Sunday, June 2, 2013

Tyrannical Government: The Hitler and Stalin Argument

I’m quite disappointed to realize I never fully tackled the Alex Jones guest appearance on Piers Morgan’s television program at the beginning of this year, so I’m taking this opportunity to discuss something important.  Whether they’re in favor of gun control or not, everyone who watched that interview can clearly remember Alex Jones’ outburst and what he said:

“Hitler took the guns, Stalin took the guns, Mao took the guns, Fidel Castro took the guns, Hugo Chavez took the guns … 1776 will commence again if you try to take the guns from the American people!!!”

While Jones’ point held an incredibly valid argument, he unfortunately stated some tiredly overused rhetoric that conservatives and libertarians use as an ideological defense of their Second Amendment rights.  To this very day, leftists take the totalitarian argument completely out of context, and they’re able to do so because conservatives and libertarians rarely ever add the proper context to this valid argument.

Let me attempt to give a logical and easy to understand explanation of what Jones meant.  It’s overstated that the reason the Second Amendment exists is for the American people to be able to protect themselves from “tyrannical government.”  That statement in and of itself is incredibly vague and unclear in its meaning.  What does “tyrannical government” exactly mean?

This is what it boils down to: the purpose of the Second Amendment is for the American civilian population to be armed to be able to fight a war against the federal government.  Plain and simple.

Battle of Lexington
Bear in mind that the Constitution and its appendage, the Bill of Rights, were written and ratified less than a decade after the American Revolutionary War had been won by the United States government (formerly the confederated Continental governments).  This war for independence began precisely as an armed faction of the British citizenry in North America went to war against the British government.  The war began at Lexington when a British Army battalion fired on the local militia, blatantly violating what we understand today to be the rules of engagement.

The government fired on the citizenry and the citizenry sure as hell shot back.

Many people on the left like to say that the circumstances of the American Revolution were unique, and that the federal government is not being tyrannical today the way the Crown was being.  Not so!  Anyone can take a look at the Declaration of Independence and see how many of the grievances—especially those in the second half of the list of outrages—written by the bipartisan Continental Congress in 1776 have been repeatedly committed against the American people by the federal government, under both the Bush and Obama administrations.

Some on the left may indeed agree that the federal government is behaving the way the Royal Government behaved in the 1770s, but that our country’s government will never become as tyrannical as Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union under Stalin.  But how can they really be sure?

Let’s first look at the rise of the Nazi regime in Germany.  The infamous fire that broke out in the Reichstag in February 1932 was the basis upon which German President Paul von Hindenberg—a supporter of Adolf Hitler’s—issues the Reichstag Fire Decree which was the “legal” basis for the German federal government to nullify many key civil rights, including a protection against warrantless arrests, indefinite detention, and seizures of personal property.

Adolf Hitler was elected in the spring of 1933.  Within one year of the seizure of state power by the Nazi regime—by democratic means, no less—all Jewish-owned businesses in Nazi Germany were marked with a yellow star or the word “Juden.”  In 1935—two years into the Nazi regime’s tenure—the passage of the Nuremburg laws stripped Germany’s Jews of their citizenship (as well as various political targets and other undesirables).  In 1936, special prison camps were built for political prisoners.  These prisons would later be known as “concentration camps.”   By 1938, the regime began enforcing stringent gun control laws, confiscating as many firearms as possible, and also began the mass incarceration of Jews into the newly built camps.

The terror and horror was in full swing within only five years.  What amazes me is how the majority of civil servants and elected officials in the German government in 1932 were ordinary people, hardly different from those serving in American government today.  Is it still completely implausible that tyranny could occur in America, creeping subtly to the surface, within just five years?

Let’s look back even further at the genesis of the Soviet Union.  The Bolsheviks occupied the Winter Palace in November 1917.  Within a few months Lenin had dissolved the Constituent Assembly (their at-the-time equivalent of a Congress or Parliament) and outlawed the other political parties.  Within two years of the October Revolution, Lenin organized the Cheka (secret police) that was sixteen times as large as the Tsar’s secret police.  He ordered the arrest and execution of at least 80,000 “enemies of the state” from the Social Democratic and Socialist Revolutionary parties.

