For those who are reading and following here. I know I have left this site quite dormant. I have been writing like mad on Bubblews.com and on my other home site at The Heroic Stoic. In true “me” fashion, I overstretched my efforts and I made a decision to keep this site cool (translation: dormant).
I was recently challenged via Twitter on the limits of weapons freedom. Let me set the stage. As I see it, there are two major reasons an individual has the natural right to bear weapons: 1)To hunt for animals which provide sustenance and 2) to defend against threats to one’s rightful life and property. Within the the second reason is the right to defend against the tyranny of an organized gang who says they have the right to your property. You are likely to lose this battle, but you still have the right. A predominant reason for the 2nd amendment’s declaration of an already inalienable right to bear arms, is for an individual to defend himself against the organized gang of government, so that people, not government have the final veto. This veto power could be a real one, but practically speaking it is an essential SYMBOLIC one.
The statist’s challenge to this position, that private weapons are a symbolic veto of government tyranny, is that by this logic an individual should have the right to have any weapon to counteract government tyranny, up to and including nuclear weapons.
Said the tweet in the conversation, “…by that logic I should be allowed nukes…”
Before I get too far down this road, I will first state a few opinions on the matter that I hold. First, there is nothing simple when you start to discuss nuclear weapons. Next, nuclear weapons are a product of the State. No other entity has the perfect combination of will, resources, and motive to concoct such an abominable device. So, as so many of these discussions go, even though the State has created this problem, the statist claims that only the State can fix it. How convenient.
I actually found quite a few ideas about nuclear weapons among some libertarian bloggers, like here, here, here and here. Several pointed me to Walter and Matthew Block’s “Toward a Universal Theory of Gun (Weapon) Control.” Read it in its entirety, for a good background. Their main premise is that a nuclear weapon is a defacto illegal weapon because of it’s indiscriminate nature, and imprecision. This would be true of any weapon of mass death (WMD), such as biological or chemical weapons as well. From this premise, I have formulated my most forceful rebuttal to the statist’s challenge.
Which is this: A WMD is an immoral and illegal weapon per natural law to be possessed by anyone. It is not a weapon of defense, but rather a weapon of murder and random carnage. The fact that anyone illegimately claims to have the right to possess one, does not change this fact. As a result, I suggest you call for the government to immediately disarm itself of such an illegal weapon. You see, by accusing me of wanting a WMD because of my wish to defend myself from government tyranny, you have assumed that the State has the legitimacy to possess such a weapon…it does not.
Simply put, the statist assumes the State has the right to possess nuclear weapons. The premise is incorrect.
That is my theoretical reply.
Here is my practical one (I’ve already shown my hand on this one earlier).
Only the State has the perfect combination of resources, means and motive to build and possess such a weapon. The resources of the state are unlimited. It can tax (steal), print (steal), and redistribute (steal) money as it sees fit. Likewise, in its unceasing effort to legitimize its authority over those in its geographical dominance, it creates both the fear in the population of possible attack, and an enemy willing to use such a weapon against these same people. Simply put, States create the conflict through artificial means, that justify weapons of mass destruction (WMD).
Ask yourself this, statist. What reason would someone have to attack a geographical area en masse that was merely a collection of communities that kept to themselves. As a mild example, could you picture Canada, Mexico, Luxemburg, or Switzerland being a prime target of catastrophic terrorist attack? Why is that? Because relative to the United States, these geographical areas do not attempt to exert their influence where it is not welcome.
For the sake of argument, what if the United States was a loose conglomeration 50 localized states that minded their own business? None of these states had overseas bases, there was no international Navy patrolling the seas, and no missiles within the continental US pointed at any “enemy”? Think about 50 little Switzerlands (or Luxemburgs); even better, think about 5,000 little Hootervilles, with basic public services (like maybe some constables and courts to settle disputes). Who would be their enemy? What purpose, would any of these 50 states (or 5000 Hootervilles) have for WMD? Who would be their target? Essentially, nobody. Nobody would care to attack such a country, as virtually nobody is targeting Luxembourg, Switzerland, or Nunatsiavut today.
