Decentralized threats as the mother of liberty

Dave Kopel gives us a fascinating account of the divergence between American and British gun culture in The American Indian foundation of American gun culture. I learned some things from this article, which is not a trivial observation because I’ve studied the same process from some different angles.

While Kopel’s article is excellent of its kind, it stops just short of some large and interesting conclusions that immediately present themselves to me, upon reading his evidence, because I think like a science-fiction writer. A significant part of that kind of thinking is a broad functionalist perspective on how societies evolve under selective pressure – a drive to look beyond specific historical contingencies and ask “What is the adaptive pressure motivating this social response? Can we deduce a general law of social evolution from this case?”

I’m going to anticipate my conclusion by coining an aphorism: “Decentralized threats are the mother of liberty.” Kopel’s account of how the American and British traditions of citizen arms diverged illustrates this brilliantly.

Kopel insightfully points out that the American and British traditions of civilian arms began to diverge immediately after the first successful British colonizations of what would later become the U.S., in 1607. But it’s worth looking – as Kopel does not – at what the threat model of the ancestral, common system was.

The customs and laws around British civilian arms can be traced back at least as far as a royal decree of 1363 requiring all Englishmen to practice archery on Sundays and holidays. At that time, before the early-modern formation of nation states, the nascent English militia system was intended to deal with two different threat axes: on the one hand, organized territorial war by feudal sovereigns, and on the other banditry and cross-border raiding. These were less clearly distinguishable in 1363 than they would later become.

Modern accounts focus on the theory that well-practiced civilian archers could be levied by the monarchy in times of formal war, to meet a centralized threat. But at least as important, and perhaps more so, was the pressure from local banditry and especially Scottish border reivers, a decentralized threat that would plague England for more than 300 years after the earliest recorded raids in the late 1200s.

An enemy that presents as multiple fast-moving raider bands with no common command structure and no interest in holding territory is difficult to fight with heavy troops trained and armed for set-piece territorial battles. The every-man-an-archer early English militia makes some sense as a civilian reserve for royal/aristocratic field armies, but it makes more sense as a civil defense – a decentralized response to raiders and bandits. For obvious reasons this aspect of its function would be under-recorded.

Now we fast-forward to around 1600 and the period of early modern state formation. The border reivers were stamped out within a few years of James I’s accession to the throne in 1603; as James VI of Scotland he could exert force on the Scottish side of the border as well as the English. At this point the English militia lost much of its civil-defense role.

It was, in any case, less well equipped for that role than it had been a half-century earlier. The shift from archery to matchlocks in the later 1500s was the culprit. Kopel points out that matchlocks has to be kept lit to be ready to fire and were thus nearly useless for hunting – the burn fumes made stealth impossible and scared off prey. He also points out that at that time hunting in England was increasingly heavily regulated and legally risky.

This change in weapons mix, and the decoupling of militia duty from hunting, changed the character of the militia. The predictable result was a shift from individual aimed fire to mass-fire tactics. This was better preparation for a military reserve that might have to face a field army, but much less good for bandit suppression. In Great Britain after 1600, the militia system became more and more focused on centralized threats and preparation for organized warfare.

In the Colonies after 1607 that trend exactly reversed. Unregulated hunting and Indian banditry drove the early adoption of the flintlock, a weapon much better suited to accuracy-centered small-scale fights than the matchlock. The British traditions of civil-defense militia and individual marksmanship reasserted themselves and, in direct response to local conditions, became stronger in the New World than they had been in the Old.

The British militia’s last hurrah was in the Glorious Revolution of 1688; armed with pike and matchlock in emulation of a regular field army, they made James II’s attempt to (re)impose absolute monarchy impossible. This example was very much on the minds of the American revolutionaries of 1776 – they were steeped in the British republican theory of civilian arms as a bulwark against centralizing tyranny that had developed before and around the Glorious Revolution.

Ironically, by the time of the American Revolution 88 years later, the British militia system in England was in deep decline. The 18th-century British, operating in a threat environment that included very little banditry but lots of field armies, effectively abandoned their militia tradition – muster days became poorly-attended drinking parties. The attempts of the more radical British republicans to center the post-1688 political system on the natural rights of the armed and self-reliant citizen failed; instead, the unwritten British constitution made Parliament sovereign.

In the U.S., by contrast, the militia system remained central to American political life. Centralized threats like field armies were the exception; the major defense problem was Indian raiding, the pike was abandoned early, and the gun culture that evolved to see off the raiders it was adapted for pot hunting in that it prized accuracy over mass fire. Eventually the Revolution itself would be triggered by a British attempt to seize and confiscate civilian weapons. The British republican dream of a polity centered on the natural rights of the armed citizen would be expressed in the Second Amendment to the written U.S. Constitution.

Eventually the American version of the organized militia system would also largely collapse into irrelevance. It is well known that that mustered militia proved laughably ineffective in the field campaigns of the War of 1812; one thing Kopel’s article clarifies is why. The weapons mix, culture, and institutional structures of the U.S. militia system had become so specialized for decentralized civil defense against bandits and irregulars that it lost the adaptations for mass warfare that had enabled its British forebears to face down James II’s field armies in 1688.

Of course U.S. gun culture and its model of the armed, self-reliant citizen as first-line civil defense survived the humiliation of the organized militia in 1812. Doubtless this was in part because Indian and renegade banditry did not cease to be a prompt threat until around 1900.

But something else was going on – the long result of New World conditions was that the armed freeman became a central icon of American national identity in a way it had never (despite the efforts of British republicans) quite been in Great Britain. With it survived the radical British republican ideal of the individual as sovereign.

Between 1910 and 1984 British authorities could quash civilian arms with barely a protest heard; in the U.S. a similar campaign from 1967 to 2008 ended in a near-total defeat that is still unfolding as I write – national concealed-carry reciprocity is scheduled for a floor vote in the U.S. Congress this month and seems very likely to pass.

Here, I think, is the largest conclusion we can draw from Kopel’s historical analysis: Decentralized threats are the mother of liberty because the optimum adaptive response to them is localist and individualist – the American ideal of the armed citizen delegating power upward. Centralized threats are the father of tyranny because the optimum response to them is the field army and the central command – war is the health of the state.

There is an implication for today’s conditions. Terrorism and asymmetrical warfare are decentralized threats. The brave men and women of Flight 93, who prevented September 11 2001 from being an even darker day than it was, were heroes in the best American tradition of bottom-up decentralized response. History will regret that they were not armed, and should record as a crime against their humanity that they were forbidden from it.

202 thoughts on “Decentralized threats as the mother of liberty

  1. The decentralized militia role in the US lives on in the saying “when seconds count, the police are minutes away.” This applies less (but still applies) in the urban centers of the gun control movement.

    Likewise, of course, hunting is still a valuable source of protein in the more rural parts of our country.

  2. I think it is either reflexive or backwards.

    The ivory tower libertarians say I own me, but get mushy about defending that ownership. But who does? Some security mercenaries so I get what I can pay for? The magic liberty fairy? There are no practical threats to would-be tyrants or criminals here.

    The 2nd amendment – the right to defend one’s self – lets you set the terms of non-aggression. It ceases to be theory or a discussion. The police and military become backstops. I can then exercise my 1st amendment and other rights.

    My home, my castle, my person, my defense. The responsibility that comes with but also creates liberty. Not merely decentralized, but individual.

    • Huh.

      Which ivory tower libertarians are these who pooh-pooh self-defense?

      (I’ve never noticed it in Mises or Hayek, let alone Rothbard, nor in Nozick.)

      There’s a reason it’s an old saw in libertarian, as well as gun rights circles (which have significant overlap) that “unarmed men are slaves”*.

      (* To be read as “men who cannot be armed”; some people have decent reasons for choosing to not be armed, and that’s a side note.)

  3. A very good analysis. I don’t know about the South, but in New England, virtually every adult male had militia experience from roughly 1660-1760 — that’s 4-5 continuous generations within a culturally homogeneous and geographically separate region with exceptionally strong republican traditions. As a result, in April 1775 that culture was able to raise an army of 15,000 within 48 hours — but even that language is too centralized. Better to say: within that culture, an army of 15,000 rose within 48 hours.

  4. It seems like you’re missing the second half of this post. The “decentralized threats (or really threats that need a decentralized response) = more of a gun culture” point is well made. But where’s the “more of a gun culture = more freedom” leg of the argument? Besides the specific gun rights issue, is there anything to suggest that more of a gun culture leads to more overall freedom? I don’t really see Americans as being any “freer” than Brits in the modern era.

    • >Besides the specific gun rights issue, is there anything to suggest that more of a gun culture leads to more overall freedom? I don’t really see Americans as being any “freer” than Brits in the modern era.

      If you think we’re still not more free here, you obviously don’t know what conditions are now like in the U.K. For starters, there’s a whole class of speech offenses you can be jailed for, like being disrespectful of religious minorities.

      • There are a whole lot of guns in Switzerland, but you still can’t build a minaret or you couldn’t vote in local elections until 1991 if you were a woman in Appenzell.

        Seems pretty high gun ownership and low freedom to me?

        • Voting is not freedom in and of itself. I’d almost certainly throw away my ability to vote in exchange for a US federal government that exercised no more power than any typical individual has authority to.

          Voting only becomes a death-grip self-defense issue when the government has grown such tendrils that it affects your livelihood and daily private life.

          • ” I’d almost certainly throw away my ability to vote in exchange for a US federal government that exercised no more power than any typical individual has authority to.”

            Such areas do exist in the world. Though, I do not think you would like to mover there.

              • Cannot answer. These countries seem to be on a blacklist for this site. But the common denominator would be “Hell Hole”

                • Sadly then, without being given any useful information to support your claims, I cannot believe you.

                  • “I cannot believe you.”

                    Sorry, but this site does not let me post the names. But you can look at the list of countries you get when you search for:
                    worst countries in the world

                    Several of these countries have areas where there is no state control *at all*.

                    • The only thing that stops Winter from completely demolishing ESR is the fact that Dark Forces are keeping him from posting the truth.

                      I see.

                      And this is the guy we’re supposed to see as an authority on the Second Amendment.

                      Sadly, many of the leading anti-2A voices make Winter seem sane. Ladd Everitt, to give one sick, twisted fuck of an example.

                    • “The only thing that stops Winter from completely demolishing ESR is the fact that Dark Forces are keeping him from posting the truth. ”

                      Humbug.

    • It very much depends on how you conceptualize ‘freedom’.

      It has been my experience that Brits (and Europeans…all the ‘old worlders’) and Americans have very different mental models when thinking about ‘freedom’.

      To highlight one dimension in which they differ – consider the difference between wondering “is X legal?” vs “is X illegal?”…or “am I allowed to do X?” vs “am I at liberty to do X?”

      • “It has been my experience that Brits (and Europeans…all the ‘old worlders’) and Americans have very different mental models when thinking about ‘freedom’.”

        Indeed, and they organize their society among those lines. As a result, people get the country they want.

        Brits do not care much about shooting other people, but they do care about being shot at, and about friendly LEOs. So, they ban guns and their friendly police does not shoot at civilians. Americans have other wishes, so they carry guns, their police is not friendly and they do shoot at civilians regularly.

        Just to pick an obvious difference.

        • **shrug** I’ve known dozens of cops from various regions, and only met 2 that I thought were jackasses.

