tribal-societies-with-jared-diamond

America needs to study the enemy within, the headline hovering above the LA Times op-ed advises. Which raises the simple question: who would that be? Although Pulitzer Prize-winning UCLA geography professor Jared Diamond’s article doesn’t come right out and say it, it’s you and me, baby. Diamond warms up with a cautionary tale of Chile’s disastrous de-evolution into a military dictatorship. And then draws the parallel with modern day America . . .

Should we worry about possible parallels between Chile in 1968 and the U.S. today? . . . like Chileans before and under Allende, we have become stuck in political gridlock. Our citizens are split by deep disagreements about basic economic, social and political issues, including government interventions, immigration, investment in education and infrastructure, and inequality of income and opportunity. Our economy is decidedly sluggish.

Meanwhile, our politicians have been increasingly unwilling or unable to craft compromises. The most recent Congress passed fewer laws than any Congress in decades. Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill couldn’t agree even on matters that should have been noncontroversial, such as funding the Federal Aviation Administration and confirming the nominations of judges and second-level government officers. And American democracy is being eroded by partisan measures aimed at preventing registration or voting by citizens likely to prefer the other party, and by massive distortion of elections by big money.

I’m amazed that an educated man singularly, spectacularly fails to understand that America’s Founding Fathers set up our political system to create gridlock. To limit government power. Specifically, the scope, scale and speed of government intervention in citizens’ lives. The idea that politicians should all be marching towards “progress” — opposing principles be damned — is exactly what our system was designed not to do.

Speaking of balance of powers, gridlock-by-design and such, it should be noted that the Second Amendment is an integral part of the United States’ political system. Congress enacted the 2A protection against government regulation as a bulwark against government tyranny. Freedom’s final redoubt. Not to ensure hunting rights. According to Mr. Diamond, the right to keep and bear arms enables the very thing it was designed to prevent.

You may object that the American armed forces, unlike those in Chile or Indonesia or Spain, have no precedent at all for interfering in American politics. That’s true. But consider what happened in 1933 in Austria, where private citizens had increasingly been arming themselves and forming private militias. When Austria’s Chancellor Engelbert Dollfuss abolished the country’s legislature and established an authoritarian right-wing government, he didn’t use an Austrian army to crush his left-wing political opponents. He did it with a militia of his own armed supporters.

Could that be possible here? Already, plenty of Americans are asserting the right to carry guns in previously unlikely places (such as in schools and government offices). Already, they are forming private militias for purposes such as patrolling the Mexican border and protecting a claimed right to graze cattle on federal lands. Again, when private citizen militias already carry guns for those purposes, it’s “just” a matter of expanding the scope of an established principle to use guns for other purposes.

As I said, Diamond dances around the central question posed by his thesis. But you don’t have to be an academic to know who’s in his sights, and what he means by “other purposes.” He’s asserting that armed Americans are the enemy. That they’re proto-inssurectionists leading to a military dictatorship, and all the horrors that entails. The enemy within? Tag. You’re it.

We Americans today are focused on the wrong threats to American democracy. We are obsessed with threats from overseas: from terrorists and Islamist extremists, and from other countries. But realistically, while terrorists and Islamists and other countries will continue to cause trouble for us, the chance of their ending American democracy is nil. The only real threat to American democracy comes from Americans themselves. If our politicians continue to yield to pressure from extremists not to compromise and remain mired in gridlock, the majority of decent Americans may in frustration come to view an authoritarian government as the only solution to political gridlock — as a lesser evil that has to be tolerated.

I don’t think extremism means what Diamond thinks it means. Refusing to compromise your principles isn’t extremism, especially when those principles are the ones mooted by the Declaration or Independence and the United States Constitution. Which, by the way, includes the Second Amendment.

I also find it funny that Diamond used Austria to “prove” that armed, domestic, right-wing extremists are America’s greatest threat. I guess he forgot that [agents of] the German National Socialist Party assassinated Herr Dollfuss in 1934, and annexed the country in 1938. Nor does the fact that Austrian gun registration led to confiscation get a look in. Anyway . . .

Decent Americans should learn from recent history. Compromising cherished political beliefs will be painful, for both Republicans and Democrats. But the alternative, as Chileans and Spaniards can attest, might be something far more painful than compromise.

When you’re an ivory tower egghead, the only thing that isn’t negotiable is the belief in your own intellectual superiority. Here in the real world, some things should never, ever be compromised. Our natural, civil and Constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms is one of them.

And make no mistake: armed Americans are not the enemy of democracy and freedom. We are its greatest protectors, praying we never have to do so by force of arms, but ready to do so if needs be. [h/t JP]

151 Responses to LA Times: American Gun Owners Are the Enemy Within

  1. He is right about one thing: “The only real threat to American democracy comes from Americans themselves.” He just identifies the wrong internal threat.

    • He’s right about two more things:
      the majority of decent Americans may in frustration come to view an authoritarian government as the only solution to political gridlock

      I suspect his definition of decent American is one who believes the government should make our important decisions for us. The majority of them already support authoritarian government.

      the chance of their [Islamic terrorists] ending American democracy is nil

      The US is not, and has never been, a democracy, so it’s impossible to end it. And if we use the word incorrectly to mean a government that represents the will of the people, he’s still correct. The politically connected statists are already destroying that.

      • We Americans today are focused on the wrong threats to American democracy.

        Yes, he DOES seem to be fixated on the phrase “American democracy” doesn’t he? If he can’t get the basic form of our government right, how credible can the rest of his article be?

      • As demonstrated by his assertion that it is the people trying to direct the government that is the problem, that we should compromise our ideals to presumably allow the government to do as it will.

    • According to the LA Times, a decent American may be a Californian juror who pities cop killers and the high school kid who brings a shotgun then shooting a classmate in the chest; but blames the NRA for all the criminal events in their state comitted by felons who were given a walk after committing numerous violent acts with a gun.

  2. Education does not equate intellect. I work at an Ivy League school, there’s no shortage of stupid people on campus…

    • Close, but not quite. I would say that they are confusing education with schooling. Teaching someone to pass a standardized test does not equate to an education.

    • “Education does not equate intellect. I work at an Ivy League school, there’s no shortage of stupid people on campus…”

      Yup.

