As the collective pressures of modernity batter America and her 360 million inhabitants into a nearly unrecognizable shape – certainly it would be unrecognizable now to its founders — and as old freedoms and responsibilities fall to the sword of frenzied cultural crusaders, many of us may soon wake to find ourselves living and working deep behind the lines of a threatening and alien culture. We may look out from our windows one morning to see swarms of energized militants – many of them children — celebrating our defeat in the streets, razing our strongholds, looting our treasuries, and tearing down symbols meant to memorialize a hard-won and collective history of creating and preserving freedom.
And if history is any guide, we may even, eventually, be put to the sword ourselves.
A bold movement in that direction was recently made here in Oregon, when an “Interfaith” religious group from Portland introduced a proposal, Initiative Petition 43, which would require gun owners — among other draconian measures — to surrender or register their “assault weapons” with the government or face felony charges. The proposal is actually much broader in its aims, and I would recommend reading it if you would like a short-course in the language of 21st century tyranny.
Sadly, the only tangible result of this petition, should it eventually become law, will be the forced conversion of tens of thousands of law-abiding citizens into criminals. It will decidedly NOT reduce firearm related violence, which is its stated purpose.
But it will make history, and of the very worst kind.
But here’s the rub for us law-abiders: citizens who possess and use “semi-automatic weapons” – for whatever reasons, and which fairly describes EVERY firearm that is not fully automatic — are not going to win this fight in the long term. We may even lose it in the shorter term.
With their ranks now swelled by millions of emotional know-nothings coached in our own schoolhouses — and who have their dander worked up and their empathy-uniforms on – and who in many cases are led, as in the crusading days of yore, by mere children – these new crusaders are on the determined march to eliminate a fundamental freedom that Americans have enjoyed for centuries, and to forever rearrange the American citizen’s relationship to his government.
For whatever mysterious reason, this movement has lost sight of the notion that human beings are responsible for human behavior. They have become fixated on inanimate objects, as if those objects had a life independent of their users. And so, in a perfect reflection of a now somnambulant and utterly dronelike citizenry all-too eager to surrender the hard work of thinking and reasoning to the wafting pheromones of the hive — computer servers, memes, and mere emotion — they are setting out to strip human beings of their essential freedoms and to replace them with fantasies derived from magical — almost medieval — thinking.
In a decaying culture freedoms typically vanish by increments. Things fall apart. The Knights of the First Crusade, for instance, occupied the ancient city of Antioch long before the city’s Citadel finally fell. That comparison is instructive because the preservation of rights in a collapsing culture is essentially a kind of siege warfare. In this case, we are the defenders of Antioch, the walls have already fallen, Bohemond and his cohort are having dinner in the city below, and we are merely holding out on half-rations while praying fervently for a relief column to arrive on the horizon.
But nobody ever wins a siege, and the relief column isn’t coming.
I have long held that Americans with an interest in sustaining the best of our culture – a term I use in the broadest, most inclusive sense – have for some time been living behind enemy lines. That’s because the general trends of American history, as reflected in its politics and the throw-away mentalities of its people, are clearly aimed toward the eventual exertion of limitless government controls and the ultimate extinguishing of individual freedoms. There is simply no alternative course for an obsessively consumerist “growth economy”, and the slave mentalities those pursuits and conditions both create and nurture.
This sort of thing – the incremental loss of rights — may be inevitable over the natural course of empire. History shows that empires such as ours have a typical lifespan in the neighborhood of 250 years, but it is difficult for a close cultural observer to avoid the notion that in our digital age the cycle appears – like everything else around us – to be developing speed wobbles.
Yuval Noah Harari, in Homo Deus, writes, “On the practical level modern life consists of a constant pursuit of power within a universe devoid of meaning. Modern culture is the most powerful in history, and it is ceaselessly researching, inventing, discovering and growing. At the same time, it is plagued by more existential angst than any previous culture.”
Traditional religious institutions, for all of their faults, have typically been bulwarks against government intrusion in America because their own freedoms were always, and also, at stake. But in the modern age they have failed to provide solutions for any problems whatsoever, and have now been exposed as reactionary to the point of irrelevance. And because of that they are increasingly allied with government as a means of mere survival.
Yet our political characters – as is demonstrated daily — are also deprived of any creativity whatsoever, and have no solutions for modern conundrums either. And finally, after decades of aggressive orthodox, socialist, and evolutionary humanism, all in one manner or another pushing the notion that “humans must draw from within their inner experiences not only the meaning of their own lives, but also the meaning for the entire universe,” we have achieved an end result whereby the only solutions to cultural frictions are found in personal “feelings” as both the creator and arbiter of meaning.
So that, like children, we have generations of adults who now believe that if it makes them feel bad, it must be bad. And, as evidenced in the gun-ban discussion and elsewhere, when the issue comes to a vote, they will vote based on feelings rather than considered reason and acquired knowledge.
Harari tracks an historical formula for knowledge, which is an interesting exercise in visualizing the workings of culture over time. His formula looks like this:
Medieval Europe— Knowledge = Scriptures x Logic.
After the Scientific Revolution— Knowledge = Empirical Data x Mathematics.