          Contrasted with UK & Paris police, where I found the ratio was more like 50/50…a much more predominant authoritarian streak.

          Go figure.

          American cops shoot people as regularly as they need to, to stop the threats they face, and I’m glad they do it…although I do wish to see more transparency and vigor in prosecuting bad shoots/cops.

          • “American cops shoot people as regularly as they need to”

            US LEO kill over 1000 people a year, some 50 or so of whom are unarmed.

            In contrast, the UK police (pop 60 M) killed 5 (!) people in 2016. Australia ~1 (pop 25M), Germany (pop 80M) ~10.

            The US police is dysfunctional. But what do you expect from a force that is often also used to extort the population?

  5. I read that historical analysis when you posted it on your G+. It lends weight to a suspicion of mine: that you really can’t do America without the RKBA. It’s kind of baked into the relationship between the government and the governed here, in a way that it’s not in the UK, the Netherlands, or even places like Australia. And if you take that away without altering the fundamental structure of the union, the whole thing will collapse. The government we have was specifically designed to govern a populace of armed freemen; if the populace no longer fits that profile, the power dynamic changes, and we get… well, Clinton, Conyers, Trump… An elite mandarin class who think they can do what they want with few consequences. We’ll get more of that if the “gun grabbers” have their way.

    I think of it this way: American government is structured to be kept in check by the immediate fear of armed insurrection from the masses. Modern European government is structured to be kept in check by the longer-term fear of the collapse of the social order, followed by the rise of a far more terrifying social order (as happened in Germany during the 1930s).

    Unfortunately this means that as an American you have to pick your poison: guns, or a dysfunctional government. If you want to live in a gun-free zone, your best option is to move. As for me, I just want to live in a low-crime zone. I want to be able to attend an open-air concert if I want without fear of being sniped at. If pro-gun folks can show me how this works with armed citizens in today’s culture, great. But I see something toxic fulminating that gave rise to the recent uptick in mass shootings.

    That said, I really wouldn’t count your 2A chickens before they’ve hatched. The Supreme Court recently refused to hear a case concerining a Virginia assault-weapons ban on 2A grounds; this opens the door for further assault-weapons legislation to be passed, at least at the state level. With the right Congress we may see a return of the Clinton-era ban. (Myself, I consider the assault weapons thing to be quite silly, and the result of legislators who’ve spent more time watching action movies than they have learning how guns work. Imagine a world in which nice friendly Macs are permitted but Alienware PCs are banned as “assault computers”.)

    • I don’t think that fear checks for the US government anymore. They’ve found the strict interpretation (which I believe was the founders’ intended one) of the Second Amendment too limiting and so created legal fictions to circumvent it, just as Japan found that having no military is too limiting, and created the fiction that “Self-Defence Forces” aren’t really a military. So the public is generally restricted to small arms, as most other weapons are classified as “destructive devices” instead of “arms” and thus not protected by the Second Amendment.

      And I’m annoyed that the government has weaselled out of that restriction, but at the same time I concede they have a point. If surface-to-air missiles circulate freely among the public, yeah the capacity of the citizenry to resist predations of a tyrant’s air force is improved, but how long do you catch someone who downs an El Al 747 on departure from Dulles and drives off? If towed howitzers become a feature of American garages next to the bass boats, how do your good guys with guns secure a 40km radius to prevent an attacker from shelling an NFL or MLB stadium full of people?

      • Yes, they do. Europe has a history of 50 years of terrorism. Still, your chances of being killed during a concert are miniscule compared to being killed in traffick on your way back.

        • …and your chances over being killed by a backpack bomb while leaving the concert are minuscule compared to being killed in traffic on your way back.

          …and your chances over being killed by a rifleman raining bullets down from 400 yards & 30 floors away are minuscule compared to being killed in traffic on your way back.

          So…the same minuscule comparative chances as in the USA.

          • The chances of being murdered in the USA is five times that of being murdered in the UK or Australia. The chances of being killed in traffic in the USA are, respectively, three and two times as big as in the UK or Australia.
            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_traffic-related_death_rate

            In terms of health care related preventable deaths, the USA ranks last in a list of 16 high income countries. With 96 in 100,000 against 86 in the second last, the UK.
            http://www.commonwealthfund.org/publications/press-releases/2011/sep/us-ranks-last-on-preventable-deaths

            The US is an unsafe country to live in.

            • Nonsense.

              There are a handful of hotspots that skew our stats. You probably wouldn’t want to visit any of them.

              The rest of the country enjoys crime rates at or below UK/Europe.

              That said, you’re better of fetally ensconced in your pajama boy onesie and remaining over there…sucking your thumb and spluttering “my captors are my friends” through your tears.

              • @Dan
                “That said, you’re better of fetally ensconced in your pajama boy onesie and remaining over there…”

                You comfort yourself with the idea we are too afraid to own guns. But we do get around. Our pampered youth (boys and girls) tend to finish their school life by hiking for months through Asia, Africa, or South America (as do all young people from rich countries).

                We do know how the world looks (do you?). And there is a broad consensus that guns are not a solution but a problem.

            • And the US has a higher non-firearm murder rate than much of the first world’s total rate, last I checked.

              The US is comparatively “unsafe”, yes … but not only is Dan generally right about it being unevenly distributed, but guns aren’t the cause of America’s violent tendencies.

              Their use in crime is an effect of that.

              I believe ESR’s written about it (and SSC definitely has, see link) – the “Borderers” of Albion’s seed coinage, just for starters.

    • Vegas could of happened in Canada or anywhere else that allows citizens to own rifles with a license. The shooter had no history and you can buy pretty much the same kind of semi auto long range rifles that he had. Then you would put them in large roller luggages and get to your hotel, unpack, and do your crazy shit.

      What happened in vegas is more cultural than legal tbh.

      • Plus, AFAIK, nothing he had was especially “long range”.

        400 yards is pretty decently long for target shooting, but it’s nothing special for nigh-unaimed spraying or half-aimed crowd-killing, and .223 is not exactly an iconic long-range cartridge.

        His technology was, in fact, arguably poorly adapted to his MO; a WWI-era Lee Enfield and a bench rest would probably have been more deadly.

        • Yes, for effective rifle fire at that range, the AR15 is a poor choice for anything other than accurized precision shots.

          The POS in Vegas was just spraying bullets, and hoping that they rained down on his target area. They’re still lethal, even if they keyhole. Apparently he did some cocktail-napkin math to figure out his trajectory.

        • It is unlikely that one could fire that many rounds in that period of time out of a SMLE. Not that the rifle couldn’t do it, but the body would get pounded by that sort of fire.

          Not that the SMLE is a bad rifle–on the contrary it’s a fine rifle, but you’d be reloading three times as often–from stripper clips which take a little longer, and you’re manually running the bolt with every shot There are ways to run the LE faster than other bolt guns, but you lose a bit of accuracy (not that that’s an issue shooting into a crowd).

          So overall the .303 is more lethal at range than a .223, but the rate of fire would have been significantly less, and the shooter probably would have been able to fire fewer shots overall.

    • As for me, I just want to live in a low-crime zone. I want to be able to attend an open-air concert if I want without fear of being sniped at.

      First, it’s very, very unlikely that anyone will ever try to shoot you while you are standing outside watching a concert (our outside doing anything remotely comparable.) One of the best ways to have a firm, realistic grasp on politics is to carefully study mortality statistics, which will reveal the true threats to your existence:

      Note that about 2,500,000 people die in the U.S. every year. This data is CDC date from 2014:

      Heart disease: 614,348
      Cancer: 591,699
      Chronic lower respiratory diseases: 147,101
      Accidents (unintentional injuries): 136,053
      Stroke (cerebrovascular diseases): 133,103
      Alzheimer’s disease: 93,541
      Diabetes: 76,488
      Influenza and pneumonia: 55,227
      Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome, and nephrosis: 48,146
      Intentional self-harm (suicide): 42,773

      In 2014 the FBI reported 8,124 murders by firearms, which was about 3/1000ths of the total deaths for that year. (For comparison’s sake, in terms of commonality, about 7,600 people die every year because they consumed the wrong brand of OTC pain reliever.) If you want to compare those deaths to the actual population of the country, divide 8124 by about 300,000,000 million to get your annual chance of being gunned down (about 2/100,000.) Then note that most of these homicides take place inside a home and you’ll see that your likelihood of being shot while outside is, in fact, very, very, very, very remote.

      If pro-gun folks can show me how this works with armed citizens in today’s culture, great.

      As I see it, the problem goes something like this: Being pro-gun-ownership is philosophically correct, but statistically incorrect. Or to make it more personal, the gun you bought to preserve liberty/defend your home is a hundred times more likely to be used to shoot a family member (possibly including yourself,) or even kill someone on accident than to actually preserve liberty or defend your house. Owning a gun is statistically unjustifiable. (Note that I don’t consider statistics to be the only piece of evidence for making the gun/no gun decision. It is one piece of the puzzle.)

      What’s far worse is that most people don’t understand how to use guns to preserve liberty, or the issues involved in home defense.

      In terms of preserving liberty, has anyone noticed how the number of reported “bad shoots” of unarmed Black people have gone down since the assassinations of 8 police officers in Dallas and St. Louis? There are a number of lessons here which I am not going to discuss in public; smart people will understand, dumb people will keep buying Glocks so “I can defend myself when the Feds come to take my Bible/Guns/Books/Computer away.” (Note that I don’t have anything against Glocks except that they seem to the first piece an idiot gun buyer wants to own.)

      In terms of home defense: In order for your gun to be useless (in the unlikely event of a home invasion robbery) if you’re merely in the wrong room you may as well be naked. If there is an armed invader in your home and you don’t have a gun in your hand, you’re screwed!

      There are probably good reasons for buying a gun, but study your use cases and the statistics and don’t be one of Those People.

      • >Or to make it more personal, the gun you bought to preserve liberty/defend your home is a hundred times more likely to be used to shoot a family member (possibly including yourself,) or even kill someone on accident than to actually preserve liberty or defend your house.

        That is not true. It is not even remotely close to true. It is telephone-game exaggeration of the infamous Kellerman/Reay “43:1” study, which was one of the lowest points in a long and unlovely history of academic fraud near gun policy (see also: Michael Bellesiles). Here’s how you can tell it was a fraud – the authors have consistently refused to release their primary data sets for reanalysis.

        • After a little research I’d have to concede that the Kellerman/Reay study does appear to be flawed and faulty. (And thank you for having that knowledge and being able to point to the place where that bad data originated.)

          That being said, with a little more research, I ran across the statistic that in 2010 there were 230 justifiable homicides reported to the FBI which involved guns. That’s a lot less than the 8200-ish annual figure for non-justifiable gun homicides. This looks like 35 to 1 odds against fatal gun use being “justifiable.”

          According to the same report, there are about 70,000 gun uses, mainly by “brandishing,” to chase off people who were expected by the gun wielder to have criminal intent. This gives us approximately 190 gun uses a day to deter criminals, and I find this to be a believable figure.*

          However, I also found the annual total for combined accidental gun deaths and gun injuries plus criminal gun deaths, which was around 105 thousand/year. So you’re still more likely to get killed or injured by a gun than use it against a criminal, but it looks like the odds are more like 1.5 to 1 against a gun being used safely (as opposed to the 42 to 1 odds Kellerman/Reay found.) Those still aren’t good numbers, but once again, statistics are only one factor in whether to buy a gun.