      I have a cousin who is married to a guy who was faculty at MIT. Well, was married to my cousin.

      You’ll be hard-pressed to find a more sanctimonious, holier-than-thou fvckwit who is so utterly convinced of his own intellectual superiority.

      That’s why I laughed my ass off when I heard from my cousin he snorted about $100,000 worth of cocaine and paid for it by putting a second mortgage on the house my cousin owned before she married his leftist ass.

      He was faculty at MIT. He lost that gig a year or so after she divorced him when he bankrupted her.

    • So true. I work in a place surrounded by people holding doctorates. Sure, they know their area of study fairly well, but they are as dumb as rocks on most every other subject. Their knowledge of the world has come from professors who have spent much of their entire lives isolated from normal society.

    • I think you are trying to differentiate between “Wisdom” and “Education”. Too many times people who have excess of the latter lack the former.

  3. Yeah, I don’t get how authoritarian governments are always somehow right wing. The Nazis were self proclaimed socialists, and proud of it. You can read their (translated) party platform online, and it calls for an abolishment of private business, much higher taxes, and a welfare state (for aryans).

    • Because terms such as “right” or “left” on a political scale are relative to the country being used. Most European political systems or parties considered “right” are still “left” to the American system, so I don’t have have major issues with Fascists being the other side of the same coin that holds the Communists. However, I do have problems with people who try to pigeon hole European, South American, Middle Eastern or Asian political systems with ours. If we really want to be truthful, all political systems should be balanced between individualism and collectivism (statism).

    • Got the prime example in the Oval Office and the White House/DC is filled with mindnumbed clones.

      Can bet that ole Jared is one of the “scientists” that concensused on man caused global warming/climate change/BS of the month.

    • “this country is drowning in “over-educated” idiots.”

      Correction, over-schooled and under-educated. An education encompasses much more than, in the words of my brethren, “book-learnin'”.

  4. I read his book Guns Germs and Steel. Very good read even if you don’t agree with all of his ideas.
    One of his criteria for a developed society is a government’s monopoly on deadly force.

      • The way it should be.

        The left is dead-set on using Europe as model.

        It was the European model we were trying to get away from in the first place!

        Hey, Progressives? Even Ray Charles could see the problem with the failure that is Europe.

        • Yep, except that I would propose that progressives and the extreme right would have us in European chains. Statism is the disease. Progressivism and extreme right political thinking are the carriers.

        • @John in Ohio, actually what you are describing is the Left. Far right = no godvernment or very very little of it. Far Left = total abject godvernment control of every aspect of one’s life.

        • I also used to believe that definition. Experience has taught me that those on the extreme right are just as statist as the mild left and on out. Both see the hammer of government as the solution. I’m to the right of progressives. IMHO, most progressives of just about any degree are statists. Their philosophy of governance cannot exist without statism. Until one moves out towards the extreme right, the proper balance of governance and individual rights can be maintained. I stand on the very start of the right spectrum.

        • @John in Ohio, sorry, you can’t be both things at once. You are either a statist or you are not. If you are a statist, they you are by definition a Leftist. If you are not a statist, you are by definition a something other than a Leftist. Sadly, there are assbumps in the Republican Party that mask themselves as “rightist” or “conservative” when in fact, they are statist…or as I like to call them “godvernmentalists”, i.e., those that substitute government for God. Thus the Statist/Leftist worship Government as if it was a God…and to them, it is God.

        • And they DEMAND that no others be put before them!
          .
          We The People cease to exist.
          .
          And We The Slaves are commanded to Arise to be marched to the fields.
          .

        • @El Mac: Until the extreme right is willing to get rid of the alphabet soup agencies (BATFE, IRS, DHS, FCC, FDA, FAA, etc), a large standing army, and a host of governmental organs, it will remain statist. The extreme right is just as eager to worship at the alter of government as most progressives. Your claim of statist or not isn’t accurate. There’s a lot of spectrum between statism and anarchy. Unfortunately, you appear to be suffering from the same black and white thinking which cripples the extreme right and progressives.

        • @John in Ohio, sorry bud. The extreme right in this country has never, not ever, held power….next time you have an anarchist voted into power, then come talk to me. Til then, all you have are progressive statists in power no matter the D or R in front of their names…

        • @John in Ohio: I think most people think that the Tea Party, Ted Cruz, etc. are on the extreme right of the Republican Party. If they were in power (the Tea Party, etc.), I think they would be more than happy to “get rid of the alphabet soup agencies (BATFE, IRS, DHS, FCC, FDA, FAA, etc), a large standing army, and a host of governmental organs” and balance the budget and start substantially reducing the deficit while they were at it.

          The mainstream of the Republican Party appears to be controlled by statists that tend toward corporatism (fascism). The mainstream of the Democratic Party is also statist and tends toward socialism (communism).

          It appears that the far left and far right are both anti-corporatism, with the former supporting socialism and the later supporting republicanism.

          Once they actually get in power, they all seem to strongly support me-ism!

        • @John in Ohio and @El Mac
          It looks like you guys are using two different definitions of left and right.
          Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe El Mac is using Left to mean total government control (monarchy/oligarchy/statist/etc), and right to mean no government control (anarchy).
          John in Ohio, you’re using the left = liberal/progressive, and right = tea party/republican.
          You guys need to define your terms better, so that you’re on the same page.

        • Cool, I figured that much.
          I got introduced to the total vs none from this video, it explains it pretty succintly

    • Government should have a monopoly on the initiation of force (and must use that monopoly solely for the purpose of upholding people’s rights), but should never be allowed one on any force.

      • And who SeveinCO, and with what is going to stop the government from initiating and using deadly force against it’s once armed citizens (now disarmed slaves)?
        .
        The British?
        .

        • The Night-Watchman State requires some kind of centralized authority for the execution of violence in situations deemed to be a violation of the non-agression principle with a mandate to serve wronged parties that have agreements and pacts between each other but could be exercised at the local level. Unless there is a laissez-faire acceptance of violence in the name of the state, then citizens have to deduce that the NAP is optional. It would be a precarious balancing act but a nice dream…

    • One of his criteria for a developed society is a government’s monopoly on deadly force.

      That’s the short recipe for servitude. We fought a revolution to break away from that backwards view of government.

