A Dialog between Jeffry R. Fisher and Karen Ferrara
from the Triple Nine Society's tns E-mail List
Jeffry Fisher <email@example.com>
Karen Ferrara <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Jeff: Guns are held in reserve for the day that some president declares a state of emergency and disbands Congress.
Karen: Are you saying that there might come a time when the government
would declare a takeover of the American people, disbanding all signs of democracy and
elected officials, and then we'd lose all our individual rights?
Jeff: There are several ways that our rights could be suspended or usurped. The bald aggression by an unvarnished tyrant is the least likely, and as long as millions of civilians hold unregistered infantry rifles I'd say it's impossible, though a madman might still make a bloody attempt. However, take away those rifles, and what is left to stop someone from declaring martial law?
Think about it. Sure, the overthrow of Constitutional government is farfetched, but the question remains, what could prevent it? The natural goodness of every ambitious politician and every general who rises to the top?
Realize that it must be every one of them, because it takes only one Napoleon or Hitler to ruin a whole country. Realize too that, as farfetched as a coup seems, the fact that we even have historical examples to offer means that we dare not dismiss the possibility.
Vigilant citizens note what conditions inhibit coups and rail against those who are trying, perhaps unwittingly, to remove those conditions. Weapon ownership correlates well with preserving liberty; therefore, despite the low odds of a coup (now), those who want to preserve liberty think it prudent to have common firearm ownership.
By analogy, consider your home or your car: theft is wrong and the odds are small that a criminal would choose yours in a peaceful neighborhood; still, do you lock them? Most people do, and many employ alarms as well; it's prudent, that's all.
More subtle and more likely than a brazen coup is the emergency that needs emergency powers to cope. Emergencies are risky times for free republics; civil liberties are always trampled, even here in the USA, and ambitious men usually (in disarmed societies) keep their emergency powers even after the emergency has passed.
In the War Between the States, Lincoln, among other things, ordered thousands of people in the north to be arrested and jailed without lawyers, trials, or hearings before judges (presidents can do that during an emergency). He probably would have relinquished that and other dictatorial powers, but, tragically, he was assassinated before we could find out. A Vice President sympathetic to the South rose to the presidency and was subsequently impeached, surviving removal by one vote in the Senate. Had the VP been one of the radical Republicans, or had the impeachment been supported by a Senatorial conviction, our history could have been very gloomy from that point on.
In World War II, President Franklin D. Roosevelt ordered American born citizens (of Japanese ancestry) to be arrested and imprisoned in concentration camps while their businesses and other property were confiscated. FDR did this (and much more) by executive order, without even an act of Congress, and the army carried out the order (as far as I know) without complaint. Because of the emergency, both those who carried out the orders and all who watched them blithely accepted the authoritarianism.
It might even seem reasonable to folks today, with 20/20 hindsight. However, I am not writing to say it was right or wrong, I just want to demonstrate what can be ordered and what orders can be followed in the USA itself. There are just a couple more steps from what we've already seen to permanent dictatorship, and it is not just the president who is in position to take them. However, as with Lincoln, FDR died near the conclusion of his emergency, and we were fortunate that his successor was not a megalomaniac eager to risk that last step to absolute power.
Other nations in various times have not been so fortunate. Sometimes it has been a general (Napoleon or Julius Caesar), sometimes it has been a president (Hitler as Chancellor) and other times it has been somebody waiting in the shadows while too much power was concentrated by a "benevolent" other (Stalin supplanting Lenin who overthrew a fledgling Russian democracy). In most cases, the republics are very young, but in the case of Rome the republic was centuries old.
Not coincidentally, the early days of the Roman Republic featured a citizen militia and no standing army or police force. All able, adult, male property owners (citizens) were armed (women, children and slaves were unarmed and had no rights). Since the Republic depended on its armed citizens for all forceful actions, it couldn't take their rights from them; they were the Republic. It was later, after the army was separated from citizenship in general, that the army usurped power and liberty from other citizens, even senators. The army was the empire, as certain uppity emperors discovered.
Other usurpations of power are less obvious and provide less of a flash point for citizens to rebel. Consider the incremental bureaucratic intrusions into our private lives. Schools now can (call in Child Protective Services to) take away your children if you don't allow them to sedate "behavior problem" kids with ritalin. Never mind the fact that, setting aside the behavior, the child's physician cannot detect the physiological indications of ADD that teachers and non-MD counselors are diagnosing, and never mind the fact that the parents might have religious objections or concerns about harmful side effects like liver damage and stunted growth.
