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By "noumenon"

The following article is a result of an exchange between "noumenon" and Jon Katz, author of an anti-gun article in Wired magazine.

I originally suggested that it was foolish to blame the object, i.e., the gun, when ample evidence existed to suggest that the real problem was one of culture and philosophy. His response to me: "Well, I admit it -- I'm a fool". Here's what he got from me in return.....

Well, Jon, since you admit that you're a fool, then you should be delighted when you get everything that you've asked for. But wait - a 'custodial' or quasi-fascist society (and everything that comes with it) wasn't quite what you had in mind? Tough shit, bucko - that's what you're going to get when you disempower the individual and enable the looters and cannibals who curently hold sway in this country now.

Consider this: the foundation of the American nation lies in the assumption that we are wise enough to control our own lives. Everything that the Founding Fathers wrote reflects this underlying assumption. They believed, without exception (even those with strong religious beliefs) that the Church should play no role in the conduct of government because the Church's tendency to manipulate or otherwise usurp control of the populace's lives in ways the Founding Fathers found abhorrent. They were strongly pro-gun; firearms made it possible for a citizen to protect himself from encroachments upon his liberty, even by his own government. They desired a free press because they believed that, in an intellectually free environment, we as individuals were wise enough to make decisions that would, ultimately, be beneficial to the larger community.

It is clear that this was the original environment in which citizens were allowed to make decisions about the details of their own lives. To the extent that you deny these principles, you have become an enabler of tyranny and DEATH. You have given the killers and predators of this world a free pass to do as they will. You have given your tacit approval to every mass-murdering individual and government this world has ever seen. You have turned your back on the suffering of your fellow man, whom you claim to love so much.

You want to wring your hands about kids who kill kids? Look instead to the ideas and the philosophy (or lack of it) that informs our culture today. You're simply reaping the unintended consequences of an intellectually dishonest and morally and ethically bankrupt world view that had its origins in the philosophy of Kant and its most recent expression in socialism and its bastard idiot child - modern American liberalism. The classical tradition of liberal thought upheld the rights of the individual as paramount; those liberals advocated a society of free men organized as far as possible through mutual consent. Now, liberals believe in the opposite - in an authoritarian paternalism, and they advocate a society organized primarily through coercion where the individual and his life represents an asset to be managed by the state.

The state of modern American culture can be laid squarely at the feet of Kant, Marx, and the American Progressive movement. By 1946, we were well down the road to the destruction of the American system and the Constitutional Republic. Liberal socialist ideals held full sway in our nation well before the publication of this puling bit of garbage penned by Davies. Statist ideals had been gaining currency since the Civil War. The post-Civil War years saw the rise of social Darwinists, clergy who derived their concepts of morality and faith from the philosophy of Kant, economic theorists who depended largely upon the ideas promulgated by the German intellectual establishment, and Marxist 'evangelists'. Social 'progressives' and others masquerading their collectivist ideals under the banner of 'social justice', and 'progressive' reforms called in no uncertain terms for the destruction of the American system. The very concept of business - private property and the right to own the fruits of one's labors - was anathema to these utopian reformers. Profit and the concept of private property were wrong - and they knew it. They did not based their observations on any sort of empirical evidence or any real knowledge of the marketplace, but upon faith, feelings, or whim.

It is vital to understand that implicit in this worldview is a profound contempt for the individual, a contempt firmly rooted in Emmanuel Kant's philosophical rebellion against the Age of Reason. Leonard Peikoff, in The Ominous Parallels sums up Kant's impact rather neatly:

Most nineteenth century philosophers accepted every essentials of Kant's philosophy and morality, except for the idea of an unknowable dimension. They proceeded to name a surrogate for the noumenal self, an ego-swallowing, duty-imposing, sacrifice-demanding power to replace it. Following the trend of of the Christian development since the Renaissance, the power they named was: the neighbor (or society, or mankind).

The result was a new moral creed, which swept the romanticist circles of Europe from the time of the first post-Kantians, and which continues to rule Westerern intellectuals to the present day (emphasis mine). The man who named the creed is the philosopher August Comte. The name he coined was altruism...

