Kuro5hin.org: technology and culture, from the trenches
create account | help/FAQ | contact | links | search | IRC | site news
[ Everything | Diaries | Technology | Science | Culture | Politics | Media | News | Internet | Op-Ed | Fiction | Meta | MLP ]
We need your support: buy an ad | premium membership

[P]
Does an armed populace ensure freedom?

By spiralx in Op-Ed
Fri Jan 11, 2002 at 07:20:01 PM EST
Tags: Freedom (all tags)
Freedom

One of the main reasons stated for allowing the public ownership of guns is that in the event of a tyrannical government taking power, an armed populace has the tools available to them to rise up and overthrow the government and restore democracy. Considering the US, the obvious counter-argument to this is that the US military has far more equipment and resources available to them than any group of private citizens, and that suppressing any revolt would be fairly trivial. However there is a counter to this - the US military is made of volunteers who are themselves US citizens, and would not engage in a wholesale massacre of a large portion of their countrymen at the instigation of a corrupt regime.

But would this really be the case?


Consider a future America in which a democratically elected Government has turned into a de facto dictatorship; crushing civil rights, forcing through legislation designed to overturn the due process of government and removing their opponents through violence and intimidation. Where the upper echelons of the military are in support of the regime, and in fact may as well be considered to be part of it - it is highly unlikely such a state could arise without complicity from the military. And despite the fact that such a government would likely attempt to enact restrictive gun laws, the sheer amount of weaponry available in the US means that such measures are likely to have far less impact than intended, leaving a significant proportion of the populace with access to guns.

In short, imagine an America going through what Zimbabwe is going through now. This is the situation in which gun advocates say that the ownership of guns means that the ordinary citizens can rise up and overthrow their government. And although the overwhelming offensive and defensive might of the military compared to citizens would at first seem to ensure the failure of any such uprising, a good argument can be made that since the soldiers (and members of other armed forces - police, FBI, ATF, DEA etc. which I am lumping in with the military) themselves are volunteers and citizens they would not support the brutal measures required to put down a revolt but would be more likely to switch sides.

However this argument fails to take into account any of the complexities of such a situation and how they affect exactly what the military would and wouldn't do. Events such as those on the 4th of May, 1970 at Kent State University or on February 28th, 1993 at Waco show that even under a relatively benign government armed forces can and will act against civilian groups when they feel threatened or feel that they are doing their jobs and protecting other people or their country. Given the recent developments after September 11 it is clear that actions such as these, dressed up in the correct manner by media spin doctors, could potentially be supported by a large proportion of the population, and hence the military, for a long time.

A planned uprising

Firstly consider the situation in which a group of people are planning a revolution, much as happened in the American War of Independence. While all oppressive governments have gathered intelligence about their citizens activities, it seems likely that none of them would have had the resources and ability to do so that the US Government even currently has. In the event of a group trying to organise a rebellion, keeping the group and their preparations secret would most likely require the exact same organisational structure used by terrorist groups such as al-Qaeda - multiple cells each kept ignorant of each other, and all communication strictly through secure means.

Would this be enough to keep such a group secret? It worked for the al-Qaeda members who carried out the terrorist attacks on September 11, but at that point intelligence operations were aimed at other types of threat. Since then however, legislation like the PATRIOT Act have focussed an unprecedented amount of intelligence gathering on America itself, and in the event of an oppressive regime it seems that this would be taken even further, with the focus being widened to enemies of the regime as well as the threat of terrorists and criminals.

I personally find it unlikely that such an operation, if it were to be of sufficient size and resources to be effective, would be able to completely avoid detection by intelligence operations. And once the government knows about it, more and more resources can be seconded to infiltrate the organisation, until a significant proportion is most likely compromised. And again the very nature of this group makes it vulnerable to being portrayed as a terrorist organisation, which can then be dismantled and its members interrogated for "the good of the nation." In fact the government will probably already have taken out potential troublemakers through a series of arrests or disappearances, making it less likely that there are effective leaders for such an operation.

A popular uprising

No, what I think is more likely to have any chance of succeeding is a popular uprising by the people, in which the level of oppression has reached the point where a majority of the population are directly being oppressed. In this case there would be no preparations for an uprising and no leadership or tactics other than those that come to light at the time of the revolution itself. It may unlikely that a spontaneous mass uprising could occur, but given that before a single event has had consequences far beyond what anybody would have expected, and in the type of tense oppressive atmosphere we are talking about here a single spark could be enough to cause people to turn their guns against their government.

To break this scenario down into a simple model we need to consider several factors - the initial flashpoint, the rate of spread of the uprising and the willingness of the military to suppress it.

Initial flashpoint
It seems likely that the initial flashpoint will come from some minor incident happening at the right place and the right time - a demonstration broken up violently or someone being arrested or killed would seem to be likely suspects. In order for this to have the initial momentum it needs to be somewhere with a lot of people around and where word can spread very quickly, and as such it is likely to occur in an urban area somewhere, as has been the case for all of the major riots across the world. And an uprising in an urban landscape means that much of the firepower of the military is rendered useless, making any armed confrontations between citizens and military forces much more equal than they would be in an open landscape.

Rate of spread
The key question here is how quickly the uprising spreads, because if it spreads quickly enough then more and more uprisings will occur until they are beyond the ability of military forces to contain easily. The more brutal the means required to put down the uprisings, the greater the chance that the ordinary members of the military will refuse to carry out their orders and either stand aside or join the uprisings. From the government's point of view, it is necessary to keep any potential rebellion as small as possible in order to be able to deal with it.

While the initial flashpoint can spread quickly within the area it starts in through word of mouth it must then spread beyond that area in order to avoid being contained and ended quickly. In order for it to spread communication must be possible between different areas of the country, something which at first seems to be trivially obvious. But already the US government has begun to implement much tighter controls over communications networks and it seems likely that under the scenario here there would be systems in place to disrupt public communications networks - the Internet, the phone system (both mobile and landline) and so on. Undoubtedly these measures would be implemented as soon as possible in the event of serious trouble, preventing communications between urban hotspots.

Another source of information is the media, but recent events have shown that even without active censorship the major media outlets in the US are willing to suppress news not deemed in the government's interests, and in the event of an oppressive regime it seems likely that this partnership would continue to deepen. Since their fortunes are tied to those of the current regime's, it would be highly unlikely that there would be any news broadcasts of the uprising either.

However despite all of this news will spread of the events - there is simply no way to prevent every possible attempt at communication. The rate at which it spreads however, will depend on the number and openness of methods of communication - an argument indeed for keeping things like the Internet as open as possible.

Military resolve
The military structure and training emphasises the command structure and following the orders that you are given. Given the support from the highest levels of the military for the current regime it is likely that these forces would be used in "police actions" against insurgents, and that they as long as these actions were kept below a certain critical level of size and brutality and could be justified the ordinary military would go along with these orders. However what the military wouldn't stand for is the wholesale massacre of citizens required to fully suppress a major uprising, and so this factor also includes how far the government is willing to go to remain in power. Ideally for them they would order the minimum level of force necessary to restore order, but history has shown that tyrants often go overboard when stamping out threats to their position, using maximum brutality and following that up with retribution against anyone indirectly connected with the uprising.

For the government the aim is to use the military to stop any uprising while at the same time keeping control over their forces. In order to do this they must first keep the uprisings as small as possible, but additionally they would want to represent the disturbances to the military as being the work of agitators and enemies of the state rather than as part of a general uprising. The fact that we are talking about an armed uprising here works in favour of the government - since being shot at and killed is likely to immediately turn the military against those attacking it. Additionally the government is likely to restrict communications between military forces to prevent them from realising the scale of the uprisings.

Conclusions

The combination of the three factors discussed above will determine whether or not an uprising will succeed, or whether it will be crushed by military might, and these would seem to rely on how long the government has to entrench their position before an uprising. The longer they remain in power, the more control they will have over every aspect of society, and the more hardened the military will become. The role of an armed populace here is important in the second and third aspects. The use of deadly force against the military will work against a revolution, as it will increase their resolve to suppress those attacking them, but on the other hand the use of weaponry will mean that each individual uprising takes longer to suppress, meaning that there will be more time for the uprising to spread.

My conclusion is that the second factor is less important than the third. Events across the world have shown that successful uprisings work because of the will of the people rather than armed might. An armed uprising resulting in battles between the military and citizens is only likely to decrease the chance of the military joining an uprising, and unless one side achieves a swift victory the result is all too often the kind of long and bloody civil war that has decimated countries across the world. Revolution is far more likely to succeed without the aid of guns; an armed society is not any more free from tyranny than any other.

Sponsors

Voxel dot net
o Managed Hosting
o VoxCAST Content Delivery
o Raw Infrastructure

Login

Poll
Does an armed populace ensure freedom?
o No 45%
o Maybe 11%
o Sometimes 23%
o Yes 20%

Votes: 115
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o Zimbabwe
o Kent State University
o Waco
o PATRIOT Act
o single event
o consequenc es
o Also by spiralx


Display: Sort:
Does an armed populace ensure freedom? | 142 comments (138 topical, 4 editorial, 1 hidden)
Question (3.57 / 14) (#1)
by DesiredUsername on Fri Jan 11, 2002 at 01:25:41 PM EST

Would American even exist if there hadn't been an armed populace here in the mid 1700's?

Play 囲碁
Nope (3.12 / 8) (#2)
by Scott Lockwood on Fri Jan 11, 2002 at 01:26:45 PM EST

Basically, no. But had that nutter George been a little more with it, we would never have had the need to rebel either...

"I have no respect for a man who can only spell a word one way." -- Mark Twain
[ Parent ]

The good old times... (3.50 / 6) (#26)
by kes on Fri Jan 11, 2002 at 04:34:51 PM EST

Would American(sic) even exist if there hadn't been an armed populace here in the mid 1700's?
Second question: Would America even exist without the (military) support of a foreign country, i.e. France, at that time ?
It is a good thing that history is written by those you pay the historians, isn't it ?

[ Parent ]
You left out one important point. (4.32 / 25) (#5)
by Treach on Fri Jan 11, 2002 at 01:33:58 PM EST

You make a strong case for the idea that Americans could/should not be armed to change their government, but you have perhaps overlooked one aspect - mindset.

Many is the time in my life when I have seen a physically larger or stronger man 'get his way' when dealing with someone smaller and/or weaker, even if there was no chance of a physical confrontation. The next time you go to a car dealership, notice that the sales manager is usually the physically largest man there. Taller men are more likely to be promoted and earn more money.

The reason for this? Simple mindset. The larger, stronger man is more likely to 'win' a negotiation or confrontation because he has ultimate confidence in his ability to handle the matter, should things go wrong. That's part of our makeup. We're all animals at heart. Cats stick their fur up. Butterflies spread their wings, and so on.

Now imagine that the conditions for a popular uprising exist. The man with a semiauto rifle in his closet feels empowered. He is more likely to get involved because he knows he has a weapon, even if he is not near it or about to use it. He knows that, if all is lost, he can go to that closet and grab his rifle - that he can die on his feet instead of on his knees.

The second analogy for this is the US M-1 Carbine. The US Army struggled for nearly a century with the idea that, although most soldiers in a theatre of war do not need a personal weapon, nearly all of them feel scared and weak without one, and their effectiveness is lower as a result. Unfortunately, rifles and ammunition are expensive. The solution: a five-and-a-half-pound mini-rifle, designed for a cheap and small cartridge, that noncombat soldiers could carry if necessary. The result was tremendous. Soldiers felt confident with this weapon and yet it wasn't too large and heavy to keep them from repairing vehicles, doing paperwork, moving supplies, et al. It wasn't the gun, it was the idea of the gun.

I submit, therefore, that American citizens need the idea of the gun in order not to fear their government. Note that the idea is also effective from a national defense standpoint. Nobody ever invades Switzerland - because the whole population is prepared and willing to fight you.

Bastard (1.57 / 21) (#6)
by theantix on Fri Jan 11, 2002 at 02:00:23 PM EST

Plus, I'm sure it helps with the rodent problem that you're so concerned about. Maybe only white people should be allowed to have guns, is that going to be your next argument?

I wish K5 readers wouldn't forget about people that make comments like that. Maybe we should start a "don't vote up assholes" coalition.

--
You sir, are worse than Hitler!
[ Parent ]

Don't Vote Up Assholes (3.37 / 8) (#15)
by MrAcheson on Fri Jan 11, 2002 at 02:41:17 PM EST

Uh oh I think people are starting with you... :)


These opinions do not represent those of the US Army, DoD, or US Government.


[ Parent ]
Yeah I suppose I over-reacted (2.14 / 7) (#16)
by theantix on Fri Jan 11, 2002 at 02:48:30 PM EST

It just pisses me off that people forget that "Treach" make such blatently racist statements, and now of course all is forgotten, and as people have pointed out, it gets forgetten by some but not all.

Regardless, my comment above was off-topic for the discussion, and I should have left it out. Sorry, it's just one man's frustration with casual racism.

--
You sir, are worse than Hitler!
[ Parent ]

Ad Hominem (4.22 / 9) (#22)
by MrAcheson on Fri Jan 11, 2002 at 03:54:25 PM EST

You also engaged in an ad hominem attack which is bad form. "This guy is a racist and therefore can have no valid points about anything." This is, of course, bullshit. He has the right to speak as much as you do. Now if his post was about race relations it would have been salient point to bring up, but unfortunately for you it wasn't. It was about violent rebellion which completely off topic.


These opinions do not represent those of the US Army, DoD, or US Government.


[ Parent ]
Again you are right (3.12 / 8) (#23)
by theantix on Fri Jan 11, 2002 at 04:04:06 PM EST

I'm aware that it was an ad hominem attack (I understand the principles of proper rhetoric), and I agree that it was in bad form. He does have the right to speak, I don't question that. I apologize again for my mistake, I should have left it for another venue.

--
You sir, are worse than Hitler!
[ Parent ]
Where did that come from? (3.33 / 6) (#27)
by velex on Fri Jan 11, 2002 at 04:43:56 PM EST

Ok, I've heard a lot about this guy. Sure he's fodder for diaries and the like, but where did that comment come from? We aren't even talking rodents or black people!

Tell you the truth, it's people like you that make me seriously question my own egalitarianism. Intellectually, my belief in fair treatment of all people is secure, but emotionally, it's fading. What I'm going to say has a lot of fallacies in it, but consider it for a moment, from an emotional standpoint.

All people are equal. In order for this to be true, we have to be viligant of being racist against black people. In addition, black people need to be given advantages so that they can be equal to white people. This is because black people are weaker. So, we, the superior whites, will give the black people a helping hand, so that they can be equal. At least on an illusionary level.

Don't tell me that any of this has to do with slavery: Frederick Douglass, one of my heros, became wealthy in spite of rabid racism and being born without even owning himself. Even if he was an outlier, there's no way you can tell me that the ghetto is inescapable. Join the military -- they'll pay for your college. Service guarantees citizenship. Don't wine and complain, because one day you might find youself in a situation that can't be so easially remedied. Winston Churchill, eat your heart out.

(Besides, your link is broken. I'd post a correct link, but I can't seem to find the offending comment.)



[ Parent ]
That is wonderful (none / 0) (#118)
by jforan on Mon Jan 14, 2002 at 12:31:57 PM EST

I never thought about the secondary effects of gun ownership, and that point was clear and obvious in retrospect.

