Saturday, June 13, 2015

refutations of myths of the militia/patriot movement

http://www.armedwithreason.com/militia-myths-why-armed-populations-dont-prevent-tyranny-but-often-lead-to-it/

from the article: (for links in it, go to the linked page itself)

the idea that Militias are in anyway necessary or good for a free State has no historical justification, especially in the modern era. ... A historical analysis reveals that Militias are typically the gateway to tyranny, not the safeguard against it. ...
  1. Our own Revolutionary War shows militias are effective at protecting liberty.
  2. Militias promote liberty.
  3. Armed populations deter tyrants while unarmed populations are defenseless.
  4. Disarming a population is the gateway to genocide.
All of these arguments are false. Let’s first look at our own Revolutionary War.
The idea that militias are the bulwark against tyranny typically begins in a faulty reading of American History. The Revolutionary War was not won by Militias, but rather the Continental Army with considerable help from the French. While it is probably an exaggeration to suggest that the Militia was completely worthless during the War, that is far closer to reality than the myth promulgated by some pro-gun advocates. And the Militias that did significantly contribute to the cause were organized by the states and represented a well-disciplined, cohesive fighting force that mirrored the Continental Army, not the minutemen of lore.
Moving to the modern era, Militias have a terrible history of creating tyranny, even when fighting against foreign powers. Militias that have been successful in warding off foreign aggression overwhelmingly opposed democratic rule. A few examples are Vietnam, Afghanistan, Cuba, Somalia, Iraq, and southern Lebanon; in none of these countries did the militias promote a free State. Add to this list countries where militias have ripped apart society in tribal states or civil war (such as Pakistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mali, Colombia, and the Palestinian Territories) and we can form an even clearer picture of militias. ...
... Every democratic country, with the exception of Costa Rica, has a standing army to defend it, not militias.
For examples closer to home, we can easily see that the Klu Klux Klan, Neo-Nazi elements, and the Black Panthers (all of which are or were unregulated militias) have done little to promote a free society. Perhaps the best example in America of the influence militias have on society is “Bloody Kansas” during the 1850s. Pro-Northern and Southern settlers, armed to the teeth, streamed into Kansas in order to sway whether the state became free or slave. The constant skirmishes killed 56 settlers, out of a total population of 8,000. It is safe to conclude that the sudden explosion in the number of armed men did not contribute to a democratic process.
... Yemen is currently the second most heavily armed country in the world (per capita), and it is currently a battlefield between a Western dictatorship and various Jihadist organizations who have no love for a free State. Saudi Arabia and several other Arab countries are heavily armed, with what can only be described as tyrannical governments. Iraq before the 2003 US invasion is perhaps the best example. Saddam Hussein falls under any definition of a tyrannical dictator, yet the Iraqi people were very heavily armed with a gun culture mirroring that of the US. How armed a population is appears to have no empirical bearing on how free that society is.
.....

Hitler took the guns

If only to affirm Godwin’s Law, the most frequently used example of gun control leading to genocide is that of Nazi Germany. At a superficial glance, gun advocates do appear to have a point. After all, didn’t Hitler praise gun control? Hitler clearly lays out his beliefs here: “This year will go down in history! For the first time, a civilized nation has full gun registration! Our streets will be safer, our police more efficient, and the world will follow our lead into the future!”
However, like many widely circulated pro-gun quotes, this attribution is fake. There is no evidence that Hitler actually made these remarks. In reality, Hitler was relatively pro-gun. Most of the strict gun control was implemented by the Weimar Republic in direct response to rising street violence and to prevent an armed coup from either the Nazis or Communists. And to a small degree it was successful, as it prevented Hitler from seizing power by armed insurrection. The “gun control” law implemented in 1938, when the Nazis were fully in power, actually loosened restrictions on gun ownership. If the “armed populations prevent tyranny” maxim held, the Germans could have removed Hitler from office with relative ease.
When presented with these facts, gun advocates typically reply that their theory still holds, as Hitler did do his utmost to prevent Jews (as well as Gypsies, homosexuals, Slavs, communists, and Jehovah’s Witnesses) from owning weapons. Therefore, if they had been armed, genocide could have been averted. However, the notion that small groups of armed Jews could have succeeded where the entire Polish and French armies failed is completely inane. It took the combined might of the US, Britain, Russia, and our allies to finally defeat Hitler and his allies. Comparing this reality to the Red Dawn narrative of armed resistance gun advocates offer highlights how little merit the “guns prevent tyranny” hypothesis has. The few instances of armed resistance such as the Warsaw uprising were quickly annihilated.