          * Another study claimed 2.7 million gun uses a day to deter criminals. This give an average of 7400 gun uses a day to deter criminals, and I’d doubt that by an order of magnitude, at least. (If there are 2.7 million annual uses of guns to deter a criminal, then everyone does it at least once in their lives. Not likely.)

          • >This looks like 35 to 1 odds against fatal gun use being “justifiable.”

            You’re missing a huge, huge confounder. You’ve lumped together two populations with grossly different risk profiles, and as a result your output numbers are garbage. I think you made an honest mistake, but done intentionally this is actually typical of the kind of flim-flam perpetrated in a lot of firearms policy studies.

            The populations are “career criminals” and “people who are not career criminals”. Yeah, boy howdy, if you’re a drug runner on the Chicago South Side, you are sure as shit more likely to get whacked in a turf war than you are to successfully deter a (fellow) criminal. The thing to get is that if you’re not a career criminal your risk profile inverts – pretty near all the probability mass that says you’re more likely to get killed than successfully defend yourself is over there with the gangbangers.

            There is one intermediate case: if you’re not a career criminal but get involved with the drug trade as a customer, their shit might slop on you. The last murder in the little exurban town where I live, about four years ago, seems to have been one of these.

            Here are the rules for maximizing your odds of not being a shooting victim, all well known to anyone who teaches personal security and self-defense. (1) Do not associate with criminals. (2) Do not do drugs. (3) Do not borrow money from shady characters. Follow these, and your odds of being shot will not just sink well below your odds of drowning in someone’s swimming pool, they will become comparable to your odds of being struck by lighting.

            Also, if you follow these rules, your conditional odds of surviving both the prompt threat and the legal response if you have to draw down on someone go up by exactly as much as they fall if you break the rules.

            • …or the more vernacular “don’t go stupid places & do stupid shit with stupid people”

              Another factor that is nearly always overlooked by these types of flawed ‘statistical’ analyses, is that ‘fatal’ gun use is not even close to being the whole of the issue.

              Most DGU (Defensive Gun Use) does not even involve a shot being fired. Others involve a shot that misses, or (as [low power] handguns are overwhelmingly the firearm of choice for self defense) a shot that non-fatally injures the assailant. Yeah…sidebar about shot placement ;)

              So the total utility of firearms for self defense is far higher than such misleading ‘studies’ would have people believe. Credible works have produced annual figures of 200K – 5M DGUs…with a commonly cited median being 2.5M DGUs per annum.

              Even at the low end, DGUs are a significant & important factor in protecting innocent people. To actively & fraudulently attempt to strip people of this freedom is sociopathic.

              • Just as being involved in the drug trade increases your odds of being a crime victim, being involved in the drug trade and carrying increases your odds of having a DGU. Defensive gun use is a significant and important factor in protecting lots of not-so-innocent people, too.

                • It is almost certain that drug traders who carry have a higher incidence of DGUs than non-drug traders who carry.

                  However, they are also almost certainly not being polled, so they don’t figure into the stats. (I don’t know to what extent Kleck et al. tried to screen for criminals in their studies, if at all.)

                  If we assume they’re part of the DGU stats, then we would have to consider the crime prevented by their cohort. It is likely significant, even though their total contribution to crime is net positive.

                  Bottom line, though, is that violent criminals are different from non-violent firearm carriers in important ways, not the least of which being that they’re much less affected by state pressure to disarm.

                  • (I am amused now by the thought that if I wanted to increase crime in a neighborhood by as much as I could, I could seed it with people with violent criminal history, and even give them weapons, and expect crime to go up by the sum of their activity at wherever I got them. I would then be faced with an overhead problem when all these violent people turn out to not want to kill each other. Especially after the first culling wave passes…)

            • I think you made an honest mistake, but done intentionally this is actually typical of the kind of flim-flam perpetrated in a lot of firearms policy studies.

              I think my reply to your entire post would be that I’m not anti-gun. (I came very close to tooling up after Trump was elected.) But I am anti-stupidity, and exactly how this works is a conversation I’m not willing to have on the open web. I will note, however, that the answers to your objections depend entirely on how we cut the cake; gun owners vs. non-gun owners, by income, by zip code; each of the separate ways to deal with demographics gives its own set of statistics, which makes the issue of honesty very difficult, at best.

              Further note that I’m not saying guns should be banned or even that particular guns (like the AR-15s with bump stocks) should be banned. I am saying that before buying a gun one should carefully consider the real safety statistics, what you plan to do with the gun, whether your expectations actually align with the real world,* the safety issues of each person in your house, your own level of violent tendencies and the general safety of your neighborhood. Then make a good decision. (Listening to someone talk these issues out is probably as good an intelligence test as the real world provides.)

              In the case of my buying guns after Trump’s election, the case failed on two grounds. First, there was a safety issue involving a particular person frequently in the house. Second, my expectations did not align with the real world, as it quickly became obvious that learning to shoot a rifle in order to oppose Trump was something like learning to shoot a rifle in order to oppose Wile E. Coyote… in other words, a complete waste of time!

              * Sorry, Christian lunatics, Clinton (or even Saunders) would not have taken your bibles if she was elected and buying more guns will not solve the problems of how badly you misunderstand the Constitution and the political climate.

              • It’s a simpson’s paradox situation. Slice up the population as fine as possible while still getting reasonable statistics.

              • Yes, actually Clinton would have attempted to take our firearms, ammunition and magazines. Obozo was already going down that path and she would have been more of the same. She said it in her campaign. Saunders is a socialist. A socialist is just a commie who has not learned to use an AK-47.

                • He said Bibles, not guns.

                  Of course Clinton was going to take our guns.

                  She wasn’t going to take Christian bibles, but she WAS going to continue to marginalize christian voices and harass christian churchs (see “Little Sisters of the Poor”) who engage in bad-think.

      • There’s more…

        Studies indicate firearms in the US are used for self defense 800k (low estimate) to 2.5M (high estimate) times per year.

        With 8000 murders, that means you are 100x more likely to use a gun for self defense than to be murdered by one. In terms of being murdered with your own gun, the likelihood would be even far less (most people are not likely murdered with their own gun).

        tl;dr: Guns are a net benefit to society.

        • Note my reply to Our Gracious Host above. We have to consider all the times deterrence occurs (we may not be deterring a fatal crime) against the times a gun does someone an injury or causes death. That give us about 70,000 deterrences vs. 105 thousands deaths and accidents.

          If we’re discussing only deaths, the numbers for “justifiable” vs. “unjustifiable” homicide are even worse for the gun-loving side at around 35 to 1.

          • First, I don’t know where you got the 105,000 number.

            “More than 33,000 people die in firearm-related deaths in the United States every year, according to an annual average compiled from C.D.C.”

            The 70,000 number is way off. This has been studied extensively and the results have held up. A thing to note that in most defensive uses of firearms the weapon is never discharged. That means, no death, no injury, usually nothing reported to the police, no paper trail. The mere presence or presenting of the weapon was sufficient to deter the attack.

            Google ‘Kleck”.
            https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2015/02/defensive-gun-ownership-gary-kleck-response-115082

            • Note my reply to Eric above:

              “According to the same report, there are about 70,000 gun uses (annually,) mainly by “brandishing,” to chase off people who were expected by the gun wielder to have criminal intent. This gives us approximately 190 gun uses a day to deter criminals, and I find this to be a believable figure.*

              * Another study claimed 2.7 million gun uses a day to deter criminals. This gives an average of 7400 gun uses a day to deter criminals, and I’d doubt that by an order of magnitude, at least. (If there are 2.7 million annual uses of guns to deter a criminal, then everyone does it at least once in their lives. Not likely.)

              • >This gives us approximately 190 gun uses a day to deter criminals, and I find this to be a believable figure.

                The safe bet is that such instances are heavily underreported. Think about the incentives.

                • 2.7 million people/year would mean that something like 189 million people defend themselves with a gun at some point in their lives. It would be an open secret akin to “did you inhale.”

                  “No way dude!”

                  The 2.7 million number fails the most basic of “sniff tests.”

                  On the other hand, the 70,000/year sounds about right. It would imply around 5 million people in the U.S. defending themselves with a gun over the course of their lives, which I find quite believable given crime rates, etc.

                  You’re right, of course, about the disincentive to report, but the 2.7 million number is 38 times the 70,000 number, and I don’t see the disincentives as being remotely that bad. Just as a counter-example, consider the disincentives, 40 years ago, for admitting that one is Gay or Lesbian. Surveys still picked up the essential numbers fairly well. My basic knowledge of family/friends – here in Southern California – tells me that the 3-6 percent numbers that are widely cited as being the Gay population (which I first saw in the mid 1970s) are well-within the ballpark for current numbers in a much more relaxed climate. (And you’ll doubtless know that the difference between 3 and 6 percent has more to do with the phrasing and “grading” of the questions than anything else.)

                  Essentially, you’re asking me to believe that someone is 38 times as likely to lie about showing a burglar their shotgun than lie about being Gay… (sorry, I’m probably phrasing that badly) but the 2.7 million the number just doesn’t suit the smallest serious scrutiny. As I’ve said previously, I’m not anti-gun, but when I read the 2.7 million number I’m reminded that cattle cannot be potty trained.

                  • >The 2.7 million number fails the most basic of “sniff tests.”

                    I agree. I don’t know who proposed that number, but it wasn’t me.

                    I was only arguing that 70K/yr is likely to be substantially underreported. I could easily believe 210K a year, but that 2.7M number is an order of magnitude beyond that and not credible.

                    • I’ll happily go 210K a year with you, though the network tech in me wants a number that will fit the final non-zero number in a subnet mask, so I’m going to propose 224 K, just for fun.

          • As an example of the latter – I once defended myself successfully with gunfire. Nobody was hit (that was on purpose and I had plenty of rounds left in the magazine and time to consider the response of those who were trying to attack me), and the police were never informed. It is not in the statistics.

            • …and I defended myself with a handgun without firing a shot, then called the police, but they never arrived.

              So I’m part of the stats : a presentation-only DGU.

              You’re a sucker if you believe you can rely on the cops to save you.

              You are your own first line of defense. Always.

          • Note one small issue – the FBI crime stats for “justifiable homicide” are … not what you might (justifiably, if perhaps naively) think.

            See here; “In the UCR Program, justifiable homicide is defined as and limited to:

            * The killing of a felon by a peace officer in the line of duty.

            * The killing of a felon, during the commission of a felony, by a private citizen”

            If the criminal is not yet a felon, it’s not a justifiable homicide, even if it is completely legally justified self-defense.

            Further, UCR classifications are by police investigation, not eventual trial outcome; a crime investigated [charged? it’s not quite clear in their materials] as a murder that turns out to be self-defense may well count, for UCR purposes, as a murder … but not be one legally or morally.

            And it turns out that’s quite a common thing, in my understanding; often (I think, typically, in fact, though there aren’t good numbers for this sort of thing that I’ve ever seen), the determination of self-defense occurs in court, after charges and investigation.

            It has to be pretty stunningly obviously self-defense to the on-scene cops and to the DA to have it be investigated as that from the start, if only because every other murderer claims self-defense, and it’s a lot easier to prosecute them if you start the investigation with not believing them.

