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The Gun is Civilization
Posted by: Dale Franks on Saturday, November 17, 2007

Over at the Munchkin Wrangler blog, Marko argues that firearms are not negative implements of our civilization, but rather, they are integral to civlization.

The whole post is excellent, but the money quote, if I were to choose one—which, I guess I am—is this one:
Human beings only have two ways to deal with one another: reason and force. If you want me to do something for you, you have a choice of either convincing me via argument, or force me to do your bidding under threat of force. Every human interaction falls into one of those two categories, without exception. Reason or force, that's it.

In a truly moral and civilized society, people exclusively interact through persuasion. Force has no place as a valid method of social interaction, and the only thing that removes force from the menu is the personal firearm, as paradoxical as it may sound to some.

When I carry a gun, you cannot deal with me by force. You have to use reason and try to persuade me, because I have a way to negate your threat or employment of force.
That is a compelling argument, I think.
 
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Good argument except when it comes to government. Government is part of our civilization. Guess what, government has bigger guns than you and me. Government takes what it wants at the barrel of a gun.
That said, I have a concealed carry permit and I use it.
 
Written By: Rick
URL: http://
The "money quote" is quite true...

Unles I have my gun out already, and your’s is still in it’s holster.
 
Written By: Scott Jacobs
URL: http://
Exactly. The gun not only gives you some measure of increased protection against the force of others (but only if you see them coming), it gives them vastly increased powers of force over you. Back to square 1, with increased range.
 
Written By: Blewyn
URL: http://
Or, if two people have guns and try to use force, it ends in death. I’m not anti-gun, but to go to the other extreme and say guns are necessary for reason to be used is ridiculous. In the Balkans guns were everywhere and the result was civil war. Whether or not people use reason to persuade depends on a variety of socio-cultural factors, a look at the variety of conflicts and cultures in the world make that clear. So, the anti-gun crowd is wrong when they say guns cause the problem, but trying to counter that with a pro-gun argument that says guns make civilization possible is just silly (and shows ignorance of both history and current events).
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Perhaps not coincidentally the same people who are most opposed to individuals owning guns tend to be the ones who favor government as the instrument of choice for solving every societal problem. Using Government mandates is like using guns by proxy.
 
Written By: Aldo
URL: http://
I would generalize more and say that weapons, not just guns, make civilization possible. Weapons are, as the mathematicians say, a necessary but not a sufficient condition for civilization. You really do need some way to keep other folks from taking your womenfolk and raping your livestock. You also need to sleep, so getting together with your neighbor(s) and scheduling someone to keep watch while the others work or sleep is also necessary. You need both weapons and a scheme, which usually entails some form of social organization, to use them effectively.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
Of course, a couple of thousand years of oppression of one or another group by its neighbors had nothing at all to do with violence in the Balkans, right? Much better that whichever group is currently on top gets all the guns and gets to stay on top forever.
"(G)uns were everywhere and the result was civil war." That has to be the least logical statement I’ve seen in a month. Were there no civil wars prior to the invention of guns? Do civil wars break out in large armories when no one is around? And was what happened in the Balkans a civil war (or civil wars) or a revolution? Is there a difference? (I believe most historians might think so, although I tend to regard the American Revolution as an English civil war.)
If stability is to desired above all, then mass graveyards are the most desirable state for humans.
 
Written By: JorgXMcKie
URL: http://
JorgXMcKie wrote:
Of course, a couple of thousand years of oppression of one or another group by its neighbors had nothing at all to do with violence in the Balkans, right? Much better that whichever group is currently on top gets all the guns and gets to stay on top forever.
I think you’re intentionally misreading Erb here. The point there is that despite lots of gun ownership (which should in theory make the Balkans super-civilized,) the region collapsed into civil war. Guns can enable civilization by equalizing the distribution of power (how ironic!), but they don’t necessarily make man civilized. Culture matters more than gun ownership here.
 
Written By: James O
URL: http://
OK, Erb, it ends in death. That means that the next thug (including the government) gets to deal with the idea that all they get from using guns is bodies that they can’t get anything from ever again. That’s why I’ve never been worried about "the government has bigger guns." Ultimately, they only want to use enough gun to get what they want, without killing the golden goose. If they believe that I and my fellow freedom lovers will cause more destruction than they’ll ever get back, they’ll probably think twice. MAD works outside of international levels.

 
Written By: SDN
URL: http://
In a truly moral and civilized society, people exclusively interact through persuasion. Force has no place as a valid method of social interaction, and the only thing that removes force from the menu is the personal firearm, as paradoxical as it may sound to some
Not so sure...in a civilized society we interact in a very large part because of the law- which is the threat of govt-sanctioned force being used against you if you do not comply.
 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
"(G)uns were everywhere and the result was civil war."
The result was civil war rather than an armed side simply exterminating the unarmed side. Which raises the question: which is better, civil war or genocide?

