The Myth of the Clean Revolution

Kim du Toit brings up a lot of important points in regards to the thread yesterday:

I’ve lived in a state of near-revolution, and let me tell you, it wasn’t pretty. Want to go and visit your mother in the next town over? Imagine having to call ahead to the local police stations or military bases to see if the road is safe to travel on. (Add IEDs to this, and I think the picture becomes even clearer.) Has the Kmart been swept recently for explosive devices? Is anyone lurking over the road, waiting to shoot you when you come out to mow your lawn?

I think Kim’s clarity on this issue comes from the fact that he’s an immigrant, and has been much closer to actual civil unrest than any of us have been.  I would also imagine that people who grew up in a different culture also aren’t raised with all the American cultural myths.  Now, I’m not going to immediately bash on mythology.  Every society needs its mythology in order to define itself as a people.  But I think we do need to recognize when mythology starts getting its nose into the tent of reality.

One particular American myth is that of the clean revolution.  No one disputes that the American Revolution was just and necessary, but history tends to white wash the nastier bits.  One doesn’t have to look much farther than what happened to Loyalists both during and after the revolution to realize that it wasn’t clean. As Peter at Firearms and Freedom point out, even if you win your revolution, you’re still stuck with the same population that voted the original government into existence.  None of the ways to deal with that problem are pretty.

Our revolution was also risky.  The founding fathers, who pledged their lives, fortunes and sacred honor, would have certainly been executed if the revolution had been put down, but they also would have been in trouble had they lost control.  If it wasn’t for George Washington, we would be a backwater, just like many of the other American colonies.  History is not replete with men who willingly surrender great power.  Washington may not have filled the intellectual role in our nation’s founding that Jefferson or Madison did, and he might not have been the greatest general the world has ever seen, but Washington made his place in our history with these words:

Having now finished the work assigned me, I retire from the great theatre of Action; and bidding an Affectionate farewell to this August body under whose orders I have so long acted, I here offer my Commission, and take my leave of all the employments of public life.

That is, in my opinion, one of the greatest acts in the history of mankind.  Not only for what it said of Washington’s character, but because men like Washington are so utterly rare in history.

For the people today who think about affecting a clean revolution, remember that your revolution will not change the people of the United States, who elected the government that you so despise, and we’d be extraordinarily lucky to be lead by another Washington.  The only clean revolutions are those that happen by the ballot box.

That’s why Bitter is pissed off about this whole thread, since she’s worked most of her adult life on affecting a truly clean revolution on this issue by convincing her fellow citizens to toss out the bums who vote for gun control.  It’s also why I love people like Breda, who bring in passion for the issue, and are eagar to share it with others.  If we had a thousand Bitters and Bredas scattered around the country, gun rights would be an unstoppable juggernaut.  We’d get our clean revolution.  This is where I make my contribution in the here and now.  What about you?

24 thoughts on “The Myth of the Clean Revolution”

  1. Rush Limbaugh has a copy of an speech given by his father on his website: It looks into some of the consequences suffered by the signers of the Declaration of Independence. Regardless of what you think of his politics, its a great read.

    You are absolutely right, Sebastian. If we had a thousand people like you, Bitter, and Breda spread throughout the country…its over. We win. That’s what I want to do for gun rights….try to grow them.

  2. I don’t know anyone talking about a “clean revolution”, and if they’re out there, they are not to be taken seriously.

    I have a question: are you ready to get to the end of your whole life with your present political approach and realize that it failed?

  3. are you ready to get to the end of your whole life with your present political approach and realize that it failed?

    Yes. Are you?

  4. I think we need both the Breda/Bitter’s AND the Mike V’s.

    Breda and Bitter provide a hugely valuable service educating and influencing the electorate. I’d say keep up the great work!

    Unfortunately, those bumbling and lethal clowns at the ATF require a stronger deterrant. Their handlers who long ago dropped the leash require a stronger deterrant. No amount of education or legislation will stop them from staging raids, jailing and killing us over any pathetic excuse to get ninja’ed up. They need to fear us.

  5. Yes, Sebastian, I am, but I will by god have the satisfaction of knowing that I never begged for what is mine, that I was always right, and that I was on a track which had never in my adult life seen a fair test while the electoral treadmill was always demonstrably sinking deeper into the rot.

    Ya got me.

  6. Well said, Sebastian. Just this morning the details of Harry Reid’s spending bill came to light- and the amount of pork coming from those who pledged to make things right is outrageous.

    Now, I really don’t think that’s a crime punishable by revolution, and I would hope Mike V. wouldn’t either. And that’s why Bitter is right- it’s time to throw all the bums out. The only problem is getting the American citizens to wake up to that fact.

  7. Well put.

    I am a history buff, particularly for the second half of the 18th century (1750-1800), including being a reenactor of the time period. And all anyone has to do is some basic studying of the American War for Independence to understand that war is NOT Politically Correct.

    At one particular event I attend every summer we do a “Fashion Show” based on historical persona’s. The first thing we tell the audience is this will not be politically correct, and if you are easily offended, you will be here. History is not just great victories and fancy balls, it is bloody, violent, and horrific-on both sides. Homes destroyed, families ripped apart, hangings, these were all a part of real life.

