Saturday Random Musings: Why the Left Would Win the Next Civil War
It’s a slow Saturday, so I figured I’d share some “shower thoughts” with you on a topic I’ve been pondering lately. The topic is pretty controversial and highly unpleasant, and this is mainly just me thinking out loud. But if it gets you thinking as well, then it was worth sharing.
I’ve been around pro-2A circles all my life, and whenever men meet and talk guns, there’s always a really large thing hanging in the air between them, and 99% of the time that thing goes unstated. But if it were to be stated, it might go something like this: “We may be talking ‘self defense’ or ‘home defense,‘ but we all know the real reason we have these is ‘just in case.'”
And by “just in case,” I’m talking a Paul Revere, Minutemen-type situation. We take it as a given that we — our tribe, the people who are pro-gun and pro-liberty — will prevail in any armed confrontation, because after all, we’re the ones with the guns.
But what if we’re wrong? What if guns aren’t even close to being enough? What if the right tries to rise up for free speech and liberty, guns blazin’, and gets smacked right back down?
Yeah, I know–but don’t close this browser tab just yet!
Before you dismiss me and my musings, consider this question that’ll tell you all you need to know about where I’m really headed with this:
If you turned on the news tomorrow and realized that, holy crap, it really is time to grab your musket, can you name three people in your life right now who fit the following description: 1) you’ve talked to them recently about what the “red line” is, and you know that they’ll 100% agree with you that it has been crossed, and 2) you’ve trained with them in some sort of tactical-ish scenario (anything from 3-gun to paintball counts for our purposes), so you have some sort of reasonable expectation that you can depend on them to have your back in a gunfight?
I’m not really interested in seeing your answer in the comments below, because I’ve been around the block and know exactly how internet operators, keyboard commandos, and mall ninjas love to answer such questions on gun forums. No, those questions are for you to think hard about in your own mind, and to answer honestly for yourself.
You may be one of the few who can truly answer “yes” to the above; if you are, you have a good sense of how rare that is in pro-gun gun circles, and how totally unprepared the “just in case” crowd really is to form up into anything that looks even sort of like a unit, much less to operate their firearms under even moderate pressure outside of a controlled environment.
The beauty of the gun-owning civil liberties crowd is that it prizes the individual’s liberty and capabilities over all else, and the weakness of that same crowd is its emphasis on rugged individualism which discounts the power of institutions, organization, communication, and well-maintained networks.
It’s like this: Right-wingers are lone wolves, but left-wingers are pack animals. Anyone who’s watched a nature show knows that a lone wolf can pick off a few straggling members of a pack, but when the pack turns on that lone predator it’s all over with.
The Power of Activism and Organizing
I don’t really know who David Hines is, but he has recently produced a good series of tweets and an article about how and why the right will lose a domestic armed conflict. Here’s the gist of his argument, from the article:
The organizational capacity required to build a new world is the same organizational capacity have Lefties [sic] built to pressure government. So who’s in a better position to shape the big moment when it comes? Hell, if tomorrow civilization goes completely Mad Max: who’s got existing local networks of people who they’re used to turning out and doing stuff with on a regular basis? Answer to both questions: not the Right.
Passivists say activism accomplishes nothing. What it actually accomplishes is practice. Practice for networking, practice for turnout, practice for speed, practice working as a team. Anybody who’s ever tried to get five people together for dinner knows it’s a pain, but look at the airport protests after the travel ban, and see how many people the hard Left can turn out on next to no notice. Say the balloon were to suddenly go up: forget having a detailed and specific plan; in that first five minutes, do you — not some veterans’ network you’re hoping will salvage things, not some imaginary Great Man; *specifically you* — even know who you’re going to call?
The Lefties do. And that’s why righties who say the Right has nothing to learn from the Left are wrong. That’s because righties don’t read lefty books. I read lefty books and organizational manuals, and I can tell you: they’re smart.
In both the tweetstorm and the article, Hines goes on to describe how the organized (and newly energized and radicalized) left has spent its time in the trenches building networks that can be mobilized at a moment’s notice for marches and protests.
Cast your mind back to the distant past of six months ago, with the Trump inauguration protests. They were massive and historic, and not only were the numbers that turned out far in excess of what anyone can imagine the right pulling off, but the “pink pussy hat” protests had the full and open backing of our most powerful societal institutions: the media, tech giants, and the three-letter agencies that make up the Deep State.