Tertiary effects might be rather dangerous, however, if examined in the light that our country's external power is over-exaggerated by our citizenry's belief that it is more powerful than the government and therefore safe from it's overpowerment.

I wonder if there is a future looking fiction book out there where a superpower with rights similar to the united states engages in the following steps:

1: slowly restrict information from the external world from reaching the citizenry of the superpower.
2: slowly increase other freedoms and riches, making the gun-toting citizenry more and more complacent toward their own government
3: increase the number of wars where the superpower has the ability to install dictators (or dictators who seem to be democratically elected) into governments around the world, where the non gun toting citizenry occasionally fight back against the installed dictatorial governments, but in general are suppressed due to their lack of ability to fight.
4: the rest of the world which is economically driving the superpower gets fed up.

You choose what happens in #5.

(the scary thing is that we are presently situated somewhere between #3 and #4, in my opinion)

This is why I would be much happier if the ENTIRE world had the right to own guns (my personal choice would be to allow large assault weaponry where it is very difficult to hide such a gun in a trenchcoat or wherever (although the costs may be prohibitive)). That way, the secondary effects of individual gun ownership as described in the comment this comment responds to could be equalized around the world without there ever being a #5.

Jeff
I hops to be barley workin'.
[ Parent ]
I have to agree. (3.92 / 14) (#7)
by jd on Fri Jan 11, 2002 at 02:03:23 PM EST

Let's examine some of the revolutions and uprisings that have occured in recent history, and see if this fits the model:

  • The overthrow of President Marcos, in the Phillipines was by a virtually unarmed populace, which simply overwhelmed the dictator and his guards. There's not a lot you can do, armed or not, when a few million people gatecrash your party.
  • The Romanian revolution, where an armed group seized control of the government, shot the former president (and his wife), but then carried on pretty much as before. Turns out it wasn't a real revolution, just a bunch of power-trippers in the Romanian government who wanted a promotion.
  • The Chechen uprising. Armed Chechens have been able to temporarily delay the Russian forces, but have invariably been defeated. Their original leader was assassinated by a Russian gunship helicopter, during peace negotiations.
  • Bloody Sunday. A peaceful protest, but the British had already been stung by armed seekers of independence. The protest march was basically mown down by British troops, hence the name this protest is usually known by.
  • The Indian Mutiny. Oh, what a nasty name! Almost completely successful, too. Muhatma Ghandi kicked out the British, through passive resistance and non-violent confrontation. India was split up by the British on their way out, therby forming Pakistan and one of the bloodiest emnities in recorded history.
  • World Wars I and II were caused by empire-building and resistance to that. In no case can any side really be said to have won - the death toll in both cases was horrific. The Battle for the Somme is still noted for being the deadliest single battle in living memory. The instigators in both cases (the Austrian Empire and Adolf Hitler) were utterly defeated, and their countries ripped apart by the victors.
  • The Waco Tragedy. Sparked off by the killing of Government agents who attempted to enter the building. Eventually became the Cause Celbre' of virtually every extremist in America, culminating in further tragedies, such as the Oklahoma Bombing. The net effect of the Branch Dividians? Almost nil. They did have one effect. After the tragedy, appocalyptic religion, of the kind they esposed, virtually vanished from America, ridding the world of a mindset most likely to actually cause the end of the world.
  • The Miner's Strike (UK). A peaceful protest (for the most part), which was crushed only after a year of campaigning, and only because Mrs. Thatcher starved the miners into surrender. If it had continued for even another month, it's generally accepted that the Government would have caved in. Close, but not close enough.
  • The Poll Tax Rebellion (UK). A much-predicted popular uprising against one of the most evil taxes ever. The Government surrendered, when it became clear that the courts sided with the rebels.
  • The September 11th Attacks. Ooooh! I got round to this one, at last! The stated objective was to force America to leave Saudi Arabia, as they were violating Holy Ground. (To put this in perspective, imagine Iraq turning the Arlington Cemetary into a Scud missile launching site. I suspect there might be a few Americans who would take offence at that, too.) However, their method (violence) not only had the opposite effect (America has increased its military presence in Saudi Arabia, and probably has stronger ties with them, now), but also led to the obliteration of the entire Taliban movement, the (possible) liberation of Afghanistan, and the exile of Bin Laden from virtually the entire Middle East, not to mention the deaths of everyone still close to him.

Conclusion: Virtually no violent uprising has been successful. Many, but not all, non-violent uprisings have achieved at least some of their objectives.

Ergo, violence doesn't seem to achieve very much.

Wrong Variables (4.16 / 6) (#25)
by MrAcheson on Fri Jan 11, 2002 at 04:27:48 PM EST

You seem to think this is all a function of the level of violence used. Now in a "civilized" nation like the UK the government does not worry about gun toting citizens, it worries about winning the next election. However the uprisings you cite which were successful seem to be the ones which involve a lot of popular support for the revolutionaries not the ones which are definitively non-violent.

Also wars like WWI and WWII are not "uprisings" they are wars and belong in a different category. Now if you wanted to talk about how the Nazis successfully subjugated most of europe that might qualify.


These opinions do not represent those of the US Army, DoD, or US Government.


[ Parent ]
Romanian revolution (4.80 / 5) (#36)
by Gutza on Fri Jan 11, 2002 at 10:48:23 PM EST

The Romanian revolution, where an armed group seized control of the government, shot the former president (and his wife), but then carried on pretty much as before. Turns out it wasn't a real revolution, just a bunch of power-trippers in the Romanian government who wanted a promotion.

While your global point stands, this is not quite how things happened. Why?

1. "An armed group" - not quite - the whole country was againt the regime and actively fighting those days - you make it sound as if just a hand of men silently took over which is not by far correct;

2. "Seized control of the government" - you may say so if you wish, but that was the population's wish - a more accurate way to put it would be that "The old regime fell, clearing the way for the people everybody was happy to have (at the time)".

3. "Carried on pretty much as before" - this is entirely untrue. While it is true that Romania's finances aren't currently better than before the revolution (actually they're worse), the premises are completely different and at least there's a chance that the country will stand up (financially speaking) on its own two feet at some time in the future - in the old regime no such hope existed. In the other fields (political, cultural - you name it) there's almost no connection between how it was and how it is.

4. "Turns out it wasn't a real revolution" - unfortunately you are correct with this one...

5. "just a bunch of power-trippers in the Romanian government who wanted a promotion" - however this is not true. Fact is that the Romanian government fell because it was not backed up any more by Moscow - on the contrary, in fact. So that's why it wasn't a real revolution - which is very sad because a lot of young people died for the masquerade to look real - but it wasn't the Romanians who decided who, what and when.

Bottom line: although most of the facts you listed are not accurate, as I said in the beginning, your point stands: violence accomplished almost nothing here - it probably just made the new government change plans a little (they wanted to keep Romania in some form of socialism but had to give up, probably mostly due to the collapse of Russia, but maybe the Romanians killed in the revolution also weighted some in the final decision).

Wanted to post this because some people may know that some of the facts you listed aren't accurate and may have discarded your example as being wrong - proves it isn't.

Who's your vendor, who's your vendor? — Scott Adams
time is K5
[ Parent ]

Blood on the Wattle (4.00 / 4) (#38)
by cam on Fri Jan 11, 2002 at 10:54:42 PM EST

In 1930 the depression hit Australia hard, being a somewhat isolated economy it took a while for the Wall Street collapse to arrive in Australia. Unemployment levels rose until 1 million in a working population of 2 million were unemployed. There was also fiscal pressure on the Federal Government and the then more independant States. At that stage Australian borrowing was predominantly through London Banks and Bankers, the Federal government in particular fixed it's economic policies around the availability of the British pound. The Australian government had slashed wages continually and were watching even powerful State banks go broke. They asked the British Treasury for guidance.

The Treasury suggested the advice of Sir Otto Niemeyer. Niemeyer raised the ire of the Australian people as he showed little sympathy and a lot of arrogance. Pretty much of a caricature of a London Banker who believed that all things had their place and colonials from the Southern Hemisphere were at the bottom. After some socialiing and golf, Niemeyer made his opinions known. The Federal Government acted upon Niemeyers recommendations to the disapproval of the many of the Australian people.

The Premier of New South Wales, Jack "Big Fella" Lang was elected predominantly on "quality of life" issues. He rallied against British lenders who had Australian still repaying their war debts when other Commonwealth nations had had their debts wiped or their interest rates lowered. The US had dropped Australia's rates to 3%, Britain was asking 5%. Niemeyer was a target for Lang, calling Niemeyer, "Sir Oracle Otto". Labor took 55 seats and won the election.

Part of the platform was that the Australian people shouldnt starve as the price of the failure of the banks. Lang wanted the loans renegotiated over a longer period and at lower interest rates. There was agreement in some parts of London that the War loans be wiped or renegotiated. Lang decided not to repay any interest until the loans were re-negotiated. The States loans however were underwritten by Commonwealth bonds which means the Federal Australian Government is responsible for them.

At the end of 1932 the United Australia Party led by Joseph Lyons won the Federal elections from Scullins Labor Party. The UAP was the conservative party of the time. One of the first acts of the UAP was to pass an act to be able to appropriate defaulted money from the State and pay it for them. Lang responded by withdrawing the States assets to cash and locking it up under guard in the New South Wales treasury offices. The Federal Government in Canberra responded by demanding that New South Wales taxpayers pay their taxes directly to the Federal Government. Except the NSW tax records were locked up with the cash.

Under the turbulent times several militia groups popped up, under differant auspices of idealogy and many of them populated or led by WWI AIF veterans. Groups such as the Australian Labor Army, The Constitutional Guard, the Workers Defence Corps, the ex-Servicemans Defence Corps, the secretive Old Guard and the more open New Guard. The New Guard is probably best known for Captain de Groot who marhced his horse onto the Harbour Bridge and cut the ribbon before Jack Lang could. The most powerful malitia in Australia was the NSW Police, they had a few years previous been armed and recieved steel helmets by the Federal Government to deal with rioting related to the depression.

With the NSW State Government in Sydney facing off with the Federal Government, the Federal Government could count it's forces as the Australian Military forces, the New Guard and Old Guard. The Light Horse was moved to readiness outside of Canberra should NSW attack, the Navy was ordered to occupy important buildings in any conflict and the RAAF at Richmond placed on readiness. The State Government had the ALA, the unemployed, the 25,000 special constables the State Government swore in. Surprisingly the NSW Police Force, decided their loyalty was to the State not the Commonwealth. This would have made any military conflict between Canberra and Sydney an even conflict.

One of the loopholes in the Constitutional Monarchy system is the undocumented reserve powers the Governer-General at the Federal level and the Governers at the State level can wield. They have been used only twice and in both cases, history has fallen on the side that both dismissals were un-Constitutional and illegal. Sir Phillip Game was the Governer of NSW, during the building tensions Game had requested advice as to his responsibilities and the legality of the actions the NSW Government was undertaking.

Game had essentially been fobbed off by the NSW Chief Justice as to advice, the reply to Game's query to the British Dominion Office arrived late and was similar to the advice the Chief Justice offered. Game was also receiving considerable pressure from the Federal Government and the New Guard aligned members of society. Game decided to act anyway, Lang's Government was dissolved. Lang could have decided to take Australia into Civil War, instead he left quietly, with the message, "I am a free man, the bastards sacked me". Like the Whitlam dismissal, Langs government was not re-elected.

The Eureka Stockade is most commonly known as the closest Australia came to Civil War. The Eureka uprising was more over no taxation without representation, and was quelled more like a riot. Lalor got his representation for Bendigo from the confrontation. The 1932 face off was Australia's most powerful state and the Australian Federal Government nearly coming to military blows.

cam
www.australianflyingcorps.org
Freedom, Liberty, Equity and an Australian Republic
[ Parent ]

Not quite what I thought... (4.50 / 4) (#53)
by Paul Johnson on Sat Jan 12, 2002 at 11:01:53 AM EST

India was split up by the British on their way out, therby forming Pakistan and one of the bloodiest emnities in recorded history.

I was under the impression that Partition was accepted by the Indian government as the only way out of bloody inter-communal violence. The emnity was already there. The British had nothing to do with it.

The Miner's Strike (UK). A peaceful protest (for the most part), which was crushed only after a year of campaigning, and only because Mrs. Thatcher starved the miners into surrender.

Yeah, very peaceful, as long as you weren't a miner who disagreed with the policies of "King" Arthur Scargill. If you were a "scab" strike-breaker then your life was often in serious danger. Scargill of course was president of the NUM for life, so he didn't have to worry about getting re-elected.

A much-predicted popular uprising against one of the most evil taxes ever. The Government surrendered, when it became clear that the courts sided with the rebels.

I don't recall the courts siding with the rebels. What I do recall is that the issue looked like losing the Tories the next election. So they did a U turn and also rid of Mrs T while they were about it. What role the demonstrations (both violent and non-violent) played in this I can't say.

Paul.
You are lost in a twisty maze of little standards, all different.
[ Parent ]

The Indian Mutiny ... (3.75 / 4) (#70)
by Simon Kinahan on Sat Jan 12, 2002 at 06:04:03 PM EST

... occurred in 1858. I suspect this is not the event you meant.

Simon

If you disagree, post, don't moderate
[ Parent ]
One by one (4.33 / 3) (#80)
by pyramid termite on Sat Jan 12, 2002 at 11:09:16 PM EST

1. Phillipines - OK
2. Romania - it's always a danger in revolutions that the people in charge of the revolution will be just as bad.
3. The Chechen rebellion isn't over yet by any means. It's bound to be a bloody mess for years to come. Eventually, I think the Russians will get sick of it.
4. Bloody Sunday. This probably set back peace in N. Ireland by many years. Neither side won.
5. Ghandi's non-violent revolution was very successful against the British. It wouldn't have been successful against other governments.
6. WW1 & 2 were not uprisings. Not applicable.
7. Waco. That wasn't an uprising either. It was a heavy handed government raid that backfired. It convinced many people, myself among them, that our government is more than willing to kill innocent people to prove a point. Our government has yet to recover totally from this.
8. The Miner's Strike. Clearly a case of a minority who did not have enough support at large to win. That's one of the critical differences between a non-violent and a violent uprising - in a non-violent uprising, the only real consideration for the opponents is if they have enough political backing to defy it. In a violent uprising, they also have to consider if they have the means to suppress it without destabilizing the country or starting a civil war.
9. The Poll Tax Rebellion. I'd say this was successful.
10. 9/11 - Again, we're speaking too soon. It's not over yet, and indications are that some unintended consequences have started - I don't think Saudi Arabia is a stabler, more reliable ally because of this.
Now I would like to talk about violent uprisings that did have success.
1. The Vietnam War - after many years of violent rebellion, the North Vietnamese won. Clearly, this was successful, although it wasn't good for their country in the long run.
2. The American Revolution. I'm reaching pretty far back here, but there's no doubt this worked out very well, even for the country rebelled against.
3. Algeria - very bloody, but there's no question that they did gain their independence.
4. Various US riots - these resulted in sweeping changes in our society, although the locales where they occured were often hurt. I think these uprising touch directly on the question of whether an armed populace would be effective in preventing a US government from becoming a dictatorship. Yes, the riots were put down forcibly, but the aftermath was a government that was much more willing to listen to those who were frustrated. I don't think our government would be willing to face down an armed populace that was unhappy and rebellious. Popular support would erode quickly and it is quite possible that the armed forces or the police could not be trusted to stay totally loyal. In these times, civil wars tend to be messy affairs that can last for decades and I believe that the government would back off and appease the more moderate of the rebel supporters rather than run the risk of this happening.

