Anarchism and The Second Amendment

A request from Fellow blogger Fearless has me contemplating how Anarchists view the second amendment. It would be all to easy to say that Anarchists support it outright. Although many of us do in fact support it, and the various interpretations of it, that is simply too easy of an answer. So let's begin with some basics.

The second amendment states:

Amendment II

A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

One would think that the amendment itself is rather clear cut, but for years the debate has been ferocious. The original intent of our forefathers is unclear. While states had militias, and rag-tag militias were created at different points in history, the amendment would seem to encourage the arming of actual military personnel. At the time it was written, that would be the people, but in today's world, that would be a professional military. The other argument for a regulated right to bear arms focuses on the type of weapon being bought and used. Some argue that many modern day weapons were never intended to be used by the general public, and so should be highly regulated or outright banned for personal use.

The other argument focuses mainly on the forefathers intelligent reasoning that the people must be armed in case the need to revolt against an illegitimate government, should one come to power and take control of the national military. Much in the way that England's professional army was used against the original American Revolutionaries. Their argument for access to certain modern day weapons may also stem to the previous argument in the sense that we would need to have equal access to the same weapons being used against us.

Both arguments have some credibility.

We cannot know the original intention of the amendment outright, but I would argue that the pro arms argument that we need to have access to weapons just in case of a dictatorship forming sounds like the most plausible intention. After all, that is exactly what our forefathers experienced just prior to writing the constitution and it's amendments. Honestly, it isn't a stretch.

On the other hand, I give the pro regulation crowd some leeway with their interpretation of the right to regulate arms with regards to certain modern weapons. Full automatic weapons designed to kill dumptrucks do seem to be excessive, and, would certainly not have been considered by the authors during the addition of the second amendment. Weapons like that simply didn't exist, unless you include cannons, which was not considered an arm we had the right to bear. So they may have a point there.

There is a strict divide of opinions regarding guns ownership for personal safety, and almost no divide on the right to own arms used for hunting.

More to the point, the real debate now resides over regulation of such arms.

As it stands now, most states have similar laws and regulations regarding the attainment of personal weapons. Namely that one must pass a multiple day hold and background check prior to purchasing a gun legally, and most states require licensing and gun safety courses for the right to carry a gun on one's person. There is little debate on the inability to carry firearms into certain buildings or public spaces such as schools, government buildings and courts, and most states have regulations on where and when a person can hunt.

Speaking on a personal level, Anarchists have, use, or carry guns. Generally speaking we use guns to hunt, first and foremost. Although not all Anarchists hunt, the ones I know personally do. Many of them are also ex-military and have been well trained in firearm safety and use. We also follow the laws and regulations on gun ownership.

There is little debate among my fellow Anarchists about gun ownership and the right to arm oneself. Contrary to popular belief we aren't nearly as violent and destructive as the media portrays us, and wreak very little havoc in our daily lives. But because we are so adamantly opposed to illegitimate authority, the threat of having a dictatorship or dictator-esque take control and seize our rights or ability to defend ourselves is enough of a threat to keep us supporting the second amendment.

Now, you may be thinking that the notion of a dictatorship taking control of our country is a silly one. We have checks and balances, we have elections. We have a well armed and trained military at our disposal. But to think that we are impervious to such a coup is to be arrogant and foolish. Dictators have been democratically elected in other countries, and forceful coups can happen. Our forefathers did exactly that, and gave us the ability to arm ourselves in case another group decided to do the same thing. The relatively apathetic ideology that any and all governmental problems and coups can and should be solved by our government is irrational. Not to state the obvious but, if a dictator were to take control, we would have no government to turn to.

Which brings me to another point, the argument of regulation and record keeping. While the regulation and well kept records of gun ownership seems legitimate in our current national climate, it could prove detrimental to us should a dictator ever take control. Obviously, our rights would be revoked. Particularly the right to own and bear arms. The best way to safeguard a newly formed dictatorship is to disarm the public, quashing any hint of revolution. In fact, the registries would not only prove to quickly disarm us, but could also prove to imprison those of us who legally own arms. In this regard, the Anarchist or any revolutionary would be forced to the black market, essentially putting us back to square one with regards to arms regulation, and rendering the second amendment, and all of it's interpretations moot.