            (I don’t blame the FBI for this, since they have to draw a line somewhere, and this one is very clear and doesn’t distort Real Crimes with plea-bargains; but it’s not great for this particular argument for that very reason.)

            • That interpretation is not accurate, given the actual process of law enforcement.

              Upon examining the scene of a shooting, it may be determined by LEOs that the deceased is, in fact , a felon, by virtue of the actions he was taking at the time – ie. he would have been charged with a felony.

              At this point, LEOs can conclude that the armed citizen acted in a lawful manner, and the shooting is declared a ‘justifiable/excusable homicide’ (there is a considerable difference between justifiable and excusable, however) and charges are not filed.

              However, you should expect to be arrested if you shoot anyone, regardless of justification. It is prudent to have insurance in such an event.

              • I don’t think that “you will be arrested” is quite accurate.

                You may or may not be put in cuffs, but you *will* be take to jail for several hours for questioning.

                • You are quite correct…I missed my opportunity to edit.

                  I should have written “detained”.

                  “Am I being detained officer?”
                  “Yes you are”
                  “For what reason?”
                  “You just shot a guy”

                  Seems reasonable.

                  • Back in the (IIRC) 1990s a home owner in his jammies got a thief proned out at gunpoint and called the cops. During the wait somehow the bad guy got the gun and reversed their positions–including having the good guy switch clothes with him (no idea how this happened, other than an unwillingness to shoot on the part of the home owner).

                    The police took the home owner to jail and left the bad guy in the house.

                    By the time this was sorted out the bad guy was LONG gone.

                    So now the cops take everyone to jail and sort it out there.

                    Lesson? Shoot the f*ker.

      • Others, here or elsewhere, have tackled the “it’s okay as long as there’s other bad stuff” argument, from guns to terrorism to rape. I’m not going to bother/try, since smarter people on both sides have butted heads on that. Please do go and look for arguments against your position, you’ll find them persuasive.

        In terms of preserving liberty, has anyone noticed how the number of reported “bad shoots” of unarmed Black people have gone down since the assassinations of 8 police officers in Dallas and St. Louis?

        Related food for thought: There are budding no-go zones.

        A related question: Has there been an increase of crime (and gun-related crime) anywhere specific?

      • The chance of being murdered in the USA is 5 times higher than in the UK or Australia.

        Private guns do not help making communities safe. Also, Americans show time and again to be unfit for owning guns. Too many American men believe the best way to commit suicide is by shooting as many people as possible. Maybe, that is the flip side of a society.that is obsessed with with winner:

        https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/wired-success/201608/americas-obsession-winners-and-losers

        • >Private guns do not help making communities safe.

          In the real world, as opposed to your fantasies, high levels of legal private gun ownership correlate with low levels of crime, and vice-versa. A well-known example is Kennessaw, Georgia, which has a legal requirement that “every head of household residing in the city limits is required to maintain a firearm, together with ammunition therefore.” Kennessaw has a crime rate 60% below national and state averages.

          Laws of this kind were common in the 19th century. When they were abandoned along with the organized militia system, crime rates went up. So we have pretty well controlled tests in both time and space demonstrating the effect.

          • Only 60%?

            So, Kenneshaw has a higher murder rate than the average of the whole of the UK and Australia? So much for guns making us safe.

            • There are two hypotheses here:

              Option 1: Guns cause/enable crime and do not prevent it. Implication: crime will track availability of guns.

              Option 2: Guns help prevent crime more than they help crime. Implication: crime will inversely track availability of guns.

              If option 1 is true Kennesshaw is impossible; it should have sky high crime rates compared to similar areas with the same culture.

              If option 2 is true Kennesshaw is the predicted result; its crime rate is way below that of similar areas with the same culture.

              If you compare Kennesshaw with a very different culture you are confounding your data, and should expect garbage as your result. Or if that is ok, let’s compare the U.S. with Islamic hellhole #78343. Now we are the model of peacefulness even in our worst areas.

              • “There are two hypotheses here:”

                3) Other factors are involved that increase/decrease crime. Factors you ignore when you pick out a single spot.

                • Then, what, pray tell, are these other factors? And if they’re not related to the gun-ownership variable as you seem to imply with your above statement, why is it that you come into these threads implying or stating that crime’s lower in your neck of the woods because because you don’t have any guns and that we need to get rid of ours to approach parity with you?

          • Just some information from the other 95% of humanity. You keep claiming we can reduce our murder rates far below our current 1 in 100,000. Meanwhile, you are unable to get your own murder rate even nearly as low as ours.

            Who is lugging horse shit here?

            • >Meanwhile, you are unable to get your own murder rate even nearly as low as ours.

              And we never will, unfortunately, not as long as we have large urban subpopulations with low average IQ and high average time preference. Gun policy has to be evaluated on its effects relative to the higher base rate induced by that problem.

              The parts of the U.S. that look like the Netherlands have a murder rate very much like the Netherlands. The parts of the Netherlands that are ceasing to look like the Netherlands have a murder rate climbing towards the U.S.’s. Choose wisely – if you still can.

              • “The parts of the U.S. that look like the Netherlands have a murder rate very much like the Netherlands. ”

                This is the usual comparison of individual quiet spots in the US (mostly excluding urban areas) with the average of complete countries in Europe.

                The countries of Japan, the UK, Australia, Germany, Denmark, and the Netherlands all have lower homicide rates than the state of New Hampshire. Which has the lowest homicide rate in the USA. Even the urban region of Greater London itself has a homicide rate on a level with New Hampshire as a state. So, your reasoning is simply wrong.

                • keep in mind that those “individual quiet spots” include the vast majority of the USA, not only by area but even by population. the DISquiet spots are not just urban, they are often specific urban neighborhoods, smaller parts of the cities they’re a part of.

                  the main reason this almost never gets pointed out is racism. most of the people who live in those dangerous areas are racial and ethnic minorities; pointing out that they therefore make up most of the victims of violence somehow doesn’t outweigh the potentially racist stain of implying they are the majority of culprits.

                  and, of course, implying that most of them would leave those dangerous neighborhoods in an awful hurry if they only could afford to, points out that poverty and need are strongly correlated with race in the USA, which goes against a lot of how modern Americans would like to imagine our country. naturally, fixing that economic inequality is utterly unthinkable, because sooocialism!! reeee!!!!!!

                  • >poverty and need are strongly correlated with race in the USA, which goes against a lot of how modern Americans would like to imagine our country. naturally, fixing that economic inequality is utterly unthinkable, because sooocialism!! reeee!!!!!!

                    Of course they are. Everybody knows this. What differs is the interpretation.

                    Conservatives and libertarians think many nonwhites have generated and trapped themselves into a self-reinforcing poverty culture that can’t be fixed by social engineering from outside it. Liberals think those people are kept down by racism and that institutional racism in their favor, coupled with huge wealth transfers, will solve their problems.

                    The latter prescription has failed massively ever since 1960, but the left’s response to this is always “We have to do it again! Harder! With more money and more racial preferences! And if you object to this you are an EVIL RACISSS%@&#!”

                    • The latter prescription has failed massively ever since 1960

                      And is arguably much of the cause, as well as the initial push that got the ball rolling.

                  • “keep in mind that those “individual quiet spots” include the vast majority of the USA, not only by area but even by population.”

                    Please be more specific. Here are some spots outside the USA, all with murder rates below 2 per 100,000 (below 1 for Tokyo and Sydney):

                    Tokyo pop 13M
                    London pop 8M
                    Sydney pop 5M
                    Berlin pop 3M
                    Madrid pop 3M
                    Paris 2M

                    So, what are these low-homicide spots in the USA? And how low are these homicide rates?

                • (I had a longer reply than this eaten by WordPress, possibly for being spammy with lots of data links, so I’m trying a slightly different tack against that headwind.)

                  Winter, I’m going to set side by side two things you said (in separate comments) in this thread and ask for clarification — because the most naïve reading seems implausible.

                  Private guns do not help making communities safe.

                  plus

                  This is the usual comparison of individual quiet spots in the US (mostly excluding urban areas) with the average of complete countries in Europe. The countries of Japan, the UK, Australia, Germany, Denmark, and the Netherlands all have lower homicide rates than the state of New Hampshire.

                  In fact, let’s be clear–you have directed this discussion, by being rather emphatic almost to the point of obsession, in equating “murder rates” with “safety” in this thread. Does that actually mean (as the prima facae reading of your comments might imply) that you do not believe other forms of crime are a threat to ones’ safety?

                  • “Does that actually mean (…) that you do not believe other forms of crime are a threat to ones’ safety?”

                    No. But it has been proven impossible to give universal definitions of “crime” that allow side by side comparisons between legal systems. Definitions simply differ too much (just take rape, comparing the US with some Middle Eastern countries).

                    However, there is a strong correlation between crime rates in general and homicide rates. Also, a dead body is difficult to ignore, as are “unnatural” causes of death. Therefore, if you want to compare crime rates between countries, homicide rates are the only measure available that have at least a minimum of reliability.

                    So, if you want to claim that the US is more safe than say, the UK, because there is less of crime X, you will get stuck in a quagmire of definitions. But if you simply stick with homicide rate (or other measures involving dead bodies in, e.g., traffic), you will be good.

                    Also, the fear of dying is one of the deeper concerns of humans everywhere.

                    • No. But it has been proven impossible to give universal definitions of “crime” that allow side by side comparisons between legal systems. Definitions simply differ too much (just take rape, comparing the US with some Middle Eastern countries). However, there is a strong correlation between crime rates in general and homicide rates.

                      Does that mean you don’t consider a telephone survey conducted across multiple countries, with standardized definitions of different crimes given, as inaccurate?

                      We can look on their statistics page to get a direct comparison of various countries. I’ll take the ones you listed (see quote in prior comment) and use those.

                      Germany, sadly, last lists statistics for 1989 as “West Germany”, and a victimization rate of 37.6%. All other countries in your list have results for 2000 and reported (in low-high order): Japan 21.0%, Denmark 35.1%, USA 39.5%, Netherlands 48.1%, Australia 54.3%, UK 54.5%.

                      So unless you’re willing to argue that in the year 2000 the murder rate for the Netherlands, Australia, and the UK exceeded that of the US by ~25%, I don’t see murder being a good proxy for overall crime.

                    • “Does that mean you don’t consider a telephone survey conducted across multiple countries, with standardized definitions of different crimes given, as inaccurate?”

                      Just as accurate as the happiness surveys. Useful, but with their own problems.

                      A telephone survey is no replacement for comprehensive statistics. It is the difference between running polls and running elections.

                      You have not given a good reason why comprehensive homicide statistics are worse than telephone surveys.

        • Winter – I am not a bean to be counted, categorized, statistically processed, probabilistically assessed…I am an individual human being.

          I freely choose to acquire technology, learn how to best use it, and keep it available should an event make such use necessary – a freedom you do not have.

          (I am certain you would respond with something along the lines of “I don’t want/need such technology” – which is fortunate for you, as your masters have dictated that you do not have any choice in the matter should you feel differently)

          I also do not grant or recognize any other human being as possessing superior rights or authorities over my own personal rights/freedoms.

          Your cereal box psychoanalysis of gun owners does not carry any weight whatsoever. It is comically inept.