Does violence achieve much? Sometimes, but at a terrible price.
On the Internet, anyone can accuse you of being a dog.
[ Parent ]
Can't we just use some logic here? (2.83 / 12) (#9)
by wji on Fri Jan 11, 2002 at 02:04:29 PM EST

If a cop wants to arrest me, he has mace.
If I have mace he has a pistol.
If I have a pistol he has a squad of other cops with submachine guns.
If I have submachine guns they have National Guard infantry with machine guns and rocket launchers.
If I have rocket launchers they have tanks.
If I have tanks they have jet fighters.
If I have jet fighters they have nuclear weapons.
The whole idea that a couple of pistols -- or even AK-47s and rocket launchers -- will protect me from the government is incredibly ridiculous. They wouldn't BE the government if they didn't have more capacity to exert violence than anyone else. I mean, that's the only meaningful definition of a government, right?

In conclusion, the Powerpuff Girls are a reactionary, pseudo-feminist enterprise.
You forget... (4.50 / 10) (#17)
by Rand Race on Fri Jan 11, 2002 at 02:50:24 PM EST

... a basic tenant of warfare;

You can bomb it.
You can shoot at it.
You can set it on fire.
But it ain't yours until you put an 18 year old kid with a rifle on it.

Not that I disagree with your point as it's a good one. But 100,000 people with M16s can be a force to be reckoned with... if they've read their Mao that is.


"Question with boldness even the existence of God; because if there be one, He must approve the homage of Reason rather than that of blindfolded Fear." - Thomas Jefferson
[ Parent ]

If I have a pistol he has a squad of other cops... (4.75 / 8) (#18)
by Wondertoad on Fri Jan 11, 2002 at 02:55:28 PM EST

The "squad of other cops" is an important stepping off point. Up until that point, it was your word against the cop's. After that point, the cop has to have a whole set of people who agree on the use of not only force, but deadly force to put you back in line. And each of those people is a material witness to what happens. Now that the IRS abuses are well-documented we can talk about them without soundling like libertarian extremists. The IRS was able to abuse its power partly because it was granted (somehow) the ability to do so, and assumed (wrongly) the AUTHORITY to do so. The only thing limiting both its power and its authority, I suggest, was the fact that its armed agents cannot make an arrest alone. Go to arrest a "tax protestor", regardless of their argument, and 1 in 100 will fill your ass with buckshot. That fact may not be interesting to you but it probably has some sway with IRS agents. Similarly, the "revenooers" of alcohol prohibition could only go so far before they needed a lot more force to restrict human behavior. Waco needed an entire bureaucracy to "play soldier" followed by a complicit FBI unafraid of using tanks and deadly chemicals on children. Ruby Ridge needed a sharpshooter who could hit a mother without hitting the baby she was carrying. On one hand, this is no way for a civil society to operate. On the other hand, thank goodness it's true. If we are to err, let's err on the side of protecting freedoms, shall we? Otherwise, we probably would never have heard of any of this.

[ Parent ]
Wrong post? (3.25 / 4) (#39)
by Lenny on Fri Jan 11, 2002 at 11:01:35 PM EST

What are you talking about?! When was the last time that any member of the government of the USA made it into office from violence or threat of violence? Do you even vote? Do you think voters vote for the one with the most arms because they are afraid?
"Hate the USA? Boycott everything American. Particularly its websites..."
-Me
[ Parent ]
Actually... (4.50 / 6) (#57)
by skyknight on Sat Jan 12, 2002 at 11:55:46 AM EST

Rocket launchers are the ideal way to combat tanks. :)

It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
[ Parent ]
Frontal armour? (3.00 / 1) (#72)
by wji on Sat Jan 12, 2002 at 06:21:13 PM EST

Er, as I understand, there's no infantry weapon capable of penetrating the frontal armour of a modern tank. Damage the tracks maybe, or smash the view prisms, but not actually get through the armour and mess up the inside. I mean 'infantry' as 'weapons carried by people', not as 'weapons used by an infantry regiment', though. Am I wrong?

In conclusion, the Powerpuff Girls are a reactionary, pseudo-feminist enterprise.
[ Parent ]
Off topic (4.00 / 1) (#86)
by yonasa on Sun Jan 13, 2002 at 06:59:48 AM EST

Basically, yes. Modern main battle tanks have the armour to protect against infantry portable anti tank weapons. On the other hand, weapons systems such as the Javelin are designed to attack the top of tanks, where the armour is weakest.

On a related note, the tank is of dubious use in an urban environment against a well entrenched enemy (e.g. determined, armed populace hunkering down in the rubble of their homes). Tanks were designed for mobile, long range sombat against other tanks, not close quarter fighting. Supplying the beasts would be another nightmare, especially since the M1 drinks fuel like there is no tomorrow. In urban combat, where the battle lines are, at best, blurred, the logistics of supporting tanks would expose very soft targets (supply trucks, fuel tanks, ammo carriers...).

--

I wish I was more eloquent
[ Parent ]

you are nuts (5.00 / 1) (#116)
by jforan on Mon Jan 14, 2002 at 12:15:48 PM EST

You truly believe that 2 million army + 1 million police (not sure of the accurate numbers here, will someone post if they have them), not including those who turn to the side of popular opinion could overcome 200 million americans with guns and homes.

The only thing they could do is nuke us or kill most of us. And hopefully they would not win. That would be UNTHINKABLE. Imagine if hitler won WW2?

And that is what gun ownership by the people is all about.

freedom or death.

I will take freedom or death ANY DAY, ANY HOUR, ANY MINUTE over anything else, except perhaps freedom without death. If you can explain how you can guarantee freedom without the possibility of death, I (and billions of other people) will be all ears.

Jeff
I hops to be barley workin'.
[ Parent ]
Simply wrong (none / 0) (#125)
by weirdling on Mon Jan 14, 2002 at 07:07:51 PM EST

Outlawing guns in England has resulted in an increase in armed police. It is true that escalation is a very common problem, but please remember that police escalate in the face of armed criminals, of which England has plenty.

Next, remember that, as has been pointed out by other posters, the point is not to defeat the government but to harrass it. Start by attacking government entities, thus forcing radically increased security and less face time with the proles, then move on to the random destruction of military and police personnel and hardware. Then, make a part of the country off-limits to the army due to the fact that it costs too much to pacify. Then, using this as a base, begin to spread your information through the populace.

Has it been done before? Lots of times. In WWII, both armed Jewish farmers and French Maquisards kept the Germans more occupied than necessary, which meant they could not use those troops against the Allies.

In prohibition, revenuers, as has been also pointed out, could not enter the Smokies for fear of their lives.

I'm not doing this again; last time no one believed it.
[ Parent ]
You miss a couple of important points (4.39 / 28) (#10)
by trhurler on Fri Jan 11, 2002 at 02:05:08 PM EST

First off, you are not considering the political makeup of the US military. At higher levels, it starts to look more like the political mindset of our political leaders, but among the people actually doing the fighting, it is overwhelmingly right-libertarian. There's some unfortunate tendency to gloss over things like the separation of church and state, but it is doubtful that a totalitarian regime in the US would be a theocracy, so that's somewhat irrelevant. Kent State was possible because a great deal of the military power brought to bear was personally opposed to the students' position. Waco was the work of nonmilitary personnel whose mindset is drastically different from that of the average soldier, and who do not exist in sufficient numbers to really matter in a civil war.

Second, you are not considering the fact that the military, while it compartmentalizes information very well when this is planned in advance, is the world's biggest rumor machine. There's simply no way to prevent one part from knowing that another part just killed a thousand US citizens. Maybe some wouldn't believe it, but when the rumors persisted over time, they would eventually at least begin to have doubts, and doubts are enough to keep you from shooting your neighbors; they make you ask questions, and when the answers don't quite add up, as they never can or will under such circumstances, this just makes things worse. The propaganda machine we employ to such great effect against others is huge, with many people who are not top brass - and they would not stand for being used to enslave their neighbors. They cannot be lied to and still be effective; they have to know what is going on - and many of them are the same sort of people who carry rifles out in the field.

Third, you misstate the probable actions of the civilians. It would probably not be the civilians attacking the military, but vice versa. The civilians would likely hunker down and prepare to resist, rather than go on what would rightly be perceived as a suicidal offensive. This is urban warfare at its nastiest, with every grandma and five year old ready to fire a gun out a window at passing troops and so on. It is demoralizing to fight against, especially in your homeland, because it immediately makes obvious the oppressive aspect of the operation at hand and the popularity of the resistance; if the resistance were unpopular, then it would be handed over by other civilians.

Finally, you miss one crucial point. Successful uprisings, while they are not always violent, always have the threat of violence behind them, and that requires arms. Even if they are never brought to bear, they are a key component in establishing credibility. Ghandi did not accomplish what he did in a vacuum; his people may have been pacifists, but there were millions of men ready to overwhelm the British if the opportunity arose, and what Ghandi really accomplished was uniting the will of the people and seizing the moral high ground - but without the threat of armed force, the will of the people would merely have been something else to crush brutally; it cannot be said that the average British occupation troops really gave a damn about the plight of the Indian people, or about moral high ground for that matter.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

Very True (4.50 / 6) (#12)
by MrAcheson on Fri Jan 11, 2002 at 02:20:35 PM EST

The British quite often caved to Ghandis demands when he went on hunger strike because they were afraid of what would happen if he did die. They knew that they would be blamed and the populace would exact vengeance upon them.


These opinions do not represent those of the US Army, DoD, or US Government.


[ Parent ]
Rumor machine (4.33 / 9) (#13)
by DesiredUsername on Fri Jan 11, 2002 at 02:25:10 PM EST

I think you overestimate the effectiveness of morale reduction due to rumors of bad behavior. Yes, it eventually works, but how long does it take to really be effective? My example is Vietnam. *Eventually* the common soldier started wondering if they were doing the right thing, but it took a lot of atrocities and a ton of protests to plant that seed of doubt.

Play 囲碁
[ Parent ]
Vietnam is a bit different (4.33 / 9) (#14)
by trhurler on Fri Jan 11, 2002 at 02:38:45 PM EST

Remember, the Vietnamese situation was very screwed up in ways that a popular uprising is not. In a popular uprising, if you're a soldier sent to put it down, you speak the same language as your opponents, so the situation becomes, do you trust your leaders, or do you trust every other single word you hear uttered, both by your "enemies" and by your fellow soldiers? In Vietnam, most troops never heard of the massacres, because they were small, isolated events - typically the work of one small unit, and that unit was thereafter terrified of what would happen if anyone found out. Organized action against civilians directed from the highest levels is an entirely different thing; people will talk more freely because they're somewhat protected by having acted under orders, and there will be more people involved, and the combination of those two is what makes the situation different.

(Yes, I know that acting under orders is not protection from war crimes, but it IS protection from ordinary prosecution, and as for prosecution merely for talking, we have seen time and again that soldiers trust each other not to rat out the guy who spills the beans, as long as they're talking to other soldiers.)

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Question (1.00 / 1) (#68)
by Simon Kinahan on Sat Jan 12, 2002 at 05:57:19 PM EST

What is a free-fire zone, if not organized action against civilians ?

Simon

If you disagree, post, don't moderate
[ Parent ]
Find it hard to believe that (4.00 / 6) (#28)
by nobbystyles on Fri Jan 11, 2002 at 05:45:35 PM EST

The average US soldier is a right libertarian. Cetainly the liberterian part of it. Can't think of anything less libertarian than working for the government in the armed forces.

I would say that they were more conservative and right wing than the average but to say that the mass of them hold your political views is somewhat over egging the pudding.

I used to live down the road from a British army barracks and I used to drink with a few of them in the local pub and they were mainly interested in beers, slaggging off other regiments, women and football rather than politics. I would say that the US army's social intake is pretty much the same as UK's ie: mainly conservative working class...

[ Parent ]
Well, (3.83 / 6) (#29)
by trhurler on Fri Jan 11, 2002 at 06:36:35 PM EST

You're forgetting the "rugged individualist" stereotype/personal image that a lot of these guys deliberately adhere to in the US. Yes, they're more conservative, but they also tend to really believe in things like gun rights, free speech(somewhat less so, but many are quite serious about it,) property rights(they're big on this, because they see themselves, rightly or otherwise, as part of the middle class property owning masses,) and so on. There's a reason the US Army is now using the slogan "An Army of One," however silly that slogan may be: it resonates wtih a lot of the people they're trying to recruit!

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Individualistic vs. Authoritarian (4.25 / 4) (#62)
by jcolter on Sat Jan 12, 2002 at 12:51:13 PM EST

From my experience with low level military people, I have found them to be more authoritarian then individualistic. That is to say they enjoy being bossed around by superiors ordering around lower people. That is not to say that they are sadistic people, just that they enjoy (perhaps rightly) the military chain of command.

[ Parent ]
Milgram Experiment (4.77 / 9) (#52)
by Paul Johnson on Sat Jan 12, 2002 at 10:51:30 AM EST

they would eventually at least begin to have doubts, and doubts are enough to keep you from shooting your neighbors

Unfortunately it ain't so.

In the 1950s Stanly Milgram got interested in how concentration camp guards could have been so nasty when they appeared to be mostly ordinary people. He theorised that Germans were racially predisposed to obey authority more than other nations, and ran an experiment to test it. He planned to start in America to calibrate his test on honest free-thinking people, and then go to Germany and show how they were much more obedient.

He never got to Germany. Instead he found that the average USian was quite capable of electrocuting a complete stranger prompted by nothing more than the instructions of a man with a clipboard who seemed to be in charge.

So don't put too much faith in the ability of ordinary soldiers to refuse to obey orders to massacre innocent civilians.

Paul.
You are lost in a twisty maze of little standards, all different.
[ Parent ]

A difference (none / 0) (#117)
by trhurler on Mon Jan 14, 2002 at 12:19:58 PM EST

People are always misreading science. I don't understand why, really. The Milgram experiment showed that if you had someone who "seemed to be in charge," you could convince people to do horrific things, under certain circumstances. Milgram used every trick in the book to make it easier for people to flip that switch. He used well known techniques to make the person "killed" seem less human. He used isolation, confusion, and fear of the unknown to huge advantage. He offered a way out of all of this.

The US military doesn't work that way. Yes, it does try to "dehumanize" our opponents, but that technique meets limited success when used on targets the subject already is familiar with and/or identifies with, and it tries to prevent confusion, isolation, and fear of the unknown, because these, while they may help you pull a switch when in no personal danger yourself, are very bad things in combat - they make you hesitate, and that makes you dead, which makes us lose. The US armed forces do not talk about a "way out," because they're trying to convince people to act under orders while things are still shitty and even getting shittier! They don't want people thinking about leaving! In other words, the two situations are almost completely different in terms of what is going on in the individual subject's mind.

So don't put too much faith in the ability of ordinary people to interpret the results of science. :-)

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Small point re India (4.33 / 3) (#67)
by Simon Kinahan on Sat Jan 12, 2002 at 05:53:54 PM EST

Nice post. Very eloquently put. I just wanted to make a small point regarding India: to an even greater extent than the rest of the British empire, the rank and file of the "occupying" troops in India were to a significant extent Indian. I believe the ratio was roughly 2 Indian soldiers for every Briton.