Of course, we Anarchists are not consistently worried about dictatorships and coups. But I would dare say that Anarchists and supporters of democratic republics could at the very least agree that dictators and fascists are the highest form of illegitimate authority, and should be rebelled against. So at least we'd have that in common. The other arguments of personal safety, and the ability to protect ones home do seem to vary a little bit in the Anarchist circles, but tend to remain on fairly even ground. Generally, we like having the ability to protect ourselves, we like being able to use guns to hunt, and some of us just like guns to shoot in target ranges as a sport.

*A note about guns and gun ownership. Guns are successful with regards to their intended purpose, which is to say they kill things, and well at that. The only reason I personally support licensing and regulations on guns at the moment is because of the requirement of gun safety courses. They outline the law, they teach you how to use a gun, and they teach you what not to do. Guns are serious business, they are not toys. If citizens could take it upon themselves to self regulate their gun ownership educations we could do away with licensing altogether and avoid future problems down the road. However this requires a great deal of personal responsibility and accountability. You do not point a weapon at someone unless you intend to kill them, period. If you do point and pull the trigger, you must be willing to face whatever consequences that result from that action. If you own a gun, you are responsible for it, end of story.

Further reading:

Cornell Law, annotated Constitution
Court Rulings on Firearms - Second Amendment Interpretations
Civil Liberties, Second amendment interpretations
History Matters, the second amendment
US Constitution online, state's rights and the second amendment


The Sin and Glory of Willy Wonka

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, that old children's classic tale of a boy's rags-to-riches saga. The beloved Gene Wilder version barely scratches the surface of the rather dark moral teaching the original story provides. Although the book written by Roald Dahl was created for children's reading, there is a deeper sociological moral to the story at play. It's brought out a great deal by Tim Burton's version of the movie, which was released in 2005.

The story seems to be a straightforward, fairytale modeled, and self explanatory. But is it? The cinematic versions of the story take a decidedly dark undertone of a cautionary tale against the seven deadly sins. Each character represents one of the seven deadly sins, with the exception of lust, which is only briefly touched on in the Burton version where Mrs Beauregard makes a pass at Willy Wonka, and Envy, which is represented in all of the characters at some point. There is another "sin" represented in the story that is based on society's, not religion's, notion of sin.

Starting with the most obvious characters and their respective sins, Augustus Gloop represents, of course, gluttony. The notion of gluttony as a societal norm is actually as old as it is common. The heroin chic look we so crave now is relatively new in modern day society, and a plump, gluttonous body was a sign of wealth and good health for centuries. Today, we are still taught that gluttony is desirable, so long as it isn't showing around our midsections. He met his fate, of course, by eating himself into the precarious position of being stuck in a tube of chocolate, and almost made into fudge.

The second, and equally obvious vice is that of greed. Veruca Salt, the infamous spoiled brat who gets everything her little heart desires is the epitome of greed. In today's society, of course we are taught indirectly that greed is good. Greed is what we strive to do. We hoard our things, and crave increasingly more. Consumerism "Name your price" and being able to buy whatever we want, whenever we want it. It's the Capitalist way, and of course, it signifies our very well-to-do social standing. It gives us power, and makes us feel better about ourselves. She of course, met her demise in a garbage shoot.

Which brings us to our next little darling, Violet Beauregard. In the story, her gum popping is the main annoyance, but it isn't her nasty habits, it's her pride that gets her into trouble. In the Tim Burton version, the little girl, and her mother represent modern day nuclear helicopter parent families. She is the epitome of competition a poor mannered winner with her pride at being the best ever so in your face. This competitive streak is highly ingrained in capitalist society today. We are taught to compete at any and all levels, and regardless of who we step on, we keep telling ourselves to keep an "Eye on the prize". The prize, of course, is being the best-est, the first-est, and the most competitive which should earn us some sort of award. In poor Violet's case, her reward was being turned into a giant blueberry...

