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Saturday, January 19, 2013

Wouldn't Ya Like To Be A Prepper Too?

Earlier today I derided the double derangement of paramilitary gun-nuttery -- in imagining that any private arsenal could be equal to the arsenal of the state in the first place but, second, in failing to grasp that the existence of even a notionally accountable and democratic state actually renders the elaborate but pathetically inadequate paramilitary paraphernalia of armor, walled compounds, and private arsenals altogether unnecessary for legitimate security or defense in any case.

I was surprised by the responses these obvious observations occasioned: Someone claimed I was declaring a "civil war" on secessionists, apparently without irony, and threatened that banning the private ownership of assault weapons would "unleash bloodshed," apparently disregarding the bloodshed already unleashed by assault weapons in private hands. Another commenter suggested I was being unfair to those who are building private arsenals in anticipation of an imminent failure of the state.

Of course, the military institutions of a failed state would likely outlast its civic institutions in any case, and so it seems to me that the nonsense I pointed out from the beginning, that of imagining paramilitary non-state actors a material threat to states backed by actual armed forces (more of a threat, that is to say, than common or garden variety organized criminals or gangs manage to be). And even in the wildest post-apocalyptic fantasies of paramilitary gun-nuts it is likely that few of these armchair arsenal builders would actually survive the raid of a well-armed gang, even in the post-peak-everything dystopia or anarcho-capitalist utopia to which they have surrendered their reason.

And I really must add that for people who are presumably not pining to smash the state but only preparing for its eventual eclipse these preppers seem to me more often than not to be weirdly enthusiastic in their merely prudent anticipations of catastrophe. And even the preppers who are not transparently expressing a wish for catastrophe in the form of a concern with catastrophe, when asked to patiently delineate the reasons why they expect the revolutionary devolutionary decline they are prepping for almost inevitably express assumptions about society and politics indistinguishable from the most reactionary anti-democratic state smashers anyway, full of masculinism, puritanism, conspiracism, racism, and on and on and on.

Sympathizing with paramilitary preppers seems to me nearly as foolish as being too scared of them to do something about their dangerous nonsense.

9 comments:

Sierra Peterson said...

In the previous post mentioned you stated that secessionists should be held liable for treason, a crime punishable by a minimum of at least 5 years in prison, then later backtracked, stating instead that what you really meant was imposing sanctions. These are two vastly different strategies with fundamentally different meanings and the first clearly involves implementing military police state tactics against ostensibly sovereign communities. Given how fundamentally unstable and irrationally violent many within the citizen militia demographic can be, how is it unreasonable to state that calling for their imprisonment could lead to a state of civil war? Clearly that's not what you intended by use of the word treason but for that reason your post could used some clarification, since throwing around legal terms without regard for their consequences has the potential to be unnecessarily inflammatory. In the past week there has already been a sheriff in Mississippi talking about having a "bloodbath" in his county if the Feds come in to take all their guns, with numerous other sheriffs refusing to enforce the gun bans. Any talk of treason simply panders to paranoid anti-state fantasies and further justifies unilateral militarization.

Dale Carrico said...

I don't agree that I "backtracked" in my response to you at all -- Literal secession would be literal treason and if we are not talking about poetic utterances here but actionable conduct it is presumably punishable as such. If saying so hurts the fee fees of literal armed insurrectionists that sound you hear is me playing the world's smallest violin as background accompaniment for their tantrum on this score. Also, I do not doubt at all that many gun nuts are dreaming dreams of literal and figural insurrection in all sorts of senses you might care to think of, but I don't see how anybody could mistake a post saying so as the passing of an actual legal sentence -- on who exactly? and who made me a judge anyway? and why wasn't I informed? and shouldn't I be paid better?

Many criminals are emotionally unstable, are you afraid that pointing out criminals who get caught go to jail is "unreasonable" also? Why is it "pandering" to paramilitary irrationality to describe it as irrational when it is? Why wouldn't actually clarifying the stakes of their stand by exposing its anti-social assumptions and ultimate consequences more likely change the minds of the reachable, scare the timid, and put a useful spotlight on the actually dangerous remaining few?

You know, paramilitary gun-nuts don't want to smash the state because liberals aren't being nice to them and patting their heads enough and telling them how smart and handsome they are. And since there actually is NO justification for unilateral militarization I fail to see how actually describing what they are doing "further justifies" what they are doing.