'Altruism' is the view that man must place others above himself as the fundamental rule of life, and that his greatest virtue is self-sacrifice on their behalf.... Altruism does not mean kindness, benevolence, sympathy, or the like, all of which arepossible to egoists; the term means 'otherism'; it means that the welfare of others must becom the highest value and the ruling purpose of every man's existence.

If I were seeking to justify slavery and servitude, I could hardly do better than this. You can justify any atrocity, any amount of mass-murder, any amount of hatred with this kind of ideal. And in the end, the difference between thee and me is that I will be able to say 'no' to liberal fascists and make it stick. As for you - well, there's this gut-wrenching passage from Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's The Gulag Archipelago to consider:

And how we burned in the camps later, thinking: What would things have been like if every Security operative, when he went out at night to make an arrest, had been uncertain whether he would return alive and had to say good-bye to his family? Or if, during periods of mass arrests, as for example in Leningrad, when they arrested a quarter of the entire city, people had not simply sat there in their lairs, paling with terror at every bang of the down-stairs door and at every step on the staircase, but had understood they had nothing left to lose and had boldly set up in the downstairs hall an ambush of a half a dozen people with axes, hammers, pokers, or whatever else was at hand? After all, you knew ahead of time that those bluecaps were out at night for no good purpose. And you could be sure ahead of time that you'd be cracking the skull of a cutthroat. Or what about the Black Maria sitting out there on the street with one lonely chauffeur-what if it had been driven off of or its tires spiked? The Organs would very quickly have suffered a shortage of officers and transport and, notwithstanding all of Stalin's thirst, the cursed machine would have ground to a halt.

If .... if... We didn't love freedom enough. And even more-we had no awareness of the real situation. We spent ourselves in one unrestrained outburst in 1917, and then we hurried to submit. We submitted with pleasure! (Arthur Ransome describes a workers' meeting in Yaroslavi in 1921. Delegates sent to the workers from the Central Committee in Moscow to confer on the substance of the argument about trade unions. The representative of the opposition, Y. Larin, explained to the workers that their trade union must be their defense against the administration, that they possessed rights which they had won and upon which no one else had any right to infringe. The workers, however, were completely indifferent, simply not comprehending whom they still needed to be defended against and why they still needed any rights. When the spokesman for the Party line rebuked them for their laziness and for getting out of hand, and demanded sacrifices from them-overtime work without pay, reductions in food, military discipline in the factory administration-this aroused great elation and applause.) We purely and simply deserved everything that happened afterward.

Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago Page 13, fn 5:

There can be no peace, no compromise, no accommodation - ever - with anyone who views my life, my property, or my children as a resource or an asset to be 'managed'. This is nothing less than war. I believe that we are in the midst of an unprecedented struggle for individual rights and human freedom. Quite simply, it is a struggle between those who have arrogated to themselves the right to dictate the terms of existence to everyone else, and those of us who recognize that no such 'right' exists. Ownership and skill in the use of arms sufficiently effective to deter criminal assault and tyranny (or at least to make it damned expensive for the perpetrators) is a crucial aspect of that struggle. Some of my Jewish friends have a keen appreciation of history and understand this all too well.

Once it has become apparent that the rule of law no longer applies to the common man; once the application of existing law has become arbitrary and outcomes subject to the amount of money once can apply; once we see laws made and applied in such a way that it becomes virtually impossible to exist without violating them - the party's over.

So, yes - I hope you enjoy the full flower and fruits of your labors because you're going to get everything you deserve! We know you by the causes and people you support, and by the consequences of your actions. And if you don't like the intellectual neighborhood in which you find yourself - if you don't enjoy the fact that your tacit endorsement of statists and liberal fascist thugs places you squarely in their company - then acquire some intellectual honesty and get the hell out of that neighborhood and start championing the cause of individual liberty and the responsibiities that come with it. Otherwise, you're just another one of the walking dead.

Have a nice day.

(c)"noumenon" 1998.

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13 June, 1998