          • All of this is fine. It is your country, so you can do with it as you like.

            But do not try to tell us fairy tales that guns reduce crime rates .

            “Your cereal box psychoanalysis of gun owners does not carry any weight whatsoever. ”

            That psychology covers almost all of the mass shootings. From the proverbial “going postal”, before and after

            Btw, I never eat cerals and most certainly do not read their boxes.

            • I would never try to tell you “guns reduce crime rates” because that is nonsense. Guns are not magical amulets capable of such an effect.

              Lawfully armed citizens reduce crime rates. We have witnessed this effect over and over throughout the country as a predictable consequence of enhancing laws like concealed carry, castle doctrine, stand your ground etc.

              This is a repeatable pattern of success that can only be willfully ignored, not refuted. It is currently enjoying another victory lap in Detroit of all places!

              As you have been told time & time again, we have a handful of hotspots that are so violent they skew our national statistics – controlling for these hotspots shows the USA to have similar or lower levels of crime (of all types) than UK/Europe.

              The vast, vast majority of this enormous country is peaceful, lawful & safe. And well armed.

              We should really be focussing our resources on the hotspots’ pathologies to bring the overall stats back in line with the rest of the western world.

              But that’ll never happen because, y’know, raysizzum and sheeeit.

              • “As you have been told time & time again, we have a handful of hotspots that are so violent they skew our national statistics – controlling for these hotspots shows the USA to have similar or lower levels of crime (of all types) than UK/Europe.”

                As if every country does not have its hot-spots?

                You are comparing local spots with national averages. Each of these countries have their own areas that are as safe as a US nuns convent.

                • Controlling for hotspots is a statistically legitimate approach for understanding their influence on regressions.

                  Of course there are hotspots in any country…yours clearly aren’t as hot as ours.

                  You have the analysis backwards – I’m not comparing our hotspots to other nations averages. I’m comparing our *average* both _with_ and _without_ the hotspots with other nations *averages* – to emphasize just how badly they skew our stats.

                  What this reveals is that we really do have a problem – but it isn’t a ‘gun’ problem. To continue this claim is a vicious, unconscionable slur against the 80-100 million good people that possess and use firearms responsibly.

                  We have a [predominantly black] thug culture problem.

                  • “What this reveals is that we really do have a problem – but it isn’t a ‘gun’ problem. ”

                    That was not my point. My point was that quite a lot of people here claim that “guns make the US safe”. Many even claim the rest of the world should abolish restrictions on gun ownership to make them safer. And that advice comes from a country that is unable to get their own murder rates under control.

                    You talk about “hot spots”, but when I ask what the “safe spots” are, I get areas that still have much higher homicide rates than equivalent areas elsewhere.

                    You have a lot of guns in private hands and high homicide rates. We have restrictive gun laws and low homicide rates. The US are in a very bad position to convince the rest of the world that more guns would make us safer.

                  • “To continue this claim is a vicious, unconscionable slur against the 80-100 million good people that possess and use firearms responsibly.”

                    This sounds a lot like the “60% Fat Free” marketing scam. The point are not the “good guys” that do not use their guns to shoot at people, but the bad guys that do.

      • In terms of home defense: In order for your gun to be useless (in the unlikely event of a home invasion robbery) if you’re merely in the wrong room you may as well be naked. If there is an armed invader in your home and you don’t have a gun in your hand, you’re screwed!

        That’s why I carry a firearm on my person in my home. I have it holstered securely inside the waistband. It took my wife 2 months of me doing this daily before she noticed when I first started carrying.

        I also have a long gun loaded in a quick-access safe under my bed. If there’s a bump in the night, my wife knows to gather the kids into the master bathroom and dial 911 while I retrieve the rifle and fortify myself facing towards the locked bedroom door with the bed between me and the door.

        Also, guns are the last part of a home defense plan. Reinforced door jambs, strategically placed cameras, alarms, and dead-bolts on the bedroom door are what I rely on first. I suggest all these things before I suggest anyone buy a gun.

        • Yep, always have a firearm on your person, or within arms reach…or – at a stretch – within a short run.

      • In terms of preserving liberty, has anyone noticed how the number of reported “bad shoots” of unarmed Black people have gone down since the assassinations of 8 police officers in Dallas and St. Louis?”

        Could that be, perhaps, because there’s less policing?

    • What other rights are you willing to apply to a risk/benefit analysis? Most of the exulted European countries have state religions. Middle-eastern countries have lower levels of property crimes. Women in countries with lower political or cultural freedom report higher levels of satisfaction with their lives. Hell, the math proves that voting is an irrational activity. Most other countries have no useful legal remedy for evidence obtained illegally or without a warrant; France and Japan are notorious for “encouraging” confessions from prisoners with methods which would cause the entire judicial branch of the US to have an apoplectic fit.

      • Passing such an analysis is more or less the working definition of a right on this blog (see this post). It provides a mechanism for assessing whether a right exists or not – such a mechanism being necessary due to the explicit recognition of unenumerated rights in the 9th Amendment.

  6. Decentralized threats are the mother of liberty because the optimum adaptive response to them is localist and individualist

    What if the decentralized threat is mass immigration by foreigners who do not, on average, believe in the traditional American concept of liberty? E.g. Muslims who want to impose sharia law, or Latin Americans who believe in bigger, more socialist government?

    • >What if the decentralized threat is mass immigration by foreigners

      Not every threat to the republic is a civil-defense problem that has to be met by approximately military means, either centralized or decentralized.

    • …Muslims who want to impose sharia law

      Reach out to them and invite their kids to get into the melting pot with the rest of us. (I do understand that this is easier said than done. But to make obvious hostility your first response is… Un-American. (I say this as a proud descendant of little Jewish people with ugly accents.))

      Also note my point above about what is likely to kill you – the number of people killed by Sharia believers in 2014 was pure statistical noise. If you really dislike the idea of Sharia Law, vote against people who want better relationship with the Saudis (the chief proponents of worldwide Sharia law.)

      Latin Americans who believe in bigger, more socialist government?

      Keep in mind that Latins frequently come from undemocratic shitholes. If you want to convince these Latins that the American system is desirable, do your best not to allow the U.S. to become a banana republic. And once again, prejudice is not a good tool for convincing someone that you are right.

      • >Reach out to them and invite their kids to get into the melting pot with the rest of us.

        Why would you expect that to work any better in the USA than in UK/Europe?

        We’re already seeing how alien these people are – read about Dearborn MI.

      • The imposition of sharia law is a process that only at the margins involves fatal violence. Much more often it is making it perfectly clear that it will be unpleasant to act like you’re in the country that the map says you are in and that you’d be wise to act more like you’re in Lebanon, Egypt, or Syria.

        This culture war has very little to do with illegal acts, though they do occur.

        • Sharia law sounds awesome!

          Oh, no, hangon….scratch that….it sounds pretty fucking evil.

          Anybody that tries imposing that shit on me will discover how non-marginal fatal violence can be.

  7. There’s many examples of the correlation working the other way, too. The internment of ethnic Japanese in the aftermath of the Pearl Harbour attack. The creation of the Transportation Security Administration in response to the September 11th attacks. They were ostensibly to guard against the distributed threats of the Fifth Column and terrorism, respectively – but both have proven to be infringements of liberty.

    • >but both have proven to be infringements of liberty.

      And not effective, either. So what? Using the wrong tool for a job isn’t an argument that the tool is no good.

    • The internment of the Japanese wasn’t a direct result of the Pearl Harbor attack, it was a result of the Niihau incident that occurred shortly after, in which ethnic Japanese actively aided a shot down IJN pilot resist capture, leading to the death of one ethnic Hawaiian.

      In other words, while the trigger was wildly overblown and the result downright evil, the internment was based on an actual incident of ethic Japanese committing treason.

      • leading to the death of one ethnic Hawaiian

        (A) I’m pretty sure that’s a fabrication. The only two fatalities I can find documented are the downed pilot, Nishikaichi, and the Issei who aided him, Harada. Nishikaichi was killed by an ethnic Hawaiian whom he wounded but failed to kill, and Harada took his own life shortly afterwards.

        (B) It’s really beside my point whether the threat of a Fifth Column was worth fearing or not – in any case, that threat birthed not liberty but internment camps.

  8. “The border reivers were stamped out within a few years of James I’s accession to the throne in 1603; as James VI of Scotland he could exert force on the Scottish side of the border as well as the British. At this point the British militia lost much of their civil-defense role.” and all through the article…

    Substitute “British” with “English” and you might be right; there was not “British” until much later!

    • >Substitute “British” with “English” and you might be right; there was not “British” until much later!

      Pedant. :-) But I’ll fix it.

      • @esr: Before you do, look at the reign of Elisabeth I, James’ immediate predecessor. At the outset of her reign, she was the Queen of England; upon her death she was the Queen of Great Britain. James assumed the throne of Great Britain that she made of the English seat. That shift in national identity, from the English monarchy to the British, occurred while her bottom warmed the throne.

        See: Master of Defense – The Works of George Silver by Paul Wagner for a very readable (to modern english speakers) study of the books written by George Silver, one volume written fairly early in Elisabeth’s reign, and the second written quite late. Silver wrote parenthetically about the complexities of the English militia system in his books on swordsmanship (though it’s heavy going to parse it out) and the pressures to change it experienced during the late Tudor era (largely from the Italian influence of the rapier appearing in London at the time). George Silver himself was a “gentleman of the court” – commonly speculated to have been a lawyer – so his perspective can be presumed to have been that of a mid-level leadership position in a militia hierarchical setting.

        https://smile.amazon.com/Master-Defence-Works-George-Silver/dp/1581607237/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1512247947&sr=1-1&keywords=master+of+defence+the+works+of+george+silver

        • > At the outset of her reign, she was the Queen of England; upon her death she was the Queen of Great Britain.

          Huh. And here I thought that terminology change was due to the 1603 Union of Crowns. If not, then what did it actually signify?

          • Elizabeth never used the title “Queen of Great Britain”, as she never had or claimed any authority over Scotland. Her successor in England, who was already James VI of Scotland, did use the title after his accession In England, though not in legal documents.

        • Wrong. Anne was the last Queen of England and of Scotland and the first Queen of Great Britain. Prior to that, there were two separate crowns, which from the time of James to Anne happened to be worn on the same head at any given time (figuratively speaking, that is).

          • James referred to himself as “King of Great Britain, Ireland and France”, so whilst it didn’t exist legally, the “kingdom” of Great Britain was used before 1707.

            • >James referred to himself as “King of Great Britain, Ireland and France”, so whilst it didn’t exist legally, the “kingdom” of Great Britain was used before 1707.

              OK, that matches what I thought I knew. James II tried to bust a bunch of “respect muh authoriteh” moves – of which claiming that title was one – right after the Union of Crowns. but Parliament wasn’t having any, nope, nope.

              • Wait, James II? James I was the monarch under which the Union of Crowns occurred, James II was later in the century, after the Interregnum and his brother, Charles II.

                • >Wait, James II? James I was the monarch under which the Union of Crowns occurred, James II was later in the century, after the Interregnum and his brother, Charles II.

                  James I it was, Brain fart. I’d gotten it right in the OP.

