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Guns and Politics

I haven’t posted since December 4th of last year for several reasons.  The first is that I got a new Mac mini on December 16 and it took me three weeks to get most of the bugs worked out so that it was useable.  I’ll not buy another Apple product, that much I can tell you.  Ubuntu Linux is on the horizon for me.  But that is another story.  The second reason is that I was on vacation for three weeks and during that time, besides fighting with the computer, I was doing a very serious top-to-bottom house cleaning.  It was quite rewarding – I found lots of things that I had “lost” for several years and got rid of a lot of junk, too! And I got a preview of what retirement might be like – I think I’m going to love it!!

So I’ve only recently put my thinking cap back on and started delving into areas of interest.  The Newtown shooting incident got my attention, as it did so many others, but for me, it got my attention in a different way.  I don’t own a TV, so I was spared the endless gnashing of teeth by the spin-meisters who want to divert our attention from the real issues involved.  I wasn’t entirely sure what those “real issues” were, but I was quite sure it had nothing to do with body counts or gun control.  The key to solving the puzzle, for me, was when I read a comment on Ian Welsh’s blog that said, “Impotence comes in many forms; obsession with guns and weapons is just one form.”  That definitely caught my eye and prompted me to do a little bit of research.  I hit the proverbial pot of gold tonight, which is why I’m posting these thoughts.  On the blog Not Safe for Work, I found a “fellow traveler” in the person of Mark Ames.  I’m posting a few of his thoughtful ideas here – if you are interested in the whole post, you may click on the link.

“So what’s really going on here? Why the crazy? It’s not exactly a revelation to learn that the NRA is run by hick fascist nutjobs, although we quickly forget just how toxic they are without constant reminding. But each time you peel off a layer, it’s more shocking than you expected it be.

“But what’s the purpose, what are the deeper ideological politics of that sort of gun-cult fanaticism?

“Looking back at Big Business’ violent reaction against the New Deal and the political culture that it created: a more ‘collectivist’ political culture, as the libertarians derisively call it, where people were more deeply involved with each other and their communities, and with that involvement in their politics and communities came greater trust in their communities. That political culture — where people were more involved in their politics and trusted government more than they trusted business — was a big problem, according to pollsters and PR experts hired by business lobby groups in the postwar era, groups like the National Association of Manufacturers and the Chamber of Commerce.

“Much better is to pour arms unrestricted into the population, give them legal cover and political encouragement to take political matters into their own hands with laws like ‘Stand Your Ground’. That way you wind up creating a political culture of atomized, fear-fueled citizens who think they’re literally at war with each other, and their only way out is to fend for themselves and their family.”

Further on, Ames delivers another zinger – one that very likely won’t be read or appreciated by its intended target but one that is spot on.  I loved it!

“Because it’s now so deeply ingrained that owning guns is a form of radical subversive politics, the people who still engage in real politics have the pick of the litter. That first became really clear in the depths of the 2008-9 collapse, when a lot of people who thought of themselves as radicals and anarchists made a lot of feckless noise about how they were arming and preparing for the collapse and revolution. They could’ve gone out and organized something and maybe built a politics of people power or even a politics of what they call revolution, a politics that actually changed things. But instead, they locked themselves in their homes and apartments with their guns and fancied themselves political revolutionaries just waiting to be swept up. But no one came. No one bothered or cared. And really, why would any plutocrat or evil government agency bother with the suckers, all harmlessly atomized and isolated and thoroughly neutralized by the false sense of political empowerment that their guns gave them, while you do the real work of plundering budgets, bribing politicians and writing laws even more in your favor?

“So while everyone was hiding out in their homes armed and ready for Hollywood finales that never came, in the real world political power was concentrating at warp-speed with zero resistance.

“From the oligarchy’s perspective, the people were thoroughly neutralized by the false sense of political empowerment that guns gave them. Guns don’t work in this country — they didn’t work for the Black Panthers or the Whiskey Rebellion, and they won’t work for you or me either.

“It takes years to cultivate a political mindset that voluntarily neutralizes itself by convincing itself that its contribution to world revolution comes down to purchasing a few guns at K-Mart, then blogging about it. That’s what reactionary plutocrats like the Koch brothers understood about the deeper politics of gun fanaticism, and why their outfits like the Cato Institute have been at the forefront of overturning gun regulations and promoting ‘Stand Your Ground’ vigilantism as a substitute for political engagement: That by poisoning the political climate, it poisons the minds, which circulates back to the external environment, and back into the minds, until you lock the culture into a pattern in which you always get more and they always get fleeced, which makes them more fanatical and you more powerful…”

Kudos to people like Mark Ames who write the truth while everyone else is lost in the diversionary tactics of the talking heads and hand-wringers.  I’d encourage you to read the entire post – it is really an eye-opener.

4 Comments on “Guns and Politics”

  1. #1 Montanamaven
    on Jan 20th, 2013 at 6:14 pm

    I’ve been reading Mark Ames on and off for a few years now and enjoyed re-reading this. He and Yasha Levine and Matt Taibbi were in Russia in the 1990s and had a magazine, The Exiled. I interviewed Yasha about a story on foreclosures while he was living in Victorville, CA. He and Mark Ames are very smart and very brave. They actually do investigative journalism.

    I made a rather big inroad last week on the subject of guns. I told a local conservative gun guy that I found people who said things like “they will have to come and get me and pry that gun out of my cold dead hands” were just playing defense. I said I was more interested in people who were willing to actually fight for something. No revolution ever happened with people hiding in their houses. I had made this point before, but Mark Ames’ article really reinforced my ideas and helped me be more articulate about them.

  2. #2 Debi
    on Jan 22nd, 2013 at 12:30 am

    As I say on Facebook all the time when I post a link to something important, like about Citizens United for example (which no one knows what it is), the ones who need to read this, won’t.

  3. #3 Beth
    on Jan 22nd, 2013 at 10:06 am

    Thanks, Jeff, for all the links to such thought-provoking pieces. Seems like this has been the strategy of the far-right all along—whip people into a frenzy to divert their attention from who their REAL enemies are, and make them believe that they’re badass, rugged individualists thinking for themselves when, really, they’re not thinking at all.

  4. #4 Debi
    on Jan 22nd, 2013 at 9:42 pm

    Love the way you put that into words Beth. So true.

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