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Profoundly Undesirable Doesn’t Mean Impossible

September 25, 2016

I’ve written before about my views of those who want armed revolt. It’s not a positive view. It certainly wasn’t made better by the decision of the Bundy’s to do what they did outside Burns, Oregon.*

Having said all that, there is another perspective I find at least as annoying. Before I say what it is, let me be clear, once again. I neither want, support or promote armed rebellion against the government of the United States. It is, as I’ve indicated before, a profoundly bad idea, with a less than foregone conclusion.

What is this other, equally offensive perspective? Simply this: There is a recurring theme among gun control proponents, regarding the likelihood and possibility of success of a military insurgency in the US. Though not stated plainly, it goes something like this:

  • The US military is an overwhelmingly powerful force. Its limitations and the fact an insurgency would include those with an understanding of those limitations, along with the knowledge of how to exploit them, are irrelevant
  • The presence of more privately owned weapons and ammunition in the US than that owned by any military machine in the world is irrelevant
  • The fact many gun control proponents declare many of these weapons to be “military grade” is suddenly irrelevant
  • The likelihood an armed insurgency would include a significant number of people from law enforcement with both tactical training and experience is irrelevant.
  • The likelihood an armed insurgency would include a significant number of military active duty and veterans with both tactical training and experience is irrelevant
  • The likelihood an armed insurgency would include former and active military personnel with years of training and real world experience (presumably along with with whatever clandestine contacts that entails) in asymmetrical warfare, 4th generation warfare and building and training insurgencies is irrelevant
  • The possibility(or likelihood) many of these highly trained, skilled and experienced military and law enforcement personnel have somehow already come into possession of perhaps “not quite authorized” weapons and supplies is irrelevant
  • The likelihood an armed insurgency would target those individuals in positions of leadership in what the insurgents would view as an oppressive regime, as opposed to targeting large military units, is irrelevant
  • The unavoidable vulnerability of many of those targeted people is irrelevant
  • The reluctance of most US military personnel to fire on their fellow citizens is irrelevant
  • The fact so many people who swore to support and defend the Constitution (as opposed to any person or government) take that oath very seriously is irrelevant
  • The fact that many of these highly trained, highly skilled and experienced people would be both reluctant to participate in such an insurgency and implacable foes once they chose to participate is irrelevant
  • The fact many who might participate in an armed insurgency have committed themselves to occupying the moral high ground (including not shooting first and no targeting of innocents) will not increase public sympathy and is irrelevant
  • That history teaches the outcome of an armed insurgency is a far from foregone conclusion is irrelevant

In short, what we have is a fine example of a narrative that must, in order to be maintained, ignore any fact that might contradict the narrative. It is essential that the very weapons many gun control proponents seek to restrict and /or ban would somehow pose no threat anyone associated with what insurgents would view as an oppressive regime. It is equally essential that anyone who might be associated with such a hypothetical insurgency have no training, experience, weapons or supplies that might contribute in any way to the possibility of success. They must always be portrayed as people with no skill, no training, no experience and no understanding of history or modern systems of politics and warfare. It is, I submit, pretty easy to understand why some people cling to this belief.

There are people who have abandoned the idea that self-defense is an inherent human right. This is reflected not only in our so frequent discussions of gun control, but also in the laws that restrict the size and type of blades one can carry on one’s person ( I find this interesting in light of the fact many gun control proponents will insist “you can defend yourself adequately with a knife”). Since none of us wants to be the victim of violence the alternative to taking any real responsibility for one’s own defense is to pay mercenaries to use weapons in one’s stead, creating and widening a gulf between society and those whose job it is to protect society as law enforcement becomes increasingly militarized as a result, in part, of a refusal on the part of many to take responsibility for their own defense and for that of their own neighborhoods, towns and cities.

This abdication of personal responsibility, the desire to have other people take care of us and the belief that such a thing can be done, and even more tellingly should be done, is difficult to overcome.

In my life coaching practice I quickly became aware of a few things. First of all, I learned the people most in need of the services of a life coach were the people least likely to avail themselves of such services, even if they were offered for free. Second, I learned the urge or tendency to abdicate personal responsibility is present in virtually everyone. Third, I learned people give in to this tendency in different ways. That is, the area of life for which people want others to be responsible and ensure a given outcome varies from person to person. Finally, I realized no one likes to face up to their abdication of personal responsibility and that the more one is committed to this abdication, the more one has riding on it, whether socially, psychologically, emotionally (usually it’s some combination of these), the less likely and the less able one is to face up to the reality of that abdication. And so, the narrative, whatever form it takes, must be protected. It must be protected because it is psychologically, emotionally and socially comforting. The alternative to this abdication is so profoundly uncomfortable, so psychologically, emotionally and socially threatening, that it cannot be tolerated. The alternative must be denied. It must be strongly opposed. Those who support the alternative to abdicating personal responsibility must be denigrated and disparaged.

While revolution is profoundly undesirable (and truly, it is), that doesn’t make it impossible.

As a general rule people love the benefits of freedom. They just don’t like its cost. The cost of freedom is personal responsibility. I do not think it is possible to overstate how important personal responsibility is to freedom. In fact, I believe personal responsibility is essential to freedom. One cannot be free if one does not accept responsibility for one’s own life. There are, I believe, two consistently true ideas or thoughts that are pertinent to this topic. The first one I’m calling “Freedom’s Constant:” because freedom requires personal responsibility people will do anything they can to avoid being free. The second one is “Freedom’s Corollary:” if you can convince a man he is free when he is not, he will allow you to do anything you want to him.

*Note: As much as I’d like to think all the thoughts here are original with me, the truth is, reading the writings of others has helped clarify some things for me. Of particular note are the writings of Stewart Rhodes, available here, and those of the Bayou Renaissance Man. I share some views in common with both of them. I also disagree with both of them on some things. So what? People who love freedom aren’t required to agree on all things. We just need to be devoted to liberty. My thoughts about some things didn’t really change, but my ability to express them more clearly surely has. For that, I owe both of them a significant debt.

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