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Of hammers and nails

May 19, 2019

More apologies to Francis Bacon…

I wanted to try to dig just a little more into the mind of the authoritarian. My goal was to write a post that was deep and insightful, something that would provide an incontrovertible explanation as to what drives the authoritarian. This is not that post.

My observation is that authoritarians understand that their approach, the use of force (even if the use is simply the threat of said force) always works – except, of course, when it doesn’t. It is that exception which serves to frustrate the authoritarian. In most instances, the authoritarian, usually via the particular agency of government he supports or represents, finds that the (sometimes judicious) application of just a little more force, will compel compliance by the one(s) who oh so clearly did not get the message the first time. This, too, always works. Again, except when it doesn’t.

It is the person who consistently declines to comply, the woman who simply refuses to knuckle under to code enforcement when she hasn’t violated the law, the man who defies his neighbors and their shock that he grows lettuce rather than azaleas in his front yard flower beds, who frustrates the authoritarian to no end. All the authoritarian knows, the only response of which he can conceive, is to double down on the pressure. The one who refuses to knuckle under, who refuses to give in, who simply declines to comply, is clearly a nail and the only tool possessed by the authoritarian is the hammer of (usually governmental) authority.

I see this authoritarian approach demonstrated a lot on Quora. As it happens, I’m a fairly active writer there on topics relating to the right to keep and bear arms, so I’ll use that an an example of authoritarian thought. It is worth noting that authoritarian thought is not at all limited to discussions of guns. I’m simply pulling from where I often see it demonstrated.

It is not at all uncommon for one or more gun control advocates to suggest that with the proper application of governmental force, whether by law enforcement or by, say, the National Guard, any and all sorts of gun control measures could be successfully implemented. The logic goes something like this:

  1. Pass the law/issue the EO
  2. Threaten the necessary force
  3. Most gun owners will comply
  4. Apply the necessary force to those who do not comply
  5. The vast majority of remaining gun owners will fall in line
  6. The scourge of violence committed with guns will be removed from American society

It is this same logic which is arrayed against other behaviors some find so objectionable as to be worthy of being wiped out. Let’s look at a First Amendment issue and make “hate speech” the target.

  1. Pass the law/issue the EO
  2. Threaten the necessary force
  3. Most who engage in hate speech will comply
  4. Apply the necessary force to those who do not comply
  5. The vast majority of those who still engage in hate speech will fall in line
  6. The scourge of hate will be removed from American society

That both the right to keep and bear arms, and the right to say things that are offensive, including things that are vile, disgusting and even evil, are constitutionally protected means little to the authoritarian. He seeks “a way around the Constitution” so as to apply force to end that to which he or she stands opposed. She seeks a way to force you to comply.

 

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  1. retiredmustang

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