Inhabitants of Nunatsiavut
In short, my practical position is this. Once enough individuals “break the spell” from their minds that the State is good, then the State will lose its power. As a result, the reason for wars will end, and the means, will and motive for nuclear weapons becomes quite small.
Change begins from within your mind, not externally from the State. For calls to disarm the people, the answer should be, “you first, State.”
I tend not to debate. I prefer to discuss. I like to propose rather than persuade or coerce. I am not a lawyer, nor do I feel like I am a very good salesperson. It is very difficult for me to “sell” something my heart doesn’t believe is true. Lawyers and salesmen try to convince others that something is true because they are paid to do so. I HATE that! Additionally, I often find that my viewpoints change when different facts or thoughts are presented to me. It’s not about winning or losing really, it’s about what is truth. Seeking truth is the goal. I am not a lawyer, I don’t need to win. Nor am I a salesman, I don’t need you to buy.
These are lawyers. I am not one. Photo by: (C) STROINSKI.PL via www.sxc.hu
I mistakenly get the idea, at times, that I’ve got the truth wired. However, the fact is I know very little about most things. Normally, I can keep this viewpoint and perspective. Thus, I try to invoke discussion rather than an argument or debate. What I do know is that my beliefs in many things have been affected by 43 years of truth-seeking, experience, and mistakes. My views have changed on many things, and not the easy way.
I prefer to collect facts and learn. At some point I come to a tentative conclusion, based on what I see. This blog venue allows us to discuss the issues that are important to me. They may be important to society, to our safety, our happiness, and our world, but mainly they are important to me.
What were the founding father’s major intent? Was it personal liberty or the building of an empire? Hamilton favored a strong national government; my opinion is that he would fit in quite nicely with our modern collection of scumbags, but even he could talk a good game when he needed to (see quote below). I just can’t see how those historical figures (particularly, Jefferson, Madison, Franklin, Washington, Paine) could be characterized as a group who envisioned that they were building a great imperial power, rather than a haven for individual liberty. Which would they favor? Compare them to the national leaders now. Give me a quote, a story, a verified fact, anything that shows the kind of trust in the federal (i. e. national) government that the power elites of today have, not to mention the yearning for more regulation by a large sampling of our current population (and when I say federal I mean national). I am not a historical scholar, but I’ve spent quite a bit of time reading the intent of the founders, and postings of the likes of Tom Woods, Thomas DiLorenzo, Brad Birzer, et al., and half my day searching for a snippet of an example that they thought a leviathan national state was a good thing. It certainly wasn’t their intent when they seceded from England. Here are a few quotes I found:
“if we can but prevent the government from wasting the labours of the people, under the pretence of taking care of them, they must become happy.”–Jefferson
“Does the government fear us? Or do we fear the government? When the people fear the government, tyranny has found victory. The federal government is our servant, not our master!”–Jefferson
“No Free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms.” Thomas Jefferson
“If the representatives of the people betray their constituents, there is then no resource left but in the exertion of that original right of self-defense which is paramount to all positive forms of government, and which against the usurpations of the national rulers, may be exerted with infinitely better prospect of success than against those of the rulers of an individual state. In a single state, if the persons intrusted with supreme power become usurpers, the different parcels, subdivisions, or districts of which it consists, having no distinct government in each, can take no regular measures for defense. The citizens must rush tumultuously to arms, without concert, without system, without resource; except in their courage and despair.” Alexander Hamilton, The Federalist Papers # 28.
“…those overgrown military establishments which, under any form of government, are inauspicious to liberty, and which are to be regarded as particularly hostile to republican liberty.”–Washington’s Farewell Address 1796
Frankly, I could care less at this point in my life what the founding fathers thought. I don’t necessarily need THEM to prove that individual liberty is more valuable than building an empire. OK, let me rephrase that: Individual liberty and free Human Action are the ultimate good for humanity and giant nation-states are a source of pernicious evil. You simply can’t have an overbearing national government and freedom, too. Pick your poison. You can enlist in the military, wave your flag, patriotically say you “Love America,” just don’t say it’s about liberty.
