Sunday, May 5, 2013

An Armed Man is a Powerful Man

I live in a state with open carry. Before that I lived in a state with concealed carry. Before that, one with no carry.

The open carry/concealed carry states has little crime. The no carry has a lot of crime.

There is crime in the carry states, including murder, but the murder tends to be idjits who know each other who do the killing. Which, now that I think about it...

When I say “powerful” I mean exactly that – powerful. And virtuous, since the word “virtue” means “the powers of man.” An armed man is a virtuous man.

Power really is important. When everyone has equal power when it comes to weapons, there isn't much crime. That is why pistols used to be called Equalizers – because the weakest woman was equal to the strongest man. There has to be a balance of power. When there is a balance of power it is best to be polite and cooperate more.

In fact, when everyone is armed, we have a pretty good illustration of Axelrod's The Evolution of Cooperation. Axelrod asked and then answered the question, “When, and under what conditions, does it pay to cooperate?” In a sentence, the answer is that cooperation is a rational response when two parties are in a prolonged game (relationship) with an indeterminable end.

If you have two parties, say two people, and if neither party can prevail against the other, and they know this, then cooperation is the best way to them to go. This is why strong countries generally don’t go to war against one another, and instead one strong country will attack a weaker. The strong country feels it has already won and therefore sees no reason to cooperate.

The same applies to people.

Here’s the rub: if people already believe they have won the game, there is no reason for them to cooperate. It doesn’t matter if they really have won the game or not; it only matters if they believe they have. People aren’t always rational; indeed, most of the time, they are not.

If criminals have guns and non-criminals don't, there is no reason for cooperation. Criminals not only think they've won but in fact have won. If criminals have guns and so do non-criminals do also, there will be more cooperation from criminals. If criminals don't have guns but non-criminals do, you will see a lot of cooperation from criminals, and crime will plummet.

Many powers should be spread equally among people, which means taking it away from the government. The power to protect your life, your liberty, and your property. You can't expect the police to save you, since there is that true but not-so-funny joke that when you have seconds to save your life, the police are only minutes away.

There is only one story that repeats itself ad infinitum, ad nauseum: the government appropriating power to itself until people will no longer tolerate it and get rid of it.

We're fortunate that in the United States we have the states to balance the Behemoth know as the federal government. They do bad things, but when the federal government gets too powerful the states revolt, which is why we are now seeing the states legalizing open and concealed carry, and decriminalizing marijuana.

I paraphrase here, but Robert Heinlein made the comment there are basically two kinds of people: those that want power over others, and those who don't.

Everyone (well, most everyone) wants power over themselves (except maybe those natural-slave types). Power over yourself means confidence, competence and lack of fear. I'm reminded of the scene in Blade Runner where Roy Batty tells Rick Deckard: “Quite an experience to live in fear, isn't it? That's what it means to be a slave.”

When someone has complete power over you, then you are The Compleat Slave. If you agree with them having that power (which means your mind is warped), then you are the Uber-Compleat Slave. When no one has power over you, then you are free.

The worst and most abused power of all is political power. It is, as Hannah Arendt wrote, the power to turn someone into a corpse.

Now that I think about it, it'd be nice if we could all be Jedis.

1 comment:

Gwen said...

I thought of Heinlein as soon as I realized your point. In his alternate universe Confederate States of America he made it the norm for everyone (every man at least) to carry a gun or, for those who were cowardly or simply less manly, a brassard. He portrays this culture as being very comfortable with duels and therefore excruciatingly polite. (He also portrayed women who carried guns as cute but annoying, and rather stupid.)