Thursday, February 7, 2013

Sacralization of Self-determination?

I dispatched a missive to my brain trust this afternoon...

On background, there is an excellent series from CBC Radio Ideas podcast titled Myth of the SecularEpisode Five (there are seven, earlier episodes are great too) examines the idea that "All significant concepts of the modern theory of the state are secularized theological concepts." - Carl Schmitt, Political Theology.  We the people elevate the significance of the State to that of an ideal worth killing or dying for.  What then of a country - the USA (is there another that comes close?) - that idealizes the value of the individual above even the secular State or other forms of community? 

In that context, I'm knocking around some ideas related to the current guns and ammo buying panic.

My thesis:

While gun sellers have their profit motive, the panicked gun buyers are driven by fear.  They give this fear many names, but it goes beyond unmet need, beyond losing a hobby, beyond not being allowed to hunt, and even beyond being denied the ability to defend oneself against crime.  It penetrates deep into (unrecognized?) concepts underlying the Second Amendment, and into a place where classical liberal values do battle with atavistic impulses.  This fear tears away at the perception of one's role in relationship to the state, community, and family.  Is the Second Amendment a sacralization of the ideal that the individual common man must retain an unmitigated ability to shape the state by violence?  While the rights guaranteed in the Bill of Rights are individual rights, they can only be applied in community.  Is the concept of a "well-regulated militia" - volunteers from the community engaged in the common defense - lost on modern conservatives, these reactionary white men, struggling with the loss of a world their fathers and grandfathers knew?  Is personal sovereignty a virtue to be held above all others?  Is this a sacralization of self-determination? 

I am afraid they will take away my guns... (and with them my heritage, identity, property, power)

I am afraid they will take away... (by threat of force, violate my sovereignty, reject my dignity, extinguish my ability to resist)

I am afraid they... (the anti-gunners, soccer moms, anti-hunters, liberals, environmentalists, minorities, urban elites, non-Christians, Democrats, a black president, blue states, federal regulators, the Supreme Court, international treaties, the UN, the Other)

I am afraid... (of loss of control, status, or face; of cognitive dissonance; of fear itself)

I... (which I hold more sacred than family, community, or state)


  1. Dangerous Visions indeed, with the creation and maintenance of state nothing more than a well oiled mix of technologies. I think you know where I'm coming from ;)

    Not sure I want to hack this out in emails. However, I would speculate that at the core of every man's fear is really the lack of control over his environment. In society of course, the lack of control for individuals today is heightened, because each man is often delegated an ever smaller slice of responsibility. All in the name of efficiency and progress. That's why I feel (like many others before me) that we are really all slaves of our society. Some more than others.

    And the gun advocates? It's makes perfect sense that they love hunting, and protect their property lines with an arsenal of weapons. They seek dominance over a world that is outside the bounds of their control. This is not unnatural, mind you. Many philosophers have pinpointed this exact problem form various angles. We could discuss them one by one, but like I said: hacking that out will take a great deal of time.

    I don't know. Maybe this makes no sense. Let me know, and in the meantime, I'll check out the Ideas podcast you spoke of.

  2. To be clear, I'm a gun guy - for sport, hunting, and work - but I do not have a bloody-minded insurrection on my mind.

  3. I tend to get caught up in the ironies of the whole thing. The same people who believe I cant be trusted to posess certain firearms, strangly seem ok with me using them as a soldier, and I dont think its because they believe a veteran is so much more trustworthy, ala LTC. Dubois in "Starship Troopers". I think it ticks them off that someone needs to have guns, so they believe the soldiers will mindlessly toe the line.
    I'm not terribly concerned about the banning of assault weapons, since many groups have done quite well against "modern" armies with less. It isnt the gun, but the man, or woman for that matter that is dangerous. Another Heinlein philosophy.
    While I personally believe that the anti gun folk wish to mold us into a big England, I'm quite willing to let the people decide like they're supposed to.

  4. Will you be as glib when the Gestapo visit to take your sniper rifles? There is a tactical boot out there waiting to leave the imprint of its lug sole on your face.

    1. I currently have a lot of faith in the political process if not doing the right thing, at least not being well organised enough to do the wrong thing too badly.
      The current gun rights debate has sides so divided that there are a growing number of sheriffs publicly saying that enforcement wont be happening. The loss of cohesion on this issue in the law enforcement community shows that the powers that be dont have the support they need. Even the private sector is reacting by refusing to supply materiel and services that the public arent allowed.
      The military is schooled extensively to use initiative and that they are not bound to follow unlawful orders.
      While I may sound a bit glib, it is based on my observations.