What Is To Be Done - Sitrep: August, 2008
Inspired by Billy Beck's comment and originally intended as comment at Kevin's place here, the comment software refused to accept the essay due to the number of "carriage returns":
One of the many aspects of the First Major North American Unpleasantness (1754-1783) that has not made most history books was the amount of internecine looting, slaughter, rapine, and arson that occurred over the course of our own Thirty Years' War.
Take any two or more groups from the contestant set (British military, North American British military, French military, North American French military, nominal Spanish forces, post-4/19/1775 "American" military, aboriginals allied with one or more of the former, irregular troops allied with one or more of the former, so-called "civilians" allied in thought and deed with one or more of the former, and the "just leave me alone" civilians), mix them vigorously, and you can bet pretty safely on very ugly things having happened, repeatedly, to all, by all.
At stake economically was control of the North American continent and its resources, including (especially?) its broadly-defined tax base. Having defeated the French, British, Spanish, and their proxies by 1848, the Federals next turned domestically. That issue was largely decided as of 4/9/1865, with the final skirmishes being fought during the period from March, 1933 through August, 1971.
In securing for itself global hegemony for the fiat US dollar, the FedGov in Washington won the war not only for North America's economy, but for the entire world's economy - at least for a time. But in doing so, it laid the foundation for its own demise.
Once Nixon closed the gold window, the die was cast. The nearly forty years of FDR and post-FDR rampant deficit government spending, backed with reckless expansion of the US money supply by the Fed Reserve, was there as precedent for all future Presidents and Congresses to follow, right up to the very edge of the national bankruptcy abyss.
It is there, today, that we totter - $9.5 trillion USD in debt to the ChiComs, the oil-producing nations, and other strategic competitors, with a cool $52 trillion USD (more than 3X annual world economic output) pending and growing in unfunded future FedGov liabilities.
However, the essential philosophical questions at hand in that economic contest - today, 300 years in the past, and for as long as homo sapiens remains extant - are the same essential questions underlying the "pragmatist" vs. "absolutist" POV on guns and defiance towards government:
Who owns you, your life, your freedom, and your property?
Is it you?
Or is it someone else?
What if that someone else promises to let you control some of your life, some of your freedom, some of your property?
Does the answer change?
Does the answer change if that someone else guarantees to keep your control of your life, freedom, and property at a very high level, according to a written document that you have read and approved?
What if that someone else threaten to seize some or all of your life, freedom, or property if you don't submit to the rules of that someone else?
What if those rules that you previously accepted are changed by that someone else?
Does the answer change now?
What if that someone else gives you property it has seized by force from someone else in exchange for your cooperation?
What if that someone else promises to leave you, your family, and your property alone if you simply provide information on local "domestic terrorists"?
Does the answer change now?
And what, if anything, are you personally willing to do about it?
[A note to the "no initiation of force" crowd: if you don't think that the collection of taxes at the Federal, state, and local levels is not backed with both implicit and explicit governmental force directed against your property and, ultimately, your life - just stop paying taxes and watch what happens.
Force was initiated a LOOONG time ago, FWIW.]
Those questions - who owns me and my stuff, and what am I willing to do in support of my position - underpin both all of the prior conflicts on this continent and today's escalating confrontations here in the US.
The opposing forces remain the same. On the one side, there are elites (be they royalists or collectivists or any shade therein) who believe that those "others" outside of the elite are mere cattle destined solely for ever-more-efficient exploitation. The concept that such peons would possess a galaxy of rights simply by virtue of their existence is heresy to the elites. After all, without untermenschen, how do we know who are the Übermenschen?
On the other side are individualists, who by definition have a hard time getting along with anyone - most of all each other.
Thing is, there are an awful lot of individualists who, as history students, have learned that the elites' tactics seemed to have trended over the past century from subordination/exploitation/exile towards mass extermination (at least of those deemed as dissidents, both individually and collectively).
Ergo, goes the thinking, since by virtue of one's individualist status, one has already been likely marked by the elites for torture and post-information-extraction extermination, why would any rational opponent play the elites' game?
Why wouldn't the rational opponent play his/her own game, according to their own rules, mindset/skillset/toolset, and timetable, against whichever of the elites' minions and their allies is available?
Isn't that a better choice on the available information as the former United States, its neighbors on the North American continent, each country's residents, and our global strategic competitors/lenders hurtle towards the coming 21st-century high-tech Major Unpleasantness, especially when compared to the electoral arithmetic and cultural improbability of a decisive victory for individual freedom via the so-called political "soft war"?
It's unpleasant in the extreme to face, but the pro-freedom, pro-individual, pro-principles segment of the American populace is a decided (and frankly, despised) minority.
Plans predicated on any other demographic assumption will almost certainly come to ruin.
And to those who say such beliefs render their adherents into criminals and will lead to anarchy, isn't that where we are today?
Or are rational folks supposed to accept that we live today in a nation ruled by laws, not men, and that the five-Robed-Wonders temporary majority in Heller has mooted answers to all of the essential questions posed above?