This was true everywhere in the British Empire: it was impossible to move enough troops around the word quickly enough to suppress a local revolt, as your ancestors so eloquently demonstrated, and the Indian Mutiny (1858) only served to reinforce the point. From 1858 onwards, the British relied on the cooperation of the local hierarchy in all their colonies. When that went - as with India post-1945 - it became impossible to maintain control.

Simon

If you disagree, post, don't moderate
[ Parent ]
don't agree (3.00 / 2) (#74)
by speek on Sat Jan 12, 2002 at 07:11:31 PM EST

One of the main points of military training (beginning with basic training) is to break down the trainee's personality and ego, and then rebuild it into a form that works in the military - namely a soldier who obeys orders and acts as part of the team, doing his job without hesitation. It's amazingly effective at turning people who would never shoot an unarmed, seemingly harmless individual, even if ordered to, into one who would. Your views seem overly romantic about the military.

--
al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
[ Parent ]

So they say (none / 0) (#115)
by trhurler on Mon Jan 14, 2002 at 12:10:40 PM EST

One of the main points of military training (beginning with basic training) is to break down the trainee's personality and ego, and then rebuild it into a form that works in the military
Yes, and it works for some of them. Many simply yield a bit and pretend. A good portion, especially in the services that are less inclined to hiring intelligent people, tend to already BE workable fits for a command hierarchy. I didn't say there aren't any seeming contradictions in these people - but if you go and talk to a bunch of soldiers(avoid officers above Lt and people who went through ROTC programs - this is ok, because they're a tiny minority anyway,) you'll find that overwhelmingly, they think they're there to protect freedom, and if you ask them what freedom, you're going to hear about speech(they love giving little talks about how they hate certain speech but they'll protect it anyway,) guns, search and seizure, and so on. They may not have ever read the Constitution, but they're aware of many of the major protections of the Bill of Rights, and they are often quite idealistic.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
easy words (none / 0) (#133)
by speek on Tue Jan 15, 2002 at 04:09:14 PM EST

Every politician will give that same speech if you ask him to. What makes you think the soldiers are any more sincere? When the orders come from their commanding officer, what are the chances they're going to compare the contents of that order with the goals of freedom?

--
al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
[ Parent ]

You miss one important point (3.50 / 2) (#98)
by yooden on Sun Jan 13, 2002 at 03:19:03 PM EST

Any civilian killed would immediately become terrorist.

[ Parent ]
Key Factors (4.10 / 20) (#11)
by MrAcheson on Fri Jan 11, 2002 at 02:13:26 PM EST

With all due respect, you are ignoring the key factor in an uprising which is popular support for the ruling government.

This is the key factor which explains 3rd world politics. Many nations have no support for their current governments and as such instead of working within the system to reform problems they seek what looks to be the more expedient route of simply directly opposing their governments by force. Without popular support the government cannot function.

Now how does this relate to the US? First, a non-popular uprising in the US is almost destined to failure. Unlike pre-Taliban Afghanistan, the US has a strong popularly supported central government. Even if said minority was capable of striking deep into the federal government, they would be quickly crushed by both the uneffected government and by militant members of unsupportive populace. Such an attempted revolution is doomed to failure.

As for a popular uprising becoming less likely as the harsh rule of the dictator increases, this is the exact opposite of what occurs. Initially the dictator will enjoy residual popular support from the people. But as his rule tightens and more and more freedoms are visibly curtailed, the populace will chafe under his fist. Popular support will erode rapidly and without popular support of at least a large minority the dictator cannot maintain his rule. In the American Revolution the colonies didn't rebel immediately under Britian's taxation. It was only when former Royalists like Franklin were forced to concede that Parliament would not address their concerns that the revolution truly began. In the third world we see this trend with military regimes. In the short term they may be popularly supported because they fix the problems of the previous government but they cannot be maintained through the long term because of the erosion of popular support.

As for the idea that a popular uprising is impossible because the government will gain control of all forms of communication, this is incorrect. There was no radio, TV, telephone, telegraph, or even an especially reliable postal service during the American Revolutionary War, yet the colonies carried out a successful popular uprising. The 3rd world does not have internet access or even local TV and radio in many places, yet uprisings occur and are successful. News will spread. Eventually by dumb luck uprisings will coincide and gather momentum. I think you underestimate the size of many major metropolitan areas in comparison with the size of any peace-keeping force which could be deployed to them quickly.

As for violence, it potentially increases the rate of attrition among the followers of the ruling party. Both nonviolence and violence are revolutionary options with their own pros and cons. "Nonviolent" revolution is gambling that the individuals conscience will further erode government support from within. Violent revolution is a gamble that the rebels will gain enough support that the government cannot maintain itself from its population base. There are valid examples of both occuring. India was freed by nonviolent revolution. Many parts of Africa, Asia, and Central/South America were freed by violent revolution. To say that one is superior to the other is incorrect.


These opinions do not represent those of the US Army, DoD, or US Government.


good comment except (2.00 / 5) (#48)
by cicero on Sat Jan 12, 2002 at 04:27:24 AM EST

you completely missinterpreted what spiralx said about the media. If i'm not mistaken, what spiralx was saying was that popular media (the media that %99.5 of this country gets its current events from) would donwplay (if play at all) the significance of the rebellion. You see, they have a vested interest in $this->rebellion not existing, so they would work as well to keep it from existing. to this end, ABC/CBC/NBC/etc. would do their damndest to keep *you* from getting interested, and would therefore have a net negative effect on the revolt. ie. they would only serve as a conduit for government propaganda. *cough* dan rather *cough*
when viewed in this light, the lack of news outlets such as we have today would actually seem to help any sort of rebellion. Here's to killing your tv.


--
I am sorry Cisco, for Microsoft has found a new RPC flaw - tonight your e0 shall be stretched wide like goatse.
[ Parent ]
Answer (1.80 / 20) (#19)
by vambo rool on Fri Jan 11, 2002 at 03:01:39 PM EST

Does an armed populace ensure freedom?
No.

Good Argument. (4.40 / 5) (#32)
by Icehouseman on Fri Jan 11, 2002 at 09:41:53 PM EST

"No."

Such a good, well thought-out, smart and interesting comment. I feel smarter already having obtained this knowledge. I feel I must only use this knowledge for good instead of evil. You sir with your amazing power of deduction shouldn't be wasting your time on Kuro5hin when so many crimes remain unsolved in this world. Go, go for the good of the country.
----------------
Bush's $3 trillion state is allegedly a mark of "anti-government bias" on the right. -- Anthony Gregory
[ Parent ]

Whoa (1.25 / 4) (#34)
by vambo rool on Fri Jan 11, 2002 at 10:21:58 PM EST

I guess you put me in my place, huh?

[ Parent ]
Yep (3.66 / 3) (#50)
by Danse on Sat Jan 12, 2002 at 04:50:58 AM EST

His was definitely the better post.






An honest debate between Bush and Kerry
[ Parent ]
It does ensure either freedom or death. (none / 0) (#113)
by jforan on Mon Jan 14, 2002 at 12:05:09 PM EST

And that is good enough for me.

When someone comes into my home, I shoot them or they shoot me. Hopefully, I know where to hide by the time this comes about in a military versus militia battle, so my chances will be greater than theirs.

Or, they just blow up my home, and hopefully my death will be fuel for the rage of the people fighting those who blew up my home.

Or, they blow up other people's houses, and my neighbors and I don't want them blowing up mine, so I take my gun and do what I can to oppose them in whatever means, and I am EXTATIC to own a gun at this point in time. I feel bad for my neighbor who does not, because he is not as capable of defending his and our homes as my other gun-toting neighbors and I am.

Not that I ever expect the US to come to this in my lifetime. But certainly, removing guns from the populace makes it all that more likely.

Jeff
I hops to be barley workin'.
[ Parent ]
so if congress made it legal for you to shoot me (none / 0) (#114)
by jforan on Mon Jan 14, 2002 at 12:07:28 PM EST

and kick me out of my house...

And your commander told you to do it or suffer the consequences of immediate death (which congress also made legal), I do not trust that you would do what is right and not what is legal.

Which is why I must have the right to own a gun.

Jeff
I hops to be barley workin'.
[ Parent ]
Obeying Orders (4.00 / 12) (#30)
by Bad Harmony on Fri Jan 11, 2002 at 07:32:17 PM EST

When I was in the U.S. Army, the training that I received emphasized that a soldier had a duty to carry out lawful orders, and a duty to refuse to obey illegal orders. Soldiers are not the mindless automatons that some like to portray them as.

Civilians with rifles and pistols may not be able to win a battle with an infantry unit, but they can stir up a lot of trouble by attacking soldiers, police and government officials when they are alone or in small groups.

54º40' or Fight!

The very nature of military (2.33 / 3) (#44)
by fhotg on Sat Jan 12, 2002 at 01:45:27 AM EST

is build on the principle of command.

a soldier had a duty to carry out lawful orders, and a duty to refuse to obey illegal orders

Thats what they have to mention once in a while, but this has nothing to to with reality. There are 'criminal' orders obeyed in every war - situation. What's criminal here anyway ? The purpose of declaring war or civil war is to make legal whatever seems necessary to win. You will never see soldiers deserting or switching sides en masse because they feel they are doing something unethic. That just happens when they realize that they are losing and try to save their ass. The main pillar of a working army is that the soldiers are brainwashed to do what they are told - not to think on their own.