This kind of pre-emptive surrender to dangerous reactionary minorities reminds me of a generation of choice advocates pretending we just needed to find a nicer way to talk to forced-pregnancy zealots and they would stop trying to kill women by denying them healthcare. Few who claim to be anti-choice really want to treat abortion literally as murder in the law or fail to grasp the complexities of the issue when somebody they actually know and love is faced with it. So why did we allow the issue to be framed in the terms of an anti-abortionist minority in ways that materially eroded access to healthcare when majorities disapprove that outcome? So, too, majorities think assault weapons should be banned and they are right to think so. If a handful a white-racist swinging dick survivalists disagree let them make their case and lose on the merits and then face the consequences if they try to act on their anti-civilizational convictions.

You seem to be afraid that sheriffs across the country are really going to take up arms against the country just because a few pricks are strutting around saying they will. Don't get suckered into accepting the skewed terms on which the gun-nuts themselves envision America. Actually, even in the most benighted region of the country few would stand for literal insurrection for any length of time at all. We already had a Civil War in this country and the South lost it. Hell, the Southern governors are all going to accept the ACAs Medicaid expansion in a few years' time despite their big talk just because they want the money.

You think these bullies and loons are an existential threat to America if we actually fight them? I doubt they can stand up to sustained scrutiny and ridicule let alone actually organized resistance. Almost nobody actually wants to secede and most who think they do would stop wanting it the moment they actually gave it a try for a week and the remaining few would fail utterly in no time flat.

Stop being afraid of reactionary assholes -- call them out, marginalize them into comparative harmlessness through clear education about the stakes and facts, and then throw the few truly dangerous extremists into jail when they try to act on their assholery in actually violent ways. Is it really hard to have the courage of such convictions?

Sierra Peterson said...

Ok, if sitting behind a computer throwing insults at already disenfranchised blue collar survivalists that are just as much the casualties of neoliberal policies as any other demographic is what you consider "courage", then so be it. Did you know that the life expectancy for whites without a high school education is actually lower than it is for blacks and Latinos of equal education levels? This is the kind of scenario that feeds into the phobias of many of a survivalist and it seems doubtful that your insulting much of their community will outweigh the real life economic immiseration that led to the impulse for insurrection in the first place. And as has been stated here previously, the radical fringe actually can have a major effect on the political process by providing external influence that drives the mainstream further away from the center. Ron Paul and Glenn Beck are evidence enough of that pattern. As for your lack of support for secessionists' imprisonment for treason, your statement that they should "face the consequences" of their actions renders that claim rather dubious.

jollyspaniard said...

preppers are easy pickings for bandits. All the bandits have to do is to camp outside the property and wait a few days for the lonely nutjob to fall asleep. It's been demonstrated to be a very bad security strategy when employed in situations of extreme societal dysfunction that it pupports to guard against. The secret hideouts don't stay secret and the isolated guns stash makes you more of a target instead of less of one.

Black guy from the future past said...

http://travel.yahoo.com/ideas/world-s-happiest-countries-233204795.html

Hey Sierra there is a commonality between the nations that are prosperous and content...they aint conservative! They value multiculturalism, they are liberal, they have vast public welfare and socialist policies, STRICT GUN LAWS, and their education systems are lax and non-competitive. Basically everything that the USA is not.

Impertinent Weasel said...

second, in failing to grasp that the existence of even a notionally accountable and democratic state actually renders the elaborate but pathetically inadequate paramilitary paraphernalia of armor, walled compounds, and private arsenals altogether unnecessary for legitimate security or defense in any case.

True, of course. And now, what if an accountable and democratic state ceased to exist? It won't, obviously, but if I suffered under the delusion (whether due to lack of education or some other deficiency) that the state was in imminent danger of complete collapse, along with the social order, my actions in hoarding food, water, guns , ammo, erecting walls, learning military fieldcraft and survival skills would at least be consistent with that belief. So, legally and transparently building arsenals doesn't always have to indicate a desire to secede or smash the state or whatever. Some of these people just suffer from a lack of education. We should all take a bit of responsibility for that, IMO rather than writing them off as political enemies. YMMV

Dale Carrico said...

Ok, if sitting behind a computer throwing insults at already disenfranchised blue collar survivalists that are just as much the casualties of neoliberal policies as any other demographic is what you consider "courage", then so be it.

More guns fights poverty?

Did you know that the life expectancy for whites without a high school education is actually lower than it is for blacks and Latinos of equal education levels?

More guns increases life expectancy?

This is the kind of scenario that feeds into the phobias of many of a survivalist and it seems doubtful that your insulting much of their community will outweigh the real life economic immiseration that led to the impulse for insurrection in the first place.

Not everybody who is poor in America is building private arsenals of military weapons, and not everybody who is building private arsenals of military weapons is poor. For those few poor folks who are paramilitary gun-nuts it isn't exactly irrelevant to point out that hoarding military weapons isn't an anti-poverty program and that the existence of military weapons hoards endangers everybody in society, including them.

Dale Carrico said...