      • The Founding Fathers believed that government has a monopoly on the use of force. Through the establishment of the state militias in Article I Section 8 and the Second Amendment they place the citizens at the center of the State’s armed forces. The Founding Fathers feared the mob as much as they did the leviathan of a Central government. Why do you think Washington DC is laid out with broad avenues interrupted by traffic circles. The circles were designed so that cannon could placed in them to sweep the streets of the mob. The Republic was not founded to encourage anarchy. A representative Republic was the chosen form of government because it stood at the optimum point between the democratic mob and a ruling aristocracy.

        • The Republic was not founded to encourage anarchy. A representative Republic was the chosen form of government because it stood at the optimum point between the democratic mob and a ruling aristocracy.

          I agree with that statement. However, historical evidence strongly disputes that they sought a government with a monopoly on force. Jefferson was clear that he admired the Native American form of government (as he understood it) but didn’t believe that it could manage a stable nation of any considerable size. If the founding of this nation was upon government having a monopoly on force then there would never be the individual right to keep and bear arms protected so succinctly in the Constitution. A balance was sought; not a monopoly.

        • @DickG: Past ripe, IMHO. The longer it rots, the more bloody the correction. Being ever vigilant means resisting tyranny earlier; when peaceful resistance is likely to prevail. The People are late to the party. They’ve been asleep at the helm. If they weren’t, our children wouldn’t have been so indoctrinated in the compulsory educational system and our government wouldn’t have grown so powerful.

        • IMHO, that quote is important enough to post here, 16V.

          “Societies exist under three forms sufficiently distinguishable. 1. Without government, as among our Indians. 2. Under governments wherein the will of every one has a just influence, as is the case in England in a slight degree, and in our states in a great one. 3. Under governments of force: as is the case in all other monarchies and in most of the other republics. To have an idea of the curse of existence under these last, they must be seen. It is a government of wolves over sheep. It is a problem, not clear in my mind, that the 1st. condition is not the best. But I believe it to be inconsistent with any great degree of population. The second state has a great deal of good in it. The mass of mankind under that enjoys a precious degree of liberty and happiness. It has it’s evils too: the principal of which is the turbulence to which it is subject. But weigh this against the oppressions of monarchy, and it becomes nothing. Malo periculosam, libertatem quam quietam servitutem. Even this evil is productive of good. It prevents the degeneracy of government, and nourishes a general attention to the public affairs. I hold it that a little rebellion now and then is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical. Unsuccesful rebellions indeed generally establish the incroachments on the rights of the people which have produced them. An observation of this truth should render honest republican governors so mild in their punishment of rebellions, as not to discourage them too much. It is a medecine necessary for the sound health of government.” – Thomas Jefferson to James Madison, Paris, January 30, 1787

      • Monopoly of force is THE building block of Government. If I shot you without reason, government calls this murder. I would but arrested by Government representatives that have the granted right to use force if i resist. After trial I could be executed by Government decree by a representative of the Government. And if you defend yourself from me, you will do so in the manner set forth by Government or you will but arrested by Government representatives that have the granted right to use force if i resist. After trial you could be executed by Government decree by a representative of the Government.

        • If I shot you without reason, government calls this murder.

          It isn’t a monopoly on force. Your own statement gives insight into that fact. Our government is no more supposed to use force without reason than the individual is. When an agent of government uses force without reason, they are supposed to be held accountable under law. Isn’t that a big part of the problem with our nation today; that agents of government can use force without reason and face little accountability? THAT is indicative of a monopoly on force; something that wasn’t supposed to be under our system of governance. A monopoly on force was the stuff that kingdoms in Europe were founded upon. It wasn’t intended to be so here.

    • It’s the standard definition used in political science, sociology, and the social sciences generally. Another standard way to say it is “a monopoly on legitimate violence.” As mentioned above, basically it means the government gets to say what violence is acceptable in society. If the government doesn’t have this monopoly, then it can’t honestly say it controls the law in its own territory. Think about it, if some other person or group can decide what is or isn’t murder in what is supposedly your country, then what good are your laws? Can you really say you govern?

      • Actually, the People have the final say and not government. It’s called jury nullification and our courts have gone far out of their way in a desperate attempt to erase it from our history. It’s a dirty word in most courtrooms nowadays but it means, in fact, that the People have the final say and not government.

        Some other group, the jury, does indeed have final say on what is or isn’t murder. The jury can judge the law as well as the defendant.

  5. Why is it that when antis talk about compromise, the always expect the POTG t9 roll over? Take magazine restrictions for example. The antis wanted a 5 round cap, but compromised and let us have 10. We still got a cap.

    I guess I should change my user name to Public Enemy #1.

    • They don’t understand the meaning of ‘compromise’.

      Unless both parties are unhappy with the result, it’s not a compromise.

    • What is even more stupid than the “5 round cap” is: do the supporters of this “well intentioned” doctrine, realize that magazine changes can be made in a couple of seconds, and there seems to be no restrictions on the number of magazine one might carry?

      • Gunr- You are forgetting that the statist belief is that guns are tools of evil in American citizens hands, but are righteous swords in the hands of the government agents that drink the same distopian punch.
        Thankfully most mass shootings that happen are perpetrated by mental midgets, cowardly domestic abusers, or a block party in the ghetto on the weekend. The statist don’t understand what the average gun owner is capable of as we don’t shoot innocent people, and the only time shooting out of a quad pod is legal is at predators of the four legged kind.
        After all of the hate crime polar bear hunting and mob violence directed at white people I upped the number of magazines I carry, and a statist would be scared at how fast those could be swapped and emptied on target before I grabbed my second gun or trunk rifle.

      • No what’s stupid is that the gun of choice for criminals tend to be 5-6 round revolvers or mouse guns or 7-9 round pistols. Police and civilians are who need “high cap” mags.

    • Yep, the left fundamentally misunderstands the idea of compromise. Their version of it goes like this.

      Robber: Give me your wallet, but we’ll compromise and you can keep your phone.

  6. We are certainly a threat to his type of “america”. Founding fathers warned of such progression away from simple and true guidelines.

  7. Quite the opposite I would think. In my un-statistical opinion, the vast majority of American gun owners are specifically against an authoritarian government.

