Monday, May 26, 2008

Reflections on the state of the Republic

From Mike Vanderboegh writing on the blog Western Rifle Shooters Association:

Premonition of Civil War: "We. . . are about to have our fues lit".

"I listened to Sen. McCain address the NRA Friday night with my 1st grandson asleep in my arms. As I listened to the diluted mumbo jumbo from him, I thought about what my grandson will probably face. I did not like it one bit. I think we, the folks in America that just want to be left alone to live a peaceful life without the gov't intervention in every facet of our life, are about to have our fuse lit. I just know it's coming." - Email to Mike Vanderboegh from his friend John in Florida, 19 May 2008.

Mr. Vanderboegh's comment on his friend's email:

My friend John's prediction, his premonition, "we . . . are about to have our fuse lit," came to him because he understands where we find ourselves in the first decade of the 21st Century. His is an intellectual premonition, as was mine before Thursday afternoon. It takes no seer, no crystal ball, no weird purple light from the Twilight Zone to anticipate the coming confrontation between those who revere the Founders' constitutional republic and the God-given liberty it codifies and the gathering dark forces of "enlightened" collectivism. And like most wars, this one will need to be fought precisely because most of us think it is impossible.

The Belief that there will be another American Civil War is not a new one. Everyone is familiar with Thomas Jefferson's observation that the Tree of Liberty would periodically need to be watered with the blood of tyrants and patriots. What most people don't know was that he saw that "watering" taking place around every 20 years or so.

However I have always been deeply skeptical about the prospect of any kind of widespread insurrection against the federal government. The fact is that for the overwhelming majority of people in the USA life is very good. And it never seemed likely to me that the average person would be too keen on giving up his fat 401K, 56" flat screen with blu-ray disc player and the realistic prospect of that summer home at the beach/mountains/lake to take up his rifle and start potting the jackbooted Schutzstaffel of the American leviathan. I think that most people agree with me in that opinion. This is why the story of the frog in the pan of water being slowly heated to boiling is such a popular metaphor for the American people's slow loss of liberty at the hands of an ever expanding federal government.

However I am reminded of the fact that the people who made the American Revolution happen were not wretched masses of the desperately poor who had nothing to lose. Rather they were the landed gentry. Educated and affluent they were the elite of colonial society. The same can be said of the Southerners who led the South into succession from the Union. In both cases the people leading the breakaway from what was thought of as an oppressive government were the men with the most, not the least, to lose by their actions.

I'm sure that the vast legions of people who comprise the federal government (from elected officials to senior bureaucrats down to the alphabet soup of federal law enforcement agencies) do not feel themselves in any particular danger of an armed domestic uprising. In this respect the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution has failed in its intended purpose. The 2nd Amendment was not written so that country boys could go out and put venison on the table with their trusty long arm. Nor was it written so that the robbers and rapists might be terrorized into reforming their evil ways by the thought that their next victim might put a bullet between their eyes. No, while those things are happy side effects of the 2nd Amendment its real purpose was to ensure that the government would ever and always feel profoundly intimidated by the citizenry.

However the BATF agents who raided a peaceful religious community in Waco, TX in 1993 had absolutely no fear that the other residents of Waco would take up arms and turn out to help defend their neighbors (however they were seriously taken aback when the Davidians had the gall to actually shoot back - note that they haven't tried another raid of that type since). Just like the US Marshals and FBI agents who surrounded Randy Weaver's house and murdered his wife and son knew that there would be no convoys of outraged armed Americans descending on Ruby Ridge to turn the incident into a latter day Lexington and Concord.

We all remember the video of police in post-Katrina New Orleans tackling an elderly woman to take her revolver away from her. Do you think that any of those cops hesitated for one second out of fear that the old woman's neighbors would come to her defense?

As I said, the true purpose of the 2nd Amendment has been forgotten both by the citizens it was intended to protect and by the government it was intended to terrify. But this forgetting is a dangerous thing to both the citizen and to the government and its minions. Fredrick Douglass, the runaway slave who became a respected writer and leading advocate of the abolition of slavery in the antebellum North, once advised slave owners to "cuff your slaves and treat them cruelly, for a slave with a bad master will aspire to have a good master while a slave with a good master will aspire to be his own master".

Douglass knew that removing the lash from a slave's back allowed him to look up and see the possibilities of freedom. In the United States the lash of poverty has been removed from the great majority of the population. At the same time the Internet has broken the virtual monopoly which the elite media (the handmaiden of big government) has held on the dissemination of information (anyone who doubts the importance of having a way to get out the other side of the argument should study the history of the Reformation and realize that Gutenberg had as much to do with its success as Luther).

Remember what drove the propertied class which led both the Continental Congress in the Revolution and the Confederate government in the Civil War was the fact that their life experiences made them intolerant of being pushed around and unwilling to accept the impositions of a distant government which they did not respect. For those of you having difficulty seeing Thomas Jefferson commanding his slaves at Monticello and Joe Sixpack being fawned on by the salesmen at Best Buy in the same light let me ask you this, what really pisses you off about being pulled over by a cop, the fact that a ticket might make your car insurance go up or the fact that you are going to have to bow and scrape before an arrogant prick who, absent his badge, would be fixing cars or sweeping a Wal Mart parking lot?

