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« Joan Rivers: I'm Not Apologizing For a Joke I Told, So "Calm the F*** Down" | Main | Werewolf + Cop = "Wolfcop" »
April 25, 2014

Wayne LaPierre: "‘Gun Rights Have Become a Metaphor for Something Larger"


“Gun rights have become a metaphor for something larger: a feeling, this sense of something that’s slipping away, a yearning for individual rights.”


“We’re at a precipice in this country. I know every one of you feels it. These next two and a half years are going to determine how things go for the rest of our lives. I have never seen it on edge the way it is now."

There's a little bit more at the Corner; I didn't want to swipe all of Geraghty's post. I think he's at the NRA convention (along with Andy, John, and BenK).

And what is that thing that's being lost?

I think it's social/cultural pluralism. There have always, of course, been forces for social/cultural conformity, on both the left and right. And dissidents and counter-cultural types have always been pressured to join the "default" American culture.

But something has changed-- there is an insistence now, like never before, that those who dispute the consensus culture of the New Class -- which dominates our media and idea-propagating institutions -- must adapt or die.

I think this is caused by a shift in the New Class' political/cultural cache. Whereas previously they were not in such a dominant position, they tended to argue in favor of pluralism (what we once called "liberalism"). This stance was self-serving for the New Class, as many in that class were themselves dissident for what would, if not checked, be a hegemonic culture they found distasteful (traditionalism, religiosity, "American values," patriotism, etc.).

Thus, by defending pluralism, the New Class really was defending its own cultural prerogatives.

But the New Class is feeling its oats now -- it feels empowered (by Obama, by government's increasing grandeur, by a complete domination of the news-gathering apparatus) and thus no longer feels it has to argue defensively against a hegemonic culture it despises.

Rather, it senses that if it fights offensively for its own cultural preferences, it can win.

The New Class has moved from thinking it had to champion cultural pluralism in order to maintain social space for itself to fighting against cultural pluralism, for they now believe they have the power to force their culture on the entire nation.

Why content yourself with your culture merely being permitted and tolerated when you have the power to make it governmentally favored and socially mandated?

Mollie Hemingway wrote a few weeks ago about the end of American pluralism. I quote her quoting Vaclev Havel, about the End Game.

Whether you view McCarthyism as a freedom-crushing outrage or as a sound tactic for bringing dissidents into conformity will often (sadly) turn on whether or not you feel you have the power to employ McCarthyite tactics fruitfully, or if those tactics are likely to be used mostly against you -- whether you believe The Mob is with you, or against you.

The New Class has felt a shift in its own fortunes, and is better able to direct The Mob for its own purposes, and have thus gone from decrying McCarthyism to zealously practicing it. (Well, the New Class isn't quite so honest as that -- they continue to decry McCarthyism, while zealously practicing it. They just say "It's not McCarthyism when we do it because we're right" or the like.)

“The Power of the Powerless,” written under a communist regime in 1978, is his landmark essay about dissent. It’s a wonderful read, no matter your political persuasion. It asks everyone to look at how they contribute to totalitarian systems, with no exceptions. It specifically says its message is “a kind of warning to the West,” revealing our own latent tendencies to set aside our moral integrity. Reading it again after the Eich dismissal, I couldn’t help but think of how it applies to our current situation in the States.

The post-totalitarian system demands conformity, uniformity, and discipline,” Havel wrote, using the term he preferred over “dictatorship” for the complex system of social control experienced in Czechoslovakia. We also have a system that is demanding conformity, uniformity and discipline.

To explain how dissent works, Havel introduced the manager of a hypothetical fruit-and-vegetable shop who places in his window, among the onions and carrots, the slogan: “Workers of the world, unite!” He’s not actually enthusiastic about the sign’s message. It’s just one of the things that people in a post-totalitarian system do even if they “never think about” what it means. He does it because everyone does it. It’s what you do to get along in life and live “in harmony with society.”


The subtext of the grocer’s sign is “I do what I must do. I behave in the manner expected of me.” It protects him from supervisors above and informants below.

Havel is skeptical of ideology. He says that dictatorships can just use raw power, but “the more complex the mechanisms of power become, the larger and more stratified the society they embrace, and the longer they have operated historically … the greater the importance attached to the ideological excuse.” We don’t have a dictatorship, obviously, but we do have complex mechanisms of power and larger and more stratified society.

In any case, individuals need not believe the lies of an ideology so much as behave as though they do, or at least tolerate them in silence or get along with those who work with them. “For by this very fact, individuals confirm the system, fulfill the system, make the system, are the system,” Havel says.

And that's what I think the gun rights are, basically. Gun rights are, to the New Class, one of the two foulest expressions of a culture they do not approve of (gay stuff is the other one, though who knows what the tremulous Neopuritans will be on about next year), and they're fighting on gun rights not really because of any particular belief that this or that measure will do anything to improve "safety," but because they are The People Who Don't Like Guns, and they are also The People With Hegemonic Cultural Power in This Country, and damnit, they're going to use that hegemonic cultural power to make it official government policy as well as official approved social coding that Guns Are Bad and The Gun People Are Bad Too.

Some of the New Class, of course, are cruder and more florid in their denunciations and otherizations than most.

digg this
posted by Ace at 03:31 PM

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