  8. “You may object that the American armed forces, unlike those in Chile or Indonesia or Spain, have no precedent at all for interfering in American politics. That’s true. ”

    Did he conveniently forget we had a civil war about 150 years ago over the right of states to secede from the union? (among other things)

    • That wasn’t politics. It was democracy.

      (See how that works? When the right does it, it’s “politics.” When the Left does it, it’s “democracy.” If that doesn’t work, just start blathering about the Right Side of History(tm).)

    • “Did he conveniently forget we had a civil war about 150 years ago over the right of states to secede from the union? (among other things)”

      Nope. If you say the civil war was over anything but slavery, you are a revisionist and deserve to rot in hell. Even mentioning the phrase “states rights” would incur the death penalty if they had their way.

  9. I’m amazed that an educated man singularly, spectacularly fails to understand that America’s Founding Fathers set up our political system to create gridlock.

    He refers to the US government as a democracy, so clearly he’s not that well educated.

  10. Mr. Diamond confuses a symptom for the disease. The problem is not the right to keep and bear arms or even a scattered few private militias; the problem is that the federal government is focusing its considerable power and resources on:

    * Various wars in which it has ineffectually engaged in North Africa and places East of Suez;
    * Ineffective solutions to real problems (i.e., the security theatre in airports by the DHS);
    * Welfare and other transfer payments to corporations and individuals who are reliable political supporters at the expense of things such as infrastructure that really should be prioritized by any effective government.

    The fact that the federal government is attempting so much, and that this diffusion of its resources and effort makes it so ineffective, is why people are more concerned about taking matters that are important to them into their own hands. If private militias patrolling the Mexican border are concerning, consider that they would not even be there in the first place if the Federal government was actually trying to discourage foreign nationals from entering the country in violation of Federal laws, instead of encouraging it.

    If Mr. Diamond is truly concerned about political gridlock, he would lend his voice toward the idea that the government should cut back its efforts to those areas within its proper scope, and in which it can actually achieve a degree of cost-effectiveness and efficiency.

    (He won’t, of course, because that article was little more than clickbait thrown up on one of the nation’s lesser examples of legacy print media as filler for the week between Xmas and New Year’s, not something he spent a considerable amount of time on.)

  11. The most recent Congress passed fewer laws than any Congress in decades.

    Perfect! Keep it up. The government that governs least governs best. Prof. Coal, oops, I mean Diamond, will never get that. He will also never get that the greatest threat to American freedom isn’t Islamists or some mythical vast right-wing militia conspiracy. It’s the government. Always the government.

    • “The most recent Congress passed fewer laws than any Congress in decades. ”
      .
      The most recent Congress passed fewer laws than any Congress in decades, THUS MAKING IT THE SAFEST CONGRESS IN DECADES,.
      .
      There! Fixed it for ya!’.

    • Yeah, I was wondering how he could take that as a negative. Half of the laws congress has already passed should be repealed. Congress’s job should be to go address the 2-3 big issues, pass a budget and then go home. If they are passing 10 or more new laws per session, then that’s a problem

      • I agree, instead of passing new laws like they have doing for 239 years, they should be repealing about 90% of them. We have enough laws that people pay no heed, without adding more.

    • Mr. Ralph, I agree, but add a large threat is special interest/individual money driving that government towards their own corporate/individual interests, whatever they may be. I will never contribute money to a political campaign as it accelerates the decay of how this system was set up to work. Limited government, and no private money influence on that government,) and individuals being held personally responsible for actions) would be great. It’s always about the money, in the end.

      • @Jjmmyjonga, America has the best politicians money can buy. They’re honest, too — when they get bought, they stay bought. 🙂

  12. I’m all for the destruction of democracy. When a majority can’t coerce a peaceful minority, that is what I think of when I hear about the end of democracy. The bottom half voting to be sustained by the upper half. Two wolves and a sheep deciding what’s for dinner. I hear about all of the problems in the world and I think of the major obstacle stopping people from solving them: The State.

    • What Democracy?
      .
      We live under a Constitutional Republic!

      A Democracy has been likened to two wolves and a lamb voting on “What’s for lunch?”
      .’
      And, the 2nd Amendment gives the lamb a fighting chance to avoid the Barbie!
      .

      • What Constitutional Republic?

        Lincoln, Sherman, Grant, and the Radical Republicans did away with that 150 years ago.

        • Well maybe if the Southern Democrats hadn’t thrown a hissy fit over losing their influence in the Federal Government to force the Northern Free States to violate their own customs and laws, hadn’t fulfilled their threats to secede over essentially what was the issue of slavery, and hadn’t invaded Southern Pennsylvania during the war, than maybe Grant, Sherman and Lincoln wouldn’t have had to resort to such extreme measures.

  13. “And American democracy is being eroded by partisan measures aimed at preventing registration or voting by citizens likely to prefer the other party, and by massive distortion of elections by big money.”

    “Ce chien est très méchant. Quand on l’attaque il se défend!”

    (Translation: This dog is very naughty. When we attack him, he defends himself!”)

  14. RE: “Already, plenty of Americans are asserting the right to carry guns in previously unlikely places (such as in schools and government offices). Already, they are forming private militias for purposes such as patrolling the Mexican border and protecting a claimed right to graze cattle on federal lands. ”

    Great! Lets keep it that way.

    • protecting a claimed right to graze cattle on federal lands. ”

      Heh. A “claimed” right. What have I heard referred to as that before, let me see… oh yeah, the 2nd amendment. That incident really got their goat, didn’t it? They are so outraged, OUTRAGED!, that this old man got to graze his damn cows on the other side of an invisible line, and that their goons couldn’t murder all his cattle AND family like they wanted them to, it kind of makes you wonder why they don’t then support the NYC cops who were actually just enforcing a similarly unjust law. I mean, according to the Bundy model, shouldn’t Garner have just let the police run him and his family out of town? And where were all the calls from these hipster douchebags for drone strikes on his family’s home? Could it be that they don’t actually believe in the horseshit they spew, and are just vile and petty goons who have it out for conservative Americans?

  15. Wait, I thought one of the left’s main points was that our little AR-15s would be no match for the firepower of the American military (never mind how many years it took to kill off a few thousand illiterate camel-fvckers)? Now he’s saying that a small militia could easily bring the country to its knees?