The cumulative effect is that our civil liberties are vanishing, even though no one tyrant takes it all in a single obvious action. Instead, we have various well-meaning agencies taking little nibbles; eventually we will have nothing left. Look around; many simple liberties taken for granted at our country's inception (or even allowed under the "persecution" of the king) are now illegal or require you to obtain a permit: starting a trade like cutting hair, building on your own property or even painting it your favorite color, owning or driving a vehicle, dividing land to sell, or calming yourself by inhaling fumes from certain weeds. Can anyone list others? We could cure California's electricity deficit by attaching generators to the founding fathers spinning in their graves.
The principle, both in practice and in philosophy, is that those who hold the weapons hold ultimate decision making power and have the means to protect private property. Therefore, all who are entitled to wield votes and own property must also be entitled to wield weapons, lest those with weapons rearrange entitlement to votes and property.
"Title" brings me to class; whether you have names for them or not, those who hold weapons hold titles. In the past, it was knights, barons, etc., who carried swords, who were called "Sir" or "Lord," and owned property. In the US today, we fancy ourselves as having a classless society. All adults are mister or madam, can own guns, vote, and can own property. However, take away the guns, and suddenly the police are the new knighthood, with their uniforms, badges, ranks, and guns, able to invade and confiscate property at will, slowed only by an ever more compliant court system that could become a rubber stamp within our lifetimes.
Eventually, unless Libertarians are elected (either through their own party or by taking over leadership in one of the existing major parties), all guns will be registered and then confiscation will be ordered. The confiscation order will be the milestone that stands either as the signal at the start of the armed rebellion or as a tombstone for the Bill of Rights. If the government is
strong enough to take guns away from an armed populace, then it can take anything away from an unarmed populace (and probably will).
Karen: Is there a way to regain ground from government creep?
Jeff: Yes, elect Libertarians. It's a long shot today because of the cohesion of the "two party" system. Most folks who sympathize with Libertarians have been sucked into either voting for Democrats to stop Republicans or voting for Republicans to stop Democrats. You can see it in many polls: voters choose by whom they vote against because there is nobody (perceived as having a chance) that they really like.
Karen: Exactly true.
Jeff: When enough people realize this ugly truth, those who wish to stop either of them will want to stop both of them. Libertarians will flock from both the Democrats and from the Republicans to make the Libertarian Party viable. The Democrats and Republicans, almost indistinguishable in their appeals to populist, progressive socialist movements, will merge back together. Instead of a "liberal" vs. "conservative" division deciding which way government expands while consolidating, we will have a "liberty" vs. "dependency" division, deciding if government expands and consolidates or if it shrinks and disperses.
Karen: It sounds good, but I'm afraid it will be a long time coming. People complain, but they are still too comfortable with their lives.
Jeff: At present, one respected citizen with Ross Perot type money but a Libertarian commitment could initiate the tilt by plunking down a billion dollars and intelligently recruiting, through an entire four-year election cycle, competent libertarians to run for all partisan offices. The billion dollars would go into party infrastructure and into educating the American people about principles left out of many high school and even college curricula these days. Its announcement should also convince those already sympathetic that the Libertarians were viable.
Karen: Why wait for the billion dollar donor? There is a similar group (can't think of the name) dedicated to helping females get elected. Much smaller budget but fairly effective. Are there many Libertarians that run for state level offices? Concentrating on this level first, getting more Libertarians in office and therefore more visible to the public, would make the Presidency a more achievable goal.
Can we even recognize and categorize the government creep that exists today?
Jeff: I have already mentioned one way of categorizing creeps: those that increase government power and those that centralize it. Realize too that centralization does not stop with national federalism; now that their national socialist agenda is mature, the statists are starting to globalize, speaking openly of submerging US sovereignty into a one world government spawned from the UN.
A one world government, having no rivals, could become all kinds of nightmare with no outside force to help armed citizens to tear it down. I like having power split many ways. Each unit is easier to cope with internally, and all units that are currently behaving well can cooperate to contain and dissolve those that are oppressive (while oppressors selfishly vie with each other as often as they cooperate).
Karen: I find this a more difficult concept to foresee than a US
government takeover. I have travelled a lot and we are the "Ugly Americans" to
most of the world. There is still a great diversity among people of different countries.
It would be very difficult to unite the world this way, I believe. Who are the
"statists" and what is the "national socialist agenda" that they have
achieved? You see things from a very different viewpoint than I do and I don't understand.
Jeff: I think many in the world would relish the US submerging its sovereignty into a whole that they imagined they could dominate. Uniting national governments into one world government entails persuading national leaders and then deceiving those outside the decision making process.
Statists are those for whom populist issues are merely a means to accomplish (consciously or unconsciously) a control agenda. The national socialist agenda in the US is the combination of "we'll take better care of you" programs and prohibitions, with the migration of authority from local and state governments to the federal government. The next progressive step is "up" to the world level, forming the ultimate hierarchy for the ultimate control freak.