Archive for April, 2007

Citizen Defense vs. Overweight, Timid SWAT Teams

Tuesday, April 24th, 2007

Alexander Cockburn at Counterpunch fucking nails it - isn’t he on “teh Left”?

The Virginia Tech terrible massacre should prompt a radical review of the utility of SWAT teams which now infest almost every community in America. Each time there’s a hostage taking or a mass murderer on the rampage, one sees the same familiar sight: overweight SWAT men, doubled up under the weight of their costly artillery, lumbering along in their body armor and then hiding behind trees or cars or walls while the killer goes about his business. SWAT teams perform most efficiently when shooting down unarmed street people menacing them with cellphones.

The answer is to disband SWAT teams and kindred military units, and return to the idea of voluntary posses or militias: a speedy assembly of citizen volunteers with their own weapons. Such a body at Columbine or Virginia Tech might have saved many lifes. In other words: make the Second Amendment live up to its promise.

In 2005 I listened to some earnest ACLU type at a meeting in Garberville, an hour from where I live, deliver a judicious speech about Taser guns–a new toy for the cops, whereby a person can be zapped with 50,000 volts. The ACLU guy was torn. On the one hand, he reasoned that the Taser — being purportedly, though not actually non-lethal — is better than a 12-gauge or high powered rifle. On the other hand, there is the possibility of “improper use”. His answer: more regulation. He didn’t entertain the actual course of events, namely that Tasers have now been added to the means whereby the police can kill or terrorize people and that regulation will be zero.

The left complain about SWAT teams, but doesn’t see that the progressives bear a lot of responsibility for their rise. If you confer the task of social invigilation and protection to professional janissaries–cops — and deny the right of self and social protection to ordinary citizens, you end up with crews of over-armed thugs running amok under official license, terrorizing the disarmed citizens. In the end you have the whole place run by the Army or the federalized National Guard, as is increasingly evident now with the overturning of the Posse Comitatus laws forbidding any role for the military in domestic law enforcement.

I cannot tell you how happy I am seeing somebody on the left identify progressivism as part of the problem. The central task in the evolution of leftism in this country, now, is to rid itself of the vestiges of progressive thought - managerialism, professionalism, large-scale organization as an end in itself - and get back to its decentralized, populist roots.

Now, if we can just get some left wing militias in this country, we’ll be all set.


Monday, April 23rd, 2007

There’s some scary stuff on PostSecret, but this takes the cake:


More about Rex 84 here.

One other random tidbit: isn’t “continuity of government” an usurpation of the human rights asserted by the Founders - by definition?

That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

If the government is rendered unable to lawfully govern - regardless of whether that is the result of invasion or civil insurrection - then that government can be considered dissolved and no longer a legitimate authority (assuming for the moment that it ever is). I mean, if the government has lost any ability or interest in defending our persons, why even recognize it? If an invasion occurs successfully, then it’s over - and resistance is far more likely to occur in a decentralized, guerrilla fashion than as an activity coordinated by the same incompetent and spineless bureaucrats we deal with today. But moreover, is there any real difference between our “public servants” operating as a sort of Vichy regime for hostile invaders and being a hostile sovereign, independent government? Under either scenario, ignoring the State is the only sane option, regardless of the stakes.

I wonder if the U.S. government has any super-secret military plans to encourage and coordinate the smooth transition to “new Government” being instituted by the People. Of course, I’m sure they have all sorts of plans for new government that they’d like to institute.

Managed comfort trumps physical security on campus

Thursday, April 19th, 2007

It occurs to me while reviewing the endless electronic reflection on the VT incident that the gun control crowd and their sympathizers don’t offer any rational, realistic arguments against allowing students to carry on campus. I have yet to see one person actually volunteer a concrete reason why it should be disallowed. What we get instead are appeals to emotion based on perceived feelings of vulnerability.

From an otherwise decent article by Lila Rajiva:

However much we may support the second amendment, do we really want students packing heat in their book bags, as filled with alcohol, drugs and partying as most campuses are today?

From a VT administrator:

The writer would have us believe that a university campus, with tens of thousands of young people, is safer with everyone packing heat. Imagine the continual fear of students in that scenario. We’ve seen that fear here, and we don’t want to see it again.

From a journalist:

Moreover, guns on campuses could turn smaller confrontations into major incidents. As drinking is a large part of university social life, a common drunken brawl could escalate into a deadly duel if firearms were present.

Many students don’t get to hand-pick their roommates in residence; imagine the discomfort of sharing a small room with a stranger who keeps a gun under his or her pillow.

If there are guns in residence and around campus, violence could spread beyond the university confines and into bars and other nearby places.

What do all of these opinions have in common? Simple: they are examples of disarming people on the grounds of vague fears. We just don’t like the idea of students carrying firearms. Students are unpredictable and potentially irresponsible, and that scares us, so let’s take that idea off the table. Let’s ignore the fact that guns are just as deadly to the bad guys as the good guys, and that shooting a bad guy is one very straightforward and undeniable approach to solving the problem.

What is a left libertarian?

Friday, April 13th, 2007

Since the Patrick Henry Supper Club meeting, I’ve been thinking about a lot of the questions I’ve received on what left libertarianism is. I can’t answer for anybody but myself, but I figure this is as good a place as any to try.

First, I should address the term “left”, since many find it grating and statist. My use of the term rests on its original usage since the French revolutionary era, stemming from the seating arrangements of the French legislature. Those who supported the ancien régime - the status quo, the establishment, the ruling class - sat on the right side of the assembly. Those who opposed the old guard (for whatever reason) seated themselves on the Left. Of course, opposing the establishment is not an endeavor unique to the Left, strictly speaking; nevertheless, it has been the Left that throughout history has consistently worked against authority. The Left has not always been libertarian, but the farther left one goes, the freer one gets, until you end up on the so-called “infantile Left” that was far too anarchic for somebody like Lenin. The central theme of leftism, at its heart, has been resistance to the status quo. That is the sense in which I’m a leftist (and the sense in which somebody like Stalin or Clinton could hardly qualify when compared to other thinkers and activists on the Left).

My leftist principles would not be alien to other libertarians. Abolishing aggression and fraud is still the ultimate means to libertarian ends. Where I find I differ with more mainstream libertarians is on my speculative vision of what those ends look like if the principles or liberty are consistently followed to their natural conclusion. Yes, it is a cultural issue, but not just that - left libertarians extend the analysis of the State consistently to uncover those aspects of the economy, society, and environment which are affected by the pernicious influence of the State in some way. A world without institutionalized violence, they believe, will necessarily free humanity to organize in a variety of ways that will change the face of the planet.