Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Where to draw the line?

Over six and a half years ago, I wrote this piece drawing on the German experience and asking the question "Where to draw the line?" I subtitled it, "More along the line of grim thinking inspired by government misconduct in the Olofson case." I present it here because the question is still pointedly relevant, as another post that I plan for tomorrow will further demonstrate.

When the 23rd Regiment was finally back in Boston after the ordeal of April 19, adjutant Frederick Mackenzie wrote in his diary, "I believe the fact is, that General Gage was not only much deceived with respect to the quantity of military stores said to be collected at Concord, but had no conception the rebels would have opposed the King's troops in the manner they did." -- General John Galvin, The Minutemen, Pergamon-Brasseys, 1989, page 244.

Where to draw the line?

"America is at that awkward stage. It's too late to work within the system, but too early to shoot the bastards." - Claire Wolfe, 101 Things to Do 'Til the Revolution

Libertarian Wolfe made her famous observation above in the mid-nineties. Now here we are more than ten years later, even more isolated and politically disenfranchised, and we must ask the question: how far do we have to go to get past "awkward?"

History never exactly repeats itself and thus is an imperfect guide. Studying history "we see through a glass, darkly." Still, there are patterns in history that deserve our close attention, so we may better understand how to act in the present and to enable us to better predict the future. Through history, we understand that no idea, bad or good, ever truly dies. We are also shown that people, being human, repeat the mistakes of their ancestors, over and over again. Indeed, there is no one blinder than a historical amnesiac.

Flag of the Reichsbanner, the German military organization sworn to defend the Weimar Republic.

So when we consider the question suggested by Claire Wolfe, that is, when are we past the awkward stage and into the day of "shooting the bastards," we must consult history for examples to guide us. I offer firstly a lesson in waiting too long from William Sheridan Allen's outstanding study, The Nazi Seizure of Power: The Experience of a Single German Town (Franklin Watts/Grolier, 1984):

And yet, one has to ask the question, what happened to those who had sworn resistance? What happened to the Reichsbanner, which had repeatedly asserted, in the years before Hitler came to power, that when the expected Nazi coup came they would be able to defend the Republic? In Northeim, at least, the Republic was destroyed without a single blow struck in its defense. The Reichsbanner, with all its plans for instant mobilization, had its members struck down one by one, its leaders imprisoned, beaten, hounded from their jobs and their homes without any resistance from the organization as a whole.

Perhaps the basic reason for this was that there was no Nazi coup d'etat. Instead there was a series of quasi-legal actions over a period of at least six months, no one of which by itself constituted a revolution, but the sum of which transformed Germany from a republic to a dictatorship. The problem was where to draw the line. But by the time that line could be clearly drawn, the revolution was a fait accompli, the potential organs of resistance had been individually smashed, and organized resistance was no longer possible. In short, the splendid organization was to no avail; in the actual course of events it was every man for himself. (Allen, p. 191)
The Reichsbanner parades past the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, 1929.

Even after reading Allen's work, I have often wondered why the German opposition just laid down without a fight. Back in the nineties, I was talking to Aaron Zelman of Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership, and one of us (I recall it was him, he thinks it was me) made this observation: "If every Jewish and anti-Nazi family in Germany had possessed a Mauser rifle, 20 rounds of 7.92mm ball and the will to use it, Adolf Hitler would have been an obscure footnote to the history of the Weimar Republic."

True enough, whoever said it. But as Grant Hammond observed about Colonel John Boyd's seminal theories of warfare:

"There is another trinity in Boyd’s strategic catechism as well. It is a concern for what he lumps together as moral-mental-physical aspects of opponents. Most definitions of war define them as contests in physical violence. Boyd sees them mainly as moral struggles won as much by mental as physical prowess. But he sees the complex—moral-mental-physical—as a single entity, a synthesis that can be broken down analytically but must be understood as a composite whole. It matches another Trinitarian composite, that of people first, ideas second and things third. This happens to be the opposite of the way most militaries approach problem solving by focusing on technology, platforms and weaponry first, ideas about their employment second and people—who are largely interchangeable and ultimately, are expendable—third. This way of thinking has little utility in Boyd’s Way and in fact, may be the seed of many a defeat." (Source: Grant T. Hammond, The Essential Boyd).

Many Americans, especially us small "r" republicans, take heart when we recall that the American citizenry possesses more small arms than most of the world's armies put together. And as Clausewitz observed, in military affairs quantity DOES have a quality all its own (just ask any Korean War veteran about his first experience with a Chinese human wave assault).