    So much fail. I despise the self-proclaimed “intellectual elite” with a passion. Spent one year in college and got so fed up with it I left and never looked back. Bastards are so smug and superior, and it’s combined with an infuriating cluelessness and genuine stupidity. College teaches you the (useless) ability to pontificate eloquently (read: bullshit) about pretty much any subject, and then confuses that with genuine intellect.

    • @Jake Tallman, as a college grad, I tend to agree. Especially when you get into the graduate programs. Mostly blowhard bullshit.

  16. “…especially when those principles are the ones mooted by the Declaration or Independence and the United States Constitution…”

    RF, consider correcting this statement. I’m pretty sure you meant to write “rooted in” – not “mooted by” as those two concepts are opposites and completely change the meaning of the sentence.

  17. You all are the ones who misunderstood. He knows exactly what he is doing. It’s all part of the plan according to “Rules For Radicals”

  18. Haha. Imagine if he wrote that same thing in say 1772. God save the King! Damn those pesky militias. Don’t they know they are serfs? Dude has to powder his wig up a bit I think.

  19. Armed Americans mean free Americans. If we cease to be armed then, eventually, we cease being free. An America without freedom isn’t America at all. Jared Diamond is, like all true progressives, covertly calling for the destruction of America.

  20. It is not the average American with a gun that it the big threat to this country now, it is the very rich Elite that, together, have seized total power of all things influential and powerful, such as the power to influence and elect congress, the banking system, etc. And they make it clear that they are not going to give back to the voting public the power to reverse the laws and positions they have secured. Just look at the crimes of Monsanto and the pharmaceutical corporations. They are completely out of control and are abusing the land and people of this country to unprecedented degrees now.
    An armed revolution may be the only way there will be any change in this country, but I have serious doubts that it will ever come about. The foxes are in the hen-house and have guns of their own.

  21. Government is violence. So many people either don’t understand that or refuse to accept that. You can dress it up as “democracy” or whatever you like, but it’s still violence. It’s a group of folks who set the rules and use whatever means necessary – be that bribery, collusion, intimidation, or actual violence – to ensure compliance with those rules.

    One person using violence to commit aggression against another is inappropriate. So is two people, or five, or ten. It doesn’t magically become correct when you get a majority of people to agree with what you want.

    Those who continue to call for more government action are calling for more violence to be used against those who have harmed no one. They are more of a threat to liberty than anyone else.

  22. Diamond had a half-decent theory and book in “Guns,Germs,and Steel”, but it was self-indulgently three or four times too long once he made his point. If you get into his early published work, he stated in one article(published in a college text on the history of technology, ca. 1990) that humanity was ruined when it left hunting and gathering and settled into farming. So he is no stranger to endorsing crackpot anthropological ideas.
    Now that he’s rich, though, he is “eccentric”, rather than a crackpot.

  23. “We Americans today are focused on the wrong threats to American democracy. We are obsessed with threats from overseas: from terrorists and Islamist extremists, and from other countries. But realistically, while terrorists and Islamists and other countries will continue to cause trouble for us, the chance of their ending American democracy is nil. The only real threat to American democracy comes from Americans themselves. If our politicians continue to yield to pressure from extremists not to compromise and remain mired in gridlock, the majority of decent Americans may in frustration come to view an authoritarian government as the only solution to political gridlock — as a lesser evil that has to be tolerated.”

    I fear terrible Americanized socialist philosophy is much more of a threat, especially when it’s coming from people already in power.

  24. I read Diamond’s “Collapse.” It was a solid piece of work. I think where these academics go off the rails is when they venture off into areas that they’re not expert in, and their ideology trumps commons sense. This is one of of those times. They start with the conclusion they want to reach and then make whatever comparison they need to make to justify the conclusion. I don’t think it’s much of a mystery where you’re headed with your analysis when you start off with “the enemy within” (you know, gun owners).

  25. Jared Diamond is absolute correct that there are parallels between 1968 Chile and 2014 United States but he has misidentified the problem. Allende was a Communist who came to power and the proceed to act according to Cloward-Piven and proceed to communize Chile. He allowed fair and free mid term elections and lost. He then proceeded to usurp power and ignore the Chilean Supreme Court when it ruled against him. The military then stepped in to remove the would be communist dictator. Obama is acting more and more like Allende and it is quite possible but not likely that the military will step in and given him the Allende treatment. Chile became a dictatorship not because of armed citizenry but because the Army would not allow a Marxist elite to turn Chile into another Cuba.

  26. I’m a little lost on the linkages between threads here, so I’ll just tack this onto the end and agree with John in Ohio.

    The political spectrum always struck me as less strictly left-to-right, and more horseshoe-shaped. A left/right array may describe the philosophical underpinnings of parties, but the implied vertical axis reflects their relationship to and impact upon the Individual.

    Far right fascists and nearer right conservatives tend to view the government as an entity embodying the nation as a whole. Here’s where you get your national greatness-minded government types, from Teddy Roosevelt to Mussolini to Hitler to John McCain to W. Bush; differentiated by the lengths they’ll go to in making/remaking the country into their vision. They believe the State is paramount relative to the Individual and the State is the proper force for advancing the “society.”

    Far left communists and slightly less left liberals (allegedly) believe that the people as a whole are paramount relative to the Individual and that the people are the proper force for advancing the collective. However, in order for the collective to act, it needs a vehicle, which is Government. Here’s where you get your big government, pseudo-populists like Lenin, Mao, Pol Pot, FDR, LBJ, both Clintons, and Obama. Again, differentiated by the lengths they’ll go to implement the will of the people, as they interpret that will.

    So here we have two views arriving at the same conclusion that power must reside in the government, to the detriment of the Individual. Despite having taken different paths, they each nevertheless agree in the pursuit of their aims to dismiss and diminish the Individual as the true and appropriate unit. Thus far left and far right arc like a horseshoe toward the same practical effect of trampling the Individual. Commies and fascists alike are but rival gangs fighting over the same, stale anti-Individual turf.

    • @Jonathan-Houston, “Far right fascists and nearer right conservatives tend to view the government as an entity embodying the nation as a whole. Here’s where you get your national greatness-minded government types, from Teddy Roosevelt to Mussolini to Hitler to John McCain to W. Bush; differentiated by the lengths they’ll go to in making/remaking the country into their vision. They believe the State is paramount relative to the Individual and the State is the proper force for advancing the “society.”

