December 19, 2012

More on this idea of privatizing security

From Alan Jacobs, via Ta-Nehisi Coates:  ('Order at Universal Gunpoint' - Ta-Nehisi Coates - The Atlantic):


But what troubles me most about this suggestion -- and the general More Guns approach to social ills -- is the absolute abandonment of civil society it represents. It gives up on the rule of law in favor of a Hobbesian "war of every man against every man" in which we no longer have genuine neighbors, only potential enemies. You may trust your neighbor for now -- but you have high-powered recourse if he ever acts wrongly.
Whatever lack of open violence may be procured by this method is not peace or civil order, but rather a standoff, a Cold War maintained by the threat of mutually assured destruction. Moreover, the person who wishes to live this way, to maintain order at universal gunpoint, has an absolute trust in his own ability to use weapons wisely and well: he never for a moment asks whether he can be trusted with a gun. Of course he can! (But in literature we call this hubris.)
Is this really the best we can do? It might be if we lived in, say, the world described by Cormac McCarthy in The Road. But we don't. Our social order is flawed, but by no means bankrupt. Most of us live in peace and safety without the use of guns. It makes more sense to try to make that social order safer and safer, more and more genuinely peaceful, rather than descend voluntarily into a world governed by paranoia, in which one can only feel safe -- or, really, "safe" -- with cold steel strapped to one's ribcage.
As I have said, I think this is more about community than guns, per se.  As I posted on FB a few minutes ago, this is part and parcel of the anti-tax mantra that has nothing to do with job creation, but everything to do with disconnecting from the community and the social contract.  You want clean air?  Suck it up.  You want lighted streets?  Pull out your checkbook.  Same for maintained parks.

Of course, this breaks down if you are female and pregnant, and not ready to have a child.  You are not on your own there--sadly unless you want to keep the child.  But if you want safe schools?  Go buy a gun and prepared to shoot someone.  

6 comments:

Smitty said...

...in which we no longer have genuine neighbors, only potential enemies.

This is it. This whole gun conversation is a Cold War. The paranoia and selfishness behind "absolutely arm everyone at all costs" is a break-down in community. It's not about god or birth control or feminists...it's a retreat into the self in which the only person to trust is *you*.

My gawd, it's the wild west.

steves said...

I think the author is engaging in a kind of magical thinking. If we are talking about some psychopath shooting up a school it is already too late. Unfortunately, violence is probably the only answer to that problem. He likely stopped because responders had arrived.

I know that most of live in safety without owning, having, or using a firearm. That doesn't change the fact that some people have been saved by acting defensively. Yes, it is certainly sad that they had to or that we live in a world where bad things happen.

No, the wild west is not the answer, but neither is removing the ability to protect oneself.

Streak said...

But our options are not between the wild west and removing the ability to protect oneself. There is, and always has been, something in between those. But from the right's response--nothing wrong with the guns, just get more people to have them--the middle is not even there.

steves said...

There has been plenty of nonsense from the right, but there will always be this kind of idiocy. The question becomes what do we do now?

Streak said...

Here is my non-specific, but pretty serious response. As Tony suggested on the other thread, it is time to understand that violence like this (or the KC Chief player who murdered his girlfriend) is bigger than guns, but includes guns. Some of this is in the "soft" area about cultural language, and means that adults and grownups are going to have to stop drooling over guns and encouraging the kind of "gun culture" that we see everywhere from the NRA to NBA players to collectors. Doesn't mean they have to not have guns. Means they need to talk about them with more respect and reverence for their killing power.

Second, we have to recognize that we have to address this as a community where we are all impacted whether we own guns or not.

And third, we have to recognize that other factors are at work, including people who feel disconnected from their culture, and those who are mentally ill. All of that requires a "village," and that part is, I am afraid, anathema to the right.

steves said...

I agree with you completely.