Still, as Napoleon insisted, "The moral is to the physical as three is to one." We cannot be protected by our possession of a hundred million rifles if we lack the will use them. Iraq was an armed society, yet the Saddam dictatorship had little trouble tyrannizing that country for decades. And it cannot be doubted that there are many American gunowners who would, at the first command of an American tyranny, turn in their weapons simply because they are "law-abiding" people who "don't want any trouble" -- simply because, in fact, they have forgotten what it is to be free. They have grown used to doing what the government tells them to do. And perhaps that was the problem with the Weimar republicans:
The Northeimer Reichsbanner itself was ready to fight in 1933. All it needed was an order from Berlin. Had it been given, Northeimer's Reichsbanner members would have carried out the tested plan they had worked on so long -- to obtain and distribute weapons and to crush the Nazis. But (the local Reichsbanner) would not act on its own. The leaders felt that single acts would come to grief, would possibly compromise the chance when it finally did come, and would, in any event, be a betrayal of discipline. They felt that their only hope was in common action, all together, all over the Reich. Hadn't (their national leaders) said that only a counterattack should be made? So they waited and prayed for the order to come, but it never did. And while they waited the Nazis began tracking them down, one by one. (Allen, p. 191)

The Germans, wholly indoctrinated in obeying orders, were incapable of acting without them. Because their would-be tyrants represented "the government" and cloaked their wolfish actions in "legal" sheepskin, because their own "leaders" could not or would not give the order, they all ended up in a concentration camp -- leaders and followers -- without ever having struck a blow. I am again reminded of Boyd's "moral-mental-physical" dynamic by this observation of Allen's:
"This situation, where even heroism was denied the men of the democratic Left, came about in no small measure because of the failure of the Social Democrats to understand the nature of Nazism. Just as their basic premise in the years before Hitler came to power was the erroneous assumption that the Nazis were essentially Putschists who could not possibly attract a mass following, so their basic premise after Hitler came to power was the equally erroneous assumption that his would be a government similar to the others of the Weimar period." (Ibid, p. 192)

Because of their inability to see the enemy for what he really was (and if ever there was an enemy who delighted in shouting his intentions to the rafters it was Hitler) they went straight from the "awkward stage" to the concentration camps without ever firing a shot.
Die Garde der Republik marching song of the Reichsbanner.

Thinking and Acting before Feeling

Now, contrast the behavior of the Germans to that of our Founding Fathers. This is best illustrated by reading Gordon S. Wood's The Creation of the American Republic, 1776 - 1787:

In the American Revolution, Wood wrote, "there was none of the legendary tyranny of history that had so often driven desperate people into rebellion. The Americans were not an oppressed people; they had no crushing imperial shackles to throw off. In fact, the Americans knew they were probably freer and less burdened with cumbersome feudal and hierarchical restraints than any part of mankind in the eighteenth century. To its victims, the Tories, the Revolution was truly incomprehensible. Never in history, said Daniel Leonard, had there been so much rebellion with so 'little real cause.' . . . The objective social reality scarcely seemed capable of explaining a revolution . . .

As early as 1775 Edmund Burke had noted in the House of Commons that the colonists' intensive study of law and politics had made them acutely inquisitive and sensitive about their liberties. Where the people of other countries had invoked principles only after they had endured 'an actual grievance,' the Americans, said Burke, were anticipating their grievances and resorting to principles even before they actually suffered. 'They augur misgovernment at a distance and snuff the approach of tyranny in every tainted breeze.' The crucial question in the colonists' minds, wrote John Dickerson in 1768, was 'not, what evil HAS ACTUALLY ATTENDED particular measures -- but what evil, in the nature of things, IS LIKELY TO ATTEND them.' Because 'nations, in general, are not apt to THINK until they FEEL, . . .therefore nations in general have lost their liberty.' But not the Americans, as the Abbe Raynal observed. They were "an 'enlightened people' who knew their rights and the limits of power and who, unlike any people before them, aimed to think before they felt."

(Source: Gordon S. Wood, The Creation of the American Republic, 1776-1787, UNC Press, 1969, pp. 3-5)

The Founders were people who believed in "preserving the spirit of resistance." To take Abbe Raynal's words to their conclusion, the Founders aimed to think AND act before they felt. Unlike the Germans, their "awkward stage" ended at Lexington green, and ultimately led to liberty.

In the light of recent events such as the Olofson case, it seems plain that our own "awkward stage" may be perilously close to drawing to an end. There are those who still insist that such unconstitutional outrages perpetrated under color of law deserve nothing more than verbal condemnation or further attempts at legal redress in a "justice" system rigged against us (as if these thugs pay attention to the law anyway). Used to inaction and afraid of even voicing the threat of justifiable self-defense, these timid souls, these "summer soldiers and sunshine patriots," would have us wait for true tyranny before acting.