      Which makes them not “right” at all, but rather statists….meaning on the Left of center. Totalitarianism is Statism and that is far Left of center. The Left is all about central control, the Right is all about uncontrol or rather control coming from an individual upon the individual by the individual. Taken to its logical conclusion, far right ends up as anarchy. The vast majority of this country falls between the two. But currently, the government is all about control.

    • The law of nature is to rule or to be ruled. Dollars to donuts, you will be the ruled and not the ruler. So the question is, who will rule you? Will he be from the right or the Left?

  27. Maybe I misread the op-ed piece twice. Maybe I have read most of his books and therefore “get” what he means. Or maybe because I have read most of his books I’m reading thing into the story that aren’t there. But it seems to me Diamonds thoughts have nothing to do with the Second Amendment. It not that the Right is evil. Or that the Left is our savior.

    The point seems to be that no one in this country is willing to even talk about how to get out of the economic quagmire that we are in. There is no talk about how to handle immigration. There is no effort to come up with any form of meaningful compromise on anything. Instead we have not just political fanaticism, but people willing to bypass the government to force there will, right or wrong, in areas that they fill that the government is failing them. These are dangerous events for any nation.

    As Diamond points out, “Already, plenty of Americans are asserting the right to carry guns in previously unlikely places (such as in schools and government offices)” Note that he states right to carry guns. I don’t think that he is trying to attack the carrier, per say, rather pointing out that people are felling the need to defend themselves (and possibly exert force) in areas that where people once felt it was not needed. This is a failing of government, not the people. At least not anymore than that We, The People are the government.

    I fell that I should also point out that as of the time I write this there are 84 responses to this story. Most, if not all, fit right into what Diamond means is the greatest threat to America.

    • I’ve read ‘Collapse’ which was pretty well-crafted and sussed out.

      I don’t know that I fully see what you’re seeing in the article, even through the lens of his prior works. What I do see is that there is currently nothing in our current political machine that will address any of the issues that are killing out Great Nation.

      There’s no side that will rein in the insanity of allowing millions of unskilled immigrants in who have no idea even how to speak the language, let alone be anything but an economic black hole. Taking what few low-skill jobs we have from those who are here legally, and driving wages down for everyone.

      There’s no side that will throw up enough tariffs to make the short-term illusion of cheap third-world labor, just that, an illusion. No manufacturing, no economy for a country of 10MM people, let alone 330MM simple as that. We’re in a race to the bottom, somebody needs to pull that rope soon before the Chinese steal everything – they’ll have stolen all the US IP within the next 5 years, they’re really quite good at it.

      Finally, we have an insane distribution of wealth and it is killing the economy. 1 family with a $1MM per year income contributes less than a third of what 10 families each making $100K does. The super rich sitting on money does nothing to move an economy anywhere. Not to mention the insanity of inheritance taxes, they almost don’t exist anymore until you cross over into the upper reaches of the 1%. Landed gentry are incredibly corrosive to creativity and productivity – so said Jefferson anyway… (Yeah, I know about the school. Different context.)

      The money to get in, let alone the money that comes when you get out, has made politics incredibly twisted, and certainly not in favor or ‘going to serve their fellow American’.

      • I would do a point by point examination of the article, but I’m honestly to tired right now. Maybe in the morning.

        I agree with you on all counts, but I think, and my interpretation of what Diamond thinks, is that we need a real and true, apolitical discussion on it. Let’s take immigration. At this time we have some on the left saying little more than “It’s Good” while some on the right say “It’s Bad.” There is really not an in between, but any solution will have to be. We can’t stand the mass influx of illegal immigrants. But we really can’t just round up 12 million people that are already in the US and kick them out. If nothing else, the economy can’t stand the loss. The answer is somewhere in there.

        But we don’t talk about it. Instead we have a Government that refuses to enforce it’s own laws. So in it’s place we have the armed citizenry doing what they view as the Governments job. Now some of the same people are stepping in on property rights (See Bundy Ranch.) That makes two counts that an armed public is stepping into rectify what it sees as the failings of Government. How long before the view shifts to that the Government is failed? That’s how Civil Wars begin.

        • No need for a point-by-point. While I don’t completely see the same thing, I can accept that others see something different and can logically justify that view. Tomaytoe, Tohmahtoe….

          Despite all the advantages to rounding up even a few million of our illegals, I too know it will never happen. But we do have to quit growing that number. I have no problem with legal immigrants, I have several “newly minted” American friends. They work hard, are educated, and attempt to excel at our language and customs. They want to be here, and be one of “us”. Not exactly like me, but they operate within the framework, as the Founders designed.

          It’s a great warm-fuzzy to think we can take all those who live less well than we. It’s also a fantasy with huge costs that we cannot afford to pay. There’s 6+billion who live like animals compared to those living in the USA, it’s beyond ridiculous to think we can help them all, or even the tiny fraction we do with legal immigration.

  28. What he really misses is that, compared to Spain, Austria, and Germany in the 30’s, and Chile later on, American politics are not that radically divided, nor is there the recipe that allows radicalized groups to seize power. Economy may stink, but it is no Depression. Democrats and Republicans may bicker, but it is no Red or facist menace.

    Heck his example is probably one of the most sympathetic of dictatorships of the time. Communists took over Spain, at first moderate Republics, monarchists, etc banded together, but both because the main leader died early on and because the only major powers willing to aid them were Germany and Italy, the originally small minority of fascists took control of the nationalist side of Spain. Meanwhile the US, UK, USSR, armed the communist side.

    But Dollfuss? My! He wanted no civil war like Spain, and he feared the popularity of Nazis in certain regions of Austria. So-called Austriofascism is incredibly idiosyncratic, being something between Italian fascism and a solidarist view of the state and economy (like the solidarists of Poland many decades later). And it is no secret that many of the fascist overtures were to gain support of Italy, against Nazi encroachment (indeed Mussolini threatened war with Hitler should he try and take Austria). The Nazi and communist parties were outlawed. It was only with Italy and Nazi Germany forming an alliance that Austria’s gamble failed.