Stalin took the guns

The hypothesis that a heavily armed Russian population could have stopped Stalin and communist rule completely overlooks the massive civil war (1917-22) that culminated in the triumph of communist forces. Lenin and Stalin didn’t need gun control. They simply annihilated any domestic threats to their rule. As Omer Bratov, a historian from Brown University, explains about Stalin, “the very idea of either gun control or the freedom to bear arms would have been absurd to him. His regime used violence on a vast scale, provided arms to thugs of all descriptions, and stripped not guns but any human image from those it declared to be its enemies. And then, when it needed them, as in WWII, it took millions of men out of the Gulags, trained and armed them and sent them to fight Hitler, only to send back the few survivors into the camps if they uttered any criticism of the regime.” It also defies logic that where the military might of Nazi Germany failed, scattered bands of Russian resistance could have somehow succeeded.

The Turks took the guns

It is true that the Ottomans/Turks seized the weapons of many Armenians. But the Turkish government also took the Armenian’s right to speech, property, livelihood, etc. Anything the Turks could take, they did. Seizing their weapons was simply one of many tools used by the Turks to carry out genocide, not the cause. The idea that a better armed Armenian population would have stopped the genocide is na├»ve. Although some Armenians were able to hold out versus the government (with the help of the Russian military or French naval forces), most batches of armed resistance were annihilated with artillery bombardment and overwhelming military force. As the Armenian National Institute explains, while the armed resistance was noble, it was ultimately the International awareness and pressure on Turkey that saved the remnants of the Armenian population.

Mao took the guns

Like the Russian case, the idea that Mao’s gun control allowed him to commit genocidal acts completely overlooks how Mao gained power in the first place: a massive civil war. If guns could have stopped Mao, they would have then, not at the height of his power. It also overlooks the fact that any type of gun laws would have had only a negligible influence of gun ownership as the vast majority of Chinese peasants (those bearing the brunt of Mao’s disastrous policies) were too poor to even consider owning a gun. Gun policy shouldn’t enter any meaningful discourse on Mao’s rule.

Guatemala took the guns

The rationale for Guatemala’s wanton slaughter of the Mayan population was to eliminate the threat of Marxist rebels by removing their support base. Guatemala’s genocidal acts were a response to an armed threat, not an opportunistic assault to take advantage of a recently disarmed population as some gun advocates suggest. The tactics to remove this armed resistance, unfortunately, involved the slaughter of unarmed civilians, and was spurred by decades (if not centuries) of pent up racial tensions. It was the presence of armed resistance, not the absence of it, which led to further atrocities.

Idi Amin took the guns

... Had the population not been “disarmed,” the people of Uganda could have stopped the reign of terror. However, this analysis completely overlooks two very basic facts. First, the gun law implemented in 1970 was mostly an extension of a colonial firearms law dating back to 1955, meaning the number of gun owners would not have changed substantially. Second, the idea that the gun law was stage one of genocide is not viable, as the law was implemented in 1970 and Idi Amin did not seize power and begin killing people until 1971.

Pol Pot took the guns

The claims of Cambodian gun control leading to genocide is, like the Uganda case, a post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy that conveniently ignores the fact that there was a massive five year civil war from 1970-75 in which the Republican forces protecting the “one million educated people” were decisively defeated. As Robert Spitzer, the author of “The Politics of Gun Control” states the idea that gun control led to genocide in Cambodia and the other countries mentioned represents “a cartoonish view of the complex events” and the people touting these ideas “don’t know comparative politics, they don’t know international relations, they haven’t studied war.” ....

Takeaways:

  • Militias were largely ineffective in our own Revolutionary War.
  • Militias in the modern era have overwhelmingly fostered tyranny, not liberty.
  • Liberty and the degree of gun ownership in a society are uncorrelated.
  • Even if they were positively correlated, the idea that gun control leads to tyranny is a post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy.
  • Even if this thought process wasn’t fallacy ridden, the historical examples gun advocates supply don’t hold up under closer scrutiny.
  • Even if the historical cases displayed what gun advocates contend they do, the argument would still fail as applying the lessons from the examples to the US overlooks massive cultural and socio-economic differences.

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