This year, Chinese coast guard ships escalated their harassment of Philippine vessels in Philippine waters that China claims as its own. Their tactics include cutting vessels off, flooding vessels with water cannons and the occasional bout of bumper boats.
Time to paint the Chinese and Philippine coast guard ships I have had for over a year, get out the fishing boats I have and a copy of David Manley’s Cod War and play a game.
The Albert Einstein Institution has released an iPad app to accompany the How to Start a Revolution film about nonviolent revolution and Gene Sharp they released last year. Not having an iPad, I cannot get it, but it looks interesting. Sadly no Android app, yet.
I finally moved the whenimaginationfails.org and bywillalone.org domains over to this blog.
In the (generally) Facebook discussion of my Is there an instance where an armed citizenry prevented US government oppression? post, the responses were either of the form:
- it is too early to tell (as if 200 years of US history would not give us some useful examples) or
- the examples were so small they weren’t in the historical record.
I did find two US historical examples of a group of armed citizens which successfully used firearm violence to counter what they perceived as government oppression:
- The violence by Southern whites before the Civil War to get the South to succeed;
- 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:
Indeed that the anarchists or Black Panther party had weapons (and sometimes used them in self-defense) were used as excuses to use overwhelming government power and surveillance on them, which is part of the reason nonviolent tactics proved more effective.
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?