Many people assumed this madness was simply part of the birth pangs of a new nation and part of the horrors of war (Russia was in a civil war from 1918-22).  However, it continued and progressively intensified.  Lenin’s regime did not only arrest the kulaks—landowners—but executed tens of thousands of them.  These figures do not reflect the people that were forcibly deported from the young Soviet Union.

In 1924 Lenin passed away and Stalin was selected by the Party to succeed him as Secretary.  Within five years Stalin began his “Second Revolution” to correct deviations from Marxist-Leninist doctrine which had occurred during the Civil War and New Economic Policy (NEP), to eliminate the new kulaks of the rising middle class which emerged during the first Five Year Plan under the NEP, and to purge impure elements from the Communist Party.  Though the Bolsheviks confiscated as many civilian-owned firearms as possible during the Civil War, the Second Revolution saw gun control officially implemented in 1929, immediately followed by a nationwide campaign of firearms seizure by the government.

NKVD (precursor to the KGB) records testify to 681,692 people executed during Stalin’s terror of 1936-39, though experts put the number of people murdered by their government during this time at over one million.  Let it be understood that when a government begins murdering its unarmed population, such a program is called genocide.  When a government begins murdering its armed population, such is usually the initiation of a civil war and likely government overthrow.  Nonetheless, in Russia during the end of the Tsar’s reign and early months of Bolshevik rule, just as in Germany, the majority of those serving in government were ordinary people, hardly different from American government employees and public servants.  When the regime began committing acts of tyranny, these same civil servants probably believed they were doing the right thing, entirely for the public good, just as the majority of the American Congress felt when they passed the PATRIOT Act and the various versions of NDAA.

We’ve demonstrated that atrocities in Germany began within five years of a change in government.  The long list of atrocities in the Soviet Union began within one year of the Bolsheviks taking power.  Let’s ask ourselves, is it completely implausible that a government could become tyrannical within one year?  Even after the cases of Germany and Russia—ancient lands steeped with rich histories and sophisticated culture—is it still impossible to consider that the American government could inflict tyranny on its own citizens?

It is indeed possible, though I pray it never happens.  I love my country and I consider my experiences so far in public service to have been an honor, but I also realize that I—like all of you—must remain vigilant and protest whenever the government oversteps its authority.  I fully understand that I’m 100 times more likely to be attacked by a fellow citizen than by my own government, but as long as I practice my Second Amendment right I can at least have a fighting chance to successfully defend myself.  I’m defenseless if the government disarms me.

Returning to the Alex Jones shout-a-thon on Piers Morgan’s show, it’s quite obvious that Piers set Alex up for that one.  There was no table, after all, bringing the two talking heads intimately close and thus making it more personal.  As far as setting Jones up, Morgan succeeded as Jones walked straight into the trap and began shouting.  Once Jones commenced his tantrum, he’d already lost and this victory for gun control advocates was broadcast internationally.  Because of that, it’s my hope that shedding some light on the tyrannical government argument will help my compatriots in the liberty movement present the argument accurately and in context so as to make our pro-Second Amendment position understood, not reviled.

Keep in mind and never forget that the same brilliant statesmen who brought you the rights to free speech, due process, and freedom from unlawful search and seizure are the same thinkers who brought you the right to own firearms.  They did so in consideration of the U.S. government overstepping its authority and attacking citizens, just as their government did in 1775.

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YouTube video contains footage that is the property of CNN but is used here in accordance with Fair Use Law and via Standard YouTube license.  Alex Jones image used courtesy of "911conspiracy" and Piers Morgan image courtesy of Ian Lively.  Both images hosted on Flickr, were obtained from Wikimedia Commons, and are used here via CC BY 2.0 license.  The First Blow For Liberty, Battle of Lexington by A.H. Ritchie is in the public domain.

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