    I have no idea if Dollfuss was sincere in his desire to merely save Austria from Nazi danger, and to step down from power as soon as things stabilized. He would have been a very rare dictator to do so (though not unheard of). He was killed too early, by Nazis. I do know that unlike most rulers he didn’t pay much attention to his personal security, making it fairly easy to target him. One should note too that it was not threat of pricate militias that dissolved the legislature, but simply the majority party that did. And for better or worse, even the “ugly aspects” of Austro-fascism were, well, Austrianized. With political dissidents released very quickly and the Austrian police not being very good at being jack booted thugs. It wouldn’t be polite after all!

    Sorry for the long post, it is a period of history that has always fascinated me. And the LA writer is an idiot.

  29. Compromising cherished political beliefs will be painful, for both Republicans and Democrats. Jared Diamond and his associates are the enemy within.

  30. For what it’s worth . . . Historically, “right wing” hasn’t meant what popular belief says it is. When the lines were being drawn, “right wing” was used to describe the right wing of leftest European politics. Thus, fascism was said to be “right wing” because it allowed more ownership of private property while still being a form of authoritarian socialism. Simply put, it was the right wing of the left wing (with communism being the left wing of left wing politics).

    Although decidedly of the left, progressives in America have worked tirelessly to blur the political landscape by labeling free-market conservatives and libertarians as “right-wing fascists” implying that we can at-once be free-market and socialist. To put things into perspective, “right wingers” in America are more properly progressives since their ideology has always been more in alignment with fascism. Political conservatives and libertarians, drawing their philosophical roots not from sundry strains of European socialism, but more from 19th century liberalism with its emphasis on maximum liberty and freedom are the antithesis of the real right wing and progressivism.

    Nonetheless progressives like Diamond continue to try to create a form of New Speak, a “big lie” in which the real defender’s of freedom. like the armed citizens who showed up at the Bundy ranch, are described as the enemies of liberty and freedom. But think about something. Did “fascists” really kill freedom and liberty in Chile in 1968? A good case can be made that contemporary Chile has a more democratic government, one that better guarantees the freedom of it’s citizens, than we do at the moment. Would socialism have allowed that to happen?

    • Addendum: I forgot to mention that libertarian intellectuals didn’t take any of this “right winger” labeling laying down. Showing that they too can play the naming game, libertarians stole a march on the political left and proceeded to re-define the whole modern political landscape by neatly describing leftistism/progressivism in terms of its overarching characteristic: the state’s dominion over the individual.

      “Statism” (ht/Mark Levin) is libertarianism’s definition of any political belief or practice which sees the individual as being always subordinate to the state. Thus, it doesn’t really matter whether.a a politician clams to be of the “right” or “left”, “Republican” or “Democrat”, if he or she views state domination of the individual as the natural state of things (i.e., Jeb Bush), they fail the litmus test: they’re statists regardless of what their official label says about them.

      • Yep. A better way of describing the spectrum of political ideology would be that all those that believe in the dominance of the state over the individual, communist/facist/dictatorship is on the left; those that believe the state is to protect individual rights are on the right, ie Traditional Liberalism, Libertarian, Constitutional Republic.

  31. Jared Diamond would have the “enemies within” as those who value their rights and take them seriously.

    I would have Jared Diamond and his type (those who can be frightened into abandoning their rights and ultimately prove unworthy of them) as the enemy within.

  32. Unfortunately the founding fathers failed to deal with the issue of political parties- an element of gridlock that is not conducive to anything good. It’s not as though they didn’t recognize the danger, they just didn’t do anything to prevent it.

    Not like we have done better (some simple electoral reforms would work).

  33. Meanwhile, our politicians have been increasingly unwilling or unable to craft compromises. The most recent Congress passed fewer laws than any Congress in decades.

    Sigh. Statists.

  34. And they say,…..WE’RE dangerous? This man has murdered history, politics, reason, logic, meaning, honesty, truth, and the definition of what intelligence IS. The horrifying history is, murder is what the Left have do best. As for the Right-wing dictatorships, there’s no such thing. Dictatorships are Lefty only clubs, it has ever been so. This is how the Left rewrites the past.

    “Who controls the past controls the future.
    Who controls the present controls the past.” ~ Orwell

    “1984” was supposed to serve as a warning, not a how-to guide for tiny tyrants.

  35. The Chinese proverb, “Three men make a tiger.” highlights how things tend to coalesce for the average citizen of the state and to a lesser degree…everyone else.

  36. I think the fact that Diamond asserts a direct correlation between gun rights and a right wing takeover reveals his true sympathies. We who have enjoyed reading his books don’t have to go to great lengths to rationalize this article. He can write good books and be wrong on guns.

  37. Left, right, democracy, all farcical terms. If you’re thinking in these manufactured boxes, you don’t have a chance of being accurate.

  38. Government is the greediest, most corrupt and murderous force on Earth, but Mr. Diamond has a religious faith in government.

    Governments murdered 262 million of their own citizens in the past century, and 80% of those murders were committed by “redistributionist” governments.

  39. It’s the same rationalized rejection of the Constitution that informed Woodrow Wilson. His view was that limited, delegated powers and separation of those powers as well as respect for unalienable individual rights were unacceptable barriers to good governance.

    Short answer: He academically legitimized tyranny.

    And that legacy, apparently, lives on.

    • Wilson was exactly right regarding “good governance”.
      .
      If it’s governance you’re looking for, a Constitutional Republic, such as ours, is the worst form of “government” one can imagine.
      .
      It was designed by the Founders to prevent the “Good Governance” that Wilson (and Obama) wished for.

  40. Jared Diamond is one of those living exemplars of Gell-Mann Amnesia, in which a writer sound very convincing until he treads into an area of your personal experience and is revealed to be full of crap. But so long as he deals solely in areas where you can claim no expertise, he remains convincing.

    Diamond does a good job of selling his ideas to the general public but among other scholars of the same fields he is taken far less seriously.

  41. I didn’t read alllll of the comments so forgive me if I repeat something already said.

    “the majority of decent Americans may in frustration come to view an authoritarian government as the only solution to political gridlock — as a lesser evil that has to be tolerated.”

    What party is currently turning to an authoritarian President to bypass politics and gridlock? It isn’t Republicans, the Tea Party, or people who like the 2nd amendment. These people want the government to adhere to the Constitution not shred it.