This was not the way of the Founders. They understood that tyranny is best strangled in its unholy infancy, before it becomes a raging beast. They understood the threat, they prepared to meet it and, in the end, they defeated it. The Germans of the 1930s did not, and they were devoured.

I say we would do well to emulate the Founders rather than the Germans, to think and ACT before we feel, when it will be too late. This is important not only for those Americans who wish to remain free, but for those on the other side who unthinkingly seek to rob us of our freedoms and for those in the middle who (ignoring the Law of Unintended Consequences) sit idly by, content to watch the destruction of the American republic on television while thinking it has nothing to do with, and can have no effect upon, them.

If we small "r" republicans do nothing else, we should let the rogue elements of our own government know that in addition to outnumbering them, we still preserve the spirit of resistance, despite have been marginalized politically by the two major parties. Perhaps, if everyone understands that, the Redcoats (now wearing black raid gear) will not once again blunder and unknowingly march out from Boston into an unexpected but perfectly predictable butchery contest.

By our words, our preparations, our training and our actions we, the armed citizenry of the Republic of the United States of America, still have the opportunity to convince them of our unyielding determination to remain free. It may be our last best hope to preserve uninterrupted both our God-given liberties and the domestic peace we have come to love too much. While it is better to be "awkward" than to be dead, it is better still to die fighting than to be enslaved without a fight.

Just ask the Germans of the Weimar Republic.

So THINK and ACT before you FEEL. The Founders did.


Anonymous said...

So, again, what's the answer, Mike? Looking at recent events, what would be an appropriate trigger to violent action? The first raids on Conn. or NY gun owners? An armed response by BLM at the Bundy ranch? (I think the only reason we didn't get another Waco out of that was some .gov stuffed shirt woke up and smelled the coffee - and potential gun smoke.) I'm not saying you should give a command, and any lone wolf actions (sniper assasinations, bombs make for dead civilians)will be portrayed as another Oklahoma City by an insane tango. We've said the strength of the III% is theres no leadership to be rounded up and cut off the movements head. But there needs to be a general consensus on what Der Tag will look like, to avoid the fate of the Reighsbanners. Mass govt. Action won't happen...small SWAT raids that won't be reported nationally seems more likely now.guidance is needed....

Anonymous said...

Read Vince Flynn's "Term Limits" for a great way for the People of the US to take back their country. This book contains a method which would surely work to win back liberty and a government with integrity.

In short, a small team of special ops guys started (without warning) taking out anti-Constitution, corrupt politicians. Each time they removed another politician, they sent a message, and said more will be taken down until the budget is balanced, (insert your Constitutional violation here), etc.

I forget how many corrupt, anti-Constitution politicians were snuffed out before the government got the message, it wasn't more than a handful.

There's more to it, but can you imagine if our politicians knew that their lives were on the line immediately if they violated the Constitution?

The tactic hits hard quickly and could probably move the US in a good direction fast.

Justsomeguy said...

This may be your best and most important piece

Anonymous said...

As you said, " Mass govt. Action won't happen...small SWAT raids that won't be reported nationally seems more likely".
Also, "the strength of the III% is there's no leadership to be rounded up"
We're going to have to look to our own communities first. Some of them may be too small to see an overt action before those of the larger cities and towns such as NY and Chicago, et al, but the word will get out when public actions are curtailed and neighbors are arrested.
I've seen a short story posted, I can't remember where, in the vein of what's coming.
Several thousand "leaders" were arrested or disappeared before anyone had a chance to react. The reaction was slow to start, but like any forest fire it grew into an inferno.
When there are no "leaders" initially then magically they will appear when and where needed.
It will be up to us, the III percenters, to find or become those leaders.

Anonymous said...

Vince Flynn must have read "Unintended Consequences" by John Ross (PDF available for free download Google it). The enemies of liberty are conducting an offensive campaign of death by a thousand cuts, baby steps on the road to serfdom if you will.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 5:46 AM I suggest you read Unintended Consequences by John Ross. My suggestion would be a team that operates in concert but appearing to work individually. This would look like a gathering of momentum and would suck others in. Henry Bowman did not bring about the desired result by himself; it was the accelerating growth of others joining the fray that brought the gov to its knees and the eventual solution.

Anonymous said...

That short story mentioned above was written by Matthew Bracken and was titled "What I Saw At The Coup".

Anonymous said...