I’m sure you’re thinking these protests accomplished nothing, but you’re wrong. As Hines points out, what they accomplished was the construction of a vibrant, energized left-wing network that’s still growing and operating and organizing and which knows it has the blessing of every large, mainstream institution in American society for what it’s doing.
None of those marchers may have held a gun before, but ask yourself this: who would you put your money on in an armed conflict, the group with guns but no organization, or the group with no guns but plenty of organization?
I know I’d pick the latter, because getting a large group together and organizing it for real-world action is massively harder than just acquiring a gun and learning how to do a bare minimum of soldiering with it. With some organization and logistics and institutional support, you can pretty quickly train up a group of grunts, equip them, and point them all in the same direction.
So the left is starting with an organized group of activists who know each other and have worked together in the streets, and all that remains is for them to equip and train them. The right, by contrast, is starting with a collection of strangers who happen to have some guns but who’ve never once taken to the streets in a group to try to change the world.
And when it kicks off, who will the establishment line up behind? Which side will find sympathy and support and cover for their activities (free legal advice and medical care and publicity for crowdfunding campaigns)? It sure as heck won’t be those who are maligned as Russian stooges and “literal Nazis” and fascists.
As Hines points out, the last time the Left resorted to organized violence, it had the explicit support of prominent institutions like the American Lawyers Association. The folks who bombed and shot and killed for the Left in the 60’s and 70’s later went on to garner accolades and professorships and, more recently, free Hamilton tickets.
The Real Problem with “Just in Case”
All of this brings me to the main shortcoming of the “just in case” mentality that pervades the 2A community, and is prevalent even (or especially) among those who actively train with firearms and actually maintain a network of like-minded folks who will have their back when it’s “go time”: a backup plan is great as far as it goes, but a positive, forward-looking action plan is even better.
If you look at the armed leftist groups that have arisen recently, like Antifa and the self-styled Redneck Revolt (i.e. Antifa with a spray-on farmer tan), you’ll notice a crucial difference between how they approach gun ownership and how the NRA crowd has traditionally approached it. Redneck Revolt in particular is not tooling up “just in case” — they’re tooling up because they full well plan on doing something physical, and they’re open about it.
In some ways, this is the difference in outlook between the conservative and the liberal. The conservative is always glancing back at the original American Revolution for spiritual inspiration while hoping he won’t see the day when we as a nation must revisit that bloody past, while the left looks ever-forward to the coming socialist revolution that hasn’t yet happened but for which they actively hope and work.
My ultimate point is that the real problem with “just in case” is deep and fundamental, in that it sets the right up for failure on a structural level. The “just in case” crowd has a backup plan they truly hope they won’t have to employ, while the armed left has an action plan for which they regularly train in anticipation of the opportunity to execute. Again, which side will be in better shape if it all goes sideways?
Conclusion: Forget about the Violence
I want to wrap this up with an exhortation to all sides, right and left, to swear off violence because really, neither side “wins” if it gets ugly. I’m certainly not advocating for civil libertarians and self-identified right-wingers to organize along the lines of Antifa so they can actively plan for a domestic conflict. Indeed, history and studies bear out that violent groups like Antifa do far more damage to their cause than good.
The majority of the country is sensible enough to understand that Americans assaulting other Americans over ideology is really bad, and they want none of it. Indeed, if anything, the asymmetry described above between “violent backup plan” and “violent action plan” is working to the right’s advantage, because the former is less threatening than the latter to anyone who’s not down with extremism (i.e. most of the country). So I’m definitely not calling for the right wing to change a winning strategy. We as a nation are becoming ever-more-polarized by the day, but let’s hope this anti-violence attitude continues to hold broadly, because insofar as it does, the “backup plan” crowd looks like the less scary of the two options.
No, I mostly just present the above as food for thought for anyone who thinks they bought a gun “just in case things get ugly,” and that they are therefore somehow “prepared” or that they have done something for some cause. They aren’t and they haven’t.
Really doing something involves a lot more than just buying some stuff and learning to operate it. And once you actually step outside and connect with other people in real life to begin working toward a common goal, you’ll realize that political organizing is a lot more rewarding and effective than silently prepping for war.
I may change my mind about any or all of the above, tomorrow. But for now, this is just my two cents, on a slow Saturday.