  9. The French in North America provide an even starker example of this point. Right around the time Stuart absolutism was defeated in Britain, it was entrenched in France. Meanwhile, the French trappers and traders outside of the major centers of Quebec, having to rely entirely on themselves for defense, adopted Indian tactics wholesale.

    Their early victories in the French-Indian War were very similar in nature to the later victories of the American revolutionaries (essentially partisans fighting against well-ordered European armies). A fascinating counterfactual is one in which they won that war, and eventually formed an independent state in the Midwest.

  10. I dunno. You seem to be assuming that the social features which are tolerated by the *rulers* of a nation have anything at all to do with what is good for the *people* of a nation.

    I don’t think we can assume that when we look at a nation, we’re looking at one group of people with one set of motivations and goals. If you were to subject a nation like Imperial China to some decentralized threat that killed off arbitrary numbers of peasants, why would the mandarins even care? They’d continue to crush personal power and arms as the primary threat to *them*. The only selective pressure to their society in aggregate would be an ever more efficient secret police and an ever more terrifying punitive response against the peasants attempts to arm themselves.

    Chinese rulers tolerated personal power and creativity when they weren’t unified – when they were they crushed it mercilessly and produced a civilization in stasis for a 1000 years! European rulers tolerated personal power and creativity because their nations were small and they needed it to survive fierce inter-nation competition. American rulers tolerated personal power and creativity because, until the mid-20th century, they weren’t so powerful relative to their own people that they would bother asking themselves the question of if they needed us to flourish or not.

    • >I don’t think we can assume that when we look at a nation, we’re looking at one group of people with one set of motivations and goals.

      Exactly what I’m not assuming – it’s why I think it’s more useful to think in terms of differential adaptations to environmental pressures than the intentions of anyone in the system. That’s why I describe the differing evolutionary paths in Great Britain vs. the U.S. as (unconscious) responses to local conditions.

    • “If you were to subject a nation like Imperial China to some decentralized threat that killed off arbitrary numbers of peasants, why would the mandarins even care?”

      Enough to build and maintain a big wall for 2 millenia.. The huns came to Europe after the Mandarins threw them out of their homelands. The Ming did the same to what was left of the Mongol empire in Mongolia.

  11. Do you happen to know much about the Swiss? Armed freemen as the first line of civil defense seems to be a regular feature of their society, but the threats they faced were almost entirely large neighboring nations and standing armies.

    • >Do you happen to know much about the Swiss? Armed freemen as the first line of civil defense seems to be a regular feature of their society, but the threats they faced were almost entirely large neighboring nations and standing armies.

      Yes, I do know about that case. The Swiss live in mountains. Mountains are famously effective as force multiplier for armed freemen. You don’t want to fuck with Afghanis on their home turf either; the British got their asses handed to them twice trying that, the Russians likewise, and we’ere doing better only because we have a goodly portion of the native population siding with us.

      • Most Swiss lived in the forested plain between the upper Rhine and the Alps. It’s rugged, but not impenetrable. Tyrol to the east and Savoy to the southwest are more mountainous, but neither successfully defied feudal rule.

        Swiss independence after 1648 was more due to the inertia of the Great Powers than anything else. During the Revolutionary and Napoleonic wars, France, Austria, and Russia marched through Switzerland at will.

        • Also, Switzerland was dirt poor. There was little of value to rob and that at high costs. Its strategic value was near zero due to the difficulty to transport anything through it.

  12. The role 9-11 played in American gun culture reinforces the point:

    In August of 2001, gun culture in America was moribund. The Assault Weapons Ban was in place, only a handful of states had shall issue concealed carry (Florida and Texas, just a few others), Smith & Wesson was on the verge of bankruptcy, there was broad agreement at the popular level and across both political parties that more control would be better, and the gun culture itself was a small group of hairy-legged guys reading Jeff Cooper, thinking about Waco and Ruby Ridge, and shooting M1As and FN-FALs and prepping for Red Dawn.

    That all changed on September 11. That decentralized threat reinvigorated the latent American gun culture, and by 2006, this was a completely different country. Shall issue concealed carry was pretty much universal except in states with deep organized crime roots (Illinois, New York, New Jersey), AR-15s were common, and lots and lots of people were buying guns, buying ammo, taking classes, carrying them, and shooting them.

    I don’t know that I’ve ever seen someone’s opinion on guns changed by an argument. I’ve seen it changed a number of times when presented with an actual existential threat.

    FWIW, the Sutherland shooting is definitely having an impact down here in Texas.

    • In addition, I think gun culture also benefitted from the internet quite a bit. People could network effectively outside their local gun store and range, and can better keep touch with people at the range. The shooting sports have expanded their reach — now pretty much every gun owner knows about IDPA, IPSC, 3-Gun, Cowboy Action Shooting, etc. — action shooting sports are a whole lot of fun.

      So whilst the decentralized threats made an impact, I’d bet the AWB expiration + the Internet made a bigger one. Heck, even in NJ the shooting sports are growing, and we don’t have CCW for all intents and purposes.

  13. Decentralized threats very often just mean bloody civil war, a fight of all against all. There is a diagram kicking around on the Internet about who hates whom in the Middle East, it is mind-boggling. Gazillion similar examples from the non-Western cultures. I suppose that is a form of liberty, too, but a liberty used rather horribly.

    The normal kind of liberty, when people actually refrain from abusing it and attacking others, where threats are only used to secure yourself from attack, is not in itself a feature of decentralization but a feature of, I don’t, maybe culture, maybe genetics, or maybe there is some other socio-political feature. Few cultures outside the West were capable of doing it so.

    A while ago I was tinkering with sci-fi worldbuilding and it came to the question of how to do the policing, and basically I like the Wild West concept of a locally elected sheriff calling a posse of armed citizens to assist when needed. So you can keep the government out of most of it. But for dealing with really large and well armed criminal syndicates you probably want a central, small, but very very elite and very very well armed government police special force.

    To put it a bit more formally, the kind of liberty I think can work is this. Humans are inherently tribal, so let’s talk in Groups, not individuals, and there is one designated group, call it Central Group. This is basically the government or if there isn’t one then something similar to it. And the Central Group must be strong enough to defeat any other Group individually, but weak enough to be defeated by a coalition of most Groups.

    This is actually a pattern that you could observe in history, kings vs. the baronage, and I think this is how you can keep threats in check. The idea is that the Central Group, acting a policeman, can strike down any misbehaving Group. On other hand, if they are attacking an actually innocent Group for their own evil purposes, a coalition of Groups stops them. The assumption behind it that it is hard to organize a large coalition of Groups for a criminal, offensive, aggressive purpose, but it is easy to organize it for a defensive purpose.

    I suspect America may have had that sort of “Special Forces” from very early on. Guessing: was it the cavalry?

    • >Decentralized threats very often just mean bloody civil war, a fight of all against all.

      Not when they’re grouped into an identifiable other and from elsewhere. Yes, if village fights village you have civil war, but Indian raiders and Scots reivers are clearly a different case that, if anything, evoke a solidarity response.

      >I suspect America may have had that sort of “Special Forces” from very early on. Guessing: was it the cavalry?

      Probably not – I’m unaware of any private coalition ganging up on the cavalry.

      Can’t think of anything that exactly matches your picture. There was a little-remembered phenomenon called “Regulators” in the early colonial period that might.

  14. Pingback: Thoughts on why Britons and Americans have different views about guns « Samizdata

  15. Shockingly this implies as an American you need to pick your toxic substance: weapons, or a broken government. On the off chance that you need to live in a weapon free zone, your best alternative is to move. With respect to me, I simply need to live in a low-wrongdoing zone. I need to have the capacity to go to an outside show on the off chance that I need without dread of being killed at. On the off chance that star firearm people can demonstrate to me how this functions with outfitted residents in the present culture, incredible.

  16. You might want to look into conditions on the Welsh Marches as well. Some years ago I read a historical study, “Barons of the Welsh Frontier” (which always makes me think of the old Davy Crockett theme music!), about the relative autonomy of English nobles in counties adjacent to Wales, because there was a high chance of border raids, and no time to call up the royal armies and get them there; local lords had to be allowed to maintain their own troops and send them out. This started to go away after Edward I completed the subjugation of Wales.

    • There’s an extent to which I agree with this. However, I notice your qualification: “global military”. Some threats to liberty are neither global nor military. If they’re decentralized and military, then I agree with Eric: the most effective solution seems to be decentralized small arms defense.

      (If the threat is global and non-military, mobilize the merchants or doctors as appropriate.)

      OTOH, we’re still left with nukes as a thing. And also field armies. Given the way Eric laid it out above, I’m inclined to think people would benefit from both a militia tradition, and some big-state defense. If so, then coordinating the latter is obviously non-trivial. It’s why David Friedman calls it “The Hard Problem”.

      Incidentally, I get the impression that Friedman might be an example of a libertarian who is somewhat squishy on gun ownership. More importantly, in general, I run into a lot of intellectual or economic libertarians who don’t seem particularly familiar with guns, let alone gun policy. If I had to guess, I would say there are significantly more pro-gun libertarians than pro-weed libertarians, as opposed to libertarians who are merely lukewarm with respect to either.

      • [I seem to be having issues subscribing to new comments. Not sure why. Still investigating, and using this post to test something.]

      • >Incidentally, I get the impression that Friedman might be an example of a libertarian who is somewhat squishy on gun ownership.

        I dunno. We’ve never talked about it.

        If asked to predict his position, I would expect him to be at least theoretically hard-line about it.

      • >If I had to guess, I would say there are significantly more pro-gun libertarians than pro-weed libertarians,

        I think that’s true. I think it reflects a historical and class split in libertarianism. Broadly speaking, the weed libertarians are the upper-class kids and intellectuals of quite variegated pre-libertarian political background, while the gun libertarians are the people who’d be working-class red-state conservatives except they were too bright to fit in that box. Yes, I’m oversimplifying here, but I believe it’s not an inaccurate cartoon.

        A difference that is relevant to the current political scene is that gun libertarians are more likely to make tactical alliances with conservatives, including Trumpian populists, than weed libertarians are. On the other hand, the minority of weed libertarians supplies a large share of our communicators and theorists.

        To the (very) limited extent there’s class tension between these groups, the weed libs think the gun libs are a bit yahoo, while the gun libs think the weed libs are hippy-dippy. Gun libs are more likely to emotionally identify as American patriots, while weed libs are the ones who can cite you pages of Bastiat or the Principia Discordia.

        I’m a bit of a weird case myself; by birth SES, educational background, and personal history I should totally be a weed libertarian, but in many ways I feel more akin to the gun libertarians.

        • Doesn’t this simply map to testosterone? These days most of that class difference sounds like the presence and absence of those masculine traits that tend to correlate with that. This is one of the top 10 most favorite articles I’ve ever read as it made a lot of these things so clearly understandable for me: https://psmag.com/social-justice/half-lifts-workout-says-social-class-85221

          One thing that Britain does better than both America and Continental Europe is this idea that even very upper class, very educated people should be a bit brawny, not just the health effects of exercise, but generally adopt through hard sports the kind of masculine values i.e. testosterone levels that come with. Even Tolkien, the textbook example of the room temperature scholar used to be a “fierce” rugby player. America tends to split jocks and geeks in two groups, because the idea is to excel in one thing rather than to be well-rounded, and Continental Europe simply lost the cojones for this kind of stuff.