The time to start "taking heads" has long passed; Had there been an armed "uprising" in 1993 the patriot act NDAA and Obama (not to mention "the Shrub") would NEVER have been an issue. But we didn't, and now things grow worse by the day. Reading books, talking, and the endless, endless, internet brew-ha bullshit are useless. Like peaceful protest , voting , and "waiting for the court". Every day of passive inactivity makes the citizen weaker, and the Federal Dictatorship & police state stronger. I no longer care how we or anyone else is portrayed by the government or the News. They tell nothing but lies. They are THE clear danger to my and my families welfare.

Paul X said...

"Hadn't (their national leaders) said that only a counterattack should be made?"

Sounds like "No Fort Sumters."

I just got done reading "Guerilla Days in Ireland", very interesting how such a militarily weak force yet managed to throw out the hated English after 700 years of submission. In it you see that indeed, "The moral is to the physical as 3 to 1" (if not a much larger ratio).

I would suggest not getting down too much on discussion and talking. That is how people work around to the moral side of the issue. That is how they eventually stop believing the government religion, how they break through the indoctrination. That is extremely important.

I think it can be broken down to two things, individual action and collective action. Individually we are already there. It is long past the time that it makes sense to submit to arrest for any reason. The system will not "make it right" for you. You might as well go to war if that happens.

As to collective action, that is more difficult to say, but I think at first this will boil down to small groups (in twos and threes) of men who know and trust each other. These will decide some day to go ahead, typically in response to some outrage (as was done in Ireland - thus the moral ground was retained). Eventually these smaller groups may join together to form larger units, but that is not our concern at the moment.

Anonymous said...

See my comment about the "fake Warsaw Pact soldier." One of the reasons we'll probably never see any mass action against the police state is that on those rare occasions when someone does more than talk, most of his fellow "liberty lovers" condemn him and/or dismiss him as a nutcase.

Karl said...

Powerful post. Thank you Mike.

SteadySteve said...

Where was the lll% at in Ferguson? We could have silenced Al Sharpton and the rest of the poverty pimps by showing up and standing between the citizens and police and demanding that the police lay down their weapons and disperse. I don't agree with the lifestyle and some of the behavior of the people that live in that town, but if we had stood up for them the way we stood up for the Bundys the cops would have backed down fast. We are fast approaching the point where illegal acts by .gov will be met by violence.

DAN III said...

"....the will to use..." That's the key, the will.

Crustyrusty said...

The key here is that Germans have rules and order embedded in their DNA. They are wholly incapable of functioning without micromanagement, and any attempts at overthrowing the established order are anathema to them. I believe that "we were obeying orders", to the typical German, IS a legitimate excuse, given their innate need for regimentation, down to the proper bin for the proper garbage, put out on the proper day, and God help you if you mess up.

I would like to think that Americans, even those of German descent, have managed to rid themselves of such constraints....

Anonymous said...

The great Austrian free market economist Ludwig von Mises, who lived thru the rise of Nazism, offered what is probably the best insight into why there was no armed uprising against the National Socialists (Nazis) before their consolidation of power. His explanation is that all major political parties from left to right were already committed to the tenets of National Socialism long before Hitler arrived on the scene.

Hitler and his band of cutthroats were the logical end result of the ubiquitous belief among Germans that they must obey and submit to the State. In the name of the common good, the State had the right to intervene in the economy, in education, in the arts, in people's private lives, etc. No intervention by the State was in principle off the table. The line between the fundamental beliefs of the Nazis and that of the non Nazis was blurred. Hitler had not done much if anything that the Weimar Republic government had already not done. He was just a much more consistent statist than his predecessors and opponents dared to be. To violently resist the Nazis was, in most instances, to turn on one's own cherished core values.

Americans are similarly compromised and conflicted. We are outraged that government busybodies tell us that we cannot grow vegetables in our front yards, but most Americans believe that government has the right to tell us how to use our property. We ridicule government school bureaucrats for expelling boys for drawing a picture of a gun, but we have no problem with the state using guns to collect children for the government's schools and then to use guns to force taxpayers to pay for those schools. We are alarmed by the abuse of Americans at the hands of our militarized police, but then remain quiet or even cheer when the American military machine is repeatedly unleashed on foreigners for no good reason.

What's the point of opposing certain details of government intrusion in our lives if we accept in principle that the government should intrude in our lives? Just as the Germans were, we too will continue to be morally paralyzed in our resistance to the State until we can do so with a clear conscience by first embracing the non-aggression principle in all its implications.

Anonymous said...