That opens one way to stage a revolution successfully: Turn some high - ranking commanders, kill the rest: Voila, you own the military.
~~~
Gitarren für die Mädchen -- Champagner für die Jungs

[ Parent ]

footnotes... : ) (2.66 / 3) (#51)
by hebertrich on Sat Jan 12, 2002 at 08:36:08 AM EST

I dont beleive the people in the many are maniacs, brainless twits.They are some of the best in their individual fields.The army is an excellent place to learn and make use of that know how. The army makes men acheive their best. The topic at hand is of a different nature. Insuring that the government dosen't become a monster against the people is difficult. Since i came to the USA i observed, watched read the news and paid attention to where the balance is leaning.Much to my surprise,it always leant towards big business. We already have a government of the people by the corporations for the corporations. Laws are constantly been made to favor big business over consumer rights,privacy rights. THe government itself is nothing else than big brother with a smile. HOw naive it is to think that terrorism had anything to do with it. They seised the occasion to take much was obtained by the people over tens of years of civil rights movements in the blink of an eye. the government of this country right now is toxic to the mass. as an example Healthcare. This is the richest nation in the world. Yet people are dying cause they dont have money to pay. The budget for universal health care is there There is just no will to do anything that will help the average american.There is no will to implement a system that may limit the astronomical revenues the doctors make, the hospitals make cause it's not about making you healthy ... it's about how much they can squeeze out your insurance or your pockets.. Yet they smile at you... Enough for a day ...im getting sick

[ Parent ]
I agree but... (3.75 / 4) (#59)
by Zeram on Sat Jan 12, 2002 at 12:25:54 PM EST

Doctors don't make astronomical salaries like most people think. I once dated a girl who was studying to be a cariovascular surgeon, and I've seen the historical payrate figures. The average salary for that profession has declined drasticly in the past 10 or so years (well failed to rise properly is probably a better way to put it) when you take into account inflation, cost of living and all that sort of thing. The reson for that is the HMOs. Health care is a business and big businesses like Aetna are the one rakeing in the cash, not the doctors themselves.
<----^---->
Like Anime? In the Philly metro area? Welcome to the machine...
[ Parent ]
Terrorists (2.00 / 1) (#96)
by yooden on Sun Jan 13, 2002 at 03:12:46 PM EST

When I was in the U.S. Army, the training that I received emphasized that a soldier had a duty to carry out lawful orders, and a duty to refuse to obey illegal orders. Soldiers are not the mindless automatons that some like to portray them as.

That doesn't mean much if everyone not praising the president is either a terrorist or a supporter.



[ Parent ]
I agree and disagree (2.00 / 9) (#31)
by Jin Wicked on Fri Jan 11, 2002 at 08:09:21 PM EST

The typical policeman or soldier patrolling a city considers himself to be one of the 'good, respectable people' protecting the 'respectable people' from the 'scum'. They think on lines of class and race - socioeconomic status. There is something to be said for saying that policemen don't think of (what they consider to be) the absolute dregs of society as deserving of rights at all, or fair treatment.

A typical policeman is doing his duty to 'protect and serve', but he protects only the bourgeoisie and the petite bourgeoisie, and serves only their interests.

The state ensures that the policemen and soldiers themselves become part of the petite bourgeoisie, and that it is very much in their interests to retain that status should the proletariat wish to overthrow the bourgeoisie.

Therefore, should the proletariat be armed, you are correct to say that this would further alienate the police and military from them, should they be killed by the proletariat. However, this analysis ignores the issues of bargaining and power and, most of all, fear, in the initial stages of a revolution, the petite bourgeiose could well have much to gain by throwing their lot in with the uprisers, and the more powerful the uprisers are, the stronger their bargaining power with the petite bourgeoise military will be, and the more they will fear the proletariat.

Many revolutions aren't too bloody at all, and are instead a series of negotiations and realpolitik. The stronger the hand of the uprisers, the more likely they will have a successful 'negotiation' with the military during this period of the revolt, and seize power.

Your solution depends on the military abandoning all issues of self interest and thinking in a purely altruistic manner - when most likely, as creatures brainwashed at the heart of the capitalist machine, they will do whatever it takes to protect their own interests, not the interests of the state or the interests of the proletariat. The state, the bourgeoise, depend on making it seem that the interests of the state and the interests of the military are inseperable. The duty of the uprisers is to put a spanner in the works, by seperating these interests. The only way to acheive this is to have a powerful, armed proletariat that the military will fear, and that will make it want to negotiate. When the state wants the military to attack and kill, with great casualties on the military side, an armed popular revolt, the interests of the state and the interests of the military diverge quite markedly. So the arming of the proletariat should, if anything, make revolt far, far easier :-)

Now, although I do not have much truck with guns in my personal life, I do think that the general population should be armed against the masculine bourgeoise. Only after a successful, socialist revolt should all guns be put aside and a society free from Patriarchal violence or threat of violence be born.

This post was probably not written by the real Jin Wicked. Please see user "butter pie" for Jin's actual posts.


Us and them? I think not... (2.75 / 4) (#37)
by Lenny on Fri Jan 11, 2002 at 10:49:17 PM EST

A typical policeman is doing his duty to 'protect and serve', but he protects only the bourgeoisie and the petite bourgeoisie, and serves only their interests. The state ensures that the policemen and soldiers themselves become part of the petite bourgeoisie, and that it is very much in their interests to retain that status should the proletariat wish to overthrow the bourgeoisie.

You are truly an ignorant fool. Obviously, you have never known any police officers. Maybe you do not know that many police officers work in poor neighborhoods. They put their lives on the line every day. Why would police officers work 40 hours a week in a poor neighborhood? To serve their own interests? Please don't tell me that each and every police officer in the country is part of a conspiracy to "keep the man down".
Oh yeah, and how, exactly, does the state ensure that the police and soldiers become part of the petite bourgeoisie? By giving them a paycheck? Bastards!


"Hate the USA? Boycott everything American. Particularly its websites..."
-Me
[ Parent ]
No, not ignorant (3.75 / 4) (#46)
by silent communication on Sat Jan 12, 2002 at 02:21:26 AM EST

Anyone who talks like Jin Wicked is at least half-trolling, like I suspect MIM (the Maoist magazine) to do.

But you clearly don't know what it's like to deal with policemen if you're poor. They are usually kind people, relative to their own values. Part of being a policeman is having an 'enemy,' and poor people represent that enemy.

People wish to do their jobs, and police in fairly wealthy places see their jobs as protecting the city against invasions of the scum they hear about from other police.

[ Parent ]

Yes and no (3.50 / 2) (#58)
by Zeram on Sat Jan 12, 2002 at 12:16:22 PM EST

I have a very close friend who is a cop, and he works in a very "poor" (I use quotes because it's very run down but so many drugs go through the area that technically it's no poorer than your average suburban neighborhood) area. He has worked there for a few years now and knows most of the local scumbags. And pretty much, as long as they are on the level with him, he is very equitable with them. If they try and fuck around he will bend the rules as much as he can get away with, so that next time they know not to fuck with him. To him they are not the "enemy" they're just stupid. And this is a guy I think is a psycho, because he has seriously stated that when the revolution comes he wants to be one of the jackbooted thugs oppressing the people.

I think most cops operate along simmilar lines. I would aslo tend to think that with recidivisim rates as high as they appear to be that most times it is a deadly mistake for cops to give excons and perps the benefit of the doubt. However the execution of that instant judgement is the grey area where I take issue. Cops have a right to protect themselves, I just think though, that being smart about a given situation is better protection than raw brutality.

On a slightly unrelated note, anytime some one uses the word bourgeoisie it's pretty safe to assume one of three things: 1) They are trolling 2) They are talking out of thier ass 3) They are smoking some damn good crack.
<----^---->
Like Anime? In the Philly metro area? Welcome to the machine...
[ Parent ]
Paradigm (3.00 / 1) (#60)
by silent communication on Sat Jan 12, 2002 at 12:44:59 PM EST

Cops have a right to protect themselves, I just think though, that being smart about a given situation is better protection than raw brutality.
Hardest thing in the world for some is to be intelligent, no? At best, the problems have to be solved by better training, but it's damn hard -- a beat officer is not a normal job for a well-educated person.

So we have to look higher for a solution.

On a slightly unrelated note, anytime some one uses the word bourgeoisie it's pretty safe to assume one of three things: 1) They are trolling 2) They are talking out of thier ass 3) They are smoking some damn good crack.
Still, I prefer people using 'bourgeoisie' rather than 'paradigm.'

I don't want to fall into the trap of judging a book by its cover, so I'll let this lie.

[ Parent ]

I don't like to generalize (2.00 / 1) (#65)
by Zeram on Sat Jan 12, 2002 at 02:11:12 PM EST

personally. However can you honestly say that you have met many people who use words like 'bourgeoisie' and 'paradigm' with a straight face that aren't either playing parrot or severely deluded? I don't personally have the problem with paradigm that most people do, but thats probably because I've spent so much time playing Mage: The Ascension.
<----^---->
Like Anime? In the Philly metro area? Welcome to the machine...
[ Parent ]
OT (none / 0) (#82)
by silent communication on Sun Jan 13, 2002 at 02:01:17 AM EST

Hehe, perhaps... Sometimes it would be much nicer to be able to reach into the minds of others. I can really see how wars break out from all the little misunderstandings of life.

[ Parent ]
*sigh* (3.00 / 1) (#56)
by skyknight on Sat Jan 12, 2002 at 11:40:43 AM EST

You had an interesting commentary right up until the end, but you choked at the last second with your parthian shot about "the masculine bourgeoise." Playing the masculinity card here just seemed out of place in an otherwise thoughtful and intelligent bit of writing. Would you care to clarify, or will you leave it with an ambiguous "men are evil"?

It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
[ Parent ]
Just how many policemen do you know? (3.00 / 3) (#71)
by X3nocide on Sat Jan 12, 2002 at 06:14:42 PM EST

The Force attracts a certain breed of cat, if you catch my drift. Your typical law abiding well minded citizen doesn't really sit well with being shot at. Or writing up ludicrous speeding tickets all day.

The typical policeman or soldier patrolling a city considers himself to be one of the 'good, respectable people' protecting the 'respectable people' from the 'scum'. Thats not quite how it works for most. Sure there are a few honorable cops out there. But by and large their integrity makes them too valuable to be put on patrol for too long. Or more likely, their integrity comes at the price of a bit of intelligence, enough to know that the neighboring rich county offers way more in the way of salary.

I wish it wasn't this way, but it is. "Absolute power corrupts absolutely." Most cops don't see themselves as being in with society at large. They see their puny paychecks and their irregular hours, and maybe they see a benefit in packing a gun. Not all are this bad, but I live near a few cops that I wouldn't trust with my life. I've seen it before that there is a significant danger with a cop of being shot by another cop. I wish I had a link to it, or proof that it was wrong. Maybe someone else could help me out?

pwnguin.net
[ Parent ]

Where are gun owners when freedoms are violated? (4.10 / 20) (#33)
by Pseudonym on Fri Jan 11, 2002 at 10:13:50 PM EST

Where the gun owners were when American citizens were interred during World War 2, simply for having Japanese ancestry? Where were they when the freedom of speech and freedom of assembly of communists (or suspected communists) was basically ignored during the McCarthy era? Where were they, when people were denied freedom of conscience during the Vietnam war? Where are they now, when thousands are subject to unreasonable search and seizure thanks to the "war on drugs", or when hundreds are held for months without a hearing thanks to post-September 11 paranoia?

Guns might help ensure freedom if gun owners truly cared about freedom, but as a whole (there are, of course, exceptions), they don't.

Ye have heard it said in the past, "Guns don't kill people, people kill people." Verily I say unto you now: Guns don't protect freedom, people protect freedom.



sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f(q{sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f});
More recently... (2.00 / 2) (#81)
by skroderider on Sun Jan 13, 2002 at 12:06:05 AM EST

Where were the gun owners when George Bush seized power thanks to the treason of five supreme court judges? Where are the gun owners now? Probably among the huge majority of the U.S. populace who have made Dubya the most popular president ever. Most people are fools, and are easily manipulated by appeals to patriotism, with Americans being especially vulnerable to this gambit. It doesn't matter if they have guns if the dictators just have to blind them to what's really going on by waving the flag in their faces. Americans like to think they're free, but in truth the only rights they have are meaningless, like the right to choose whether to shop at the Gap or Old Navy. The United States and other western "democracies" are even more repressive than many third world dictatorships, they're just a lot more subtle about it and they shoot fewer people. In short, it doesn't matter how well armed the populace is: mental defences against propaganda are just as important as guns, and they are sadly lacking in most people. It doesn't matter how many guns they have if it doesn't even occur to them it might be time to use them.

[ Parent ]
Quote (3.00 / 1) (#95)
by yooden on Sun Jan 13, 2002 at 03:03:22 PM EST

Guns don't protect freedom, people protect freedom.

I like that quote. Only to get the attribution right: Is that yours?



[ Parent ]
Probably (none / 0) (#126)
by Pseudonym on Mon Jan 14, 2002 at 07:23:44 PM EST

I did make it up a few days ago. I can't have been the first, though. It's a fairly obvious analogy.



sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f(q{sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f});
[ Parent ]
Silly (none / 0) (#124)
by weirdling on Mon Jan 14, 2002 at 06:53:00 PM EST

For starters, guns kept for defense are for just that, defense. If those Japanese had had guns, then perhaps we'd have something.

Now, the internment of Japanese is one of the blackest things people can place in US history, and is certainly nothing compared to the holocaust or the various actions of communism, as they were well-fed and cared for and released immediately afterwards with federal aid. Notice that the people most complaining about this aren't Japanese...

Of course, this doesn't even begin to compare to the works of Japan itself in the Bataan death march...

I'm not doing this again; last time no one believed it.
[ Parent ]
Freedom(tm) (none / 0) (#127)
by Pseudonym on Mon Jan 14, 2002 at 07:35:08 PM EST

I only mentioned internment of US citizens because I wanted to go back a bit further. True, compared to the actions of Stalin or Pol Pot, it was fairly mild. However, that's not what gets me. It's that the US national rhetoric is "freedom". As Neal Stevenson pointed out, this is the post-modern era, and when you have cultural relativism, the only thing you can fault someone on is hypocrasy. So that's what I do. Same with the US not treating its prisoners of war according to the Geneva Convention right now. If it were some other country doing that, it probably wouldn't cause a blip on my radar. But the Leader of the Free World(tm), Global Policeman(tm) etc doing this is terribly hypocritical.

BTW, I didn't mean to single out the gun owners either, necessarily, that just happened to be the topic of the article. The fact is, most US citizens, gun-owning or not, don't care about freedom.



sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f(q{sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f});
[ Parent ]
Agreed (none / 0) (#129)
by weirdling on Mon Jan 14, 2002 at 08:04:15 PM EST

I would go farther and say that most US citizens, thanks to our rather able indoctrination, have no real concept of freedom.

'Freedom' is a struggle. If we are to be free, we must constantly struggle to be so.

Notice, however, that those prisoners are subject to open debate in this country, and, should it be determined that their rights are being compromised, they will be entitled to a settlement.

I, being a libertarian, do not agree with the treatment of those prisoners, nor do I agree with the silly baggage searching, but I also do not believe either to be sufficient reason for me to go to war, as the system can self-correct as it has in the past.

I'm not doing this again; last time no one believed it.
[ Parent ]
One other thing (none / 0) (#135)
by Pseudonym on Wed Jan 16, 2002 at 12:30:49 AM EST

Another brief thought...

For starters, guns kept for defense are for just that, defense. If those Japanese had had guns, then perhaps we'd have something.

Guns don't defend people, people defend people.

My point is this: a gun is at best a tool in the toolbox. It may not be the most appropriate tool, but the problem is not lack of tools, it's lack of willingness to do something, especially for someone else.

I said in another post that I didn't necessarily want to single out gun owners. On reflection, I do want to single out the NRA (which is not the same as "gun owners"). In the field of freedom rhetoric-without-action in the USA, they're some of the worst perpetrators. If it's guns under threat, they're out there lobbying. If it's any other amendment in the bill of rights, they're pretty much silent.



sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f(q{sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f});
[ Parent ]
you forgot (3.16 / 6) (#35)
by mindstrm on Fri Jan 11, 2002 at 10:27:03 PM EST

groups of citizens getting together to disarm and kill/rap/pillage other groups of citizens because they are 'unpopular'. That happens too.

There is no black and white. Guns are not good or bad. But it's pretty obvious.

Please compare the # of deaths and violent crimes involving guns in the US to any country where guns are outlawed.




Re: you forgot (3.50 / 2) (#47)
by Vs on Sat Jan 12, 2002 at 04:00:55 AM EST

> groups of citizens getting together to disarm and kill/rap/pillage other groups of citizens because they are 'unpopular'.