    • The problem isn’t nuclear proliferation, the problem is spineless retards in positions of authority who won’t do the needful to prevent proliferation.

      Lucky for us Trump has something vaguely resembling a spine.

      Up to about 2014 we could have solved the North Korean “problem”, if it wasn’t so useful for China, by simply blockading the *shit* out of North Korea.
      NOTHING gets in, no food, no coal, no oil NOTHING. NOTHING gets out, no money, no products, nothing.

      North Korean leadership gets informed that it’s a pariah, offshore bank accounts are *seized* and put in a fund to rehabilitate the country after it falls.

      Yeah, people starve to death. As long as the government leadership pursued their insane politics and insane plans, THEY are starving their people.

      To quote the philosopher Noah McManus (aka “Il Duce”)

      Connor: How far are we gonna take this, Da?
      Il Duce: The question is not how far. The question is, do you possess the constitution, the depth of faith, to go as far is as needed?

      The world is a dangerous place filled with evil and monsters. If you don’t know in your soul to be this to be true you’re a middle or upper class denizen of a very rich and modern liberal democracy and there’s a bunch of well (or not so well) socialized monsters paid to keep the other monsters away from you.

      You don’t negotiate with monsters. They do not negotiate in good faith.

      • Yeah, people starve to death. As long as the government leadership pursued their insane politics and insane plans, THEY are starving their people.

        There’s a term I’ve seen wandering around: the Copenhagen Interpretation of Ethics. By the CIoE, if you interact with a problem in any way, you can then be blamed for it. That would include blockading a nation until that nation’s government’s policies cause some of its population to starve.

        I’m not saying you’re wrong. I’m saying that that’s likely to come up. And it’s worth everyone knowing that term.

        (ETA: I know you’re aware of this, because I see a comment of yours on the article that discusses this elsewhere, so, good on ya…)

      • “You don’t negotiate with monsters. They do not negotiate in good faith.”

        Only monster do not negotiate. If you do not negotiate, you are a monster yourself.

        Btw, bombing NK is not necessarily better than letting the people starve. I would even go as far as saying that bombing NK is worse.

        Moreover, the NK army can level Seoul (pop 10M) in a matter of hours because the city is within range of their long range guns. And there is little SK nor the USA can do about that. This fact would be considered by any sane Western politician. Which makes me fear for the future of the Koreans.

        • And that is called paying the Dane-geld;
          But we’ve proved it again and again,
          That if once you have paid him the Dane-geld
          You never get rid of the Dane.
          — Rudyard Kipling

          • Never considered the fact that the USA have been the Danes much more often than those who paid the money?

            Also, Kipling forgot to mention that the alternative to paying the Dane-geld would be annihilation of the village that put up resistance. So, the choice was to either put up a fight and face death, but you might help save the next village, or pay up and have another chance to fight (just as the next village would have). It is easy to ridicule other people when it is not the life of your family that is at stake.

            It is only in the Anglo-Saxon world that “Compromise” and “Corruption” have the same moral value. Which is one reason that politics in the US (and UK) are in such dire straits.

            PS. The current Brexit negotiations are a case in point. With no leverage against the EU, British politics have fallen into a epileptic fit that they have to seek a *compromise* with the EU about the Brexit.

            • If you recall the poem, the nation that pays Dane-geld can send the Dane packing, they just choose not to – because, in their minds, it’s easier to pay tribute than to fight. Kipling’s point was that that’s deluded; any nation following that policy will be bled dry, to the point where they can’t fight anymore, and then the Dane comes to stay and rule. “For the name of that game is oppression and shame, and the nation that plays it is lost!”

              And since you mentioned it: the result, if the Brexit negotiations fail, is that the EU trades with Britain on the same terms as with the USA, Russia and China. From this side of the ocean it’s hard to see why that fate is so dire for Britain that she should pay the EU great stacks of pounds sterling to escape it.

              • “If you recall the poem, the nation that pays Dane-geld can send the Dane packing, they just choose not to”

                Like, say, Chili set the US packing in 1973?

                “And since you mentioned it: the result, if the Brexit negotiations fail, is that the EU trades with Britain on the same terms as with the USA, Russia and China.”

                These countries do have treaties with the EU. But the pain comes from the UK having unlimited access of a market of 400M+ people and now going down to a market of 60M. Moreover, 13% of UK export are financial services. But outside of the EU, the UK has no access to the financial markets of the EU.

                The Brits know it will hurt, and hurt severely. Even before the actual Brexit has been effected, the economy already lost 10-15% of its value due to the depreciation of the pound (=investors voting with their feet). That is what the market thinks of the prospects of the British economy outside of the EU.

                • The EU is *a* trading partner. Convenient and close, but not the only one.

                  The British Commonwealth, or “Commonwealth of Nations” as it’s called now, includes Canada, India, Australia, South Africa, and several dozen other nations already operating under favorable trade agreements. And then there are the USA, China, Japan, and others.

                  Also note none of the EU states are particularly noted for raw materials; the bulk of their trade is in manufactured goods, in direct competition against British industry.

                  • Somehow, the Brits do not agree with those rosy prospects. The negotiation position of the UK is pretty bad, and they know it. Both investors and companies are voting with their feet.

                  • “There are none so blind as those who will not see.”

                    Obviously, this includes the Brits. They suddenly do not see this bright future of “free” trade outside the EU anymore. As well as those investors that see less value in the UK economy.

                    • >“There are none so blind as those who will not see.”

                      The British government has refused to see Islamic rape gangs in Rotherham and elsewhere. Not like this is is an exclusively British phenomenon – similar atrocities are going on across the Channel and in Scandinavia – but those populations have not found a way as dramatic as the Brexit vote to tell the elites they want a stop put to this shit.

                    • “The British government has refused to see Islamic rape gangs in Rotherham and elsewhere.”

                      Compared to police forces killing and raping with impunity? Like in the US.

                      Every country has its blind spots.

                    • >Compared to police forces killing and raping with impunity?

                      The American equivalent of voting for Brexit is to buy a gun and prepare to shoot rapists, including uniformed ones. Now you mention it, gun sales have been up lately.

                    • >No one stepped up to defend this woman:

                      Right, clearly more of us need to be armed and vigilant.

                    • “Right, clearly more of us need to be armed and vigilant.”

                      When you use them to defend young women from being attacked by evil men, I might even entertain the thought, for a moment.

                      But I am realistic enough to realize that there are better ways to protect the public in general and young women in particular than by shooting police officers in uniform.

                    • >But I am realistic enough to realize that there are better ways to protect the public in general and young women in particular than by shooting police officers in uniform.

                      What, you’re going to send the police after them?

                      *snrk*

                      Like crime of all kinds in the U.S., police abuses are highly geographically concentrated. You don’t get police rape as an unusual but recurring problem in Podunkville, you get it in places where the police culture is rotten all the way down, generally due to corruption by the drug trade. Cook County Illinois is notorious, for example.

                      Bent cops are notoriously unwilling to turn on each other. In an area as corrupt as Cook County, the only effective check on them is for potential victims to be dangerous. And a jurisdiction very hostile to civilian firearms what a coincidence!

                    • “What, you’re going to send the police after them?”

                      Some countries convict cops that harm civilians. The US seems to be not one of those.

                      The point is not that cops protect each other. The point is that courts and juries never convict them. Which means that not just are the cops corrupt, but also the courts and juries. And we see the “common” people and news media coming to the defense of cops that intentionally kill innocent and unarmed civilians.

        • Only monster do not negotiate. If you do not negotiate, you are a monster yourself.

          Nonsense.

          There are some things one simply does not negotiate. Can I sleep with you/your wife for 20 bucks? For 100? Come on, don’t be a monster, negotiate.

          Can I build an nuclear reactor in your basement if I promise to only use it for peaceful purposes? How about your back yard? Ok, how about the next city over? Come on, don’t be a monster, negotiate.

          Right now Erdo?an is trying to re-open the negations over the border between Turkey and Greece, settled by treaty almost 100 years ago. Surely Greece shouldn’t be monsterous and negotiate a compromise, right? Because Erdo?an has proven so trustworthy in the past, right?

          That’s crap Winter, and that’s at least half your problem. When a Monster puts a gun to someone’s head there is no negotiation, you just keep them talking long enough to get a well trained sniper to a spot where they can hit them in the head. Or you send the entry team in.

          The problem Winter is that you think of these monsters as human. They aren’t, not really. Either that, or they think you aren’t. Sometimes both.

          Winter, there is a certain kind of man out there–and a few women, but mostly men–that you should become acquainted with. It’s the kind of man who gets out of a nice warm bed at 2 in the morning, puts on his warmest clothes, and then gets on the top of power poles in the freezing rain to get electrical service re-connected to total strangers. When a hurricane hits he’s there with his truck full of chain saws, hammers, spare gas, HAM rigs, ice and water–often before the streets are dry. He’s the guy who shows up at the fireline with an ax ready to go. He’s the guy who dives in the river to save the kid–often as not a kid of a different race or religion.

          He’s the guy that runs TOWARDS the sound of gun fire with a song in his heart.

          He’s the guy, far more than the politician, the journalist, or the academic, upon whom civilization rests, and when that guy stops we’re *all* in trouble. Lucky for you that guy doesn’t stop.

          Even talking to the Dane about Danegeld is dumb. Just shoot the bastard in the face and go to dinner.

          And if that makes me a monster, well I can live with that. And so can my family, friends and everyone else behind me.

          • All your examples are straw men. This is never the basis of negotiations. NK is a hell hole that is starving their population and trying to get weapons to blackmail other countries.

            Why negotiate? Because China and Russia protect NK to put pressure on SK. China could literally pull the (power) plug on the Kims at any time. Also because, NK cannot be “taken out” without killing millions of people. Because the USA is not able to protect SK against the guns of NK, adding even more millions of killings to the total.

            Your solution is one of those:
            “there is always a well-known solution to every human problem — neat, plausible, and wrong.”

            • Oh yes, China has some ability to curb North Korea. That’s why Trump has been talking to China.

              The two things China fears most when it comes to Korea are a mob of refugees crossing the Yalu, and South Korean and American troops taking up residence on its banks. The only way to get China to leash North Korea is to have them thinking that if Kim carries on with his WMD program, one or both of those things will happen. And anyone can see that neither will, unless the US goes to war … which means the US has to threaten war.

              This is the kind of spot you get into when you follow a policy of paying off extortionists.

              • “And anyone can see that neither will, unless the US goes to war … which means the US has to threaten war.”

                NK flattening Seoul will not curb China. And the US will not put an army at the border of China. The Chinese are too strong to do that now. Or do you think threatening a nuclear war with China will in any way help the US?

                But I see your strategical insights are as “Great” as those of Trump.

                I stick to my Mencken quote above. There are two other quotes of him that apply here:

                “On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.”

                “If there is one mental vice, indeed, which sets off the American people from all other folks who walk the earth … it is that of assuming that every human act must be either right or wrong, and that ninety-nine percent of them are wrong. “

            • > All your examples are straw men.

              You don’t understand that term. They may be bad analogies, but they are not strawmen.

              But I really don’t expect you to get it. You’ve shown a remarkable resilience to the idea that no, not every culture values honesty and integrity in the way yours does. You’ve repeatedly projected your own mental states on others etc.

              > This is never the basis of negotiations.