Fix this thought in your mind. The American Civil War was not an uprising of slaves seeking freedom. It was an uprising of Slave owners seeking to preserve their prerogatives.

Now think about the fact that those who wish to concentrate unlimited power in the federal government have effectively lost the ability to control the flow of information within the United States. Just as the printing press made it impossible for the Pope to prevent all of Christendom from reading Luther's 95 thesis and the committees of correspondence allowed the patriots to frame the debate in colonial America the Internet allows the instant and uncensored distribution of information about every usurpation of liberty and every affront to the dignity of a free people.

Internet services like YouTube allow people to not only read about but to see examples of the outrages which are inflicted by the servants of the state. The video of the old woman in New Orleans being piled on by a group of cops who were just following orders generates far more raw fury than just reading an account of the incident. The 'net also allows these datum to be archived and easily searched so that the intellectually honest seeker after truth soon finds himself buried under an avalanche of other similar affronts and usurpations.

It is not inevitable, but it is entirely possible, that a breaking point could someday be reached. The fact that the government, the police who enforce the government's will and the elites in the academy and the media who exist in symbiosis with the government no longer believe that there is any such thing as a "breaking point" where the people are concerned means that they will be in no way cautious about approaching that point.

The fact that most of the general public is not aware of the fact that there is a societal breaking point in regard to their government means that they will not become alarmed and act to rein in the government while it can still be reined in.

It doesn't have to start big. In fact it almost certainly will start small. Mr. Vanderboegh relates an exchange he had with someone named Peter on a gun blog:

Peter: "The day may come when we need to take up arms against a tyrannical government, but the fact that you can 'tell them in advance, in public, what MY “rules of engagement” were.' is proof that this is not the time. So please stop giving the anti-gun nuts more ammo, and trying to bait the government to come after you. This is only hurting our cause."

Vanderboegh: "Well, if that's the case, our 'causes' are not the same. My cause is that of the constitutional republic of the Founders and a United States of America that my children and grandchildren can live in as free citizens, not frightened serfs. Here's the thing: with the ATF on the prod, and cantankerous people like me refusing to be pushed, sooner or later somebody's going to trade shots. WE, my friends and me, are going to give the cheesers on this board and in the larger country a choice: are you going to make the same excuses you made before in 1993 when you watched government murder on television and did nothing? And if they kill someone like me, someone who's not a religious cultist (unless you count the Baptists as cultists), someone who doesn't mess with explosives or automatic weapons, someone who's a father and a grandfather, a guy who's on disability for congestive heart failure and can't attack anybody, a guy whose only real sin in their eyes is to despise them publicly -- if they kill me and you do nothing AGAIN, hiding behind excuses AGAIN, well I don't know how you look yourself in the mirror."

And I concluded:

"And understand this, in a country that allows the David Olofsons to be victimized without correction, sooner or later people like me are going to force people like you to look in that mirror. And I suppose that's what really scares y'all. But whether you like it or not, whether you join us or not, we will force you to make the choice because we DO NOT consent to be victimized by some thug simply because he possesses a federal badge that is unconstitutional in the first place. We are free men and women, and will live or die as free men and women. You are free to choose, but you should understand that the choice is not far away. The imperial feds have apparently decided that by their egregious misconduct in the Olofson case."
That's how it can start. Someone snaps and says "I'm not taking this any more" and fights back. Then someone like me, a man with no family depending on him, says "you know if I sit here and watch this happen and don't do jack about it I have no right to call myself a man". Then the mirror gets held up and more and more people are dragged kicking and screaming by their own consciences and forced to look into it. Then the nation has a moment like the jury in the movie Walking Tall where Buford Pusser takes his shirt off and shows them his scars and tells them "if they can do this to me then they can do the same damn thing to you".

Will everyone in the nation rise up then? No, and they will not have to. Remember that at the time the Declaration of Independence was signed the actual number of the colonists who favored independence even at the cost of war was around 20%. During the war the percentage favoring independence more than doubled, but never reached even 50%. And of those favoring independence only a small minority actually took up arms and fought for it.

It is just that the minority favoring independence was more willing to act than the majority opposing it. In the Civil War it was the same. The number of Southerners who favored breaking away from the Union was less than half and the number of Northerners who favored going to war to keep the South in the Union was less than half. It is just that an active minority will always trump a passive majority.

The cost in blood and treasure could be enormous and the effect on the rest of the world could be catastrophic. If America, the "essential nation", were ripped apart by internal fighting who would take its place in a world where the "bad guys" outnumber the "good guys" by orders of magnitude?

As Mr.Vanderboegh said, ". . . like most wars, this one will need to be fought precisely because most of us think it is impossible." There is a breaking point and it must be not just respected but feared.