Nope, that's when civilized people call the cops.
--
Where are the immoderate submissions?
[ Parent ]
Silly (4.25 / 4) (#49)
by Danse on Sat Jan 12, 2002 at 04:45:54 AM EST

Please compare the # of deaths and violent crimes involving guns in the US to any country where guns are outlawed.

You can't compare across cultures and expect to get a valid result. There are many more factors involved than just gun laws. I think you'll find that America has more non-gun homicides than any other country has total homicides (excluding certain countries that are presently between governments).






An honest debate between Bush and Kerry
[ Parent ]
Cultures (1.00 / 1) (#94)
by yooden on Sun Jan 13, 2002 at 02:56:24 PM EST

You can't compare across cultures and expect to get a valid result.

Why would that be the case?

You can very well do that. The result: Gun-loving cultures have more death and violent crimes involving guns than others.



[ Parent ]
Sigh.. (none / 0) (#120)
by Danse on Mon Jan 14, 2002 at 04:30:55 PM EST

Take a remedial logic course and you'll understand.

You can very well do that. The result: Gun-loving cultures have more death and violent crimes involving guns than others.

This may show correlation (although you haven't exactly backed it up with anything), but it does not show causation, which is the key that we are looking for. Picking a single factor that happens to show up in different groups or situations and labeling it as the cause is a classic fallacy.






An honest debate between Bush and Kerry
[ Parent ]
The Armed Populace Strawman (3.28 / 7) (#40)
by truth versus death on Fri Jan 11, 2002 at 11:15:22 PM EST

The question isn't of an armed populous. It is a of a populous with the right to be armed, in case the government oversteps its bounds.

This would have been an editorial comment if I had caught the article in the queue. -1, Strawman against gun rights.

Of course, this is only my opinion.

"any erection implies consent"-fae
[ Trim your Bush ]
Is an armed populace relevant to freedom? (4.00 / 16) (#41)
by Draken on Fri Jan 11, 2002 at 11:34:33 PM EST

As a non-American, I think it is a unique view of freedom that Americans often seem to come up with that "guns" matter.
I would argue that since about 1900, in all western societies as well as many others (excuse my ignorance of the wider world here please!) freedom (with the exclusion of international war) has been built, maintained and strengthened by participation. For example, community leaders, elected officials (well, some of them... ) and so forth.
The possibility of an armed populace is more frightening than a moderately oppressive government. Because our governments of today are filled with people, for the most part, like us. The soldiers, police, etc, are trained. They have "Ethical Standards Departments" who are held up in review by the media, and every one of us who feels wrongly treated by the them.
An armed populace however, is untrained, controlled by emotion, rhetoric, and the leader will often be the loudest discontent.
As a personal viewpoint, I would suggest that Americans who advocate guns for these reasons are a)searching for arguments to win their cause or b) still living the 18th century. America's gun situation is a 250 year holdover from memories of an age now gone. Enough generations have passed that the world and society have changed for the better.

My summary: an armed populace is irrelevant to free society. Over a century ago, it was. Today, it is not.

Assasination (3.37 / 8) (#42)
by Weezul on Sat Jan 12, 2002 at 01:37:38 AM EST

Handguns may be irrelevent, but high powered sniper rifles are hardly irrelevent to leaders, be they dictators, progressives, or Joe Corperate Stooge. That's not saing they should be legal or illegal, just that they are relevent to leaders.

The real case for the irrelevence of all guns needs to be made by claiming that individuals do not matter as much today.. a significantly more dubious claim, but one I am not preparied to refute.

Personally, I tend to think that American's should keep their guns specifically because the rest of the civilized world has given guns up. Yes, guns may be irrelevent today, but I do not see any conclusive argument either way. Lets keep this one last little check on the leaders of the worlds superpower for a little while longer. I'll be happy to see the guns go in 50 or 100 years, when they are more solidly irrelevent.

btw> They way I see it there are still major ideological revolutions yet to be fought. The U.S. has mega-corperations now for a reason.. it's not because they were more efficent. Megacorperations were needed to "fight" the japanese megacorperations. This new feaudalism must one day be over thrown. I will not try to predict the level of violence of such a revolution.

btw2> I'm not necissarily talking about any kind of communist revolution. It could just as easily be Ayn Rand approved, i.e. make corperations responcible for their activities and the megacorps collapse.

"Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power." - Benito Mussolini
[ Parent ]
The wealth of the world (4.00 / 1) (#89)
by A Trickster Imp on Sun Jan 13, 2002 at 09:35:15 AM EST

> btw2> I'm not necissarily talking about any kind of communist revolution. It
> could just as easily be Ayn Rand approved, i.e. make corperations
> responcible for their activities and the megacorps collapse.


She did point out that pollution of so-called "common" things like air could be bad, but she also pointed out that the economic thrust of a powerful industry would outweigh problems by pollution. Most certainly idiocy like Kyoto goes way over the bounds of what is necessary and will, by a very large margin, fail the Julian Simon test. In other words, by any actual measure of human status (lifespan, average health, price of food, availability of food), a world without Kyoto will be far ahead of a world with.




[ Parent ]
Nay (4.12 / 8) (#55)
by skyknight on Sat Jan 12, 2002 at 11:24:41 AM EST

"The price of freedom is eternal vigilence."
- Thomas Jefferson

"It is seldom that liberty of any kind is lost all at once."
- David Hume

Peace and prosperity breed apathy. When things are going well it is very easy to forget the struggles that got us to where we are, and to assume that things will always be this good.

You say that it is better to have a moderately oppressive government than to have an armed populace, but you neglect an important fact. A government will not get moderately oppressive and then say, "well, everything in moderation, we're oppressive enough so let's just stop." I'm afraid it doesn't work that way. Left unchecked governments will get bigger and more oppressive until they are completely authoritarian. Only through the labors of eternally vigilant citizens can government be kept in its place.

Firearms ownership is an important component of the delicate balance of power between government and citizens. If you do not have a gun, you are not a citizen, but rather a subject.



It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
[ Parent ]
Really? (3.50 / 4) (#77)
by yonasa on Sat Jan 12, 2002 at 08:59:40 PM EST

But guns (or violence) are very much a "last resort" in a political process, unless you think guns are likely to improve the average citizen's ability to wield his / her political power (i.e. their political voice, the right to vote, participating in the political process...). An "eternally vigilant citizen" does not necessarily mean an armed citizen.

--

I wish I was more eloquent
[ Parent ]

Government, involvement, the relic of violence. (3.60 / 5) (#79)
by Draken on Sat Jan 12, 2002 at 10:15:29 PM EST

Quote: "If you do not have a gun, you are not a citizen"

No.

Maintenance of a fair, relaxed, or acceptably oppressive (it all goes in cycles - we're in one swing of a cycle after September 11) government is dependent upon the citizens keeping the gvernment in check.
This is done by the cycle of citizen involvement - see my earlier comment about participation. The use of guns in modern western society has achieved nothing and will achieve nothing. It is looked down upon - as is gun ownership most of the time. As a throwback to an earlier age, and with recognition that more is achievable via other means, the use of firearms as an instrument of citizen political power is long gone - at least that is my interpretation of the US. It would certainly achieve nothing here in Australia.

You quote Thome Jefferson's "price of freedom". This in no way requires a relationship to armed violence or the threat thereof. Vigilance takes many forms, and in the case of opposing a threatening government the vigilance required would be that of a critical mass of the population to ensure unworthy persons are not given positions of personal power.

As another note, I consistenly hear that America's optional voting system is lucky to get 50% turnouts. I would therefore suggest that the first requirement of overseeing a government would be . . . that everyone votes. Sure, there ain't a lot to choose from - in any country - but it's a system that works and has removed the need for violence from our countires.

[ Parent ]
The first step in freedom is to force people to... (5.00 / 1) (#88)
by A Trickster Imp on Sun Jan 13, 2002 at 09:23:52 AM EST

> As another note, I consistenly hear that America's optional voting system is
> lucky to get 50% turnouts. I would therefore suggest that the first
> requirement of overseeing a government would be . . . that everyone votes.

The first step in freedom and preventing oppression is to remove all guns then force everyone to vote. Uhh, nice. "Force" them. "Force" is good when I am the one behind the gun, eh?

"Hmmm, forcing people seems Bad, but I am forced and don't want to believe it is Bad, so I will believe it is Good, then, like a child forced to eat his peas, he sees another who doesn't, and says, 'Gee, they should be forced too, for it is Good.'"

Why would forcing someone who didn't want to vote (or didn't care to) be a good thing? Their apathy means they don't care about the issues, and they would thus pollute the vote.

I think it was Jeff Greenspan who once, on the eve of a presidential election some elections ago, said something like "You've heard a lot about getting out to vote. Well, I'm going to tell you that if you don't really care, just stay home. Don't vote. If you don't care enough to vote, you probably haven't investigated the issues." Forcing people to vote won't correct that.

There's another train of thought that says you shouldn't get the right to vote (the "franchise") unless you first serve in the armed forces. Freedom requires eternal vigilence, and if you're not willing to defend it, you have no right to say what path the government securing such freedom will take.

Of course, believing the "vote" will save a free society is nonsense. All the vote is is an abstraction of might makes right, and puts future laws in the hands of any charlatan who can momentarily convince 51% of the population of something. In that respect, it doesn't differ very much from any dictatorship of the past, which are built on convincing some majority of people to give them absolute power.






[ Parent ]
The more the merrier (1.00 / 1) (#93)
by yooden on Sun Jan 13, 2002 at 02:46:55 PM EST

Why would forcing someone who didn't want to vote (or didn't care to) be a good thing? Their apathy means they don't care about the issues, and they would thus pollute the vote.

This would force the political parties to better care for the people's wishes. Maybe there would even be (Gosh!) more than two parties in the USA.

If you want to reduce the amount of voters, you are asking for an aristocracy. This has been tried before.




There's another train of thought that says you shouldn't get the right to vote (the "franchise") unless you first serve in the armed forces. Freedom requires eternal vigilence, and if you're not willing to defend it, you have no right to say what path the government securing such freedom will take.

Most bullet trains have more thought than that. Western democracies are no longer threatened by foreign intervention, so you cannot defend them by force. (That's different in Nicaragua and Taiwan though.)




Of course, believing the "vote" will save a free society is nonsense. All the vote is is an abstraction of might makes right, and puts future laws in the hands of any charlatan who can momentarily convince 51% of the population of something. In that respect, it doesn't differ very much from any dictatorship of the past, which are built on convincing some majority of people to give them absolute power.

I would be interested to hear where this happened. Hitler, for once, never had even half votes on his side; he took power by convincing some mighty and abusing a weak constitution.



[ Parent ]
Voting (none / 0) (#110)
by Draken on Mon Jan 14, 2002 at 03:26:25 AM EST

Not caring about voting is only acceptable if a citizen doesn't care about what the government does. There are exceptionally few people like this in any country.

Compulsory voting has drawbacks; the point is to force - yes, force - participation. If a charlatan is elected, the voting majority was stupid. But to allow optional voting allows too many who are disillusioned by the system (by major parties and candidates usually) to leave it as is. A compulsory voting system will be more likely (certainly not guaranteed. Look here at Australia - we got Pauline Hanson a few years ago. Bloody Queenslanders!) to encourage an examination of such charlatans. And if "eternal vigliance is the price of freedom" wouldn't that be better represented by a compulsory vote than military service?

[ Parent ]
Aye (3.00 / 2) (#92)
by yooden on Sun Jan 13, 2002 at 02:24:40 PM EST

"The price of freedom is eternal vigilence."
- Thomas Jefferson

So be vigil, by all means. Go voting, write letters to your congressperson, praise dissenting votes like Nader or Lee.

My quote, just to show what US governments thinks of popular uprisings:

I don't see why we need to stand by and watch a country go communist because of the irresponsibility of its own people.
- Henry Kissinger


[ Parent ]
participation (3.33 / 6) (#63)
by venalcolony on Sat Jan 12, 2002 at 12:53:30 PM EST

The problem with a mindset that expects guns to fix social problems is that it encourages the withdrawl of participation. There is no shortage of 2nd Amendment lunatics who think of their government as some kind of foreign imposition on their lives instead of a process whose outcome is their responsibility. Paradoxically, the only way for America to subvert its heritage and institutions and become a tyranny is for Americans to hole themselves up in their private bunkers waiting for The Great War Against the Tyrants. Personally I dont think the popular (incorrect) interpretation of 2nd Amendment is a self-fulfilling prophecy, but I do think it's the only way to achieve tyranny in the US.

In any case, the 2nd Amendment is completely useless.

[ Parent ]

April 25th 1975 - Portugal (4.00 / 1) (#104)
by dorsai on Sun Jan 13, 2002 at 10:53:22 PM EST

...when an upraising by the army against a dictatorship ultimately resulted in a democracy... it was an oddball affaire all around, with no shots fired (ok, one shot fired, but it hit nothing) carnations stuck in gun barrels, and other details which would make no sense without a lengthy explanation... but fundamentally it was something long overdue that hadn't happened yet for a number of reasons... one of which, perhaps, being that the populace was not armed.
Then again, it it had been started by the populace, it probably wouldn't have been bloodless - go figure.


Dorsai the sigless


[ Parent ]
Imagine if Jews and French had guns in ww2 (none / 0) (#112)
by jforan on Mon Jan 14, 2002 at 11:55:37 AM EST

(the citizenry, I mean)
(prior to hitler taking over)

And also imagine that the majority of the country, regardless of who was in power, held that the right of all citizenry to bear arms as one of the most important (#2) rights of the people.

I am not saying exactly how the war might have been different, but if you reason your way through it, you have to at least accept that each gun owner Jew and Frechman would have at least had the CHOICE to determine whether or not to fight.

To force a person to follow blindly is easier accomplished when the enforcee has everything to lose and no means to fight and no reason to resist other than his morality.

And I don't think most people would feel that the Nazis were a "moderatly oppressive government".

And my grandfather lived through it and he is ALIVE. NO GENERATIONS HAVE PASSED YOU CRAZY MAN.

Which makes me wonder why I chose your inane post to argue against. It is just propaganda like yours that makes me so upset.

And no, I don't own a gun. (or live in texas)

Jeff

I hate the slogan, so I have modified it:
many who forget history have been, are, and will be forced at gunpoint to repeat it
I hops to be barley workin'.
[ Parent ]
Gun Registration and Cryptography (3.50 / 6) (#43)
by Weezul on Sat Jan 12, 2002 at 01:43:51 AM EST

Here is a little discussed technical point about gun registration:

You could use chemical techniques to attach a 128bit to a gun and make the number almost impossible to remove. The first 64bits would be a pseudo-unique ID for the gun. The second 64bits would be random junk. Any time you purchase a gun the store would report the ID and the XOR of the junk and your SSN to the cops. This would mean the cops would have a total ownership history of any gun used in a crime (i.e. any gun they found), but would have zero information about any gun they did not have physical possesion of.

The cops would be happy and the gun owners would be happy. (the moms might not be happy)

"Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power." - Benito Mussolini
Uh, not really... (3.50 / 2) (#54)
by skyknight on Sat Jan 12, 2002 at 11:13:18 AM EST

The overwhelming majority of guns used in crimes are stolen. When someone steals a gun, they don't stop to tell the government about the "transfer of ownership." So, the only thing that registration is providing to the authorities is information on honest citizens. Whether or not that is justifiable is another debate, but I really don't think gun registration has any effect whatsoever on criminals.

It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
[ Parent ]
So? (4.33 / 3) (#66)
by Weezul on Sat Jan 12, 2002 at 02:47:52 PM EST

The cops still have a lead. They ask the gun owner what happened to his gun. He says it was stolen. They ask when and where. He gives them the desired information. The cops have a very useful lead for reconstructing the history of the gun used in the crime.

You should cite some independent sources when you say most guns used in crimes are stolen. That is an aweful lot of guns. I suppose they must be stealing them from gun shops or factories. You just do not go around stealing guns from legitimate end users. You will get your self shot fast. (Lets not forget the guy who leagally buys 100 guns per months, takes a weekend buisness trip to Chicago, and must repace all his "stolen" guns next month is most likely reselling to criminals)

Anyway, the real argument opposing gun registration is that it would give the government the ability to violate the second ammendment by collecting all the guns at a later date (ala Canada). Cryptographic registration will allow the cops to connect the stolen or resold guns to the beginning of it's "life of crime" without giving the cops the information to take your guns away later. It's a perfect solution (unless you feal that citizens should not own guns period).

"Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power." - Benito Mussolini
[ Parent ]
OK (3.50 / 2) (#69)
by skyknight on Sat Jan 12, 2002 at 06:01:20 PM EST