If you believe in individual liberty, then work for it, fight for it, spread the word and educate.
If you are not in favor of individual liberty, then at least be honest with yourself. You prefer the collective over independence. Stop waving the flag and saying you believe in freedom. The Stars and Stripes are NOT a symbol of freedom any longer…they represent something far different in a large portion of the world.
Oh, and if you prefer the collective over the individual you are horribly in error.
Several stories are out today about how there were more deaths by suicide in the U.S. military than by combat in 2012. Stories can be found at Salon, CBS and others I’m sure.
The facts say that 313 soldiers (I assume that means Army and doesn’t include Air Force, Navy, Coast Guard, etc.) successfully committed suicide. Comparably, 212 soldiers (again, this implies only Army) were killed in Afghanistan combat. Both articles also imply that the suicide rates are on the rise in the military.
Now, I am a peacenik. I think war is a tool of the state, and the state represents the most unrestrained form of violence. There is very little that can justify war, particularly when it comes to the United States and the past 100 years (World War II was the last war that even came close to being “justified” for U.S. participation, but even that is arguable). There certainly can be times when an individual “person” must fight for himself when they are threatened, even with lethal force. Likewise, there MAY be a time when a fictitious organization (i.e. government) that falsely claims to represent 300 million people may have a reason to kill the population of another geographical land mass because they are subjects of another illegitimate authority, but I can’t think of any. The bottom line is that war is quite literally, stupid.
However, I caution those who are anti-war from jumping on any suicide statistics to make a case for anything. These news stories got me to thinking, and of course they got me to trolling for thoughts and facts.
These 2 sites alone helped to come to some conclusions about why these suicide rates are inconclusive. Here’s the list:
The data comes from the government. They can cook the books any way they want. In other words, the data is being released to the funding source, as well as the opinion source. There are many agendas driving the release of these statistics. One must always ask, “Why are these statistics being released?”
The numbers are comparable to civilian population…maybe. The comparable rate of suicide to the civilian population is inconclusive. The Johntreed site says its 140/100,000 for military and 124/100,000 for civilians. It is unclear whether this data filters for age, race, gender, etc.
The numbers are really small – In any case, what is not emphasized is that this rate is miniscule for either population. In other words, 303 suicides in a population of 1,129,283 (this includes reserves) can hardly be considered an epidemic.
Again, the numbers in/out of military are comparable…maybe. The freethoughtblog site shows different numbers released by the Rand corporation, which also show lower raw rates in the general population. Of course, this is until they adjust for population factors that they can determine, which of course makes the rate higher in the civilian population.
No data exists for populations comparable to the military-screened population. The freethought site brings up a good point. Military members are pre-screened for mental illness, drug use, competency, debt and criminal history. Then, on top of that they are put through a strenous test of basic training, which thins the “population herd” even further. It might be extremely difficult to control for this in a general population study. Intuitively, you might think that the comparable rate of suicide among soldiers might be more frightening after you consider that individuals who are prone to commit suicide have already been weeded out.
What about the military mind? No data exists, as far as I know on how a population with the psyche willing to kill another in combat (i.e. sign up for military service in the first place) affects the propensity to take one’s own life. This is regardless of whether or not the individual is in the military or has seen combat. I think this could be important, although I await data.
Politics by Other Means
A final note for the anti-war crowd (and I’m with you): a large proportion of these suicides (miniscule already) appear to be from personnel who have never seen combat. Hardly a hard-hitting case for the effects of the trauma of war.
Bottom line: The news about suicide rates this year in the Army don’t really amount to much as far as evidence for or against war. Furthermore, I have my doubts about whether there is even a story here.
I’m sure there is much more data, but these stories aren’t it. Please feel free to contribute to the discussion.