  8. “And that’s why Bitter is right- it’s time to throw all the bums out.”

    “Your problem is that you’re trying to clean up the whorehouse and keep the business.”

    (Frank Chodorov — quoted by Robert LeFevre on the birth of the Libertarian Party)

    What we face might not actually be buried that deeply in the nature of things — although I think it is — but it’s a lot deeper than “throwing the bums out”. We’re talking about a culture many generations into cannibal-pot ethics now: there is no serious political culture from which to draw on a hope like that.

    Somebody prove me wrong: no nation in history has ever voted its way out of straits like ours now. I say: we won’t, either.

  9. Despite how bad folks like to say things are, and how far we’ve sunk, we’re really not in that bad shape. Sure, places like DC and Chicago have trampled rights. Sure, in a perfect world MGs would be as commonplace as 10/22s. But let’s take an objective veiw here, and expand on Sebastian’s post.

    There is a very small chance that I will be a crime victim today. And in most parts of the country, the authorities respect my right to defend myself if I am.

    My property is mine. I pay taxes – that’s how I have roads to drive on, fire and police services, and a strong national defense. I trust that my roads will be open, my mail will be delivered quickly, and any house fires will be dealt with. Those in government do not expect me to pay bribes for their services, and in fact there are laws against it. There are logical processes for most activities where I must interact with my government. Exceptions are extremely rare (better than six-sigma rare for the technically inclined).

    Our society is orderly for the most part. Certainly there are less lawful areas, particularly in large urban cities, but these areas are still far safer than similar areas in other countries, even some European countries.

    I can get anything I need with little fuss. The phone works every time. On the rare occasion the power goes out, a phone call gets it back on within a short time. The faucet always gives clean, safe water. Airplanes don’t crash. Banks don’t steal your money. Gangs don’t kidnap kids for ransom. Drug growers don’t take over whole towns and force people to work for them.

    The grocery store has lots of choices, all the time. I can even have meals delivered to my door. Restaurant food is safe to eat. I know my kids can get a good education, and if I don’t like the free version I can pay for private school. College is pretty much a given if you have the smarts. Jobs are available if you are willing to do them, and your pay will be equitable.

    I could go on, but hopefully you get the picture. People are not going to revolt. Sure, some things the government does infuriate me, but this is still by far the best place to live in the entire world.

  10. You are so right about Washington. He was the first leader since the middle-Roman Republic to voluntarily surrender power. Surely one of the most significant acts in history, and one too few people comprehend.

  11. A high school friend of mine was a refugee from Kuwait… she and her family were living there when Saddam invaded in ’91… she could tell you all kinds of stories, thankfully she never got attacked personally… but every passing group of Iraqi soldiers thought it was great fun to use the windows of her house as target practice. she slept on the floor for 6 months because of it…

    we have yet to know the true meaning of horrible conditions here in the US, at least none of us that are still alive do…

    i for one believe that the founders did indeed consider it the duty of citizens to ensure that their government did not grow too abusive… they also left many ways to implement changes to ensure that changes could be made without violence… we as a community of gun owners pride ourselves in being the most law abiding of the people, so for most of us the only viable solution is to make sure that we work within the system to change the system… getting violent does nothing more than make us all look like fools

  12. Nobody is getting violent. We’re just debating the utility of warning politicians about unintended consequences (which likely serves to stave off violence).

  13. I could go on, but hopefully you get the picture. People are not going to revolt. Sure, some things the government does infuriate me, but this is still by far the best place to live in the entire world.

    It was the best place to live in the entire world in 1775 too.

  14. Sebastian, why don’t you run for Congress or your state legislature? Or Bitter? Or Ogre? Or Countertop?

    You’re smart people. We always bemoan the fact that there are no good candidates.

    I know none of you WANT to. No one sane and moral would want to.

    If our culture doesn’t value smart, decent, ethical candidates, how do we bring it back?


  15. Sebastian, This is not intended to dispute your main point. Just point out that perhaps not all of your justification for it is valid.

    “remember that your revolution will not change the people of the United States, who elected the government that you so despise”

    There may be solutions to the problem of continuous government growth and power without restricting the voting rights of the people that don’t know better.

    Go read The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress and their search for a new form of government. Possibilities discussed included all laws required a 2/3s majority in one house of government to be put into effect. And the other house had as it’s sole purpose the repealing of laws and could do so by getting only 1/3 of the votes. Other interesting options were considered. I think we have learned a lot about the failures of our current system of government to protect freedom and perhaps we could better if we started with a clean slate.

    Often the biggest barrier to a solution is properly defining the problem. My son James and just finished the book Future of Freedom. We both were highly annoyed about the author being able to describe the process by which freedom was/is destroyed in democracies but never pointed out the, what to us seemed, obvious solutions. But perhaps we were too harsh. Successfully defining the problem is a major accomplishment in its own right.