And as has been stated here previously, the radical fringe actually can have a major effect on the political process by providing external influence that drives the mainstream further away from the center.

I think the evidence is entirely in the opposite direction. A majority of people hold reasonable views on gun safety regulation -- that background checks should be universal, that people too irresponsible to use guns safely, young children, emotionally unstable or chronically depressed people, people with anger management issues should not be able to pass a screen to gun access, that military weapons should be banned altogether, and so on -- and empirically-testable harm-reduction models of good governance fully substantiate this majority view... and yet an objectively incorrect, dangerous view of the issue framed in hyperbolic terms by a small majority of zealots has made it impossible for the majority to prevail and do the right thing.

It is the timidity of the correct in the face of the organizational strength of a zealous minority of profitable gun manufacturers whomping up the irrational passions of a fringe that is responsible for all these unnecessary deaths. Again, those who are right need to have the courage of their convictions and stop this killing. If paramilitary gun-nuts are insulted by any of this, that is neither here nor there. Fortunately they have you to blow kisses at them.

As it happens, the same harm-reduction model of governance and the same majority support regulation of the abuses of for-profit insurance, the rich paying more taxes, the maintenance and expansion of social
security, medicare, medicaid, food stamps, public education, and a host of other programs that objectively help the poor, supported by the same people who support gun safety regulation, impeded by exactly the same moneyed interests, who whomp up the same irrational racial and religious hysteria and class resentments to convince people to vote against their own best interests in the service of outcomes they disapprove with the rhetoric of death panels, hunting rifle confiscation, FEMA concentration camps, UN takeover, and all the rest.

Should we allow these terms to define public discourse by relinquishing the discursive field for fear of insulting poor white people or making unstable people mad as well? That is sure to make things better, right?

Ron Paul and Glenn Beck are evidence enough of that pattern.

That idiotic views prevail among the irrational when reasonable people do not educate, agitate, and organize in the service of progressive ends? Indeed.

As for your lack of support for secessionists' imprisonment for treason, your statement that they should "face the consequences" of their actions renders that claim rather dubious.

What are you talking about? Not everybody who talks about American decline or the need for radical change in this country is literally a secessionist, literally engaged in treasonable efforts, but presumably at least some people might describe them as such. Obviously, we have a first amendment right to free expression and peacable assembly. Dissent and activism are patriotic in my view. If somebody is hoarding military weapons in their compound planning to gun down first responders as an opening salvo in their race war or resistance to the Obama socialist or UN takeover or whatever they are an objective threat to the peace, safety, and welfare of American citizens and should be stopped and then face criminal prosecution. Everybody faces such consequences. You seem to think at least some paramilitary gun-nuts should not have to. Obviously, you are wrong.

Dale Carrico said...

So, legally and transparently building arsenals doesn't always have to indicate a desire to secede or smash the state or whatever. Some of these people just suffer from a lack of education. We should all take a bit of responsibility for that, IMO rather than writing them off as political enemies. YMMV

In a reply earlier to another commenter in this thread I wrote: "Why wouldn't actually clarifying the stakes of their stand by exposing its anti-social assumptions and ultimate consequences more likely change the minds of the reachable, scare the timid, and put a useful spotlight on the actually dangerous remaining few?" You will notice that "the reachable" were first on that list and education was the means for reaching them. You seem to be devoting a whole lot of energy to denying the obvious -- often literally and loudly proclaimed -- strains of secessionism, anarchism, masculinism, racism that suffuse so much American gun culture. Even conceding this culture is no more perfectly monolithic than any other, I think you should ponder what it was in my saying the obvious that pushed your buttons here.

The main reason I want private military weapons banned is because they are demonstrably dangerous and serve no demonstrable legitimate purpose -- not because I think gun-nuts are secessionists or anarchists. I do think the discourse of gun-nuttery is suffused with anarchist and secessionist conceits and I think it is well-worth calling attention to this reality and contemplating its impact deranging sensible public deliberation about the issue. I think all of this is pretty obvious. Again, I think you should think a bit about why it is pushing your buttons so.

By the way, I have no problem with licensed, tracked, safely maintained and operated guns for hunting or hobbyist shooting in legally specified places, and so on -- I do not think there is even a need to repeal the second amendment or anything like that. I don't think my views are far from those of the majority, I think they are objectively demonstrably in the service of safety and welfare, I think they do not impose an undue burden on legitimate interests of law-abiding citizens, and I see absolutely no reason why anybody should refrain from stating these things forthrightly or should make excuses for cynical gun profiteers exploiting irrational passions in the midst of an ongoing bloodbath of unnecessary gun violence in this country.

As you say, YMMV. Or is this just you being weaselly and impertinent?