Liberty Movement

The Government’s Surrender to Cliven Bundy Destroys Taleb’s Weak Argument for Gun Control

Events of the past week show the power of the Second Amendment to challenge government tyranny, regardless of the government’s firepower advantage. Let me back up, though.

A Smart Man’s Stupid Argument for Gun Control

A year ago, the gun control lobby pumped a Facebook post by Nassim Nicholas Taleb, one of my favorite thinkers.

In his post, Taleb argued that the Second Amendment means nothing because the federal government has massively superior firepower:

So to continue, let us examine the arguments against gun control, one by one. 1) Argument of self defense: mass murder weapons like automatic rifles is not compatible with “self defense” (“mass” in that context =weapons that can kill >4 persons). 2) Argument of government tyranny: Why don’t gun advocates fight for the right of private citizens to own large tanks and atomic weapons? A semi/automatic rifle is too potent for self defense, and too weak against government tyranny.

That was Nassim Taleb last year—a weak, thoughtless argument on both points, but particularly the latter.

Armed Militia Groups Rush to Nevada

Jump ahead to today. Hours ago, the US government’s Bureau of Land Management cried “uncle” in its attempt to intimidate Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy.

Based on information about conditions on the ground, and in consultation with law enforcement, we have made a decision to conclude the cattle gather because of our serious concern about the safety of employees and members of the public. [source]

[For background on the standoff, see the Bundy Ranch blog.]

The standoff is about a week old. It began when government agents began rounding up Bundy’s cattle. It was complicated by a deal between Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and China to seize the cattle grazing land for a solar energy farm. And the standoff peaked when militia and liberty groups rushed to Nevada last week to stand with the Bundys.

The Bundys have raised cattle on the land for more than 100 years—long before the Bureau of Land Management was born. During the standoff the US government erected First Amendment pens to confine free speech to a small area around the ranch.

That’s right. If you wanted to exercise your First Amendment rights in Nevada, you had to do so in a government pen surrounded by heavily armed government agents and in the crosshairs of a government assassin sniper.

Government Backs Down

Today, the government backed down, returning to Bundy the cattle it had seized and withdrawing troops from the area.

ABC US News | ABC Business News

The reason given was concern for public safety.

The real reason is the liberty movement’s refusal to stand by while the US government illegally seizes private property.

On Wednesday, federal troops began tazing and beating protestors. Then, more freedom groups arrived, swelling the citizen protestors from hundreds to thousands. Protests spread into Las Vegas. Protestors exercised their Second Amendment right to defend their First Amendment right.

The government faced a decision: do we open fire on Americans? or do we stand down?

Taleb’s Argument in Tatters

According to Nassim Taleb, the Bundy’s resistance was futile. The government would its superior killing power to mow down a few thousand Americans and teach the rest of us a lesson. And many freedom lovers, I’m sure, believed that’s just what the government would do.

But the government blinked. Hell, the government squeezed its eyes shut and pulled the blanket over its head. The Bureau of Land Management crawls on its belly back to the rock from which it slithered.

And all because Nassim Taleb over estimated the government’s willingness to murder Americans en masse.

Taleb argued that semi-automatic weapons do citizens no good because the government would use fully automatic weapons, grenades, cluster bombs, tanks, drones, and, if necessary, nukes to murder thousands or millions Americans and teach us all a lesson. The Bundy Ranch provided the perfect test for Taleb’s hypothesis.

But Taleb’s hypothesis was rejected. The US government, at this point, lacks the bloodlust to slaughter taxpayers in broad daylight.

Further, the government backed down, not because of free speech, but because thousands of armed Americans showed up to their land grab willing to fight and bleed and die for freedom.

The government wasn’t mad enough open fire.

But Let’s Not Get Carried Away

This victory for liberty over US government tyranny could be pyrrhic. I hope the militias and liberty lovers don’t take this victory too far by spoiling for another fight soon. While I’m a big fan of staying on offense as the best defense for freedom, I promise you that, on a golf course somewhere, Barack Obama is spitting nails over the Bundy standoff.

The best course for the liberty brigades is to continue advancing our vision for a free America with friends, neighbors, and politicians. Do it with a smile. Don’t gloat. Don’t threaten. Don’t try to intimidate.

Freedom is fun, and smiles are free. Let the world see that God favors those who take their victories, like their setbacks, in stride, always optimistic, always open to enjoying the fruits of liberty.

Smile, and they will come.


Why the Standoff at the Bundy Ranch is a Very Big Deal from Liberty Blitzkrieg Blog:

I have noted time and time again that the feds are becoming increasingly out of control and belligerent to American citizens. We know the stories (think Aaron Swartz) and we know the overall trend. However, the reason the Bundy Ranch confrontation is so interesting, is that for whatever reason this particular incident seems to be striking a chord of dissent. It is often times the most random, unforeseen and innocuous things that spark social/political movements. This standoff has it all.

However, my long-term fear is that unless the government and its puppet masters on Wall Street and elsewhere in big business change course, social upheaval will prove inevitable, whether the Bundy Ranch sparks it, or some other incident down the road. These are troubled times and they are likely going to get worse before they get better.

Author: William Hennessy

Co-founder of St. Louis Tea Party Coalition and Nationwide Chicago Tea Party Persuasive design expertLatest book: Turning On Trump: An Evolution (2016)Author of The Conservative Manifest (1993), Zen Conservatism (2009), Weaving the Roots (2011), and Fight to Evolve (2016)I believe every person deserves the dignity of meaningful work as the only path to human flourishing.

6 Comments on “The Government’s Surrender to Cliven Bundy Destroys Taleb’s Weak Argument for Gun Control

  1. Taleb’s argument I had seen before from those on the Left. My retort has always been that freedom loving patriots wouldn’t be going toe to toe with the military if they could even get the military to fire on citizens but rather it would be guerrilla warfare. We fall all over ourselves in the face of a relative handful of militant Muslims…what would the government do with millions of those who stand in defiance of their total failure to abide the Constitution they take an OATH on? The so-called leaders of this country make me sick. Only those politicians who swear to restore and abide by the Constitution will have my support or my respect.

  2. Don’t be fooled. If this were after next November’s Congressional elections, there would be plenty of dead patriots feeding Nevadan vultures today. There is sufficient evidence to reach a reasonable conclusion that the current regime has no intention of going gently into that good night as has every one but four of its predecessors (Lincoln, Garfield, McKinley and Kennedy). All it seeks is an excuse to gin up a crisis to exploit. Their spinmeisters are more than capable of reclassifying what these brave American patriots did yesterday into an armed rebellion against o’bummer simply because he is naturally tanned. The order to let the cattle go came from the office of the pharaoh himself, because his time has not yet come. Taleb is right, though for all the wrong reasons. The registered weapons freeborn American citizens are allowed to own will prove insufficient against a civilian defense corpse better armed and trained than even OUR military which has pledged its loyalty to pharaoh. Our only real chance at success is to emulate Rosa Parks and the Greensboro Four and just sit there. If we’re sitting, we’re not working. If we’re not working our earnings lessen. If our earnings lessen, their lip-sticked hogs will have less to eat. Only a lack of other people’s money will get their attention.

    The guru of psychedelia, Timothy Leary, recommended that the flower-power generation, “Turn on, tune in and drop out.” With a slight adjustment, this advice is spot on: “Turn on to God, tune in to the message of the founders, and drop out of a kommietopia which rejects the first two.”

    1. Just a clarification – need a better proof reader. It’s the CDC which is loyal to pharaoh – not necessarily OUR military, though these have taken an oath to defend OUR Constitution and it makes the pharaoh their commander-in-chief.

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