    Anyone considering “shooting the bastards” needs to realize that even if taking that step is fully justified (justification basis deliberately omitted as being beyond the scope of this post but this could be a starting point) one needs to look at the long term direct and unintended consequences of such an act. They need to have a reasonably good idea what the position of society will be a day, a week, a year, and a decade after they “pulled the trigger”. And after evaluation the conclude the world will be a better place by most measures. They need to be a grand master chess player with only a small fraction of the pieces visible on the board and see ten moves ahead against opponents who are known and unknown. Or they need to know, with near certainty, things can’t get any worse if they do take the shot.

    I contend no such grand master “chess player” exists. Hence before “taking the shot” the existing or reasonably projected conditions need to be so bad as to replicate something like a Nazi concentration camp or Soviet Gulag.

  16. oldblinddog says: “It was the best place to live in the entire world in 1775 too.”

    Perhaps in some regards, ignoring the malaria and other tropical diseases and remoteness from the rest of the civilized world. There was little poverty precisely because only those with the means and useful skills were able to secure passage to the Americas. So yes, in some ways it was the best. However, we are a far cry from the oppression of King George on the colonists.

    1774: The British parliament gave its speedy assent to a series of acts that became known as the “Coercive Acts”; or in the colonies as the “Intolerable Acts”. These acts included the closing of the port of Boston, until such time as the East India tea company received compensation for the tea dumped into the harbor. The Royal governor took control over the Massachusetts government and would appoint all officials. Sheriffs would become royal appointees, as would juries. In addition, the British took the right to quarter soldiers anywhere in the colonies.

    Add this on top of all the taxes on staples that had been imposed – tea, molasses, lead, silk, paint, paper, glass, etc., and you can see that things were bad. If local elected offices suddenly were replaced by federal appointees, juries were stacked by the government and homeowners were forced to house and feed soldiers, I suspect you’d see a similar uprising by the masses. The isolated abuses we see today must be addressed, but violence will not win you any allies. There are means available to address them within the law. We the People must be willing to get off our butts and take advantage of those means. It may be a lot of work, but you’ll still have your house will still be intact, and your neighbors and your family will still be alive. Ask an Afghan what years of war and civil unrest is like.

  17. I’m still thinking some of this through, so I’m picking on a minor point I do have a grasp on.

    “If we had a thousand Bitters and Bredas scattered around the country, gun rights would be an unstoppable juggernaut.”

    This could imply that the Davids and Mikes are not advancing gun rights at all, or would do more by imitating the B’s. I’m not sure I buy that. On a personal note, although I’ve always been roughly conservative, I never owned a gun until my 20’s. And I didn’t buy one for the privilege of joining a gun club or going to NRA benefit dinners. I still don’t hunt, shoot clays or shoot competitively.

    I was “converted” by reading John Lott, Vin Suprynowicz and Fred of Fred’s M14 Stocks fame. The last two are in roughly the same camp as the Mike and David. Am I the only one who was? Maybe, but if I wasn’t alone, and that camp is converting or encouraging shooters, then that means the “revolutionists” in fact are working for a clean revolution and voting the bums out. In effect if not in rhetoric.

    I look at California, England and Australia and I see what can happen when you have well-mannered gun owners and no-one else. Because they had, in fact still have, active shooting communities. But they drew no line in the sand, to use Bitter’s words, and we can see where they got by not upsetting anyone’s sensibilities.

  18. “For the people today who think about affecting a clean revolution…”

    Personally, I did know some of the seamier history of the American Revolution before this ever came up. I’m aware that I didn’t learn it in public school, I got it out of a layperson’s reading of history afterwards, and not everyone gets that.

    I never have gotten the impression that either Codrea or Vanderboegh believes in a clean revolution. Certainly Unintended Consequences is not an optimistic novel, and it doesn’t look like Absolved will be any better.

    The true costs of a revolution are serious enough to make this a more than fair subject to keep in discussion, but I don’t think its the case that Vanderboegh believes in a clean revolution.

    Maybe there wouldn’t ever be a revolution, or any synchronized resistance to crossing the final lines in America. I’ve had doubts about that myself after Katrina and the New Orleans gun confiscations. Bitter may be right about myself if no-one else, that I’d go meekly when the time came whatever I say now.

    But at the very, very least there would be a lot more lone shooters like Carl Drega or the dozen other people whose lines have been crossed already, and who never made it into the national news. And even if they all go down, and get painted as whackos when they’re reported at all, there’s not much either side is going to be able to do to rein them in.

    The very deadly serious consequences of a revolution are equally a reason not to bring one on lightly as well as to make sure the opposing side really understands the costs involved if they get everything they’re actively working for. Which is how I read Vanderboegh’s letter.

  19. Saladman, your comment about understanding the cost reminded me of this quote.

    The guns only have to exist, not be used, to make a difference in both the oppressor and those oppressed.

  20. Joe … that reminds me about a statement attributed to Stalin, concerning reports that Ukrainians were hiding guns by burying them: “Good. If they bury them, they cannot use them.”

    You need more than to just have the firearms be present.

  21. Joe … that reminds me about a statement attributed to Stalin, concerning reports that Ukrainians were hiding guns by burying them: “Good. If they bury them, they cannot use them.”

    You need more than to just have the firearms be present. You still need the will to, eventually, use them.

  22. hi, andar here, i just read your post. i like very much. agree to you, sir.

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