“Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.” – Mao Tse Tung
Behind every eloquent speech, every lofty ideal, every claim of legitimate governance, there lies a wicked undercurrent of deadly force. Behind all resistance to the purportedly legitimate system there also lies a steely backbone. We saw that steel on full display at the Bundy Ranch.
The state realizes its edicts through force. Disobey a law and you’ll be fined. Refuse to pay the fine and you’ll be arrested. Resist arrest and you’ll be shot. It’s that simple. Upset enough people, though, and you’ll quickly find yourself facing down an angry mob the likes of which you can’t disperse. A government must therefore exert only as much coercive control as it can without provoking the entire populace to revolt. That’s the eternally delicate balance between man and state.
Some states, namely those with a disarmed populace, push the balance further than others. We saw that during the 20th century in communist countries as well as the Third Reich, where untold millions of innocents were rounded up and murdered by their governments. All because they didn’t have the means to defend themselves, to dissuade the state from carrying out the worst of its planned atrocities.
In the battle for Bundy Ranch, we saw both the armed an
d unarmed populace at play. Unarmed and defenseless were the cattle, and as such they were rounded up, massacred, and dumped into mass graves like so many innocent victims of the state before them. The human protesters, despite remaining peaceful and nonviolent, faced abuse as well.
Then they came back with guns. Now, armed federal agents had to face armed militia members. No more was it a case of simply beating up protesters and hoping it doesn’t look too bad on camera. It had become a real standoff with real risks. Firing on the militia members would have meant being fired upon themselves. It’s no surprise it ended in peace.
Ultimately, humans can be convinced to commit morally reprehensible acts upon their fellow man. Add personal risk to the mix, however, and you find that it’s far easier to convince people to end each other’s lives than it is to risk their own. Take that commentary on humanity as you will. The takeaway: Back up your peaceful actions with implied willingness to use forceful self-defense when necessary.
Peaceful warriors work through peaceful means. Fight through nonviolence. Use love, unity, and moral courage to defeat violence, coercion, and evil. But they keep their proverbial powder dry.