To be more accurate, "a large percentage" of guns used in crimes are stolen. "Majority" is too strong a word, I'll concede that point. There is much contention on that front so hard numbers are difficult to come by. However, would you debate that most guns used in crimes are not legally owned? i.e. the person who has them is not registered to own guns, or when they got them there was no background check, etc? Not neccessarily stolen; they may have paid for them much in the way people pay for drugs. It's outside the law, but it's not stealing.

Something worth noting: any second time offender who uses a gun in a crime does not legally possess that firearm, and that's by definition. If he has a record, he can't purchase or own a gun under US law. It's a simple fact. So we've already ruled out what I would assume is a large percentage of criminals, i.e. non-first-time criminals, from committing gun crimes with legitimately owned guns.

Basically, there are two issues involving gun registration. The first is, as you mention, the fact that government could theoretically do an en masse collection, violating our Second Amendment rights. Secondly, registration has almost a nil effect on criminals. It only hampers honest citizens.

Furthermore, you said yourself "The cops still have a lead. They ask the gun owner what happened to his gun." Doesn't such a system imply that the cops know who owns what guns? Therefore your system does not satisfy gun owners right to privacy (not as far as I am concerned anyway).



It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
[ Parent ]
the point (4.00 / 2) (#75)
by Weezul on Sat Jan 12, 2002 at 07:51:13 PM EST

<i>Furthermore, you said yourself "The cops still have a lead. They ask the gun owner what happened to his gun." Doesn't such a system imply that the cops know who owns what guns? Therefore your system does not satisfy gun owners right to privacy (not as far as I am concerned anyway).</i>

That was my whole point! The cops must XOR the random data _on_the_gun_ with the reported data (indexed by serial number) to get the SSN of the legal owner. Without *physical* possecion of the gun the cops can not find out anything period. The cops will never know who owns a gun until after that gun is located as part of a criminal investigation.

"Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power." - Benito Mussolini
[ Parent ]
Firearm theft rates and owner tracking (4.50 / 2) (#73)
by sobiloff on Sat Jan 12, 2002 at 06:56:05 PM EST

According to this Department of Justice report there are approximately 341,000 incidents of firearm theft each year. Each incident may result in more than one firearm stolen.

According to this White House press release only 1,290 crime guns were traced back to dealer loss. This works out to, at most, 0.4% of all stolen guns, i.e. an insignificant number.

Apparently it's pretty easy to steal guns from individuals. Most criminals will case a house and wait for the owner to be absent before entering. Also, most firearms owners don't have a safe to keep their firearms in, making it easy to leave with them. (The trigger locks, etc., are easily defeated with a screwdriver and a couple minutes of work in the safety of the crook's home.)

As for your proposal for marking guns and doing an XOR with the SSN, it seems pretty trivial to brute force. A better law, IMHO, would simply require any individual who loses a firearm to report the lost item's serial number and details of the theft to local law enforcement within three business days. That way the government can effectively track stolen firearms while still ensuring that there's no way to compile a list of owners.



[ Parent ]
brute force?!? (3.25 / 4) (#76)
by Weezul on Sat Jan 12, 2002 at 07:51:42 PM EST

Are you joking? A one time pad is uncrackable period end of story. That would be the one cryptographic fact you would know if you knew anything about cryptography. You can not brute force a one time pad because *all* answers are equally likely without the required piecee of information, i.e. it's just as likely that the presidents SSN will pop out as the last owner.

Wow! Those are pretty surprising numbers there. I suppose a lot of Americans own hand guns and these guns would oftin be located by a theaf looking for valubles. Still, I know from growing up with guns in the house that it was easy to find show guns which would not be useful to criminals (rifles), but handguns were nowhere to be seen (they were there). I would be currious how many of those stolen firearms were taken for the non-weapon value (rifles). OTOH, If you'r a drug dealer and you need some AK-47's it may be easy to go find a gun nut who has a whole stack. I donno.

"Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power." - Benito Mussolini
[ Parent ]
Ahem ... (none / 0) (#111)
by Simon Kinahan on Mon Jan 14, 2002 at 06:00:11 AM EST

OTP is unbreakable *when applied correctly*. The hard part is applying it correctly. Most significantly, the key must be at least as long as the message, and must be truly, perfectly random.

Simply XORing a message with a chosen string is *not* OTP. In the scheme above, SSNs are not truly random, and anyway are in the public domain. Iterating through the SSNs of everyone ever to live in the USA, or even all possible SSNs, and XORing them with the cyphertext is a reasonably tractable problem.

Simon

If you disagree, post, don't moderate
[ Parent ]
very simple probability (none / 0) (#119)
by Weezul on Mon Jan 14, 2002 at 01:14:02 PM EST

Most significantly, the key must be at least as long as the message, and must be truly, perfectly random.

Duh! You would not be using a one-time pad if your pad was not as long as the original data. A SSN is significantly less then the 64bits I proposed in the original message.

In the scheme above, SSNs are not truly random, and anyway are in the public domain. Iterating through the SSNs of everyone ever to live in the USA, or even all possible SSNs, and XORing them with the cyphertext is a reasonably tractable problem.

What one earth dose SSN non-randomness have to do with anything? SSNs are the data, not the pad. Shure, it would be easy to XOR all SSNs with the gun database, but it would get you zero informatrion about who owns guns. Your probability distribution on 64bit pads is uniform so eliminating false SSNs dose not help you when tring to distinguish between real people, i.e. you are still just as likely to pick the president's SSN as the gun owners.

This is very simple probability here, you take a uniform distribution, cut out half the possible solutions, and you still have a uniform distribution on the rest.

Now if the gun maker uses a bad random number generator (non-uniform probability distribution) then we have a problem: you can look for common aspects to SSNs, find some of the bits of the random pad, and use the flaw in the random number generator to interpolate the rest of the random pad, and XOR. This is not really surprising.. crypto is only ever as good as it's random number generator.


"Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power." - Benito Mussolini
[ Parent ]

Your system may be breakable. (none / 0) (#132)
by roystgnr on Tue Jan 15, 2002 at 03:52:06 PM EST

And yes, the potential hole is the non-randomness (and small sample space) of social security numbers. Suppose the government has two registrations of the same gun, and XORs them with each other? Then the junk cancels itself out, and what you're left with is two SSNs XORed together. If there were 1 billion potential gun owners with SSNs, who therefore filled the SSN 9 digit space, then this would still be an unbreakable system.

However, not all SSNs are valid, and not all valid SSNs are possible or probable gun owners. By using nonexistant SSNs to whittle down the sample space (given XORed SSNs a^junk and b^junk, you can get a^b = (x^junk)^(b^junk), then for each non-existant SSN x, you can know that SSN x^(a^b) was not one of the two given registrants), by using statistical techniques (people are more likely to sell to others in the same city than to others in the same state than to others across the nation, gun owners fit certain demographics, etc.), or by (the easy "cheating" solution) matching background check dates to gun registration dates, I'll bet that a determined government agency could correctly decipher the random key on (and thus determine the current owner of) most guns.

[ Parent ]

Yup (none / 0) (#136)
by Weezul on Wed Jan 16, 2002 at 01:40:56 AM EST

I had not though about double registrations, but I agree that they would be a big problem.

I suppose it's not a problem if you only register guns when they are sold at a store and the cops can just trace down the chain of legal gun owners. Still, there are issues if some people break the chain by not keeping records of the sale.. or forge these records.

Actually, gn resales by end users may be quite common, so the government might really want to track these.. and even if the government did not care you would get double regstrations when gun store owners resold used guns without remembering that they were used guns.

I suppose you could assume that a gun would have fewer then n sales, provide n pads, and get people to tell the next buyer how many people had used the gun earilier.

Actually, if your technology allows you to use some very large number of pads then you can sumply pick a random pad and submit the XOR of it and your SSN. I suppose the probability of two people picking the same pad is low, but this would happen some statistically significant number of times in the database, so the government could identify a small number of gun owners. The problem here is that intemidation could be used to force large numbers of gun owners to give up their guns. I suppose we are talking about kilobytes of data being stored chemically in the gun at this point anyway.

"Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power." - Benito Mussolini
[ Parent ]
Yes and No (none / 0) (#131)
by MrAcheson on Tue Jan 15, 2002 at 03:05:02 PM EST

The majority of guns used in crimes are not stolen per se, they are acquired illegally. They may be stolen directly or they may be simply purchased illegally through other means. A scheme such as this would return the last legitimate person or entity to own the gun (whether it was reported stolen or not). This information could be tracked to follow the guns trail of ownership and more importantly this information can be used to cut the supply chain of illegal guns used in crimes.

Basically finding out a gun was stolen from joe shmoe may be really useful for the prevention of future crimes not necessarily for the prosecution of the current one.


These opinions do not represent those of the US Army, DoD, or US Government.


[ Parent ]
The biggest problem... (5.00 / 1) (#108)
by badturtle on Sun Jan 13, 2002 at 11:15:13 PM EST

...is that you can only track purchases made legally at stores and gun shows. How does this affect guns stolen or purchased from the back of a truck? Will I get arrested if my gun is stolen and used to kill someone?

[ Parent ]
Except that (none / 0) (#123)
by weirdling on Mon Jan 14, 2002 at 06:45:53 PM EST

We already have gun serial numbers. These weapons are tracked. Many municpalities and several states have registries.

Guess how many times such a system has been used to solve crime: zero. Not once. Not ever. There's no reason for enacting such a system if it won't help a bit.

As has been otherwise posted, guns used in crime are overwhelmingly gotten by illegal means, either through theft or through gun running, which grows in proportion to drug running.

I'm not doing this again; last time no one believed it.
[ Parent ]
Interesting, but moot (3.50 / 4) (#45)
by jabber on Sat Jan 12, 2002 at 01:51:53 AM EST

First off, for most Americans news happens 'over there', same as most disasters. Americans rush to the TV set, and watch the crisis until it passes.

Second, and more nefarious, is that once you have 'terrorist insurrections', there are no more 'popular uprisings'.

[TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"

Not quite... (3.50 / 2) (#61)
by Tau on Sat Jan 12, 2002 at 12:45:30 PM EST

...this poster's arguments are all predicated on the assumption that any revolution will take place due to direct oppresion of members of society. Assuming that's taking place most people will assume these 'terrorists' can't be so bad (yes, even if Sep11 is used as an example. There's worse things that an organisation can do to you than slam planes into your buildings... large-scale torture and genocide anyone?)

---
WHEN THE REVOLUTION COMES WE WILL MAKE SAUSAGES OUT OF YOUR FUCKING ENTRAILS - TRASG0
[ Parent ]
The military (2.71 / 7) (#64)
by char on Sat Jan 12, 2002 at 01:57:09 PM EST

The armed forces, by and large, will kill whomever they are ordered to kill. Fifty years ago, an entire side of my family minus one couple was brutally killed by people acting under orders. No standing army I know of has ever missed a chance to kill its own civilians. Brother will quite willingly fight brother. End draft registration.

Where did this occur? (3.00 / 1) (#83)
by silent communication on Sun Jan 13, 2002 at 02:12:55 AM EST

In Nazi Germany, I believe they took some care to disarm the populace beforehand. Exceptions were made for hunting firearms, but this process of categorizing firearms allowed the Nazis to create demographics on who had weapons.

With today's high-speed computers, these demographics would not be hard to generate. While they won't be absolutely accurate because of people ducking the system, there could be a quantifiable error margin.

[ Parent ]

Weapons in Germany (3.00 / 1) (#90)
by yooden on Sun Jan 13, 2002 at 02:11:35 PM EST

In Nazi Germany, I believe they took some care to disarm the populace beforehand. Exceptions were made for hunting firearms, but this process of categorizing firearms allowed the Nazis to create demographics on who had weapons.

I remember reading in a biography of Goebbels (by Ralf Georg Reuth) that the Nazis have been frightened of uprisings at various occasions, eg. during the progroms in November 1938. They just bullied their way through until the very, very end.

The German population was not defeated by their physical weakness, but by there idiocy and slothfulness.



[ Parent ]
Which US military? (3.00 / 1) (#84)
by occam on Sun Jan 13, 2002 at 02:47:01 AM EST

You said: The US military is made of volunteers who are themselves US citizens, and would not engage in a wholesale massacre of a large portion of their countrymen at the instigation of a corrupt regime.

Perhaps the BATF and many other groups of "American" military and paramilitary have large numbers of non-American troops for this reason. Is there any special reason to suppose that a military oppressor might rely entirely on American troops to carry out the physical oppressing?

Please post references on this matter (N/T) (none / 0) (#107)
by badturtle on Sun Jan 13, 2002 at 11:10:25 PM EST



[ Parent ]
"Power comes from the barrel of a gun" (4.50 / 2) (#85)
by ragnarok on Sun Jan 13, 2002 at 06:15:42 AM EST

That's Mao Tse Tung's view of the matter.

Then you have the "rabid hippy sort" like the often maligned RMS, who believe that "knowledge is power". Who is right?

Well, in the case of a coup a few years back in the Soviet Union, the plotters had all the guns. Poor Mikhail Sergeievitch Gorbachev had none. And no access to information or lines of communication either. The ones with this access were the ordinary people who were opposed to the CPSU plotters, and they turned the army around, from taking orders to opposing them.

The C3I - communication, coordination and control, plus intelligence, if I've remembered it rightly - are far more important than mere possession of weaponry - if you were ever seriously planning on staging a revolt against a U.S. government gone rabid, you would need to outwit the Pentagon's C3I first, and do it consistently, or better still, subvert it.

After all, if you've got serious media control, you can put your own convincing spin on things; and if you've got control of vital financial information you can trash a government without even trying. Or even if you can only take just a few educated guesses. Then you've got everybody on your side!


"And it came to healed until all the gift and pow, I, the Lord, to divide; wherefore behold, all yea, I was left alone....", Joseph Smith's evil twin sister's prophecies

Soviet, China, et al. (4.00 / 1) (#87)
by A Trickster Imp on Sun Jan 13, 2002 at 09:05:03 AM EST

It did take convincing portions of the army to switch sides, mainly the local tank cavalry to protect Boris, and the refusal of the general in charge of the airborne division to go in.

On the other hand, there's China. The first wave of troops went in and was pounded on verbally by the students. They faltered and failed.

The Chinese thugs learned, and assembled a second group, keeping them well away from the city and filled them with lies and propaganda. They went in and swept through far too quickly for any counter-propaganda to get them to falter.

I don't know how inevitable it is that a world end up with freedom as the base principle for existance. I would, though, be careful about assigning the word "inevitable" to something that requires so much blood and effort to make it happen.






[ Parent ]
communications matters (3.00 / 1) (#105)
by ragnarok on Sun Jan 13, 2002 at 11:00:52 PM EST

It did take convincing portions of the army to switch sides

Point taken. But that also happened in Manila. Perhaps the message is, the instant you win the troops over, you have won the battle.


"And it came to healed until all the gift and pow, I, the Lord, to divide; wherefore behold, all yea, I was left alone....", Joseph Smith's evil twin sister's prophecies
[ Parent ]

Red herring (3.00 / 4) (#91)
by dash2 on Sun Jan 13, 2002 at 02:15:01 PM EST

The effort expended on this article was wasted. The argument that gun owners would preserve freedom again a hypothetical future oppressive government is, pretty obviously, a red herring. No such government is likely to come into existence in modern Western democracies, armed or unarmed. Modern democratic states oppress minorities, not the majority: and do it without interference from gun-owners. (As another poster asked, where were the gun-owners when the Japanese were interned?)

The point about gun ownership and freedom is that if you are much more likely to be killed (as Americans are, due to their gun laws), then your freedom is decreased, because death is the ultimate curtailment of liberty. And if your communities are blighted by fear of the gun, so that children are afraid to play in the streets, then this is also a decrease in freedom.

Much as I admire US culture, on this issue I, and most other non-Americans, think America is mad. There are overwhelming arguments against letting people carry guns around. That is why nobody suggests it in any other advanced state.
------------------------
If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am become sounding brass, or a clanging cymbal.
Overwhelming? (5.00 / 3) (#100)
by tlaclair22 on Sun Jan 13, 2002 at 05:37:33 PM EST

Actually I as an American, think the overwhelming evidence lies on the private gun ownership side of the argument. Let's do a quick 20th century review. 1) Pol Pots kills 2 million Cambodians, 1/4th of the population. Unarmed. 2) Stalin unleashes the Great Terror, killing 20 million Russians. Unarmed. 3) Mao Tse-Tung, the most brutal butcher in the history of mankind kills millions. Unarmed. 4) Hitler unleashes German distrust of the Jews, killing millions. Unarmed. Do you really think that if we could go back in time and fully arm these oppressed people that history would not have a different story to tell?

Your use of the word "letting" tells me much about your mindset. It seems, at first glance, that you believe that govt is the superior and we are but children needing the guidance and weening of alleged leaders in order to live our lives correctly. Nothing could be farther from the truth. I am a free man, and as such, I declare what my rights are, I impose my worldview on those who would dominate me. The Feinsteins, Schumers, and Clintons of the world can stew in their own juices, they have little to offer those who chose the lives of the free man.

