April 12, 2014

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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.