I’m writing from England. Your Godmother, home of your brothers. I’m writing to implore wisdom on your part, that you do not forsake what you have in your Second Amendment of the American Constitution:
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.
I do this because I love you. You remain the only nation as yet successfully founded on philosophy, and that document I mentioned is one of the purest and most sublime expressions of Enlightenment thinking that ever was put to paper. We share heritage, language – jokes, prosperity and suffering. So, lend me your ear.
When you were in the quickening stage of life, guns were the means by which you survived. You hunted, defended, and by all accounts (though to what degree we may disagree) entertained the human propensity for malevolence with them. You feel shame and guilt for the latter now. Maybe because you take your admitted exceptionalism too seriously. The eighteenth century was one like the eighteen beforehand, in that the right of conquest ruled, and your behaviour was not notable for its brutality.
As you entered the birth canal, the gun became the means by which you set yourself free. We wanted you as our vassal but you were too bold and independent for us to hold in subjugation. You shrugged off our taxes and our laws and your servitude, Remember how you used to sing:\
“We fired our guns and the British kept a-comin’
There wasn’t nigh as many as there was a while ago
We fired once more and they began to runnin’
On down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico”
We did! And when you severed our cord, you lit a fire of liberty that enraptures the world still.
Upon your first breath though you had the prudence to understand that yours would be a precarious privilege. Power corrupts and expands when given opportunity and your Republic would only last “if you can keep it”. Your first line of defence was to be your voice. The second, your firearms.
Free states do close down. Liberty can secede to tyranny. It happened to Russia in the 1910s. It happened in Italy in the 1920s. It happened in Germany in the 1930s. More recently, it’s happened in Indonesia, Nicaragua, Chile, Uruguay, Paraguay and Guatemala… It can happen to you.
In many ways, you’ve been closing down for a long time. In her treatise, ‘The End of America – Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot’, Naomi Wolf identified ten steps to the closing down process:
Invoke an external and internal threat – The threats may have a basis in reality – but they will be hyped, and they will be the excuse for limiting freedom. On September 11th, 2001, America was the tragic victim of a terrifying external threat – on October 26th, 2001 the unconstitutional Patriot Act was signed into law by President Bush. This law authorized indefinite detention of immigrants, permission for law enforcement to search homes and businesses without the owner or occupants’ consent or knowledge, and expanded powers of surveillance for the FBI and NSA to search telephone, email, and financial records without court orders.
Establish secret prisons – Guantanamo Bay detention camp was set up in 2002 during George W. Bush’s “War on Terror”. Initially considered outside of U.S. jurisdiction, the prison operates in breach of the Fifth and Eighth Amendments and the Geneva Conventions (until 2006 when it was ruled that prisoners were entitled to minimal protections). People have been held indefinitely without realistic prospects of prosecution and current and former detainees have reported torture.
Develop a paramilitary force – More commercial soldiers than regular soldiers have been active in Iraq. Private military companies represent a growth industry who “can’t be held accountable to the Pentagon’s Uniform Code of Military Justice, because its soldiers are civilians. But they can’t be sued in civil court either – because they are part of the U.S. military”.
Surveillance of ordinary citizens – It’s no secret that U.S. citizens are potentially surveilled to an extraordinary extent. Mass surveillance does not lead to more effective intelligence gathering but tyrannical states may employ it to chill their citizens freedom of speech (and, thus, thought).
Infiltrate citizens groups – In a 2006 report, the ACLU discovered that Californian police had infiltrated antiwar protests, political rallies, and other constitutionally protected gatherings illegally. Such stories have broken repeatedly since then.
Arbitrarily detain and release citizens – The National Defense Authorization Act 2011, signed into effect by President Barack Obama, gave the president the right to detain U.S. citizens without charge or trial indefinitely under Clause 21.
Target key individuals – In 2007 there were 75,000 people on a list requiring extra screening at airports, including journalists, activists, and politicians who have been critical of the White House. Similarly to mass surveillance, this provides no security for but (when people are detained and potentially strip-searched by armed guards) it may successfully inhibit them, as well as disrupting legal activities that may challenge state power.
Restrict the press – “In all dictatorships, targeting the free press begins with political pressure – loud, angry campaigns for the news to be represented in a way that supports the group who seeks dominance.” Of course, this quote brings to mind President Donald Trump’s ‘Fake News’ stance – and that does create a disturbing ambience, even if it contains a kernel of truth. However, under President Barack Obama more concerning developments occurred – such as the intimidation of Glenn Greenwald (by U.K. state forces working with U.S. state forces) in retaliation for his publishing of sensitive information obtained by Edward Snowden on the scale of surveillance in the U.S.
Cast criticism as “espionage” and dissent as “treason” – Both Edward Snowden and Julian Assange of WikiLeaks have been threatened under the Espionage Act. Passed during World War One to silence critics of the war, those convicted under the legislation can be hung. It’s been utilized more in the last decade than all of the years between it being established in 1917 and 2007.
Subvert the rule of law – It may look like a military coup, it may look like incremental legislative changes, but during the Barack Obama presidency it looked like it would come in the shape of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) agreement. TTIP (the negotiations for which were halted by President Donald Trump) was on course to sublimate the sovereign power of democratic governments by regulating trade. Concerns about job losses, safety, environmental protection, and predatory business practices would have been out of the hands of state powers. With everything organized according to this agreement that took place behind closed doors and reportedly influenced by influential lobbyists.
Can you appreciate how serious your situation is? The rumours of your fascistic shift are not merely hearsay – the falsehood is only that it started with Trump.
We lost our guns. Incrementally. Bit by bit, legislation essentially took away our rights to keep and bear arms. It arguably works for us. We’re a small island where such regulations can be enforced far more successfully than places with geography more like yours. Our police are largely unarmed, though this is changing. There are legally owned shotguns in the countryside but in our cities, guns are concentrated in the hands of the state and criminals.
Still, even our criminals have less access to guns than your criminals – and this doesn’t seem to matter with London competing with New York over homicide rates of late. What does seem to matter, to you, are rates of legal gun ownership. The states with the highest rates of gun ownership have some of the lowest crime rates in your country. We’re not getting our guns back anytime soon and that might be too bad for us – but you should continue to be that beacon of light shielded from being snuffed out by your Constitution and Bill of Rights. What you have now is precious and you must hold on to it for as long as you possibly can, knowing that [in the words of John Adams] “a constitution of government, once changed from freedom, can never be restored. Liberty, once lost, is lost forever.”
Besides, it’s currently two minutes to midnight. We’re a single catastrophic event away from total anarchy – the collapse of your dollar, the overdue super-eruption in Yellowstone, a pandemic disease… Something’s going to happen and when it does, guns will be your means of survival once more. Keep them close.
This was originally published at Poliquads.com and is reposted here with permission from the author.