The violence by Southern whites during Reconstruction to reestablish the power of the white planter elite.
For the white planter elites and their supporters, they perceived that they were fighting for their liberty from what they thought of as an oppressive Federal government. However, former slaves, poor whites and most people a hundred years later would doubtless have a far different perspective.
Based on these examples, I believe that guns help authoritarian, elite power and really haven't moved us closer to a more just society or even kept government from being oppressive. In the examples above, they have been used to foster oppression.
The larger issue I get from my albeit brief analysis is that when firearms are used by those not in power, then they will be opposed by the larger society by all means necessary (see the examples in the earlier post). When those with firearms do have power, then there isn't a need to resort to firearms or if they do, then they can use the power of the state to full effect to back them up.
In my mind, the historical examples don't back up the thesis that an armed citizenry keeps oppressive government at bay, but I am still willing to hear about other examples.
One of the assumed truths in the US is that an armed citizenry will prevent the US government from becoming oppressive and taking away our liberties. Recently I have seen people state that the Tea Party folks brought guns to their rallies and the police were respectful of their rights to assemble, but the Occupy movement (and various left-oriented movements in the past) didn't have guns and so got attacked by the police.
I am curious about this line of reasoning and have been seeking an actual instance of when an armed citizenry prevented government oppression.
I can think of examples where an armed citizenry didn't stop government oppression such as:
Are there instances where firearms really did stop government oppression or did they only serve to bolster the power and privileges of the (generally) white wealthy power structure? I know some of you will think the question is loaded, but I am seriously trying to find an instance where firearms did stop government oppression.
I posted two of the miniature game rule sets I been working on over the last many years. Both are not complete, but it is better that they are available for comment than that they sit alone and unloved (except by me) on my computer. They are posted on the side bar, but you can also find them here:
A girl wears a Syrian flag painted on her face during a demonstration against the government of Syria - From Al Jazeera's May 10th Syria live blog. May the universe protect her and all who struggle for freedom in our world.
I setup a bywillalone twitter account, though I am not sure what I will be doing with it besides tweeting my blog posts and following nonviolent activists. Can anyone recommend any nonviolent activists on twitter?
Last December, Greenpeace put out a simple two person game called Deep Sea Desperation that focused on protecting ocean habitat for the Greenpeace player and drilling in more difficult places for the Big Oil player. Lots rather fun. The main page is here, while the rules are there. There is a lively discussion about it at The Miniatures Page.
Apparently someone else came up with a game called Save The Whale! about eco-warriors vs. whalers.
Both games are free and look fun to play and educational as well.
Two little bits (rumors?) from behind the scenes during Egypt's uprising.
Robert Fiskreported that on January 30th Mubarak ordered the military to attack the demonstrators in Tahrir Square, but the officers refused:
Last night, a military officer guarding the tens of thousands celebrating in Cairo threw down his rifle and joined the demonstrators, yet another sign of the ordinary Egyptian soldier's growing sympathy for the democracy demonstrators. We had witnessed many similar sentiments from the army over the past two weeks. But the critical moment came on the evening of 30 January when, it is now clear, Mubarak ordered the Egyptian Third Army to crush the demonstrators in Tahrir Square with their tanks after flying F-16 fighter bombers at low level over the protesters.
Many of the senior tank commanders could be seen tearing off their headsets – over which they had received the fatal orders – to use their mobile phones. They were, it now transpires, calling their own military families for advice. Fathers who had spent their lives serving the Egyptian army told their sons to disobey, that they must never kill their own people.
Thus when General Hassan al-Rawani told the massive crowds yesterday evening that "everything you want will be realised – all your demands will be met", the people cried back: "The army and the people stand together – the army and the people are united. The army and the people belong to one hand."
While Paul Amarwrote that during the February 4th attacks on democracy demonstrators by pro-Mubarak supporters (likely paid thugs, police in plain clothes, government employees and even convicts freed on the condition that they attack the demonstrators), were not widely prevented by the military because they did not have ammunition:
The army’s role in countering Suleiman’s lust for repression was crucial to saving the momentum of this uprising. On 4 February, the day of the most terrifying police/thug brutality in Tahrir Square, many commentators noted that the military were trying to stop the thug attacks but were not being very forceful or aggressive. Was this a sign that the military really wanted the protesters to be crushed? Since then, we have learned that the military in the square were not provisioned with bullets. The military were trying as best they could to battle the police/thugs, but Suleiman had taken away their bullets for fear the military would side with the protesters and use the ammunition to overthrow him.
That the military was unwilling to attack the demonstrators on January 30th, certainly lends support to the notion that their ammunition was take away from them before February 4th, and highlights the usefulness of nonviolent tactics in undermining the support given to the regime by the military and other groups in and outside of a government.
Pictures of various posters from "The Graphic Imperative: An Exhibition of International Posters for Peace, Social Justice and the Environment"
I took these pictures at the exhibition at the Massachusetts College of Art on November 5th, 2005.
The Green-Rainbow Party was excluded from Art Beat 2005. As such we setup a table on the street with chalk and asked Art Beat participants to supply their own art for peace and freedom. This is a large part of the art work or statements that people produced.