“Your actions speak so loudly, I can not hear what you are saying.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Here’s what I want to say to you today, in a nutshell:
If we are for peace, then we have to put away the guns. If we keep the guns as part of our activism, then stop sounding like hypocrites by talking about peace.
We have a message. There is an audience out there. We need to tailor our message – not our principles but our message – to that audience. It is really quite simple. It’s called marketing, which is finding a market for your product, service or, in our case, message. We can repeat the same old talking points from Murray Rothbard and Lysander Spooner or we can actually practice what we preach and bring an innovative message and product to the marketplace of ideas in a way that will meet with success.
Many people are scared of guns. It doesn’t matter why. Bringing a gun to a political conversation makes them suspect your motives. Your action of carrying a firearm speaks to them so loudly that they’re not hearing anything else that you say.
Here are some objections to “If we are for peace, then we have to put away the guns. If we keep the guns as part of our activism, then stop sounding like hypocrites by talking about peace.”
- Unilateral Disarmament. No, I’m not suggesting unilateral disarmament. Just stop flashing your AKs and your 1911s. Calling for Armed Revolution? Cover yourself in firearms. Rambo up. But don’t talk about peace at the same time. You sound like Stalin. I’m not saying you shouldn’t keep and bear arms for self-defense.
- Liberty First. “Give me my liberty and then I’ll stop flashing my AR-15.” This is a little obtuse. In order to achieve liberty, we have to get the people who grease the state’s machinery to understand that we have something better to offer them. We can’t do that if we’re always talking about guns, for reasons I have already explained. So if you can’t engage in political conversation without bringing a gun into it, you’re not on a solid path to achieving liberty.
- No Peace with Oppressors. “There can be no peace between us and those that would enslave us.” This objection has also missed the point. I don’t believe it’s us vs them, not to even mention that to say that is an example of collectivist thought. It’s just not that simple. Not even the “us” is a cohesive whole. We are just a bunch of individuals sharing this really cool spaceship for a short time on our journey through the cosmos. If you really think it impossible to make peace with oppressors, I don’t envy the choices that you have left yourself. I think anything is possible.
- A Gun is Nothing Special. “A gun is a tool like any other. There is nothing inherently violent or un-peaceful about a gun.” As someone who open-carried for 9 months in the Philadelphia area, I would really like to be able to agree with that. But the purpose of a firearm is to put a piece of metal into a living body, thus putting it at great risk of harm, even death. Is it a tool? Sure. Is it a tool for harmless ends? Not necessarily. Individuals absolutely must be respected when they decide to keep and bear arms, and it is an undeniable fact that most individuals use them for purely self-defensive purposes. But, as libertarians, when some of you go around talking about when it’s ok to kill cops, that defensive violence is justified against government agents and that people who part of the state’s machinery are just subhuman “sheeple,” then you are creating the impression that you are willing to use your firearms against others to causing them bodily harm. That’s a credible threat of aggression, from their point of view. To say that a gun is just a tool like a fork or a wrench is cognitive dissonance if at the same time you talk about using guns to kill cops and “sheeple.” Guns are, indeed, tools of violence.
- Attention. “No one pays attention if you are unarmed.” There is an implicit admission here that you want attention. Speaking for myself, I don’t want attention. I want to help myself and other people. Any attention that is required for me to achieve that will flow naturally when I have earned it. But this statement is also false. There are plenty of news stories every day about things that take place without firearms, even activism. See, for example, the We Won’t Fly campaign for traveler dignity against the TSA in 2010. If the bearing of firearms is the only way that you know how to get attention, then you have something fundamentally wrong in your approach. If you have something valuable to contribute to the world, then you don’t need to flash a gun in order to achieve it.
- Change Message. “Are you saying we should change our message to conform to the sheeple?” I’m saying we must tailor our marketing to the market. That’s marketing 101! If the market wants to buy tuna, I don’t push canned spam on them and expect them to thank me for it. So, YES.
- Slavery. “If the price of peace is slavery, I’ll take violence any day.” Guess what, the price of peace is reason, patience, diligence and determination. This is a false dichotomy saying that it’s either slavery or violence. There is a third way. It’s called nonviolence.
I hope you enjoyed the video. I look forward to your reaction in the comments below.
10 replies on “Want Peace? Set Aside your Guns (AYMFL 0008)”
Great video and message George! I think you’re right on, we shouldn’t be brandishing tools of violence while trying to bring people a message of peace. Even using violence for self defense is an unfortunate outcome as peaceful resolution to problems and potentially violent situations is to be preferred.
We also shouldn’t be dehumanizing people by calling them sheeple or statists (or even cops/pigs/etc) That’s what governments do to make it easier for their soldiers to kill other people.
Nicely said, Matt!
