The gun rights movement and its lunatic fringe

Phil Ebersole's Blog

I am not a gun person, but I don’t consider myself an enemy of  gun owners or gun rights advocates.

I’m philosophically in accord with much of what the gun rights movement says, while not in sympathy with some of its manifestations, including people in public places who carry around deadly weapons as if they were fashion accessories.

I believe that:

  • Self-protection is a fundamental human right.
  • The Constitution gives Americans an individual right to keep and bear arms.
  • Firearms have useful and legitimate purposes.
  • Ownership of firearms by responsible, law-abiding people is not a social problem.
  • Down through history and across many cultures, denial of the right to own weapons is a defining mark of a subjugated people.  (The other is denial of the right to testify in court).
  • Guns are an icon of American culture, just as swords are an icon of Japanese culture.

A lot…

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Proletarian Revolution versus The Real Movement of Society: A reply to Siddiq

The Real Movement

revolution A comment by Siddiq on my blog argues that I am off-base by suggesting there is no need whatsoever for a conscious revolutionary subject. I want to take a moment to respond and explain my apparent difference with value critique writers like Robert Kurz.

In contradiction to value critique theorists like Kurz, I assume the collapse of capitalism and emergence of communism are one and the same event. Disputing this opinion, the commenter writes,

“First hand experience, and historical precedent, leads me to agree with Kurz that there is no guarantee that capitalist collapse will lead to some sort of emancipation.”

His argument is based on his direct experience in Zimbabwe in the aftermath of its recent crisis, where he observed economic crisis led not to a post-capitalist order, but to

“grassroots capitalism, in which the entire population hustled to survive by any means PERMITTED, most of which involved entrepreneurship…

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The American Empire Crumbling Before Our Eyes Right Here at Home

2012 The Awakening

This land isn’t your land; this land is the 1 percent’s land.

Photo Credit: Shannon Ruvelas/Shutterstock.com

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As America’s new economy starts to look more like the old economy of the Great Depression, the divide between rich and poor, those who have made it and those who never will, seems to grow ever starker. I know. I’ve seen it firsthand.

Once upon a time, I worked as a State Department officer, helping to carry out the occupation of Iraq, where Washington’s goal was regime change. It was there that, in a way, I had my first taste of the life of the 1%. Unlike most Iraqis, I had more food and amenities than I could squander, nearly unlimited funds to spend as I wished (as long as…

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Radical Resources for May Day (and every day)

LibrarianShipwreck

What, you may ask, is the best thing to do with information?

Share it of course!

Thus, in honor of May Day – also known as International Workers’ Day – and in the spirit of mutual aid, we here at the Shipwreck are happy to share with you some repositories of radical goodness to give you some provocative reading…

Marxists Internet Archive

This archive may have “Marxists” in its title but zounds do they ever have a lot of material. From the First International to the Fourth International, and from Maoism to the Frankfurt School – this archive provides a stunning amount of content. Beyond Marxism (and Marxists) this site also features impressive amounts of content pertaining to feminism, National Liberation movements, and even a fair bit of classical political philosophy.

While this is a great site to go to for a specific thinker, it’s also a great place to…

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NSA: a bureaucracy in search of a function

Phil Ebersole's Blog

Edward Luttwak, a historian and long-time consultant to the Pentagon on military strategy, wrote an article in the Times Literacy Supplement of London recently arguing that the National Security Agency’s all-encompassing surveillance is simply the result of a bureaucracy looking for a way to justify its existence.

Compared to the days of the Cold War, he wrote, there is little scope for the NSA is trying to keep track of scattered Islamic militants who don’t even use phones for communication.  The NSA’s response was, in its own way, a stroke of genius.  Don’t just track people who are threats to the United States.  Track everybody who is a potential threat, which means tracking everybody.

Luttwak’s article is behind a pay wall, but Peter J. Leithart wrote a good summary in First Things magazine.

In a TLS review of Luke Harding’s The Snowden Files, Edward Luttwak traces things back to dynamics…

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Coming back around again: The resegregation of schools in the American South

Whether the conversation focuses on positive gains or negative impacts, race is a constant hot-button issue in America. Some believe that we’ve entered a period of “post-racial” awareness. Put simply, a lot of folks want to believe that structural/systemic racism is no longer an inhibitor to success in the States. Those uber-optimists may be right, to some extent, but as a recent article in the Atlantic finds, we’ve still got quite a journey, particularly in terms of equal education.

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Resegregation in the American South

Illegals and the Language of the Body Politic

Identical to the politics in the states

Fine Tooth Column

Image

The use of language to create visual spectres is an effective approach for politicians, their supporters, and allied interest groups to develop a narrative that can become the media narrative.

A couple of weeks ago, I was reading a work report related to asylum seekers in Australia, and had noticed two significant changes made by the Australian Federal government to legal and bureaucratic terminology. First was a change to the term used for those who arrive by boat from ‘Irregular Maritime Arrival’ to ‘Illegal Maritime Arrival’. The aim of this was to legitimise PM Tony Abbott’s assertion of the illegality of arriving without a visa, which legally speaking isn’t true.

Second was the renaming of the ‘Department of Immigration and Citizenship’ – which oversees asylum seeker applications – to the ‘Department of Immigration and Border Protection’. This reinforces the shift from multiculturalism and legal process to gatekeeping, which began…

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“The Soul of Black Folk”: Race, Work, and Talent

riversandstone

In a recent interview on NPR’s “Fresh Air,” Neal deGrasse Tyson–astrophysicist, internet icon, heir to Carl Sagan as The Great Public Scientist– made an interesting point when asked to comment on his position as a scientist who happens to be black.  Any listener could tell that he was annoyed that race was even brought up; like any self-respecting scientist (and unlike so many humanities academics, ZING!), Tyson wanted to talk about the soundness of his work, not his racial or ethnic identity.  However, when pressed on the race issue, he opened up, speaking of when he was a teenager who was both obsessed with astronomy and a talented wrestler, and encountering many teachers encouraging him to pursue wrestling rather than science.

This sort of low-level racial stereotyping is both common, and unsurprising.  Our white-dominated society has long had fewer problems with successful black entertainers (musicians, actors, athletes, from…

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“They” Invented Race

The Next Social Construct

I attended a very interesting keynote speech tonight at UMKC. Edward James Olmos spoke about Cesar Chavez, civil disobedience, and the plight of the Latino, but the most fascinating thing he said all night was this: “They invented race to make it easier for us to kill each other.” Boy did he hit the nail on the head.

As ambiguous a word as “they” is, we all know that it is a technical term for any powers that be. And “they” had a very good reason for wanting “us”, another technical term for anyone who is not in the powers that be category, to kill each other. It was the only way they could convince us that they were a necessary entity to begin with. This is a very Hobbesian approach to the problem of proving legitimate rule by consent. This problem and Hobbesian approach still exist today in our…

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