Anger is a massive problem today, particularly when it's misdirected. The ever present and incessant know-it-all who righteously lashes out at anyone deemed inferior is commonplace, and seems to be what puts some people ahead of others in life. Meet Mike Teavee, he's plugged in, tuned up, techno-savvy and completely clueless about childhood. or anything, for that matter. The mind numbing effects of TV and video games, piped to us directly from consumerist land creates people with one track minds and rather aggressive personalities. He of course faces the doom of being shrunken down into a pint sized terror because of his inability to listen, and his seething anger which prevents him from thinking before acting.

So which sin is that of poor Charlie Bucket? Quite simply, poverty. In society today, and for centuries, poverty is a perceived sin. It's an unspeakable, unthinkable punishment to those at society's upper crust. Poverty is the bane yet stability of their very existence, so it is demonized by those who need, yet despise it. Poverty is often associated with sloth, but most people know that sloth has nothing to do with poverty. Even though Charlie is portrayed as being a simple, naive daydreamer the story goes on to actually dispel the myth that the poor are lazy. His desire to find a ticket is tempered by hard work, and the selfless notion of giving up that childish pursuit in the name of putting food on his family's table. He possesses the quality that few adults today express. That is to say, the virtue of selflessness in the face of attaining a want.

When combined, the four main characters, and their parents embody the type of marketing schemes and general normalcy of society today. We breed competition, greed, and gluttony into our own children, and sell them on the ideas of attaining as much as possible, and to be prideful of all that we own. Status symbols that reaches beyond mere childhood, and move straight on into adulthood, where the real damage is done. In the story, Willy Wonka, the anti-authoritarian eccentric runs his company on his own terms. He seeks not the "experienced" ways of adult entrepreneurs, and he shows a disdain for adult ideologies and practicalities. His process of weeding out the competitors is not based on which children could be most like corporate sharks, but rather uses their own vices against them, creating their own downfall.

In theory, this is what we all wish for, is it not?

We want those who characterize all of the vices that make this world a harsh place to get their comeuppance. We want them to be hoisted on their own petard. And yet, we continue to idolize, respect and emulate the very people we'd like to see fall flat on their faces. And therein lies the problem. We reward this behavior in real life, but in this tale those behaviors are severely punished. And not just in any old way, and not by trial and jury. But honest to goodness Karma in action punishment.

The other caution here is that forcing young children to become little adults with all of the wrong priorities is that they lose all whimsy. They lack imagination, which is needed for societal progress and invention. They also lack innocence, in this regard. And innocence is what keeps us honest.

For better or for worse, whether intentional or not, this classic tale turned big box hit certainly makes a big social point.


Anarchists Are Better Lovers

PhotobucketThat's right, we are better lovers. Even though everyone and their grandmother assumes that Anarchists are only good for class war and toasting the rich with a molotov cocktail, we actually do have other hobbies. Socializing with each other happens to be one of those hobbies, and when mixed with alcohol, sex.

No, seriously.

Perhaps the erotic combination of intelligence, passion, anger, and precious few inhibitions are what makes us better lovers. Alcohol helps, but it isn't the only thing that helps. Good guys and gals are drawn to the crusty fringe element "baddies" like moths to a flame. It's sex appeal, I tell you. The Anarchist in question might bore you to death with political bloviations or teach you how to make home made weapons, or kidnap you and make you smash the State. The anticipation of not knowing whether you'll be asleep or in jail is enough to make a girl weak in the knees!

Plus, there's the masks. Nothing says sexy quite like a masked madman who can rattle off the political party's failures in rapid succession while building a bomb. Not to mention that our Anarchist men have huge *cough*brains*choke*. Excuse me a moment, I think I have a frog in my throat.

So happy Valentine's Day to all of you out there. May your day be filled with chocolates and frilly cards, and your bed filled with balaclava clad Anarchists. Now go and get all dolled up in your finest riot-wear, and show your lover what Anarchism is really like! Go on! Make it like an Anarchist.