As far as advanced society's not needing guns, have a chat with a Swiss sometime. Ask them how many tens of thousands of people they lost in WW1, they'll tell you none. Ask them how many hundreds of thousands of people they lost in WW2 and they'll tell you none. Ask them how many people are killed every year in gun related homicides and they won't know, as the number is so low it's not even tracked.

----------------------------------------

**Insert pithy phrase here**

[ Parent ]
Underwhelming (3.00 / 2) (#101)
by yooden on Sun Jan 13, 2002 at 06:20:54 PM EST

Let's do a quick 20th century review.

I will only comment one of your stories, the one I know most about.




Hitler unleashes German distrust of the Jews, killing millions. Unarmed.

Both Jews and Gentile in Germany simply couldn't believe the degree of viciousness the Nazis displayed (or actually didn't). When the Jews couldn't have any doubts anymore, the Gentile wouldn't want to believe it.

If the existence of weapons would mean so much, why wasn't Hitler got rid of in 1943, when every soldier, from private to general, clearly saw that the end was inevitable? Why was the attempted coup in 1944 such an abmysal failure?

There is also something to learn from the Warsaw Ghetto rising: This was truly an exceptional act of courage and the only military deed I admire. But consider that it was only started when it was already hopeless.




The Feinsteins, Schumers, and Clintons (..)

I notice that you don't name the current president, who obsoletes about amendment per month.




Ask them how many hundreds of thousands of people they lost in WW2 and they'll tell you none.

Ask them how many hundreds of millions of German Marks they cleaned and you will get one of the reasons why they were not invaded.



[ Parent ]
Short Reply (4.00 / 2) (#102)
by tlaclair22 on Sun Jan 13, 2002 at 07:13:55 PM EST

I don't know why Hitler was not overthrown by his own military. I wish he had been. But the issue was civil ownership of weapons. If my info is correct the Germans themselves had been disarmed long before the war.

I would include the president had the issue been constitutional govt. But so far he is untested on the gun issue, so it wouldn't be fair to tar and feather him yet.

The record is clear on the Swiss/WW2 thing. Hitler wanted Switzerland and his generals told him no, they're armed to the teeth and we'll get stuck in their mountain passes for months or longer.

Read more here

[ Parent ]
Minor point (none / 0) (#122)
by weirdling on Mon Jan 14, 2002 at 06:41:41 PM EST

There *were* armed farmers in the woods during WWII that successfully defended themselves and rescued many Jews. These were primarily Jew and primarily avoided contact, making the Germans come to the pragmatic conclusion that it was not really worth hunting them down.

Further, if it is really true that armed partisans do not make a difference, why did the British dump thousands of guns into France without any care who got them?

I'm not doing this again; last time no one believed it.
[ Parent ]
No such government is likely? (5.00 / 3) (#106)
by badturtle on Sun Jan 13, 2002 at 11:05:20 PM EST

If Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and Benjamin Franklin were alive today, they would say that it already exists. Such a government is in existance in many western countries today. The only reason most people haven't noticed is that those in power have promoted ignorance. They institute public schools that do not teach, but rather indoctrinate. They encourge the people to engage in immoral activities, while professing to be against them, in order to get the people to care more about themselves than about their country. Then, when the people aren't watching, they restrict freedom.
When I was younger, I let my teachers think for me. They told me to say, "This is a free country." When I grew up, I thought for myself. I found myself saying, "This was a free country."
Because of the apathy promoted by the government, it is unlikely that there will ever be a mass uprising, or even realization that one is necessary, but if there is, it will probably be in the form laid out in the article.

[ Parent ]
I'm mad. You're mad. We're all mad. (none / 0) (#140)
by epepke on Fri Jan 18, 2002 at 10:01:02 AM EST

Much as I admire US culture, on this issue I, and most other non-Americans, think America is mad.

Of course we're mad. I'm mad. You're mad. We're all mad. The only difference is how the madness is worked out in different cultures. In the U.S., we like to have our madness diffused continuously, pretty much all the time. It's an extremely inefficient method, and we prefer it that way. Europeans are much more efficient. Instead of letting their madness dissipate, they save it up and have a cultural festival of madness every half century or so. The last two were big enough to be called world wars. Then, between these festivals, they take advantage of the predictable homogeneity that comes from having all your minorities six feet underground to pretend that their shit don't stink "Yeah, we're all peaceful now, unless you count those Irish or Gypsies or Whatevers, and they deserve it." But Europe did have a little bit of fun only about a decade ago with that ethnic cleansing in the former Yugoslavia. I'm sure they're all pissed off that the U.S. spoiled their game.

There are as many ways of expressing madness as there are cultures. Mexican madness doesn't involve too many guns, but it does involve a lot of machetes. There's a very funny Mexican joke that involves cutting someone's throat and pulling out the tongue, so the corpse looks goofy. Ha ha. Chinese traditional madness involved cutting off people's heads from horseback. The traditional "topknot" is actually a handle and was enforced by law so that soldiers didn't have to do too much work. They probably had good unions. Japanese madness involved making people so ashamed they'd just kill themselves, a brilliant idea. And the list goes on. Every culture has its own madness, which its members consider perfectly sane, while they shake their heads at all the Others.

There are overwhelming arguments against letting people carry guns around.

There are overwhelming arguments against everything. Trouble is that there are no overwhelming arguments for anything. In case you haven't noticed, ten thousand years of recorded history hasn't resulted in anything like a permanent, sustainable idyllic paradise. There's always something.


The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett


[ Parent ]
Armies are trained to follow orders. (3.00 / 1) (#97)
by Rhodes on Sun Jan 13, 2002 at 03:17:01 PM EST

Look at the depression era crackdown of veterns by none other than Douglas MacArthur, and the opening question is answered.

Killing versus Controlling (4.00 / 1) (#99)
by Hobbes2100 on Sun Jan 13, 2002 at 04:19:08 PM EST

Hello all,

There seems to be a premise that runs something like this: if I have bigger guns than you do, then I can control you. This is, of course, only true to the extent that you care about your life. What is mostly true is that: if I have bigger guns then you, then I can kill you more easily.

Why does this matter?

Well, to vastly simply an incredibly complicated event, consider the involvement of the United States in Vietnam. The United States didn't do so well. They had bigger, badder guns, tanks, planes, etc. But that didn't result in the desired outcome: control of the country of Vietnam.

Sure, the US could have simply destroyed (even more so than it did) the country, but then there would have been nothing left to control.

So, the point is this. A powerful military, like the United States has, can certainly project a lot of power and do a lot of killing. However, it can't, in and of itself, require people to do anything they don't want to. Of course, choosing annihilation isn't done lightly.

Regards,
Mark

PS This is sort of tied into the notion that air power can't hold land, it can only make it easier to take. The infantry will always have a job.


Sed quis custodiet ipsos custodes? --Iuvenalis
But who will guard the guardians themselves? -- Juvenal

Guns are dangerous (1.15 / 13) (#103)
by Reginald Johnson on Sun Jan 13, 2002 at 10:26:17 PM EST

This is a stupid conversation on this web page. Guns kill people, there is no question about it. Come to my neighborhood where I grew up and you will see that clearly. My best friend was shot because he was with the wrong crowds, who all had guns. Look at how guns decimate the African-American population in America. We now are a smaller group than the Mexican-Americans because of guns. They have problems too. I think we must all unite against these criminal things and take away the guns by force. Nobody should have a gun. They are for murderers.
----Give me my forty acres and a mule.----
Bzzzzzt... (2.00 / 2) (#109)
by gnovos on Mon Jan 14, 2002 at 01:40:06 AM EST

Wrong answer, but thaks for playing. While you make a wonderful emotionally tinged point that certianly sounds great as a sound-bite, it is naieve and, frankly, unintelligent.

In a world where guns are stuctly forbidden, the man who has an illegal weapon is king. "Nobody should have a gun" is all well and good, but in reality, SOMEONE will have a gun. Even if it's just a zip-gun, somone will have one. And if you have laws that prevent the law abiding folk from carrying guns than you are guaranteed to have a non-law abiding person carry a gun. Which, logically, is a more frightening choice: Everone with a gun, or only criminals with guns?

A Haiku: "fuck you fuck you fuck/you fuck you fuck you fuck you/fuck you fuck you snow" - JChen
[ Parent ]

Oh, please (none / 0) (#121)
by weirdling on Mon Jan 14, 2002 at 06:34:57 PM EST

What you are forgetting is that most of that violence is in inner cities, where guns are already mostly illegal. Now, imagine, if you will, that the state steps in, as it often has, and enacts a state-wide no-exceptions concealed-carry permit, you will find that crime goes down, not to mention the numbers of murders, and that cities benefit the most, as, obviously, the ability to defend one's self is most useful where there is the most risk.

What you would do better to rail against are the forces that caused the crime in your neighborhoo, such as HUD and AFDC.

I'm not doing this again; last time no one believed it.
[ Parent ]
armed populace (4.00 / 1) (#128)
by kpeerless on Mon Jan 14, 2002 at 07:56:53 PM EST

I believe that every Swiss male citizen is required by law to keep his government issued rifle in his house and in good working order. One assumes then that every Swiss householder is armed.

In Canada, gun registration has been an utter failure. The Government has recently waived the fee and has promised to revisit the legislation with a view to ameliorating it.

So the Swiss and the Canadians have plenty of guns but as a general rule don't often shoot each other. Americans, on the other hand, shoot each other amazingly often (more New Yorkers murdered each other last year than were killed in 9/11) and the Capitol, Washington DC, is occassionally the statistical murder capitol of the country.

Perhaps it has something to do with the USian propensity to see their historical criminals, brigands, cut-throats and psychopaths as heroes, and to see folks that hold different views as enemies. One only has to watch American television or movies to see this.

Also, pistols in Canada are very difficult to own and almost impossible to carry around legally in your pocket. I assume that the Swiss have the same view regarding pistols.

So there you have it... a recipe for violence... arm a populace that idolizes its historical brigands and sees an enemy behind every bush (no pun intended dubya) and you will be saddled with argueably the most violent society in the so called civilized world.

Perhaps it helps if you are arrogantly convinced that you are RIGHT all the time.

Huh? (none / 0) (#139)
by davidduncanscott on Thu Jan 17, 2002 at 05:13:12 PM EST

more New Yorkers murdered each other last year than were killed in 9/11
One only has to watch American television or movies to see this.
Well, there's your trouble. Perhaps if you switched from Shaft to facts, you'd be aware that there were 630-some murders in New York last year, quite a bit fewer than the 9/11 figure (a factor of four, at least).
argueably the most violent society in the so called civilized world.
I'm just curious though -- have you watched TV or movies from, say, Rio de Janeiro, where the murder rate of 69 per 100,000 people is some 8 times higher than New York? How about such barbaric cesspits as Stockholm and Copenhagen? (In fairness, those are 1990 figures -- New York's homicide rate was higher ten years ago as well)

[ Parent ]
armed populace (none / 0) (#130)
by tincat2 on Tue Jan 15, 2002 at 04:29:23 AM EST

corrupt regime?..............puh....leaze, this gun thing has gotten to be wearisome to the xtreme. i don't carry a gun and may or may not own a gun at any given time. the risk of an accident involving children or the incompetent is something that i hope i will always be able to keep at zero at least as far as my part in any such occurence is concerned. but, for the life of me, i can't grok how anyone could feel it was in his or her best interest to be forbidden the possession of a personal defense weapon,lethal and portable{lethal because we have no sure fire{no pun} non-lethal device available, while at the same time he or she would permit the existence of an armed elite to patrol and control society's daily commerce. to protect us? from what? we have no guns. or is that cliche on the mark...only outlaws will have guns. even the army only needs guns to defend the homeland. yes take them away, but from everyone no exceptions. develop reliable restraint and capture mechanisms. see how far that argument gets you with your local constabulary aka aspiring swat team wannabes. then you will understand perhaps that barbaric as the situation may be, i hope enough of us refuse to submit to these unceasing reasoned pleas to let "those trained and properly equipped" watch over our safety as we pursue our regulated destinies and give up any thought of resistance to an ok for them bad idea for me mentality so that we can remain for the most part unarmed and dangerous.

One other factor (none / 0) (#134)
by streetlawyer on Tue Jan 15, 2002 at 09:18:49 PM EST

I think you also need to consider the role of the reactionary element of the populace as well as the revolutionary. History would certainly suggest that the assumption that all of the civilian population would be on the side of the civilians against the soldiers is probably very wrong.

--
Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
the view from behind the iron sights... (none / 0) (#137)
by daevt on Thu Jan 17, 2002 at 12:38:02 AM EST

i am a gun owner. i own a vintage M44 carbine. i work with a member of our armed forces. i do not believe in the use of violence to solve problems, or even in self defense; i own my weapon for historical purposes. my friend in the armed forces however, believes in the right to bare arms and all of this. he has told myself and my fellow coworkes on more than one occasion, that if the government ever tried to round up guns or gun owners, he, and his unit have all decided in advanced that they would take their equipment home and defend their brethern's right to bare arms. i think that you will find few people in our armed forces who would cooperate with a despot for long, if at all. purhaps the author should spend less time looking for the evil in things like government, and the worthlessness in the ownership of guns, and refocus their creative abilities in a way that would be benificial to the human race. we don't need yet another liberal theory on why guns should be removed from the hands of the populus.

Perhaps (none / 0) (#138)
by spiralx on Thu Jan 17, 2002 at 06:53:56 AM EST

You should realise that one data point does not really constitute any evidence for a position, and consider that historically, armed forces have supported many corrupt regimes. In fact I'd imagine your founding fathers would label the current US government (whether Democrat or Republican) a "corrupt regime" compared to what they imagined the US government to look like.

we don't need yet another liberal theory on why guns should be removed from the hands of the populus.

Where did I say that? Oh that's right, I didn't. In fact, I made a point of not making any value judgements on owning guns. You're the one reading things that aren't there.

You're doomed, I'm doomed, we're all doomed for ice cream. - Bob Aboey
[ Parent ]

Absolutely not! (none / 0) (#141)
by sean23007 on Sun Jan 20, 2002 at 10:43:55 PM EST

Does anyone in the world honestly think that if the United States government became a corrupt dictatorship, an armed populace would be able to overturn it? But lets assume, for a moment, that the US government could be corrupted and that the armed mob could overturn it. Would the mob reinstate democracy? There is no way an unruly mob with the capability to overturn a corrupt dictatorship based on military might would ever put a democratic regime back on top. Any time an armed revolution succeeds, it only manages to replace the government it rebelled against with a mirror image or an even more repressive one, but for a few rare instances in which democracy wins out. Of course, these are what are publicized in order to make the rebels seem like they are being oppressed and that they are justified in instigating a revolution. Note: the US government frequently funds and supports a foreign militia that is trying to overthrow its' country's oppressive dictatorial regime, and when our government is questioned about it, they respond that we are favoring the little guy, and helping out the oppressed. The media backs them up and shows how terrible life is in that country. But once the old regime is gone and the new one is in place, no one ever sees how little has changed. People will create a government based only on that with which they are familiar, and most mobs are familiar only with oppression (otherwise they would lack a righteous reason to rebel in the first place).

Perhaps someday a day will come when people begin to realize that you can avoid oppression without shooting someone, and that there is only one reason to have a handgun: to shoot someone.

Lack of eloquence does not denote lack of intelligence, though they often coincide.
Does an armed populace ensure freedom? Yes.. (none / 0) (#142)
by gridwerk on Thu Jan 24, 2002 at 06:47:34 PM EST

and you have to look no further then Nazi invasion plans, which stated that, because of the Swiss shooting skills, Switzerland would be difficult to conquer and pacify. I would also like to point out nobody has taken on Switzerland in a war since the 12th century, except Napoleon. Homicide is tied to a willingness to resort to violence, not the mere presence of guns! By contrast, homicide rates are highest in the underdeveloped countries, many of which ban private firearm possession. In some, private murder does not compare to the genocidal murder committed by governments against their unarmed people.

Does an armed populace ensure freedom? | 142 comments (138 topical, 4 editorial, 1 hidden)
Display: Sort:

kuro5hin.org

[XML]
All trademarks and copyrights on this page are owned by their respective companies. The Rest © 2000 - Present Kuro5hin.org Inc.
See our legalese page for copyright policies. Please also read our Privacy Policy.
Kuro5hin.org is powered by Free Software, including Apache, Perl, and Linux, The Scoop Engine that runs this site is freely available, under the terms of the GPL.
Need some help? Email help@kuro5hin.org.
My heart's the long stairs.

Powered by Scoop create account | help/FAQ | mission | links | search | IRC | YOU choose the stories!