Who indeed cares what the real number would be? It would still be enough.

He should recall how many cops tried to find the DC snipers - two mokes who were not very bright, had no support network, and a one-trick pony MO. They still managed to freeze the DC area for what, how many weeks? More then a month wasn't it? Two morons -- with the entire resources of the federal government and the local police looking for them, it was just two morons.

But why would the Leviathan go down this path in the first place?

It is at this next excerpt that I will start commenting:
Knox asks what our traditional enemies will be doing when the three percent (who he calls "terrorists") are "busy crippling our nation and trying to foment rebellion?"

I reject the notion that it will be we who will cripple our nation and foment rebellion. He has us confused with the Leviathan. This decision is entirely up to our would-be oppressors. Of course our enemies will take advantage of such a situation. All the more reason why the Leviathan should not push us into this corner.
Vanderboegh may reject the notion of placing the blame, but he cannot reject the reality of the fact that he just described the crippling of our nation in the face of our foes.

Next excerpt:
Then Knox asks, "What exactly do they expect the 'end' of their rebellion to look like?"

Gee, I don't know. Maybe the country I grew up in without the stain of segregation and racial discrimination?

Once they start this dance, if they want to get out of it with their lives, the Leviathan will have to dial back to a time when they didn't control so much of our lives. It's either that or they lose their lives. Which way do you think they'll vote when they understand that?

Knox next criticizes us for advocating "revolution", when it is really Restoration that we are seeking. We want the constitutional republic of the Founders back. We want it restored.

It is the collectivists who have infested and infected every corner of our government with the statism and corruption of their nanny regime.

They are the revolutionists.

They are the cannibals.
And now it's my turn.

One quote I like very much is this one by Ambrose Bierce:
Revolution is an abrupt change in the form of misgovernment.
The number of "successful" revolutions - ones that accomplished their stated intents and actually brought liberty and freedom to the oppressed can be counted on one hand with fingers left over.

Here's another quote, this time by Alexander Solzhenitsyn:
In a state of psychological weakness, weapons become a burden for the capitulating side. To defend oneself, one must also be ready to die; there is little such readiness in a society raised in the cult of material well-being. Nothing is left, then, but concessions, attempts to gain time and betrayal.
Jeff Knox described that "cult of material well-being" in a line from his first piece:
The fact is that only those who have nothing to lose (and nothing to live for) are willing to give up everything – including their lives – in a symbolic gesture of defiance. The rest of us, those with families – kids, grand-kids, vulnerable parents – and homes, jobs, and lives, are not interested in ditching the house, refrigerator, and HD-TV in exchange for a prison cell or a mountain cave.
That's part of it, but it's the symptom, not the disease.

Vanderboegh is convinced that his 3% can drag - perhaps kicking and screaming, but drag - a significant (and, more importanty, sufficient) portion of the population into the fray in support of the 3%.

I'm not so certain. In fact, I'm severely doubtful.

Here's why.

It all goes back to philosophy. Billy Beck has pulled his hair out over the topic:
(Y)ou people are talking about blowing the place up, whether you know it or not. That's the only way it can go, as things are now, because there is no philosophy at the bottom of what you're talking about.
Neither Knox nor Vanderboegh addresses the subject directly.

We're in an ideological war, once described thus:
The heart of the conflict is between those to whom personal liberty is important, and those to whom liberty is not only inconsequential, but to whom personal liberty is a deadly threat.
Vanderboegh dismisses Knox's objections with respect to voting:
Knox also condemns us us for talking "revolution" but not "actively and diligently working hard every day to elect quality people to office at every level and to educate the elected officials already in office about their core responsibilities."

What does he think we've been doing these past twenty years of more? Does he think we just jumped into this thing and started threatening people?

I was doing political work on behalf of the Second Amendment when Jeff Knox hadn't sprouted short and curlies. The real question is how long do we continue to labor in those fields when the collectivists keep dumping Agent Orange on our work?

We have sacrificed in the political arena, we have fought and spent and argued ourselves half to death with the struggle.

And yet - here we stand today on the precipice.
And why? Because one philosophy has predominated in this country over the last 100 years. Vanderboegh also wrote:
The Constitution is a piece of paper if its spirit does not live in the hearts of men. If it is despised, disregarded and prostituted against the Founder's intent, then it is so much toilet paper.
Indeed. And that's very much what it has become - because the philosophy of the Founders has been replaced.

And revolution won't restore it.

I hate to say it, but I think Ambrose Bierce was right. And Billy Beck's prediction of "The Endarkenment" is pretty much the way it's going to go.

Reader Mastiff left a comment here not too long back:
To win this fight, we need to reform the institutional structure of government--create structural incentives for specific actors in government to want to defend our freedom. Otherwise, in a long-running fight between a government that wants to expand its own power and a populace that doesn't know what it wants, the government will win.

Gramsci works both ways. If in the space of a hundred years, an ideology alien to our traditional mode of politics was able to dominate our intellectual class, there is nothing stopping that process from working in reverse. IF people settle in for the long haul and start laying the groundwork.
Unfortunately, the Publick Edumacation Sistim stands athwart any effort to reverse Gramsci.

And the Endarkenment Approacheth, in part because - 3% or not - there's a bunch of people who will not go gently into that good night, and have the means and the will to make it painful. Whatever results will not be "the country I grew up in without the stain of segregation and racial discrimination."

UPDATE: David Codrea commented on the kerfuffle first.

UPDATE: William comments.

UPDATE: Oldsmoblogger comes out of hiatus and comments as well.

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