So you’re saying we should tone down the guns message and yet the name of your site contains a weapons reference? #fail
Very clever! Kudos! However, Oxford says that definition #2 for arm (v) is “supply or provide with equipment, tools, or other items in preparation or readiness for something: she armed them with brushes and mops.”
And that is the sense of the word ‘arm’ that I use for “Arm your Mind for Liberty.” IOW, Supply your mind with the tools you need to prepare for liberty.
If you reflect carefully on the language, war-related terms have invaded our vocabularies left, right and center. See for example, target. Legitimate words, such as arm (I have two of them), have also been pressed into the service of war-making against their will.
But that’s hardly my fault.
I think I understand the message you are imparting and the spirit within which you mean it. As a self-described 2nd Amendment fundamentalist, many in my sub-tribe of the AnCapLbt camp will immediately get their hair up in response to this and hurl accusations at you of being a compromising weenie and closet hoplophobe. I won’t go that far. But I think it’s fair to say (if my assessment of you is correct) that you are not a pacifist, nor are hardly any of us in the greater “Liberty Movement”. Certainly, you do not advocate being defenseless. And I am equally certain that your concern for how we are perceived and reacted to by the general voting public is not only borne of pragmatism, but rooted is your early molding as a young lad to be a gentleman and not an offensive fool. I was raised that way as well, so I am sympathetic.
You make many good points that even the most rabidly extreme advocates of armed liberty (such as myself) should endeavor to consider fairly. Open and honest intellectual debate is and has been one of the shining bright attributes of our particular political community that I cherish.
However, while the position you arrive at is done so with earnest good will, and you indeed correctly point to ways in which we can conduct ourselves as better gentlemen and ladies,…I must disagree with you on your overall conclusion.
If we seek to one day be re-embraced by our fellow countrymen as brothers and sisters, rather than “others”, that requires they come to accept us as we are. Just as unhealthy as it is to hide one’s sexual orientation and be dishonest with the world – and just as how it can almost never lead to good strong friendships or family relations,…so too is it foolish to attempt to hide from our fellow citizens that we are armed and beautiful. True, we need not always necessarily be so “proud and out loud” about it. But just as various minorities have found the need to be confrontational at times and firmly insistent on being recognized and respected,…well, we gundudes often refer to ourselves as ‘the new niggers”.
The civil rights movement NEEDED both Dr. King AND Malcolm X. Even the violence of the Black Panthers, though counter-productive at times, reminded the power structure of the consequences of continued marginalization,…and in that way, was actually productive, though few dare admit it.
The porcupine avatar of the Free State Project comes to mind as being apt. Cute and cuddly when feeling friendly, it still wears its weapons on the outside for all to see and beware of. People fear porcupines unnecessarily,…because all you have to do is leave them alone.
We all have a role to play in our interaction and engagement with the public and government regarding guns. Some of us do it well and some don’t. But it is all important, even the ugly sides of it. We have a humanitarian obligation to make sure our potential future enemy combatants poised against us are aware of the hornets nest they are throwing rocks at. Your complaints strike me as being offended that the rattlesnake is buzzing so loudly and with obtuse indifference to who his noise offends. Should the snake just bite without warning? Isn’t the snake more likely to be (eventually) left alone if it makes noise?
But these are the polite arguments.
Ultimately, as it has always been, who wins depends on who’s most willing to be the most murderous and malicious if their foe does not comply. For that be us and not them, maintaining an appropriate arrogance and lack of respect is essential. And not showcasing our proclivity for such (at least those of us who possess it, anyway), hurts our particular culture’s ability to more fully morph into a warring tribe when the time requires it. I never want to see that day,…but I know that I will. So I refuse to pretend that I won’t.
I am someone who has taught and continues to teach advanced firearms and unarmed self defense as a means of voluntary dissolution from the state. I do so not by following their laws but by flagrantly violating those which cause me potential harm. I do not flaunt the firearm or any other defensive tool I carry.
I find it incredibly obtuse of you to speak to those who endure an oppressive state daily when you chose to flee. Sure in the wonderful costa rican town you reside getting along may be quite possible sans potential violence. However, some of us refuse to move or simply cannot. As a result it falls to those (even kokesh with whom i tend to disagree given his latest stunt) to ensure that when (not if) the state deigns it necessary to attack us with force we can and should fight back.
As far greater minds than mine have noted including your current idol M. Gandhi, while force is never desired of a peaceful man it is sometimes necessary. I am happy you find this peace for yourself, and crave that where I live now. After all, why must I continue to flee from oppression?
How does one go from being an open carry activist to being an advocate
of people being unable to defend themselves?
One doesn’t! That’s not what I am saying. Thanks for commenting tho.
There is no end to what we can discover together if we look together towards incrementally increasing understanding and peace of mind.