Monday, 12 July 2010

Janus Words

I don't read the Daily Kos (neither do I read Little Green Footballs), but this pro-2nd Amendment argument by one Kaili Joy Gray was, whatever its' flaws, interesting primarily on account of it appearing on the Daily Kos of all places. Thanks to Ed Rasimus for doing my reading for me. The Daily Kos is, I have often read, a hive of left-wing Democratic activist types - exactly the sort of people who consistently advocate more and more government restrictions on the legal ability of Americans to own firearms. Yet it wasn't just the placing of the argument at Daily Kos that was interesting... I also found its' tone intriguing. Money-quote:
"In no other country, at no other time, has such a right existed. It is not the right to hunt. It is not the right to shoot at soda cans in an empty field. It is not even the right to shoot at a home invader in the middle of the night. It is the right of revolution. Let me say that again: It is the right of revolution."
I read several possible interpretations of that, but that elevated sense of the United States above other countries implied by the opening gambit is very clear, and certainly the revolutionary implications of owning firearms are correct. Yes this could yet be an artifice - a perfidious defense of a good cause by a contrived-to-fail-argument - but it just might be an honest appeal.

In any case I much prefer to insist upon natural rights - those based on the recognition that each person owns his or her own person. The Bill Of Rights is an artifact of the theory that good and bad have no existence aside from the opinions of a particular society, which is a position I reject.

There was also an interesting piece in National Review by Victor Davis Hanson in which he insists that "American decline is a state of mind". Hanson has an interesting score-card in that he frequently offers his readers glimpses of individualism through a collectivist telescope. Here he is:
"In the midst of our current malaise, we feel overwhelmed by largely short-term problems and our current inability to address them — without appreciating our long-term strengths and present bounty, or learning from past recoveries. We are soon to revert to the Clinton income-tax rates last used in 2000, when we ran budget surpluses. If likewise we were to cut the budget, or just hold federal spending to the rate of inflation, America would soon run surpluses as it did a decade ago. For all our problems, the United States is still the largest economy in the world, its 300 million residents producing more goods and services than the more than 1 billion in either China or India."
Distance affords perspective of course, but it may also obliterate crucial details from view - in this case the real-life pain of tax increases for small business owners especially when coupled with the hoovering up of the private loan market. What will be the cultural and political consequences of that years down the line from now? His choice of blurring a foreground of such wanton destruction of productive enterprise to instead focus on a background of greater relative productivity would seem to reflect wishful thinking since there is little sign that President Obama will in fact cut the Federal Budget - indeed it seems he wants to expand it. Perhaps Hanson may have been encouraged by his reading of President Obama as saying one thing, but doing another.

Yet American Decline is not merely a state of mind, which any good person can afford to ignore by adjusting the focus on his lens, it is the very real, ongoing and tragic vandalism of the image of human beings as self-owning, self-directing and self-responsible individuals. Such freely acting individuals conscious of their own freedom are the true basis of an individualist society - not the presumptive declarations of privilege issued by governments or constitutional conventions.

There are two kinds of honesty that may be in play when either liberals or conservatives try to buy my trust. What I want to see in their hands is the silver of accuracy and not merely the copper of sincerity and until I see that, then I will maintain my assertion that the use of the word "liberal" in the United States is a contronym and the conservatives are guilty as hell for sanctifying it.

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