*Authors note, before bursting into your significant other's bedroom fully clad in head to toe black and a balaclava, be sure to warn them first. That will help you avoid any unpleasant gun shots directed at you.


Placing Party Over Country.

In recent news, Republican Judd Gregg stepped down from his newly found position as the head of the Commerce department. He is quoted in the Washington Post as:

he focused on his unwillingness to be part of a team, particularly if he didn't believe in its views "110 percent."

Essentially, Obama had extended the olive branch to Republicans, making a bipartisan country where the best ideas from both sides can be pulled, debated, and used to fix our country, and the Republicans slapped it away.

Is it really that difficult to work with people or for people who have different opinions than yourself? Does one need to be able to agree and support 100% of their boss's ideas in order to bring competence and progress to the table? Sometimes I wonder how people like Gregg deal with everyday life without the ability to agree to disagree or compromise.

It is further proof, in my mind however, that the Republican party really is that sore over losing the election, and, will do anything to stunt the growth of the country, and their constituents in order to preserve their archaic ideologies and unwavering inability to to so much as work with anyone they disagree with. They label the Democrats as "pansies" and "spineless" when they work together and find compromises with the republican party on issues.

Perhaps if they didn't, they would be forced to either make compromises or risk showing their true colors.

That is to say, they place their political priorities over the well being of their constituents.

Gregg's decision, and the RNC's approval of the decision calling it a "rebuke of Obama's liberal agenda" will turn out to be a large political mistake. First and foremost, if they are refusing to take positions offered to them, then they are willingly giving up power. Perhaps they believe that they can then turn on the Liberal Agenda Conspiracy theories, but of course we all know you can't claim a conspiracy power grab when the positions were willfully refused. They could have some modicum of power and a platform to share their ideas, but opt not to.

Perhaps they haven't any good ideas.

The other problem is that it makes them look bad. As if they could look any worse after the last eight years, and McCain's terrible campaign the remaining players opt to act like unhappy children, stomping off the playground, taking their elephant toys with them. The moderate Republican voter base, and the independent scene must be looking at them in awe right now. Perhaps even disappointment that they can't find it in their hearts and minds to make amends, and focus on the needs of the country, rather than ideological fodder.

Placing one's political party over the needs of the people in the areas one represents sounds eerily familiar to another type of political ideology. But I'll leave it to you to guess what that is.


A.N.S.W.E.R. To March in DC

From ANSWER's mainpage:

We are organizing a Mass March on the Pentagon on Saturday, March 21, and it is important that you and your family, friends, co-workers and fellow students put on your marching shoes that day. People are coming from all over the country. Simultaneous demonstrations are taking place in San Francisco and Los Angeles. [...] Why are we still marching even after the war criminal George W. Bush has left office? Because the people must speak out for what is right. More than 1 million Iraqis have died and tens of thousands of U.S. troops have been wounded or killed.

I am glad to hear that the optimism of the new administration hasn't made us forget that there is still work to be done.

I am far more confident now, however, that the new administration will look more favorably upon the requests of the populace than the Bush administration.

There is also a rumor - my dear Anarchist and Socialist and anti-capitalist friends, that there will be an anti-capitalist theme within the group(s). So for those of you who oppose the greedy corporations handouts going towards bonuses etc...this would be an excellent time to begin making your voices heard.

There is also a petition, from MoveOn.org to make the salary caps and restrictions retroactive.

From the page:
Wall Street banks distributed $18.4 billion in year-end bonuses in 2008. $18.4 billion to the people who crippled our economy with their recklessness and greed and then took $700 billion of our money.

President Obama took an important first step, limiting pay at companies taking bailouts going forward. But Congress is considering going even further.

Congress can apply the limits retroactively, and might even take back some of the most extravagant bonuses at firms that take taxpayer money. A huge public outcry will put them over the edge.

A compiled petition with your individual comment will be presented to your senators and representative.

Please sign up, and drop a note if you would like more information about the march, or might need transportation.