I think I am past the point of willing to die for my freedom and close to being ready to kill for it. It is a big step.

Anonymous said...


I guess your history is rusty too. The Germans were literally starving in the streets due to the harsh reperations after WWI. They turned to a guy and a natonal party that they thought could bring them out of the mess of the 20s. No, of course, this does not excuse a single soul from what happened, but it was not due to a hardwired drone gene. Zenophobia makes about as much sense as racisim.

You want to know why the Germans looked the other way while their country was hijacked by sociopaths and you really do not see the exact same thing hapening right now in this country? Americans are doing the same damn thing and everyone is charging their credit cards into oblivion on useless crap with full bellies.

So give the Krauts a little break. I would hazard a guess you are more likely to be killed by a cop in Des Moines than a cop in Stuttgart. I would also bet that the German government is much less interested in what their citizens thought, read, voted, associated with, etc. than your government.

Firehawk said...

This brief essay is the perfect lead in to my "Rules of Engagement for Patriots and Militia" that I am about to publish and present.

There is a clear, easily understood line between "the awkward stage" and effective resistance action. It does require thinking and analysis in the form of a test, before any feeling whatsoever. It is uncomplicated, yet all-inclusive.

To answer the question of when: When someone, anyone, denies or attempts to deny your Constitutionally protected, God-given Human rights at the point of a gun or by force of arms or threat of arms; that's when!

Secondarily, when elected or non-elected and appointed individuals violate the provisions of the constitution, and/or their own laws, resulting in the same denial by force of unconstitutional law or treaty.

There's the line. Now we need to decide the details of response; rather quickly I would recommend. Pay VERY close attention to the results of the upcoming election that is now about six weeks away.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous on Sept 19 at 1:11pm said, "What's the point of opposing certain details of government intrusion in our lives if we accept in principle that the government should intrude in our lives? Just as the Germans were, we too will continue to be morally paralyzed in our resistance to the State until we can do so with a clear conscience by first embracing the non-aggression principle in all its implications."

He is exactly right. Few will ever cross the tipping point from "feeling awkward" to "taking action" when we generally accept Federalism and the underlying Patriotism for it. We will not oppose the police state when we support it against others on one hand, but condemn it if it interferes in our lives on the other hand. If you don't already see the water is boiling and you are in the pot, you will not take up arms and fight. Before you can even be in a place to do that you have to jump out of the pot and non-violently resist every incursion of injustice.

The founding fathers stopped paying taxes and resisted their occupation by the British by the way they lived long before they ever picked up a gun to defend their way of life.

Until we have people across communities living in non-compliance to the intrusive, oppressive statist regime, we will not see any opposition to its tyranny.
Withdraw your children from their schools. Withdraw your money from their enterprises. Withdraw your support from their government. Withdraw your labors from their economy. Live free from their control. And when they come to force you to participate, band together and resist them, because you won't fight until you have nothing else to lose.

Anonymous said...

I don't have the answer to where and when the line is to be drawn but if it is not then we will all fall into slavery under a dictatorship and we're not very far from it happening here in America. Will passive resistance accomplish the removal from government those whose desire is to enslave us? If the last two presidential elections is any indicator of voter fraud then we cannot count on placing honest men and women in office. Will a tax revolt succeed? Maybe but how many taxpayers will rise up and refuse to pay their taxes? Term limits will not be legislated because these politicians want a lifetime career and will not pass.

Soon, a choice will have to be made to take the necessary action and bring an end to a government that is no longer representing the people but are moving towards domination. When the time comes leaders will come forward. I'm sure of this.

Anonymous said...

If history is any indication, the line has already been passed some time ago and nothing was done. Then a new line was drawn and it was passed. More lines have been drawn and crossed than comtrails made across the sky and still, by and large, no response. Our cries fall on deaf ears.
Where we part ways is in the remedy. Am I to become an armed revolutionary, killing others for my beliefs, which in reality will make me little better than those I rebel against.?
I think there is a better way. Complete and utter non-compliance. Whoever cannot be ruled will have no ruler. We are only ruled by consent. I don't need to kill them, I just won't live under their rules. Inevitably they will either win through total oppression or drive me out of their midst.
We should count the loss of citizenship far less important than the loss of integrity and truth.
So let's work toward withdrawing support from illegitimate government. The trend is in the right direction. More people are quitting public school. More people are not voting. More people are not becoming debt slaves, I mean employees. Imagine if only 40% of eligible voters turned out for an election. What justification could they claim for representation? None.
We will be free when the system totally fails. I do not believe it can be reformed, revolutionized or improved. It must wither on the vine.