              The basis for negotiation is that I have something you want, and you have something I want, and we trust each other to execute whatever trade we agree on.

              The sort of people I am referring to–the Kims, the Iranian leadership, Saddam–have demonstrated over *decades* that they will /not/ keep up their end of the bargin. More often than not they have not even SLOWED DOWN the processes that the west negotiated with them to stop.

              And yes, I do realize that there are times the USG has done the same. And if our government does not, please work with your government to /stop/ negotiating with us.

              > NK is a hell hole that is starving their
              > population and trying to get weapons to
              > blackmail other countries.

              At least part of it is the ability to threaten other countries to leave them alone.

              And by the way the Obama administration made negotiating with these sorts of people harder. After Qaddafi gave up his entire NBC program in exchange for whatever, we abandoned him to hardline islamists and now there are slave markets in Libya.

              • “They may be bad analogies, but they are not strawmen.”

                Comparing negotiating with NK to negotiating with a rapist attacking your family is a straw man. There is no connection and no one is doing that.

              • “The sort of people I am referring to–the Kims, the Iranian leadership, Saddam–have demonstrated over *decades* that they will /not/ keep up their end of the bargin. ”

                Exactly why have you included the Iranian leadership here? Why are they portrayed as bad as the Kim’s?

                Also, the US have their own history of reneging on signed deals. That is nothing special. Your own president got elected because he promised to “break open” all existing deals to do what “is best for America”.

                If it comes to comparisons on who is most trustworthy, I have difficulty in believing the US would make it into the top.

  17. @William:
    The world is a dangerous place filled with evil and monsters. If you don’t know in your soul to be this to be true you’re a middle or upper class denizen of a very rich and modern liberal democracy and there’s a bunch of well (or not so well) socialized monsters paid to keep the other monsters away from you.

    You don’t negotiate with monsters. They do not negotiate in good faith.

    The first part is true enough. The second part fails because of the other truth you need to internalize: You, too, are a monster. Refusing to negotiate just confirms to the other monsters that you will not negotiate in good faith either.

    One of the most dire crises in modern Western civilization is that some of us have forgotten original sin entirely, and many of the rest of us have remembered original sin, but forgotten that we need to apply that doctrine to ourselves before we apply it to our neighbor.

    • >One of the most dire crises in modern Western civilization is that some of us have forgotten original sin entirely,

      Some of us grasp the equivalent truth about human beings without succumbing to religious insanity.

      In the environment of ancestral adaptation, we lived short and violent lives in which our interactions with anyone outside our small and genetically related home band were normally those of suspicion and enmity. Instincts that were adaptive for this context do not serve us well in a world where we live at high density and most of our interactions are with non-kin. Layering civilized behavior on top of these instincts is a failure-prone process.

      No vicious nonsense about “sin” against nonexistent sky-spooks need be invoked to explain this. In fact, by obscuring the actual causation, such fables make it more difficult for us to understand ourselves and the difficult task of civilizing each other.

        • >This flies in the face of the most vicious violence being inter-family and inter-tribal.

          Inter-tribal – between different tribes, yes. Intra-family, not so much. I’m curious why you think that.

          • I think he’s talking about issues like child molestation and spousal abuse, and of course the rivalry between sisters or brothers can get violent sometimes too, particularly if there is an inheritance involved.

            • >I think he’s talking about issues like child molestation and spousal abuse, and of course the rivalry between sisters or brothers can get violent sometimes too, particularly if there is an inheritance involved.

              “One death is a tragedy; a million, a statistic.” It’s the same false-prominence fallacy. Yes, such things happen, they are vastly less nasty than what tribes do to each other, and we tend to get this wrong because violence on mass scales does not become real to us until we have seen the bodies.

          • I meant intra, not inter. Sorry.

            Family fights and civil wars are some of the most brutal and nasty fights you’re going to see.

            Talk to a cop about domestic violence–people who–at least at one point–thought they loved each other, now they’re going at it with whatever they have, from fists to lawyers trying to do as much damage as possible. Look at how vicious civil wars are, both while ongoing and afterwards.

            The North and South are *still* bitter at each other after 100 and mumble years, while Germany, Vietnam, and Japan are our allies and there is little ill will in the US for the various wars.

    • The first part is true enough. The second part fails because of the other truth you need to internalize: You, too, are a monster. Refusing to negotiate just confirms to the other monsters that you will not negotiate in good faith either.

      Refusing to negotiate is not negotiating in bad faith. It is saying that some things *are* *not* on the table.

      You break into my house at 2 in the morning, I’m not going to negotiate from “Rape your wife AND daughter” to “Rape your wife”.

      I’m stubborn like that.

      The thing that I sort of expected most of people to get (and probably should have assumed Winter wouldn’t) is that people like Kim Il don’t just appear fully blown, they have track records, they have histories. They have demonstrated themselves to be monsters.

      You know monsters by their deeds. John Wayne Gacy was a monster. Kim Jong-un acts like one. Saddam and his sons were.

      As for being a monster, yeah, perfectly comfortable with that. I’m a moderately well adjusted monster and get along just fine.

      • Not negotiating with the Kims, but instead starting a war killing a few million people in NK and SK is the work of a monster.

        Nowhere is the current leader insisting that he wants to rape you wife or daughter, so that is a stupid straw man metaphor.

        • We’ve been “negotiating” with the Kim family for 60 years.

          Their people are still near to starving, and they now have nuclear weapons.

          • “We’ve been “negotiating” with the Kim family for 60 years.”

            And? We have been negotiating with Russia for even longer. And it is a fairy tale to believe the NK situation can be “solved” as long as the Chinese do not want it resolved. Any American politician who believes the US can unilaterally “solve” the NK problem is living in never-never land. Just as the US is not going to unilaterally solve the ME crisis or the Afghan/Pakistan troubles.

            Unless, of course, you bomb them flat. But that will lead to problems that are even bigger than anything NK ever will be.

            Oh, and do you know how NK acquired nuclear arms?

            It was via Pakistan due to a botched CIA plot of unclear aims:
            https://www.corbettreport.com/how-the-cia-runs-the-nuclear-black-market/
            “The BVD informed the CIA that they were going to arrest Khan for passing nuclear secrets to Pakistan, but the CIA told them to let him continue his operation. According to former Dutch Economic Affairs Minister Ruud Lubbers, “The Americans wished to follow and watch Khan to get more information.””

            Note that the Dutch connection has been known for decades.

      • The etymology of “monster” is interesting. It comes from the Latin verb “monstro”, (1.advise, teach; 2.point out, reveal; 3.show) which is the root of English verbs like “demonstrate”. The noun “monstrum”, translated as “monster”, means “portent, unnatural thing/event regarded as omen/sign/portent”. A monster is not inherently a bad thing.

        So yeah, I’m very comfortable with being The Monster. I teach, point out, reveal, show. I’m an omen, a sign, and a portent. You can learn what I’m teaching, and prepare for that for which I am a portent. Or you can ignore me, to your peril.

    • That is saying that “if you hit someone back who just hit you you are just as bad as they are”.

      Before the first round of negotiations there is little to determine whether the agreements will be kept.

      By the fourth or fifth round, three family generations (in the case of the Kims), it’s rather clearer, no?

      I am not saying “One cannot trust them there foreign/islamic/communist devils”, though the latter is a…hint.

      I am saying that “once someone proves themselves to be a monster one should not trust them”.

  18. “In the environment of ancestral adaptation, we lived short and violent lives in which our interactions with anyone outside our small and genetically related home band were normally those of suspicion and enmity.”

    Hunter gatherers live(d) a long life. Modal age at death is above 70. They tend to be healthy.
    http://www.anth.ucsb.edu/faculty/gurven/papers/GurvenKaplan2007pdr.pdf

    Actually, it is agriculture that lead to a reduction of life-span. Agriculture has been called the biggest mistake in history. We might argue about that, but until the 20th century, a farmer’s life was very unhealthy due to reliance on single food stocks. Violence is/was higher in hunter gatherers, but in pre-historic times that was kept in check a little by low population densities.

    • >Hunter gatherers live(d) a long life. Modal age at death is above 70.

      Today they do. The archaeological evidence is that hunter-gatherer lifespan in the EEA was quite a bit shorter. No, I don’t know of any good explanation for this.

      >Actually, it is agriculture that lead to a reduction of life-span.

      True. That was the first major transition to way of living we had been not preadapted for by millions of years. Well, the first one since we became sophonts, anyway.

    • > Hunter gatherers live(d) a long life. Modal age at death is above 70. They tend

      > Actually, it is agriculture that lead to a reduction of life-span.

      Hunter gatherers spread their skeletons all over hell and back, often where predators and scavengers could get to them.

      Farmers buried their dead where we can easily find them.

      I’m not 100 percent sold on these thesis, even though it does suggest that eating more (uncured) meat and fresh vegetables is better than soy and corn.

      • “I’m not 100 percent sold on these thesis, even though it does suggest that eating more (uncured) meat and fresh vegetables is better than soy and corn.”

        Hunter gatherers remains that have been found were taller than the remains found from early farmers, indicating they more healthy. Farmers had diseases never seen in hunter gatherers, e.g., caries Also, modern day hunter gatherers fare better health wise than modern day subsistence farmers.

        All the evidence available tells us that subsistence farmers are worse of than hunter gatherers in all but one measure: Population densities of farmers are higher. So, even though a farmers life is worse, farmers will crowed out hunter gatherers by sheer numbers.

        • So, even though a farmers life is worse, farmers will crowed out hunter gatherers by sheer numbers.

          Good thing we’ll never see a repeat of that pattern.

          • We saw this again when the settlers drove off the natives in the USA. And the non-UK settlers crowded out the original English immigrants. And we see it indeed going on with the Spanish speaking people crowding out the English speaking people.

            But I am just kidding. You are probably talking about Muslims overtaking your country. But, you know, there are more Catholics than Muslims in the world, and they live just across the border. You will be overrun by Catholics long before the Muslims could even make a dent.

              • Catholics are have been a majority in the Netherlands for decades now. Most of these “Catholics” are atheists, btw. Muslims are a tiny minority of less than ~1M out of 17M.

    • >until the 20th century, a farmer’s life was very unhealthy due to reliance on single food stocks

      Then those farmers were doing it wrong. There is no reason to only farm one crop, and lots of reasons to farm several different crops, and rotate the land on which each is grown. There are a few people like Joel Saletan who are teaching farmers to emulate nature’s patterns, providing far more diversity and at the same time massively improving yields, without petrochemical fertilizers. Unfortunately, a lot of his techniques run afoul of laws that discourage growing crops and raising livestock on the same land, for instance.

      • Yeah, as far as I know, the very idea of a single-crop farm (subsistence or other) is a thoroughly modern invention.

        (Or, rather, there might well be, in any given season, one “main” crop providing most calories, but at all times there’d be a bit of land growing random area-and-culture-specific vegetables, random edible weeds, etc.

        It’s commercial farms that do monoculture.

        Not to mention, yes, any hunted/trapped/raised livestock or their products; if you have farmand to live off of, you can raise a chicken or two, and eggs are a great way to bugs into food.

        Likewise, swine turn trash into food.

        Look at, say, the Foxfire books and their records of Appalachian subsistence living; the work was hard and the diet a little rough, but it was diverse, and none of that is a modern invention, that I know of.)

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