After Humanism— Knowledge = Experiences x Sensitivity
As identified by Harari, the origins of modern American cultural angst seems supremely accurate, with the added note that all of that collective cultural existential angst tends to manifest in the only solution anxiety can ever produce: the exertion of even greater controls. That is particularly true when the source of that angst springs from an external source who doggedly insists on individual freedoms. Therefore, the thinking seems to be, if people who believe in and exercise individual freedoms are finally criminalized, the illusion of control will have exorcized all of that troublesome angst.
Except that we know it doesn’t.
Propositions that seek to disarm honest citizens, or to convert law-abiding individuals into criminals — now commonly disguised under the unassailable and entirely emotional banners of “public safety” — are in fact correctly seen as highly aggressive moves by very dangerous and unstable people.
Love them or hate them, the NRA has been dead right about the fundamental motives and long-range vision of gun-grabbers all along.
The second point Harari makes is that we have created a modern world that no longer believes in purpose, only in cause. “If modernity has a motto,” Harari writes, “it is ‘shit happens’”.
Which, when it is finally boiled down to its essential parts, we will discover is precisely the intellectual underpinnings of the insatiable crusaders dancing in the streets outside our windows when the Citadel finally falls.
And it will bear a remarkable similarity to what a veterano street gang member once told me after stabbing a rival nearly to death: “Shit happens, homey.”
In this circumstance, after “shit happens,” reason will be rendered meaningless, and appeals to meaning will fall on deaf ears — which is already the reality. In the case of firearms, ecstatic crusaders for safety have taken up yet another cross and are on the righteous march toward the promise of a Jerusalem that history proves they will never be able to conquer and hold.
But the freedoms they kill along the way will likely be gone forever.
Many among the anti-gun crusaders also claim to be socialists, which is a remarkably backwards leap for people who often claim — in the same breath — to be progressives.
That’s because socialism, which is also a religion — suffers from the same problems that the traditional religions of antiquity are facing: they are no longer relevant solutions to modern problems. “Socialists have failed to keep pace because they are holding onto ideas that Marx and Lenin formulated in the age of steam,” Harari writes. No one turns to the solutions of antiquity, in the modern era, for realistic problem solving. What is more, it is interesting to ponder the question of who in the 21st Century is more likely to be sought after for solutions: The Church, or Google?
Silicon Valley is the modern Vatican, and is the modern-day church most people are now attending.
I bring this up only because it is no accident that the Oregon Initiative Petition was born out of an “Interfaith religious group,” whatever that is. The initiative itself is, predictably, nakedly reactionary, a flawed and dubious farce equal in its deception to The Donation of Constantine, one of the world’s great hoaxes carried out in the effort to assume and maintain unassailable power over the individual.
A bill disarming citizens is precisely the kind of nonsense one would expect to be issued from a group of people whose own daydreamy solutions have been ineffectual since their inception, whose entire history is steeped in fraudulent claims of divinity, by unconscionable wars of conquest, slavery, child sexual abuse, and assassinations, and whose only real purpose from the outset has been to control the minds, bodies, and coffers of otherwise free peoples by the precise application of fear — ultimately backed by the imminent threat of annihilation or eternal damnation.
With a history like that, what other kind of initiative could an “interfaith” assembly of theologists, emasculated and rendered irrelevant by the realities of time and progress, possibly produce?
The constitution was meant to give us some measure of protection from all of that. It was meant to protect us from government, but also from the occasional wave of shining crusaders seeking to sack our citadels – which are always and only the shared recognition that individuals have rights that shall not be infringed.
Yet, despite clear historical warnings, there have been notable failures of reason and of constitutional protection in America, most notably the Prohibition-era, which succeeded only in growing the power of government while making utter scumbags and actual criminals enormously wealthy, while simultaneously having ZERO impact on alcohol abuse and criminalizing millions of innocent people. At least, in this case, prohibition of alcohol is one of the exceedingly rare cases of a mistake corrected.
Which is a fact unlikely to be duplicated as it regards firearms. You can probably discern for yourself why that might be.
And what is even more astonishing is that this latest surge to exert power in all of the wrong places, and against all of the wrong people, will find plenty of nitwits in the Oregon legislature – many of them proud, if somewhat confused, progressives — eager to take up the same cross of futility and carry the cause on to the walls of Jerusalem.
What to do?
When living behind the lines, or working undercover, it is imperative to be discriminating about which hill to die on, and to be careful when telegraphing one’s intentions. Survival of the individual, and by extension the community of people working for the preservation of freedoms, demands at least some level of strategic discretion.
But here’s what I know, and here is where I am willing to publicly plant my lance — knowing full well that declarations such as this may boomerang one day on the proclaimer.
And it’s actually quite simple as a statement of intent:
While there is breath in my body, and so long as I have the means to resist, I will NEVER surrender my firearms to the government or its agents, nor will I negotiate away my rights. I will violently resist anyone who attempts to take them away by force.
I have concluded that, as one mere man surveying the long view of history and its produce, this is the only course of action for an honest citizen and a free being who intends — heart and soul — to remain free.
Come what may.
 The Catholic Church long proclaimed that on “30 March 315 the Roman Emperor Constantine signed an official decree granting Pope Sylvester I and his heirs perpetual control of the western part of the Roman Empire.” The popes maintained this document in their archives, and used it as a powerful propaganda tool “whenever they faced opposition from ambitious princes, quarrelsome cities or rebellious peasants”…Except that, today, in a rare display of scholarly unanimity, “ALL historians agree that The Donation of Constantine was forged in the papal court sometime in the 8th Century.” Harari, Homo Deus