 
Written By: Achillea
URL: http://
When I carry a gun, you cannot deal with me by force. You have to use reason and try to persuade me, because I have a way to negate your threat or employment of force.
While I agree with the general theme of the article, this is simply not true. Being armed with a gun in no way inherently prevents or negates force being threatened or used against you (otherwise, there would be no such thing as a shootout). Having a gun may indeed discourage such coercion, thus encouraging sweet reason as the remaining way to achieve the objective, but it doesn’t guarantee it. Someone who feels he has a better chance of overpowering you than talking you into whatever it is he wants is probably going to opt for physical aggression, whether you’re strapped or not.
 
Written By: Achillea
URL: http://
Everybody’s concentrating on the word/idea "force". That’s not the key idea.

The key word/idea is balance.

Blewyn, you’re not back to square one, because before guns, strong, young men had the upper hand in every discussion. Post-guns (and other such weapons), your choice of disadvantaged group is now on a nearly level playing field. (It’s not totally level, but it’s waycloser.)

Scott, it’s not that "guns end in death" vs "no guns don’t end in death", it’s that "no guns means young, strong men kill others" and guns mean "young, strong men are in as much danger as anyone else".

It’s the equality issue that is the core of this argument. And correspondingly, it is the fact that denying this tool to the disadvantaged leaves them in a desperately unequal position that is the core of this argument. This is why it isn’t so obviously, transparently clear that gun control is the moral choice; it’s a big "screw you" to the disadvantaged of society.

If you started from scratch with the definition of "liberal" and "conservative", I’d expect strong gun control to be the conservative position, and the NRA to be a liberal organization. That this isn’t the case just goes to show how useless the definitions are for really understanding what’s going on.
 
Written By: Jeremy Bowers
URL: http://www.jerf.org/iri
James O, I think Achillea presents my point better. Erb implies, at least, that guns were the cause of the civil war. Even if one reads it as guns not stopping a civil war that still misses the point. Absent guns widely available, the armed, as Achillea says, will prevent a civil war by using the guns on the unarmed. Check out Africa today.
Tell you what. You refuse to bear arms and wear a brassard proclaiming that you are unarmed, and I’ll promise not use firearms against you. However, I’m a nice guy and I can’t guarantee your safety from some thug without my fastidiousness about ’fairness’.
 
Written By: JorgXMcKie
URL: http://
Human beings only have two ways to deal with one another: reason and force.
Think that should be: trust and force. Trust can be reasoned, but does not need be.
 
Written By: unaha-closp
URL: http://
A gun is a tool like any other human invention. Tools don’t make civilization, humans do.
 
Written By: Syloson of Samos
URL: http://ingenuus.blogspot.com/
What’s that old Heinlein quote? "An armed society is a polite society." Too true!
 
Written By: ronniegipper
URL: http://socalconservative.blogspot.com
"Tools don’t make civilization, humans do."

So how does your maintain order, without which civilization is impossible? And could you describe what a civilization without tools would be like?

 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
timactual,

Humans make choices about the use of tools, not vice versa. Plenty of cultures exist where guns are used as a means to impede or destroy civilization (at least as many would like to see civilization look like) to illustrate that.

Anyway, I’d be curious to see your thoughts on the subject. How Consider this: in the classical world the steam engine was not an unknown device, in fact at least one working steam engine existed in the classical world. However, it was never adopted as a means to produce some sort of "useful" work (e.g., pumping water out of a mine). Now contrast its use in 18th century Britain. Why the difference? Why the different choices regarding a similar technology?
 
Written By: Syloson of Samos
URL: http://ingenuus.blogspot.com/
"Humans make choices about the use of tools, not vice versa."

Yes, but that is not my point. Civilization is impossible without tools, and that includes weapons.


"Why the difference?"

Because the classical world did not have the level of technology necessary to produce a useful steam engine.



 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
timactual,

Yes, but that is not my point. Civilization is impossible without tools, and that includes weapons.

Yet without the choices involved in making those tools the tools wouldn’t exist. Now maybe civilization is impossible without tools. But in the case of civilization and tools these are the creations of human beings and the choices of human beings.* So yes, it may not be your point; but then again, I wasn’t addressing your point in my original statement. In other words, whether tools are a necessary or merely a sufficient condition (or maybe one might use the term "condition precedent") for the advent of civilization, both are the creation of human beings.

Because the classical world did not have the level of technology necessary to produce a useful steam engine.

That seems to merely beg the question. Why didn’t they have that technology? It seems that it has something to do with the sorts of choices they made as a culture.

*Assuming that one accepts the concept of free will, etc.
 
Written By: Syloson of Samos
URL: http://ingenuus.blogspot.com/
"Yet without the choices involved in making those tools the tools wouldn’t exist........Why didn’t they have that technology? It seems that it has something to do with the sorts of choices they made as a culture"

I have no idea what you are talking about.

 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
If only there was some sort of test case available for this assertion. Some city or country where everyope could walk around with an AK if they wanted to. Why such a place would be the most civilized and reasonable place in the world.

Oh wait. There is such a place. We call it Iraq. Theory, meet Reality.
 
Written By: Retief
URL: http://

 
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