    The ones who view an authoritarian president as something beneficial to society are currently the Democrats. The Democrats are the ones who tried to stage a socialist coup with OWS. The Democrats are rioting in the streets and assassinating cops. The Democrats are abusing an authoritarian government to persecute political dissidents.

    Political violence can come from any side but right now and historically in our country, most of the violence comes from Democrats. But the author in question will say the Tea Party was violent while ignoring dead cops, protesters raped or killed by other protesters, and mass shooting after mass shooting done among other acts of violence done in the name of the Democrat party.

  42. I sure do wish that the energy expressed in the TTAG forums alone could be harnessed and put towards something useful. It would seem no one lacks the ambition to have their respective say (myself included). I wonder how many other similar but different souls could harness our frustration, knowledge, good sense, creativity and professional contacts in order to strategize a functional plan that addresses every major media-magnified issue that is being exploited with contextually-effective talking points that are capable of deflating any potential headline-grabbing opportunities to tell the big lie about guns being the issue.

    I am a professional program manager and that’s just the way and organizing mind like mine thinks processes problem resolution – define the problem, capture the functional requirements to deliver the solution that achieves the desired results, identify potential risks and operate the program in a consistent manner that addresses those requirements with must-win actions and statements.

    Statements that define our Constitutional rights in every respect and depict them in the realistic perspective of “what we deserve by decree of the forefathers”, versus “what we really have by decree of your elected representatives” that shows the wide delta between the planned government and the real government in pictographic format that’s dumb-downed so even the most intransigent gun-grabbing crybaby would be stunned into silence and the most dimwitted talking TV head could understand and appreciate.

    As someone who has planned for infinite contingencies and solved so many so-called “unsolvable” problems, having witnessed many scenarios unfold and go horribly wrong like a slow-motion train wreck, it is very frustrating to have the forethought and knowledge for affectively preventing those events from being created, but being unable to organize the resources and apply them in the most-effective manners likely to achieve success.

    Does anyone else ever feel this way? There will be a test for those who do.

    • having witnessed many scenarios unfold and go horribly wrong like a slow-motion train wreck, it is very frustrating to have the forethought and knowledge for affectively preventing those events from being created, but being unable to organize the resources and apply them in the most-effective manners likely to achieve success.

      Just about everyone I’ve known who has fought for the protection of constitutional rights over any considerable span of time has gone through times of some sort of apathy (for lack of a better term) because of this. They believe that they see the train wreck happening but don’t see their efforts as potentially having any real, lasting long term effect. It think that’s why the 2A butters frustrate us so much. In my case, I am especially frustrated over SCOTUS and judicial review. As long as the Supreme Court wields that unrestrained power, constitutional protections remain just short of mere suggestions to government. I won’t even rant about the NRA right now…

      IMHO, the bottom line is that if individuals really understood the enormity of freedom lost in this country, some would get very busy correcting it. Unfortunately, I believe that a large number would instead rationalize themselves back into servitude.

      My solution? Massive civil disobedience. If large enough numbers engaged in wholesale disregarding infringement, it would nullify those unconstitutional laws on the street through action and in the courtroom through jury nullification. Sadly, I don’t see this peaceful solution as likely to happen here. Too many are comfortable with mommy government kissing their boo-boos and it’s been this way for far too long. This is normal for today’s younger people. Over time, Liberty loses unless the People are vigilant. It is something to be jealously guarded and the American People haven’t.

      • As an American Patriot, I fully support the principles enshrined in the 2nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, BUT (or EXCEPT FOR) . . . .
        .
        .
        And here folks, is the crux of the problem!
        .

        • I haven’t read it but have been preaching the virtues of jury nullification since the 1980s. It seems pretty simple and straight forward to me. Unfortunately, I’ve found it nigh on impossible to get seated on a jury if I answer some questions honestly during selection. 🙁

          IMHO, jury nullification means that the People, not government, have the final say on law. The judicial system has gone out of it’s way to make jury nullification a dirty word.

          (Edit: Working with frozen water lines on rentals so I’m distracted. We discussed states nullifying federal law a lot in the 1990s.)

  43. We hope it never comes to that. It will be severely ugly; worse than the Civil War. We are here in order to ensure democracy continues to reign supreme…….peacefully.

    • We are here in order to ensure democracy continues to reign supreme…….peacefully.

      Are you sure about that?

      Democracy?

      http://www.whatourforefathersthought.com/DemoRep.html

      Article IV Section 4, of the Constitution “The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of government, and shall protect each of them against Invasion”, the word Democracy is not mentioned in the Constitution at all. Madison warned us of the dangers of democracies with this quote, along with more warnings from others.

      Always peacefully? Can’t it be a completely different form of government if the People wished it to be so?

      From ye ole Declaration of Independence…

      That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to 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. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security.

      • And to quote ye ol’ Thomas Jefferson:
        .
        “”God forbid we should ever be 20 years without such a rebellion … what country can preserve it’s liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. … The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants, . It is it’s natural manure.” — Thomas Jefferson, letter to William Smith, November 13, 1787

        Thomas Jefferson (April 13, 1743 (April 2, 1743 O.S.) – July 4, 1826) was an American Founding Father, the principal author of the Declaration of Independence (1776) and the third President of the United States (1801–1809). At the beginning of the American Revolution, he served in the Continental Congress, representing Virginia and then served as a wartime Governor of Virginia (1779–1781). Just after the war ended, from mid-1784 Jefferson served as a diplomat, stationed in Paris. In May 1785, he became the United States Minister to France. Jefferson was the first United States Secretary of State (1790–1793) serving under President George Washington. With his close friend James Madison he organized the Democratic-Republican Party, and subsequently resigned from Washington’s cabinet. Elected Vice President in 1796, when he came in second to John Adams of the Federalists, Jefferson opposed Adams and with Madison secretly wrote the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions, which attempted to nullify the Alien and Sedition Acts.

        • I think that a little rebellion from time to time not only reminds those in positions of power, it also reminds the individual as to their own power and duty of resistance against unjust governance. Otherwise, the People become complacent and easily led into servitude. Hell, they even beg for it in the name of security. IMHO, the People today are but a pitiful shadow of the free people TJ might have envisioned would be inhabiting this nation. Such prosperity but we allowed our liberties to slip away; sad and enraging at the same time.

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